Inside the Ring: Transcom or emocom?

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By mid-January, the command reported finding 17,790 offensive items 6,700 of which were of a personal nature stored on government computers.

“Of the remaining items,” the command said, “the majority of items were potentially offensive pictures, posters, calendars, magazines or graffiti located in common areas, offices and latrines. Identified items were documented and either removed or destroyed.”

Mixed strategic message on Korea

A U.S. defense official says the Obama administration and Pentagon sent a dangerous mixed strategic message during the current showdown with North Korea. The apparent softening of U.S. resolve in the standoff is increasing the chance of a military miscalculation leading to war, the official told Inside the Ring.

After dispatching nuclear-capable B-52 and then B-2 bombers to South Korea last month as part of exercises meant to signal “extended deterrence” nuclear protection for South Korea, the administration backed down. Instead of continuing the pressure on North Korea with a test launch of a Minuteman 3 missile that had been set for this week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the launch scrapped.

The defense official said the Minuteman 3 flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was meant to further signal U.S. strategic resolve in the face of unprecedented threats by North Korea to attack the United States with nuclear missiles.

Compounding the messaging problem, the test cancellation followed China’s suggestion that both the United States and North Korea take steps to reduce tensions. At the same time, Beijing has refused to pressure its fraternal communist ally in North Korea into reducing its bellicosity.

“The test was to signal the reliability of U.S. nuclear capabilities,” the official said. “This is another example of U.S. government doing as China suggests.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, said on MSNBC on Tuesday that she was worried about the signal sent by the cancellation of the missile test.

“I am a little concerned that that could send the wrong message to the new young leader there that what he is doing is actually going to get us to take actions that he would appreciate,” she said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the U.S. missile cancellation, suggesting Moscow has been pressuring the United States to limit the needed missile flight tests. Last year, the Pentagon postponed a Minuteman 3 launch three times and then waited until after the November election as the result of what defense officials said was pressure from both Russia and China.

“I think the United States took a very important step in delaying the test of a ballistic missile,” Mr. Putin told reporters during a visit to Germany.

North Korea has not responded in kind. Pyongyang is set to conduct the first test-firing of a new intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, as well as other missiles, in the next several days.

Rose on nuke modernization

Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control, this week seemed to add to the worries of officials and advocates of U.S. nuclear deterrence that the administration may be abandoning the promised modernization of the aging U.S. nuclear weapons and support infrastructure.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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