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Defense News Weekly: Will Esper be confirmed?

July 29, 2019



defense news its proudly sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union if you're a member of our nation's armed forces the Department of Defense or if your family is we'd be proud to serve you – on this edition of defense news weekly turkey is out of the f-35 program after taking delivery for Russian air defense system an army modernization is taking a giant leap forward as the new futures command reaches full strength will also sit down with presidential candidate Pete Buda jet and hear his pitch to be commander in chief he finally we'll find out who in the Navy is getting their flight hours cut with in-depth interviews up-close video and leading analysis this is defense news weekly welcome to this week's edition of defense news weekly I'm Jeff Martin this week we've got a lot to dig into from Army modernization to presidential politics to the amazing story of this year's marine of the year but first here's our top news of the week the new commandant in the United States Marine Corps general david berger has released his planning guidance for his expected four-year tenure atop the service and it previews some fundamental changes for the marine corps included in that change is a shift and how Marines are trained and educated a reorientation towards how the Corps fights and a focus on eliminating misconduct within the ranks another key point from his guidance was that 38 amphibious ships will no longer be the guiding principle of the amphibious fleet and that the Corps must adapt to meet future threats and needs of the future a Japan based destroyer originally sidelined by a fatal collision in 2017 has had its return to the fleet delayed by a new issue which arose during testing Navy maintenance experts found that the port shaft the USS John S McCain is out of alignment likely because of that 2017 collision that killed ten sailors a misaligned shaft can mean if the bearings that support and turn the shaft are out of sync which is more easily fixed or that the shaft itself is warped or that the main reduction gear is out of alignment although it's unclear what exactly the problem is with the shaft adjustments are scheduled to be done by this October and the US Air Force's competition for new intercontinental ballistic missiles has moved on to the next stage after the service released a request for the weapons systems first five production lots the contract for the engineering manufacturing development or EMD phase of the ground braced escheat strategic deterrent or gb SD is expected to be awarded later in 2022 one of two companies Boeing and Northrop Grumman which are both involved in the current phase of development while the ultimate cost of the program is unclear the gpsd will replace Minuteman 3 ICBMs which had few upgrades since being fielded in the 1950s and 60s and the US Navy is having to cut flight hours of several squadrons on the East Coast because they may 100 million dollar budget shortfall hit hardest will be Pella copter squadrons as though it was 25% of their flight hours in addition patrol tests and support units are acceptable is about 10 percent of their hours according to a naval aviation official the shortfall was caused by greater than anticipated usage of p8 patrol planes which will have to be accounted for in the future this week marks a huge step forward for the Army's newest organization army futures command is their commander announced they'll be fully operational starting on July 31st the command which centralizes all army modernization under a four-star general is based in Austin Texas and is working to vastly speed up the purchase and development of new equipment at a news conference of the Pentagon the unit's leader General Mike Murray laid out what's next and as most of you would suspect the army didn't give me a year off to kind of sort it out before they started asking things from me so I think we have actually been executing the mission that we've been given for at least the last six to eight months if not longer so that's why I'm very very comfortable saying 31 July will be fully operational this week also marked the suspension of turkeys participation in the f-35 program as the Middle Eastern country has now taken delivery of a Russian s400 air and missile defense system and a news conference at the Pentagon defense leaders explained what's next here's some highlights as president Trump said in his statement today the u.s. still values our strategic partnership with Turkey the Department of Defense and the US government more broadly have worked very hard to chart an alternative path that would enable Turkey to acquire air defense systems within NATO alliance standards for interoperability and still allow Turkey to remain within the f-35 partnership all Turkish f-35 students and instructor pilots currently in the United States have firm plans to leave the country roughly 20 Turkish personnel at the joint program office will no longer retain access to J posts basis these actions to remove turkey from the f-35 program are intended to mitigate risks to the f-35 and are separate from any congressionally mandated Russia related sanctions under the countering America's adversaries through sanctions act or CATSA Capitol Hill saw some fireworks this week as army secretary Mark Esper faced the Senate for his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Defense one key moment was when Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren questioned doctor on his past work at Raytheon here's a look at that exchange if you're confirmed will you do the same and commit to extending your recusal from any and all matters involving Raytheon for your the duration of your tenure as Secretary of Defense you know some we had this discussion in your office yes we did this discussion a couple years ago you know on the advice of our my ethics folks at the Pentagon the the career professionals know the recommendation is not to the belief is that the screening process I have in place all the rules and regulations we're not going to do what secretary there's an acting secretary Shanahan agreed to do and that is agree not to be involved in decisions involving your former employer where you were head lobbyist for the duration of your time as Secretary of Defense sense right I can't explain why he made that commitment we obviously come to the he was right you are not willing to make the same commitment is that right was fulfilling a different role than I am and he obviously are unwilling to make that same commitment is that right doctor there's a different professional background I'll take that as a yes you're unwilling to make that commitment that is not the only ethics problem with your nomination part of the deal you got from Raytheon when you left is their top lobbyist was at least a million dollars in deferred compensation after 2022 now the law prohibits you from participating in matters that would affect Raytheon's ability or willingness to hand you this massive payout but there's catch in a recent memo you detailed an exception to your ethics obligations by writing that you can get a waiver to participate in matters that directly and predictably affect Raytheon's financial interests if it's quote so important that it cannot be referred to another official in quote this smacks of corruption plain and simple so here's my question will you commit that during your time as defense secretary that you will not seek any waiver that will allow you to participate in matters that affect Raytheon's financial interests well Center let me correct the record with regard which you said at any time in the past 20-some months to include the last three weeks did I request or see or receiver be granted any waiver dr. Esper that you have not in the past asked for one but you have your divine answer the question who has detailed an exception to your ethics obligation by saying that you can seek a waiver in the future and so I'm asking if you're confirmed will you agree not to seek such a waiver I think it's a fair question it's yes or no but I understand you have not asked in the past so I'll ask my question again will you agree not to ask for a waiver during the time you serve as Secretary of Defense no senator I won't because I'm going to continue to buy by the rules and regulations and I'm going to thank you with my ethics personnel to ensure that we stay in the core midfield I recently introduced legislation to block the revolving door between the Pentagon and giant defense contractors like raytheon-sarcos the revolving door if confirmed will you commit not to work for or get paid by any defense contractor for at least four years after your government service no senator I will not all right so let me get this straight you're still do to get at least a million dollar payout from when you lobbied for Raytheon you won't commit to recuse yourself from Raytheon's decision you insist on being free to seek a waiver that would let you make decisions affecting raytheon's bottom line and your remaining financial interests and you won't rule out taking a trip right back through the revolving door on your way out of government service or even just delaying that trip for four years after you leave government secretary Esper the American people deserve to know that you're making decisions in our country's best security interests not in your own financial interests you can't make those commitments to this committee that means you should not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense Center if I if I may answer your question at the age of 18 I went to West Point and I swore an oath to defend this Constitution and I embraced the motto called duty and on in country and I've lived my life in accordance of those values ever since then I went to war for this country I served overseas for this country I've stepped down from jobs that paid me well well more than what I was working anywhere else and each time it was to serve the public good and to serve the young men and women of our armed services so no I I disagree I think the presumption is for some reason anybody comes from the business of the corporate world is corrupt so I'm asking you've gone two minutes no I haven't gone over you has gone over and not willing to make a commitment that he will not engage in conflicts of interest which he was a lobbyist this is outrage Thank You mr. chairman to keep up to date with all of our coverage be sure to visit our Facebook Twitter and LinkedIn pages also be sure to add us on Apple's news outlet and other platforms for the latest updates and when we come back we'll sit down with candidate Pete Buddha judge and learn about the new 2019 Loreena of the year while many veterans have run for and won the presidency none are quite like South Bend mayor Pete Budaj the Democrat and navy veteran recently talked with Military Times about what he would do if he was elected to be commander in chief here's that interview it's vitally important that the u.s. command more respect than we do today one of the most surprising storylines from the early 2020 Democratic presidential primary has been the emergence of 37 year-old Pete Budaj on the national stage the mayor of South Bend Indiana is polling among the top five in a crowded field and achieved a national prominence few anticipated when he announced his candidacy in April one of the key focuses on people that judges campaigns so far has been his status as a naval reservist and as an Afghanistan war veteran he's one of three post 9/11 veterans in the Democratic presidential field this year but he's the first since the recent Wars began to really break into that upper echelon of fundraising and a polling so we're here in South Bend to interview mayor Pete about what that would mean for him to be commander-in-chief and how his veteran status influences his priorities manner thank you sitting down with us we wanted to talk to you because you're a a gay Democrat from a town that's got a major university I don't think that's the criteria most people would have thought of when they think of the veteran that's going to break into the national conversation is that wrong with me to think that way is that wrong to think that you're breaking the mold in some way people can try to size you up by your profile but if you tried to figure me based on that it wouldn't get you very far you know I'm a millennial gay Pisgah peléan veteran mayor from a blue city in a very red state I think it's just evidence of how you got to get to know people individually so let's let's talk about you know commander-in-chief not a small title there what is your vision for what that should be what are your priorities when you when you hear commander-in-chief what are you going to do different from the current guy what are you gonna do differ from President Trump who is serving that role right now well I think as president I'll have two big jobs when it comes to the commander-in-chief role the first is to establish a higher and clearer bar for when we're going to use military force you know the way that this administration is kind of casually thrown around the idea of getting the military involved in Venezuela or militarizing the US border or escalating things with Iran I think doesn't really reflect a clear-headed sense of what thresholds you do apply for decisions about the use of force the second big task is going to be restoring us credibility around the world you know we have not been this badly off in terms of respect among nations especially our allies as long as I've been alive and quite a bit longer than that and it's vitally important that the u.s. command more respect than we do today so being a veteran does that make you I guess more reluctant to commit to force I mean we've we've heard a lot of tough talk from the administration but not necessarily committing the troops there it's it's you know it's threatening the stick but not actually using it I mean how do you how do you find that line between when to actually deploy versus you know when to just send a stern message or remind remind those foes we do have a very strong military well I think part of what you get from having been in a conflict is a sense of the gravity of some of the forces they're playing with so what worries me most about for example the Iran situation isn't so much the president's intentions as the the competence in the White House right now the possibility that they could initiate something that gets away from them in other words the the dynamics over there could reach a point where the White House actually loses control of an escalation I think when you've deployed you understand that we have military force for a reason and we maintain the best fighting force in the world for a reason and we should be prepared to use it to defend the homeland to prevent attacks on on American soil or on American interests and people the other thing is that those who served in the Afghanistan conflict have an especially strong sense of just how hard it is to end the conflict I thought I was one of the last guys turning out the lights when I left IAF headquarters that was five years ago and we're still arguing over how to get out it's a reminder of how difficult it is to wrap up a conflict once you're in line you have on the ground experience there you know how long this war is dragged on what what is your plan for Afghanistan well to me we can't be the guarantors of full peace prosperity and democracy over there what we should do is do our part to support a democratically elected government that will be friendly to the u.s. that doesn't mean an open-ended commitment of troops on the ground sure we can have intelligence capabilities sure we can have special forces capabilities to prevent another attack on the homeland but beyond that I think it's time to go if mayor Pete becomes president Pete do we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan in 2024 we gotta wrap this up and so my expectation is that we will not have ground troops much longer than than when I arrived in office again we may need to maintain some kind of special ops capability that's understandable but we can't just be there indefinitely and expect any different result than we've had in the last going on 20 years you worried that the military has gotten sucked into politics in a way that did it didn't in the past yeah very much so and look individual service members have have opinions and strong ones and that's fine but I always knew and I think every professional service member knows when you put on the uniform you put away your politics and by the same token the president ought to know that troops are not there to decorate his political ambitions there they're there to defend the Constitution with their lives no matter where you fall in the political spectrum you should know that your president only views your service as as a sacred trust and as something to help defend the nation not as something to be politicized and turned into a shiny backdrop now you join the military after Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed but you've seen the transgender it was still policy when I join so why I mean with your background why did you join then why why was that not a deterrent to say I don't want to be part of this kind of organization well I think it definitely made a lot of people think twice but at the end of the day I wanted to serve and that trumped everything else I wanted to make myself useful but it was frustrating to know that I could lose my job and what was amazing after I did come out after Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed was that I heard from so many other people are in the same boat good service members good soldiers good sailors who were in the exact same boat and and and I think found it harder to do their job because they had that extra pressure of not being able to talk about their home life the way that yeah I mean what's more what's more of a military tradition then talking about your spouse and your kids in your life at home whether you're you're proud of them or whether you're grumbling about it yeah just the ability to do that's actually a really important part ironically it's a really important part of unit cohesion that only became available when we did away with Don't Ask Don't Tell did it make you reconsider it at all after you joined no but but it made it harder we've got the transgender issue now and the repeal of some of the rules that Obama put in place by the Trump administration what's what's the next step there how do you feel not only much a position on that but how do we get away from where we are now which is a lot of folks who feel like they had one set of rules and had it swept off one of them even if you were to go back to what the Obama era transgender rules were you're gonna have a lot of folks who just don't trust the institution to stick with that yeah again it's a huge distraction for servicemembers even if even if they don't lose their careers and if they do then it's also a huge injustice especially because it's being served up at the hands of a president who faked a disability to avoid serving when it was his turn we can do so much better in this country and I think that any institution especially the military ought to judge people based on the job you're doing and if you're doing a good job you ought to get promoted and if you're not there's consequences for that and all the other stuff needs to be taken off the table for some reason this president thinks there's some political advantage in picking on people who are already vulnerable because of who they are but if they're ready to serve and and their evaluations show that they're doing a good job why would you hold something unrelated to that against them talk to me about about that translation especially the VA because that's been another big focus of the president honey how do you feel VA is is working or not work you know when I talked to veterans who really depend on on the VA or look to the VA for for medical care they you hear two things one is it they're frustrated with the state of affairs and the other is that they do not want it to be privatized or replaced you know we have the VA for a reason and one of those reasons is different wars have different wounds we never would have been able as a country to learn how to deal with Agent Orange or a traumatic brain injury or PTSD if it weren't for some of the work done within the VA that's specially designed to respond those things but the wait times are too long the the distance you got to drive sometimes it's too far the struggle to get mental health on par with physical health is not complete and far too many people are still left outside of the system so it's clear we've got to do a better job and that involves bringing new tools to bear it means using technology in new ways not so much asking veterans to be masters of technology especially if they're from an older generation but under the hood using technology to simplify the processing and reduce these waits that everybody's subjected to but I think we can do that without turning this over to the private sector for people to make money off of and expecting that that'll somehow make it all better thank you so much appreciate it thank you when we come back we'll look at the heroic story of the 2019 norine of the year on this week's money minute Navy Federal Credit Union personal finance expert Brian Parker offers his latest tips according to the Federal Reserve one quarter of Americans have no retirement savings at all in fact 44 percent worry that their savings isn't on track if you're already putting money away for retirement that's great your future self will thank you but if you haven't started rest assured it's not too late to begin building that cushion traditional or Roth IRAs are a great way to kick off investing and grow your money many employers sponsor 401k plans will match your contribution up to a certain amount and if you switch jobs you can always transfer that balance to a new employers 401k plan military members also have access to the military's blended retirement system everyone's financial needs are a little bit different so be sure to talk to your trusted financial advisor they can help you map out a strategy for achieving your retirement goals with these goals in mind and a clear grasp of the course ahead reaching the dream of comfortable financial future is much more attainable thanks Brian we'll see you next week to get more defense news coverage be sure to visit our website at defense news.com and subscribe to our early route brief deliver to your inbox every weekday morning to get you ready to start the day when we come back we're gonna look at the heroic story of the 2019 of the year Master Sergeant Jarid Stout is the 2019 marine of the year and this marine Raiders story is incredible a recipient of the Silver Star for actions in Mali in 2015 and a 16 year veteran his story is incredible when your country has called you to serve take a very hard look at the oath that you've taken realize that you're you're taking on a mantle of responsibility to do the right thing when it's hard I feel that it that brotherhood and sisterhood that you find in the military and you find in the Marines is strong and it's motivating and it's powerful and it makes you feel at home and that that makes it easy for you to do the hard things in life breaking news terrorist attack a Radisson Hotel in the Capitol the West African country of Mali authorities say armed Islamic terrorists killed 19 people among the victims one American 41 year old Anita Datar a mother of a seven-year-old boy from Maryland she was a global November 20th 2015 there was a terrorist attack at a hotel that claimed the lives of 21 people we went to help we're not looking for anything else but the help and you know that day we got the opportunity to really put our hands to the work and help and get people to safety I look at the the passing of a needed ATAR and the other victims of November 20 2015 a look at losses we've suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan and and I do feel that those are you know those people motivate me to want to do better to try harder when you've chosen to serve and you take on that mantle of responsibility you have to wake up every day and say what have I done today to be better to earn this position for me to serve it means giving of myself to my nation it's my family so that they can they can have a better opportunity to achieve to do something that that matters it is about you do that for all the people that that didn't come home I have a responsibility to live well and to be the very best that I can be for them because they don't have the opportunity and that legacy that they left us with we have a responsibility to pick up and carry forward that's all we have time for this week but if you want to see and read more be sure to head over to defense news.com thanks for joining us we'll see you next time

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