With information getting leaked about the attempted mission to save James Foley in Syria, many are asking if revealing the information was a good idea. Amber Barno joined Shepard Smith Reporting to explain why families and friends of Foley and the second journalist captured, as well as the Special Operations community should be infuriated. There’s nothing more compromising to the lives of our fighters than telling the enemy what our tactics are.
What are your thoughts on the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?
I think Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq was completely botched. He left behind a weak government and an Iraqi military that was unable to defend itself. Obama’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq almost instantaneously with no sort of residual force to help them defend their own nation has consequences. There are real-world consequences to messing up the withdrawal as we’re now seeing with the [terrorist group] Islamic State, with their ability to have such significant advances into Iraq.
What about the recent airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS)?
The airstrikes are necessary. They’re happening a little late. The delay allowed ISIS to gain strength and momentum in Iraq for months. I don’t think they’re going to necessarily make that much of a difference on the grand scale of things. These are basically just pinprick airstrikes.
Yes, they’re going to take out some equipment here and there, but they’re not going to change the Islamic State’s mission, goals, intentions, etc. It’s basically just momentarily disrupting their freedom to maneuver. It’s temporarily holding them back rather than destroying them. It is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Do you think at some point we’ll need boots on the ground in Iraq again?
Right now, with our current leadership, I don’t want to see conventional U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. That being said, the mission may require that in the future. Right now I’d like to stick to supplying Iraqis with weapons, ammo, and intelligence and basically guiding the Iraqis to fight back.
What is America’s best strategy in Iraq for the near future?
I think they need a coherent, comprehensive air campaign in conjunction with supplying Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga with weapons, ammo, and intelligence to help them fight against the Islamic State and regain control.
As someone who has served, is what’s going on in Iraq disappointing? Are you surprised, saddened?
It is disappointing. Thousands of American soldiers who served in Iraq made life-altering sacrifices. Some came home with physical or invisible wounds that they still have to deal with. It’s disheartening, and now we’re having to deal with the consequences of an early, too soon, withdrawal. The withdrawal was not managed properly.
“Thousands of American soldiers who served in Iraq made life-altering sacrifices,” says @AmberBarno.
The president was more concerned with a rapid withdrawal than ensuring all we fought for in Iraq was preserved. To see that and almost a decade of work, lives, and sacrifices put into Iraq be swept away in a few months of ISIS coming in and grasping control, it is extremely frustrating to watch that.
Read the full article here: The Daily Signal
Monday marked a significant day in Washington politics, when self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and longtime conservative veteran supporter Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) reached a compromise on the issue of veteran health care. With only one week left before the looming August recess, lawmakers struck a deal. Two days later, the $17 billion VA reform bill passed the House 420-5. But sadly this legislation doesn’t go far enough to address the real problems in our Veterans’ Affairs health system.
The bill would allow veterans to have private healthcare options under certain conditions and would allow for the firing or demotion of Senior Executive Service (SES) employees who are not performing to standard. These are positive changes, but this proposed legislation is not a cure-all for the plagued VA system.
First, veterans would have the option to seek private healthcare if the VA is unable to provide an appointment within 30 days, or if the veteran lives greater than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility. Veterans would be provided a “Veterans’ Choice Card” that would allow them to receive medical care at the expense of the VA.
$10 billion of the $17 billion allotted in this bill would go to a fund called the “Veterans Choice Fund” that would cover the payments of the private healthcare costs. This is a crucial part of the VA reform bill. Obviously, veterans deserve a better option when the VA cannot provide medical care in a timely manner or within a reasonable distance.
Second, the bill would allow the VA to have the authority to fire top-level SES employees if they are failing to meet the standard of the job or are participating in any form of misconduct. Currently, it is almost impossible to fire or demote people in these SES positions. This is not just a VA issue, but a problem in any federal agency.
If an SES employee gets demoted or fired, he has the option of a 21-day appeals process. If a decision is not made within the allotted 21-day time period, the initial recommendation of employment termination or demotion is approved. This is a much-needed change that will help bring an accountability culture back to the VA.
While both of these measures are steps in the right direction, the Sanders-Miller deal does not do enough to address how the overall VA culture is going to change. How is the VA going to become more transparent to prevent gaming the system, secret wait lists, ghost clinics, and retaliation against whistleblowers? This latest bill could be yet another short-term “solution” to a long-term problem of veterans’ access to health care.
A real solution would offer private healthcare options to veterans without stipulations, but this bill imposes many limitations: Private options will only be available under certain circumstances, and only to veterans who are enrolled in the VA healthcare system by August 1, 2014 or a veteran who will separate from service in the future (after August 1, 2014). This leaves out any veteran who has chosen previously to avoid the failures and frustrations of the VA.
And Friday’s enrollment deadline is almost a joke: Can the bureaucracy at the VA possibly process any paperwork by then? This leaves almost no time to inform current veterans of the change. (Compare that to ObamaCare enrollment deadlines, which were consistently delayed in efforts to enroll more people in coverage. Apparently, our vets don’t get that privilege.)
If the goal of this bill is to provide the best care for veterans, why does that only apply to certain veterans? Why punish those vets who refused to use the VA in the past (possibly for justified fears of bad treatment)? This bill is just another way to protect the VA bureaucracy and deny veterans from receiving the best care without extensive wait times.
Furthermore, this bill makes the common government-minded mistake of simply throwing money ($17 billion) at the problem. The VA has never had a funding problem; it has seen an increase in funding of almost 60 percent since 2009. No amount of money given to the VA will solve its problems without a clearly defined strategy to change the structure and culture of the program.
It is refreshing to see members of Congress working together and having the ability to compromise, but this bill is clearly an attempt to smooth over a recent set of scandals with policy tweaks. Veterans would be better served by real, meaningful reforms. We must get VA reform right once and for all, rather than turning our backs on a system that will continue to fail our nation’s veterans.
Originally published at Red Alert Politics
Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberBarno
By Lauretta Brown
(CNSNews.com) – Former Army helicopter pilot and Iraq war veteran Amber Barno says the scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) calls for “a new reformed VA that’s going to help veterans,” not just “another piece of legislation that isn’t going to fix the VA.”
“We want to see real change,” Barno, who is now a military advisor at Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), told CNSNews.com.
She added that she has high expectations for the new conference committee that is trying to iron out the differences between VA reform legislation passed by the House and the Senate before Congress goes into recess.
Those expectations include “clear” standards of care for veterans and increased ability to fire VA managers who do not meet them.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that such an overhaul of the military veterans’ health care system would cost $35 billion.
“I think that the VA scandal is outrageous and really upsetting, as a veteran myself,” Barno told CNSNews.com.
“I think that the VA conference committee that’s going on right now, they really need to, before it gets to the president’s desk, it really needs to have very strict and straightforward language in it to make sure that there’s no loopholes moving forward that the VA can use, especially when it comes to private care and wait times in terms of basically what goes in to a veteran being able to receive private care because of a long wait time or too far a difference from or distance to a facility.
“So it needs to say 21 days or 60 miles or less. That’s what I would like to see come out of the VA select committee and hopefully legislation moving forward.”
“We want to see real change. We don’t want to see just another piece of legislation that isn’t going to fix the VA. And that’s what we want to see here is a new, reformed VA that’s going to help veterans,” Barno concluded.
Barno echoed the open letter CVA CEO Pete Hegseth sent to the VA Conference Committee last Thursday which stated that “the final legislation must both aggressively address VA’s systemic problems and shield reforms from VA bureaucratic sabotage.”
CVA stipulated provisions that should be included in the final legislation, including the establishment of “clear, independent, and automatic wait time and geographic standards for seeking private care,” “timely reimbursement payments,” and “real accountability.”
CVA stated that the “bill must reflect clear standards—no more than 21 days or 60 or less miles—to define what constitutes excessive wait times, or excessive travel, for VA care.”
“A core aspect of this reform is the ability for poor VA managers to be promptly removed for cause,” the letter said. “Any effort to further dilute accountability measures must be resisted; and final language should hew closely to the House accountability language.”
Read more at CNS.com