from Politics, Power, and Preventive Action and Center for Preventive Action

You Might Have Missed: Drones, Leaving Afghanistan, and Iran

December 22, 2012

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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DOD Decision Makers Need Additional Analyses to Determine Costs and Benefits of Returning Excess Equipment, Government Accountability Office, December 19, 2012.

In June 2011, the United States announced plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The remaining U.S. forces will work to support the U.S. objective of a transition to Afghan-led security by December 2014. The Department of Defense (DOD) has begun planning for this reduction and, as part of its planning, has identified more than 750,000 major end items--equipment important to operational readiness to support the combat forces, such as weapons and vehicles--that can be returned from Afghanistan (to DOD inventories), transferred to another U.S. government agency or another country, or destroyed in theater. According to DOD, this equipment, estimated to be worth more than $36 billion, has accumulated during a 10-year period. DOD officials also estimate that it could cost $5.7 billion to return or transfer equipment from Afghanistan.

Remarks by Secretary Panetta at the National Press Club, December 18, 2012.

“But, please, make no mistake:  If we determine that they are -- have made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon, the United States considers that to be a red line.”

(3PA: This is an important clarification of what would be the trigger for a potential attack on Iran, since the U.S officials claim that they would be able to detect when the Supreme Leader made such a decision. According to Panetta’s logic, if the Supreme Leader does not make this decision, there will be no need to attack Iran.)

Brendan McGarry, “Retired Veterans Beat Textron for Nearly $1 Billion Military Drone Contract,” Washington Post, December 18, 2012.

The Defense Department over the next decade plans to increase its fleet of armed and long-haul surveillance drones, including Predators and Reapers, by at least 45 percent to about 645 in fiscal 2022 from about 445 in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Daniel Klaidman, “Will Obama End the War on Terror?” Newsweek, December 17, 2012.

Many counterterrorism officials are making the case that the administration needs to be more discerning about which groups are worth going after militarily and how to calibrate our response to the level of threat. “Should we resort to drones and Special Operations raids every time some group raises the black banner of al Qaeda?” asks one senior military planner. “How long can we continue to chase offshoots of offshoots around the world?”

William C. Triplett II, “U.S. Must Not Allow North Korea to Obtain ICBM,” Washington Times, December 14, 2012.

The first order of business would have to be an acceleration of plans for a kinetic destruction program, if it came to that. Any production facilities, key weapons, military personnel, ships flying any flag with a history of smuggling North Korean weapons systems, and aircraft should automatically on the watch list. Any operatives we can reach at home or abroad — including non-North Korean citizens — we think may be facilitating North Korean weapons-of-mass destruction programs should be watched closely. President Obama’s “kill list” would get an immediate expansion.

Amy Butler and Graham Warwick, “Budding Courtship,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, December 10, 2012.

The U.S. Navy is making strides in achieving its lofty objective of fielding up to six unmanned aerial vehicles on an aircraft carrier deck in 2020, though the path is fraught with technology and funding challenges. The services hopes to field 4-6 yet-to-be-built Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (Uclass) aircraft on a deck by the turn of the next decade, a goal that service offiicals admit is ambitious. But the potential reach of aircraft carriers, which do not require host nation approval for operations, with unmanned surveillance technologies, especially when coupled with a stealthy design—will give the Navy a major advantage as the Pentagon shifts its attention from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Pacific region.

(3PA: Presently, all known U.S. strike drones require in-theater airfields. To see where many are located, read this piece.)

Ana Maria Munoz Boudet, Patti Petesch, and Carolyn Turk, “On Norms and Agency: Conversations about Gender Equaltiy with Women and Men in 20 Countries,” The World Bank Group, 2012.

(3PA: Based on five hundred focus groups of men and women in twenty countries, a fascinating study of how norms of gender roles impact men and women, and their sense of agency and empowerment.)

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