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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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...

Joe Biden Was Right About Dividing Iraq

January 31, 2014 In his new book Duty: Memoir of a Secretary at War, Robert Gates memorably impugns Joe Biden's judgment as "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." Central to his argument is Biden's opposition to the "troop surge" that President Bush and...

Power or Persuasion: More Sanctions or Bombs for Iran?

December 16, 2013 As Washington debates the “first step” agreement to freeze parts of Iran’s nuclear program and negotiators prepare for much tougher talks on a comprehensive deal that dramatically rolls back Iranian capabilities, there has been much debate about whether to implement new economic sanctions or military strikes to deny Tehran a...

Five Takeaways from a Decade of War

November 7, 2013 Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in a keynote address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week, signaled to military commanders that they should assume the across-the-board, automatic spending cuts imposed by sequester over the next decade will remain in place indefinitely. “We do not have the option...

Crocker: Send More U.S. Counterterrorism Troops to Iraq

October 31, 2013 No one should doubt that Iraq is sliding back towards the abyss. Already a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has killed more than 5,000 civilians in 2013, making it the worst year for violence since the dark days of 2006-7, when it took 140,000 U.S. troops to defuse a...

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