Monthly Archives: September 2013

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.

Iraq artillery position cover

Daily Intelligence: The United Nations, Warlords get ready, and Shutdown showdown.

The United Nations’ General Assembly comes to life, Afghan warlord Ismael Khan – “The Lion of Herat” – and other gear up for their future, and Congressional sniping hits new levels as shutdown looms – all in today’s defense headlines.

 

Shutdown countdown: T-6 days & Tuesday’s Top Ten

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Because not everyone can be the 82d Airborne Division. But at least you can have a cool motto. Contributor D.B. Grady explains what “Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia” has to do with ““9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a.”  All the way!

2.  Why they can’t keep secrets, either. Also from contributor D.B. Grady, a quick tutorial on other nations’ clearance processes: “The security screening process is in many ways a measurement of how interesting your life has been. (Only the most fascinating of people can fill out all four boxes in Section 5, which asks for a list of the applicant’s aliases.) . . . there’s a remarkable overlap in structure and process by other nations.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  POTUS – building diplomatic opportunities in New YorkAP’s Julie Pace’s read-ahead on President Obama’s address at the United Nations, which precedes Iranian President Rouhani: “Seeking to build on diplomatic opportunities, President Barack Obama is expected to signal his willingness to engage with the new Iranian government if Tehran makes nuclear concessions long sought by the U.S. and Western allies. . . . The president’s address will be closely watched for signs that he may meet later in the day with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, a moderate cleric who has been making friendly gestures toward the U.S. in recent weeks. Even a brief encounter would be significant given that the leaders of the U.S. and Iran haven’t had face-to-face contact in more than 30 years.”  See also Time’s “Handshake that could shake the world.”

2.  At the U.N., Syria tops the agendaTheGuardian.Com updates on what’s happening – and not happening – at the United Nations:

a.  Include Iran in a Syria solution: United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs said, “there is a fresh opportunity for a political, diplomatic approach to the Syria crisis, now that Damascus has acknowledge it has chemical weapons and agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. . . . Jeffrey Feltman also suggested that Tehran would have to play a role.”

b.  Thursday, time to talk nukes: “The last round of nuclear talks with Iran took place in Kazakhstan in April, but the negotiations have been stalled for eight years. . . . Since the election of a new pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, in June, Tehran has signalled that Iran might be ready for a compromise on the nuclear issue and Zarif, a American-educated former ambassador to the UN, is conducting an intense diplomatic offensive at the UN, arriving five days before the general assembly and meeting a large number of foreign ministers.”

c.  Ladies and gentlemen, the new Iran: “There is little doubt Rouhani will deliver the rhetoric. The devil as ever will be in the fine print. It may be that the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has empowered him to make a deal that critically falls short of international expectations, in the hope that the momentum building around Rouhani would bounce the West into giving away more than it intended.”

3.  Muslim Brotherhood outlawed in EgyptAljazeera.Com reports, “An Egyptian court has banned all activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ordered authorities to seize all of the group’s assets . . . . The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organisations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories.”

4.  It’s been a long time, too long. Thursday, SecState Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart in the first such conference in over 30 years. McClatchyDC.Com reports, “In a diplomatic milestone, Secretary of State of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet here Thursday for talks that analysts say could pave the way for warmer U.S.-Iranian relations after a decades-long freeze. . . . Thursday’s meeting, however, will be about Iran, and analysts who specialize in U.S.-Iranian relations say the time could be right for steps toward a detente: The U.S. and Iran are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict but both are looking for a solution to the bloodshed, and Iran is feeling the burn from sanctions on its petroleum exports.”

5.  In Kenya, at least 62 dead . . . and counting. AP’s Jason Straziuso and Tom Odula report from Nairobi, “Nairobi’s city morgue is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies of people killed in the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Kenya. The government official says morgue employees were told to prepare for many bodies. . . . Authorities have said they are involved in a final push to clear out the remaining attackers. But authorities have before referred to their operations as final.”

6.  In Afghanistan, 49 Taliban dead over 24 hours. Khaama.Com reports, “The interior ministry of Afghanistan following a statement announced that the operations were jointly conducted by Afghan police, Afghan army, Afghan intelligence – national directorate of security and coalition security forces. The statement further added that the operations were conducted in Helmad, Farah, Herat, Logar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Badakhshan and Kunduz provinces of Afghanistan.” In Kabul, Afghan security forces derail twin suicide attacks.

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  The Scorpion – “The world’s most affordable tactical jet aircraft.” DefenseMediaNetwork.Com reports, “Industrial powerhouse Textron (think Bell Helicopter, Cessna, and Textron Systems) and small startup AirLand Enterprises, LLC (website under construction) have joined forces to create the Scorpion light tactical aircraft. The joint venture, Textron AirLand, LLC, has boldly or foolishly designed the clean-sheet Scorpion without a requirement, in the midst of budget constraints both domestically and internationally. . . . Mission capabilities that the Scorpion hopes to fulfill include border security, maritime security, counter narcotics, aerospace control alert, humanitarian assistance/disaster response, and irregular warfare support.”

2.  $60 million worth of avionics to Tunisia. DSCA.Mil announces, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on September 18 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia of F-5 avionics upgrades and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $60 million. . . . The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman of St. Augustine, Florida.”  [Given all the other distractions in Congress, expect this proposal to slide through unopposed.  Good timing.]

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  IPOs aplenty in the tech world – NASDAQ and NYSE. Pull together the gambling money. VentureBeat.Com contributor Dylan Tweney reports, “Almost all of the . . . companies will have valuations well under $1 billion, although the largest by market capitalization will be Pattern Energy, which will hit the $1 billion mark almost exactly if its offering prices at $20, the midpoint of the proposed range. The next largest companies would be Violin Memory ($874 million valuation at the midpoint of its range) and RingCentral ($804 million). . . . Notably, 11 of the 13 companies will list their shares on the historically tech-friendly Nasdaq, while two — RingCentral and Violin Memory — will list on the NYSE.”

2.  Sell it. If you need some extra cash now that you bought the new iPhone, here’s where to get the best deals.  Time reports, “cashing in on old electronics is easier than ever. Take your smartphone to a retail store for an immediate trade-in, or sell it online if you don’t need the cash immediately.”

3.  Go private. Blackberry takes itself out of the market. Reuters reports, “Smartphone maker BlackBerry has agreed to go private in a $4.7 billion deal led by its biggest shareholder, allowing the on-the-go email pioneer to regroup away from public scrutiny after years of falling fortunes and slumping market share. The $9 a share tentative offer, from a consortium led by property and casualty insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, will set a floor for any counteroffers that might emerge for Blackberry, which has been on the block since August.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Damn freshmen . . . . Senate freshman Ted Cruz (R-TX) turns the Good Old Party against itself and twerks the Congress along the way: “A master of fiery conservative oratory, the freshman senator is trying to block funding for President Obama’s health-care law with a strategy that, if successful, will almost certainly lead to a partial government shutdown next week. The Texan has become the face of an effort variously described as the ‘dumbest idea,’ leading Republicans to a ‘box canyon’ and ending with their political ‘suicide note.’”  See also, “Republicans’ dangerous rationality” and “GOP Extremists.”

2.  Obama + Clinton = Love.  The President teams up with the putative next president’s husband to win on healthcare. Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Steve Holland report, “Clinton’s effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system while president, spearheaded by his wife, former first lady Hillary Clinton, failed in Congress, dealing them a major political blow. But it called attention to the plight of millions of Americans who did not have insurance. . . . Hillary Clinton, who is a potential presidential candidate in 2016 and served as secretary of state during Obama’s first term, will introduce the two men.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Must Read: The Warlords Get Ready. Der Spiegel’s Christian Neef with an in-depth pregame on the Afghan warlords’ first moves after we leave: Ismael Khan, “The Lion of Herat,” “foresees a return of the fundamentalist Taliban, the collapse of the government in Kabul and the eruption of a new war between ethnic groups. He sees a future in which power is divided between the clans as it was in the past, and in which the mujahedeen, the tribal militias seasoned by battles against the Soviets and later the Taliban, remain the sole governing force.”

2.  “Bring on the shutdown.”  Slate.Com contributor Matthew Yglesias argues, “A little government shutdown isn’t the worst thing in the world, and it’s much better to have this fight now rather than entertain months of herky-jerky crisis.”

3.  “Why diplomacy with Iran is doomed.”  Aljazeera.Com contributor John Glaser argues, “There are a multitude of outstanding issues and grievances beyond the nuclear matter that have great potential to spoil this window for peaceful reconciliation. But the greatest spoiler of all lies in the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds ultimate control no matter who is president, is convinced Washington is out to overthrow his government. Worse still, he has good reason to believe it.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  More powerful than a speeding Hillary.

2.  The Mystery Machine.

3.  More guns!

 

Bagram Air Base Sandbags

Daily Intelligence: President Hassan Rouhani inbound, Multifactor Real-Time Biometric Scanning, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is free.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani arrives in the United States next week, the science behind advanced biometric scanning, and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar walks out of a Pakistani prison – all in today’s defense headlines.

Bottom 10 Stories, Countdown to Shutdown & A-Rod’s Grand Slam

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  And you thought Congress did nothing.  Contributor Ashley LaGanga corrals activity by the Senate’s Homeland Security and Foreign Relations Committees and, in the House, the Armed Services Committee and Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.

2.  Cyber security spending beats the budget.  Contributor Jillian Hamilton explains why cyber security is the place to be, and more: Who’s Moving, Hiring, Firing, and more.

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Iran – a history lessonAP’s Bradley Klapper walks us through a history we need to understand if we are going to understand events as they unfold in Iran:  from CIA coup to Revolution to Hostage Crisis to Iran-Contra, and more: “President Hasan Rouhani’s recent overtures have raised hopes of a thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations, which have experienced few ups and countless downs since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and subsequent hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.” If you really want to dive deep, try Persian Mirrors – an easy, elementary read.

2.  Chemical Files – Scrutiny in Syria commencesAljazeera.Com reports, “The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says it has begun to examine the first details of Syria’s chemical arsenal supplied by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. . . . Syria is believed to possess about 1,000 tonnes of chemical toxins, and has agreed to destroy them under a joint Russian-US proposal designed to avert a US strike on Syria. James Bays, Al Jazeera English’s diplomatic editor, said the submission was very significant. ‘If we go back to just two weeks ago, Syria would not even say that it had chemical weapons.’”

3.  Cease-fire between in-fighting rebels in SyriaMcClatchyDC.Com reports, “A tense cease-fire appeared Friday to have halted fighting between key factions of the rebel movement that’s battling to topple Syria’s President Bashar Assad. . . . The main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian Opposition Coalition, harshly criticized the Islamic State in a statement that said the group’s al Qaida-inspired values ‘run counter to the principles that the Syrian revolution is trying to achieve.’ It said the main rebel groups were pursuing an agenda that was ‘moderate and respects religious and political pluralism while rejecting blind extremism.’ But at least one analyst of the rebel movement said it was unlikely that such words would lead to a severing of ties between the groups, if for no other reason than the U.S.-backed rebels were dependent on the Islamic State’s battlefield prowess and its fighters’ zeal to defeat Assad’s better-equipped army.”

4.  Taliban co-founder released from Pakistani prisonKhaama.Com reports, “According to reports, Pakistan has released former Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar from prison. . . . Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is one of the senior members of the Taliban group, and was directly involved in the establishment of the Taliban group along with four others including Mullah Mohammad Omar. He was arrested by Pakistani security forces in Karachi city three years back. He will be released from prison following president Hamid Karzai’s request.”  Also, in Afghanistan, an example of the potential power of local tribal elders: “national army soldiers were freed after local tribal elders met with the Taliban militants to broker talks for the freedom of the abducted soldiers.”

5.  In AFRICOM’s AoR, Boko Haram attacks spread to Nigeria’s capital.  The BBC reports, “A cell of suspected Islamist militants has opened fire on security forces in Nigeria’s capital Abuja . . . Boko Haram is most active in north-eastern Nigeria, where a state of emergency was imposed in May. If confirmed, it would be the first time Boko Haram has staged an attack in Abuja this year.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1. The Snowden-Alexis AffairUPI.Com reports, United States Investigation Services (USIS), the same contractor vetted them both. As ClearanceJobs.Com predicted, “The contractor that vetted Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis is the same firm that vetted national security secrets leaker Edward Snowden . . . USIS, under criminal investigation over whether it misled Washington about its background checks’ thoroughness, originally denied it did a check on Alexis . . . .”  See related in WaPo, USIS excuse: “pressure to do more, faster.”

2.  $185 million to Lima, Ohio. ToledoBlade.Com’s Jon Chavez reports, The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center “will receive a $187.5 million contract from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to refurbish 84 of the country’s American-built Abrams tanks. The work will be performed over the next two years, starting around June, and is scheduled for completion by March, 2015. . . . The plant employs about 400 hourly workers and 100 salaried workers. The contract was awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command on behalf of the Royal Saudi Land Forces. It continues work begun in 2008 to update Saudi Arabia’s tank force of 315 Abrams models. TACOM formerly stood for Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Mutlifactor Real Time Biometric Scanning. VentureBeat.Com’s John Koetsier claims, “A new multifactor biometric system from FST21 that identifies known approved people as they walk up to a building or access point could have prevented something like the Navy Yard shootings that took the lives of 13 people . . . . FST21, which recently won an award from the security industry association ASIS for its In Motion Identification system, instead combines multiple technologies with as many as eight different identification schemes to achieve 99.7 percent accuracy, even when up to 100 people are approaching an entrance simultaneously. The difference is not just that the system identifies people on the go. It’s also that there is no key or card to steal or fake.”

2.  Bye-bye BlackberryReuters’ Euan Rocha covers the slow, painful decline of the former king: “BlackBerry Ltd warned on Friday it expects to report a huge quarterly operating loss next week and that it will cut more than a third of its global workforce, rekindling fears of the company’s demise and sending its shares into a tailspin. The company, which has struggled to claw back market share from the likes of Apple Inc’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy phones, said it expects to report a net operating loss of between $950 million and $995 million in the quarter ended August 31, due to writedowns and other factors.”

3.  Automation takeover. We’re slowly becoming irrelevant in some quarters.  Salon.Com’s Andrew Leonard reports, “A closely related conclusion is that we may end up finding that John Maynard Keynes’ ancient prediction — widespread unemployment ‘due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor’ — is about to come true. A century’s worth of mainstream economists have scoffed at the notion that technological progress will have long-term negative impacts on employment, believing, with a near-religious intensity, that the productivity gains from technologically driven economic growth will translate into new opportunities in new domains.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Federal Employee Unions vs. OMBWaPo’s Lisa Rein reports, “The International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, which represents 25,000 federal workers, mostly military civilians, appealed Thursday to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell to ensure that government workers are compensated for lost pay if federal agencies shut down on Oct. 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. . . . the financial hardship on federal workers during the current round of partisan bickering on Capitol Hill over government spending and the president’s health-care law is particularly dire now. Feds are in their third year of a pay freeze, and almost half the workforce has lost several days of pay to furloughs since March because of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.”

2.  Point made. Again.  And again.  Time reports, “Despite all the hoopla, the result will disappoint any Republicans who harbor delusions of winning it. The Democratic-controlled Senate is certain to strip out the Obamacare provision House Tea Partyers worked so hard to embed in the measure. Next Wednesday, when the House returns to Washington, they will face sharp political pressure with precious few days to negotiate a compromise. If the two branches of Congress cannot agree, many of the non-essential parts of the federal government will shutdown on Oct. 1.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “The key to unlocking Africa’s progressive future.”  Aljazeera.Com contributor Jackson Mwenya argues, “Water and sanitation underpin development. They are integral to advances in health, gender, education, the economy and environmental sustainability. Until firm steps have been taken to halt the 5,000 child deaths every year in Zambia from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, how can we meaningfully talk about development and what it means to have one of the fastest growing economies in the world? With this in mind, it is little wonder that a burgeoning global movement on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has emerged over recent years. It is a movement with particular strength in the global South, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

2.  “Iran’s offer is genuine — and fleeting.”  Reuters contributor David Rohde argues, “Despite the risks, now is the time for Obama and Rouhani to launch the first direct bilateral negotiations since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. From Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons to the conflict in Syria, the American-Iranian rivalry is helping fuel instability in the region.”

3.  “Both opportunity and peril over Iran.”  WaPo contributor David Ignatius argues, “For a weakened but still ambitious President Obama, the biggest foreign-policy opportunity and danger of his presidency rolls into New York next week with the arrival of Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani. The Iranians have been signaling through various channels that they are ready to discuss a broad security framework — one that would limit Iran’s nuclear program short of producing weapons but also recognize the country’s interests in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  The message – get it?

2.  Negotiating with terrorists.

3.  The quote “scene of the crime” unquote.

 

ANA Plan Brief

Diplomatic Revival, the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV), and DoD’s “Complex Catastrophe” – Daily Intelligence

Developments in Syria seem to spark a new era of diplomacy, the Ultra Light Vehicle prototype in the spotlight, and the fight for turf in the cyberspace, all in today’s defense headlines.

Monday’s main points & There she is, Miss America.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCEJOBS.COM

1.  The art and science of the security clearance cycle. By way of the Snowden example, Contributor Jeffrey Bennett examines and explains essential measures necessary to keep secrets safe: “The justification and request for security clearance, investigation, adjudication, periodic re-investigation and continuous evaluation process, work together to find the insider threat to classified information. In this case, threat is any adversary (internal or external) with intent and capability to gain a security clearance and exploit classified information. Regardless of the threat’s (Snowden) motivation, countermeasures should be in place to identify and stop the threat.”

2.  The craft of security. Also from contributor Jeffrey Bennett, understand the nuances of your responsibilities and the risks you face as an expert Facility Security Officer: “FSOs and security professionals should continue to make it a point to study their craft and learn ways to counter evolving threat. Business intelligence methods should also continue to keep up with technology to analyze and prevent the internal and external influences that can ruin the enterprise. The threats corporations face include: theft, vandalism, workplace violence, fraud, and computer attacks. The role of security to converge traditional physical protection with the capabilities of IT systems is necessary.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Diplomacy in Syria as an example for the region. While some deplore an attack averted, President Obama imagines a revival of diplomacy.  UPI.Com reports, “President Obama said Sunday he was hopeful the plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control could set the stage for a peace process. . . . Obama dismissed the harsh criticism he has received since calling for a military response to the August gas attack in a Damascus suburb that left a reported 1,400 civilians dead. He told ABC he was not interested in political ‘style points’ and was happy Russian President Vladimir Putin was using his influence with the Syrian regime.”

2.  Speaking of diplomacy, read Kissinger’s and Brezezinski’s take on the crisis in Syria, from Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN, Sunday:  Kissinger argues, “The issue in Syria is the historic conflict between Shiites and Sunnis and the Sunni revolt against a Shiite minority dominated Syria in which, however, most of the other minorities are supporting the Alawite, which is the Shia position. So, the position for the United States is to work on a transition government and not make it dependent with the — on the removal of the Syrian leader, especially not make it dependent at the very beginning of the process. From the beginning, Putin has said that the immediate removal of Assad would lead to chaos. That’s probably a correct sentiment.”

3.  For Syria, Paris talks put pressure on AssadAljazeera.Com reports, “France, Britain and the United States have said they will seek a ‘strong and robust’ UN resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines on removal of Syria’s chemical weapons, the office of the French President Francois Hollande said. . . . On Sunday, President Hollande said ‘the military option must remain’ to force Syria to give up its chemical arsenal. . . . many of those who blame the Syrian regime for the chemical attack and supported military strikes say the pressure is on President Bashar al-Assad to uphold his end of any deal.”

4.  Syrian rebel infighting – the complexity of the fight and an opportunity for the West.Time’s Aryn Baker reports on growing tensions among rebel groups that could, on one hand, spell defeat for the rebellion and, on the other, better define the good guys for the West: “If the moderate-leaning rebel groups can sever their symbiotic relationship with their al-Qaeda affiliates for good, they stand to get significantly more support from Western backers wary of inadvertently assisting old enemies. But it won’t be easy — even as the rivals battle for turf in Aleppo province, they have united to inflict a resounding defeat on government forces elsewhere in the country.”

5.  Afghan good enough – a standard for successTheDailyBeast.Com contributor Jacob Siegel describes the evolution of an idiom: ““Afghan good enough” is the military phrase for limiting our objectives to what is achievable and not overreaching. Given the country’s violent history and its present condition less as a nation-state than a patchwork of tribal groups, Afghan good enough has become, for many within the military, the best that we can hope for. Facing short timelines and intractable obstacles, the military has slowly weaned itself off the gung-ho ideals it originally held and defined its expectations down. . . . It’s hard to achieve a recognizable victory in a war whose aims keep being redefined, but perhaps this, too, is Afghan good enough.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  “Complex catastrophe,” cyberspace and contractors: new front lines, opportunities, and threatsCSM.Com staff writer Anna Mulrine conducts an Intelligence Prep of the new Battlefield: “the US military is forging ahead with its own cyberdefense plans. While the Posse Comitatus Act largely bars the US military from getting involved in law enforcement endeavors, a new Department of Defense publication argues that the Pentagon can provide ‘law enforcement actions that are performed primarily for a military purpose, even when incidentally assisting civil authorities’ . . . . That includes cyberattacks, under the category of ‘complex catastrophe’ – a ‘new addition to the DOD lexicon’ introduced in the DOD report . . . . ‘There is some turf-marking that seems to be going on on the part of the Pentagon.’ It’s a lexicon that has been embraced, too, by defense contractors eyeing the end of the war in Afghanistan and vying for their next business opportunity. Half of Booz Allen’s $5.8 billion annual revenue comes from US military and intelligence agency contracts.”

2.  Lead contractor Hardwire LLC and the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV)DefenseMediaNetwork.Com contributor Scott R. Gourley deconstructs the prototype: “The ULV prototype platform features a hybrid powertrain design with two electric motors – front and rear – with either capable of powering the vehicle, providing a level of mobility redundancy. Moreover, by eliminating the need for a driveshaft and other traditional automotive components beneath the vehicle, the platform can be optimized for underbody survivability through the integration of various blast-mitigating kits under the hull for higher threat levels. Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull and absorbs energy, adjustable stroking seats, five-point restraint systems, and spatial accommodations to mitigate head impacts and flail injuries.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Drones, drones, and more dronesWired.Com contributor Allen McDuffee maps out DARPA’s plan for Hydra: “Hydra, named after the serpent-like creature with many heads in Greek mythology, would create an undersea network of unmanned payloads and platforms to increase the capability and speed the response to threats like piracy, the rising number of ungoverned states, and sophisticated defenses at a time when the Pentagon is forced to make budget cuts. According to DARPA, the Hydra system ‘represents a cost effective way to add undersea capacity that can be tailored to support each mission’ that would still allow the Navy to conduct special operations and contingency missions. In other words, the decreasing number of naval vessels can only be in one place at a time.”

2.  Be a Bluetooth guruTime’s Techland answers the eternal riddles confusing Bluetooth connectivity: “Bluetooth is all great when it works. But if you’re someone who likes to play around with these kinds of connected gadgets, you know it can be frustrating when there’s a hang-up pairing the two. Here are some common causes of pairing problems as well as advice on what you can do about them.”

3.  The Snowden bounce – the tech industry isn’t suffering from Snowden’s betrayalReuters’ Joseph Menn explains that “smaller U.S. companies offering encryption and related security services are seeing a jump in business overseas, along with an uptick in sales domestically as individuals and companies work harder to protect secrets. ‘Our value proposition had been that it’s a wild world out there, while doing business internationally you need to protect yourself,’ said Jon Callas, co-founder of phone and text encryption provider Silent Circle, where revenue quadrupled from May to June on a small base. ‘Now the message people are getting from the newspapers every day is that it’s a wild world even domestically.’”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Slow dancing toward 2016. Biden and Hillary square off with not-necessarily-so-subtle gestures toward Pennsylvania Ave: “With most Democrats keeping an eye on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for hints about her 2016 plans, Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance at Iowa’s 36th annual ‘Tom Harkin Steak Fry,’ may one day be viewed as a telling sign of his presidential intentions. . . . Many in Washington believe [Biden] will not run if Clinton runs, and she is making a regular series of public appearances that could easily be interpreted as setting the stage for a campaign.”

2.  Obama’s Persian dance.  First in letters, now, potentially, face-to-face, President Obama stands to make a breakthrough in U.S.-Iranian diplomacy at the United Nations: “An exchange of letters between Barack Obama and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has set the stage for a possible meeting between the two men at the UN next week in what would be the first face-to-face encounter between a US and Iranian leader since Iran’s 1979 revolution. . . . In a television interview aired on Sunday, Obama made clear that there was a diplomatic opening with Iran, not only over the nuclear question but also over Syria. He confirmed earlier reports that he and Rouhani had ‘reached out’ to each other, exchanging letters. US officials were skeptical about a Rouhani meeting, but some observers said the Geneva deal on Syria’s chemical weapons has opened new space for global diplomacy.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The Few. The Proud. The Marines. The advertisement campaign. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos argues, “Our nation requires a Marine Corps that is ready, forward deployed and able to respond to crisis on a moment’s notice. This will not change for the foreseeable future, no matter the budgetary woes our country faces. . . . As our nation reduces its overseas forces, there remains a heightened requirement for a very capable crisis response force, one that can deploy anywhere quickly, provide a variety of response options, a force that can buy time for national decision-makers when the need arises. The Marine Corps is, and will continue to be, the answer to this need. This is what we do . . . this is who we are!”

2.  “The Right’s Sickening Syria Spin.”  TheDailyBeast.Com’s Michael Tomasky argues, “I don’t know about you, but I’m not very interested in being lectured that Bashar al-Assad has no real intention of giving up his chemical weapons by the very same people who a decade ago were pushing this country into war—and having the deranged gall to call the rest of us unpatriotic—on the argument that there was no possible way a monster like Saddam Hussein had given up his chemical weapons. Barack Obama has been forced to spend about 70 percent of his presidential energies trying to repair crises foreign and domestic that these people created, and forced to do so against their iron opposition on all fronts; and now that he’s achieved a diplomatic breakthrough, they have the audacity to argue that he sold America out to Vladimir Putin? It’s staggering and sickening.”

3.  “. . . the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Coming in Der Spiegel, former SecDef Rumsfeld critiques Obama’s foreign policy: “In an interview to be published in the next issue of SPIEGEL, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has strongly criticized President Barack Obama’s Syria policies. ‘I believe the reason he has had difficulty gaining support both in the US and from other countries is because he has not explained what he hopes to do, what the mission would be and what he hopes to accomplish,’ Rumsfeld said. ‘To gain support in our Congress and from other nations requires clarity, an acceptable mission and an explicit outcome.”  [Actually achieving that outcome would be key, too.]

THE FUNNIES

1.  Let’s get on with it.

2.  The budget.

3.  P. Dean does Texas.

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 EdLedford.com.

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Daily Intelligence: Egypt taking on the Sinai, Syria on hold, and the iPhone cometh

Israel applauds Egypt’s efforts in the Sinai, a surprise pause in the run-up to Syria, and Apple’s iPhone launch may eclipse Obama’s oration, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 10, 2013

 

 

Photo of the Day & Ten things for Tuesday.

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  VetNet – Google’s tip of the hat to Vets and their families. Contributor Diana Rodriguez explains Google’s developments specifically for the war weary: “’Google for Veterans and Families’ was created in 2011 by veterans, families of veterans, and friends who work at Google. The developers and administrators of the site have special understanding of the challenges of service members and those who are making the transition to civilian life. . . . In November of 2012, Google partnered with other veteran and family advocacy organizations that are providing support and resources to veterans and families. VetNet is collaboration between veteran-focused non-government agencies designed to help and their families find careers.”

2.  Rhyme to the reason – the logic of classification. Contributor Jeffrey Bennett reminds exactly why the government classifies certain information: “The US Government relies on a system of security classification to ensure users protect sensitive information at the right level. . . . Contrary to popular spy novels and movies, a classification cannot be assigned to hide legal violations, inefficiencies or mistakes. Nor can the OCAs assign a classification just to prevent embarrassment, prevent or restrict competition or delay the release of information that hasn’t previously required such a level of protection.”

 

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Call it – DoD’s Crisis Line is there for Vets and families. American Forces Press Service’s Terri Moon Cronk explains, “When someone is in crisis and feeling despondent, reaching out for help is a stronger step to take than doing nothing, which can lead to a worsening state . . . . people contact the crisis line to discuss a variety of issues, from feeling suicidal, depressed or anxious to feeling pressure from finances or relationships, among a wealth of other concerns . . . . callers can expect a live person and not an electronic menu to answer their calls.”

2.  Egypt takes on Sinai terrorists. TheGuardian.Com’s Patrick Kingsley reports from Cairo, “Egypt’s army has announced a full-scale assault on militant areas in the restive northern Sinai desert, in what a senior Israeli official has approvingly called Egypt’s first-ever serious counter-terrorism campaign in the region. . . . observers argued that this latest campaign, which began on Saturday, may be the largest in years.”

3.  The President speaks to America – tonight. AP’s Bradley Klapper and Donna Cassata set the scene for tonight’s speech: “President Barack Obama is heading to Congress on Tuesday with fresh hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough that would allow Syria’s government to avert U.S. missile strikes if it surrenders its chemical weapons arsenal. Obama had planned to use the meetings with Democratic and Republican senators to personally lobby for his plan of targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last month’s massive chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus. Instead, he signaled in interviews ahead of his trip to Capitol Hill that new diplomacy involving Russia and others could eliminate the risks of a repeat chemical attack without requiring an American intervention. He presents his case to the American people Tuesday night.”

4.  Kerry said what? Slip of the tongue or well-played olive branch, SecState’s apparent gaff gets legs. Reuters’ Mark Felsenthal and Steve Holland report, “Russia’s offer to work with Damascus to put its chemical weapons under international control could be a big deal – if it is serious. . . . The president said he had explored the possibility of a proposal for Syria to cede control of its chemical weapons stockpile to international authorities with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting last week in Russia.”  Aljazeera adds, “Russia is working on an ‘effective, concrete’ plan for putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and is discussing the details with Damascus . . . .”

5.  Human Rights Watch – “Assad did it.” Time reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) is convinced: “Human Rights Watch claims that all evidence suggests that forces loyal to Bashar Assad were behind the infamous chemical-weapons attack in Damascus. . . . HRW’s extensive investigation, which relied on expert analysis from chemical-weapons and arms specialists along with witnesses’ accounts, concluded that the surface-to-surface rocket systems used to carry out the attack, along with the large quantity of nerve agent that was deployed during the assault on Aug. 21, match up with equipment that is only possessed by government troops in Syria.”

6.  AFRICOM – Armed Forces of Liberia bring Fort Jackson to Monrovia. Marine Corps Forces Africa’s Master Sgt. Brian Bahret reports, “U.S. Army instructors teamed with [Liberian First Sergeant James] Gant in a weeklong refresher course to help reinforce the concepts the drill sergeants learned at Fort Jackson. The refresher training revisited fundamentals including the importance of maintaining professional relationships, leadership skills, and core subjects designed to create a productive learning environment for the recruits.”

 

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Boeing – on time and on target with KC-46 refuelersAmerican Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone shares Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning’s good news: “Fanning said the program ‘is in a real healthy place.’ . . . Fanning visited Boeing’s KC-46 plant in Everett, Wash., recently. Two KC-46s now in production there will be ready for flight next year. The KC-46 is based on the Boeing 767 aircraft, which had its first flight in 1981. The company has 32 years of experience with the plane.”  Read about the mighty KC-46.

2.  Sequestration costs – rather than saves – $64 million. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark reports, “Offering one of the more concrete examples of sequestration’s impact, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has calculated that the $11 million in cuts it absorbed this year likely prompted its auditors to take a pass on retrieving as much as $74 million in unmerited contractor billing.”

3.  Contractor-Bashing at an all-time high, reports GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark: “Current budget constraints, curbs on contracts and congressional hostility toward the federal workforce have combined to create a climate in which ‘anti-contractor rhetoric has become at least as common a political tool as public employee bashing,’ a leadership commission convened by the Professional Services Council wrote in a report released Monday. . . . A sign of the tension, the leadership commission found, is the rise in contract award protests in response to the government’s increased preference for lowest price, technically acceptable proposals.”

 

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Save the NSA the trouble – scan your own fingerprints. Big news for the soon-to-be-announced iPhone: “There are plenty of potential use cases for a fingerprint sensor in your smartphone, from making it easier to unlock the phone, to adding another level of security to your mobile wallet. The sensor would be the equivalent to the introduction of Siri in the iPhone 4S — it’s not an Earth-shattering feature, but it’s one that clearly distinguishes the slightly refreshed phone from its predecessor.”  See also 10 iPhone predictions.

2.  Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft – their bid to regain some public trust. UPI.Com reports, “Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. sued a secret court for authority to reveal aggregate information about the national security orders they receive from Washington. . . . All four tech companies, in rare coordinated but separate lawsuits, say they want permission to reveal the aggregate number and nature of the national intelligence requests to respond to growing public concern and to regain the trust of users. . . . The tech companies, prevented from disclosing information under national security rules, say they also want permission to correct false allegations and incorrect news reports about what they supply to the FBI for National Security Agency use. They argue their constitutional free-speech rights are being violated.”

3.  If you’re serious about secrecy, you might still outsmart the NSA. PCWorld.Com contributor Jaikumar Vijayan reports, “Though the National Security Agency spends billions of dollars to crack encryption technologies, security experts maintain that properly implemented, encryption is still the best way to maintain online privacy. . . . Steve Weis, chief technology officer at PrivateCore and holder of a Ph.D. in cryptography from MIT, said despite the NSA activities, the mathematics of cryptography remains very hard to crack. He suggested that it’s likely that the NSA managed to break through insecure and outdated implementations of some encryption technologies.”

 

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Syrian Shimmy. Mixed messages and exaggerations confuse the whole damned thing: “Secretary of State John Kerry said in London Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. attack by ‘turning over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.’ The Russian foreign minister subsequently made that offer to Syria, and the Syrian foreign minister reportedly welcomed the idea. Since then, the State Department has tried to walk back Kerry’s statement, with spokeswoman Marie Harf calling it a ‘rhetorical statement about a scenario that we think is highly unlikely’ at a press briefing.”

2.  Dancing with the devil. The Hill asks Putin, “May we have this dance?”  BuzzFeed.Com reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin could be giving lawmakers — and the White House — at least a temporary out. However, not all lawmakers are pleased with Washington’s sudden embrace of the Russian proposal. ‘I think they’re playing us like a fiddle,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the chief proponents for military action against Assad.

 

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The difference between intelligence on Syria and Iraq. Reuters contributor David Wise argues, “There are important differences between the intelligence fobbed off on the public to justify the 2003 Iraq war and what is being said by government officials today. For one thing, the Syrians essentially admitted Monday that they have chemical weapons, when they started talking about turning them over to the international community. Nonetheless, the U.S. intelligence on Syria still leaves some critical unanswered questions.”

2.  “Press Pause on the Rush to War.”  USNews.Com contributor Michael Shank argues, “If America wants to reassert its moral weight in the world, there are more efficient and effective exercises that are less expensive and less likely to result in increased chaos, escalated violence and additional chemical weapons usage.”

3.  God Bless America: Criticize our troops and we’ll kill you. An interesting social experiment proves a Salon.Com writer’s theory: “I had published an essay about the problems of uncritically repeating the slogan ‘Support Our Troops.’  Not everybody was happy with my argument. . . . Suddenly I went from being a troop-hating fag to a jihadist, awash in the new vocabulary of apocalyptic struggle — dhimmitude, swine, Taliban, anti-Semitism, Allah, terrorism, hijab, pedantry, oppressed women — informing the limitless Clash of Civilizations.”  Read Salaita’s original opinion piece.

 

THE FUNNIES

1.  Computer Cam.

2.  Sequestration and foreign policy.

3.  Priorities, priorities.