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“Modest reforms to pay and compensation will improve readiness and modernization. It will help keep our all-volunteer force sustainable and strong. Keeping faith also means investing sufficient resources so that we can uphold our sacred obligations to defend the nation and to send our sons and daughters to war with only the best training, leadership and equipment. We can’t shrink from our obligations to one another. The stakes are too high.”

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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Friday
Oct142011

Uganda deployment begs questions about Panetta testimony

Yesterday Defense Secretary Panetta gave the House Armed Services Committee a teaser on the Pentagon’s strategy review.  Among many other tidbits, he testified that:

If we decide that we've got to maintain our force structure presence in the Pacific in order to deal with China and China's expanding role in that part of the world, if -- and because of the other issues that exist, obviously, in that very sensitive part of the world, and if we decide that the Middle East is also a very important area where we have to maintain a presence as well, then just by virtue of the numbers that we're dealing with, we will probably have to reduce our presence elsewhere, presence perhaps in Latin America, presence in Africa.

It turns out that, even as he was speaking these words, US combat forces were deploying to Africa.  This afternoon the White House notified Congress that:

On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda. During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA.

Now that’s news.  We look forward to hearing how Secretary Panetta squares this mission with the priorities he sketched out to Congress just yesterday.

Reader Comments (1)

One of the words I hate in the articles about defense these days is "troops." When I see "troops," I think force units, fully equipped with vehicles, arms, communications, logistics, etc. When I counted up countries in which we have such units, I counted five, other than Iraq and Afghanistan. These 100 soldiers going to Uganda are advisers, obviouisly to be armed for their own self-protection, and under the same restrictions as the Filipinos and Colombians impose on us: we do not fight, we do not lead their forces. We advise. Much of what we do in the Trans-Sahel initiative is the same way: Mobile Training Teams (MTTs), like we have been sending around the world for decades. The numbers are always small -- they can be supported by any size DOD budget. And DOD is required by law to notify Congress if they are in any way exposed to combat (we used to prepare those notices when i was in DSAA). Panetta's comment is laughable: we have no "troops" as I have defined it in SOUTHCOM or Africa (except for a few SOF in Djibouti). We do keep a base in Honduras with around 400 people, to which U.S. troops may go to exercise. I have no idea why. I would suspect that AFRICOM, with its 1400 people in Stuttgart, just doubled its "troops" in Africa. We in DSAA ran all our IMET programs in Africa with 2 colonels in Stuttgart. You want cuts, cut down that massive AFRICOM staff.

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHank Gaffney
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