Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
President Biden pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring U.S. leadership on arms control and nonproliferation. Today, the United States took the first step toward making good on that pledge when it extended the New START Treaty with the Russian Federation for five years.
Extending the New START Treaty ensures we have verifiable limits on Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026. The New START Treaty’s verification regime enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with greater insight into Russia’s nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities. The United States has assessed the Russian Federation to be in compliance with its New START Treaty obligations every year since the treaty entered into force in 2011.
Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important. Extending the New START Treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer. An unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all.
President Biden has made clear that the New START Treaty extension is only the beginning of our efforts to address 21st century security challenges. The United States will use the time provided by a five-year extension of the New START Treaty to pursue with the Russian Federation, in consultation with Congress and U.S. allies and partners, arms control that addresses all of its nuclear weapons. We will also pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal. The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.
Just as we engage the Russian Federation in ways that advance American interests, like seeking a five-year extension of New START and broader discussions to reduce the likelihood of crisis and conflict, we remain clear eyed about the challenges that Russia poses to the United States and the world. Even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests, so too will we work to hold Russia to account for adversarial actions as well as its human rights abuses, in close coordination with our allies and partners.
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- Military Personnel: DOD’s Transition Assistance Program at Small or Remote InstallationsBy Sam NewsJuly 22, 2021What GAO Found The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides counseling, employment assistance, and information on federal veterans benefits, among other support, to transitioning servicemembers who are separating from the military. From fiscal years 2018 through 2020, seven of the nine selected small or remote installations exceeded, on average, DOD's TAP compliance target of 85 percent of separated servicemembers completing all TAP requirements. The information delivered during TAP and the components of the program are standard across all military installations, regardless of the size or location of the installation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only certain servicemembers were eligible to participate in TAP virtually, including those servicemembers in remote or geographically isolated locations. According to officials of the Military-Civilian Transition Office (MCTO), servicemembers who attended TAP sessions virtually prior to the pandemic received the same transition information as those who attended TAP sessions in person. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all nine of the small or remote installations in GAO's review shifted to virtual delivery of TAP sessions for all servicemembers, according to officials at those installations. DOD monitors TAP across all installations, regardless of size or geographic location, through a standard form used by all four military services and by conducting course surveys. DOD officials told GAO that there are no additional monitoring activities or metrics specific to small or remote installations. Officials whom GAO interviewed—including those of the military services and at the nine selected small or remote installations—discussed common challenges with TAP delivery and participation, as well as ways they were mitigating these challenges where possible. For example, TAP officials at several remote installations stated there were limited local employment opportunities available to servicemembers post-separation. However, a few officials stated that they had built relationships with local employers to provide networking opportunities to servicemembers. Also, Army officials stated that they provide virtual career fairs that are available to all servicemembers regardless of location. The shift to fully virtual delivery of TAP support at the start of the pandemic also presented common challenges among the installations in GAO's review, including not having a live virtual option for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits briefing and having caps on the number of servicemembers in virtual classes. An official at one installation said the installation was able to provide servicemembers access to informal VA information sessions with their local VA office to supplement the self-paced virtual VA briefing. Why GAO Did This Study Approximately 200,000 servicemembers each year leave the military and transition to civilian life. To help servicemembers with potential challenges they may face during this transition, such as finding and maintaining employment, DOD is mandated by law to require that eligible separating servicemembers participate in TAP. House Report 116-442, accompanying a bill for the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, directed GAO to review servicemember participation in formal Transition Assistance Programs at small and remote military installations in the United States. This report describes: (1) the extent to which active-duty servicemembers at selected small or remote military installations within the United States are receiving required transition services; (2) the extent to which DOD is monitoring TAP at small or remote military installations; and (3) challenges that exist in implementing TAP at selected small or remote military installations. GAO reviewed relevant laws and guidance documents, and analyzed data provided by the Military-Civilian Transition Office (MCTO) and the military services. GAO also interviewed officials from MCTO, the military services, and TAP staff at nine small or remote installations in the United States selected to achieve at least two installations for each military service and for variation in geographic location. GAO identified remote military installations as those 50 or more miles from a city of 50,000 people or more, and small installations as those with 350 or fewer projected servicemember separations for fiscal year 2021.[Read More…]
- Force Structure: Restructuring and Rebuilding the Army Will Cost Billions of Dollars for Equipment but the Total Cost Is UncertainBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021The high pace of overseas operations is taking a heavy toll on Army equipment. Harsh combat and environmental conditions over sustained periods of time have exacerbated equipment repair, replacement, and recapitalization problems. The Army has also taken steps to restructure its forces before implementing its longer term transformation to the Future Combat System. To support ongoing operations and prepare for the future, the Army has embarked on four key initiatives: (1) restructuring from a division-based force to a modular brigade-based force, (2) expanding the Army by adding about 74,000 people and creating new units, (3) repairing, replacing, and recapitalizing new equipment through its reset program, and (4) replacing equipment borrowed from its pre-positioned equipment sets around the world. Since 2004, Congress has provided billions of dollars to support the Army's equipping needs. GAO has issued many reports on the Army's efforts to equip modular units, expand the Army, reset equipment, and manage and replace prepositioned equipment. This statement, which draws largely on these reports, will address (1) the equipment-related cost of these initiatives, and (2) the management challenges facing the Army and the actions needed to improve its implementation of these initiatives. GAO is issuing a separate statement today on the Future Combat System (GAO-08- 638T).Restructuring and rebuilding the Army will require billions of dollars for equipment and take years to complete; however, the total cost is uncertain. Based on GAO's analysis of Army cost estimates and cost data, it appears that the Army's plans to equip modular units, expand the force, reset equipment, and replace prepositioned equipment are likely to cost at least $190 billion dollars through fiscal year 2013. However, these estimates have some limitations and could change. Further, the Army has stated it plans to request additional funds to address equipment shortfalls in modular units through fiscal year 2017. Several factors are contributing to the uncertainties about future costs. First, the Army's $43.6 funding plan for equipping modular units was based on preliminary modular unit designs and did not fully consider the needs of National Guard units. Second, the Army expects to need $18.5 billion for equipment to expand the force but has not clearly documented this estimate. Third, costs to reset equipment may total at least $118 billion from fiscal years 2004-2013 but may change because they are dependent on how much equipment is lost, damaged, or worn beyond repair during continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and how long these operations continue. Fourth, the Army believes it will need at least $10.6 billion to replace pre-positioned equipment that was taken out of storage to support ongoing operations, but this amount is an estimate and DOD's overall strategy for prepositioned equipment has not yet been issued Given the magnitude of these initiatives and potential for costs to change, DOD will need to carefully monitor the projected costs of these initiatives so that it can consider tradeoffs and allocate funding to balance the Army's equipping needs for the next decade and longer term transformation goals. A common theme in GAO's work has been the need for DOD and the Army to take a more strategic approach to decision making that promotes transparency and ensures that programs and investments are based on sound plans with measurable, realistic goals and time frames, prioritized resource needs, and performance measures to gauge progress. GAO's work on modular restructuring has shown a lack of linkage between the Army's funding requests and equipment requirements. This lack of linkage impedes oversight by DOD and Congress because it does not provide a means to measure the Army's progress in meeting modular force equipment requirements or inform budget decisions. Oversight of Army initiatives has also been complicated by multiple funding requests that makes it difficult for decision makers to understand the Army's full funding needs. GAO has recommended a number of actions to improve management controls and enhance transparency of the Army's plans for equipping modular units, expanding the force, resetting equipment, and replacing prepositioned equipment. However, many of these recommendations have not been fully implemented or adopted. For example, until the Army provides a comprehensive plan for its modular restructuring and expansion initiatives, which identifying progress and total costs, decision makers may not have sufficient information to assess progress and allocate defense resources among competing priorities.[Read More…]
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- Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations: DOD Needs to Take Action to Help Ensure SuperiorityBy Sam NewsMarch 19, 2021What GAO Found The electromagnetic spectrum (the spectrum) consists of frequencies worldwide that support many civilian and military uses, from mobile phone networks and radios to navigation and weapons. This invisible battlespace is essential to Department of Defense (DOD) operations in all domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. The interruption of U.S. forces' access to the spectrum can result in a military disadvantage, preventing U.S. forces from operating as planned and desired. According to the studies by DOD and others that GAO reviewed for its December 2020 report on military operations in the spectrum, adversaries, such as China and Russia, are also aware of the importance of the spectrum and have taken significant steps to improve their own capabilities that challenge DOD and its operations. For example, studies described how China has formed new military units and fielded new unmanned aerial vehicles with spectrum warfare capabilities, and Russian electromagnetic warfare forces have demonstrated their effectiveness through successful real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. These developments are particularly concerning in the context of challenges to DOD's spectrum superiority. GAO's analysis of the studies highlighted DOD management challenges such as dispersed governance, limited full-time senior-level leadership, outdated capabilities, a lengthy acquisition process, increased spectrum competition and congestion, and a gap in experienced staff and realistic training. GAO found that DOD had issued strategies in 2013 and 2017 to address spectrum-related challenges, but did not fully implement either strategy because DOD did not assign senior leaders with appropriate authorities and resources or establish oversight processes for implementation. DOD published a new strategy in October 2020, but GAO found in December 2020 the department risks not achieving the new strategy's goals because it had not taken key actions—such as identifying processes and procedures to integrate spectrum operations across the department, reforming governance structures, and clearly assigning leadership for strategy implementation. Also, it had not developed oversight processes, such as an implementation plan, that would help ensure accountability and implementation of the 2020 strategy goals (see figure). Actions to Ensure DOD Superiority in the Electromagnetic Spectrum Why GAO Did This Study The spectrum is essential for facilitating control in operational environments and affects operations in the air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace domains. Spectrum use is pervasive across warfighting domains and thus maintaining or achieving spectrum superiority against an adversary is critical to battlefield success. This statement summarizes: (1) the importance of the spectrum; (2) challenges to DOD's superiority in the spectrum; and (3) the extent to which DOD has implemented spectrum-related strategies and is positioned to achieve future goals. This statement is based on GAO's December 2020 report (GAO-21-64) and updates conducted in March 2021. For the report, GAO analyzed 43 studies identified through a literature review, reviewed DOD documentation, and interviewed DOD officials and subject matter experts. For the updates, GAO reviewed materials that DOD provided in March 2021.[Read More…]
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