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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Success of Iraq surge rests on ability to suspend cycle of violence

July 17, 2007 BAGHDAD -- The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Blood is thicker than mortar. Tribe and sect trump nation. Look for enemies and you will find them everywhere. Army Lt. Col. Steve Miska knew all of those maxims for negotiating the byzantine maze of Baghdad politics as he interrupted...

Withdrawal from Iraq would prompt new challenges

April 23, 2007 The Frenchman had it right. Fractious at the best of times, democracies become polarized and paralyzed when mired in unpopular wars. Bombarded with daily images of bloodshed and spent treasure, nations see emotions rise and positions harden. The essential middle ground of political compromise narrows and then disappears altogether. For...

Army strained to near its breaking point

April 6, 2007 KILLEEN, Texas -- Occupying a 340-square-mile swath of hill country in central Texas, Fort Hood is the home front for an Army at war. One of the largest military installations in the world, it is the only post in the United States capable of hosting an Army corps headquarters plus...

Rumsfeld leaves his successor in a difficult position

December 18, 2006 The fate of great nations turns on the fulcrum of tumultuous events. Thus, as the death toll mounts in Iraq and the United States confronts a host of foreign-policy crises, Washington was transfixed earlier this month by the machinery of auspicious change. In the Senate Hart Office Building on December...

U.S. options to control violence in Iraq narrowing

October 20, 2006 Civil wars come on slowly at first, and then in a rush. They follow the track of contagion and the law of the tipping point. A recent war game organized by two former CIA analysts, Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution and Daniel Byman of Georgetown University, posed this question:...

White House anti-terror chief: 'We are due for another attack'

September 5, 2006 In her windowless office inside the White House, Frances Townsend keeps a small mock-up of the World Trade Center towers in New York. The model serves as a daily reminder of all that was lost five years ago on September 11, 2001, and of what could happen again tomorrow. As...

New Coast Guard chief discusses lessons learned from Katrina

June 2, 2006 Now that we've officially entered the 2006 hurricane season, the man tasked with rescuing last year's bungled post-Katrina operation has taken the helm of the U.S. Coast Guard. On May 25, Adm. Thad Allen became the commandant of America's fifth armed service. National Journal Staff Correspondent James Kitfield spoke with...

Stakes high in battle between Rumsfeld, generals

May 5, 2006 The matter of Rumsfeld v. the Generals bears close scrutiny. The controversy represents the worst breach in civil-military relations since Harry Truman dismissed Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951 for his conduct and his criticism of the president during the Korean War. It has proven an unwelcome distraction for Defense Secretary...

Army overhaul prompts new approach to training

March 15, 2006 GRAFENWOHR, Germany -- Second Lt. Ryan Ault was having a very bad day. And the instructors at the Army's Joint Multinational Training Center here wouldn't have had it any other way. The young officer, just five months out of the ROTC program at the University of Kansas, was leading a...

Concerns linger about plan to bring overseas-based troops home

October 24, 2005 The dagger came cloaked in bland legal script, a single sentence buried 512 pages deep in the 2005 House Defense Authorization Act and aimed directly at the jugular of the Overseas Basing Commission. Congress had established the commission in 2003 to provide an independent and bipartisan critique of the Pentagon's...

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