Tag Archives: United States Secretary of Defense

Drone medal outranks Purple Heart?

Have you heard about the Pentagon‘s new Distinguished Warfare Medal?It ranks above the Purple Heart and is awarded to drone operators and cyberwar practitioners for “extraordinary achievement” in a post 9/11military operation.

A number of VoteVets members have expressed their opinions about the distinction, but we want to hear from you, as well.

Do you think the medal should rank above the Purple Heart? Let us know here:


Here’s a few of the comments we received on our Facebook page:

Christopher C. No problem with the medal itself. Serious problem with its hierarchy ranking: It should not be above medals awarded for combat actions. I am seriously surprised that anyone would think it is reasonable to giving it that level of precedence.

Ethan C. I think their service should be recognized with some kind of award but combat valor medals recognize real life and death situations on the actual battlefield. Combat awards should be given the highest placement.

Let us know what you think and we’ll be sure to share your thoughts with Senator Hagel after he’s confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense.


There’s been a lot of conversation about the new medal in the traditional media and online. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, as well.


Jon Soltz                     Iraq War Veteran                     Chairman, VoteVets.org

CONGRESS: Republican led House :::::: Senate led by Democrats

Obama Launches DNC Campaign Tour At Illinois State Capitol

the Senate Convened at 10:00amET February 14,2013

The cloture vote is expected on Friday, February 15, 2013

The Senate has reached an agreement to have the cloture vote on the Hagel nomination at 4:15pm today.

The time until 4:15pm will be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees. At 4:15pm, the Senate will proceed to a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on Executive Calendar #10, the nomination of Charles Timothy Hagel, of Nebraska, to be Secretary of Defense.

4:17pm The Senate began a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on Executive Calendar #10, the nomination of Charles Timothy Hagel, of Nebraska, to be Secretary of Defense; Not Invoked: 58-40, 1 voting present

Cloture on the Hagel nomination failed 58-40, 1 voting present (Hatch). The vote would have been 59-39, 1-present, but for procedural reasons Senator Reid changed his vote to no in order to enter the motion to reconsider.

Senators should expect to reconsider the failed cloture vote to occur Tuesday morning, February 26, and a vote on a judge around 5:30pm on Monday, February 25.

There will be no further roll call votes this week.

The Senate has reached an agreement to consider the Bacharach nomination.

At 5:00pm on Monday, February 25, the Senate will turn to Executive Session to consider the nomination of Robert E. Bacharach, of Oklahoma, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit, with the time until 5:30pm equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees. At 5:30pm, the Senate will proceed to a roll call vote on confirmation of the Bacharach nomination.

The Senate reached an agreement that on either Monday, February 25th or Tuesday, February 26th, the Majority Leader and the Republican Leader each be permitted to introduce a bill to replace the sequester required under the Budget Control Act. Further, if a Leader introduces such legislation, his bill would be placed directly on the Legislative Calendar. Finally, motions to proceed to these bills would be in order the day they are introduced.



1)      Motion to invoke cloture on Executive Calendar #10, the nomination of Charles Timothy Hagel, of Nebraska, to be Secretary of Defense; Not Invoked: 58-40-1


Discharged the Judiciary committee and adopted S.Res.21, designating February 14, 2013, as “National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care” with a Lautenberg amendment.

Adopted S.Res.35, Congratulating the Baltimore Ravens for winning Super Bowl XLVII.

Adopted S.Res.36, Recognizing February 19, 2013 as the centennial of Mosaic, a faith based organization that was founded in Nebraska.



Last Floor Action:
11:03:00 A.M. – The Speaker announced that the House do now recess. The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. today.

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wicked Wednesday …&some News

As Discrimination breaks out all over the U.S., which we can apply to so many things right about now. In a place that has always welcomed and or cared for like the poor, single mom’s with kids, The constitution; specifically the 14th Amendment, immigration, women’s rights, senior citizens, worker rights. Now has a new look called the Republican Tea Party with even more ugly Colonial ways and ideologies on old issues like – Race, Religion and the rights of its people, equal rights. I use to think all we had to worry about was what side of the political aisle these righties stood on. Now, it is all about why they are pitting the middle class against the working class and eliminating those in need. If you listen to them speak the lines of fair and or balanced behavior becomes so blurry and if they get their way, if they complete their mission, the only ones standing in any kind of line will be those who claim to be a member of the Republican Tea Party

Other News …

**Afghan Pilot Kills Foreign Soldiers in Airport Attack Claimed by Taliban

**Obama set to name CIA’s Leon Panetta as Defense secretary, officials say

**Orders for US Durable Goods Increase for Third Straight Month

**Crude Oil Futures Fluctuate Amid Increasing US Supplies, Economic Growth

**Boeing profit tops expectations, reaffirms outlook

** UN investigates alleged rights abuses in Libya

**Yemenis block port in protest against Saleh deal



 Bernanke to Hold First Press Briefing as Fed Chief

To discuss FOMC decisions http://c-span.org/Events/Bernanke-to-Hold-First-Press-Briefing-as-Fed-Chief/10737421131/   


2012 Presidential Campaign Moving Forward

Simulcast of Iowa Public Radio http://c-span.org/Events/2012-Presidential-Campaign-Moving-Forward/10737421132/


Summit Looks Ahead to Aviation Advancements over the Next Decade



Examination of Al Qaeda



NATO commander Charles Bourchard took questions on the latest military operations in Libya. He denied reports that Monday’s airstrike on Gadhafi’s presidential compound was an attempt to target the Libyan leader. The Libyan government has called the attack an assassination attempt on Gadhafi, but the NATO commander said it was attempt to bring an end to the violence.  http://c-span.org/Events/NATO-Briefing-on-Libya/10737421137/

National Security: Cutting The Defense Budget?

One potential area for bipartisan action in the new Congress may be cutting the massively bloated Pentagon budget, which has risen to $540 billion annually and more than $700 billion if you include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. Total defense spending in real terms is  higher than at any point since World War II. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates yesterday announced a series of efficiency proposals to reduce waste in defense spending and to cut the projected Pentagon budget by $78 billion over the next five years. While these proposals represent a good start in constraining the runaway spending that accrued during the Bush administration, the cuts will result only in a decline in the rate of growth in the Pentagon’s budget, not in absolute dollars. In other words, Gates was allowed to shift money around, and was not forced to actually cut the budget. As a result under this proposal,  the Pentagon’s budget will be bigger in five years than it is now. This is not real fiscal restraint. To adequately address the problem of out-of-control defense spending and a growing deficit, not only are more defense cuts needed, but the U.S. must also re-balance its foreign policy and defense priorities. This means taking a hard look at the utility of continuing combat operations in Afghanistan, eliminating white elephant weapons programs, and looking for ways to make the Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient. Reducing Pentagon spending is possible, since it is advocated not just by progressives, but by  Tea Party conservatives and now the House Republican leadership.

WHITE ELEPHANTS:  Yesterday, Gates insisted that “we must come to realize that  not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable.” He said the Pentagon would cut the over-budget Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, an amphibious assault vehicle designed to storm beaches and a program the Center for American Progress has  advocated cutting for years. Gates also put the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 on “probation,” due to cost overruns and poor performance. Yet there are many other unnecessary and costly weapons programs in the Pentagon. The Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey is a program with a  confused tactical purpose and has been plagued with technical problems. The U.S. nuclear arsenal remains ridiculously large and costs $50 billion a year to maintain. As ret. Gen. Colin Powell noted, these weapons are militarily “useless.” There is also no need to spend $85 billion on modernizing our nuclear arsenal when a panel of nuclear scientists said the stockpile was in fine shape. The Pentagon also continues to spend nearly $10 billion per year on missile defense, much of that directed to the ground-based missile defense system, which just  failed another significant test. A recent report from Lawrence Korb and Laura Conley of the Center for American Progress outlined additional ways to significantly and responsibly reduce Pentagon spending, noting that “we can afford to make cuts,” the “global security environment has changed,” and “technological advances” can lead to greater efficiency.

THINK STRATEGICALLY:  A critical question when approaching the defense budget is whether we are  pursuing the right missions and whether we have the right composition of forces to address challenges of the 21st Century. In this vein, Gates yesterday recommended moving to a smaller ground force and advocated future reductions to overall troop levels for the Army and Marines. However, the U.S. must also think about the types of missions it is currently pursuing. War is incredibly expensive and the U.S. is currently spending  more than $100 billion per year on combat operations in Afghanistan. During the Bush years, when the housing bubble fueled a mirage of endless prosperity, perhaps the financial costs of such operations failed to raise significant concern. But economic times have changed and it is increasingly hard to justify this expenditure when a U.S. military commander compares the Afghan war to a “‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon which never ends. … The only difference is the cartoon does not claim lives, but here we lose men every day.” Last year was the deadliest year yet for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and new polling shows that the American people overwhelmingly favor withdrawal. Furthermore, U.S. force deployments abroad are increasingly anachronistic and continue more out of habit than strategic need. The large force deployments in Europe remain unnecessary particularly at a time when Europe is increasingly slashing the size of its defense forces. Reducing our footprint abroad could save billions.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT:  Importantly, calls for reductions in the defense budget are no longer just coming from one side of the partisan divide. More and more Republicans, spurred by the Tea Party’s demand for spending cuts, have said they favor cuts to the military. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in interview last night, “I believe there’s room, to find savings in the Department of Defense ” — a statement that was also echoed by  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). In the Senate, Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that “Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible . We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon’s sacred cows.” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said that reducing the deficit “begins with the Department of Defense.” Sen. Bob Corker (TN) said defense cuts have to be “on the table” because there’s “a lot of waste there .” Perhaps the most outspoken advocate for defense cuts in the Senate is Tea Party “darling” Sen. Rand Paul (KY), who has said that cutting defense spending “has to be on the table.” This has prompted budget expert Gordon Adams of the Stimson Center to conclude that “I think the floor under defense spending has now gone soft.”