Vietnam Vet Mem - 1

Afghan collapse, Jihadi backlash, and Bring back the draft

Karzai’s jeopardizing Afghan stability, Syria’s civil war bleed-over, and why we need the draft . . . .

Saturday Summary

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Drone drop in Defense. Contributor Charles Simmins explains, “The Department of Defense appears to be drastically slowing its procurement of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for FY2014. That change is according to a report on the website of the Federation of American Scientists from Nov. 12. The combined reduction from FY 2013 is $1.3 billion, divided between R&D and procurement. Reductions ought not to be entirely unexpected. Larger drones, such as the Reaper, have a service life similar to a manned aircraft. Just as the B-52 and the F-18 have received continual upgrades in avionics and weapons systems, so will larger UAS systems. Smaller drones, used by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, will be in less demand as the U.S. completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.”

2.  It’s Greek, to me. However, if you are bi-lingual, tri-lingual, or have that bent, contributor Charles Simmins tiene alguno buenas noticias para usted: “The U.S. Department of Labor finds that translators and interpreters will be one of the 15 fastest growing occupations between now and 2020. The demand for people who are bilingual or multilingual is far exceeding the supply. The demand for language speakers is based upon the needs of the day. Right now, for example, the Federal government would like to hire people fluent in Arabic, Farsi, Dari and Pashto. Businesses want people who can speak Chinese, Japanese and Hindi, languages tied to trade. At a more local level, police departments, hospitals and social service agencies are looking to fill positions for pockets of local non-English speaking residents, Somali in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Russian in New York City’s Brighton Beach, Hmong in Galveston.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Afghan collapse a possibility. Christian Science Monitor runs Reuters’ Maria Golovnina, and John Chalmers:  “President Hamid Karzai’s stubborn refusal to sign a pact that would keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is a high-risk gamble that Washington will give in to his demands, one that has left him isolated as the clock runs down on his presidency. Diplomats said he may have overplayed his hand, raising the risk of a complete U.S. withdrawal from a country where Western troops have fought Taliban militants for the past 12 years. It also risks a backlash at home by critics who believe Karzai is playing a dangerous game with Afghanistan’s future security. If the bilateral pact is not signed, Western aid running to billions of dollars will be in serious jeopardy, and confidence in the fragile economy could collapse amid fears the country will slip back into ethnic fighting or civil war.”

2.  Brace yourself – Syria civil war threatens jihadi backlash. BBC.Co.Uk’s Frank Gardner reports, “This week Britain’s House of Commons was told that a terrorist attack in Europe by jihadist fighters returning from Syria is ‘almost inevitable but may not happen for some time’. . . . with the Syrian conflict now approaching its fourth year and the death toll passing 100,000, attention is focusing on what the long-term risks are to the rest of the world.”

3.  One less drone in Afghanistan, anyway. Khaama.Com reports, “According to local authorities in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, a US drone has crashed in Chaparahar district on Saturday afternoon. . . . [A] Taliban group in Afghanistan claimed that the US drone was shot down by Taliban militants. A spokesman for the Taliban group Zabiullah Mujahid following a statement said that the drone was shot down by Taliban fighters in Chaparhar district on Friday afternoon.” LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, however, that in Pakistan, “The US killed three unidentified “militants” in a drone strike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan yesterday. The strike is the third in Pakistan this month; the previous two attacks killed senior leaders in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Haqqani Network.”

4.  Pakistan will facilitate Afghan-Taliban truce talks. Reuters’ Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi report from Kabul, “Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised Afghanistan on Saturday that he would help arrange further meetings between Afghan officials and a former Taliban commander as part of renewed efforts to revive a defunct peace process. Pakistan announced it would release the insurgent group’s former second-in-command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in September. Afghan officials believe he still retains enough influence within the Taliban to help rekindle peace talks.”

5.  In Iraq, seems the sectarian war is already on. Aljazeear.Com reports, “Violence on Friday struck Baghdad and mostly Sunni Arab parts of the north and west, with shootings and bombings targeting civilians, local officials, security forces and even a brothel. But the most troubling of the bloodshed came early on Friday morning, when authorities discovered the bodies of 18 men , including two tribal chiefs, four policemen and an army major, dumped in farmland near the Sunni Arab town of Tarmiyah, just north of Baghdad. There was another such incident in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad. Seven men – all maintenance workers and labourers at a local football field – were found dead, their throats cut. A police officer told the AFP news agency he felt physically sick upon seeing the mutilated corpses.” [I have looked for good news in Iraq – I can find none.]

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Syrian chem on the table for contracted destruction. AP’s Toby Sterling and Albert Aji report from Damascus, “The U.S. has offered to help destroy some of the most lethal parts of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile at an offshore facility . . . . 35 private companies have applied so far to participate and are at an early stage of being vetted. He also called on governments of the 190 countries that belong to the OPCW to contribute funds to the effort, or by contracting directly with companies to help destroy chemicals.”

2.  Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPV) RFP is out. DefenseIndustryDaily.Com reports, “The US Army released its finalized RFP to acquire Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPV) to be used for a variety of support roles, from medical treatment and evacuation, to mission command and other functions. They expect EMD funding to peak in FY16 at $174M, followed by a low rate initial production phase in 3 options of between $244M and $505M each. Eventually close to 3,000 vehicles could be produced.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Russian spymasters shy away from Google. VentureBeat.Com contributor Oleg Kouzbit reports, “Keeping with their prior attempts to keep Westerners as far away as possible from Russians’ Internet activity, Russian secret service agents have recently advised regional government officials across Russia to use domestic webmail services and stay away from overseas ones, such as Google’s Gmail. The recommendation, still off the record, came earlier this month from the Federal Security Service (FSB), the post-Soviet successor of the KGB, and followed the revelations made by Edward Snowden, the fugitive American government contractor who is now safe from prosecution during his one-year asylum in Russia.”

2.  Where you are and what you’re doing. BuzzFeed.Com’s Charlie Warzel reports, “A new phone bought today can sense if you are walking or running, if you drove to your destination in a car or hopped on a bike. Far better than most pedometers, it can tell you how many steps you’ve taken and in which direction you went. It knows how long you stayed out at the bar last weekend and how you got home. And it’s getting more accurate by the day. . . . Researchers at the University of Helsinki announced they’ve developed an algorithm that accurately reveals modes of transportation based solely off of movement data collected from mobile phones. By studying over 150 hours of accelerometer data, the Finnish team found their algorithms have improved transportation mode detection by over 20%.”

3.  DoD’s $50 million privacy suit settlement. TheVerge.Com’s Amar Toor reports, “The US government this week agreed to pay $50 million to a Texas-based company that accused the military of pirating its software. The company, Apptricity, struck a software licensing deal with the Department of Defense in 2004, but filed a copyright infringement claim against the government last year after it discovered that the military had distributed thousands of unauthorized copies among its ranks. The Dallas Morning News first reported the settlement on Monday, before Apptricity announced it one day later.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  A “glass-is-half-full” kind of guy: “President Obama in an interview with ABC News insisted his administration could fix the rocky rollout of his health care reform bill and that his political troubles would pass, saying he had ‘nowhere to go but up.’ . . . ‘I’ve gone up and down pretty much consistently throughout,’ said Obama in an interview with Barbara Walters taped last week and aired on Friday. ‘But the good thing about when you’re down is that usually you got nowhere to go but up.’”

2.  Wacko birds of a feather? “Sen. John McCain is starting to sound like a Tea Party ‘wacko bird.’ In a new fundraising letter for the Republican National Committee released Friday, McCain lashed out at ‘Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Washington liberals,” who he claimed are destroying the United States. Liberals, he warned, ‘have taken us down a dark and dangerous path defined by record levels of debt, ever-expanding government, and a lead-from-behind defense strategy. There’s not much time left to turn things around.’ McCain’s name carries a lot of weight in fundraising because he was the 2008 GOP nominee and is a leading voice of establishment Republicans. But he also toughened his tone to sound more conservative and closer to Tea Party senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, whom McCain recently labeled ‘wacko birds.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Save America: Restore the Draft.” WaPo’s Dana Milibank argues, “But one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades: We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.”

2.  “Netanyahu: Crying wolf again.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Akbar Ganji argues, “The reality is that Iran does not present an existential threat to the people of Israel. It is, in fact, Israel that is a serious threat to Iran.”

3.  “U.S. should help Iranian dissidents.” UPI.Com contributor Hamid Yazdan Panah argues, “The narrative on Iran has become fixated solely around the supposed moderation of the new President Hassan Rouhani and undertaking a policy of appeasement toward Tehran. Despite emerging in full force during the 2009 protests, Iranian dissidents and freedom activists are all but forgotten.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Black and Blue Friday.

2.  Close call.

3.  See you next year, Turkey.

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