Tag Archives: Contracts

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.

 

ANA Plan Brief

Diplomatic Revival, the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV), and DoD’s “Complex Catastrophe” – Daily Intelligence

Developments in Syria seem to spark a new era of diplomacy, the Ultra Light Vehicle prototype in the spotlight, and the fight for turf in the cyberspace, all in today’s defense headlines.

Monday’s main points & There she is, Miss America.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCEJOBS.COM

1.  The art and science of the security clearance cycle. By way of the Snowden example, Contributor Jeffrey Bennett examines and explains essential measures necessary to keep secrets safe: “The justification and request for security clearance, investigation, adjudication, periodic re-investigation and continuous evaluation process, work together to find the insider threat to classified information. In this case, threat is any adversary (internal or external) with intent and capability to gain a security clearance and exploit classified information. Regardless of the threat’s (Snowden) motivation, countermeasures should be in place to identify and stop the threat.”

2.  The craft of security. Also from contributor Jeffrey Bennett, understand the nuances of your responsibilities and the risks you face as an expert Facility Security Officer: “FSOs and security professionals should continue to make it a point to study their craft and learn ways to counter evolving threat. Business intelligence methods should also continue to keep up with technology to analyze and prevent the internal and external influences that can ruin the enterprise. The threats corporations face include: theft, vandalism, workplace violence, fraud, and computer attacks. The role of security to converge traditional physical protection with the capabilities of IT systems is necessary.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Diplomacy in Syria as an example for the region. While some deplore an attack averted, President Obama imagines a revival of diplomacy.  UPI.Com reports, “President Obama said Sunday he was hopeful the plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control could set the stage for a peace process. . . . Obama dismissed the harsh criticism he has received since calling for a military response to the August gas attack in a Damascus suburb that left a reported 1,400 civilians dead. He told ABC he was not interested in political ‘style points’ and was happy Russian President Vladimir Putin was using his influence with the Syrian regime.”

2.  Speaking of diplomacy, read Kissinger’s and Brezezinski’s take on the crisis in Syria, from Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN, Sunday:  Kissinger argues, “The issue in Syria is the historic conflict between Shiites and Sunnis and the Sunni revolt against a Shiite minority dominated Syria in which, however, most of the other minorities are supporting the Alawite, which is the Shia position. So, the position for the United States is to work on a transition government and not make it dependent with the — on the removal of the Syrian leader, especially not make it dependent at the very beginning of the process. From the beginning, Putin has said that the immediate removal of Assad would lead to chaos. That’s probably a correct sentiment.”

3.  For Syria, Paris talks put pressure on AssadAljazeera.Com reports, “France, Britain and the United States have said they will seek a ‘strong and robust’ UN resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines on removal of Syria’s chemical weapons, the office of the French President Francois Hollande said. . . . On Sunday, President Hollande said ‘the military option must remain’ to force Syria to give up its chemical arsenal. . . . many of those who blame the Syrian regime for the chemical attack and supported military strikes say the pressure is on President Bashar al-Assad to uphold his end of any deal.”

4.  Syrian rebel infighting – the complexity of the fight and an opportunity for the West.Time’s Aryn Baker reports on growing tensions among rebel groups that could, on one hand, spell defeat for the rebellion and, on the other, better define the good guys for the West: “If the moderate-leaning rebel groups can sever their symbiotic relationship with their al-Qaeda affiliates for good, they stand to get significantly more support from Western backers wary of inadvertently assisting old enemies. But it won’t be easy — even as the rivals battle for turf in Aleppo province, they have united to inflict a resounding defeat on government forces elsewhere in the country.”

5.  Afghan good enough – a standard for successTheDailyBeast.Com contributor Jacob Siegel describes the evolution of an idiom: ““Afghan good enough” is the military phrase for limiting our objectives to what is achievable and not overreaching. Given the country’s violent history and its present condition less as a nation-state than a patchwork of tribal groups, Afghan good enough has become, for many within the military, the best that we can hope for. Facing short timelines and intractable obstacles, the military has slowly weaned itself off the gung-ho ideals it originally held and defined its expectations down. . . . It’s hard to achieve a recognizable victory in a war whose aims keep being redefined, but perhaps this, too, is Afghan good enough.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  “Complex catastrophe,” cyberspace and contractors: new front lines, opportunities, and threatsCSM.Com staff writer Anna Mulrine conducts an Intelligence Prep of the new Battlefield: “the US military is forging ahead with its own cyberdefense plans. While the Posse Comitatus Act largely bars the US military from getting involved in law enforcement endeavors, a new Department of Defense publication argues that the Pentagon can provide ‘law enforcement actions that are performed primarily for a military purpose, even when incidentally assisting civil authorities’ . . . . That includes cyberattacks, under the category of ‘complex catastrophe’ – a ‘new addition to the DOD lexicon’ introduced in the DOD report . . . . ‘There is some turf-marking that seems to be going on on the part of the Pentagon.’ It’s a lexicon that has been embraced, too, by defense contractors eyeing the end of the war in Afghanistan and vying for their next business opportunity. Half of Booz Allen’s $5.8 billion annual revenue comes from US military and intelligence agency contracts.”

2.  Lead contractor Hardwire LLC and the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV)DefenseMediaNetwork.Com contributor Scott R. Gourley deconstructs the prototype: “The ULV prototype platform features a hybrid powertrain design with two electric motors – front and rear – with either capable of powering the vehicle, providing a level of mobility redundancy. Moreover, by eliminating the need for a driveshaft and other traditional automotive components beneath the vehicle, the platform can be optimized for underbody survivability through the integration of various blast-mitigating kits under the hull for higher threat levels. Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull and absorbs energy, adjustable stroking seats, five-point restraint systems, and spatial accommodations to mitigate head impacts and flail injuries.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Drones, drones, and more dronesWired.Com contributor Allen McDuffee maps out DARPA’s plan for Hydra: “Hydra, named after the serpent-like creature with many heads in Greek mythology, would create an undersea network of unmanned payloads and platforms to increase the capability and speed the response to threats like piracy, the rising number of ungoverned states, and sophisticated defenses at a time when the Pentagon is forced to make budget cuts. According to DARPA, the Hydra system ‘represents a cost effective way to add undersea capacity that can be tailored to support each mission’ that would still allow the Navy to conduct special operations and contingency missions. In other words, the decreasing number of naval vessels can only be in one place at a time.”

2.  Be a Bluetooth guruTime’s Techland answers the eternal riddles confusing Bluetooth connectivity: “Bluetooth is all great when it works. But if you’re someone who likes to play around with these kinds of connected gadgets, you know it can be frustrating when there’s a hang-up pairing the two. Here are some common causes of pairing problems as well as advice on what you can do about them.”

3.  The Snowden bounce – the tech industry isn’t suffering from Snowden’s betrayalReuters’ Joseph Menn explains that “smaller U.S. companies offering encryption and related security services are seeing a jump in business overseas, along with an uptick in sales domestically as individuals and companies work harder to protect secrets. ‘Our value proposition had been that it’s a wild world out there, while doing business internationally you need to protect yourself,’ said Jon Callas, co-founder of phone and text encryption provider Silent Circle, where revenue quadrupled from May to June on a small base. ‘Now the message people are getting from the newspapers every day is that it’s a wild world even domestically.’”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Slow dancing toward 2016. Biden and Hillary square off with not-necessarily-so-subtle gestures toward Pennsylvania Ave: “With most Democrats keeping an eye on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for hints about her 2016 plans, Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance at Iowa’s 36th annual ‘Tom Harkin Steak Fry,’ may one day be viewed as a telling sign of his presidential intentions. . . . Many in Washington believe [Biden] will not run if Clinton runs, and she is making a regular series of public appearances that could easily be interpreted as setting the stage for a campaign.”

2.  Obama’s Persian dance.  First in letters, now, potentially, face-to-face, President Obama stands to make a breakthrough in U.S.-Iranian diplomacy at the United Nations: “An exchange of letters between Barack Obama and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has set the stage for a possible meeting between the two men at the UN next week in what would be the first face-to-face encounter between a US and Iranian leader since Iran’s 1979 revolution. . . . In a television interview aired on Sunday, Obama made clear that there was a diplomatic opening with Iran, not only over the nuclear question but also over Syria. He confirmed earlier reports that he and Rouhani had ‘reached out’ to each other, exchanging letters. US officials were skeptical about a Rouhani meeting, but some observers said the Geneva deal on Syria’s chemical weapons has opened new space for global diplomacy.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The Few. The Proud. The Marines. The advertisement campaign. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos argues, “Our nation requires a Marine Corps that is ready, forward deployed and able to respond to crisis on a moment’s notice. This will not change for the foreseeable future, no matter the budgetary woes our country faces. . . . As our nation reduces its overseas forces, there remains a heightened requirement for a very capable crisis response force, one that can deploy anywhere quickly, provide a variety of response options, a force that can buy time for national decision-makers when the need arises. The Marine Corps is, and will continue to be, the answer to this need. This is what we do . . . this is who we are!”

2.  “The Right’s Sickening Syria Spin.”  TheDailyBeast.Com’s Michael Tomasky argues, “I don’t know about you, but I’m not very interested in being lectured that Bashar al-Assad has no real intention of giving up his chemical weapons by the very same people who a decade ago were pushing this country into war—and having the deranged gall to call the rest of us unpatriotic—on the argument that there was no possible way a monster like Saddam Hussein had given up his chemical weapons. Barack Obama has been forced to spend about 70 percent of his presidential energies trying to repair crises foreign and domestic that these people created, and forced to do so against their iron opposition on all fronts; and now that he’s achieved a diplomatic breakthrough, they have the audacity to argue that he sold America out to Vladimir Putin? It’s staggering and sickening.”

3.  “. . . the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Coming in Der Spiegel, former SecDef Rumsfeld critiques Obama’s foreign policy: “In an interview to be published in the next issue of SPIEGEL, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has strongly criticized President Barack Obama’s Syria policies. ‘I believe the reason he has had difficulty gaining support both in the US and from other countries is because he has not explained what he hopes to do, what the mission would be and what he hopes to accomplish,’ Rumsfeld said. ‘To gain support in our Congress and from other nations requires clarity, an acceptable mission and an explicit outcome.”  [Actually achieving that outcome would be key, too.]

THE FUNNIES

1.  Let’s get on with it.

2.  The budget.

3.  P. Dean does Texas.

Ed Ledford appreciates the most challenging, complex, and high stake communications requirements. As his principal’s spokesman and speechwriter in Afghanistan, Ed composed, edited, and presented operational guidance and strategies to national and international elected and appointed leaders and the media during the McChrystal-Petraeus era. His portfolio includes policy and strategy papers; correspondence with Members of Congress, senior Department of State and Defense officials, foreign counterparts, chiefs of industry; and innumerable speeches. Ed edits and writes blogs, fiction, nonfiction, poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., Ed currently works from his office in Charlottesville, Va. He enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring. You can find him online at EdLedford.com.

Playing for change 640x185

Daily Intelligence: Egypt taking on the Sinai, Syria on hold, and the iPhone cometh

Israel applauds Egypt’s efforts in the Sinai, a surprise pause in the run-up to Syria, and Apple’s iPhone launch may eclipse Obama’s oration, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 10, 2013

 

 

Photo of the Day & Ten things for Tuesday.

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  VetNet – Google’s tip of the hat to Vets and their families. Contributor Diana Rodriguez explains Google’s developments specifically for the war weary: “’Google for Veterans and Families’ was created in 2011 by veterans, families of veterans, and friends who work at Google. The developers and administrators of the site have special understanding of the challenges of service members and those who are making the transition to civilian life. . . . In November of 2012, Google partnered with other veteran and family advocacy organizations that are providing support and resources to veterans and families. VetNet is collaboration between veteran-focused non-government agencies designed to help and their families find careers.”

2.  Rhyme to the reason – the logic of classification. Contributor Jeffrey Bennett reminds exactly why the government classifies certain information: “The US Government relies on a system of security classification to ensure users protect sensitive information at the right level. . . . Contrary to popular spy novels and movies, a classification cannot be assigned to hide legal violations, inefficiencies or mistakes. Nor can the OCAs assign a classification just to prevent embarrassment, prevent or restrict competition or delay the release of information that hasn’t previously required such a level of protection.”

 

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Call it – DoD’s Crisis Line is there for Vets and families. American Forces Press Service’s Terri Moon Cronk explains, “When someone is in crisis and feeling despondent, reaching out for help is a stronger step to take than doing nothing, which can lead to a worsening state . . . . people contact the crisis line to discuss a variety of issues, from feeling suicidal, depressed or anxious to feeling pressure from finances or relationships, among a wealth of other concerns . . . . callers can expect a live person and not an electronic menu to answer their calls.”

2.  Egypt takes on Sinai terrorists. TheGuardian.Com’s Patrick Kingsley reports from Cairo, “Egypt’s army has announced a full-scale assault on militant areas in the restive northern Sinai desert, in what a senior Israeli official has approvingly called Egypt’s first-ever serious counter-terrorism campaign in the region. . . . observers argued that this latest campaign, which began on Saturday, may be the largest in years.”

3.  The President speaks to America – tonight. AP’s Bradley Klapper and Donna Cassata set the scene for tonight’s speech: “President Barack Obama is heading to Congress on Tuesday with fresh hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough that would allow Syria’s government to avert U.S. missile strikes if it surrenders its chemical weapons arsenal. Obama had planned to use the meetings with Democratic and Republican senators to personally lobby for his plan of targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last month’s massive chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus. Instead, he signaled in interviews ahead of his trip to Capitol Hill that new diplomacy involving Russia and others could eliminate the risks of a repeat chemical attack without requiring an American intervention. He presents his case to the American people Tuesday night.”

4.  Kerry said what? Slip of the tongue or well-played olive branch, SecState’s apparent gaff gets legs. Reuters’ Mark Felsenthal and Steve Holland report, “Russia’s offer to work with Damascus to put its chemical weapons under international control could be a big deal – if it is serious. . . . The president said he had explored the possibility of a proposal for Syria to cede control of its chemical weapons stockpile to international authorities with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting last week in Russia.”  Aljazeera adds, “Russia is working on an ‘effective, concrete’ plan for putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and is discussing the details with Damascus . . . .”

5.  Human Rights Watch – “Assad did it.” Time reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) is convinced: “Human Rights Watch claims that all evidence suggests that forces loyal to Bashar Assad were behind the infamous chemical-weapons attack in Damascus. . . . HRW’s extensive investigation, which relied on expert analysis from chemical-weapons and arms specialists along with witnesses’ accounts, concluded that the surface-to-surface rocket systems used to carry out the attack, along with the large quantity of nerve agent that was deployed during the assault on Aug. 21, match up with equipment that is only possessed by government troops in Syria.”

6.  AFRICOM – Armed Forces of Liberia bring Fort Jackson to Monrovia. Marine Corps Forces Africa’s Master Sgt. Brian Bahret reports, “U.S. Army instructors teamed with [Liberian First Sergeant James] Gant in a weeklong refresher course to help reinforce the concepts the drill sergeants learned at Fort Jackson. The refresher training revisited fundamentals including the importance of maintaining professional relationships, leadership skills, and core subjects designed to create a productive learning environment for the recruits.”

 

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Boeing – on time and on target with KC-46 refuelersAmerican Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone shares Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning’s good news: “Fanning said the program ‘is in a real healthy place.’ . . . Fanning visited Boeing’s KC-46 plant in Everett, Wash., recently. Two KC-46s now in production there will be ready for flight next year. The KC-46 is based on the Boeing 767 aircraft, which had its first flight in 1981. The company has 32 years of experience with the plane.”  Read about the mighty KC-46.

2.  Sequestration costs – rather than saves – $64 million. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark reports, “Offering one of the more concrete examples of sequestration’s impact, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has calculated that the $11 million in cuts it absorbed this year likely prompted its auditors to take a pass on retrieving as much as $74 million in unmerited contractor billing.”

3.  Contractor-Bashing at an all-time high, reports GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark: “Current budget constraints, curbs on contracts and congressional hostility toward the federal workforce have combined to create a climate in which ‘anti-contractor rhetoric has become at least as common a political tool as public employee bashing,’ a leadership commission convened by the Professional Services Council wrote in a report released Monday. . . . A sign of the tension, the leadership commission found, is the rise in contract award protests in response to the government’s increased preference for lowest price, technically acceptable proposals.”

 

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Save the NSA the trouble – scan your own fingerprints. Big news for the soon-to-be-announced iPhone: “There are plenty of potential use cases for a fingerprint sensor in your smartphone, from making it easier to unlock the phone, to adding another level of security to your mobile wallet. The sensor would be the equivalent to the introduction of Siri in the iPhone 4S — it’s not an Earth-shattering feature, but it’s one that clearly distinguishes the slightly refreshed phone from its predecessor.”  See also 10 iPhone predictions.

2.  Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft – their bid to regain some public trust. UPI.Com reports, “Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. sued a secret court for authority to reveal aggregate information about the national security orders they receive from Washington. . . . All four tech companies, in rare coordinated but separate lawsuits, say they want permission to reveal the aggregate number and nature of the national intelligence requests to respond to growing public concern and to regain the trust of users. . . . The tech companies, prevented from disclosing information under national security rules, say they also want permission to correct false allegations and incorrect news reports about what they supply to the FBI for National Security Agency use. They argue their constitutional free-speech rights are being violated.”

3.  If you’re serious about secrecy, you might still outsmart the NSA. PCWorld.Com contributor Jaikumar Vijayan reports, “Though the National Security Agency spends billions of dollars to crack encryption technologies, security experts maintain that properly implemented, encryption is still the best way to maintain online privacy. . . . Steve Weis, chief technology officer at PrivateCore and holder of a Ph.D. in cryptography from MIT, said despite the NSA activities, the mathematics of cryptography remains very hard to crack. He suggested that it’s likely that the NSA managed to break through insecure and outdated implementations of some encryption technologies.”

 

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Syrian Shimmy. Mixed messages and exaggerations confuse the whole damned thing: “Secretary of State John Kerry said in London Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. attack by ‘turning over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.’ The Russian foreign minister subsequently made that offer to Syria, and the Syrian foreign minister reportedly welcomed the idea. Since then, the State Department has tried to walk back Kerry’s statement, with spokeswoman Marie Harf calling it a ‘rhetorical statement about a scenario that we think is highly unlikely’ at a press briefing.”

2.  Dancing with the devil. The Hill asks Putin, “May we have this dance?”  BuzzFeed.Com reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin could be giving lawmakers — and the White House — at least a temporary out. However, not all lawmakers are pleased with Washington’s sudden embrace of the Russian proposal. ‘I think they’re playing us like a fiddle,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the chief proponents for military action against Assad.

 

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The difference between intelligence on Syria and Iraq. Reuters contributor David Wise argues, “There are important differences between the intelligence fobbed off on the public to justify the 2003 Iraq war and what is being said by government officials today. For one thing, the Syrians essentially admitted Monday that they have chemical weapons, when they started talking about turning them over to the international community. Nonetheless, the U.S. intelligence on Syria still leaves some critical unanswered questions.”

2.  “Press Pause on the Rush to War.”  USNews.Com contributor Michael Shank argues, “If America wants to reassert its moral weight in the world, there are more efficient and effective exercises that are less expensive and less likely to result in increased chaos, escalated violence and additional chemical weapons usage.”

3.  God Bless America: Criticize our troops and we’ll kill you. An interesting social experiment proves a Salon.Com writer’s theory: “I had published an essay about the problems of uncritically repeating the slogan ‘Support Our Troops.’  Not everybody was happy with my argument. . . . Suddenly I went from being a troop-hating fag to a jihadist, awash in the new vocabulary of apocalyptic struggle — dhimmitude, swine, Taliban, anti-Semitism, Allah, terrorism, hijab, pedantry, oppressed women — informing the limitless Clash of Civilizations.”  Read Salaita’s original opinion piece.

 

THE FUNNIES

1.  Computer Cam.

2.  Sequestration and foreign policy.

3.  Priorities, priorities.

 

Bagram Air Base Sandbags

Power on Syria, Nigeria’s fight with Islamists, and The Final Rule explained.

The latest debates over Syria as POTUS (and Congress) returns to D.C., Nigerian troops’ hard fight with Islamists, and a review of The Final Rule for hiring Vets,  all in today’s defense headlines.

September 7, 2013

Syria talks raise the dead: Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Navy braces its ships for a hit.  Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “The U.S. Navy will probably have to cut about 25 aircraft and several ships from its planned purchases in the coming year if deep federal spending cuts remain in place . . . The affected aircraft in fiscal year 2014 will likely include helicopters, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and P-8A maritime patrol aircraft . . . . The Navy also could lose such vessels as a Littoral Combat Ship and an Afloat Forward Staging Base, as well as advance procurement for a Virginia-class submarine.”

2.  Put your money where your next big threat will be.  Contributor Charles Simmins reports, “The nations of Africa are increasing their spending on defense. The sum budgeted by these nations is expected to top $20 billion in the next ten years. Both local and multinational firms in the defense industry are rushing to participate in this growth spurt. . . . Islamic terrorism and regional instabilities have continued to grow. African governments recognize that their militaries must be modernized, better trained and better equipped. The increase in prices for minerals and oil of the last several years have left many nations with the cash to invest in their armed forces.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Super Tuesday. Congress returns and the Administration prepares the press. Reuters’ John Whitesides and Richard Cowan report, “Obama’s address to the nation from the White House on Tuesday will be part of a rejuvenated lobbying effort on Syria as Congress returns to Washington next week. A Democratic congressional aide said the administration is planning ‘a full-court press’ aimed at undecided lawmakers. . . . only 23 senators have been willing to go on record in favor of military force, while 17 are against. It will likely take 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to advance the measure to the House of Representatives. In the House, where 218 votes will be required to pass the resolution, only 25 members are on record in support of military action so far, according to the Post, with 106 opposed.”  And AP reports, POTUS taking the plunge while Sen. Al Frank lends his support.

2. U.S. UN rep explains Syria. American Forces Press Service’s Cheryl Pellerin reports, “Speaking to an audience at the Center for American Progress, Ambassador Samantha Power characterized Syria as lying at the heart of a region critical to U.S. security . . . . The Bashar Assad regime, Power said, has stores of chemical weapons that it recently used on a large scale and that the United States can’t allow to fall into terrorists’ hands. The regime also collaborates with Iran and works with thousands of extremist fighters from the militant group Hezbollah.”

3.  Egyptian military attacks Islamists and Al Qaeda in the Sinai. AP’s Ashraf Sweilam reports from el-Arish, Egypt, “Egyptian helicopters and tanks are attacking Islamic militants in villages in the northern Sinai Peninsula. He says ‘dozens’ have been killed or wounded. The Saturday assault came after Egypt deployed a column of armored vehicles and trucks carrying infantry into the region, a militant stronghold, in a major new counterinsurgency offensive . . . . Multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups have stepped up attacks against security forces in the Sinai . . . .” Aljazeera reports, using those pesky quotation-mark-fingers, “Egypt’s military sends reinforcements to the Sinai border area to ‘clean’ villages in the area of ‘terrorists.’”

4.  In Pakistan, drone takes out Haqqani network’s Mullah Sangeen Zadran. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “Yesterday’s drone strike in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan is reported to have killed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani Network leader who is on the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda . . . . Sangeen has long been a supporter of al Qaeda and has encouraged foreign fighters to wage jihad in Afghanistan.” Also, Pakistan releases Taliban to facilitate Afghan peace efforts.

5.  In AFRICOM, Nigerian troops taking on Islamists and Sharia law. Reuters Lanre Ola reports from Maiduguri, Nigeria, “Nigerian soldiers have tracked down and killed 50 members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram in its northeastern stronghold . . . . Army units mounted the operation after suspected Boko Haram fighters killed 20 people in two attacks on Wednesday and Thursday in villages in  northeastern Borno State . . . . Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria, and other splinter Islamist groups, are the biggest threat to stability in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  $4.3 billion Veterans Health Administration contract awarded. AZCentral.Com reports, “TriWest secured the five-year contract to manage behavioral health and specialty care in Arizona and 27 other states. The company will arrange health care for veterans in rural regions not served by the VA or in communities where the VA cannot accommodate such care. . . . The VA contract means TriWest will ramp up hiring in Phoenix and Washington state, where it plans to open a call center at a yet-to-be-selected location. The company expects most of its 600 to 700 full-time positions will be in Phoenix.” Review TriWest.

2.  The Final Rule is out, “good faith” just wasn’t cutting it.  NationalLawReview.Com explains how they are meant to help Vets: “With the Obama Administration’s recent appointment of Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor, the enactment of these new regulations signals a renewed focus on increasing the numbers of veterans and disabled individuals in the U.S. workforce. . . . the Final Rule largely formalizes recruitment practices that, up until recently, have been considered ‘good faith efforts.’”

 

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  The NSA is tracking you.  Are you tracking you?  Time’s TechLand covers the latest in Activity Trackers that will make lazy people fell not so lazy: “You can buy an inexpensive pedometer to gauge your steps, but a slew of new self-tracking devices are available that do so much more, calculating things such as how many calories you’ve burned or how well you’re sleeping at night. Here’s what the best of the next-gen devices have the offer.”

2.  Straight to the moon. NASA is at it again, [hoax] rocket launch to the moon. USNews.Com reports, “NASA’s newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia that dazzled sky watchers along the East Coast. . . . Scientists want to learn the composition of the moon’s ever-so-delicate atmosphere and how it might change over time. Another puzzle, dating back decades, is whether dust actually levitates from the lunar surface.”  [That’s $280 million well-spent, I’d say.]

3.  Better than the real thing – a man chooses prosthetics over pain. At Salon.Com, Norbert Nathanson tells his story: “I was relieved that those feet and lower legs that had been the source of life-long pain and humiliation, and a magnet for mindless stares of legions of strangers, were gone. . . . The impact was significant. As I recovered from surgery, tension flowed out of me and relaxation set in. For the first time in my life I was completely at ease.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Impending side-step?  At the G-20, President Obama subtly opened another door as many congressmen get spanked by their constituents: “President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he might not strike Syria if Congress rejects his authorization request. ‘I’m not itching for military action . . . . and if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them,’ he told one reporter who asked if he was seeking alternatives to a missile strike.”

2.  The Screw-Up-and-Move-Up. What do we do with a lawyer unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment?  Make her a federal judge in terrorism court, of course. TheGuardian.Com reports, “Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York. Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the FISA surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers. . . . Even before the Guardian’s phone records revelations, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, lawmakers found Caproni to be complicit in surveillance abuses.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Six reasons to attack Syria. TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Michael Tomasky argues, “What most liberals are passionate about is one thing: opposition to U.S. militarism. That’s what really roils the loins. . . . Here are six consequences of not launching a strike against Syria, all of which could harm small-d democratic hopes in the region and, indeed, potentially increase the carnage.”

2.  “For Obama, a contradiction too many.”  Reuters’ contributor David Rohde argues, “The president should have demanded that Congress be called back from recess immediately. He should also have immediately made a far more personal and passionate case for strikes. But what may doom the president’s effort, in the end, is not his short-term tactics. It is years of contradictory policies and unfulfilled promises by Obama himself.”

3.  The folly of empire?  Unlikely-but-regular contributor to Aljazeera Paul Rosenberg argues, “Attacking Syria is not the same as invading Iraq, we are told. And of course, that’s right. . . . There are two things that attacking Syria and invading Iraq have in common, which US elites utterly ignore. First is the sheer frequency with which the US attacks other countries. Second is the casual disregard for dire and deadly negative consequences, so long as US elites convince themselves their motives are pure. . . . This is what it means to be an empire. The players change endlessly. The folly never does. It only grows darker and more dire over time.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Anticipation of attack is worse . . . .

2.  The real holdup in Congress.

3.  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

 

IMG_0213

Daily Intelligence: Syria in the House, Fed hiring tips, and two-factor authentication

On Syria, the administration faces a tough fight Wednesday in the House, the role of leadership in hiring, and two-factor authentication gadgets, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 4, 2013

 

Short-life sentence & the de-bearding.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Thought police – the Insider Threat Task Force. In the wake of Bradley Manning’s Wiki-leak, the Administration established the Insider Threat Task Force. Contributor Chandler Harris revisits this strange, surreal tale: “program presses managers and employees of federal agencies to monitor their co-workers for ‘indicators’ such as stress, divorce and financial problems and report them. Those who fail to report such signs could even face criminal charges. Leaks to the media are considered espionage.”

2.  K.I.S.S. – Old principles are hard to break. Like those in most every profession, we spoke a specialized language among our military colleagues. In the civilian job market, it sounds like Greek. Contributor Tranette Ledford’s offers great – and understandable – advice on translating you into civilian: “Your training may be unparalleled and having a security clearance is a definite asset.  But your ability to demonstrate these assets comes down to your ability to communicate them clearly to hiring managers. . . . If you still aren’t sure about how your resume translates, get some feedback from civilians.  They’ll be the first to question terms with which they’re unfamiliar.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Senate on Syria – 90-day window, no bootsDefenseNews.Com contributor Susan Davis reports, “Members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee hammered out a deal on Tuesday evening that would set a 60-day deadline for military action in Syria, with one 30-day extension possible, according to a draft of the resolution. The proposal, drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would also bar the involvement of US ground forces in Syria, according to the draft.”

2.  Senate Syria vote today & a “broader strategy.” Reuters’s Jeff Mason and Yara Bayoumy report, “Leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they reached an agreement on a draft authorization for the use of military force in Syria . . . . However, the draft is much narrower than the request made by Obama and includes a provision barring the use of U.S. troops on the ground. . . . Obama said on Tuesday the United States also has a broader plan to help rebels defeat Assad’s forces. ‘What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad’s capabilities,’ Obama said. ‘At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.’”

3.  Now comes the House of Representatives – a tough fight. AP’s Bradley Klapper’s pre-game for the Administration’s House debates: “While the administration was making progress in the Senate, it also needed to persuade a Republican-dominated House that has opposed almost the entirety of Obama’s agenda since seizing the majority more than three years ago. Several conservative Republicans and some anti-war Democrats already have come out in opposition to Obama’s plans, even as Republican and Democratic House leaders gave their support to the president Tuesday.”

4.  Even Egypt suspects AljazeeraAljazeera.Com reports, “Egyptian authorities are deliberately jamming [Aljazeera’s] satellite signals . . . . Trackers have pinpointed locations east and west of Cairo, and specifically identified military installations as the source of the satellite interference. After the military takeover in Egypt on July 3, Al Jazeera became one of several media outlets that have come under increasing pressure. . . . Egyptian authorities deported on Monday three members of a TV crew working for Al Jazeera English, the sister channel of Al Jazeera’s Egypt channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, after they were detained for nearly a week and accused of working illegally.”

5. In Afghanistan, $1.1 million bank heistKhaama.Com reports, “Shegofa, an Afghan female employee transferred USD 1.1mn from Azizi Bank and has left Afghanistan. According to reports, the employee has transferred the amount to a relative’s bank account outside of Afghanistan and has escaped from the country together with her family.”  Take the money and run.  Also in Afghanistan, Minister of Finance Mohammad Aqa Kohistani works to privatize the New Kabul Bank: “Kabul Bank was seized by the government in 2010 after the exposure of a staggering $900 million fraud, which led the International Monetary Fund to temporarily halt its hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to the country. Renamed New Kabul Bank, the institution was bailed out by the government.”

6. In Iraq, democracy is on shaky groundCSMonitor correspondent Tom A. Peter reports from Baghdad, “Many Iraqis are worried that democracy, never firmly rooted here, is sliding away from their country. On Saturday, Iraq’s security forces stopped demonstrators from protesting against the parliament’s pension program, which activists say is excessive. In Baghdad, police closed off several main roads and bridges to stop protesters from reaching designated gathering places. . . . Iraqi officials said they forbade the protests because a large gathering would have been susceptible to a terrorist attack.”

7.  In AFRICOM, Sailors in schools for stability.  Amphibious Squadron Four, Public Affairs’ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sabrina Fine reports from Port Victoria, Seychelles, “Although school was not currently in session, Sailors and Marines also were able to interact with local children who were playing music in a classroom. Sailors showed the children some American dance moves, and the children demonstrated their dance steps as well. . . . Service projects like the one conducted with the school serve to continue Naval Forces Europe-Africa efforts to strengthen maritime partnerships with East African nations like Seychelles in order to enhance regional stability.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Fed-Hiring: It’s a leadership issue  WaPo contributor Tom Fox offers some savvy tips for getting the right people: “Given the current fiscal climate and an ever-increasing workload, it is imperative that as a federal manager you make smart hiring decisions. While this should be the norm even during ordinary times, it is not always an easy task to get the best talent given the obstacle-laden nature of the federal hiring process. Managers often view hiring as an HR function, but the truth is that it is a leadership issue.”

2.  $58 million Alliant Techsystems Operations win. DefenseIndustryDaily.Com covers Australia’s buy of “low rate initial production of the XM1156 Precision Guidance kit . . . . ATK was already the US Army’s top supplier of artillery propellant and fuses, so this is a natural extension for them. . . . This is a very fast turnaround, and would be impossible for many countries, but Australia sits alongside NATO allies in a category that can negotiate contracts just 15 days after DSCA notifications.”

3.  One to watch: Army aviation contracting under investigation. Reuters reports, “The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation of an Army aviation unit that awarded tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts to Russian and U.S. firms for maintenance and overhaul of Russian-made helicopters . . . . Investigators are examining potentially improper payments by the Army aviation office to contractors as well as possible personal connections between members of the Army unit and the contractors, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Two factor authentication – the new standardWired.Com contributor tracks GitHub’s release: “Coding platform Github released two-factor authentication today, one of the many tech companies putting that extra step between you and hackers who want access to your account. . . . Two-factor authentication gives your login username and password combination a bit of backing. When you login using these credentials, instead of immediately being approved, the two-factor authentication will send a special code either by text message or through an app for you to enter as a second form of proof.”

2.  iPhone announcement – 10 September. Time’s Jared Newman reports, “Apple has sent out invitations to the press for a September 10 event, and unless the rumors are completely off-base, that’s when the company will announce the next iPhone. . . . rumored features include a better camera, faster processor and maybe even a fingerprint reader. New color options, such as gold-colored plating, are rumored as well.”

3.  Wireless pitfalls in the small-business office. PCWorld.Com contributor Paul Mah navigates obstacles to successful wireless networks for the small business: “Mobile devices are now as essential to workplaces as copy machines and coffee makers. That means a fast, reliable wireless network is essential as well. But building one isn’t as simple as plugging in your ISP-supplied router and connecting your smartphone. In fact if you’ve never done it before, putting together a Wi-Fi network robust enough to support your business can be pretty tricky. To shorten the learning curve, we’ve highlighted some common pitfalls and how to avoid them.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  D.C.’s delegate’s insightful foreign policy: love of the manPJMedia.Com reports on Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton’s reason she would support Obama on Syria: “’If [Obama] gets saved at all, I think it’ll be because, it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage.’”  [Thankfully, Norton cannot vote in Congress, being a D.C. rep.]

2.  McCain is a betting man. I’m betting he supports Obama on Syria. HuffingtonPost.Com, among hundreds of others, reports, “At some point during the conversation, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – who has been skeptical about President Barack Obama’s proposal for “limited” action in Syria – was taking a break to play poker on his phone.”  [In related news, McCain later consulted his Mystical Magical 8 Ball to answer his question, “Should I support Obama in Syria?”  The answer: “Concentrate and ask again.”]

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Deconstructing ghosts of the ‘Nam. DefenseOne.Com contributor Kevin Baron deconstructs our defense leaders’ language: “In questioning the automatic flag-waving of Americans for the troops, Hagel wrote, ‘I wonder how many of us here at home actually picture the grunt in the mud and grime with the cold stench of death hanging over him . . . .’ Get the picture? One man prosecuted military strikes from above. The other smelled their effects on the ground.”

2.  If you must, go alone, but go nonetheless. CSMonitor.Com contributor Jonathan Zimmerman argues, “I’m glad that President Obama decided to seek congressional approval before proceeding with a strike against Syria, which would give any such action more legitimacy at home. And I also admire his efforts to get the rest of the world behind a strike. But if that doesn’t work, the US – and Mr. Obama, as commander in chief – might have to go it alone.”

3.  “GOP should support Obama on Syria.”  WaPo contributors Mike Pompeo and Tom Cotton argue, “We are Army veterans. One of us served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq; the other conducted patrols along the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. We understand the gravity of using force. . . . Congress has its own constitutional duty to defend U.S. interests, and those interests shouldn’t be neglected simply because we have doubts about Obama.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Swift kick in the pants.

2.  Damned red tape.

3.  New axis of evil?

 

COW HILLS - LEDFORD

Syria’s broad effect, Afghan National Police outnumbered, and DEA’s Hemisphere Project

Refugees fleeing Syria threaten stability in neighboring nations, the ANP dwindling in the face of combat losses, and the NSA has nothing on the DEA, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 3, 2013

Diana – Perseverance Incarnate & Ten Things for Tuesday.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  How (not) to squander your security clearance.  From the vaults, contributor Janet Farley with 7 deadly security sins: “There are a number of ways you could potentially jeopardize possession of your ever-so marketable credential. Let’s count some of the ways, extrapolated from the 2011 annals of industrial security clearance decisions made, shall we?”

2.  Cover letters – first impressions. Also from the vaults and contributor Janet Farley, 5 steps to an effective cover letter: “a cover letter is what introduces your sterling credentials to a potential employer. It is that segue that matches their needs with your qualifications. It is the valuable chance to use your real voice vice resume sentence fragments to pique the interest of the reader.”

 

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

*Israel-U.S. fire missiles in Med: breaking news from AP, among others: “Israel says it has carried out a joint missile test with the U.S. in the Mediterranean Sea amid heightened tensions as Washington weighs sea-launched strikes against Syria.”

1.  Losing in Afghanistan – the Afghan National PoliceTheGuardian.Com reports Gen. Dunford’s fair but dire conclusion: “Afghanistan’s police and army are losing too many men in battle, and may need up to five more years of western support before they can fight independently, the top US and Nato commander in the country has told the Guardian. . . . Dunford admitted that Nato and Afghan commanders are concerned about Afghan casualty rates, which have regularly topped more than 100 dead a week. ‘I view it as serious, and so do all the commanders,’ Dunford said. ‘I’m not assuming that those casualties are sustainable.’”

2.  Syria – diving too deep?  Reuters’ Steve Holland and Thomas Ferraro evaluate the stakes this Tuesday morning: “President Barack Obama’s efforts to persuade the U.S. Congress to back his plan to attack Syria were met with skepticism on Monday from lawmakers in his own Democratic Party who expressed concern the United States would be dragged into a new Middle East conflict.”

3.  Syria – pressure on neighboring countries reaching crisisAP’s Karin Laub and John Heilprin lay out the tides as refugee numbers mount to disastrous proportions: “Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Syria is hemorrhaging an average of almost 5,000 citizens a day across its borders, many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Nearly 1.8 million refugees have fled in the past 12 months alone, he said. The agency’s special envoy, Angelina Jolie, said ‘some neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse’ if the situation keeps deteriorating at its current pace. Most Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.”  See also Aljazeera.Com’s report, “UN: Syrian refugee numbers cross two million.”

4.  Marines heading to West AFRICOM. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa reports, “An international task force of Marines embarked the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) landing platform dock HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) Aug. 30 as part of a 3-month comprehensive effort to strengthen capabilities with African partner forces in West Africa. The ship and combined security cooperation task force, comprised of U.S., U.K., Spanish and Dutch Marines, will conduct practical application exercises in security techniques and tactics alongside forces from partner nations Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Benin.”

 CONTRACT WATCH

1.  DoD’s clean energy contract race – two front-runnersChicagoBusiness.Com contributor Paul Merrion reports, “With more than a hundred firms in the running, New Generation Power Inc. and Acciona Energy North America Corp. were among 22 solar-power contractors selected . . . by the Army Corps of Engineers, allowing them to compete for contracts with individual bases and other military sites. Congress has mandated that military installations must get 25% of their power from renewable energy by 2025.”

2.  Government contracting in plain EnglishPRWeb.Com covers Government ContactingTips.Com and new recommendations for succeeding in contract competition: “GovernmentContractingTips.com is a website that is devoted to showing small business contractors all the opportunities there are in government contracting. The website’s home page breaks down their new ‘First Steps to Government Contracting’ guide into easy to follow lessons. Each lesson displays all the basic knowledge a contractor should be aware of when entering the federal marketplace.”  Check out GovernmentContractingTips.Com.

 TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  NASA – vision for the futureAviationWeek.Com wakes us up to NASA’s relevance to the future of technology: “So NASA’s unveiling of a new strategy for aeronautics research is a bold and welcome move from a bureaucratic agency that often seems to have lost its sense of direction . . . . The aeronautics reset is based on the fundamental assumption that U.S. leadership in civil aviation will be at risk in as little as 20 years unless the nation acts to keep the pipeline of new technologies flowing. The revitalization plan—spearheaded by the associate administrator for aeronautics, Jaiwon Shin—was inspired by the story of Kodak, which through complacency and lack of vision saw its domination of the photographic film and camera market wiped out by digital imaging and smartphones.”

2.  Terrorism, drugs, . . . the incremental erosion of the Fourth Amendment?  NYTimes.Com contributor Scott Shane covers the latest and previously unreported government data collection project, The Hemisphere Project: “Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day . . . . the program at least touched on an unresolved Fourth Amendment question: whether mere government possession of huge amounts of private data, rather than its actual use, may trespass on the amendment’s requirement that searches be ‘reasonable.’”  Related, read VentureBeat.Com’s “Have we passed peak surveillance?”

3.  The professional-scale DSLR camera you’ll want to own – and can.  At $399, it’s time to get serious about your photography bent.  Time exposes Sony’s new Alpha 3000 DSLR: “a DSLR that is small, inexpensive and easy for beginners to use, while still being powerful enough for a more experienced photographer . . . .”  [I’m getting one of these.]

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Rhetoric-ing himself into a corner: Obama’s backdoor might just force him to use it. TheDailyBeast.Com’s Michael Tomasky unravels the riddle and concludes, “I think this posture invites an avalanche of no votes. Obama and Kerry should have just used very oblique language suggesting that in the event of a congressional defeat, they’d reassess the situation or something like that. A posture such as that would at least let members of Congress know that their votes here really matter.”

2.  A confession: “’. . . I’m the idiot?’” asks Palin.   With one eye on the White House – and the other spinning counter-clockwise – Sarah Palin offers her Middle East policy.  WashingtonTimes.Com’s Jessica Chasmar writes, “In a Facebook post titled ‘Let Allah Sort It Out,’ former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin condemned President Obama’s decision to get further involved with the ongoing civil war in Syria. ‘So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?’ Mrs. Palin asked on Friday.  [Incidentally, Palin can see Syria from her back porch.]

 OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Striking Syria: Illegal, immoral, and dangerous.”  Aljazeera.Com contributor Phyllis Bennis argues that “whatever Congress may decide, a US military strike against Syria will still be illegal, immoral and dangerous, even reckless in the region and around the world. Congress needs to say no.”

2.  “On Syria: Be Clear, Then Hit Hard.”  Time contributor Walter Russell Mead argues, “What needs to come next is more clarity about what he plans to accomplish in Syria. I don’t ask that the President share his innermost thoughts with the world at this time; I only ask that he develop a clear strategic concept in his own mind. If he has a serious strategy, the rest of the world can watch it unfold; military leaders are under no obligation to telegraph their moves.”

3.  America’s identity is the pointChristian Science Monitor’s Editorial Board argues, “If US lawmakers accept that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, they too must weigh the balance between affirming America’s identity as a global ideal leader against a humility in knowing the history of America’s war-waging disappointments.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Punishing Assad.

2.  Palin’s Middle East policy.

3.  Politics, as usual.