AUTHOR ARCHIVES

James Kitfield

James Kitfield James Kitfield a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress and a Defense One contributor. He is a former senior correspondent for National Journal and has written on defense, national security and foreign policy issues from Washington, D.C. for more than two decades.
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Balance of Power

July 9, 2014 At the top of the United States military’s vast, global bureaucracy sits the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer and the president’s senior military adviser. The chairman sits between the service chiefs on one side, and the combatant commanders on the other. The chiefs are ...

This Is Why Many of Iraq's Forces Dropped Their Weapons

June 20, 2014 The Iraqi security forces were always America's ticket out of Iraq, so after many early disappointments, U.S. military leaders built the forces in their own image. The ISF that the U.S. left behind in 2011 numbered nearly 350,000 soldiers and police, exercised in state-of-the-art training centers, and drew support from ...

Behind Eric Shinseki's Downfall

June 2, 2014 Eric Shinseki's staff was practically on a death watch Thursday, the prognosis darkening as the day wore on. The early release of an interim report by the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general had come as a surprise, and its finding that possibly fraudulent record keeping to hide extraordinary wait times ...

Behind Eric Shinseki's Downfall

June 1, 2014 Eric Shinseki's staff was practically on a death watch last Thursday, the prognosis darkening as the day wore on. The early release of an interim report by the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general had come as a surprise, and its finding that possibly fraudulent record keeping to hide extraordinary wait ...

Inside America's Shadow War on Terror—and Why It Will Never End

May 18, 2014 The muezzin's call to predawn prayers had not yet woken the seaside Somali town of Barawe when a lone figure stepped out of a two-story villa near the water's edge. In the darkness of a walled compound, he smoked a cigarette, the glow of ash rhythmically illuminating his face. It ...

Dempsey Wants to ‘Rebalance the Use of Military Power'

May 12, 2014 At the top of the United States military’s vast, global bureaucracy sits the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the land and the president’s senior military advisor. The chairman sits between the four-star service chiefs on one side, and the four-star combatant commanders on ...

Odierno: Ukraine Shows Us ‘You Never Know What’s Around the Corner’

May 6, 2014 In the waning days of the Vietnam War, with anti-war fervor and the Watergate scandal roiling the nation’s capital, legendary commander and soon-to-be Army Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton Abrams lamented to his colleagues that they would never know what it was like trying to bring the Army home from ...

Iraq’s Elections Setting Up ‘Worst Case Scenario’

April 13, 2014 In hindsight, the image of Iraq that emerged from the hopeful 2010 national elections seems like a mirage. During those elections the Iraqi army was the glue that held the country together, acting as guardians of a young democracy. The U.S.-trained and backed Iraqi Security Forces, or ISF, kept al-Qaeda ...

How Western Bureaucrats Stirred Putin’s Petulance into a Cold War Crisis

March 20, 2014 In recent days Russia has revealed the gambit that opened with a $15 billion bailout for a client in Kiev and morphed into the seizure and annexation of Crimea, all part of Vladimir Putin’s risky defense of what he sees as Moscow’s privileged “sphere of influence.” Putin’s bellicose rhetoric proclaiming ...

Can Another ‘Anbar Awakening’ Save Iraq?

February 3, 2014 To defeat al-Qaeda’s most dangerous offspring and stave off another civil war, Iraq’s government hopes to repeat the “Anbar Miracle.” Also known as the “Sunni Awakening,” that rebellion of the Sunni tribes against al-Qaeda in Iraq was instrumental in the success of the U.S. troop “surge” of 2007, and in ...