Daily Def/Sec Brief


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta engaged in a testy back-and-forth with Rep. J. Randy Forbes over cutting $487 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday. – Washington Times

As the Obama administration reorients its military strategy toward Asia and the vital maritime trade routes in the Pacific, the bulk of the responsibility will fall on the Navy, which was largely sidelined during the land wars of the last decade. – Washington Post

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) blasted President Obama’s new defense budget, accusing it of putting the U.S. military at risk of losing its superiority. – DEFCON Hill

The Pentagon wants production of the Air Force’s new bomber put on the fast track, despite the program’s $500 million per-plane price tag. – AOL Defense

The U.S. Air Force has no immediate need of an MQ-X next-generation replacement for the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aircraft, the service’s intelligence chief said. – Defense News

Bill Gertz reports: The Pentagon’s plan to shift the focus of U.S. military forces to Asia after disengagement in Iraq and Afghanistan got mixed support in the defense budget request released this week. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring

Josh Rogin reports: The Pentagon’s new budget request moves $3 billion of military pay and benefits out of the base budget into the war budget in an accounting maneuver experts and congressional staffers say is meant to get around legally mandated budget caps and bolster the administration’s plan to cut the size of the Army and Marines. – The Cable

Dov Zakheim writes: The administration vigorously protests assertions that it is presiding over America’s decline. The defense budget tells another story. It is not a matter of Washington leading from behind. Instead what is becoming clear is that Washington is not prepared to lead at all. – The Cable

Nuclear Weapons

For the next round of negotiations with Russia on nuclear weapon reductions, the United States would like to focus on nondeployed nuclear weapons and what are known as nonstrategic or “tactical” nuclear weapons, according to State Department officials. – Defense News

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will visit Barksdale Air Force Base on Friday for a briefing on nuclear deterrent capabilities, the Pentagon said. – Gannett

Congressional Republicans on Wednesday vowed to block the Obama administration from sharply cutting the U.S. nuclear force, calling potential reductions of as much as 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons “reckless lunacy.” – Associated Press

The War

Jack Goldsmith writes: In sum, two presidential administrations with starkly different views about executive power and proper counterterrorism tactics ended up in approximately the same place because constitutional forces more powerful than the aims and inclinations of the presidents were at work. – Washington Post


Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), along with a handful of allies, unveiled a doorstop of a bill on Feb. 14 aimed at boosting defenses against escalating cyberthreats. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants quick floor action on the measure. But a group of top Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has called on Reid to slow down. – Politico

Richard Clarke writes: The recent hacker exchange should also remind us that just as hacking could escalate to the use of conventional force in the Middle East, the reverse is also true. Bombing Iran, for example, could unleash an Iranian government cyber attack. Israelis say they could handle that, despite the recent evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, much of the critical infrastructure in the U.S. is still not ready for a sophisticated nation-state cyber attack either. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

About Courtney Messerschmidt

Is a personae for the contact, co creator, poster girl and correspondent of GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD a collective of diplopolititary junkies. A real girl, she is an annoying, arrogant, audacious, bloodthirsty, conniving, cool, cruel, deceitfully sweet, discombobulated, flirtacious, jealous, hedonistic, lazy, machiavellian, manipulative, militaristic, self absorbed, self aggrandizing, self centered, semi charmed, semi retarded, shallow, spoiled, stuck up, high maintainance ne'er do well pixie with a penchant for immense libraries, depleting strategic cash reserves and wrecking cars every 10 months. Super saavy history and current events. My superior intellect and easy going smartassticness armed with a chaotic emotion meter gave me a formidable ability to be independently dependent. Currently exiled in Hillbillyland, I wield a vocabulary far above my tiny tiny weight class and have traveled widely including Europe, the Middle East and Alabama. I like Am Ex, Carte Blanche, Discover, Mastercard, Ray Bans, Visa and devouring American Dollars in alarming quantities.
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