Are we safe? Not within acceptable risk, but more than 17 years ago. Trump broke the defense sequester and is rebuilding the military. We’re opposing enemies and supporting friends in the Middle East; the major prize there is Iraq. — Sen Jim Talent
Image: “The major prize in that area is Iraq: the first thing is to get back into Iraq and add those partners.” Here, a suggested reconstruction of the appearance of a Sumerian ziggurat, probably from the Early Bronze Age (21st century BCE). Mesopotamia’s ancient and astonishing history adds context to the incalculable value of todays Iraq.
Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, anent the question, Are we safe? Not within acceptable risk, but more so than we were 17 years ago. Trump has broken the defense sequester and begun to rebuild the military. “No enemy in the field has done as much harm to the American military as the sequester did.” ---Secy James Mattis. . . We’re opposing our enemies and supporting our friends in the Middle East; but . . . [dangers and competitors abound], none of which existed 15 years ago. Syria is the breeding ground for future mass-murderers. Bad, bad actors come from bad circumstances, as we see from the history of WWI and WWII. The major prize in that area is Iraq: the first thing is to get back into Iraq and add those partners. At a minimum, get enough inv0lved to keep Iran from having a land bridge to the Mediterranean – make it spend [too much] to get there. There are significant ways to apply pressure to Putin and Xi without getting mired up in Syria. Trump is doing some very good things against the Chinese. We cannot allow Xi, Assad and Putin to consolidate power there. East Asia— the fleet needed to protect the region: 355 ships is the minimum. The biggest and most important American influence is the presence of US naval vessels. Obama reduced the pie by moving vessels out of the Atlantic. We need to delay retirement of some of the Ticonderoga cruisers; we must get holds in the water. Also vital that we bld the missile frigate – it’s lighter, less expensive. Will Congress cooperate? If the president, Secretary and chiefs present the matter in a powerful way, I think Congress with give them basically what they want. Deepest bipartisan concern: China. .. .. .. Addendum: By 1995 the older guided missile cruisers and destroyers were replaced by the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Nearly all modern frigates are equipped with some form of offensive or defensive missiles, and as such are rated as guided-missile frigates (FFG). Improvements in surface-to-air missiles (e.g., the Eurosam Aster 15) allow modern guided-missile frigates to form the core of many modern navies and to be used as a fleet defense platform, without the need for specialized anti-air warfare frigates.