Tag Archives: Ashton Carter

No ‘complete strategy’ against Islamic State?

President Barack Obama landed in Germany and then dropped this startling admission on the laps of the worldwide media.

“We don’t yet have a complete strategy,” the president said in describing the U.S.-led effort to fight the Islamic State.

I make no apologies for my support of President Obama, but this one floors me.

Nine months into the campaign to defeat ISIL, the president today acknowledged that he’s been winging it.


My advice to the president — are you paying attention, young man? — is that you need to finish working on that strategy in a serious hurry.

I don’t believe you need to mobilize The Big Red One, or the Screaming Eagles, or a Marine division to — pardon that hideous euphemism — put “boots on the ground.”

But there needs to be a “complete strategy” to fight these monstrous terrorists.

The president is in Germany attending the G-7 summit and has pledged to speed up training and arming of Iraqi forces, which have been all but cowering in the face of ISIL advances on major cities and military installations. Yes, the Iraqi military has made some gains in recent days, but they keep getting pushed back.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently said the Iraqis lack the “will to fight” ISIL. They’d better find the will if they intend to defend their own country.

As for the complete strategy that the president said is coming, time is not our friend.

Let’s get busy.


Iraqis need the ‘will to fight’

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter appears to be a blunt speaker.

That’s a good thing. We need some of that frank talk when it involves war.

However, he’s now having to out-blunt the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, who’s now trying to make nice with Iraq leaders angry over what Carter said about their troops’ ability to defend a key military target.


Carter asserted over the weekend that Iraqis lack “the will to fight” the Islamic State terrorists, which overran the Iraqi city of Ramadi against forces that outnumbered and outgunned them. What did Carter say? “We can give them training, we can give them equipment. We obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”

Flash back 40 years. The United States fought North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops for a decade trying to save South Vietnam from a communist takeover. Our troops pulled out in 1973 after training, equipping and dying alongside South Vietnamese troops. In March 1975, North Vietnam launched its final offensive and in April claimed the entire country.

Why and how did they succeed? South Vietnam lacked “the will to fight.”

So, what’s happening in Iraq isn’t necessarily a new development.

It’s not too late to get the Iraqis ready to defend their country. But defend it they must. This must be their fight, not ours. We’ve already lost more than 4,000 precious American lives in the effort to rebuild Iraq into a free society.




'Easy' confirmation ahead?

When a Republican curmudgeon like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma says he would vote for a Democratic nominee for defense secretary, then you might expect the next nominee to have a relatively clear path toward confirmation.

Today, President Obama is going to nominate former deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter to run the Pentagon; he would replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel. He’s been highly decorated and has been confirmed already by the Senate for his one-time post.


Carter is a well-known expert on weapons and their procurement. He knows the ropes inside the world’s largest office building and it appears he’s got support from at least one Republican senator who’ll get a chance to vote on his confirmation. Will there be more?

GOP lawmakers have been making a lot of noise lately about blocking Obama appointments as payback for his executive action on immigration. They’ve been careful to exclude national security posts from that petulant game.

Let’s hope they’re faithful to their pledge.

If there was a federal agency that needs leadership and cohesion in this troubled time, one would expect it to the be the Department of Defense.

Do not dilly-dally on this one, senators.



Now it's Ashton Carter at DoD

We’ll get to see just how partisan it’s going to get in Washington, D.C.

CNN reports that President Obama is going to nominate Ashton Carter as the next secretary of defense.


Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson withdrew from consideration. So did defense expert Michelle Fluornoy. Presumably others have pulled out, too, for all I know.

Carter is a big hitter. He’s been a deputy defense secretary and was the main weapons buyer for the Pentagon. He also worked as a deputy defense boss during the Clinton administration.

He doesn’t seem to be overly political. He doesn’t have a lot of baggage. Carter seems to be a good fit for the Obama administration, which reportedly forced Chuck Hagel to quit as defense secretary after less than two years on the job.

However, in this day and time, politics seems to matter the most. Republicans who’ll take control of the Senate in January are likely to find all kinds of things to throw against Carter. The chief among them just might be that he’s Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon.

Senators have said they won’t block national security picks, while fighting other presidential nominees in retaliation for the president’s immigration executive order.

Many of us out here intend to hold them to their word.