National Security

FP's Situation Report: U.S. suspends mil relationship with Russia

Budget day at the Pentagon; Ukrainians are tough but undermanned and underfunded; Spies, lies and rape: the story of an undercover airman; and a bit more.

FP's Situation Report: U.S. suspends mil relationship with Russia; Budget day at the Pentagon; Ukrainians are tough but undermanned and underfunded; Spies, lies and rape: the story of an undercover airman; and a bit more.

The U.S. just suspended some of its engagement with the Russians - although some "lines of communication" remain open.  The so-called mil-to-mil relationship between the U.S. and Russia took a turn for the worse last night after the Pentagon announced that it would not participate with the Russians in two exercises and would suspend participation in an ongoing, strategic dialogue with which it has participated with the Russians. The move comes as top Russian officials face sanctions by the U.S. The suspension of military engagement was largely symbolic, but intended to send a message to amid the worsening crisis in which Russia has reportedly sent more than 16,000 troops into Crimea in Ukraine. At the same time, Pentagon officials said not all engagement with the Russians was off - "we are keeping the lines of communication open," said one defense official to Situation Report by e-mail.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, last night: "Although the Department of Defense finds value in the military-to-military relationship with the Russian Federation we have developed over the past few years to increase transparency, build understanding, and reduce the risk of military miscalculation we have, in light of recent events in Ukraine, put on hold all military-to-military engagements between the United States and Russia...  We call on Russia to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine and for Russian forces in Crimea to return to their bases, as required under the agreements governing the Russia Black Sea Fleet." Kirby stressed that there has been "no change to our military posture" in Europe or the Mediterranean" as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

What's affected for now: The Pentagon has cancelled its participation with the Russians and Canada in an exercise known as Vigilant Eagle to "coordinate on cooperative air defense," as well as another, Northern Eagle, between the U.S., Norway and Russia, to give each country's navies a chance to work together on anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations, "coordinated maneuvering, joint air defense drills, communications and search and rescue ops." The U.S. is also putting on hold its participation in something called the U.S.-Russia Defense Relations Working Group, established in 2010 to provide a "regular forum to share best practices on issues related to training, education and support to military members and their families," and to discuss issues of common security interest, from the Middle East and North Africa to arms control, Afghanistan and NATO-Russia relations, according to a Pentagon statement.

This suspension did not occur during the crisis in 2008 in Georgia. Of course it was a different set of circumstances then. But despite the political challenges between the U.S. and Russia, the military-to-military relationship has been, quietly, reasonably strong. And the Russian military at least, has been perceived to enjoy its relationship with the U.S. military. Whether any of this would affect Moscow's decision-making was far from clear, however.  

John Kerry arrives in Kiev today. And this morning, the White House announced an aid package for the Ukrainian government that includes $1 billion in loan guarantees. A statement from the White House this morning read in part: "...The U.S. Administration is working with Congress and the Government of Ukraine to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees aimed at helping insulate vulnerable Ukrainians from the effects of reduced energy subsidies.  At the same time, the United States is moving quickly to provide technical expertise to help the National Bank of Ukraine and the Ministry of Finance address their most pressing challenges.  The United States is dispatching highly experienced technical advisors to help the Ukrainian financial authorities manage immediate market pressures.  The United States will also provide expertise to help Ukraine implement critical energy sector reforms."

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military: undermanned, underfunded and now in trouble. FP's Dan Lamothe: "The Ukrainian government called for the mobilization of 130,000 troops on Monday, threatening to take on the Russian military if tensions on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula boil over into a full-scale armed conflict between the two nations. There's a major problem for leaders in Kiev, however: While Ukraine's military is stronger than the one Russia devastated when it conquered parts of Georgia in 2008, it is still under-funded, undermanned and poorly equipped to take on a vastly superior foe, experts said.

"The tensions simmered as Russia and Ukraine also exchanged a war of words about their intentions. Russian forces seized or surrounded multiple Ukrainian military bases in Crimea, and Ukraine accused Russia of issuing an ultimatum to Ukrainian leaders to withdraw their forces, or watch their bases be stormed. Russia countered that it had issued no such demands, leaving it unclear what could occur. Regardless, Ukraine is in trouble if Russia escalates its use of military force in Crimea." Read the rest here.

Mark Hertling on the Ukrainian military: they're tough. Military Times' Jeff Schogol: "A retired U.S. general with deep knowledge of the geopolitical dynamics at play in Ukraine says the country's military will stand its ground if Russian forces launch an assault. 'My experience was the Ukrainian infantry was very tough,' retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Military Times on Monday. 'They are hard soldiers. They are used to hard conditions and their leadership was becoming more professional as we were working with them in Europe.'" More here.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. We're going to be wheels up for a few days starting tomorrow and leaving SitRep in the more than capable hands of FP's own Dan Lamothe. Please accord him the same respect and disdain you do us - which is to say, send your loving cheers and jeers his way, at dan.lamothe@foreignpolicy.com. Meanwhile, if you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note anytime at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. Please do follow us @glubold.

Don't forget: it's budget day at the Pentagon today (just the broad brushstrokes last week). Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio with the numbers: "The Pentagon's proposed $496 billion budget for the coming fiscal year would provide $154 billion for weapons purchases and research, $25 billion less than projected a year ago, according to Defense Department figures. The reduction is part of the $45 billion in savings that defense officials had to find to meet the budget caps lawmakers agreed to in December.

"The weapons spending amounts, obtained by Bloomberg News in advance of today's release of President Barack Obama's budget plan, reflect Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's pledge last week to shrink the Army and retire older planes in favor of newer systems such as Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 jet and Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Global Hawk surveillance drones." The rest here.

What happens if all the troops leave Afghanistan - will there still be a war budget? Good question that Defense News' Marcus Weisgerber tries to answer: "The US Defense Department will likely continue asking Congress for war funding separate from the Pentagon's base budget accounts and not subject to federal spending caps even if all American troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, experts say. The Pentagon will submit a $496 billion 2015 budget request to Congress on Tuesday, a spending plan that does not include money for operations in Afghanistan. The war-funding measure, know as overseas contingency operations (OCO), is being delayed because the Afghan government has not approved a security agreement that would allow NATO troops to remain in the country beyond the end of the year." The rest here.  

More on Ukraine: The behind-the-scenes narrative on how the U.S. let Europe take the lead in the effort to usher Ukraine into the West. The WSJ's Adam Entous and Laurence Norman on Page One: "The U.S. ambassador was waiting in the office of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in November, anxious for a decision that would cinch closer ties with the West, when he ran across a staffer bearing unwelcome news. 'I can't believe it. I just came from seeing the president. He's told me we're going to put the European project on pause,' Mr. Yanukovych's chief of staff, Serhiy Lyovochkyn, told U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, according to a person who was present. The ambassador asked how the president intended to explain the turnabout to 46 million Ukrainians expecting a new pact with the European Union. 'I have no idea,' Mr. Lyovochkyn said. '...I don't think they have a Plan B unless it's a dacha on the outskirts of Moscow.'

"The exchange made clear the U.S. would have to come up with its own Plan B. For the previous two years, the Obama administration had sought to let Europe take the lead in guiding the westward political and economic drift of the former Soviet republic, with the U.S. in a supporting role.

"Now, the U.S. has been drawn front and center at a far more difficult time-after blood has been shed, battle lines drawn and Russian ire provoked. Locked today in the very East-West standoff the administration had hoped to avoid, 'The U.S. is now in the lead,' a senior U.S. official said." Read the rest here.

The U.S. is increasingly isolated when it comes to sanctions against Russia. FP's Colum Lynch: "On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence that there was broad international support for imposing tough economic sanctions on Russia unless it withdrew its forces from Ukraine. It took barely a day for a vital American ally to say that it would pursue a different approach -- and for evidence to emerge that a second one was likely to break with the Obama administration as well.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful figures in the European Union, signaled Monday that she wanted to hold off on sanctions while pursuing a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis, not one based on the asset freezes, visa bans, and other punitive measures Kerry outlined during his appearance on 'Meet the Press.' Merkel's government instead favors direct talks with Moscow and the deployment of international monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, which would establish facts on the ground in Ukraine with the aim of assuring Moscow that the rights of ethnic Russians were being respected." More here.

Rule No. 1 for the Russian invasion of Crimea? Silence the media. The HuffPo's Michael Calderone: "One of the first casualties in the Russian invasion of Crimea was independent television. Black Sea TV, the peninsula's only independent channel, was shut down on Monday. The head editor, Oleksandra Kvitko, said a Crimean governing body had decided to close the station, claiming there had been threats against its journalists. The crackdown on independent media is a hallmark of Kremlin-style manipulation. Such press tightening began early on during the presidency of Vladimir Putin and has continued, most recently, in the run-up to last month's Sochi Olympics and threatened closure of opposition channel TV Rain.

"Russian media chiefs defended their reporting Monday against charges of bias, even as recent coverage demonstrated the Kremlin's control of the news. Following the ouster of pro-Kremlin president Victor Yanukovych, Russian TV anchors have suggested that supporters of Ukraine's new interim government would have sided with the fascists in World War II -- or the 'Great Patriotic War,' the term commonly used in Russia -- and that Western-facing protesters largely belonged to the extreme right. More here.

"Spies, lies and Rape" in The Daily Beast: The story about a young airman just out of Air Force basic training, secretly hired by the AF's Office of Special Missions, who says she was raped while on duty. The Daily Beast's Jacob Siegel: "On the night of July 26, 2013, Airman First Class Jane Neubauer was on a beach in Biloxi, Mississippi having a few drinks and hanging out with friends when she got a text inviting her to a party. The sun had set, but the gulf coast air was still hot and muggy when she jumped in a car and drove off with a group of suspected drug dealers. They weren't her friends and it wasn't her idea of a good time. Neubauer, 23 years old and new to the military, had been recruited by the Air Force's secretive law enforcement branch, the Office of Special Investigations, to infiltrate a drug ring selling pills out of a local restaurant.... According to Neubauer, the man closed his hand around her throat and told her that he knew who she was and where she lived and that he knew she'd been working as an informant. He called her a snitch. Then, she says, he raped her."

"Her story sheds light on three disturbing trends that the Pentagon would rather keep quiet: a culture of drug abuse among service members, the use of ill-prepared young informants to infiltrate that culture, and a pattern of sexual assaults that lead to retaliation against the victim." Read the rest of this tale here.

The military justice system, on trial: The trial of Jeffrey Sinclair, the Army one-star accused of having an illicit affair with a subordinate, assaulting her and threatening to kill her if she told anyone finally gets underway this week. The WaPo's Craig Whitlock: "A sordid account involving illicit sex in uniform will be aired this week in an austere courtroom at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the results could tip the scales in a high-stakes debate in Congress over the future of the military justice system. The defendant, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, is accused of carrying on a long affair with a junior officer and sexually assaulting her on two occasions, among other crimes. He is only the third Army general to face court-martial in more than a half-century. But after two years of investigation and preparation, the prosecution is in disarray.

"The Army's handling of the case is being watched closely in Washington, where the Senate is scheduled to soon consider a major bill that would strip military commanders of their long-standing authority to prosecute sexual assaults and other major crimes." Read the rest here.

In the lead: War deaths top 13,000 among Afghan security forces. The NYT's Rod Nordland: " More than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed during the war here, far more than previously known, according to Afghan government statistics. Most of those losses occurred during the past three years as Afghan forces took over a growing share of the responsibility for security in the country, culminating in full Afghan authority last spring. The numbers also reflect an increased tempo to the conflict. More clashes have taken place as insurgents test the government forces, without as much fear of intervention from the American-led coalition as it prepares to withdraw.

"A statement released late Sunday by President Hamid Karzai's cabinet, the Council of Ministers, put the total number of people in the Afghan security forces killed in the past 13 years at 13,729, with an additional 16,511 Afghan soldiers and police officers wounded." More here.

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Obama's big test in Crimea

Mike Morell: Putin only understands 'tough'; Stavridis' 10 ideas on crisis; Karzai in the WaPo: angry; The LCS and the fog of (budget) war; and a bit more.

 

For Obama, a big test in Crimea. The NYT's Peter Baker: "The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? It is no easy task. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. 'In another world,' she said.

"That makes for a crisis significantly different from others on Mr. Obama's watch. On Syria, Iran, Libya and Egypt, the political factions in Washington have been as torn as the president over the proper balance of firmness and flexibility. But as an old nuclear-armed adversary returns to Cold War form, the consequences seem greater, the challenges more daunting and the voices more unified.

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat who became under secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, to Baker: "It's the most important, most difficult foreign-policy test of his presidency... The stakes are very high for the president because he is the NATO leader. There's no one in Europe who can approach him in power. He's going to have to lead."

The BBC this morning: "Russia has vowed its troops will remain in Ukraine to protect Russian interests and citizens until the political situation has been "normalised"... Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was defending human rights against 'ultra-nationalist threats.' Russia is now in de facto military control of the Crimea region, despite Western condemnation of a 'violation of Ukraine's sovereignty'. Ukraine has ordered full mobilisation to counter the military intervention." More here.

The White House considers sanctions. FP's John Hudson: "In response to Russia's surprise takeover of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, the Obama administration on Sunday floated an array of punitive measures aimed at isolating Moscow, including economic sanctions and visa bans. Though Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian incursions a "brazen act of aggression," a senior administration official downplayed the likelihood of a U.S. military intervention, revealing the limits of Washington's influence over the situation. Though [Secretary of State John Kerry] emphasized that "all options are on the table," a senior administration official pushed back against the use of military force in Ukraine in a phone call with reporters. "I don't think we're focused right now on the notion of some U.S. military intervention," the official said. "I don't think, frankly, that would be an effective way to de-escalate the situation." More here.

The Ukrainian Navy rejects a deal to defect to the self-declared Crimean government. The Guardian's Shaun Walker in Simferopol and Graham Stack in Sevastopol: "...On Sunday the recently appointed navy commander-in-chief, Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, appeared on television to announce he was defecting to the Russian-supported Crimean authorities. But despite his appeals to officers on Monday, they said they would remain loyal to their oaths to serve Ukraine. Berezovsky has been accused of state treason by the new authorities in Kiev.

"Elsewhere in Crimea, Russia continued in its attempts to intimidate Ukrainian forces into submission as troop maneuvers against bases across the peninsula continued. At Ukraine's naval command on Monday morning, officers lined up in the yard of their Sevastopol headquarters to be addressed by both Berezovsky and the newly appointed navy chief commander, Serhiy Haiduk.

The officers broke into applause as Haiduk read them an order from Kiev removing Berezovsky from his position, and told them that Berezovsky was facing treason charges. When Haiduk had finished his dry but compelling address, the officers spontaneously broke into the national anthem, and some were seen to cry. Berezovsky showed no visible sign of emotion.

Said Haiduk, the newly-appointed navy chief commander, of his men: "I know my men will stay loyal to their oaths... What Berezovsky has done is a matter for him alone. When he brought intruders in here, we did not offer armed resistance as would have been our right, in order to avoid any provocations the other side would like."

Lindsey Graham, on CNN's State of the Union yesterday, called Obama "weak and indecisive" on matters of foreign policy: "No. 1, stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators - it is not your strong suit. Every time the President goes on national television and threatens Putin or someone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine."  More here.

CSIS' Andrew Kuchins, this morning: "...To date, the Obama administration's response, including Friday's vague warning about "costs," has amounted to little more than a threat to boycott the G8 meeting taking place in Sochi in June. Did the president's team forget that Putin did not even show up when Obama hosted the G8 in 2012? Was that not a crystal clear message about what Putin really thinks about the G8 in general, and Obama in particular? Regardless, the administration has clearly been caught flat-footed again by Putin." More here.

RT: @CBS This Morning: "The only thing Vladimir Putin understands is 'tough.' There has to be a 'tough' response. -- Mike Morell, fmr. CIA deputy director"

Welcome to Monday's edition of the Snow-is-the-Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Please tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: please do follow us @glubold.

Former NATO commander Jim Stavridis has a few ideas about the kind of military planning that should be occurring right now. His bottom line is that NATO must move out now to deal with the crisis, and while action may provoke - doing nothing is worse. Stavridis, on FP: Idea One: Increasing all intelligence-gathering functions through satellite, Predator unmanned vehicles, and especially cyber; Idea Two: Using the NATO-Ukrainian Council and existing military partnerships with the Ukrainian military to share information, intelligence, and situational awareness with authorities in Kiev; Idea Three: "Providing advice to Ukrainian armed forces to prepare and position themselves in the event of further conflict; Idea Four: "Developing NATO contingency plans to react to full-scale invasion of Ukraine and to a partial invasion likely of Crimea. NATO contingency planning can be cumbersome, but in Libya it moved quickly; Idea Five: Assigning one of the NATO Joint Force Commands (either Naples, Italy, or Brunsum, Netherlands) into direct overwatch of the situation; Idea Six: Standing up NATO crisis centers to full manning, especially at SHAPE and the relevant Joint Force Command; Idea Seven: Ensuring that the Land and Maritime Component Commands (Northwood in the United Kingdom and Izmir, Turkey, respectively) are conducting prudent planning in their areas of expertise and feeding their analysis to the Joint Force Command; Idea Eight: Bringing the NATO Response Force, a 25,000 man sea, air, land, special forces capability to a higher state of alert; Idea Nine: Convening allies with cyber-capabilities (this is not a NATO specialty) to consider options -- at a minimum to defend Ukraine if it is attacked in this domain (as Georgia was); Idea 10: Sailing NATO maritime forces into the Black Sea and setting up contingency plans for their use." Read the rest here.

Eugene Rumer and Andrew Weiss, in Politico: "...Post-revolutionary Ukraine is in bad shape. Its economy is wrecked. Government institutions broke down completely after the Yanukovych government disappeared overnight. Corruption and criminality, Ukraine's twin scourges, remain basically intact. Thanks to Russia's unexpected moves in Crimea, the West will now have to put Humpty Dumpty back together on its own. These tasks demand that the president designate a senior point-person for coordinating Ukraine policy in all its complexity. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, one of America's ablest diplomats and an old Russia hand, is the obvious choice." More here.

The WaPo's Kevin Sieff scores the first American newspaper interview with Afghanistan's Karzai in two years, and it's rather emotional. Sieff's lede: "Hamid Karzai was in the midst of negotiating a security agreement with the United States when he met a 4-year-old girl who had lost half her face in an American airstrike. Five months later, the Afghan president's eyes welled with tears as he described visiting the disfigured little girl at a hospital. He took long pauses between words. Sitting behind his desk Saturday night, the man who has projected a defiant image toward the West suddenly looked frail. "That day, I wished she were dead, so she could be buried with her parents and brothers and sisters" - 14 of whom had been killed in the attack - he said.

"In an unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the 12-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns. To Karzai, the war was not waged with his country's interests in mind. 'Afghans died in a war that's not ours,' he said in the interview, his first in two years with a U.S. newspaper."

Said Karzai to the departing WaPo journalists after the interview in Kabul: "To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the U.S. government, give them my anger, my extreme anger.'' More here.

Sarah Chayes in Politico: Afghanistan is a money pit. Her BLUF: "... Corruption acts as an accelerant of just about any other problem troubled countries have, from environmental degradation to humanitarian crises. Taking acute corruption into consideration is, in other words, a matter of principle, but also of vital U.S. national interest. That goes for Afghanistan, too, even as the United States prepares for its withdrawal. As another Kandahar-area elder put it to me in 2009, 'You ask us, why don't we fight the Taliban when they're killing people? But how can we work with this government? It's only there to fill its own pockets. If government administration in this country is not reformed, it doesn't matter how many soldiers the Americans send, security will never improve.'" More here.

The long view: There's a new draft of a mining law before the Afghan parliament that could have a dramatic impact on if foreign governments invest in the country's mining and oil sectors. Global Witness, an NGO, just put out a series of recommendations on how to address a number of shortcomings in the proposed law. A summary: "Natural resources threaten to become a new, major driver of instability in Afghanistan due to its potential $1+ trillion in mineral wealth.  Studies show countries with large oil finds are significantly more likely to see new internal conflicts and that conflicts where mineral wealth is involved can last five times longer than those without.  Unfortunately, there is already extensive evidence that illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, both pro and anti-government, already draw significant revenues from minerals.

"To that end, Global Witness and Integrity Watch Afghanistan have drafted a comprehensive national plan for management of natural resource management called 'Building for the Long Term.'  The report sets out recommendations for the Afghan Extractive Industries Development Framework (EIDF), one of the key Afghan government commitments agreed at the 2012 Tokyo Conference. It highlights the need to make it illegal for formal security forces or informal armed groups to be involved in the extractives sector, and for requiring security forces protecting mine sites to operate in consultation with local communities and according to strict rules. In addition, it advocates enhancing protections in transparency, open and competitive bidding, and improving community relations  A new version of the Afghan Mining Law is being debated in parliament, but the current version leaves out these provisions." Read their report here.

Fog of War: the future is uncertain for the controversial littoral combat ship. Defense News' Chris Cavas:  "Hardly anything is clear in Washington about what's happening with the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. Details are embryonic, discussions are just beginning, the whys and wherefores still unclear, memos and specific directions yet to be issued, and sensitivities still raw. A memo issued Feb. 24 by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Navy's leadership clarified his press conference remarks that day directing that "no new contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward." Hagel's artfully-written dictum, however, has enough holes in every sentence to drive a battleship through, allowing for plausible deniability about a host of issues." More here.

A counter view to Gates' contention about MRAPs. Newsweek's Jeff Stein: "... [Retired Marine Maj. Franz Gayl] had serious issues with Gates's account of one of the war's darkest chapters, the Pentagon's unconscionable delay in getting mine-resistant vehicles to young troops being shredded daily by insurgent land mines. In his memoir, Gates depicted himself as virtually single-handedly stampeding the military services into expediting the acquisition and delivery of the so-called MRAPs (for Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles) to replace the troops' thin-skinned, deathtrap Humvees. In fact, the Marines in Iraq had been begging for the life-and-limb-saving MRAPs since 2005, Gayl discovered there, but bureaucrats at Marines headquarters in Quantico, Va. - some, perhaps, with an eye on future employment with contractors developing competing vehicles - had buried their request. And it wasn't Gates who first clambered to rescue the beleaguered troops - but none other than Joseph Biden, the Democratic senator from Delaware at the time." Read the rest of his bit here.