A top Pentagon official on Wednesday distanced himself from an earlier comment that the department’s shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific region can’t happen.
Katrina McFarland, assistant Defense secretary for acquisition, caught the attention of the defense world with her comments on Tuesday when, speaking at a conference in Arlington, she said, “The pivot is being looked at again, because, candidly, it can’t happen.”
Defense News reported McFarland’s comments, which tied the current budget crunch to the U.S.’s Asia-Pacific refocus.
Adm. Samuel Locklear III, the commander for the U.S. Pacific Command, said he “wouldn’t completely agree with it,” when asked about the comment at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday on the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget request.
But he did say that while his command is moving forward with the shift, future budgets will play a role.
“The real question is whether or not the force that Congress will eventually buy is it adequate for the security environment,” Locklear said, noting that the shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific stretches beyond only the Defense Department.
McFarland, for her part, later clarified her reported comments, saying in a statement: “I was asked a question about the budget … and how it relates to our pivot to Asia. I was reiterating what Secretary Hagel said last week: That the shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific requires us to ‘adapt, innovate, and make difficult (budgetary and acquisition) decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable.’ That’s exactly what we’ve done in this budget. The rebalance to Asia can and will continue.”
What We're Following See More »
"President Trump is expected to announce that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci will be White House communications director, according to two sources familiar with the planning. Trump has left the role open since Mike Dubke resigned in May, and the President has vented frequently to his friends about the performance of his press operation." According to NBC News, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are resisting the move.
"President Donald Trump's second-quarter job approval rating has fallen below what any other past president has gotten during the same time frame. A new Gallup poll found that Trump averaged a 38.8% rating between April 20 and July 19. The average approval rating for that time is 62%. President Obama was at the average during this time period, as was President Nixon. President Clinton is the only president who was below 50% by the second quarter, coming in with a 44% approval rating." There is also a large partisan gap. "Just 8% of Democrats approved of Trump's job performance during the second quarter, but 85% of Republicans did. Approval ratings have become increasingly polarized in recent administrations, but the 77-point gap for Trump is a new record."
"The US government will soon prohibit American citizens from traveling to North Korea, according to two tour groups that cater to Western tourists who want to visit the secretive country. The US will announce the ban within a couple of days, said Simon Cockerell, general manager of Beijing-based Koryo Tours. The agency was informed of the development by officials of the Swedish government, which represents America's interests in North Korea, he told CNN."
"Federal arts and humanities programs targeted for elimination by the Trump administration would get a lifeline from House appropriators willing to ignore the president’s proposal and keep them running. The $31.5 billion fiscal 2018 Interior-Environment spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday includes $145 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. While that’s still a 3.2 percent cut from the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, it is more than $116 million above Trump’s budget request. The National Endowment for the Humanities would receive $145 million in fiscal 2018, which is $103.7 million above the White House budget request."
"The White House’s Office of Management and Budget detailed Thursday how it would jettison hundreds of existing or planned regulations as part of its larger push to ease federal restrictions on the private sector, upending federal policies on labor, the environment and public health. ... The Trump administration said it was pulling or suspending 860 pending regulations."