tv Defense News with Vago Muradian ABC November 9, 2014 11:00am-11:31am EST
[captioning performed by the naonal captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content t and accuracy.. vit ncap.org] ♪ >> will come to "defense news." republicans have regained control of the senate and increase their margin in the housjust in time for a budget battle. to talk about the elections, sequestration, defense spending, isis and more, is a roundtable, todd harrison, ,ckenzie egeland, gordon adams and loren thompson of the lexington institute. welcome back to the program. >> thanks. >> to start f -- mckenzie, i
would like to start with you. is a perception that republicans will be good for defense. there areertainly some people in the pentagon who think the tod times will start rolling again. therere e other people who warn there will be realities. tell us a little bit, each of you, on what you think republblican control of bo chambers of congress will mean for defense. >> it is marginally better. the republican party gave away a strong defense of essential tentative, its core platform, at the height of the bush administration. the only reason it seems to be coming back is because voters concerns over ebol and isis are pulling them in that direction. the defense cuts that have gone too far, lack of american leadership abroad. it is not necessarily that their hearts are in this. that is what everyone has to remember going f forward. speaker boehner, presumably and majority leader mitch mcconnell has had 0 -- said zero about national security since tuesday. that speaks volumes about where
the party stands on national security. >> there is no questn thatat election day 2014 was a good thing for republicans, but it was a good day for particular types of republicans when you get to defense. the right wing of the party that was more deficit hawk than defense hawk is in retreat. of iraqisee is a lot and afghanistan war veterans coming into the chamber, the lower anupper chamber. you see a return of the party in general to i its post-vietnam roots as a very pro-military party. >> this was an election about foreign policy it was an election about foreign policy because he was an election based on a campaign of fear. it was based on a campaign about incompetence in running domestic and foreign-policy. it was not an election about the defense budget. it was not an election about increasing the defense budget. what happened as a result is not a bunch of firebreathing young turks came in who will change
ings for the defense budget. people we know and havave knowon for a lolong time will be in charge of these committees, and they will have to deal with debts and deficits. >> and democrats did not do anything to fight on anything vaguely resembling their record. they ceded the ground to ebola-riddled isis fighters are coming down to get you. this is where process becomes important. right now when it comes to the defense budget, we have the budget control act of 2011 that has the budget caps for the future years. if they want to spend more on defense, that is already the la at- of the land. they have to pass a new law to amend orepeal it. to pass a new law, they not only have to get it through their own mamajorities in the house and senate which could prove difficult, but they have to get the president to sign it or it -- it. what traof-offs are they going to make if they want to increase those budget caps? >> i don't think sequestration
will be [indiscernible] todd is right. this is a process question. both of the leaders of parties have spoken this week and never mentioned the word defense. they are not really about iminating the budget control act. they are really about whether or not there is a budget deal there and what they are focused on his tax reform, debt reduction. ys, they are going to have to find 60 votes in the senate or they're going to have to have a veto-proof majority for whatever they pass. >> for the two likely oututcomes for defense e policy and spendig are the exact same as they wld have been if harry reid and the democrats still controthe senate. there will be another many deal, a budget deal to soften a -- sequestration's impact, and they will go the defense budget [indiscernible] >> that's exactly right. there n't a single year since the budget control act became law that it hasn't been softened in one way or another.
that process will continue. since the immediate concern is about our involvement in the middle east, the air war against isis and so on, it is obvious that the overseas contingency budget will be increased. >> does it get increased or is it held flat? >> it will be increased. they're going to request an increase just for the isis era operation. my prediction is they will be coming back for more, because they will want to replace expended munitions. there will be follow-up money on the foreign-policy side. therere will be more money comig in. that is the safety valve. >> look at what is already in the request. they have requested $59 billion before isis and ebolare due to come in now.w. theyn tha$59 billion, ononly need about $20 bilillionf that for operations in afghanistan.
the rest t was fillingng other needs that could not be met in the base budget. is that going to continue in the future? as long as congress continues to go alolong with it. >> let me ask the question of original sin. it was two debt default threads at drrove the entire sequestration equationon in the first place. it is going to be another debt increased debate that't's goingo happen in a couple of months during how does that go? do we take that to the wire again? >> absolutely not. the incoming republican leadership has made it clear that they will send a signal of moderation and seriousness to the electorate because they are already thinking about the 2016 election. grandndll not have a solution or grand bargain. one fix at a time. >> the speaker has strengthened his position as speaker and he has the ability now to silence some of the tea party right. the two of them have said there will be no default. i believe them. >> what does this mean for an
immediate budget deal? >> i don't think there's going to be a massive budget deal. if the s senate wants to get around the 60-vote problem, they ll try to do this by reconciliation which they can do with a 51-vote majorory. the dealal about reconciliation, the president doe't -- doesn't get the e deal he wants, he is t going to sign it. the bottttom line is tt for defense, we are still in the pentagon in an unrealistic signing lanand. -- planning land. getre still assuming a wellpoint. seice chiefs are assuming this will all be waved away. the unrealistic expectations lead to plannining assumptions over the five-year plan that are unrealistic. that'the problem. >> todd. >> there is a big unknown herer. if the repepublicans in congress do manage to pass some legislation that is more to their liking and not to the
president's liking, will the prpresident actually veto it? the senatelooking on historical records. the president is only issued two vetoes in the past six years. one of those was just a technicality. rack to ha the fewest number of vetoes of any two-term president since munro. willie actually use the veto pen? -- will he actuallyly use the vo pen? i'm not sure. >> there is one facet to the defense impact of a republican senate and house that i think has been largely overlooked. virtually every te we have got a republican control in the senate or white house since vietnam, weapons spending has gone up. preponderance the of our deficit savings are coming out of the modernization budget. that may shift a little bit under a mccain chairmanship. take exception to
>> ware back with our roundtable. i want to pick up on what lauren said on john mccain. john mccain is going to emerge anand it appears to be emergings the next house armed services committee chairman. ththere are going to be new leaders overall, but mccann has retired. there will be a leadership change in house armed services committee as well as the appropriations committee. talk to us about what a mccain chairmanships going to mean.
there are folks in the defense industry as well as the pentagon were terrified i that -- by that . >> w will see less than you expect o of his chairmanship. john mccain is a show horse, but not much of a workhorse. it's not clear what issues he does care about. they are highly unpredictable. sitting on this committee, does not much he can do, particularly about the issue which he says is important, which is sequestration. not where it's going to happen. he has one issue that he cares a lot about, which is the correctness and utility and efficiency of the quisition system. if going to hold a lot of fire and brimstone hearings. what we need is someone interested in reforms across the board. >> one thing we can say for certain about a mccain chairmanship is the defense industry is [indiscernible] anybody who has a cost overrun or signifint schedule
difference will be sitting in front of them. >> is no reason to be afraid, ththough. with senenator mccain, what you see is what you get. we all know what to expect. you know what's coming down the pipe. he is a foreign-policy guy at heart. he very much cares about american internationalism, restored leadership. he has already previewed his agenda and he says he's going to work for a closely with senator , theand senator corker foreign relations d intelligence committee chairman, to lay out an alternative foreign-policy vision in his capacity as chairman. >> what wille actually be able to do as chairman? when he will be able to do is bring anan increased level of oversight and scrutiny to defense programs. g some that has military leaders feeling a bit uncomfortable e about it. they are not used to being questions, quite frankly. >> they don't have any modernization program left. >> that was their choice.
let'talk a little bit about some of the other jobs that are going to have to be filled here. a lot of pple are signing in. the appropriations committee, defense subcommittee -- who we see as -- who do we see as being the front drivers on the senate side now? >> leadership. >> who are the guys who we think are going to take over? is it clear yet? >> not clear. [indiscerble] ovever sessions will ta the budget committee. what will matter is what mitch mcconnell once to get done e and the messaging he wants to send out. we need to talk about the central issue here. the only thing eveone really cares about now is 2016. the agenda in the senate for the chairmrman on down is going to e helping the candidate for yo party. >>he four most important people in the congress are going to be mcconnelell, boehner, prie in the house, and jeff sessions,
the incoming chair. those four people are going to be carrying water on the big deal. >> is anybody relevant on the democratic arty anymore, including the president? >> the president is relevant as much as he is willing to use his veto pen. >> it is a threat of a veto. todd was saying he does not veto many things. presidents frequently threatened vetoes to preserve a neg niating stance on a bill. >> givenen the focus on 2016, it may be a big problem the leadership hahas in terms of controlling the republican conference in the house. the tea pararty, but the fact that every other senator is contemplating arun. -- a run. there are so many people in the chamber. how do you control people who are trying to position themselves with regard to the base? >> let's keep in mind because of the calendar that we really only got this next legislative
session, this next year to get anything of substance done. after that, everything has to be on autopilot. you mention for example about how defense programs may be benefited by this. pepole isn't the big issue -- isn't the big issue. the army still wants to cling to that manpower, not go to for 50, not go lower. that idriving serious questions. down 20,000going active-duty personnel a year. they have been doing it for a while now. under the rules for the budget control act, they are not getting c credit for the savings and therefore theyave had to get their moderninization and ta lesser degree eir readiness. >> where does the department go to get money? --tinue to shed peole, then people, then? >> correct. you shed people. i predict the army will shed more people than going down to
the 490 level ththey're talking about. they will be closer to 450. every drawdown we have done has shed people in the army. >> ectly. this is how you pay benefit costs, by reducing the number of recipients. >> that is the way it ends up happening. it's not the right way to do it, right? >> and nobodody wants to reform any of it. everybody said the military entitlements shou be reformed along with everybody else's entitlementnd not in isolation . >> a nonstarter. aren't ing to be closed. we are going to be deang w with cutting and trimming at the edges and it's going to be real important for the secretary to bear down. >> we dodo have a marker comingp in february, the congressional tomission that was created look at mimilitaryompensation, their report will be due back to congress in time to affect the next yours -- year's budget the
liberatition's. mckinsey -- we he a bet. if somethi comes of it, she owes majoring. -- owes me a drink. if they come out witith a stron, powerful report that they could actually turn the debate on this. i'm m not saying it isis a 50% chance. at thent back and looked last downturn. there is aubantial decline in benefits payments in the last downturn after the cold war. but it's not as big as a decline in fort structure, which imies benefits went up per capita. >> we will be right back in just benefits went up per capita. >> we will be right back in just a moment with more wit
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institute, gordon adams of american university, and loren thompson of the lexington instute. strategy andsis whether or not it t is proving effective. therhas been criticism that the air campaign has been languidly -- laggardly. the operation is succeeding, ha stopped, will rollback. it is now a long-term training mission. how is itoing? >> it is a relatively low intensity air campaign. we are looking at 3, 4, 5 airstrikes per day on average. the burn rate right now of this operation according to the pentagon is $215 million per month. at this rate, it will take time to see real results. here is the operatial paradox or irony. just as we elect a congress that contains a lot of people want to put boots on the ground, we are seeing the islamic state advance
slow. is partly the air war. it's partly the fact they have taken all these areas. it's partly the fact that the iraqis and pesce marga and the kurdish part of the country are getting their act together. if isis stops growing, it loses its unstoppable in the -- unsto ppability, and i will accelerate its decline. >> everybody was trying to be not overtly helpg assad, not to kill too many sunnis who might be on the fence. you have to be very careful about collateral casualties. >> you don't envy the white house. it is clear the president is going to have to restrain his strategic aims of destroyi this organization or provide a more robust military government campaign to match his strategic aim. one of the other -- one or the other is going to have to happen. senator mccain will be a thorn in his side until he makes a decision. >> the president said it is a
long-term exercise. he's right about that. the critical turning point is not going to bwhetr the bombing campaign works or esn't work or not. everybody says and everybody knows just doing thifrom the air is impossible. the critical long-term issue here is, is the iraqi military and the pesce marga capable of pushing isis out of the area, and even more seriously in syria, what will be the balance of forces in syria on the ground? the training question is up for grabs. >> the administration keeps saying no boots on the ground. they' already aplenty -- there are already padilla people on thground. of people on the ground. how many folks could we see engaged on the ground in this campaign? >> police several thousand. if we have a forward air spspotters, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of a air war against isis. >> we have to look past just
defeating or destroying isis, if that is even possible. it is an ideology. what is the root cause here is the ungoverned space in th area. > correct. >> in iraq and syria, who can actually control that ungoverned space in the e future to prevent another group like isis frfrom arising? in syria, that's a difficult question to answer. >> the critical issue, to take todd's phrase, who do we want is not going to be the issue. is going to be an issue resolved among the parties on the ground. that is going to be very hard for us to control. >> let me move the conversation to chuck hagel. there have been some stories that suggested that there's going to be a shuffle and he's going to be moved out. the pentagon has rejected that conversation. others say even in his very low-key way, he is being extraordinarily successful in the e department. how do you guys grade how cck hagel is going? >> he tually could get along
with senator mccain. they are both were veterans. they are both war heroes. they served together for a long time. it seems like this is a moment in which he could be more useful to the administration then he has been. -- if thenstituency president t is happy with him, e is sticking by through the last day. it is a thankless job that no one would want right now. it is still a defense drawdown. he's got no happy yes's cing wn to his own forces and troops. we should all be grateful that he wants to keep this job and ststick with it. this is the next two pivotal yes to maintain and manage. >> in my view,agel gets an incomplete. he gets an incomplete at this point. he understands the problems internally in the pentagon of what needs to be done. the question is, he's going to make it stick.
as long as you are allowing a safety valve and you are allowing a base budget planning mber that is above what he's likely to get, you are still not tighteninghe screws on the pentagon. >> the exptation is ththis entire senior leadership team and dod, the expectation has been they will be in place through the end of the administration. they have embarked as a team -- >> youou're talking about bob wk and frank kendall >> that's right. it has been below the radar, i think. that is an important thing that they are working on. if you were to leave now, it would completely upset that process. >> he is very well-suited to that moment. let's keep i in mind that hagel served in the senate as a repuican. he should be very good at talking to the new majority. >> let's all be thankful the secretary hagel wants it and
>> now the republicans controlled the senate and have creased their lead in the house, some in washington predicted defense spending boom. thisis wishful thinking at point. republicans campaigned on defense but now talk more about the keystone pipeline, obamacare and immigration. spite an improving economy, debt reduction and t taxes are p republican priorities. more ford dod means more cuts elsewhere. democrats will shield social programs and the president still
has veto power. the obamama administration each year asks for more pentagon funding that congress approves. conservative "wall street journal" said defense cuts could pay for highway improvement. president obama and mitctch mcconnell say they want to work together. and they must. obama's gacy is at stake and republicans must show there is re to them than saying no, threatening debt defaults and shutting down government as a position for 2016. republicans won by winnining against obama -- running against obama. together to lift sciquest ration, reform entitlements and taxes, but it's simply too early to count on more defense money. thanks for watching. i am vago muradian. news.com. on defense
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