The Best Defense

U.S. Navy finally shows up

Better late that never to be going after the Somalia pirates. To me, this is a strategic issue. Keeping the sea lanes open, especially for oil, should be a top priority for the U.S. military. Instead we seemed to defer to the Indians, Chinese and others, letting them take the lead. The Navy may feel that all its special operators -- the guys trained to board and take over ships -- are busy in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, admiral, does that tell you that you probably need more ship boarders, and maybe fewer aircraft carriers or anti-missile systems? You think maybe?

The Best Defense

The new McCain?

It'll be interesting to watch the Armed Services Committee hearing today on Obama's Pentagon picks in part to see how John McCain behaves.

As he returns to Congress, McCain is for the first time in many years not running for president. My guess is he will be essentially the same, but tougher and even less controllable, especially on issues like the future of the super-expensive F-22 fighter. (I recently was reading an excerpt from a 1935 article in the Army's Infantry Journal -- doesn't everybody? -- and was surprised to see that back then an airplane was far less costly than a tank. That is certainly not the case now.)

"The fun thing to watch will be McCain at Armed Services now that he understands that is where he must make his mark," says one veteran Senate aide. "Lots of hard, hard choices on defense spending and McCain still has the energy to play a significant role, which is bad news for a lot of defense contractors."

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