Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Reviewing the Plan, Afghanistan - Ledford

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

Catch all the Intelligence and Cleared Jobs news at ClearanceJobs.Com

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.”

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.

2012-11-04 13_27_38

Alliances in Syria, The Verge in Geneva, and Immunity in Afghanistan – Daily Intelligence

Big 7 Reb groups team up against Assad’s advances, success in Geneva is within reach, and Loya Jirga majority agrees to U.S. Soldier immunity to Afghan prosecutions – all in today’s defense headlines. 

Saturday Coffee Read & BREAKING NEWS!

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Security clearance reform on the Hill. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Congress continues to debate next steps in the security clearance reform process. A senate hearing this week focused on position sensitivity designations. A new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would streamline the process for determining which positions are deemed ‘sensitive.’ Such a designation applies to positions with a potentially adverse effect on national security but which don’t require a security clearance. . . . [meanwhile,] the White House pushed back this week on Senate efforts to reform clearance procedures within DoD as a part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill.”

2.  . . .  ask what your company can do for you. Contributor Diana Rodriguez – a.k.a. D-Rod – with good advice  on interviewing the interviewer, for your own sake: “A successful interview requires input from both parties- the interviewer and the job candidate. Although many private firms, and federal and state government agencies, are actively seeking out veterans to hire, a percentage won’t be hired because they fail to ask the right questions during an interview.  Asking the right questions can help the interviewer form an impression of the applicant that may, in many cases, be as important as the answers given about their skills. “

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  In Geneva, just don’t screw it up. Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi and John Irish report from Geneva, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Saturday to join talks on Iran’s contested nuclear program with Tehran and six world powers appearing on the verge of a breakthrough to defuse the decade-old standoff. . . . Diplomats said a formidable sticking point in the intense negotiations, which began on Wednesday, may have been overcome with compromise language that does not explicitly recognize Iran’s claim to a ‘right to enrich’ uranium but acknowledges all countries’ right to their own civilian nuclear energy. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran’s demand to continue construction of a heavy-water reactor near Arak that could, when operational, yield bomb-grade plutonium remained one of the main outstanding issues.” AP’s John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten, also in Geneva, report, “John Kerry and world’s other top diplomats joined Iran nuclear talks Saturday, cautioning there were no guarantees their participation would be enough to seal a deal . . . .”

2. In Syria, new alliances against al Assad. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Seven major Islamist rebel groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria have announced a merger to form an “Islamic Front” and pledged to build an Islamic state in a post-Assad Syria. . . . The factions joining the merger are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force Liwa al-Tawhid, the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham, the Idlib-based Soqour al-Sham, the Homs-based al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham, and the Damascus-based Army of Islam. The Kurdish Islamic Front also joined the front. . . . Amad Essa al-Sheikh, the head of the Consultative Council of the new Islamic Front, told Al Jazeera the goal of integrating the factions was to bring about ‘a paradigm shift in the armed rebellion by closing ranks and mobilising them to become the real alternative to the dying regime’. ”

3.  Jan – Haqqani’s second – killed in Pakistan. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “The CIA-operated Reapers killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the al Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network, and two other commanders in an airstrike on a seminary in the settled district of Hangu. The hit was remarkable because US drones rarely stray outside of the designated kill boxes of Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where a host of jihadist groups operate unfettered. Of the 352 strikes recorded by The Long War Journal since the drone program began, 95 percent have taken place in the two tribal agencies. Only four of the remaining strikes occurred outside of the tribal areas; the last was in March 2009.”

4.  In Afghanistan, Loya Jirga immunizes troops. Khaama.Com reports, “The immunity for US troops which is considered to be one of the controversial terms of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States, has reportedly been approved by majority. The national grand council (Loya Jirga) comprised of 50 working committees continued debate on the terms of bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States. According to reports, majority of the working committees have approved the article 13 of the bilateral security agreement, which gives exclusive US “the exclusive right” to try its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan.” And, a big OOPS in Nangarhar.

5. Uni-Polar Disorder: DoD’s 8-point Arctic Prozac. The Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy is an 8-point approach to maintaining peace and security in a new frontier that climatic forces are poised to open in the coming years . . . . As global warming accelerates, the secretary said, Arctic ice melt will cause a rise in sea levels that could threaten coastal populations around the world — but it could also open a transpolar sea route. Hagel said that expanded tourism, commercial shipping, migrating fish stocks and energy exploration in the region will affect the eight Arctic nations — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, along with the United States –- most closely. All, he said, ‘have publicly committed to work within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Microsoft on the cheap. FederalTimes.Com reports, “The General Services Administration is looking for better deals on Microsoft software, according to a request for quotations released Wednesday. The RFQ is part of the agency’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative and will reduce the prices agencies pay for purchases of Microsoft software . . . . Companies have until Dec. 18 to respond to the RFQ.”

2.  Contractor windfall — $1.1 billion. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin explains, “The now moribund interagency program office charged with developing an integrated electronic health record for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments spent $1.1 billion during its five year life, with the bulk of that going to support service contracts, based on a Nextgov review of Pentagon reports to Congress and testimony. The two departments in February ditched efforts to develop the iEHR after costs spiraled to $28 billion and decided to pursue modernization efforts on their own.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Welcome to the Dark Side. A remarkable read from DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s George Galdorsi: “The expanding use of armed unmanned systems (UxS) is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. Indeed, it has been argued that the rise in drone warfare is changing the way we conceive of and define ‘warfare’ itself. . . . While few today fear that a 21st century HAL will turn on its masters, the issues involved with fielding increasingly autonomous UxS are complex, challenging, and increasingly contentious. While advancing other aspects of UxS improvements in areas such as propulsion, payload, stealth, speed, endurance, and other attributes are – and will remain – important, coming to grips with how much autonomy is enough and how much may be too much, is arguably the most important issue we need to address with unmanned systems over the next decade.”

2.  Congress to OPM – C’mon up. FederalTimes.Com’s Sean Reilly reports, “The chairman of a House oversight committee has subpoenaed the Office of Personnel Management for contracts and other documents as part of an investigation into the process for granting security clearances. . . . Both Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has since disclosed sensitive secrets, and Aaron Alexis, another contract worker who killed a dozen people two months ago in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, held clearances granted through a process ‘orchestrated’ by OPM . . . .”

3.  “Staring down the Taliban in the Race to Eradicate Polio from Earth.” A special report from Wired.Com contributor Matthieu Aikins: “The smallpox campaign represented a new kind of success brought about by cooperation on a global scale, one that permanently made the world a better place. Researchers studying smallpox are the only people who have to be vaccinated against it anymore. It’s gone. With that success behind them, public-health officials naturally wanted to repeat it with other diseases. After a 17-year campaign, a cattle infection called rinderpest was officially eradicated in 2011. But the struggle to eliminate a second human affliction has proved more difficult than anyone imagined.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  They pushed the button, Jim. . . .The big red one. In Geneva, we work to diminish “nucular” options; on The Hill, Senate Dems leverage them: “the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.”

2. If it’s not a secret, you can’t leak it. That was Easy!: “Excessive government secrecy feeds public mistrust and may be fostering a culture of leaks, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday in urging a fundamental re-look at the scope of the classification system. ‘It totally undermines public confidence in our institutions,’ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at the National Archives and Record Administration’s headquarters in downtown Washington. ‘We simply classify too much information for too long at too great a cost.’”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “The Arabs’ Iran Dilemma.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “The best way to keep Iran in check, and to address the rise of sectarianism and its threats to internal security, would be to enact the long overdue democratic reforms that are vital for stability and to reduce tensions in the region through a new effective security and cooperation framework.”

2.  “What the filibuster’s demise means for the Supreme Court.” Reuters’ contributor Reihan Salam argues, “Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ended the filibuster for district and appeals court nominees and executive branch appointments, it’s only a matter of time before the filibuster goes away for Supreme Court nominations and legislation as well.”

3.  “Without the filibuster, a tyranny of the majority.”  WaPo contributor Senator Lamar Alexander argues, “This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them. It creates a perpetual opportunity for ‘tyranny of the majority,’ which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  War on Xmas.

2.  Ass-phyxiation.

3.  First Thanksgiving.

Sandbags Iraq

Kerry on Iran, Iran on Israel, and Government Shutdown D+3

SecState Kerry seeks “concrete steps” from Iran to move forward, Iran claims Israel’s jealous of the U.S. potential new BFF, and, well, it’s still shut down, with no end in sight –– all in today’s defense headlines.

Farewell Tom Clancy & Shutdown D+3.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Resume risks. Posting your resume inevitably makes your identity vulnerable.  Contributor Christopher Burgess explains how you can protect yourself: “Some items shouldn’t appear on a resume, including your Social Security Number (SSN) or your physical address. A telephone number or an email to a unique, one-off, email should be sufficient for an interested employer to reach out and engage. Only when an offer is to be made or when the interview process has advanced to the background check step should these key identity items be provided.”

2.  Telecommuting tips. With government shutdown in full swing – or not – working from home might be the best fit for you. Also from Christopher Burgess, some tips on making work at home work: “by 2016, one can expect to see a 69% increase in telecommuters. . . . The employee holds the key to remote worker success. As an employee, you are now under your own direct supervision. . . . working remotely is a win-win-win for the employee, the employer and the clients, providing realistic expectations are set between the employee and employer (and clients if appropriate).

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Kerry on Iran: concrete steps and Israeli security. Prove it.  Reuters’ Lesley Wroughton reports from Tokyo, “Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States hopes to engage with the new Iranian administration, but Tehran must first prove it is willing to end the stand-off over its nuclear weapons program. If Iran intends to be peaceful, ‘I believe there is a way to get there,’ Kerry told a news conference in Tokyo . . . . There is nothing here that is going to be taken at face-value and we’ve made that clear . . . . The president has said, and I have said, that it is not words that will make a difference, it’s actions, and the actions are clearly going to have to be sufficient.’”

2.  Rouhani on Israel on the U.S. on Iran: Israel is just jealous. Aljazeera.Com reports, “President Hassan Rouhani said that Israel was ‘upset and angry’ with signs of an emerging new relationship between the Islamic republic and the West. . . . ‘We don’t expect anything else from the Zionist regime,’ Rouhani told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Israel is ‘upset and angry because it sees that its blunted sword is being replaced with logic as the governing force in the world, and because the Iranian nation’s message of peace is being heard better,’ the moderate cleric said.”

3.  In Syria, Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq cooperate despite differences. LongWarJournal.Org’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “Although there is no indication that a leadership dispute between the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been settled, the two al Qaeda affiliates continue to fight alongside one another against their common enemies in Syria. . . . Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) throughout September and into early October point to the al Qaeda affiliates’ ongoing collusion against Assad’s forces, Kurdish foes, and other mutual enemies. . . . the two al Qaeda affiliates operate throughout Syria, including in provinces that are not controlled by rebel forces.”

4.  In Afghanistan, Gen. Dostum throws support to Sayyaf. Khaama.Com reports, “Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf has reportedly reached an agreement with the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan on Thursday and appointed Abdul Wahab Urfan as his second vice-president. Abdul Wahab Urfan is a member of the Afghan senate and is being supported by National Islamic Movement party of Afghanistan led by Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. . . . Sayyaf is expected to formally file nomination for 2014 presidential election along with his vice-president by this afternoon.”  Also in the race, “Fazal Karim Najami filed his nomination along with his two vice-president, Sabir Tamkin and Sultan Ahmad Hajati. . . . Fazal Karim Najami has previously worked as advisor to ministry of agriculture and rural rehabilitation ministry.” Abdullah Abdullah is the third candidate.

5.  AFRICAN WINDS blowing in AFRICOM. AllAfrica.Com reports from Nigeria’ capital Abuja, “Nigeria will today participate in a three-week joint military training with special forces from The Netherlands, U.S., UK, Spain and Italy. . . . [Nigerian Military’s Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris] Olukolade said the exercise, code named AFRICAN WINDS, is being spearheaded by the Nigerian Navy. . . . ‘It will be facilitated by a combined Mobile Training Teams, MTTs, of Marines and Special Forces drawn from The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy under the auspices of African Partnership Station, APS. The Netherlands Navy Amphibious Support Ship, HMNLS ROTTERDAM, which is scheduled to arrive in Lagos and later proceed to Calabar, will feature as a major platform in the exercise.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  $87 million to Gentex for advanced combat helmets (ACH). KeystoneEdge.Com’s Elise Vider reports, “U.S. armed forces will be wearing lighter and more comfortable, high-tech helmets made by the Carbondale-based Gentex Corporation. The company has a new $86.6 million multi-year contract to provide lightweight advanced combat helmets (ACH) to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Gentex has been a helmet supplier to the U.S. government for more than 60 years. Gentex uses advanced technology and manufacturing resources to deliver a helmet that is eight percent lighter than previous ACH helmets and provides ‘added stability comfort and performance capability for the soldier,’ the company said.”

2.  $15 million to LexisNexis. Maybe it’s better to stay shutdown. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “The day before the government shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded LexisNexis owner Reed Elsevier the potentially five-year deal to help victims of natural disasters such as the recent Colorado and New Mexico floods. At the same time, a service that traffics in personal information was revealed one week ago to have breached two systems at LexisNexis, likely to oblige ID thieves, according to an investigative report by cybersecurity researcher Brian Krebs.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  “’These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled.’”  Gen. Alexander begins to come clean, admitting to Congress that he, well, exaggerated a little, well, a lot . . . . WashingtonTimes.Com reports that “the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records. . . . Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.”  See also Salon.Com, “NSA director admits to misleading public.”

2.  Cyberthreats increase during shutdown, and beyond. NextGov.Com contributor Brittany Ballenstedt reports, “With electronic infrastructure still up and running despite the government shutdown, the lack of staff support in information security shops is likely affecting the government’s ability to respond to cyber threats and attacks and creating potential ripple effects for cybersecurity going forward. . . . ‘What I would expect is that, by and large, just like the other services, information security is vastly undersupported, and that means that the exceptional circumstances are a problem,’ said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at security software firm Tripwire.’”

3.  Everything’s fine. McClatchyDC.Com contributor Anita Kumar analyzes Obama’s “independent group to review the vast surveillance programs” may not be so independent, after all: “The members of the review group are Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush; Michael Morell, Obama’s former deputy CIA director; law professor Geoffrey Stone, who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama’s presidential library in Chicago; law professor Cass Sunstein, administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama; and Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton. ‘At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying’ . . . .”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Duuuuuuh . . . he confused me. Powerful anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s argues that Cruz confused everybody with crazy riddle- logic: “Speaking with the Post’s Ezra Klein, Norquist argued that Cruz ‘confused people’ [Congressmen] when he insisted that a vote to fund the government that didn’t also defund Obamacare was effectively a vote for Obamacare . . . ‘He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.’” Read the entire WaPo interview with Norquist.

2.  Rubber chickens.  In a marketing move worthy of notice, and applause, Nando’s Peri-Peri gets straight to the point: “The company, which has several stores in the Washington area, is offering a ‘Boneless Chicken, Spineless Congress’ offer of a free butterflied chicken breast to all ‘non-essential’ workers. ‘Nando’s wants to soothe the ruffled feathers of government workers hurt by the shutdown,’ Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, told Secrets. All furloughed workers have to do is visit Nando’s Facebook page to redeem the one-day offer. ‘Members of Congress need not apply,’ said the firm.”

3.  While you’re surfing the web, tunes to lull by.

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Republicans against the Republic.”  TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Lawrence Lessig argues, “Politicians are free to support legislation for whatever reason they want. Subject to the rules regulating bribery, they’re free to demand whatever they want in return for a vote. Democrats might not like that the Republicans have this power. But their exercising it within our constitutional system is not a crime. But freedom is different from responsibility. And the real question that Republicans need to be asking their party leadership is whether this is the kind of government that Americans should want.”

2.  “Shutdown: A fight with no room for compromise.” Reuters contributor Bill Schneider argues, “To end the government shutdown, all Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) needs to do is let the House of Representatives vote on a budget. It would pass within 30 minutes. Virtually all 200 House Democrats would vote to keep the government open, as would as many as 50 Republicans. An easy majority. But no. Boehner and other Republican leaders refuse to do that because they are in thrall to Tea Party conservatives.”

3.  Israel – how about a little help here?  WaPo contributor Walter Pincus argues, “It’s time for Israel to stop making military threats and to propose an imaginative diplomatic move — risky as it may seem — to help ease nuclear tensions in the Middle East. It can start by acknowledging its own nuclear weapons program.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Not About Shutdown #1.

2.  Not About Shutdown #2.

3.  Not About Shutdown #3

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.

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.