Update on aid to the Philippines, Anonymous big hack attack looms, and the price Africa will pay for neglecting Libya Aid – all in today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Next in line at Department of Homeland Security. Contributor Ashley LaGanga reports, “The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee questioned Jeh Johnson on Wednesday, President Obama’s pick for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). . . . While his nomination is opposed by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – who are concerned with border security and the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, respectively – Johnson is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate soon.” Also, NSA transparency, sequestration and defence, and Veteran entrepreneurs.
2. For Defense Industry jobs, questions before the exam, thanks to contributor Diana Rodriguez: “The defense industry and defense contracting careers come with their own unique requirements. Expect questions that delve into your trustworthiness, as well as your capabilities. . . . [here] are five questions you can expect to be asked by a defense industry hiring manager.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. Aid to Philippines still slow. Reuters’ Aubrey Belford reports from Tacloban, “Survivors began rebuilding homes destroyed by one of the world’s most powerful typhoons and emergency supplies flowed into ravaged Philippine islands, as the United Nations more than doubled its estimate of people made homeless to nearly two million. But the aid effort was still patchy, and bodies still lay uncollected as rescuers tried to evacuate stricken communities on Saturday, more than a week after Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 3,633 with tree-snapping winds and tsunami-like waves.” American Forces Press Service reports, “Military Airlifts Supplies, Displaced People in Philippines,” “Pacific Command Creates Joint Task Force for Philippines Relief” and “Hagel Conveys Condolences, Vows Support to Filipinos.”
2. Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga. AP’s Kathy Gannon and Rahim Faiez report from Kabul, “Afghan and U.S. negotiators have finished a draft of a contentious security pact to be presented to a traditional council next week . . . there remain disagreements between the two countries over the final content of the accord. Without approval of the Loya Jirga, a gathering of several thousand prominent figures from across the country, Afghanistan will likely refuse to sign the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement . . . . And if the Loya Jirga does approve it, the agreement still will require a final nod from parliament.” Khaama.Com reports, “Karzai also added that Afghanistan will likely refuse to sign the bilateral security agreement without the approval of the national grand council (Loya Jirga). . . . However, President Hamid Karzai said that the issue of immunity for US troops remained unresolved, and called for a national grand council (Loya Jirga) to debate the issue.”
3. Syrian government forces’ incremental progress against rebels. Aljazeear.Com reports, “Syrian troops have captured a contested suburb of Damascus as the government forged ahead with a offensive that already has taken four other opposition strongholds south of the capital. For more than a year, much of the belt of neighbourhoods and towns just south of Damascus has been a rebel bastion and a key arms conduit for the opposition. But government forces – reportedly bolstered by fighters from Lebanon’s Shia armed group Hezbollah group and Shia fighters from Iraq – have made significant headway in recent weeks in the area as President Bashar al-Assad pushes to shore up his hold on the capital and its doorstep.”
4. Syria’s sarin, mustard, and nerve, hold the ketchup. Albania rejects proposal to destroy chem in their country. Reuters’s Anthony Deutsch and Benet Koleka report from the Hague, “Albania rejected on Friday a U.S. request to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, dealing a blow to a U.S.-Russian accord to eliminate the nerve agents from the country’s protracted civil war. . . . There was no immediate indication where the United States or Russia might look next to dispose of thousands of tons of toxic waste. Friday was the deadline for the details of the plan to be agreed by Damascus and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.”
5. Hope in Geneva for Iran plan. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Six world powers and Iran are getting close to a first-stage agreement to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, a senior US official has said. The official told reporters in Washington on Friday that it was ‘quite possible’ a deal could be reached when the parties meet on November 21-22 in Geneva . . . . ‘I don’t know if we will reach an agreement. I think it is quite possible that we can, but there are still tough issues to negotiate’ . . . . ”
1. Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) contracting (in)digest(ion). Forbes.Com unravels the contracting complexities behind the failed website-rollout: “For its part, Administration officials disregarded criticism that some of the contractors had checkered histories. Responding to reports that Serco was facing a series of major inquiries in the UK, Brian Cook, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said, ‘Serco is a highly skilled company that has a proven track record in providing cost-effective services to numerous other (U.S.) federal agencies.’ The hard-to-believe takeaway is that just about no one, least of all the administration, was ready on launch day.”
2. LMT’s Long Range Anti Ship Missile does it again. AZOSensors.Com reports, “Flying over the Sea Range at Point Mugu, Calif., a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, released the LRASM, which navigated through all planned waypoints receiving in-flight targeting updates from the Weapon Data Link. After transitioning to autonomous guidance, LRASM identified the target using inputs from the onboard sensors. The missile then descended for final approach, verified and impacted the target.” Ka-Boom.
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. Megatons, Megapixels, Megabites – Dempsey achieves consonance at Stratcom Change of Command. American Forces Press Service’s Nick Simeone reports, “The organization responsible for protecting Americans against ‘the world’s most complex and dangerous threats’ will continue to get the resources it needs to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said . . . during a change-of-command ceremony for U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base . . . . Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the ceremony and reflected on how much the world and the nature of the threats facing the nation have changed over Kehler’s nearly 40-year military career. ‘There are few that are better able to understand, to appreciate and to articulate the vast mission which comprises our nation’s strategic deterrent force, measured no longer in megatons alone, but also these days in megapixels and megabytes,’ Dempsey said. ‘Our world is different’ . . . .
2. What can we do about that nasty hack? Reuters’ Jim Finkle and Joseph Menn report, “Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week. . . . The Anonymous group is an amorphous collective that conducts multiple hacking campaigns at any time, some with a few participants and some with hundreds. In the past, its members have disrupted eBay’s Inc PayPal after it stopped processing donations to the anti-secrecy site Wikileaks. . . . Some of the breaches and pilfered data in the latest campaign had previously been publicized by people who identify with Anonymous, as part of what the group dubbed ‘Operation Last Resort.’”
3. Hacker gets 10 years. VentureBeat.Com’s Meghan Kelly reports, “n 2011, Jeremy Hammond hacked into intelligence firm Stratfor, obtaining private e-mail, credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information in the name of political activism. . . . he received 10 years in jail under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA has become a controversial piece of legislation for punishing people for accessing computer systems without permission. It has resulted in sentences, or proposed sentences, that many claim are too harsh to fit the crime. Hammond, in this case, says he’s being made an example to deter others from political ‘hacktivism’ and that the CFAA is being twisted to cover this form of political protest.”
1. Congress’ magic show. Understanding sequestration. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Craig Collins interviews Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on sequestration, and Congress’ not-so-sleight of hand is remarkable: “Why on Earth would Congress appropriate more money than the caps allow, knowing the caps are going to cut their appropriation? They can do that because voting on a higher level of defense spending gives everyone political cover, and then the caps will kick in and do the dirty work of cutting things. Now, they do that in a dumb, blind, nonstrategic way: Sequestration just cuts every account – with an exception for military personnel – by the same amount.”
2. Time to start those office pools: 83 days to our next crisis: “Twelve weeks from today, the US government will hit its borrowing limit. When Congress lifted the debt ceiling last month, for the first time ever, it pegged the increase to a specific date, rather than a dollar amount. The current borrowing authority expires in just 84 days, on February 7th. Three major policy challenges are converging in January. Government spending authority expires in the middle of the month, just three weeks ahead of the debt ceiling. There is also likely to be ongoing agonizing about the implementation of ObamaCare.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. The price of forgetting Libya. Aljazeera.Com contributor Solomon Dersso reminds us of the implications of Libya’s turmoil: “The deterioration of the political and security situation in Libya has been worsening throughout the year, stocking fears that the country risks total anarchy and civil war. Violence and instability have increased in parts of the country, while the level of insecurity, particularly in cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi, has worsened. Indeed, a simple survey of headlines such as ‘Libya: Going wrong’, ‘Libya on the brink’, ‘Premier’s brief ‘arrest’ highlights anarchy’, or ‘Deepening crisis in Libya’, all tell the story of a failing Libya.”
2. America’s global stature is slipping. But that might not be a bad thing. Christian Science Monitor’s Graham E. Fuller argues, “Things are getting worse for the United States, not because of our weak policies but because the times are changing, our capabilities and energies limited, and we haven’t recognized it yet. We can’t afford to keep on doing those things we shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.”
3. “Can Iraq be saved?” Also from Aljazeera.Com, contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “Iraq’s disruption since the US invasion in 2003 is a national, if not an existential, quandary of great proportion that cannot be assessed by a vote on new election laws, or even by the election of a new parliament. It is the predicament of the massive failure to rebuild the Iraqi state and society after they were ruined by more than a decade of occupation, civil strife and mismanagement.”