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Posts tagged ‘Senate Armed Services Committee’

McCain Blasts Hagel for ‘Massive Failure’ of Intel on Ukraine.


Image: McCain Blasts Hagel for 'Massive Failure' of Intel on UkraineSen. John McCain is flanked by Sen. James Inhofe while questioning Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 5.

By Cathy Burke

Sen. John McCain tore into Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday for a “massive failure” of U.S. military intelligence in the days before Russian troops marched into Crimea, reports said.

Defense News reported that in a testy, nearly five-minute exchange during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, McCain and Hagel bickered over whether the Obama administration and European allies were aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin was about to invade the Crimean Peninsula.

The Obama administration had a “total misreading of the intentions of Vladimir Putin,”NBC News reports McCain said.

But Hagel shot back: “I don’t get into the specifics in an open hearing.”

Still, he insisted, “early last week we were well aware of the threats” posed by Russian troops to Ukraine — and that he’d met with NATO officials and Ukrainian defense officials last week to talk about it, NBC News reported.

“This wasn’t sudden or new,” Hagel said.

GOP senators also hammered Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey for a spending plan they charged would hamper the military.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, noted that the $496 billion defense budget represents a funding level equal to that of 2013 and 2014 — and more than $30 billion below the Pentagon’s funding in 2012, Defense News reported.

McCain sarcastically told Hagel “your timing is exquisite” in submitting the bare-bones budget plan “at a time when the world is probably more unsettled than it has been since the end of World War II,” noting tensions in Crimea, the collapse of Syrian peace talks, “China more and more aggressive,” North Korea test-firing missiles, “and the list goes on,” Defense News reported.

McCain also noted that China has just announced a 12.2 percent increase in its military budget, NBC News reported.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe also criticized President Barack Obama for spending $125 billion on his “energy and environment agenda” — money, Inhofe said, that could have been used to buy more than 1,000 F-35s, Defense News reported.

Hagel told the committee he had worked within the limits Congress set in its 2011 Budget Control Act and this year’s bipartisan budget accord.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Graham: Karzai ‘Empowers’ Taliban By Freeing Afghan Thugs.


Sen. Lindsey Graham has accused Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai of “empowering” Taliban terrorists by releasing 65 dangerous Afghan “thugs” from jail.

The South Carolina Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned Karzai for freeing the prisoners who pose an immediate threat to U.S., Afghan, and allied forces in the war-torn country, McClatchy reports.

“Karzai is doing a lot of damage to his country and to the relationship between us and Afghanistan,” said Graham, who once traded jokes with Karzai over dinners at his presidential palace in Kabul.

“He’s undercutting a relationship (with the U.S.) that most Afghans want and empowering the Taliban…

“The Taliban look at something like this (the release of prisoners), and they’ve got to be encouraged. I’ve been to that prison dozens of times, and it makes my blood boil to see these thugs walk out of there.”

Graham said he’s been unable to confirm reports that Karzai has held secret talks with the Taliban, Muslim fanatics who ruled the country and imposed strict Islamic laws there until the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Although the Taliban have recently launched a new offensive in the region, Graham said, “(Karzai) doesn’t treat the Taliban as an insurgency. He calls them ‘wayward brothers’ rather than thugs that are killing people.”

“I’ve known Karzai for 10 years, but he’s getting completely irrational. He’s totally detached from the reality about what’s going on in his own country.”

Graham, who has made several trips to Afghanistan as a senator and as an Air Force Reserve colonel, even met with Karzai in Kabul last month, along with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and pleaded with him to keep the “thugs” behind bars, McClatchy reported.

But Karzai dismissed them, saying that the national detention center in Parwan that housed the inmates and was built with U.S. funds was “a black hole.” Although the jail is guarded by U.S. troops, the Karzai government has authority over the handling of prisoners and claims the 65 detainees were being held without cause.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S troops in Afghanistan, attacked Karzai’s decision because he believes that some of the freed prisoners will join forces with the Taliban insurgency.

“They have killed Afghan men, women and children,” Dunford said, noting that two dozen inmates were tied to roadside bombs, the number one killer of Afghan citizens. “We believe some of the individuals previously released have already returned to the fight.”

Now a furious Graham is fighting back by demanding that Congress cuts off U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, and he’s enlisted the support of House Speaker John Boehner.

“After years of fighting alongside our Afghan partners — who have sustained serious casualties themselves from common enemies — this decision is especially egregious,” said Boehner.

The tense relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. have sunk to an all-time low, with U.S. officials claiming that Karzai has gone back on a bilateral agreement to keep a small military contingent in the country after the remaining 34,000 U.S. troops pull out by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House may now wait until Karzai leaves office in April before attempting to sign a new pact with the next government to keep peace-keeping troops on the ground there.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Sen. Levin: We’ll Review Budget Deal’s Military Cuts.


After howls of protest from military groups over pension cuts in a House budget deal, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday promised to review the slash, the Military Times reported.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said his committee review along with an ongoing survey by a military commission may “further bear on this issue,” the newspaper said.

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake 

“A number of concerns have been raised about the provision in the Murray-Ryan budget agreement,” Levin said in a statement.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee is going to review this change after we convene next year, before it takes effect in December 2015.”

The provision would restrict the annual pay adjustment of military pensions for working-age military retirees to 1 percentage point less than the rise in consumer prices.

The cut saves $6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office — but military retirees could lose up to $124,000 in retirement income.

The Military Officers Association of America estimates the provision amounts to a nearly 20 percent gouge in retired pay for soldiers who retire at 20 years, the Military Times reported.

“A 20 percent reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a very substantial cut in military career benefits, and does not represent good faith to our men and women in uniform,” the officers’ association president and retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan told the newspaper.

In an opinion piece for CNN.com Friday, Army wife and writer Rebekah Sanderlin chastised lawmakers for putting military families through a “trying” year.

“With its budget cuts, sequestration and government shutdown, this year has been more trying for military families than the worst of the war years,” she wrote. “I’m afraid that after all that my community has given in time, tears and lives, the country we served might be trying to skip out on the check.”

It’s not just current troops who are affected, Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander William Thien warned — the cut could also jeopardize the nation’s all-volunteer military.

“Although Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we can’t allow Congress to dismantle the programs they created over the past 12 years,” he said.

The cut has also drawn the ire of a number of senators who will next vote on the pact that sailed through the House Thursday.

They include Republicans James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, but Thien said the VFW will press its case to the rest of the upper chamber.

“We know the federal government needs to curb its spending, balance its budget, and put an end to the sequester, but penalizing military retirees is not the solution,” he said.

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Senate panel to vote on Hagel nomination Tuesday.


Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination …After postponing its first vote last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee announced on Monday plans to vote Tuesday on whether to confirm former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, announced that he intended to hold the vote “after the members have an opportunity for discussion.”

A hearing was originally scheduled for Feb. 7, but was postponed.

Most Republicans are expected to oppose Hagel’s nomination due to his fervent opposition to the war in Iraq and other past stances. But Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate and on the committee, and the White House is counting on those numbers to push Hagel to confirmation.

A vote by the full Senate could happen as soon as Thursday if Hagel is confirmed by the committee.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

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