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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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Obama and Karzai: Iraq redux?

January 10, 2013 When President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sit down to lunch at the White House tomorrow, they will attempt to hash out a workable separation agreement. The White House would like to withdraw as many of the remaining 68,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan as rapidly as possible between now ...

Analysis: The military knows it has a morality problem

December 7, 2012 It has not been a good year for America’s armed forces. David Petraeus’s extramarital affair dominated headlines; 25 instructors are under investigation for systematic sexual abuse of cadets at Lackland Air Force Base; and a rash of senior officers -- at the rank of colonel or higher -- have been ...

Analysis: The path to war with Iran

September 24, 2012 In an endless campaign season filled with forgettable speeches and debates, few Americans will recall March 4, 2012, as particularly noteworthy. On that Sunday afternoon, President Obama appeared before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where he was expected to give a boilerplate talk about close U.S.-Israeli ties. Instead, Obama ...

Defense Department struggles to deal with sexual assaults

September 18, 2012 LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Every Friday, on a grassy parade ground ringed by vintage warplanes, a freshly minted class of airmen takes the oath of duty and is officially “welcomed into the blue.” Young men and women who arrived at basic training as confused and frightened individuals seven ...

Afghanistan: Eyeing the exits

August 3, 2012 During the presidential-election campaign the positions of President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney have converged on the issue of withdrawing most U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Neither the Obama administration nor the Romney campaign has made clear, however, how fast the remaining force of ...

WikiLeaks' collateral damage

December 16, 2011 FROM NEXTGOV arrow When the curious case of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning began Friday, his attorney argued in a pretrial hearing that little harm was done by his client's alleged transfer of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and cables to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. "All this stuff has been leaked," attorney David ...

WikiLeaks' collateral damage

December 16, 2011 When the curious case of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning began Friday, his attorney argued in a pretrial hearing that little harm was done by his client's alleged transfer of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and cables to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. "All this stuff has been leaked," attorney David ...

Senate minority leader accuses Justice of misleading Congress

December 12, 2011 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added his voice to a growing chorus of Republicans who charge the Justice Department with misleading Congress on key details surrounding Operation Fast and Furious. The operation was a secret program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that allowed weapons to fall ...

Iran containment strategy cast in doubt

October 12, 2011 The de facto U.S. strategy of containing an Iran on the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons may have just gotten a lot more dangerous. That strategy of isolating Tehran internationally, and building an anti-Iran alliance along its periphery protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, relied on the "rational actor" theory ...

Domestic policy in Washington, Baghdad at play in troop-level decision

September 7, 2011 Reports that the Pentagon may leave only a token U.S. force of 3,000 to 4,000 troops in Iraq at year's end suggest that domestic politics have trumped strategic calculations in both Washington and Baghdad. For its part, the White House is determined to fulfill President Obama's pledge to finally end ...