THE TOPLINE: Women should be required to register for the draft if all combat jobs are going to be open to them, the top generals of the Marines and Army said Tuesday.
“Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft,” Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley agreed with Neller.
“I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft,” he added.
The two made the remarks while testifying before the panel with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy on how to implement the landmark decision to open all combat jobs to women.
Murphy and Mabus were more hesitant on the issue, only saying there should be a debate about it.
Late last year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced all military jobs would be open to both sexes with no exceptions, despite a request from the Marines to keep some closed.
CARTER PREVIEWS $582.7B BUDGET: The Pentagon’s proposed 2017 budget will prepare for possible future wars against near-peer competitors Russia and China, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.
The focus of the $582.7 billion budget, he said, will contemplate fights in traditional domains of air, sea and land, as well as areas such as cyber-war and space.
“In this budget, we’re taking the long view,” Carter said in a speech at the Economic Club in Washington. “We have to, because even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.”
The Pentagon is still planning to boost its spending on the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria by 50 percent from last year, to $7.5 billion. Of that, $1.8 billion will go to buying more than 45,000 GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets, Carter said.
The Pentagon will also more than quadruple its spending in Europe to reassure allies and deter Russian aggression, from $789 million to $3.4 billion. That is expected to fund more U.S. forces in Europe, more training and exercises, the prepositioning of military equipment and improving existing infrastructure there.
GENERAL URGES KEEPING TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN: The commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan is reviewing plans for troop levels after 2016, but did not specify Tuesday what force size will be necessary.
Gen. John Campbell outlined the challenges facing coalition and Afghan forces and warned the situation could deteriorate should the U.S. not extend its commitment to the country.
“Afghanistan is at an inflection point,” he said to the House Armed Services Committee. “I believe if we do not make deliberate, measured adjustments, 2016 is at risk of being no better, and possibly worse, than 2015.”
Right now, President Obama plans to reduce the 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of the year. But there are hints, such as Campbell’s testimony, that the Pentagon will push Obama to change course.
When asked for specifics on what further commitment the United States should make, Campbell demurred.
“It’s not as simple as I need X amount of people,” he said. “You can have the force, but if you don’t have the authorities, it doesn’t make a difference. You can have the authorities, but if you don’t have the resources to execute the authorities, it doesn’t make a difference.”
GRASSLEY WANTS ANSWERS ON CARTER EMAILS: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking Defense Secretary Ash Carter for details on his use of personal email, voicing concerns that the Pentagon chief could have been hacked.
“The use of private email in this context exposes information to possible hacks and intrusions by foreign intelligence agencies,” Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Carter in a letter released on Tuesday. “As the secretary of Defense, you are inevitably a prime target for foreign hackers. As such, the threat is real and compliance with the law is essential.”
The letter comes after The New York Times first reported late last year that Carter used a personal email during his first months in the Pentagon’s top spot, including after it was revealed that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
Citing the fallout over the Clinton revelations, Grassley added that it is “troubling” that Carter would use the personal email, “especially since you continued using that arrangement even after the risks of private use were made clear when news of Secretary Clinton’s use broke.”
Grassley is also at the center of the Senate’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time at the State Department. The issue has dogged Clinton’s presidential campaign, even as Democrats argue the probe is politically motivated.