US Ponders NDN Alternatives, New Silk Road, Future of Maritime Transportation
- US Air Force General Paul J. Selva testified yesterday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nomination as commander of USTRANSCOM. He’s currently heading Air Mobility Command, TRANSCOM’s biggest component by far. He seemed confident that other options to move cargo in and out of Afghanistan are available were Russia to stop access to its chuck of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). There have been talks of a “new silk road” to be put together in Asia geared towards commercial ends, but if Russia becomes as uncooperative as Afghanistan, the final months of the drawdown may prove even more expensive than planned.
- Another issue on Selva’s radar is the steady decline in the number of US-flag civilian vessels, down to less than 200 from a peak of more than 1,200 in the 1950s. This is a potential bottleneck to the maritime logistics capacity available to the US military via the Voluntary Tanker Agreement (VTA) and Maritime Security Program (MSP).
- Bloomberg: Pentagon’s Disposal of $15 Billion in Items Questioned.
- Leaders of the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan (G7) released a statement denouncing the Russian-backed referendum scheduled next Sunday in Crimea and announcing it would not recognize its outcome. It is rich that France is a signatory to this statement of moral outrage, when it annexed Savoy in 1860 after a rigged referendum and never looked back.
- The US has provided another $429M to fund Israel’s Iron Dome tactical air defense system, according to the Jerusalem Post.
- The Knesset parliament passed a new draft law that includes the conscription of orthodox Haredis who were until recently exempted for religious reasons. That is proving rather controversial.
- Libya’s parliament sacked the Prime Minister after an oil tanker escaped a rebel-held port. Meanwhile a new UN report documents the “transfers of Libyan MANPADs and other short range surface to air missiles in … Chad, Mali, Tunisia, Lebanon and potentially Central African Republic.”
CIA v. US Congress
- CIA director John O. Brennan was hosted by the Council of Foreign Relations to discuss challenges to the intelligence community. His latest battle: addressing allegations by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] that the CIA had interfered with congressional investigators and tampered with computers used by the committee. CFR Video below: