The latest debates over Syria as POTUS (and Congress) returns to D.C., Nigerian troops’ hard fight with Islamists, and a review of The Final Rule for hiring Vets, all in today’s defense headlines.
September 7, 2013
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Navy braces its ships for a hit. Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “The U.S. Navy will probably have to cut about 25 aircraft and several ships from its planned purchases in the coming year if deep federal spending cuts remain in place . . . The affected aircraft in fiscal year 2014 will likely include helicopters, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and P-8A maritime patrol aircraft . . . . The Navy also could lose such vessels as a Littoral Combat Ship and an Afloat Forward Staging Base, as well as advance procurement for a Virginia-class submarine.”
2. Put your money where your next big threat will be. Contributor Charles Simmins reports, “The nations of Africa are increasing their spending on defense. The sum budgeted by these nations is expected to top $20 billion in the next ten years. Both local and multinational firms in the defense industry are rushing to participate in this growth spurt. . . . Islamic terrorism and regional instabilities have continued to grow. African governments recognize that their militaries must be modernized, better trained and better equipped. The increase in prices for minerals and oil of the last several years have left many nations with the cash to invest in their armed forces.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. Super Tuesday. Congress returns and the Administration prepares the press. Reuters’ John Whitesides and Richard Cowan report, “Obama’s address to the nation from the White House on Tuesday will be part of a rejuvenated lobbying effort on Syria as Congress returns to Washington next week. A Democratic congressional aide said the administration is planning ‘a full-court press’ aimed at undecided lawmakers. . . . only 23 senators have been willing to go on record in favor of military force, while 17 are against. It will likely take 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to advance the measure to the House of Representatives. In the House, where 218 votes will be required to pass the resolution, only 25 members are on record in support of military action so far, according to the Post, with 106 opposed.” And AP reports, POTUS taking the plunge while Sen. Al Frank lends his support.
2. U.S. UN rep explains Syria. American Forces Press Service’s Cheryl Pellerin reports, “Speaking to an audience at the Center for American Progress, Ambassador Samantha Power characterized Syria as lying at the heart of a region critical to U.S. security . . . . The Bashar Assad regime, Power said, has stores of chemical weapons that it recently used on a large scale and that the United States can’t allow to fall into terrorists’ hands. The regime also collaborates with Iran and works with thousands of extremist fighters from the militant group Hezbollah.”
3. Egyptian military attacks Islamists and Al Qaeda in the Sinai. AP’s Ashraf Sweilam reports from el-Arish, Egypt, “Egyptian helicopters and tanks are attacking Islamic militants in villages in the northern Sinai Peninsula. He says ‘dozens’ have been killed or wounded. The Saturday assault came after Egypt deployed a column of armored vehicles and trucks carrying infantry into the region, a militant stronghold, in a major new counterinsurgency offensive . . . . Multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups have stepped up attacks against security forces in the Sinai . . . .” Aljazeera reports, using those pesky quotation-mark-fingers, “Egypt’s military sends reinforcements to the Sinai border area to ‘clean’ villages in the area of ‘terrorists.’”
4. In Pakistan, drone takes out Haqqani network’s Mullah Sangeen Zadran. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “Yesterday’s drone strike in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan is reported to have killed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani Network leader who is on the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda . . . . Sangeen has long been a supporter of al Qaeda and has encouraged foreign fighters to wage jihad in Afghanistan.” Also, Pakistan releases Taliban to facilitate Afghan peace efforts.
5. In AFRICOM, Nigerian troops taking on Islamists and Sharia law. Reuters Lanre Ola reports from Maiduguri, Nigeria, “Nigerian soldiers have tracked down and killed 50 members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram in its northeastern stronghold . . . . Army units mounted the operation after suspected Boko Haram fighters killed 20 people in two attacks on Wednesday and Thursday in villages in northeastern Borno State . . . . Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria, and other splinter Islamist groups, are the biggest threat to stability in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter.”
1. $4.3 billion Veterans Health Administration contract awarded. AZCentral.Com reports, “TriWest secured the five-year contract to manage behavioral health and specialty care in Arizona and 27 other states. The company will arrange health care for veterans in rural regions not served by the VA or in communities where the VA cannot accommodate such care. . . . The VA contract means TriWest will ramp up hiring in Phoenix and Washington state, where it plans to open a call center at a yet-to-be-selected location. The company expects most of its 600 to 700 full-time positions will be in Phoenix.” Review TriWest.
2. The Final Rule is out, “good faith” just wasn’t cutting it. NationalLawReview.Com explains how they are meant to help Vets: “With the Obama Administration’s recent appointment of Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor, the enactment of these new regulations signals a renewed focus on increasing the numbers of veterans and disabled individuals in the U.S. workforce. . . . the Final Rule largely formalizes recruitment practices that, up until recently, have been considered ‘good faith efforts.’”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. The NSA is tracking you. Are you tracking you? Time’s TechLand covers the latest in Activity Trackers that will make lazy people fell not so lazy: “You can buy an inexpensive pedometer to gauge your steps, but a slew of new self-tracking devices are available that do so much more, calculating things such as how many calories you’ve burned or how well you’re sleeping at night. Here’s what the best of the next-gen devices have the offer.”
2. Straight to the moon. NASA is at it again, [hoax] rocket launch to the moon. USNews.Com reports, “NASA’s newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia that dazzled sky watchers along the East Coast. . . . Scientists want to learn the composition of the moon’s ever-so-delicate atmosphere and how it might change over time. Another puzzle, dating back decades, is whether dust actually levitates from the lunar surface.” [That’s $280 million well-spent, I’d say.]
3. Better than the real thing – a man chooses prosthetics over pain. At Salon.Com, Norbert Nathanson tells his story: “I was relieved that those feet and lower legs that had been the source of life-long pain and humiliation, and a magnet for mindless stares of legions of strangers, were gone. . . . The impact was significant. As I recovered from surgery, tension flowed out of me and relaxation set in. For the first time in my life I was completely at ease.”
1. Impending side-step? At the G-20, President Obama subtly opened another door as many congressmen get spanked by their constituents: “President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he might not strike Syria if Congress rejects his authorization request. ‘I’m not itching for military action . . . . and if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them,’ he told one reporter who asked if he was seeking alternatives to a missile strike.”
2. The Screw-Up-and-Move-Up. What do we do with a lawyer unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment? Make her a federal judge in terrorism court, of course. TheGuardian.Com reports, “Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York. Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the FISA surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers. . . . Even before the Guardian’s phone records revelations, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, lawmakers found Caproni to be complicit in surveillance abuses.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. Six reasons to attack Syria. TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Michael Tomasky argues, “What most liberals are passionate about is one thing: opposition to U.S. militarism. That’s what really roils the loins. . . . Here are six consequences of not launching a strike against Syria, all of which could harm small-d democratic hopes in the region and, indeed, potentially increase the carnage.”
2. “For Obama, a contradiction too many.” Reuters’ contributor David Rohde argues, “The president should have demanded that Congress be called back from recess immediately. He should also have immediately made a far more personal and passionate case for strikes. But what may doom the president’s effort, in the end, is not his short-term tactics. It is years of contradictory policies and unfulfilled promises by Obama himself.”
3. The folly of empire? Unlikely-but-regular contributor to Aljazeera Paul Rosenberg argues, “Attacking Syria is not the same as invading Iraq, we are told. And of course, that’s right. . . . There are two things that attacking Syria and invading Iraq have in common, which US elites utterly ignore. First is the sheer frequency with which the US attacks other countries. Second is the casual disregard for dire and deadly negative consequences, so long as US elites convince themselves their motives are pure. . . . This is what it means to be an empire. The players change endlessly. The folly never does. It only grows darker and more dire over time.”