Reviewing the Plan, Afghanistan - Ledford

People analytics, Drone strikes in Yemen, and Cost reimbursable contracts

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How your keystrokes inform hiring decisions, Yemenis heartburn over getting droned, and GSA’s consideration of a new business model – all in today’s defense headlines. 

 

December 14, 2013

Quick Read for Saturday

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Travelers’ checks – security first. Contributor Christopher Burgess’ 5 tips for more secure overseas travel: “Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Security Services have issued counterintelligence guidance . . . to prep the foreign traveler, and it should be a mainstay of the pre-travel preparation by any traveler.”

2.  Efficient, productive interviews, the first time. Editor Lindy Kyzer’s Candidate Requirements and Job Requirements checklists focus your efforts: “The candidate screening process is critical. How you prepare for it will make the critical difference in how much time you spend searching for the perfect applicant. When screening security-cleared candidates for your company, obtain key qualifications from the hiring manager up front. Knowing the office dynamic and desired personality characteristics will save time in the screening process.”

3.  Congressional Roundup: Contributor Ashley LaGanga reviews the week on The Hill.

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Karzai to the United States: I’m not backing down. Reuters’ Sanjeev Miglani reports from New Delhi, “Karzai was in New Delhi in a burst of regional diplomacy as his ties with Washington have come under renewed strain over his refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will shape U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 when most international troops will leave. He told reporters that the United States would have to stop the practice of raiding Afghan homes and help restart a peace process with the Taliban as necessary conditions for the security pact. . . . If Karzai doesn’t sign the deal, Washington says it will have to withdraw its entire force of some 44,500 troops by the end of 2014. Other NATO nations could follow suit leaving Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency on their own.” Listen while you read.

2.  In Afghanistan, a governor with guts. AP’s Kathy Gannon reports, “The determination of [Tooryalai] Wesa, and other highly educated Afghans who returned from self-imposed exile after the collapse of the Taliban, has taken on increased importance ahead of a 2014 deadline for most U.S. and allied troops to withdraw. The pullout could put billions of dollars in annual international military and development aid at risk and place increasing importance on the role of local and national politicians and civil workers to fill the vacuum in rebuilding the country.”

3.  In Yemen, droning al Qaeda to popular support. Reuters contributor Yara Bayoumy reports, “The United States says its drone program has been successful in eliminating members of al Qaeda in various countries. Some Yemenis say had it not been for such strikes, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) could have seized more territory across Yemen. . . . Other Yemenis, and some U.S. politicians, say the strikes and civilian casualties are increasing sympathy for AQAP and resentment against America. AQAP, which has scattered across the country, is now targeting local police and security officials, who have only tenuous control in Yemen.” See related, LongWarJournal.Org’s “US drone strike kills civilians in central Yemen,” by Bill Roggio and Aljazeera.Com’s “Relatives want justice for Yemen drone strikes.”

4.  In North Korea, The Tragedy of Jang Song Thaek. AP contributor Jean H. Lee reports, “Jang’s execution, announced early Friday, marked an unprecedented fall from grace of one of the most powerful figures in the country as well as its most serious political upheaval in decades. . . . It was a humiliating end to a complicated career.”

5.  Iran steps away from nuclear talks table. Agence France-Presse’s Cyril Jordan reports, “Iran has quit nuclear talks with world powers, accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist. US Secretary of State John Kerry and a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, both played down the suspension and said talks were expected to resume soon.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Korea Aerospace Industries’ next big sale. AviationWeek.Com’s Bradley Parrett reports, “Iraq has ordered 24 light attack fighters based on the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 supersonic trainer, with deliveries due to be completed by 2017. The order, including training, is valued at $1.1 billion, but KAI says supporting the aircraft over 20 years, also contracted, will take total revenue beyond $2 billion. Though Iraq’s aircraft are designated T-50IQ, an industry official says the aircraft will be built to the design of the FA-50 light attack variant of the T-50 family. Powered by a single General Electric F404 engine, the T-50 is a contender for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer requirement.”

2.  Let’s hear it for the Warthog! DefenseTech.Com’s Kris Osborn reports, “The bipartisan defense budget that passed through the House Thursday includes strict language mandating the Air Force not execute any plans to retire the A-10 Warthog. The legislation specifically blocks the Air Force from spending any money to divest A-10s through calendar year 2014. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has said the service needs to retired older, single mission aircraft like the A-10 in order to reserve funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is slotted to take over the A-10’s close air support role.”

3.  GSA cost reimbursable contracts may nudge out small business. FederalTimes.Com’s Andy Medici reports, “The General Services Administration is considering adding cost-reimbursable options to its supply schedules . . . . Contracts on the GSA federal supply schedules currently use time-and-materials and fixed-price pricing terms. The General Services Administration could greatly increase its share of federal spending by adding cost-reimbursable options to its supply schedules, experts say. The move is partly a response to pressure from the Defense Department for more cost-reimbursable options.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Your company’s data collection target may be you. The Atlantic’s Don Peck explains, “The application of predictive analytics to people’s careers—an emerging field sometimes called “people analytics”—is enormously challenging, not to mention ethically fraught. And it can’t help but feel a little creepy. It requires the creation of a vastly larger box score of human performance than one would ever encounter in the sports pages, or that has ever been dreamed up before. To some degree, the endeavor touches on the deepest of human mysteries: how we grow, whether we flourish, what we become. Most companies are just beginning to explore the possibilities. But make no mistake: during the next five to 10 years, new models will be created, and new experiments run, on a very large scale.”

2.  Now, let’s shoot them all down! WashingtonTimes.Com contributor Cheryl K. Chumley reports, “The U.S. Army said its latest defense technology — a vehicle-mounted laser — has passed a recent test with flying colors, successfully shooting a drone from the sky and intercepting and destroying several mortar rounds. The laser, dubbed the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, and placed atop a military vehicle, hit more than 90 mortar bombs, as well as several drones, during a six-week test period conducted in New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range . . . . The technology probably won’t be completely operational and ready for mission until 2022, because developers are going to be working on increasing the power and range of the lasers. And the Army still has decide whether or not to buy the system . . . .”

3.  They can hear you now. WaPo’s Craig Timberg and Ashkan Soltani report, “The cellphone encryption technology used most widely across the world can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows, giving the agency the means to decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves every day. While the military and law enforcement agencies long have been able to hack into individual cellphones, the NSA’s capability appears to be far more sweeping because of the agency’s global signals collection operation. The agency’s ability to crack encryption used by the majority of cellphones in the world offers it wide-ranging powers to listen in on private conversations.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Kill Bill Vol. III:   “One day after winning lopsided House approval, bipartisan legislation to ease across-the-board spending cuts and reduce economy-rattling budget brinkmanship appears likely to command the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate . . . . Yet unlike in the House, significantly more Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation than vote for it, highlighting the different political forces at work at opposite ends of the Capitol. . . . On Thursday, in advance of the vote, Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on the groups campaigning for the bill’s demise, saying they lacked credibility. He also blamed them for leading the party into the shutdown this fall. The bill’s principal Republican negotiator, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is also considered a potential presidential contender. An aide said he has been making phone calls to senators seeking their support.”

2.  Once a lobbyist, always a lobbyist?: “Mr. Podesta, named a senior adviser to President Obama, is not currently a lobbyist and therefore does not have to worry about the Obama administration’s self-imposed ban on hiring lobbyists to administration jobs. But he will nonetheless arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “To Cut Component Prices, Learn To Manage Supplier Costs.”  AviationWeek.Com contributors Raman Ram, Joseph Martin, Jono Anderson , Erich Fischer argue, “OEMs and systems providers have the power to recapture some of the value they have conceded. To do this, however, they need to become good at estimating what the sourced parts should cost. Should-cost estimation capability has atrophied in many OEMs as procurement staffs have focused more on transactional activities. They are unable to identify inefficient suppliers that pass along high cost structure and opportunistic ones looking to exploit the absence of economic transparency.”

2.  “Israel must give up its worst-kept secret: the bomb.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Neve Gordon argues, “I am against Iran developing a nuclear weapon, but I am also opposed to Israel having a nuclear arsenal, which at 200 warheads, would be larger than the arsenal of Britain. There is, after all, a connection between the two and this connection needs to be spelled out, if a broader framework is to be adopted.”

3.  “The budget deal and Washington’s new politics of compromise.” Reuters’ contributor Anatole Kaletsky argues, “There are . . . several important lessons that can be drawn already from the U.S. budget agreement, several with implications for politics and economic policy in other countries. Here, briefly, are five . . . .”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Let’s hear it for the pork.

2.  In-action committees.

3.  “The NSA Before Xmas.”

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