Author Archives: Ed

About Ed

Ed Ledford appreciates the most challenging, complex, and high stake communications requirements. As his principal’s spokesman and speechwriter in Afghanistan, Ed composed, edited, and presented operational guidance and strategies to national and international elected and appointed leaders and the media during the McChrystal-Petraeus era. His portfolio includes policy and strategy papers; correspondence with Members of Congress, senior Department of State and Defense officials, foreign counterparts, chiefs of industry; and innumerable speeches. Ed edits and writes blogs, fiction, nonfiction, poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., Ed currently works from his office in Charlottesville, Va. He enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring. You can find him online at www.EdLedford.com, and on Twitter @ECLedford.

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Alliances in Syria, The Verge in Geneva, and Immunity in Afghanistan – Daily Intelligence

Big 7 Reb groups team up against Assad’s advances, success in Geneva is within reach, and Loya Jirga majority agrees to U.S. Soldier immunity to Afghan prosecutions – all in today’s defense headlines. 

Saturday Coffee Read & BREAKING NEWS!

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Security clearance reform on the Hill. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Congress continues to debate next steps in the security clearance reform process. A senate hearing this week focused on position sensitivity designations. A new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would streamline the process for determining which positions are deemed ‘sensitive.’ Such a designation applies to positions with a potentially adverse effect on national security but which don’t require a security clearance. . . . [meanwhile,] the White House pushed back this week on Senate efforts to reform clearance procedures within DoD as a part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill.”

2.  . . .  ask what your company can do for you. Contributor Diana Rodriguez – a.k.a. D-Rod – with good advice  on interviewing the interviewer, for your own sake: “A successful interview requires input from both parties- the interviewer and the job candidate. Although many private firms, and federal and state government agencies, are actively seeking out veterans to hire, a percentage won’t be hired because they fail to ask the right questions during an interview.  Asking the right questions can help the interviewer form an impression of the applicant that may, in many cases, be as important as the answers given about their skills. “

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  In Geneva, just don’t screw it up. Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi and John Irish report from Geneva, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Saturday to join talks on Iran’s contested nuclear program with Tehran and six world powers appearing on the verge of a breakthrough to defuse the decade-old standoff. . . . Diplomats said a formidable sticking point in the intense negotiations, which began on Wednesday, may have been overcome with compromise language that does not explicitly recognize Iran’s claim to a ‘right to enrich’ uranium but acknowledges all countries’ right to their own civilian nuclear energy. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran’s demand to continue construction of a heavy-water reactor near Arak that could, when operational, yield bomb-grade plutonium remained one of the main outstanding issues.” AP’s John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten, also in Geneva, report, “John Kerry and world’s other top diplomats joined Iran nuclear talks Saturday, cautioning there were no guarantees their participation would be enough to seal a deal . . . .”

2. In Syria, new alliances against al Assad. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Seven major Islamist rebel groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria have announced a merger to form an “Islamic Front” and pledged to build an Islamic state in a post-Assad Syria. . . . The factions joining the merger are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force Liwa al-Tawhid, the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham, the Idlib-based Soqour al-Sham, the Homs-based al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham, and the Damascus-based Army of Islam. The Kurdish Islamic Front also joined the front. . . . Amad Essa al-Sheikh, the head of the Consultative Council of the new Islamic Front, told Al Jazeera the goal of integrating the factions was to bring about ‘a paradigm shift in the armed rebellion by closing ranks and mobilising them to become the real alternative to the dying regime’. ”

3.  Jan – Haqqani’s second – killed in Pakistan. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “The CIA-operated Reapers killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the al Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network, and two other commanders in an airstrike on a seminary in the settled district of Hangu. The hit was remarkable because US drones rarely stray outside of the designated kill boxes of Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where a host of jihadist groups operate unfettered. Of the 352 strikes recorded by The Long War Journal since the drone program began, 95 percent have taken place in the two tribal agencies. Only four of the remaining strikes occurred outside of the tribal areas; the last was in March 2009.”

4.  In Afghanistan, Loya Jirga immunizes troops. Khaama.Com reports, “The immunity for US troops which is considered to be one of the controversial terms of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States, has reportedly been approved by majority. The national grand council (Loya Jirga) comprised of 50 working committees continued debate on the terms of bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States. According to reports, majority of the working committees have approved the article 13 of the bilateral security agreement, which gives exclusive US “the exclusive right” to try its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan.” And, a big OOPS in Nangarhar.

5. Uni-Polar Disorder: DoD’s 8-point Arctic Prozac. The Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy is an 8-point approach to maintaining peace and security in a new frontier that climatic forces are poised to open in the coming years . . . . As global warming accelerates, the secretary said, Arctic ice melt will cause a rise in sea levels that could threaten coastal populations around the world — but it could also open a transpolar sea route. Hagel said that expanded tourism, commercial shipping, migrating fish stocks and energy exploration in the region will affect the eight Arctic nations — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, along with the United States –- most closely. All, he said, ‘have publicly committed to work within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Microsoft on the cheap. FederalTimes.Com reports, “The General Services Administration is looking for better deals on Microsoft software, according to a request for quotations released Wednesday. The RFQ is part of the agency’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative and will reduce the prices agencies pay for purchases of Microsoft software . . . . Companies have until Dec. 18 to respond to the RFQ.”

2.  Contractor windfall — $1.1 billion. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin explains, “The now moribund interagency program office charged with developing an integrated electronic health record for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments spent $1.1 billion during its five year life, with the bulk of that going to support service contracts, based on a Nextgov review of Pentagon reports to Congress and testimony. The two departments in February ditched efforts to develop the iEHR after costs spiraled to $28 billion and decided to pursue modernization efforts on their own.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Welcome to the Dark Side. A remarkable read from DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s George Galdorsi: “The expanding use of armed unmanned systems (UxS) is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. Indeed, it has been argued that the rise in drone warfare is changing the way we conceive of and define ‘warfare’ itself. . . . While few today fear that a 21st century HAL will turn on its masters, the issues involved with fielding increasingly autonomous UxS are complex, challenging, and increasingly contentious. While advancing other aspects of UxS improvements in areas such as propulsion, payload, stealth, speed, endurance, and other attributes are – and will remain – important, coming to grips with how much autonomy is enough and how much may be too much, is arguably the most important issue we need to address with unmanned systems over the next decade.”

2.  Congress to OPM – C’mon up. FederalTimes.Com’s Sean Reilly reports, “The chairman of a House oversight committee has subpoenaed the Office of Personnel Management for contracts and other documents as part of an investigation into the process for granting security clearances. . . . Both Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has since disclosed sensitive secrets, and Aaron Alexis, another contract worker who killed a dozen people two months ago in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, held clearances granted through a process ‘orchestrated’ by OPM . . . .”

3.  “Staring down the Taliban in the Race to Eradicate Polio from Earth.” A special report from Wired.Com contributor Matthieu Aikins: “The smallpox campaign represented a new kind of success brought about by cooperation on a global scale, one that permanently made the world a better place. Researchers studying smallpox are the only people who have to be vaccinated against it anymore. It’s gone. With that success behind them, public-health officials naturally wanted to repeat it with other diseases. After a 17-year campaign, a cattle infection called rinderpest was officially eradicated in 2011. But the struggle to eliminate a second human affliction has proved more difficult than anyone imagined.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  They pushed the button, Jim. . . .The big red one. In Geneva, we work to diminish “nucular” options; on The Hill, Senate Dems leverage them: “the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.”

2. If it’s not a secret, you can’t leak it. That was Easy!: “Excessive government secrecy feeds public mistrust and may be fostering a culture of leaks, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday in urging a fundamental re-look at the scope of the classification system. ‘It totally undermines public confidence in our institutions,’ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at the National Archives and Record Administration’s headquarters in downtown Washington. ‘We simply classify too much information for too long at too great a cost.’”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “The Arabs’ Iran Dilemma.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “The best way to keep Iran in check, and to address the rise of sectarianism and its threats to internal security, would be to enact the long overdue democratic reforms that are vital for stability and to reduce tensions in the region through a new effective security and cooperation framework.”

2.  “What the filibuster’s demise means for the Supreme Court.” Reuters’ contributor Reihan Salam argues, “Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ended the filibuster for district and appeals court nominees and executive branch appointments, it’s only a matter of time before the filibuster goes away for Supreme Court nominations and legislation as well.”

3.  “Without the filibuster, a tyranny of the majority.”  WaPo contributor Senator Lamar Alexander argues, “This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them. It creates a perpetual opportunity for ‘tyranny of the majority,’ which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  War on Xmas.

2.  Ass-phyxiation.

3.  First Thanksgiving.

Metro Images 1

The Philippines, Hack threats, and forgetting Libya – Daily Intelligence

Update on aid to the Philippines, Anonymous big hack attack looms, and the price Africa will pay for neglecting Libya Aid – all in today’s defense headlines. 

 

Take ‘em away!

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Next in line at Department of Homeland Security. Contributor Ashley LaGanga reports, “The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee questioned Jeh Johnson on Wednesday, President Obama’s pick for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). . . . While his nomination is opposed by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – who are concerned with border security and the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, respectively – Johnson is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate soon.” Also, NSA transparency, sequestration and defence, and Veteran entrepreneurs.

2.  For Defense Industry jobs, questions before the exam, thanks to contributor Diana Rodriguez: “The defense industry and defense contracting careers come with their own unique requirements. Expect questions that delve into your trustworthiness, as well as your capabilities. . . . [here] are five questions you can expect to be asked by a defense industry hiring manager.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Aid to Philippines still slow. Reuters’ Aubrey Belford reports from Tacloban, “Survivors began rebuilding homes destroyed by one of the world’s most powerful typhoons and emergency supplies flowed into ravaged Philippine islands, as the United Nations more than doubled its estimate of people made homeless to nearly two million. But the aid effort was still patchy, and bodies still lay uncollected as rescuers tried to evacuate stricken communities on Saturday, more than a week after Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 3,633 with tree-snapping winds and tsunami-like waves.” American Forces Press Service reports, “Military Airlifts Supplies, Displaced People in Philippines,” “Pacific Command Creates Joint Task Force for Philippines Relief” and “Hagel Conveys Condolences, Vows Support to Filipinos.”

2.  Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga. AP’s Kathy Gannon and Rahim Faiez report from Kabul, “Afghan and U.S. negotiators have finished a draft of a contentious security pact to be presented to a traditional council next week . . . there remain disagreements between the two countries over the final content of the accord. Without approval of the Loya Jirga, a gathering of several thousand prominent figures from across the country, Afghanistan will likely refuse to sign the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement . . . . And if the Loya Jirga does approve it, the agreement still will require a final nod from parliament.” Khaama.Com reports, “Karzai also added that Afghanistan will likely refuse to sign the bilateral security agreement without the approval of the national grand council (Loya Jirga). . . . However, President Hamid Karzai said that the issue of immunity for US troops remained unresolved, and called for a national grand council (Loya Jirga) to debate the issue.”

3.  Syrian government forces’ incremental progress against rebels. Aljazeear.Com reports, “Syrian troops have captured a contested suburb of Damascus as the government forged ahead with a offensive that already has taken four other opposition strongholds south of the capital. For more than a year, much of the belt of neighbourhoods and towns just south of Damascus has been a rebel bastion and a key arms conduit for the opposition. But government forces – reportedly bolstered by fighters from Lebanon’s Shia armed group Hezbollah group and Shia fighters from Iraq – have made significant headway in recent weeks in the area as President Bashar al-Assad pushes to shore up his hold on the capital and its doorstep.”

4.  Syria’s sarin, mustard, and nerve, hold the ketchup. Albania rejects proposal to destroy chem in their country. Reuters’s Anthony Deutsch and Benet Koleka report from the Hague, “Albania rejected on Friday a U.S. request to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, dealing a blow to a U.S.-Russian accord to eliminate the nerve agents from the country’s protracted civil war. . . . There was no immediate indication where the United States or Russia might look next to dispose of thousands of tons of toxic waste. Friday was the deadline for the details of the plan to be agreed by Damascus and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.”

5.  Hope in Geneva for Iran plan. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Six world powers and Iran are getting close to a first-stage agreement to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, a senior US official has said. The official told reporters in Washington on Friday that it was ‘quite possible’ a deal could be reached when the parties meet on November 21-22 in Geneva . . . . ‘I don’t know if we will reach an agreement. I think it is quite possible that we can, but there are still tough issues to negotiate’ . . . . ”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) contracting (in)digest(ion). Forbes.Com unravels the contracting complexities behind the failed website-rollout: “For its part, Administration officials disregarded criticism that some of the contractors had checkered histories. Responding to reports that Serco was facing a series of major inquiries in the UK, Brian Cook, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said, ‘Serco is a highly skilled company that has a proven track record in providing cost-effective services to numerous other (U.S.) federal agencies.’ The hard-to-believe takeaway is that just about no one, least of all the administration, was ready on launch day.”

2.  LMT’s Long Range Anti Ship Missile does it again. AZOSensors.Com reports, “Flying over the Sea Range at Point Mugu, Calif., a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, released the LRASM, which navigated through all planned waypoints receiving in-flight targeting updates from the Weapon Data Link. After transitioning to autonomous guidance, LRASM identified the target using inputs from the onboard sensors. The missile then descended for final approach, verified and impacted the target.”  Ka-Boom.

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Megatons, Megapixels, Megabites – Dempsey achieves consonance at Stratcom Change of Command. American Forces Press Service’s Nick Simeone reports, “The organization responsible for protecting Americans against ‘the world’s most complex and dangerous threats’ will continue to get the resources it needs to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said . . .  during a change-of-command ceremony for U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base . . . . Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the ceremony and reflected on how much the world and the nature of the threats facing the nation have changed over Kehler’s nearly 40-year military career. ‘There are few that are better able to understand, to appreciate and to articulate the vast mission which comprises our nation’s strategic deterrent force, measured no longer in megatons alone, but also these days in megapixels and megabytes,’ Dempsey said. ‘Our world is different’ . . . .

2.  What can we do about that nasty hack? Reuters’ Jim Finkle and Joseph Menn report, “Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week. . . . The Anonymous group is an amorphous collective that conducts multiple hacking campaigns at any time, some with a few participants and some with hundreds. In the past, its members have disrupted eBay’s Inc PayPal after it stopped processing donations to the anti-secrecy site Wikileaks. . . . Some of the breaches and pilfered data in the latest campaign had previously been publicized by people who identify with Anonymous, as part of what the group dubbed ‘Operation Last Resort.’”

3.  Hacker gets 10 years. VentureBeat.Com’s Meghan Kelly reports, “n 2011, Jeremy Hammond hacked into intelligence firm Stratfor, obtaining private e-mail, credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information in the name of political activism. . . . he received 10 years in jail under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA has become a controversial piece of legislation for punishing people for accessing computer systems without permission. It has resulted in sentences, or proposed sentences, that many claim are too harsh to fit the crime. Hammond, in this case, says he’s being made an example to deter others from political ‘hacktivism’ and that the CFAA is being twisted to cover this form of political protest.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Congress’ magic show. Understanding sequestration. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Craig Collins interviews Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on sequestration, and Congress’ not-so-sleight of hand is remarkable:  “Why on Earth would Congress appropriate more money than the caps allow, knowing the caps are going to cut their appropriation? They can do that because voting on a higher level of defense spending gives everyone political cover, and then the caps will kick in and do the dirty work of cutting things. Now, they do that in a dumb, blind, nonstrategic way: Sequestration just cuts every account – with an exception for military personnel – by the same amount.”

2.  Time to start those office pools: 83 days to our next crisis: “Twelve weeks from today, the US government will hit its borrowing limit. When Congress lifted the debt ceiling last month, for the first time ever, it pegged the increase to a specific date, rather than a dollar amount. The current borrowing authority expires in just 84 days, on February 7th. Three major policy challenges are converging in January. Government spending authority expires in the middle of the month, just three weeks ahead of the debt ceiling. There is also likely to be ongoing agonizing about the implementation of ObamaCare.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The price of forgetting Libya. Aljazeera.Com contributor Solomon Dersso reminds us of the implications of Libya’s turmoil: “The deterioration of the political and security situation in Libya has been worsening throughout the year, stocking fears that the country risks total anarchy and civil war. Violence and instability have increased in parts of the country, while the level of insecurity, particularly in cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi, has worsened. Indeed, a simple survey of headlines such as ‘Libya: Going wrong’,  ‘Libya on the brink’,  ‘Premier’s brief ‘arrest’ highlights anarchy’, or ‘Deepening crisis in Libya’, all tell the story of a failing Libya.”

2.  America’s global stature is slipping. But that might not be a bad thing. Christian Science Monitor’s Graham E. Fuller argues, “Things are getting worse for the United States, not because of our weak policies but because the times are changing, our capabilities and energies limited, and we haven’t recognized it yet. We can’t afford to keep on doing those things we shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.”

3.  “Can Iraq be saved?” Also from Aljazeera.Com, contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “Iraq’s disruption since the US invasion in 2003 is a national, if not an existential, quandary of great proportion that cannot be assessed by a vote on new election laws, or even by the election of a new parliament. It is the predicament of the massive failure to rebuild the Iraqi state and society after they were ruined by more than a decade of occupation, civil strife and mismanagement.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Surgeon General’s Warning.

2.  Thanksgiving traditions.

3.  Getting on with Xmas.

Sandbags Iraq

Kerry on Iran, Iran on Israel, and Government Shutdown D+3

SecState Kerry seeks “concrete steps” from Iran to move forward, Iran claims Israel’s jealous of the U.S. potential new BFF, and, well, it’s still shut down, with no end in sight –– all in today’s defense headlines.

Farewell Tom Clancy & Shutdown D+3.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Resume risks. Posting your resume inevitably makes your identity vulnerable.  Contributor Christopher Burgess explains how you can protect yourself: “Some items shouldn’t appear on a resume, including your Social Security Number (SSN) or your physical address. A telephone number or an email to a unique, one-off, email should be sufficient for an interested employer to reach out and engage. Only when an offer is to be made or when the interview process has advanced to the background check step should these key identity items be provided.”

2.  Telecommuting tips. With government shutdown in full swing – or not – working from home might be the best fit for you. Also from Christopher Burgess, some tips on making work at home work: “by 2016, one can expect to see a 69% increase in telecommuters. . . . The employee holds the key to remote worker success. As an employee, you are now under your own direct supervision. . . . working remotely is a win-win-win for the employee, the employer and the clients, providing realistic expectations are set between the employee and employer (and clients if appropriate).

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Kerry on Iran: concrete steps and Israeli security. Prove it.  Reuters’ Lesley Wroughton reports from Tokyo, “Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States hopes to engage with the new Iranian administration, but Tehran must first prove it is willing to end the stand-off over its nuclear weapons program. If Iran intends to be peaceful, ‘I believe there is a way to get there,’ Kerry told a news conference in Tokyo . . . . There is nothing here that is going to be taken at face-value and we’ve made that clear . . . . The president has said, and I have said, that it is not words that will make a difference, it’s actions, and the actions are clearly going to have to be sufficient.’”

2.  Rouhani on Israel on the U.S. on Iran: Israel is just jealous. Aljazeera.Com reports, “President Hassan Rouhani said that Israel was ‘upset and angry’ with signs of an emerging new relationship between the Islamic republic and the West. . . . ‘We don’t expect anything else from the Zionist regime,’ Rouhani told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Israel is ‘upset and angry because it sees that its blunted sword is being replaced with logic as the governing force in the world, and because the Iranian nation’s message of peace is being heard better,’ the moderate cleric said.”

3.  In Syria, Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq cooperate despite differences. LongWarJournal.Org’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “Although there is no indication that a leadership dispute between the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been settled, the two al Qaeda affiliates continue to fight alongside one another against their common enemies in Syria. . . . Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) throughout September and into early October point to the al Qaeda affiliates’ ongoing collusion against Assad’s forces, Kurdish foes, and other mutual enemies. . . . the two al Qaeda affiliates operate throughout Syria, including in provinces that are not controlled by rebel forces.”

4.  In Afghanistan, Gen. Dostum throws support to Sayyaf. Khaama.Com reports, “Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf has reportedly reached an agreement with the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan on Thursday and appointed Abdul Wahab Urfan as his second vice-president. Abdul Wahab Urfan is a member of the Afghan senate and is being supported by National Islamic Movement party of Afghanistan led by Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. . . . Sayyaf is expected to formally file nomination for 2014 presidential election along with his vice-president by this afternoon.”  Also in the race, “Fazal Karim Najami filed his nomination along with his two vice-president, Sabir Tamkin and Sultan Ahmad Hajati. . . . Fazal Karim Najami has previously worked as advisor to ministry of agriculture and rural rehabilitation ministry.” Abdullah Abdullah is the third candidate.

5.  AFRICAN WINDS blowing in AFRICOM. AllAfrica.Com reports from Nigeria’ capital Abuja, “Nigeria will today participate in a three-week joint military training with special forces from The Netherlands, U.S., UK, Spain and Italy. . . . [Nigerian Military’s Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris] Olukolade said the exercise, code named AFRICAN WINDS, is being spearheaded by the Nigerian Navy. . . . ‘It will be facilitated by a combined Mobile Training Teams, MTTs, of Marines and Special Forces drawn from The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy under the auspices of African Partnership Station, APS. The Netherlands Navy Amphibious Support Ship, HMNLS ROTTERDAM, which is scheduled to arrive in Lagos and later proceed to Calabar, will feature as a major platform in the exercise.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  $87 million to Gentex for advanced combat helmets (ACH). KeystoneEdge.Com’s Elise Vider reports, “U.S. armed forces will be wearing lighter and more comfortable, high-tech helmets made by the Carbondale-based Gentex Corporation. The company has a new $86.6 million multi-year contract to provide lightweight advanced combat helmets (ACH) to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Gentex has been a helmet supplier to the U.S. government for more than 60 years. Gentex uses advanced technology and manufacturing resources to deliver a helmet that is eight percent lighter than previous ACH helmets and provides ‘added stability comfort and performance capability for the soldier,’ the company said.”

2.  $15 million to LexisNexis. Maybe it’s better to stay shutdown. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “The day before the government shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded LexisNexis owner Reed Elsevier the potentially five-year deal to help victims of natural disasters such as the recent Colorado and New Mexico floods. At the same time, a service that traffics in personal information was revealed one week ago to have breached two systems at LexisNexis, likely to oblige ID thieves, according to an investigative report by cybersecurity researcher Brian Krebs.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  “’These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled.’”  Gen. Alexander begins to come clean, admitting to Congress that he, well, exaggerated a little, well, a lot . . . . WashingtonTimes.Com reports that “the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records. . . . Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.”  See also Salon.Com, “NSA director admits to misleading public.”

2.  Cyberthreats increase during shutdown, and beyond. NextGov.Com contributor Brittany Ballenstedt reports, “With electronic infrastructure still up and running despite the government shutdown, the lack of staff support in information security shops is likely affecting the government’s ability to respond to cyber threats and attacks and creating potential ripple effects for cybersecurity going forward. . . . ‘What I would expect is that, by and large, just like the other services, information security is vastly undersupported, and that means that the exceptional circumstances are a problem,’ said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at security software firm Tripwire.’”

3.  Everything’s fine. McClatchyDC.Com contributor Anita Kumar analyzes Obama’s “independent group to review the vast surveillance programs” may not be so independent, after all: “The members of the review group are Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush; Michael Morell, Obama’s former deputy CIA director; law professor Geoffrey Stone, who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama’s presidential library in Chicago; law professor Cass Sunstein, administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama; and Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton. ‘At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying’ . . . .”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Duuuuuuh . . . he confused me. Powerful anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s argues that Cruz confused everybody with crazy riddle- logic: “Speaking with the Post’s Ezra Klein, Norquist argued that Cruz ‘confused people’ [Congressmen] when he insisted that a vote to fund the government that didn’t also defund Obamacare was effectively a vote for Obamacare . . . ‘He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.’” Read the entire WaPo interview with Norquist.

2.  Rubber chickens.  In a marketing move worthy of notice, and applause, Nando’s Peri-Peri gets straight to the point: “The company, which has several stores in the Washington area, is offering a ‘Boneless Chicken, Spineless Congress’ offer of a free butterflied chicken breast to all ‘non-essential’ workers. ‘Nando’s wants to soothe the ruffled feathers of government workers hurt by the shutdown,’ Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, told Secrets. All furloughed workers have to do is visit Nando’s Facebook page to redeem the one-day offer. ‘Members of Congress need not apply,’ said the firm.”

3.  While you’re surfing the web, tunes to lull by.

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Republicans against the Republic.”  TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Lawrence Lessig argues, “Politicians are free to support legislation for whatever reason they want. Subject to the rules regulating bribery, they’re free to demand whatever they want in return for a vote. Democrats might not like that the Republicans have this power. But their exercising it within our constitutional system is not a crime. But freedom is different from responsibility. And the real question that Republicans need to be asking their party leadership is whether this is the kind of government that Americans should want.”

2.  “Shutdown: A fight with no room for compromise.” Reuters contributor Bill Schneider argues, “To end the government shutdown, all Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) needs to do is let the House of Representatives vote on a budget. It would pass within 30 minutes. Virtually all 200 House Democrats would vote to keep the government open, as would as many as 50 Republicans. An easy majority. But no. Boehner and other Republican leaders refuse to do that because they are in thrall to Tea Party conservatives.”

3.  Israel – how about a little help here?  WaPo contributor Walter Pincus argues, “It’s time for Israel to stop making military threats and to propose an imaginative diplomatic move — risky as it may seem — to help ease nuclear tensions in the Middle East. It can start by acknowledging its own nuclear weapons program.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Not About Shutdown #1.

2.  Not About Shutdown #2.

3.  Not About Shutdown #3

Playing for change 640x185

Daily Intelligence: Iran of “Prudence and Hope,” Marine GOs fired, and Shutdown Government

Rouhani’s “government of prudence and hope” while Obama reassures Israel, U.S.M.C.’s General Amos asks for Gurganus’ and Sturdevant’s sabres, and the sidewalks are rolled-up in Washington, D.C.  – all into today’s defense headlines.

Tumbleweeds and Tuesday’s Crib Sheet.

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  In S. Korea, SecDef Hagel: “I love a parade.”  In a pageant worthy of North Korea or Soviet-era Russia, the South Korean government rolled out its hardware for visiting dignitary Secretary Hagel. Reuters’ Jack Kim reports from Seoul, “The ballistic Hyeonmu-2, with a range of 300 km (190 miles), and the Hyeonmu-3, a cruise missile with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles) were put on public display for the first time in a rare South Korean military parade. Both of the indigenously developed missiles have been deployed. They were unveiled in February after the North conducted its third nuclear test in defiance of international warnings, two months after it successfully launched a long-range rocket and put an object into space.”

2.  Obama to Israel on Iran: take a Prozac. Aljazeera.Com reports, “The United States reserves the right to keep all options, including military action, on the table with regards to engaging with Iran, the US president has said after holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. . . . Netanyahu would have been heartened by Obama’s reassurances that Iran would have to prove itself and that Israel had the right to defend itself.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls Netanyahu a big, fat liar, and CBS call him a “wet blanket.”

3.  Syrian rebels to Assad regime: bring us his head.  Syria, peace talks unlikely. Time’s Aryn Baker reports from Tripoli, “Even if the two sides can overcome their significant differences to come to the table — the Syrians and the Russians say Assad is an integral part of the transition, even as the opposition insists it will not take part in any transition government that includes him — fighters on the ground say they have lost too much to accept anything short of Assad’s death.”  See related from Reuters: “Russia doubts mid-November date for Syria peace talks.”

4.  In Pakistan, Bilal Zadran named new drone target.  Successor to Mullah Sangeen steps into the crosshairs. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “Bilal is said to have been named to succeed Mullah Sangeen as Sirajuddin Haqqani’s deputy during a ‘high level meeting of [the] Haqqani Network’ . . . . Mullah Sangeen, who was the Taliban’s shadow governor of Paktika and is on the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda, is thought to have been killed in a US drone strike on Sept. 5 in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.”  Also, from LWJ’s Roggio, “Pakistan condemns latest drone strike in North Waziristan.”

5.  Afghanistan’s next president?  Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Khaama.Com reports, “Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main political opposition leader of Afghanistan has formally nominated for the upcoming presidential election of Afghanistan. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the national coalition of Afghanistan formally registered with the Afghanistan independent election commission to run for 2014 presidential elections.  Karzai’s elder brother Qayum Karzai, foreign minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Adbul Rab Rassoul Sayaf and Ali Ahmad Jalali are the other potential candidates who are expected to run for the presidential run-off.”

6.  Gurganus and Sturdevant: Camp Bastion takes out two USMC general officers: USAToday.Com reports, “The Marine Corps commandant said Monday he has asked for the retirement of two general officers in the wake of an attack last year in which 15 insurgents breached a fortified coalition base in Afghanistan, killing two Marines and destroying or damaging more than a dozen coalition aircraft.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Contractors might weather shutdown with rainy-day funds. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark explains that “damage a spending lapse might inflict on contracting companies this year would depend on their ability to use past-year funds. . . . ‘people are saying prayers, but most companies have been to this movie’ . . . . They know what to expect and how to prepare – in contrast with sequestration because no one had thought of that.’”

2.  $4.7 billion Army dollars for commo contracts. NextGov.Com reports, “The Army has awarded year-end communications contracts valued at $4.7 billion, including a $4.1 billion deal Thursday with 12 companies for long-haul communications and transmission systems. These companies will compete for task orders on the five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract supporting the Defense Communications and Army Transmissions Systems program, which provides satellite and terrestrial communication systems to Army and Defense Department organizations, including the National Command Authority.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Leaks alert al Qaida – worse than Snowden. McClatchyDC.Com’s Lindsay Wise and Adam Baron explain, “The U.S. government-ordered closure of 19 U.S. diplomatic facilities in August has prompted a new controversy, this one about whether news reports at the time alerted al Qaida leaders that their communications were being monitored. Obama administration officials, speaking anonymously to The New York Times, are claiming that those reports, especially one by McClatchy, caused, in the Times’ words, ‘more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.’”  Read New York Times’ original piece.

2.  Azure is secure: Microsoft’s cloud seems ready. VentureBeat.Com contributor Eric Blattberg explains, “Microsoft federal chief technology officer Susie Adams announced that Azure was granted Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) status from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program’s (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board. That’s one step away from a full Authority to Operate (ATO) status . . . . FedRAMP certification means the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. General Services Administration deem the platform secure — at least from nefarious hackers outside the NSA — which will help Microsoft snag lucrative government contracts.”

3.  UNPLUG YOUR LAPTOP!  80% – 40% (remember the numbers) Wired.Com confirms the old spouse’s tale: “In order to squeeze as much life out of your lithium-polymer battery, once your laptop hits 100 percent, unplug it. In fact, you should unplug it before that.  Cadex Electronics CEO Isidor Buchmann told WIRED that ideally everyone would charge their batteries to 80 percent then let them drain to about 40 percent. This will prolong the life of your battery — in some cases by as much as four times.”

4.  Good news for our injured Vets: “Rewired nerves control robotic leg.” Nature.Com reports, “A 32-year-old man whose knee and lower leg were amputated in 2009 after a motorcycle accident is apparently the first person with a missing lower limb to control a robotic leg with his mind. A team led by biomedical engineer Levi Hargrove at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Illinois reported the breakthrough last week in the New England Journal of Medicine1, including a video that shows the man using the bionic leg to walk up stairs and down a ramp, and to kick a football.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  We’re just warming up – Debt Ceiling is the real mosh pit. TheDailyBeast.Com explains, “An honorable Congress knows in its bones that the full faith of the United States of America is at stake. The mere threat to withhold authorization, in fact, is as damaging to our credit rating as actually defaulting. Sure, it’s great political theater, but it does lasting damage to America’s reputation and credibility, and makes one wonder how long the rest of the world will allow the dollar to remain the global reserve currency. . . . Neither President Obama—nor any president—should negotiate on the debt-ceiling authorization. Not now, not ever. The full faith, honor and credit of the United States of America must never become an ideological football that gets tossed under the domed Capitol in Washington.”

2.  The Chicken Dance – White House and Vets pairing up. WaPo’s Steve Vogel reports, “Veterans groups have reacted angrily to news that an extended government shutdown will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs unable to make disability compensation and pension payments to veterans. Losing the payments could have a devastating impact, particularly on severely wounded veterans who are unable to work and depend on the VA checks, said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. ‘Congress and the White House, they’re playing chicken with people’s lives,’ Tarantino said. ‘That’s where this becomes scary.’”

3.  During shutdown, W.H. interns still won’t get paid. BuzzFeed.Com reports, “Advocates for ending unpaid internships in D.C. are cheering the White House’s decision to furlough its interns during the government shutdown. ‘The fact that they’re being treated the same as the workers is a step in the right direction,’ said Mikey Franklin, leader of the FairPay campaign, which is urging the White House and other federal agencies to pay their interns. ‘The fact that they’re not being made to take on even more of the roles of paid employees is a good thing.’”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The Debt Limit – the real fightWashingtonExaminer.Com’s Timothy P. Carney argues, “A government shutdown won’t be a huge deal. It will have many bad effects, but a brief shutdown has little lasting effect. Hitting the debt ceiling, on the other hand, is a far more dangerous situation.”

2.  “Obama has made a difference in Syria, but . . . .”  WaPo’s Walter Pincus argues, “Obama Boo Birds, who mostly don’t believe in the United Nations, are whining that the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the program doesn’t call for immediate military action if Syria doesn’t follow through. They ignore that Obama has ordered the U.S. Navy force to remain in the area.”

3.  “Make a deal with Rouhani: Iran has hawks too.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Muhammad Sahimi argues, “Rouhani ran on a platform that promised the Iranians a ‘government of prudence and hope’, and ever since his election he has been busy trying to deliver by resurrecting many other dead corpses, ranging from Iran’s economy that contracted by more than five percent last year, to re-opening the national Movie House that had been closed by the Ahmadinejad administration, and allowing some of the politically-active university students that had been expelled over the past several years to enroll again. But, the most important dead corpse that Rouhani has been trying to revive is the US-Iran relations and the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  No More Cash Bash – BYO.

2.  Good global warming.

3.  California hello.

Playing for change 640x185

Kodahafez, Iran, Syrian Resolution, and London in al-Shabaab’s crosshairs.

The phone call heard around the world, the U.N. passes resolution on Syrian chemicals, and al-Shabaab’s plans for London – all into today’s defense headlines.

 

Shutdown Countdown D-3.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Falsified background investigations. Must read contributor Ashley LaGanga’s excellent primer on Reuters’ important Exclusive: “Hundreds of U.S. security clearances seen falsified.”  LaGanga notes, “Of the more than 350 cases Reuters identified, the violators were both special agents of OPM as well as background investigators from private firms.  While federal employees at OPM conduct many investigations, the majority are contracted to private entities such as USIS and CACI, among others.”

2.  The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI). Contributor Jeffrey Bennett deep-dives the NACI and explains its nuances: “The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) is a background investigation primarily for federal employees who will not have access to classified information. This investigation is appropriate for positions designated as public trust positions that require responsible and trustworthy employees, but with no national security impact. The primary reason that the NACI is not an appropriate investigation for a security clearance is that a credit check is not required.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1. On Iran, Khodahafez – The Presidents’ breakthrough.

a.  A phone call from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to President Obama cracks the “taboo.”  Reuters reports, Obama and Rouhani “spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program. . . . Obama has said for years he was open to direct contact with Iran while also stressing that all options – including military strikes – were on the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb. . . . [Rouhani] said Iran would bring a plan to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program to an October meeting with the six powers in Geneva. He offered no details about that plan, but emphasized that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.”

b.  Optimism in a sea of pessimismAP’s Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler describe, “Iranians awoke Saturday to learn that their president, Hassan Rouhani, had spoken directly to Obama, breaking through a barrier that had left American and Iranian presidents divorced from such contact for 34 years. . . . By the end of the call, Obama was suggesting that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could portend even deeper ties between the U.S. and Iran, a notion that would have seemed unfathomable in recent years.”

c.  Success.  So Iran’s President Rouhani calls his week of diplomacy at the U.N. America.Aljazeera.Com reports, “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Friday declared his first visit to the United States a success — and it was hard to argue with that assessment, if the measure was the number of important world leaders he met, the speeches he gave and the respectful audience he was given at and on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. But for Tehran, the measure of success of Rouhani’s outreach will be whether Iran achieves relief from punishing sanctions — and that will depend on the outcome of the tough, detailed bargaining on its nuclear program that gets under way in Geneva next month.”

d.  The groundwork – SecState Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Thursday, setting the stage for the historic call, Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Zarif. Radio Free Europe reported, “The brief encounter between Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at UN headquarters in New York on September 26 was one of the highest-level meetings between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. . . . Kerry was upbeat, but cautious. . . . ‘Discussions were very substantive, business-like,’ Zarif told reporters.

2.  U.N. Syria Resolution, but without a punch. No worries, we’ll be happy to oblige. Reuters reports, “The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday that demands the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons but does not threaten automatic punitive action against . . . Assad’s government if it does not comply. . . . The resolution does not allow for automatic punitive action in the form of military strikes or sanctions if Syria does not comply. At Russia’s insistence, Friday’s resolution makes clear a second council decision would be needed for that.”  See also Aljazeera.Com, Syrian “Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem tells Al Jazeera his nation is committed to destroying its chemical weapons stockpile.”

3.  Mercenaries. AP’s Larry Neumeister reports, “Two former American soldiers – one nicknamed “Rambo” – and a German ex-soldier faced charges Friday that they plotted to kill a U.S. drug enforcement agent and an informant for $800,000 in an assassination plan created by drug agents who wanted to catch trained snipers gone bad . . . . ‘The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends’ . . . . The indictment described 48-year-old Joseph Hunter, also known as ‘Rambo,’ as a contract killer and leader of the group of ex-snipers.”

4.  London – in al-Shabaab’s crosshairs. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week. . . . Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate ‘the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.’ In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Contracting failures. Reuters Exclusive by Tabassum Zakaria explains the unfortunate facts: “Federal prosecutors have documented at least 350 instances of faulty background investigations done by private contractors and special agents for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management . . . . The inspector general’s office said it has referred 22 former background investigators for debarment, but no decisions have been reached by OPM. A debarment is usually for a specific time period and means the person cannot contract with another federal agency. The Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled an October 1 hearing on government clearances and background checks.”

2.  $68 million worth of Raytheon Sidewinders for Belgium. Exactly why Belgium needs a Sidewinder . . . . DSCA.Mil posts, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $68 million. The Government of Belgium has requested a possible sale of 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles . . . . The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, Arizona.”

3.  $1 billion, practically, by Japan for Boeing AWACS. Also from DSCA.Mil, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of an E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Mission Computing Upgrade (MCU) and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $950 million. . . . The principal contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, Washington.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Information risk – get the Board involved. Wired.Com contributor Steve Durbin, global vice president of the Information Security Forum (ISF) explains, “From cyber to insider, organizations have varying degrees of control over evolving security threats. With the speed and complexity of the threat landscape changing on an almost daily basis, all too often we are seeing businesses being left behind, sometimes in the wake of reputational and financial damage.”

2.  Action-Reaction: NSA’s quick response to Snowden. VentureBeat.Com contributor Kevin Poulson reports, “When on June 9 Edward Snowden stood up in Hong Kong and revealed himself to the world as an NSA whistleblower, the Justice Department wasted little time in targeting his email provider. A new appeals court filing today shows the government served a court order on Texas-based Lavabit the very next day, demanding metadata on an unnamed customer that the timing and circumstances suggest was Snowden.”

3.  Sea-basing: our Navy’s sharp edgeDefenseMediaNetwork.Com reports that “only the U.S. Navy has a blue water fleet able to operate, simultaneously, on all the planet’s major oceans, providing a mobile force not needing any other nation’s permission when it moves into place during a crisis. That fleet is by far the largest in the world, with more supercarriers (100,000 tons or more) than all other navies’ smaller flat-tops combined, plus more large-deck amphibious warfare ships of similar size to most other carriers than the rest of the world’s fleets.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  The South’s gonna do it again. Led, mostly, by Southerner (well, Texas) Ted Cruz, hyperbolic hyperbole has reached “one of the most dangerous points in our history.” NationalJournal.Com paints the subtle, fluorescent picture: “This isn’t just congressional business as usual, Harkin said. It’s much, much more dire: ‘It’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous. I believe, Mr. President, we are at one of the most dangerous points in our history right now. Every bit as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.’”  [See also, Charlie Daniels – Daniels fiddled while Washington burned.]

2.  Anticipation of shutdown is worse than shutdown itself. WaPo reports that in the DoD, the scramble to respond to the threat of shutdown impedes work as much as a shutdown: “’The planning itself is disruptive,” an exhausted [DoD Comptroller Robert] Hale told reporters. ‘People are worrying right now about whether their paychecks are going to be delayed, rather than focusing fully on their mission.’”  So, all cyber-terrorists should take note: cut the money and the mission goes in the toilet.

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The Phone Call – 3 Takeaways. Time contributor Michael Crowley argues, “The call was only a symbolic step, but still a very important development in the showdown between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program. Here are three reasons why:  . . . Iran’s hard-liners must have allowed it. . . . Rouhani did the smart—and maybe cynical—thing. . . Diplomacy just got easier for Obama. . . . we’re closer to the beginning of this story than the end.”

2.  “Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Rouhani element.”  In part III of his lecture on Iran (that we all should read), Aljazeera.Com contributor Akbar Ganji argues, “No other people in the region have as positive a view of the US as the people of Iran. If free elections are held in Iran, the pro-democracy majority would undoubtedly win handily. The Iranian society has gone through a real transformation in all aspects, and has grown enough that the garment of Velayat-e Faqih is too small for its body, and does not fit but by force.”  Catch up on parts I and II of Ganji’s triptych: Rafsanjani and Khamenei: A brief history and Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Ahmadinejad years.

3.  “The key stumbling blocks U.S. and Iran face.” Reuters’ contributor David Rhode argues, “A historic phone call Friday between the presidents of the United States and Iran could mark the end of 34 years of enmity. Or it could be another missed opportunity. In the weeks ahead, clear signs will emerge whether a diplomatic breakthrough is possible.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Chic Chicks.

2.  Diplomacy.

3.  Donations accepted.

4.  Just can’t get it out of my head.

 

 

Front of Helos

Iran in Syria, Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) Munitions, and “The Youth” of Minneapolis.

How Iran helps Hezbollah help Assad, the U.S. Air Force’s high heat penetration weapon, and Minnesota’s al-Shabab (Arabic for “The Youth”) – all in today’s defense headlines.

 

Shutdown Countdown D-5 & Congratulations Oracle Team!

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Just in case you were feeling better about things, contributor Jillian “The Downer” Hamilton with little but bad news: “Trouble is brewing for LinkedIn. The company has denied hacking and spamming LinkedIn users’ contacts. . . . Sadly, the sun may not rise to see a [Continuing Resolution] in place, but rather a government shutdown. . . . In the aftermath of the Navy Yard tragedy, some industry consultants warn that adjustments or changes to guidelines could escalate contract costs in a time of decreasing federal budgets. . . .”  Enjoy the (maybe really, really long) weekend.

2.  No shutdowns or sequestration in self-employment. If there is a shutdown – or even if there is not and sequestration continues to bite – self-employment and entrepreneurship might just be the answer, and veterans are great at both. Contributor Tranette Ledford reports, “When it comes to business ownership, veterans are standouts.  They’re good at it and as their military service demonstrates, they don’t cede defeat easily.  According to the Small Business Administration, one in seven veterans is now self-employed. . . . the highest percentage of any demographic. . . . close to 70% of veteran entrepreneurs are still up and running a decade later.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Assad. We understand the myriad terrorist organizations muscling their way into Syria’s rebellion. Reuters contributor Samia Nakhoul’s SPECIAL REPORT examines Iran’s own proxy war: “Taken in April during a discreet visit by the Hezbollah chief to his financial and ideological masters, the photograph captured a turning point in Syria’s civil war and the broader struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites, the two main branches of Islam. It was the moment when Iran made public its desire for Hezbollah to join the battle to help save Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said. At the time, Assad and his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, were losing ground to an advancing Sunni insurgency. Within days of returning home, Nasrallah gave a televised speech making it clear that Hezbollah would fight alongside Assad to prevent Syria falling ‘into the hands’ of Sunni jihadi radicals, the United States and Israel. The very survival of the Shi’ites was at stake, he said.”

2.  al-Shabab’s Minnesota pipeline. AP’s Steve Karnowski reports from Minneapolis, “Leaders of the nation’s largest Somali community say some of their young men are still being enticed to join the terror group that has claimed responsibility for the deadly mall attack in Kenya, despite a concentrated effort to shut off what authorities call a ‘deadly pipeline’ of men and money. . . . At least 18 men and three women have been charged in the ongoing Minnesota investigation. Some went to Somalia while others were accused of aiding the effort mainly by raising money. . . . The group often appeals young men who’ve had trouble assimilating into American life, perhaps because they are unable to get a job, dropped out of school or got involved in gangs”  See also, “Al-Shabab carries out fresh attack in Kenya.”

3.  Today – SecState Kerry meets Iran’s Mohammed Javad Zarif. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Both leaders are slated to be present at a meeting of Iran and the P5+1 group – the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, France, Russia and China – which has been locked in fruitless talks over Iran’s nuclear program since 2006. Should both show up, theirs would be the first meeting since May 2007 between an American secretary of state and an Iranian foreign minister. . . . While prior rounds of talks between P5+1 and Iran have largely been confined to nuclear negotiators and technical teams, Thursday’s meeting at the foreign ministerial level suggests renewed political will among the stakeholders to pursue a diplomatic solution.”  Also, read the transcript of David Ignatius’s one-on-one with President Hassan Rouhani.

4.  In Afghanistan, NATO soldier dead in Green-on-Blue attackKhaama.Com reports, “Another NATO soldier was shot dead in an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday . . . . This comes as three International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members died when an individual wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform shot them in eastern Afghanistan earlier this week.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  $141 million to Harris Corp. for MNVR. NextGov.Com contributor reports, “The Army awarded Harris Corp. a $140.7 million contract for a vehicle radio designed to link infantry platoons and companies with higher headquarters. The mid-tier networking vehicular radio, or MNVR, runs government-owned software waveforms developed under the now-defunct joint tactical radio system project and adopted by Harris and other vendors for use in their radios. . . . ‘With MNVR, information collected at the farthest tactical edge can be quickly shared across the network, enabling our soldiers to communicate effectively for any mission in any region . . . .’”

2.  “$3.9 Billion U.S. Defense Contract Includes Missiles For UAE.” NPR.Org reports, “The U.S. Defense Department has awarded a rich military contract to Lockheed Martin, agreeing to pay more than $3.9 billion for a missile-defense system. The deal calls for a maximum of 110 high-altitude interceptor missiles for the United States, and 192 versions of the missiles for export to the United Arab Emirates. . . . THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense] . . . would be used to track hostile missiles, with the goal of destroying them at altitudes that extend beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. It can use data from the Navy’s Aegis guided missile cruisers, satellites or other sources.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Cyber National Mission Force – ready for the fightAmerican Forces Press Service contributor Cheryl Pellerin reports, “U.S. Cyber Command has activated the headquarters for its Cyber National Mission Force, the one of its three forces that would react to a cyber attack on the nation . . . . Cybercom also is conducting exercises such as Cyber Guard and Cyber Flag, the general said. These include the combatant commands, the National Guard, the reserves and interagency participation to develop the tactics, techniques and procedures and working relationships needed to conduct operations in cyberspace.”

2.  Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) Munitions: 1000 degrees, no explosion, no collateral damage, no more nukes. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Scott R. Gourley covers the evolution of munitions in the asymmetric world: “As part of its Heated And Mobile Munitions Employing Rockets (HAMMER) program, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Systems Interface and Integration Branch . . . is seeking information and/or conceptual designs to modify the service’s current BLU-109 ‘penetration weapon’ to dispense Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) munitions.”

3.  Mouth watering to get in iPhone 5S?  Get ready to slobber. VentureBeat.Com contributor John Koetsier’s impossible-to-be-objective review: “The mostest, bestest, muchiest iPhone ever . . . the best mobile operating system on the planet. . . . the iPhone 5S is a no-brainer upgrade for any consumer wanting a new phone, especially if you have a 4 or 4S, and is also a smart choice for any business looking for a safe, secure, simple mobile operating system that will keep its corporate data and networks secure.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  No man is an island of misfit toys. Washington builds caucus for toys. Really. WashingtonExaminer.Com reports, “A new bipartisan Congressional Toy Caucus has just been launched, egged on by the $22 billion industry that feels persecuted by burdensome federal regulations and overseas trade barriers. ‘The toy industry is under fire,’ said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. ‘What we’re trying to do is keep this creativity and this production here, domestically based.’”  Please, just bring back Twister . . . and bell-bottoms . . . and those cool PEACE patches you sew on the pockets of your jeans . . . .

2.  A new political dynasty. We love them, or love to hate them. Whatever the stance, the Clintons are poised to be Washington’s next royal family: “Former President Bill Clinton thinks his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, would make a great president — someday. But when it came to saying whether his wife, Hillary Clinton, or his daughter would be a better fit for the job, Bill Clinton couldn’t quite choose. ‘Day after tomorrow? My wife, because she’s had more experience,’ Bill Clinton told CNN Wednesday. ‘Over the long run? Chelsea. She knows more than we do about everything.’”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Iran:  Festina lente (make haste slowly). WaPo’s David Ignatius argues, “The U.S.-Iranian diplomatic train is rolling fast, with President Hassan Rouhani talking Wednesday about a three-month timetable for a nuclear deal. But Rouhani was also cautiously insistent about staying on the single track of the nuclear issue — perhaps fearing that if this becomes a runaway, it will derail.”

2.  Nowhere good to turn: Boehner’s conundrum. Time’s Alex Altman and Zeke J. Miller argue, “This week’s budget theater in the U.S. Senate has so far spared House Speaker John Boehner from a tough decision. At some point over the next few days, however, the Ohio Republican will be forced to forge ahead with a strategy for keeping the federal government running without sparking a revolt among his restive members. When House Republicans meet on Thursday morning in the basement of the Capitol, Boehner has at least three options he can present. All of them are flawed . . . .”

3.  “Banning the Brotherhood and the end of the beginning of Egypt’s revolution.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Mark LeVine argues, “Indeed, in suspending the entirety of the Brotherhood’s operations, including its vast social service network that has served as a lifeline for millions of Egyptians for many decades is an act of extremism by the Egyptian deep state (of which the judiciary, despite some well-deserved praise for relative independence against the worst excesses of the old and present regimes, is still essentially a part) that might just prove its ultimate undoing.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  iPhone 5S socialization.

2.  Bye, bye, Blackberry.

3.  Unknown Comic.

101ST CE

“Peace is within reach,” Terrorists without borders, and SOCOM’s vision for TALOS.

At the U.N., Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extends an olive branch, al-Shabaab is defeated at Westgate but warns of more to come, and SOCOM extends competition for its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – all in today’s defense headlines.

 

U.N. Speeches:  Obama’s & Rouhani’s   and  Hump Day help.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Job security – first before salary. Contributor Tranette Ledford takes a look at which security jobs offer job security: “The technical sector is expected to rank high when it comes to staying power.  It also happens to place a high value on security clearances and offers the salaries to prove it.”

2.  Safe and secure with ClearanceJobs.Com. Contributor Eric Pecinovsky explains how ClearanceJobs.Com works hard to keep your private information private: “When creating ClearanceJobs.com, we contacted the U.S. Defense Security Service . . . to help us follow suggested guidelines, learn about potential threats, and fully understand what responsibilities employers and people with security clearances have to their country. Our system design maintains the U.S. Defense Security Service recommendations.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  On President Obama’s U.N. remarksNYTimes.Com reports, “President Obama . . . laid down a new blueprint for America’s role in the strife-torn Middle East, declaring that the United States would use all its levers of power, including military force, to defend its interests, even as it accepted a “hard-earned humility” about its ability to influence events in Syria, Iran, and other countries. . . . Obama embraced a diplomatic opening to Iran, saying he instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to begin high-level negotiations on its nuclear program. He called on the Security Council to pass a resolution that would impose consequences on Syria if it failed to turn over its chemicals weapons. And he delivered a pitch for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, restarted at the prodding of Mr. Kerry.”  See also, “Obama pledges diplomacy with Iran.”

2.  On President Hassan Rouhani’s U.N. remarks. TheGuardian.Com reports, “Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, declared that ‘peace is within reach’ . . . in a hotly anticipated speech at the United Nations in which he offered immediate negotiations aimed at removing any ‘reasonable concerns’ over his country’s nuclear programme. Rouhani argued that in return, Iran wanted the international community to recognise its right to enrich uranium, the issue that has been at the heart of the diplomatic impasse over the past 11 years.” See also, a more moderate face of Tehran.

3.  Syrian National Coalition rejected. Rebels in the fight jointly reject foreign-based opposition groups. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Key Syrian Islamist rebel groups say they do not recognise any foreign-based opposition group, including the Syrian National Coalition. . . . The groups include members of the main rebel Free Syrian Army, as well as Liwa al-Tawhid, the main rebel force in the northern province of Aleppo, and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-linked group. . . Ahrar al-Sham also signed on, as did the 19th Division, a significant but relatively new addition to the mainstream FSA. In their statement, they also called for Islamic law to be applied.”

4.  al Shabaab: “wait for the dark days.”  LongWarJournal.Com’s Bill Roggio caps the Westgate siege in Nairobi: “The Westgate attack is the worst terrorist act by al Qaeda and its allies in Kenya since the 1998 bombing at the US Embassy in the Kenyan capital that killed 212 people, including 12 Americans. . . . Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa, and the Muslim Youth Center, which is a branch of Shabaab, have conducted a string of smaller attacks and plots in northern Kenya and the capital since 2011. The incidents primarily consist of shootings, attacks on police and military outposts, and IED and grenade attacks.”  See also Aljazeera.Com’s “al-Shabab ‘not acting alone’” and AP’s “137 killed in Kenyan Mall.”

5.  In Egypt, The Daily Freedom shut down. Egyptian authorities close the Islamic Brotherhood’s daily. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Egyptian authorities have shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper in Cairo. It is the latest move aimed at crushing the Islamist movement, the Brotherhood said on Wednesday. Police stormed the building overnight and removed the contents. A source at the Cairo Security Department said the raid followed Monday’s court ruling which banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.”

6.  Napolitano – shoes too big to fill. TheDailyBeast.Com reports, “Many potential candidates see little upside in the DHS job and much that could go wrong, potentially harming their professional trajectories. Homeland Security is a sprawling agency that handles a vast array of pressing security and policy issues, including counterterrorism, immigration enforcement and cyber-security and disaster-relief. The 240,000-employee department was cobbled together from 22 separate agencies in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and reports to no less than 100 different congressional committees and subcommittees. While DHS has perhaps outgrown infancy, it is a long way from being a fully mature federal agency that fits smoothly into the wider federal government.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  SOCOM – extending its vision for TALOS solutions. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Scott R. Gourley reports, “According to the Sept. 12 announcement, USSOCOM is inviting ‘industry, academia, individuals, and government labs to submit revolutionary low [emphasis added] Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technology demonstration nominations addressing revolutionary/novel technologies/developmental approaches leading to possible government/industry collaboration for development of USSOCOM technology capabilities supporting a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).’ . . . proposed solutions ‘should take into consideration ‘lightening the load’ of the operator, mentally and/or physically while providing maximum protection, agility, and tactical dominance.’”

2.  $406 million: The Rolls-Royce of Defense contracts, literally. Fool.Com’s Rich Smith reports, “The Department of Defense announced a staggering 51 new contracts Monday, the most contracts it’s awarded on any single day, at any time this year. In total, these contracts are worth more than $2.14 billion. The biggest contract of all went not to a U.S. defense contractor, but to . . . Rolls-Royce (NASDAQOTH: RYCEY  ) [which] won two contracts yesterday. But it was the first one that was truly huge. Valued at up to $406 million, it will have Rolls performing engine supply support on Allison T-56 engines under a contract that runs through Sept. 30, 2019. Used primarily to power Lockheed Martin C-130 transport aircraft, T-56 engines are found in the militaries of many nations around the globe. This particular contract will have Rolls doing work for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, as well as for the air forces of Poland, Jordan, and the Philippines.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Kindle Fire on fire.  Can’t get the iPhone you want?  Try Kindle Fire HDX.  AP reports, “Amazon is refreshing its line-up of tablet computers with new devices called Kindle Fire HDX, which are significantly faster and lighter than the previous generation. The 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions also have sharper, more colorful displays than older models, and both have more pixels per inch than the latest iPad.”

2.  Security and Big Data don’t mix. If you think your data is secure, well, forget it. According to VentureBeat.Com contributor John Koetsier, it probably isn’t securable: “in many cases the people who create and manage the massive datasets that our social and advertising and search infrastructures rely on every day are the very same people who are helping the government collect and manage the terabytes of data that shadow three-letter agencies are collecting. So it should be no big surprise, I suppose, that almost two thirds of developers who think they could detect spying believe that spying is going on. Perhaps even more telling, almost three quarters of those developers also say traditional security doesn’t work with big data.”

3.  Blackberry – DoD’s love affair. In spite of Blackberry’s woes, the Department of Defense remains a loyal follower. In fact, the likes of DoD is exactly what Blackberry was talking about. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “The Pentagon is outfitting military networks with software to support tens of thousands of BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 smartphones this year . . . . BlackBerry on Friday announced the new strategy, which hinges on sales to large enterprises, such as the federal government, rather than personal shoppers, who largely purchase Apple iPhones and mobile devices based on Google’s Android operating system.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.   Oh, no he didn’t. Oh, yes, he did. The strange little man from Texas fashions one of the most strained similes imaginable: “During a floor speech Tuesday aimed at reviving the already-dim prospects for his effort to defund Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) likened his doubters to Nazi appeasers. ‘If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany,’ Cruz said. ‘Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem.’”  However, some argue that “Cruz Might Just Have Won the Future for the GOP” and “GOP Senators Will Bow to Ted Cruz.”

2.  Twitter twerking. Who the hell has the time to generate a multitude of fake followers?  Oh, the President.  The Daily Mail reports, “Of the president’s 36.9 million Twitter followers, an astonishing 53 per cent – or 19.5 million – are fake accounts, according to a search engine at the Internet research vendor StatusPeople.com. Just 20 per cent of Obama’s Twitter buddies are real people who are active users. Overall, the five most influential accounts linked to the Obama administration – the first lady has two – account for 23.4 million fake followers.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Terrorists Without Borders. Aljazeera.Com contributor Daniel E. Agbiboa offers an al-Shabaab primer and argues, “Resolving terrorism . . . requires a non-kinetic, coordinated response that fuses domestic, regional and international strategies along the lines of diplomacy, development, and demilitarisation. Declared wars on terror, including missile strikes, state terror, assassination, and invasion, have only a limited capacity to root out Islamist terrorism because they fail to engage with the underlying existential conditions and unifying ideologies that can shape jihadist groups, like al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Ansaru, and al-Qaeda, who reject the status quo and develop a violent pedagogy that aims for maximum casualties.”

2.  “The Real Reason al-Shabab Attacked a Mall in Kenya.”  DefenseOne.Com contributor Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, argues, “Al-Shabab has declared that its attack on that Westgate Mall is retribution for Kenya’s meddling in Kismayo. But despite the claim, and Kenya’s obvious misbehavior, the attack probably has more to do with al-Shabab’s internal dynamics.”

3.  “How President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei could reform Iran.” CSM.Com contributors Hossein Askari, Dariush Zahedi, and Ali Ezzatyar argue, “It will take far more than symbolic visits and gestures, however, to restore Iran’s struggling economy or sense of justice. With Iran’s economy in total ruin, it will take unprecedented vision and courage. Even with the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani’s task will be difficult, especially as he must challenge the power of the Revolutionary Guard and Iranian intelligence services.”

THE FUNNIES

1.   A bite of the Big Apple.

2.  Acme politics.

3.  Not new camouflage.