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8 colossal missed opportunities on the defense authorization bill

Conservative Review

In a sane world, instead of saturating our brain cells exclusively with the latest utterances of Donald Trump, we’d be engaged in a national discussion over the future of our military and its missions around the world. This week, the Senate is debating the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act - S. 2943 (NDAA), which authorizes all of our defense programs. There is no area where Obama’s deleterious and transformational imprint has been more evident than with regards to our military and our national security agenda. Given that the NDAA is regarded as a must-pass bill, now is the time the GOP-controlled Senate can inject the will of the people into the sphere of military affairs and national defense, which has been largely monopolized by the executive branch.

Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) think that authorizing money for defense is automatically pro-military, even if that money is being spent to send them into a meat grinder or have them do the work of our enemies. What is more important than money, in fact, are the policies governing the military and its strategic mission. To blissfully pass a defense authorization bill without using it to combat Obama’s unacceptable war on our military is irresponsible and not pro-military in the least.

The problem with Obama’s foreign policy, as it relates to military operations, is not that he’s leading from behind. It’s that he has no coherent set of priorities in the Middle East and often sides with the wrong players or inserts our troops into theaters where there is no good outcome that serves our national interests. While everyone debates whether to place boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, the reality is that Obama has already placed boots on the ground. He is stretching our special operations soldiers thin. He is using them as a perpetual conventional force in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya (as well as their traditional missions in over 140 other countries) with no understanding of what they are trying to achieve. Although it is hard for Congress to direct the president to affirmative do the right thing, they can at least place restrictions on him using our best troops to help our enemies.

Here are just 8 issues Republicans could have addressed in the defense bill:

Drafting Women

Before going on offense and proposing good solutions to improve the deteriorating morale in our military and better define their missions abroad to match our national security needs, conservatives must play defense and ensure that this NDAA doesn’t make the social engineering worse.

Sen. John McCain inserted a provision into the Senate version of the bill during committee markup, which includes women in mandatory Selective Service for the first time in our nation’s history. The House removed that provision from its version last month, after it was erroneously slipped in during the committee markup. The sad reality is that every Democrat and at least half of Republicans, including Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), support the inclusion of women in the mandatory draft. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has an amendment to take this provision out, but if it does not come up for a vote, conservatives must ensure it is taken out when it heads to conference committee. If conservatives are not successful and the final conference report contains this provision, it would be worthwhile to sink the bill on account of the draft provision alone.

4,000 More Visas for Immigrants from Afghanistan

As part of our backwards strategy of placing our troops into a meat grinder to referee endless Islamic civil wars and then bring in immigrants from all sides of those civil wars, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has an amendment to add an additional 4,000 visas for Afghani interpreters and their families. While we certainly want to help those who have aided our military and who are fully vetted, it is irresponsible to add even more visas when existing ones aren’t filled. The Senate already added 3,000 visas for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program last year. Although many Afghanis have been helpful in fighting the Taliban, a number of them have played both sides of the fence and have ties to terrorists, a phenomenon which led to endless “green on blue” attacks against some of our finest soldiers. Moreover, history has shown it is hard to vet the families of these individuals. Additionally, the SIV program works like the refugee program in which the recipients are immediately entitled to the panoply of benefits. CBO estimates that this provision would cost an additional $446 million.

At a time of record immigration from the Middle East, supporters of increasing SIV have shown a recalcitrance to offset the immigration increase with cuts to other categories. This provision is being pushed hard by Republicans as well, including Sens. John McCain and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Transgender Social Engineering in the Military

While the ban on homosexual individuals openly serving in the military was lifted by Congress, the ban on so-called transgendered individuals in the military is in the process of being lifted unilaterally by the Pentagon. They are even paying for time off taken for these individuals to undergo hormone therapy. The administration has already ordered sensitivity training for those who don’t allow individuals who identify with the opposite sex to use that bathroom on military bases. Radical sexual identity groups have renewed their pressure to expedite the process, and typically when they come beckoning, the administration responds expeditiously. Where is Congress? Passage of the NDAA should be conditioned on a provision requiring that any reversal of the ban on transgendered persons in the military be done with the consent and approval of Congress.

Anti-Religious Bigotry in the Military

As is the case throughout the country, Obama, together with his politicized generals, has made the military an unhospitable place for Christians. Any dissent from the established national homosexual religion is met with swift punishment. A committed opposition party would attach a provision banning the dismissal of any service-member for expressing his or her religious beliefs.

Stopping Obama’s Women in Combat Agenda

The only time this administration cares about the military is when it comes time to integrating women into direct ground combat units. Despite the painstaking study conducted by the Marines, which concluded that such integration would hurt their combat readiness, Obama’s political appointees have made this their hill to die on. It’s high time the GOP Congress insert provisions limiting Obama’s ability to socially engineer our armed forces in contravention to the wishes of commanders on the ground. Even if one is sympathetic to this radical cause, it is not something that can be done impetuously simply to fulfill Obama’s “legacy.” It’s time for a complete audit of co-ed integration into combat to understand the effects of Obama’s policies, and where this is headed in the long run. This has been allowed to go on without congressional oversight for over a decade.

No Funding and Training for Non-Kurdish Syrian Rebels

The Islamic State is certainly a predominant menace in the minds of most Americans, but they are just one player in the Rubik’s Cube of Islamic entities and powers in the region. To the extent Obama has a coherent strategy in the region, he is doing the bidding of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey in propping up Sunni “rebel” groups either directly or indirectly affiliated with Al Qaeda and other terrorists. The Syrian rebel program has become such a joke that the Pentagon and the CIA have trained separate groups that are now fighting with each other. Obama has become so aligned with these groups that his UN envoy even vetoed a UN Security Council resolution proposed by Russia designating Ahrar al-Sham, a group with roots in Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, a terror group. To have our Special Forces continue to fund, equip and train individuals who are either affiliated with terrorists or who ensure our weapons are captured by terrorists is unconscionable. There is no reason SOCOM, which is already strained to the breaking point, should be placed in the middle of an Islamic civil war. Rather than authorizing more funding for the Syrian Train and Equip Program, the Senate should cut off all funding for non-Kurdish rebel groups.

No Funding for the “Iraqi Army”

As I noted last week, Obama has been using our Air Force and special operators to essentially bail out Iran and its Shiite militias in Iraq from their fight against the Islamic State (while we arm their Sunni enemies in Syria. Coherence!). These are some of the same militias that killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers with IEDs. The Iraqi army is a joke and is essentially a cover for Iran’s Shiite army. To the extent such a force exists on some level, they have been caught committing the same atrocities as the Islamic State. There is no reason our strategy of fighting the Islamic State should be tied to strengthening our other enemies in the theaters where there is no reasonable outcome.

Obama likes to say there are no boots on the ground and he refers to the special operators as “advisors.” The reality is there are at least 5,000 troops on the ground refereeing this civil war and fighting every day with no good outcome. The death of Navy SEAL Charles Keating several weeks ago and that of a Delta Operator earlier this year underscores that this is much more than an advisory role. Congress has the right to know who is the recipient of this “advice” and what Obama’s endgame is for Iraq – before they commit another dime to his Iranian alliance.

No Support for Libyan Islamic Government

No thanks to Obama, one of the recovered fumbles of the Arab Spring was the overthrowing of the Muslim Brotherhood by Egyptian President el-Sisi. He has become the best Arab ally of America and Israel in the region and is committed to destroying the Islamists, at least as much as one could ever hope for in the Arab world. A similar dynamic transpired in Libya in 2014 when the only democratically held elections resulted in the creation of a government in Tobruk (northeastern Libya) committed to rooting out the radical Islamists. The duly-elected House of Representatives appointed Khalifa Haftar commander of the Libyan army. Haftar successfully took back much of eastern Libya from the radical Islamists and fought the various terrorist factions, including those associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Haftar was so feared by the Islamists that Ansar al Sharia, the group behind the Benghazi attack, accused Haftar of launching “a war against the religion and Islam backed by the West and their Arab allies.” Naturally, Obama and the international community didn’t appreciate the war on their Muslim Brotherhood friends so they installed a government in Tripoli, which includes a number of Islamist factions, such as the Libyan Dawn.

So why should the average American care? There are brave special operations soldiers who have been on the ground in Libya for months engaged in endless operations. How can we send our finest soldiers to this hell hole when our own government is undermining the only legitimately elected government that will fight the Islamists and is trying to forge deals with the enemy? Shouldn’t Congress bar any funds from going to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is saturated with Islamist factions?

These are just a few issues that Congress had the opportunity to debate this week. But alas, not a single one of them is on the minds of the members. Mitch McConnell is in a hurry to finish the NDAA by Friday without having held Obama accountable for a single odious policy as it relates to our military operations and the treatment of the military itself.

Perhaps, if we actually had Republican leaders fighting on several of these issues for the next few weeks, they wouldn’t have to worry about the endless questions about Donald Trump’s latest antics.

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