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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Current Conflicts


Barbara Salazar Torreon
Information Research Specialist

Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated “periods of war,” dates marking their beginning and ending. These dates are important for qualification for certain veterans’ pension or disability benefits. Confusion can occur because beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” in many nonofficial sources are often different from those given in treaties and other official sources of information, and armistice dates can be confused with termination dates. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. Also included are dates for the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This report will be updated when events warrant. For additional information, see CRS Report RL31133, Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications, by Jennifer K. Elsea and Richard F. Grimmett.


Date of Report: August 23, 2011
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS21405
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The National Guard State Partnership Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress


Lawrence Kapp
Specialist in Military Manpower Policy

Nina M. Serafino
Specialist in International Security Affairs


The State Partnership Program (SPP) is a Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation program run by the National Guard. It also serves as a mechanism for training National Guard personnel. Since the program began in 1992, it has expanded to the point where nearly every state National Guard participates, as do the National Guard of Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

The SPP relates to several areas of potential interest to Congress, including improving the capabilities of partner nations to protect their citizens; strengthening relationships with partners to facilitate cooperation, access, and interoperability; improving cultural awareness and skills among U.S. military personnel; and fostering the integration of reserve and active component forces into a “total force.”

In addition, the rapid expansion of the SPP has led to congressional scrutiny of the conformity of some SPP activities with the law, the effectiveness of the program, and the relationship of SPP activities to the priorities of U.S. geographic combatant commanders and U.S. ambassadors abroad. Congressional interest in SPP is also tied to broader concerns that some DOD security cooperation activities may encroach on, complicate, or conflict with State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) responsibilities and prerogatives.

The SPP conducts a variety of activities in support of partner nations, including 

  • exchanges of subject matter experts, 
  • demonstrations of certain military capabilities, 
  • discussions of policy issues, and 
  • visits between senior leaders of a state National Guard and senior leaders of the partner nations armed forces. 
These interactions commonly focus on topics such as disaster management, command and control, search and rescue, border operations, military medicine, and military education. In some of the more developed partnerships, teams of National Guard personnel have embedded with the military forces of its partner nations as they prepared for and deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo.

The SPP is based on general statutory authorities used by active and reserve component forces to conduct security cooperation. Some unique aspects of the SPP include 

  • the potential for establishing enduring relationships between individuals in the state National Guard and their peers in the partner nation’s armed forces; 
  • the ability to share specialized expertise about topics such as disaster response, civil disorder, counter-narcotics operations, and border security; and 
  • the ability to link senior officials of a state with senior officials of a foreign nation, which can open avenues for greater cooperation between the state and the partner nation in non-military areas. 
This report traces the origin and development of the program; summarizes its unique aspects; and outlines its statutory basis, funding mechanisms, organization, and activities. It details recent
legislative and executive branch actions. It also explores issues that may merit congressional attention and provides options for policymakers who may be interested in modifying the program.


Date of Report: August 1
5, 2011
Number of Pages:
33
Order Number: R419
57
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress


Ronald O'Rourke, Coordinator
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On January 12, 2009, the George W. Bush Administration released a presidential directive, called National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (NSPD 66/HSPD 25), establishing a new U.S. policy for the Arctic region.

Record low extent of Arctic sea ice in 2007 focused scientific and policy attention on its linkage to global climate change, and to the implications of projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. The Arctic has been projected by several scientists to be perennially ice-free in the late summer by the late 2030s.

The five Arctic coastal states—the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (of which Greenland is a territory)—are in the process of preparing Arctic territorial claims for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The Russian claim to the enormous underwater Lomonosov Ridge, if accepted, would reportedly grant Russia nearly onehalf of the Arctic area. There are also four other unresolved Arctic territorial disputes.

The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes. Current international guidelines for ships operating in Arctic waters are being updated.

Changes to the Arctic brought about by warming temperatures will likely allow more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals. Warming that causes permafrost to melt could pose challenges to onshore exploration activities. Increased oil and gas exploration and tourism (cruise ships) in the Arctic increase the risk of pollution in the region. Cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters will be more difficult than in other areas, primarily because effective strategies have yet to be developed.

Large commercial fisheries exist in the Arctic. The United States is currently meeting with other countries regarding the management of Arctic fish stocks. Changes in the Arctic could affect threatened and endangered species. Under the Endangered Species Act, the polar bear was listed as threatened on May 15, 2008. Arctic climate change is also expected to affect the economies, health, and cultures of Arctic indigenous peoples.

Two of the Coast Guard’s three polar icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea—have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives and are currently not operational. The Coast Guard’s FY2012 budget proposes decommissioning Polar Sea in FY2011. The possibility of increased sea traffic through Arctic waters also raises an issue concerning Arctic search and rescue capabilities.

The Arctic has increasingly become a subject of discussion among political leaders of the nations in the region. Although there is significant international cooperation on Arctic issues, the Arctic is also increasingly being viewed by some observers as a potential emerging security issue. In varying degrees, the Arctic coastal states have indicated a willingness to establish and maintain a military presence in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region.



Date of Report: August 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 82
Order Number: R41153
Price: $29.95

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress


Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular “plug-and-fight” mission packages. The Navy wants to field a force of 55 LCSs.

The first two LCSs (LCS-1 and LCS-2) were procured in FY2005 and FY2006 and were commissioned into service on November 8, 2008, and January 16, 2010, respectively. Six more (LCSs 3 through 8) were procured in FY2009-FY2011 at a rate of two ships per year; these ships are now under construction.

The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requests funding to procure four more LCSs (hulls 9 through 12). Navy plans call for procuring an additional 15 LCSs in FY2013-FY2016 in annual quantities of 4-4-4-3.

There are two very different LCS designs—one developed and produced by an industry team led by Lockheed, and another developed and produced by an industry team led by General Dynamics. The Lockheed design is built at the Marinette Marine shipyard at Marinette, WI; the General Dynamics design is built at the Austal USA shipyard at Mobile, AL.

On November 3, 2010, the Navy notified congressional offices that it was prepared to implement a dual-award acquisition strategy under which the Navy would award each LCS builder a 10-ship block buy contract for the six-year period FY2010-FY2015. The Navy needed additional legislative authority from Congress to implement the dual-award strategy. Congress granted the authority in Section 150 of H.R. 3082/P.L. 111-322 of December 22, 2010. On December 29, 2010, the Navy implemented the dual-award strategy, awarding a 10-ship, fixed-price incentive (FPI) block-buy contract to Lockheed, and another 10-ship, FPI block-buy contract to Austal USA. LCSs 5 through 8 are the first four LCSs executed under the two block-buy contracts.

Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include the Navy’s lack of economic order quantity (EOQ) authority for executing the two block-buy contracts, changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1.



Date of Report: August 10, 2011
Number of Pages: 78
Order Number: RL33741
Price: $29.95

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The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications


William H. Cooper, Coordinator
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Remy Jurenas
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Michaela D. Platzer
Specialist in Industrial Organization and Business


If implemented, the proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), signed on June 30, 2007, would be the second-largest U.S. FTA (next to NAFTA). South Korea is the seventh-largest trading partner of the United States, and the United States is South Korea’s thirdlargest trading partner. The proposed KORUS FTA covers a wide range of trade and investment issues and, therefore, could have substantial economic implications for both the United States and South Korea. The agreement will not enter into force unless Congress approves implementation legislation.

Implementing legislation for the KORUS FTA is eligible for expedited congressional consideration (no amendments, limited debate) under the trade promotion authority (TPA). Under TPA, the President has the discretion on when to submit the implementing legislation to Congress. President Bush did not submit the legislation because of differences with the Democratic leadership over treatment of autos and beef, among other issues. On December 3, 2010, after a series of arduous negotiations and missed deadlines, President Obama and President Lee announced that they had reached an agreement on addressing the outstanding issues related to the KORUS FTA. As a result, U.S. and South Korean negotiators agreed, in the form of an exchange of letters and agreed minutes, to modifications to the commitments made in the 2007 agreement These modifications include changes in phase-out periods for tariffs on autos, a new safeguard provision on autos, and concessions by South Korea on allowing a larger number of U.S. cars into South Korea under U.S. safety standards than was the case under the original KORUS FTA provisions Though the issue of full U.S. beef access was not resolved because of its political sensitivity in South Korea, the Obama Administration plans to request consultations on this matter as soon as the KORUS FTA goes into effect.

On July 7, 2011, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held simultaneous “mock mark-up” sessions on preliminary draft implementing bills for the KORUS FTA, as well as for the FTAs with Colombia and Panama. The process is preliminary to the President submitting the actual draft implementing bills under the expedited procedures provided for under TPA. They are also advisory in that the President is not obligated to accept any “amendments” that the committees have submitted. In the case of the KORUS FTA, the two committees considered different draft bills. The Senate Finance Committee considered and approved a draft that included renewal of a trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program, while the Ways and Means Committee considered and approved a draft that included only the KORUS FTA. President Obama said he would not formally submit FTA implementing legislation until there was an agreement from Congress to renew TAA.

A broad swath of the U.S. business community supports the KORUS FTA . With the modifications in the commitments reached in December, this group also includes the three Detroit-based auto manufacturers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. It still faces opposition from some labor unions and other groups, including Public Citizen. Many U.S. supporters view passage of the KORUS FTA as important to secure new opportunities in the South Korean market, while opponents claim that the KORUS FTA does not go far enough to break down South Korean trade barriers or that the agreement will encourage U.S. companies to move their production offshore at the expense of U.S. workers. Other observers have suggested the outcome of the KORUS FTA could have implications for the U.S.-South Korean alliance as a whole, as well as on U.S. Asia policy and U.S. trade policy, particularly in light Korea-European FTA that went into effect on July 1, 2011.



Date of Report: August
8, 2011
Number of Pages:
51
Order Number: R
L33753
Price: $29.95

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