Tag Archives: Syria

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.

Playing for change 640x185

Kodahafez, Iran, Syrian Resolution, and London in al-Shabaab’s crosshairs.

The phone call heard around the world, the U.N. passes resolution on Syrian chemicals, and al-Shabaab’s plans for London – all into today’s defense headlines.

 

Shutdown Countdown D-3.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.   Falsified background investigations. Must read contributor Ashley LaGanga’s excellent primer on Reuters’ important Exclusive: “Hundreds of U.S. security clearances seen falsified.”  LaGanga notes, “Of the more than 350 cases Reuters identified, the violators were both special agents of OPM as well as background investigators from private firms.  While federal employees at OPM conduct many investigations, the majority are contracted to private entities such as USIS and CACI, among others.”

2.  The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI). Contributor Jeffrey Bennett deep-dives the NACI and explains its nuances: “The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) is a background investigation primarily for federal employees who will not have access to classified information. This investigation is appropriate for positions designated as public trust positions that require responsible and trustworthy employees, but with no national security impact. The primary reason that the NACI is not an appropriate investigation for a security clearance is that a credit check is not required.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1. On Iran, Khodahafez – The Presidents’ breakthrough.

a.  A phone call from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to President Obama cracks the “taboo.”  Reuters reports, Obama and Rouhani “spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program. . . . Obama has said for years he was open to direct contact with Iran while also stressing that all options – including military strikes – were on the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb. . . . [Rouhani] said Iran would bring a plan to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program to an October meeting with the six powers in Geneva. He offered no details about that plan, but emphasized that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.”

b.  Optimism in a sea of pessimismAP’s Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler describe, “Iranians awoke Saturday to learn that their president, Hassan Rouhani, had spoken directly to Obama, breaking through a barrier that had left American and Iranian presidents divorced from such contact for 34 years. . . . By the end of the call, Obama was suggesting that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could portend even deeper ties between the U.S. and Iran, a notion that would have seemed unfathomable in recent years.”

c.  Success.  So Iran’s President Rouhani calls his week of diplomacy at the U.N. America.Aljazeera.Com reports, “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Friday declared his first visit to the United States a success — and it was hard to argue with that assessment, if the measure was the number of important world leaders he met, the speeches he gave and the respectful audience he was given at and on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. But for Tehran, the measure of success of Rouhani’s outreach will be whether Iran achieves relief from punishing sanctions — and that will depend on the outcome of the tough, detailed bargaining on its nuclear program that gets under way in Geneva next month.”

d.  The groundwork – SecState Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Thursday, setting the stage for the historic call, Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Zarif. Radio Free Europe reported, “The brief encounter between Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at UN headquarters in New York on September 26 was one of the highest-level meetings between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. . . . Kerry was upbeat, but cautious. . . . ‘Discussions were very substantive, business-like,’ Zarif told reporters.

2.  U.N. Syria Resolution, but without a punch. No worries, we’ll be happy to oblige. Reuters reports, “The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday that demands the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons but does not threaten automatic punitive action against . . . Assad’s government if it does not comply. . . . The resolution does not allow for automatic punitive action in the form of military strikes or sanctions if Syria does not comply. At Russia’s insistence, Friday’s resolution makes clear a second council decision would be needed for that.”  See also Aljazeera.Com, Syrian “Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem tells Al Jazeera his nation is committed to destroying its chemical weapons stockpile.”

3.  Mercenaries. AP’s Larry Neumeister reports, “Two former American soldiers – one nicknamed “Rambo” – and a German ex-soldier faced charges Friday that they plotted to kill a U.S. drug enforcement agent and an informant for $800,000 in an assassination plan created by drug agents who wanted to catch trained snipers gone bad . . . . ‘The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends’ . . . . The indictment described 48-year-old Joseph Hunter, also known as ‘Rambo,’ as a contract killer and leader of the group of ex-snipers.”

4.  London – in al-Shabaab’s crosshairs. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week. . . . Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate ‘the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.’ In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Contracting failures. Reuters Exclusive by Tabassum Zakaria explains the unfortunate facts: “Federal prosecutors have documented at least 350 instances of faulty background investigations done by private contractors and special agents for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management . . . . The inspector general’s office said it has referred 22 former background investigators for debarment, but no decisions have been reached by OPM. A debarment is usually for a specific time period and means the person cannot contract with another federal agency. The Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled an October 1 hearing on government clearances and background checks.”

2.  $68 million worth of Raytheon Sidewinders for Belgium. Exactly why Belgium needs a Sidewinder . . . . DSCA.Mil posts, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $68 million. The Government of Belgium has requested a possible sale of 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles . . . . The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, Arizona.”

3.  $1 billion, practically, by Japan for Boeing AWACS. Also from DSCA.Mil, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of an E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Mission Computing Upgrade (MCU) and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $950 million. . . . The principal contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, Washington.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Information risk – get the Board involved. Wired.Com contributor Steve Durbin, global vice president of the Information Security Forum (ISF) explains, “From cyber to insider, organizations have varying degrees of control over evolving security threats. With the speed and complexity of the threat landscape changing on an almost daily basis, all too often we are seeing businesses being left behind, sometimes in the wake of reputational and financial damage.”

2.  Action-Reaction: NSA’s quick response to Snowden. VentureBeat.Com contributor Kevin Poulson reports, “When on June 9 Edward Snowden stood up in Hong Kong and revealed himself to the world as an NSA whistleblower, the Justice Department wasted little time in targeting his email provider. A new appeals court filing today shows the government served a court order on Texas-based Lavabit the very next day, demanding metadata on an unnamed customer that the timing and circumstances suggest was Snowden.”

3.  Sea-basing: our Navy’s sharp edgeDefenseMediaNetwork.Com reports that “only the U.S. Navy has a blue water fleet able to operate, simultaneously, on all the planet’s major oceans, providing a mobile force not needing any other nation’s permission when it moves into place during a crisis. That fleet is by far the largest in the world, with more supercarriers (100,000 tons or more) than all other navies’ smaller flat-tops combined, plus more large-deck amphibious warfare ships of similar size to most other carriers than the rest of the world’s fleets.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  The South’s gonna do it again. Led, mostly, by Southerner (well, Texas) Ted Cruz, hyperbolic hyperbole has reached “one of the most dangerous points in our history.” NationalJournal.Com paints the subtle, fluorescent picture: “This isn’t just congressional business as usual, Harkin said. It’s much, much more dire: ‘It’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous. I believe, Mr. President, we are at one of the most dangerous points in our history right now. Every bit as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.’”  [See also, Charlie Daniels – Daniels fiddled while Washington burned.]

2.  Anticipation of shutdown is worse than shutdown itself. WaPo reports that in the DoD, the scramble to respond to the threat of shutdown impedes work as much as a shutdown: “’The planning itself is disruptive,” an exhausted [DoD Comptroller Robert] Hale told reporters. ‘People are worrying right now about whether their paychecks are going to be delayed, rather than focusing fully on their mission.’”  So, all cyber-terrorists should take note: cut the money and the mission goes in the toilet.

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The Phone Call – 3 Takeaways. Time contributor Michael Crowley argues, “The call was only a symbolic step, but still a very important development in the showdown between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program. Here are three reasons why:  . . . Iran’s hard-liners must have allowed it. . . . Rouhani did the smart—and maybe cynical—thing. . . Diplomacy just got easier for Obama. . . . we’re closer to the beginning of this story than the end.”

2.  “Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Rouhani element.”  In part III of his lecture on Iran (that we all should read), Aljazeera.Com contributor Akbar Ganji argues, “No other people in the region have as positive a view of the US as the people of Iran. If free elections are held in Iran, the pro-democracy majority would undoubtedly win handily. The Iranian society has gone through a real transformation in all aspects, and has grown enough that the garment of Velayat-e Faqih is too small for its body, and does not fit but by force.”  Catch up on parts I and II of Ganji’s triptych: Rafsanjani and Khamenei: A brief history and Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Ahmadinejad years.

3.  “The key stumbling blocks U.S. and Iran face.” Reuters’ contributor David Rhode argues, “A historic phone call Friday between the presidents of the United States and Iran could mark the end of 34 years of enmity. Or it could be another missed opportunity. In the weeks ahead, clear signs will emerge whether a diplomatic breakthrough is possible.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Chic Chicks.

2.  Diplomacy.

3.  Donations accepted.

4.  Just can’t get it out of my head.

 

 

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.

 

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.