• Two F-22 Raptors fly over the Pacific Ocean. (Getty)

    Pentagon Not Ready for Cold War 2

    The U.S. military spent decades pivoting away from its Cold War stance. Now the Pentagon is less prepared than it has been in generations for a confrontation with Russia.

    There’s an old saying in the military that we’re always training for the last war, so fixated on the lessons of our most recent conflict that we’re blind to the emerging threat.

    For years, that last war was the Cold War, and the emerging threat was the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan. Slowly, painfully, eventually, the military reoriented itself. The result? After more than two decades of post Cold War re-alignment, the military is less prepared than it has been in generations for a confrontation with Russia.

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  • Police officers and other Afghans gather outside a mosque to offer Eid al-Adha prayers in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 15, 2013. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times, via Redux)

    Disappearing Dollars

    The Afghan Money Pit

    Hundreds of millions in U.S. aid money provided to supply Afghan security forces has been lost—and now oversight is about to get even worse.

    The war in Afghanistan is transitioning to its endgame. But the drawdown hasn’t stopped the billions in U.S. aid flowing into the country, and after 12 years of spending on this scale, we’re still losing money—hundreds of millions unaccounted for—almost as fast as we can write the next check. The spotty oversight of U.S. aid to Afghan forces is now set to get even worse as the main auditing group is in the country is about to have its presence dramatically reduced.

    The majority of the Department of Defense money spent in Afghanistan that doesn’t pay for U.S troops goes into projects for infrastructure and funding the Afghan security forces. The U.S. legacy in Afghanistan will be defined in large part by the success of those institutions, the Afghan army most of all, where we have focused our funding and resources.

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    Afghanistan Withdrawal

    No Deal Yet Between U.S. & Afghans

    Secretary Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to negotiate an agreement to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014. Hanqing Chen explains the sticking points.

    As the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws near, Secretary of State John Kerry is brokering the next stage of U.S. involvement in the area.

    On Sunday, Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai came close to sealing a deal to maintain 5,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the official December 31st, 2014 withdrawal date.

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  • US Naval troops perform an operation during Bright Star. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty, KHALED DESOUKI)

    Egypt

    Training With Egypt's Army

    How cancelling Bright Star effects our relationship with Egypt. John McRae, a Bright Star veteran, explains.

    I spent the month of November 2007 in the Sinai desert as an American Army officer participating in Operation Bright Star, the multinational military exercise hosted by Egypt. Bright Star recently made headlines when the White House pulled out of this year’s rotation, signaling a withdrawal of support for the Egyptian government in the wake of its latest brutal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In the past, Bright Star has been a fairly routine, though large-scale training mission, but in light of its sudden relevance to geo-politics, I thought I’d offer some observations for the unacquainted.

    Operation Bright Star is officially a biennial training mission for militaries with a significant stake in Middle Eastern affairs to show good faith and partnership by conducting joint training missions—the high point of which is the chance to observe painstakingly rehearsed, controlled explosions. It’s also a long-standing symbol of the partnership between Egypt and the United States, a means of cementing that relationship, and a chance for U.S. officials to observe some of the returns on the 1.3 billion dollars annually that Washington has given Cairo in aid.

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