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On Thursday afternoon, the Senate confirmed Ashton Carter as the secretary of defense in a 93 to 5 vote. Carter weathered a mild storm during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Feb. 4, at least compared to the grilling his predecessor Chuck Hagel took. Carter is expected to be sworn into office sometime next week, and will be President Barack Obama’s fourth secretary of defense over his two terms.
Carter, the former deputy secretary of defense under Hagel, holds degrees from both Yale and University of Oxford, in medieval history and theoretical physics, and is an expert on nuclear weapons. He is widely regarded as a budget maverick, which is arguably something we desperately need in the Pentagon. Carter has also had a foothold in the Pentagon for decades. Though arguably, his nomination and any dissenting opinions have less to do with him, and a lot more to do with the president and his administration.
During his Feb. 4 review with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter answered questions on how he would handle a wide range of issues --- or rather, he answered questions on how the White House sought to resolve these problems, and whether or not he would buckle to pressures, with a key sticking point being the administration’s desire to expedite the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
It is likely that Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire was thinking of the infighting between Hagel and the White House when she candidly asked Carter if he would stand against administration pressures to speed up the release process.
“You will commit to this committee and to all of us that you will not allow the release of someone that you think could re-engage in terrorism so that our men and women in uniform will be confronted with them again?” asked Ayotte.
“I do, senator. As in everything else I do, I’ll play it absolutely straight,” was Carter’s curt response.
However, there seems to be a sense of resignation regarding the position and the secretary’s ability to actually influence policy.
“He will manage the Pentagon, and he will do a good job at it, he has significant experience,” said Sen. John McCain, who chaired the committee. “But there’s no possibility that he will have anything to do with the formulation of national security policy or strategy.”
When asked if he would consider “putting boots on the ground” to combat threats posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or if he felt there could be a peaceful resolution in Syria with Assad still in power, Carter toed a careful line saying only, “In formulating my advice, I will not hesitate to consider all options.”
Regarding the increasingly volatile situation in Ukraine, Carter recommended sending assistance to Ukrainian forces, specifically the sale of lethal arms to help the country fight off the Russian-backed forces.
As the incoming secretary prepares to take charge of his new post, the country will watch and wait as a very talented and skilled politician attempts to succeed in the least desired job inside the Beltway.
A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.
The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.
So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.