Sunday, January 08, 2012

Panetta, Dempsey Discuss Iran Situation

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2012 – Defense Department leaders agree international economic pressure represents a better option than military action in dealing with Iran.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer that aired today on the CBS news program “Face the Nation,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said while the U.S. government prefers to peacefully resolve friction with Iran, the department closely monitors Iran’s nuclear program and actions affecting the Strait of Hormuz.

“We know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us,” Panetta said. “Our red line to Iran is: do not develop a nuclear weapon.”

The secretary noted all options to counter Iran, including military action, remain on the table.

“But the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing, and to make sure they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon,” he said.

U.S. sanctions against Iran date to 1979, when an executive order froze Iranian assets in the United States in response to Iranian students’ hostage taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

U.S. sanctions increased with a 1984 order limiting arms sales and prohibiting international loans to Iran. A 1987 executive order banned imports of Iranian-origin goods and services in response to aggressive action against shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Responding to Iran’s support of international terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, the United States imposed further sanctions in 1995, barring U.S. involvement with petroleum development in Iran.

Additional sanctions in 1997, 2008 and 2010 limited U.S. investment, fund transfers and food trade with Iran. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act imposes sanctions against Iran’s central bank, affecting Iranian oil exports to nations that do business with the United States.

The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of economic sanctions against Iran, most recently in 2010.

Panetta said the international strategy toward Iran -- “to try to convince [them] that if they want to do what’s right, they need to join the international family of nations and act in a responsible way -- is working.”

The international community should continue working together on issues relating to Iran, he said.

“We have common cause here,” Panetta said. “We’re not interested in them developing a nuclear weapon; we are not interested in them proliferating violence throughout that region; we are not interested in them trying to assist in terrorism; we are not interested in them trying to destabilize governments in that region or anyplace else.”

If Iran takes the step to develop a nuclear weapon, he added, “They’re going to get stopped.”

Iran developing a nuclear weapon or blocking the Strait of Hormuz both represent “red lines” for the United States, the secretary said. The Iranian government has threatened to prohibit or restrict international maritime transit through the strait, which connects the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, and is the only ocean access for most Persian Gulf nations.

Iran could close the strait for a time, Dempsey said, but the United States has the ability to reopen the waterway.

“Yes, they can block it,” the chairman said. “We’ve described that as an intolerable act, and it’s not just intolerable for us, it’s intolerable to the world. But we would take action and reopen the straits.”

Dempsey said his job as the nation’s senior military officer is to ensure U.S. forces are prepared for any action they are ordered to carry out.

“My responsibility [regarding Iran] is to encourage the right degree of planning, to understand the risks associated with any kind of military action, [and] in some cases to position assets to provide those options in a timely fashion,” he said. “And all those activities are going on. “

Panetta: ‘Sequestration’ Would Upend Military Strategy

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2012 – The Defense Department’s new 10-year strategy will go “out the window” if the federal Budget Control Act’s additional spending cuts go into effect next year, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said.

“If we had to do over a trillion dollars in cuts in this department, I have to tell you that the strategy that we developed, we'd probably have to … start over,” Panetta said during an interview with Rachel Martin that aired today on the NPR program “Weekend Edition.”

President Barack Obama unveiled the strategy in a rare Pentagon appearance Jan. 5 alongside Panetta and other DOD leaders, saying he called for the strategy review to inform the budget process. The strategy is based on $487 billion in budget cuts over ten years.

The Budget Control Act, which Congress passed and Obama signed in August, includes automatic spending cuts across government, including about $500,000 to the Defense Department, to go into effect in 2013. The sequestration cuts, as they are known, were triggered by a congressional committee’s inability to agree on specific cuts last fall. Those across-the-board cuts will be in addition to the $487 billion the administration has proposed in DOD savings, unless Congress takes additional action.

Officials would not discuss specific cost-cutting proposals before the budget is due out early next month. But Panetta said last week he knows many proposals in the fiscal 2012 budget request will be politically sensitive.

“There is no doubt that the fiscal situation this country faces is difficult, and in many ways we are at a crisis point. But I believe that in every crisis there is opportunity,” he said on Jan. 5. “Out of this crisis, we have the opportunity to end the old ways of doing business and to build a modern force for the 21st century that can win today's wars and successfully confront any enemy, and respond to any threat and any challenge of the future.”

The strategy calls for reducing the number of men and women in uniform. The secretary told NPR “the human side” of defense spending cuts makes difficult choices even harder.

"What's going to happen to those people that come back to this country from the battle zones? How are we going to deal with them? What kind of jobs are we going to be able to provide them? How are we going to care for them?" he said.

During the strategy’s rollout at the Pentagon, Panetta repeated his often-stated pledge that DOD will “not break faith” with service members.

“I commit to you that I will fight for you and for your families,” he said.

Troop cuts also will affect the military’s ability to bring troops to bear quickly, Panetta told NPR.

“Part of our approach here is to make sure that we maintain a strong National Guard and a strong reserve,” he said. “They have been fully operational — we have brought them into battle zones. They have gained as much experience as the active force. But … if we are dealing with a leaner and meaner force, if we have to mobilize, there's only one place to go — and that's to the National Guard and to our reserve units.”

The new, leaner military will retain the ability to fight on multiple fronts, Panetta emphasized.

“That's the most important message the American people have to know,” he said. “This force is going to be able to fight any enemy, any aggressor that tries to take us on.”

The secretary said despite the strategy’s emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region as a defense focus, he does not view China’s military buildup as a direct threat to the United States.

“The fact is, as a major power, they have that capability,” he added. “What we have to ensure is that it's used for the right reasons.”

China and the United States face common threats in the region, the secretary said: “The whole issue of Korea and the stability of Korea, the whole issue of nuclear proliferation, the whole issue of providing free access to our ships that are operating in that area.”

Panetta said he intends for the military to work with China and other Pacific nations “to make sure that we secure that area for the future.”

DOD Leaders: U.S. Will Remain World’s Strongest Military

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2012 – The Defense Department’s new, 10-year strategy will ensure the United States remains the world’s strongest military power, DOD leaders emphasized in weekend interviews.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer that aired today on the CBS news program “Face the Nation,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the department is changing to respond to a new global reality.

The strategy announced Jan. 5 outlines defense priorities for the coming decade, and emphasizes trimming the force while investing in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs, combating anti-access technologies, countering weapons of mass destruction and prevailing in all domains, including the cyber world.

“Clearly, we face the constriction of having to reduce the budget by almost half a trillion dollars,” the secretary said. “We developed a strategy that said [the military] is going to be leaner, it is going to be smaller, but it has to be agile, it has to adaptable, it has to be flexible, quickly deployable, and it has to be technologically advanced. That’s the kind of force we need for the future.”

The department’s plan calls for priority emphasis on the Pacific and the Middle East, while maintaining a presence elsewhere, Panetta noted.

“The bottom line is, when we face an aggressor anyplace in this world, we’re going to be able to respond and defeat them,” he added.

The chairman said a popular misconception about the new strategy assumes the nation’s forces will no longer be able to fight more than one conflict at a time.

“In fact, we were pretty adamant that we must be able to do more than one thing at a time, and by the way not limit ourselves to two,” Dempsey said. “The threat, and the environment in which we find ourselves in this decade of the 21st century, suggests to us that it’s likely to be more than two.”

The strategy aims to build a force capable across the military operational spectrum with the leadership, manning and equipment to provide options to the national command authority, the chairman noted.

One point that may have been underemphasized, he added, is that the military has “learned an enormous amount over the last 10 years about how to wage war.”

Dempsey said the military has developed strengths unforeseen a decade ago, noting its capabilities in special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and cyber.

“What we’re looking to do here is not constrain ourselves to a two-war construct, but rather build a force that has the kind of agility the secretary mentioned, that is a learning organization that will adapt itself to what it confronts,” he said.

The military has seen a decade of high demand, and defense leaders are working to ensure the force size remains adequate and adaptive to future missions, he said.

“We do have a … significant, capable [National] Guard and reserve component, and we do have an active component that has learned a lot over the last 10 years,” Dempsey noted. “What we’re trying to do is break the template and think about different ways of accomplishing the task, to give more options to our nation’s leaders.”

The geopolitical and economic challenges of 2012 demand a shift in military power, the general said.

“What we’re trying to do is challenge ourselves to respond to that shift and to react to that strategic inflection point,” he said.

Dempsey said his concern is that in light of changing strategy and budget issues, some will see the United States as a nation and a military in decline.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the chairman asserted. “That miscalculation could be troublesome … it could cause even our close partners to wonder, what kind of partner are we? So what I’d like to say right now is, we’re the same partner we’ve always been, and intend to remain that way.”

4th Fleet Deputy Commander Visits 18th Annual Hispanic Games in NYC

From U.S. 4th Fleet – U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

MANHATTAN, New York (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Anatilio B. Cruz, Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) attended the 18th Annual Hispanic Games at the Armory New Balance Track and Field Center in New York City, Jan. 7-8.

The meet was sponsored by the U.S. Navy, and is sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) and the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA).

"The Hispanic Games are an extraordinary track & field competition with more adrenaline-fed energy than one could ever hope for in a live sporting event. These young student-athletes are absolutely amazing. They come from high schools from across the region and reflect the very same richness in diversity that makes this country great," Cruz said.

"The Hispanic Games were started to celebrate the rich Hispanic heritage in the Harlem and northern Manhattan area, and every year it has become bigger and bigger," said Cmdr. Dennis Espiritu, Navy City Outreach, Navy Recruiting Command. "This weekend's event is the largest event at the New Balance Track and Field Center, and has spilled over to two days."

Twenty-three teams from all over the country competed during the two-day event. The meet, open to all high school age athletes competing with their high school teams, took place on a state-of-art six lane, 200 meter, banked track with a "Mondo" surface. Mondo surfaces consist of a rubberized artificial running surface for the sport of track and field.

"The athletes exude many of the same qualities and attributes we typically see in our service men and women...specifically: discipline, courage, dedication, commitment to excellence, tenacity, perseverance, and sacrifice," Cruz said. "The Navy is fortunate to be here as a sponsor and active supporter of The Hispanic Games."

The Navy Diversity Directorate's mission is to provide Navy leadership with the tools and resources to help create and sustain a cultural awareness that values diversity and an environment where every individual prospers and contributes to the mission.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.