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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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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 ...

Deficit debate drags military into political fray

August 16, 2011 The debt-ceiling agreement reached by the Obama administration and Congress essentially released the hostage of America's good faith and credit, only to replace it with the Defense Department. Now U.S. military leaders have gotten a good look at the faces of their captors, and the fact they recognize once reliable ...

General gives upbeat assessment of progress in Afghanistan

December 7, 2010 KABUL, Afghanistan -- On the eve of a long-anticipated review of Afghan war strategy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates met here Tuesday with his wartime commander, who gave a relatively upbeat assessment of the war effort. Army Gen. David Petraeus reported that U.S. and allied forces had not only arrested the ...

Master of disaster reflects on Deepwater Horizon's enduring lessons

August 18, 2010 At some point in the next week, BP will likely initiate the "bottom kill" procedure that permanently plugs the Macondo well, bringing to an end the worst maritime oil spill in American history. No more 24/7 video of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. No more weekly tutorials on ...