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Aerospace & Defense

The latest coverage of the Defense Department, State Department and aerospace industry.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice was a close associate of President Obama. (Associated Press/File)

House intelligence panel targets Susan Rice in investigation of political spying operation

By Bill Gertz

Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice is expected to be a central witness in the coming weeks before committee investigators to explain the unmasking and wide dissemination of what the committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, has called improper electronic surveillance of Trump transition team officials. Published April 26, 2017

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Maj. Gen. Darryl W. Burke, Commander, Air Force District of Washington, and the other service component District of Washington commanders march in the inaugural parade dress rehearsal in Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

Watching Washington's back

Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017, was a federal holiday for most people in the National Capital Region. While most federal offices around the region were empty, Airmen assigned to the Air Force District of Washington were on duty!

FILE - In this March 22, 2017, file photo, Antonio Reyes of Brownsville, Texas, stands by the U.S.-Mexico border fence near his home. Reyes said he's seen people scale the border fence that bisects his backyard and jump down in seconds. Sometimes they carry bales of what appear to be drugs. A higher wall is "still not going to stop them," he said. "They'll shotput it or whatever they have to do." (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

Protecting our southern border with U.S. mariners

As chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, I am proud to be an unwavering defender of the Jones Act -- a critical U.S. national security law that requires vessels moving from one U.S. port to another must be U.S.-built and U.S.-crewed.

FILE -- In this Jan. 16, 2017 file photo, Richard Ratcliffe, husband of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London. The family of Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was detained in Iran while on a trip with her toddler daughter says all efforts to appeal her five-year prison sentence in court have failed. Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, found out this weekend that her appeal to Iran's supreme court failed. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

Addicted to uranium

When gentlemen compete, they honor the rules of the game and accept the referee's calls. But no one would mistake the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran for gentlemen, and their gamesmanship in pursuing nuclear weapons is deadly serious. As the mullahs make a bid for more uranium, They have been called out for cheating. The United States is obliged to withhold approval of a new supply of the radioactive material until the regime can prove it's not up to mischief. Anything else is simply tomfoolery.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis looks out over Kabul as he arrives via helicopter at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan Monday, April 24, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

Mattis in Afghanistan to discuss war needs

- Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived unannounced in Afghanistan on Monday to assess America's longest war as the Trump administration weighs sending more troops.

Constitutional Change in Turkey Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

What Turkey's referendum reveals

The outcome of the Turkish vote on constitutional changes, notwithstanding lingering allegations of fraud, represents further evidence of a crumbling global status quo.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks with reporters after his arrival in Tel Aviv Wednesday, April 20, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool photo via AP)

James Mattis defends use of 'mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan

- The Washington Times

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday the decision to drop the "mother of all bombs" on Islamic State targets in eastern Afghanistan was a deafening signal to American enemies and allies alike that Washington will pull no punches against the international terror group.

North Korean school girls react upon seeing their photograph being taken as they walk along Mirae Scientists Street on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Tensions have spiked in recent weeks over North Korea's advancing nuclear technology and missile arsenal. But in Pyongyang, where war would mean untold horrors, few people seem to care much at all. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

What next with North Korea?

There was a moment at Press Secretary Sean Spicer's White House briefing Monday that was significant. Asked by a reporter about North Korea's missile launch last weekend, Mr. Spicer said the administration was aware of the launch and that "it failed." End of story. Next question, please.

Illustration on the Syrian conundrum by Nancy Ohanian/Tribune Content Agency

A sober look at the confusion in Assad's Syria

Was "Tomahawking" Syria for an alleged gas attack justifiable retribution, misfeasance, malfeasance or just a mistake? Was it a warning to China and North Korea as some have advanced? (This is the same line of thinking that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was really aimed cautioning the Soviet Union.) Why would China, the "celestial kingdom," powerful in her own right, pay attention; why would North Korea, in the hands of a madman, even care?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized the Iran nuclear deal. "The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck," he said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Tillerson promises hard look at Iranian aggression

- The Washington Times

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson slammed the Iran nuclear deal Wednesday -- just a day after the Trump administration had begrudgingly acknowledged that Tehran is complying with the terms of the 2015 multinational accord negotiated under former President Obama.

Arming the Terrorists Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Redefining the battle against terrorists

One of the hallmarks of the 2016 presidential campaign was Donald Trump's insistence on being honest about the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism." It's a phrase that President Obama refused to speak, preferring the euphemism "violent extremism." Hillary Clinton muttered the taboo expression half-heartedly only after Mr. Trump shamed her into it.

North Korean Nukes Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The coming war with North Korea

It appears to be accepted that North Korea will have an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability with a suitably miniaturized warhead in the next three to four years, along with the capacity to deliver that weapon to the West Coast of the United States.

Illustration on the proposed Eisenhower Memorial by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Saving the Eisenhower Memorial

There is hope. I am speaking of the envisioned memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower here in Washington, D.C. Admittedly, its design by the crank architect Frank Gehry has been pretty much accepted by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, and the chairman of the House committee that has control of the funding, Rep. Ken Calvert, seems to be going along.

Illustration on Erdogan's impact on Turkey by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The end of Turkey's democratic experiment

On the grounds of the Turkish Embassy facing Massachusetts Ave. in Washington, D.C. is a statue of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, father of the Republic of Turkey, the nation-state he built from the rubble of the defeated Ottoman Empire and Islamic caliphate.

Supporters of the 'no' vote, chant slogans during a protest against the referendum outcome, on the Aegean Sea city of Izmir, Turkey, Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Turkey's main opposition party has filed a formal request seeking Sunday's referendum to be annulled because of voting irregularities. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul)

Cooking Turkey's goose

Turkey has been bumping along on the ragged margins of democracy for years. With this week's slim approval of a governmental reform referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proclaimed that the nation can "change gears and continue along our course more quickly."

Russian Iskander Missiles in Armenia Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Nuclear trouble in Azerbaijan

The Caucasus Mountains that run between the Black and Caspian Seas could soon turn into a nuclear flash point because of dangerous saber-rattling by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

U.S. troops are assisting Iraqi soldiers during a brutal battle in western Mosul. Although Defense Secretary James Mattis' official agenda does not list visits to Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, the former U.S. Central Command chief has regularly made unannounced stops to visit American and coalition forces stationed there. (Associated Press)

Mattis to meet with U.S. allies as battles against Islamic State heat up in Syria, Iraq

- The Washington Times

Defense Secretary James Mattis is en route to the Middle East and North Africa for a series of meetings with key allies during a weeklong trip that comes as an American-backed offensive against the Islamic State group in Syria heats up and Iraqi forces battling for control of the group's stronghold in Mosul have bogged down into brutal street-by-street fighting in the city's ancient district.

Diminished Air Power Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

There's a crisis in the air

American armed forces consistently perform so well that their effectiveness is taken for granted. Complaints about military spending cuts during the Obama years are such a cliche that they have been yawned at by our political leaders and completely ignored by the media.

Illustration on options and repurcussions in dealing with Russia by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Toward a U.S.-Russia summit

Russia is a declining economic power that plays an outsized role in world affairs owing to its nuclear arsenal and aggressive behavior. Russia remains resentful over the Soviet Union's collapse and NATO's expansion to its borders.

In this April 23, 2014, file photo, e-cigarettes appear on display at Vape store in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Navy bans e-cigarettes for fear of explosions

- The Washington Times

The U.S. Navy instituted a ban on electronic cigarettes on a number of transient military installations because of the devices' high risk of explosion, the military branch said in a statement Friday.

Trump's not so great deal with China

President Trump's recent summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping was only modestly successful. The hard reality is that on both security and economic issues, the United States and China are rivals -- not partners -- and much tougher days lie ahead.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed his supporters this week before a contentious referendum Sunday on constitutional reforms to expand his powers. (Associated Press/File)

Turkish voters will determine the strength of Erdogan's grip on power

In a referendum watched closely across Europe and across the Atlantic, Turkish voters will decide on Sunday whether to remake the political fabric of their nation and grant far-reaching powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This photo provided by Eglin Air Force Base shows the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. The Pentagon says U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped the military's largest non-nuclear bomb on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan. A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43, which he said contains 11 tons of explosives. The Air Force calls it the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. Based on the acronym, it has been nicknamed the "Mother Of All Bombs." (Eglin Air Force Base via AP)

Trump sends message in terror fight with big bomb drop

- The Washington Times

The deployment of one of the largest non-nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal on an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan Thursday marks a new and dramatic step for U.S. forces in the country, sending a message likely to resonate far beyond the battlefields of the 16-year war there.

Perils of the Rules of Engagement Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

When breaking the rules of engagement is right

Donald Trump and James Mattis came to office vowing to "win" America's wars again. But unless they change our politically correct military culture, it is certain America won't.

Illustration on the pregnancy problem in the U.S. Navy by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

The Love Boats sail again

Women can do most things as well as men. Almost nobody any longer disputes that. Women can do some things better than men. Many women thought Donald Trump as president would be a disaster for the final female assault on the glass ceiling. It hasn't turned out quite that way, and women, such as Nikki Haley and Betsy DeVos, have been stars of his new administration.

People watch a TV news program showing a file image of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. North Korea's parliament convened Tuesday amid heightened tensions on the divided peninsula, with the United States and South Korea conducting their biggest-ever military exercises and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier heading to the area in a show of American strength. The signs read "The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier changes route". (AP Photo/Ahn Yooung-joon)

Calculating the threat from North Korea

"The land of the morning calm" is anything but that. The ancient Korean name for the divided peninsula is belied by the tension simmering for nearly 70 years, enlivened with frequent bursts of cross-border invective and sometimes violence.

President Trump added weight to his threat to act unilaterally against the nuclear weapons program of North Korea last week by approving U.S. missile strikes on Syria while hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Associated Press)

Trump-Xi summit focuses on North Korea

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged views on the assessment of North Korea's nuclear weapons program last week, and "there was mutual agreement the problem has become more urgent," a senior administration tells Inside the Ring.

Recent Opinion Columns

Illustration on the situation of the Korean peninsula by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Possibilities for reunifying the Korean Peninsula

With North Korea threatening its sixth nuclear test, and the pace of its ballistic-missile tests quickening, Pyongyang's global threat is ever more imminent. Twenty-five years of self-defeating American efforts to negotiate with the world's only hereditary Communist dictatorship have, not surprisingly, proven fruitless.

File - This Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 file photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense shows a launch of David's Sling missile defense system. A senior Israeli air force official says a joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor will be operational soon, completing the country's multi-layer defense system. He said Monday that David's Sling, meant to counter medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, will be operational in early April. (Ministry of Defense via AP, File)

The Strategic Defense Initiative at 34

When a politician promises something that "holds the promise of changing the course of human history," we naturally assume it's typical overstatement. But when President Ronald Reagan said that on March 23, 1983, in reference to his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), he was exactly right.

Hospital workers walk by a journalist on a stakeout checking his mobile phone outside the forensic department of Kuala Lumpur Hospital, where the body of Kim Jong Nam, exiled half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Nam, has been kept, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 20, 2017. Malaysian police said Sunday that they are hunting for more North Korean suspects over the killing of Kim Jong Nam who was poisoned to death at Kuala Lumpur's airport on Feb. 13. (AP Photo/Daniel Chan)

Taming North Korea

If demography is destiny, in North Korea the guiding force is ancestry. Like his grandfather and father before him, Kim Jong-un suffers delusions of grandeur, surrounded only by frightened sycophants, coveting a place among the world's important nations. As Pyongyang edges closer to building a working nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States, Mr. Kim must get the right response to his vow to annihilate his enemies. Tough talk from the United States and its allies is only a stopgap. The solution, short of war, lies with China.

The Pentagon pushed back against reports that an aggressive string of recent U.S. military sorties have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria. Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly has been weighing a loosening of restrictions on U.S. airstrikes that the Obama administration kept in place in war against the Islamic State in Iraq, current and former U.S. officials have said. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A job for the mad dog

When James Mattis, the retired Marine general once called "Mad Dog Mattis" by his troops for his no-nonsense combat leadership, was named secretary of Defense many senior officers were encouraged to think that at last someone would put his foot down, hard, on the use of the military as a petri dish for the social experiments so beloved by Barack Obama and Ashton Carter.

President Trump proposes to cut cherished Obama programs such as support for alternative energy and slashes the EPA budget by 31 percent. (Associated Press)

Trump's 'hard power' budget boosts Pentagon spending, slashes foreign aid

- The Washington Times

President Trump's first budget called Thursday for a dramatic shift from the "soft power" diplomacy of the Obama era to a "hard power" military buildup, cutting the State Department by 28 percent in a slashing of foreign aid, boosting Pentagon spending by 10 percent and budgeting more than $4 billion to start construction of a border wall with Mexico.

From The Vault

Donald Trump advocates "extreme vetting" of immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations to weed out potential terrorists, coupled with aggressive coalition military operations in the Middle East. (Associated Press)

Donald Trump vows to ramp up aggression in terror fight, 'bomb the s---' out of extremists

- The Washington Times

The Islamic State, belittled by President Obama just two years ago as a "JV" terrorist group, will dominate the attention of newly elected President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump as they face the challenge of taking on the extremists abroad and while preventing another Orlando-style attack that could shake public confidence in the next administration just as it's leaving the starting gate.

"This is something that's new in this war, not something you would've seen back in the Gulf War, but it's an important new capability, and it is an important use of our Cyber Command and the reason that Cyber Command was established in the first place," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters about fighting the Islamic State. (Associated Press)

Obama launches first cyberwar against ISIS, cuts recruiting by 75 percent

- The Washington Times

The Obama administration has launched the first cyberwar against the Islamic State, a war that, coupled with real, not virtual, fighting, is producing one of the most encouraging on-the-ground successes in the conflict -- sharply cutting into the number of foreign fighters sneaking into Syria to join the group's terrorist army and its so-called Islamic caliphate.