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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Please Back Away From the Partisan Brink

March 23, 2017 U.S. presidential elections have historically served as fulcrums of national renewal. They bring new energy and fresh ideas to the often enervating business of governing, satisfying the drive for reform and continual self-improvement that are central to the American character. As Alexis de Tocqueville once noted, “The greatness of America...

Why the Obama Administration Thinks It's Beating ISIS

April 23, 2015 Sometimes in war, it's darkest just before the dawn. Less than two months ago, an offensive by Iraqi forces to recapture Tikrit from Islamic State fighters was stalled. American commanders had washed their hands of a major operation led by Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani and dominated by Iranian-backed...

Keeping Iraq Unified Will Be Nearly Impossible

March 6, 2015 When his three-car convoy pulled up to a police checkpoint in Baghdad on Friday the 13th of February, Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi had little reason for concern. An influential Sunni moderate who was assisting the Iraqi government's efforts to draw Sunni tribes away from the orbit of the Islamic State of...

Did the SEALs on the Bin Laden Raid Break Their Code of Silence for Fame and Fortune?

November 13, 2014 When the man who shot Osama bin Laden recently revealed himself publicly, it rekindled concerns that the most famous mission in the history of Special Operations Forces has irreparably compromised the code of silence that had long cloaked such "black ops" units. Former Navy SEAL Team 6 member Robert James...

Did Western Hubris Create Vladimir Putin?

September 9, 2014 At perhaps the most consequential NATO summit of the post-Cold War era, Western leaders grappled with questions that had not darkened their counsels for decades. They struggled for a response to Russia's forced annexation of Crimea and stealth military invasion of Ukraine, hoping to avoid further escalating a confrontation with...

Why America Should Declare War on the Islamic State

August 20, 2014 When a centrist Democrat, a Republican hawk, a libertarian, and a tea partier all find common ground on Capitol Hill, it's worth noting this rare outbreak of bipartisan consensus. Sens. Tim Kaine, James Inhofe, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz all believe the White House should seek new approval from Congress...

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...

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