National Security

Dempsey models Afghan Hands program for Asia

The Navy’s Greenert talks rebalancing, Panetta: back to school for ethics training, What a Marine staples to his desk and more.

The Navy's CNO will speak today at the National Press Club to update the Navy's re-emphasis on Asia. Adm. Jonathan Greenert will touch on the myriad challenges the Navy faces as it plans to increase its presence, from 55 percent of its ships and aircraft now, to about 60 percent in the next eight years.

He'll speak from bullet points, but will likely talk about assuring access to a region that is now top of mind for the Pentagon.

"We are developing the doctrine, training and know-how to defeat access threats such as submarines and cruise and ballistic missiles through our Air-Sea Battle concept," he wrote on FP in an article posted this week. "We will grow our fleet in the Asia-Pacific, rebalance our basing, improve our capabilities, and focus intellectually on the region."

Greenert's article on FP, "Sea Change":

Navy's position report:

Panetta has launched a new review of legal and ethical conduct among senior military officers. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had planned to begin a broad, new ethics review before some of the recent problems among senior officers, from the current scandal to the lavish spending of Lt. Gen. Kip Ward of Africom and others. But the rash of problems likely spurred Panetta to urge his officers to move faster. "As has happened recently, when lapses occur, they have the potential to erode public confidence in our leadership," Panetta wrote in a memo to Gen. Marty Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Worse, they can be detrimental to the execution of our mission to defend the American people."

While the military still sits atop the list of revered American institutions, there have been problems within the ranks for years. While there will always a group known as "the 10 percenters" -- those whose performance or integrity or instincts will never be very high -- the spate of problems among senior officers of late has raised questions about what is happening and why. Whether it is the stress of a dozen years of war, or a reflection of the times in which they live, Panetta's review may be the first step in trying to reset the moral and ethical compass of senior officers and hold them more accountable.

Once they reach a certain level, some are treated as rock stars -- revered but also insulated -- and run the risk of falling victim to "Bathsheba Syndrome," a reference to the moral failures of King David in the Old Testament, as the NYT wrote this week in what could also be a reference to Petraeus' nickname around the Pentagon. Panetta has stressed that "the vast majority of our senior military officers" do exemplify "strength of character" and high ethics and lead by example. But Panetta wants Dempsey and the chiefs to review how to "foster a better culture of stewardship" among senior officers and report back to him within the next few weeks.

One Army general officer wonders if the review leads to additional ethics training, those who already exhibit high moral standards will be paying for those who don't:  "It's the equivalent of punishing the entire class because someone doesn't do their homework," one Army officer told Situation Report.

NYT story (11/12/12):

Panetta statement:

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Dempsey is expanding the Af-Pak Hands program for the Asia-Pacific. Pentagon officials are now debating how to replicate an effort that built institutional knowledge of Afghanistan and Pakistan by rotating a cadre of officers and staff NCOs through the region. Over the next several months, Dempsey wants to create the roadmap for a program that mirrors the best aspects of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program in order to deepen the military's intellectual engagement on Asia issues after its decade-long focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dempsey, a senior defense official told Situation Report, is thinking about a long-term, strategic effort that would far outlast his own tenure in office. "He talks about a 10-year process to pivoting to the Pacific," the official said. "He has talked about the intellectual piece is the piece we need to sort out right."

As resources and operations pivot, rebalance, and return to Asia, defense officials are trying to figure out the best way to make sure they can also deploy their best minds to the unique problems posed by the pivot, from a rising China, to the right balance of platforms and how they are arrayed, to building partnerships with countries with whom the U.S. has not necessarily been actively engaged. Part of the current debate in designing the program is to determine to what extent it should give the military the tools to work with China -- or focus on "securing the links" the U.S. military has to South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, and India, the official said.

"The guy who is making decisions about how we deal with Vietnam probably ought to be somebody whose been in that part of the world, as opposed to a dude who just spent his last 12 years in Italy," said the defense official.

Read more below.

A freight train hit a parade float carrying wounded veterans and their families in Midland, Texas, killing four and injuring 17. It was a horrible accident in which two parade floats were crossing train tracks as they ferried wounded veterans and their families to an event held to honor them. "I was on the phone, and I just started screaming," Patricia Howle, who was waiting in her car at a nearby light, told AP. "The truck was on the other side of the train, but I did see the panic on the faces of the people and saw some of them jump off."

Pentagon press secretary George Little: "Secretary Panetta was deeply saddened by news of the tragic accident involving veterans, heroes, and their spouses in Midland, Texas, which occurred as this community was coming together to honor them. His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, with those injured in this incident, and with the entire community."

Seen taped to a Marine's desk in the Pentagon: "Mattis 2016."

From the Economic Opportunity = Stability Department: An Afghanistan carpet firm got a boost this week when the Goodweave program, which works to end child labor in the rug-making business, gave its first seal of approval to Ariana Rugs, Inc. Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Hakimi: "Part of our job in the government is to promote job creation and industry growth, while making sure women receive the same treatment in all industries and their children have the opportunity to get an education. That is why I congratulate and support Ariana Rugs and its model for creating beautiful, high quality carpets while simultaneously improving the industry as a whole."

The more you know: One million knots make up the average 8'x10' rug, according to Goodweave.

The Army released data that shows an increase in suicides. Among active-duty soldiers, there were 20 "potential suicides," the Army reported yesterday, with five confirmed suicides and 15 under investigation. In September, the Army reported a total of 15. During 2012, there have so far been 166 potential active-duty suicides, up one from the 165 reported in all of 2011.

Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands Program moves to Asia, con't:

The Af-Pak Hands program has not been without its problems, but officials say the kinks have been worked out. The program was started in 2009 with high hopes as the Pentagon injected new operational and intellectual energy into the then eight-year old war. Champions like Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the top war commander in Afghanistan, thought the program could provide officers with regional expertise and then deploy that know-how to the field. After training and then a one-year deployment, they would return home to assignments in the Pentagon, U.S. Central Command, Special Operations Command, and others, bringing with them their experience in Afghanistan -- and to a much lesser extent Pakistan -- to raise the level of understanding of the region at home. Then, they would return to theater, armed with what they'd learned during their assignments in the States as the final round of a rotation that would reinvigorate the military's war effort. In all, the program would last as much as 44 months for about 750 officers.

But volunteers for the program were hard to come by, and the services' personnel cultures didn't always smile on the  careers of officers who left the normal path to pursue regional expertise. The bigger problem was that in its early days, the program put many round pegs in square holes, sending officers with expertise in one field to jobs requiring skills in another.

"The hate and discontent boiled up, is the best way to put it," the defense official said. At that point the Pentagon created a management program in the field to help direct people and ensure the program was running as effectively as possible. Now they are much more confident in the program, its effects on the ground - and at home.

Defense officials say metrics are hard to come by

The first group of officers in the program will be returning to Afghanistan and Pakistan next month. That group will be the first one to have field experience combined with a job at home and then take their perspective back to the war. Officials are hopeful that the impact of the program, which can be hard to measure outside of billets filled and expertise gained, will be evident.

"We are really looking forward to the second tours of the hands, because we really think the payback is in that second tour," the official said.

But only about 50 percent of the group that already deployed to the field will be returning next month, but lessons learned from this process will inform the next group that returns to the theater in a year, and officials hope that number will increase.

The current model for the program can do great things for the regions in which the U.S. military is engaged, the official said. But the Pentagon knows that officers will be leery of getting stuck in a program that is perceived to be a career backwater. But with the services all trying to get a piece of the Asia pivot, service members may grow more enthusiastic about a program which the defense official says can only help officers' careers.
"Without a doubt, General Dempsey is a big fan of regional expertise and getting that intellectual piece right for the decision makers and advisers," the official said.

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National Security

Tension over the Allen issue in Asia

Dunford to testify, Panetta to visit shrine, Services would get cut under a new blueprint for defense spending, McChrystal’s book out in January, and more.

"Fighting Joe Dunford" appears before a Senate panel this morning in his confirmation hearing for the ISAF job. If confirmed, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asked that the Senate act on the nomination promptly because of the current scandal, Dunford will have a large impact on the final months of the war in Afghanistan. His testimony begins this morning in Washington. According to his written answers to questions posed in advance by senators, which were obtained by the Cable's Josh Rogin, Dunford is ready to tell Congress that he supports U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan for a host of missions in 2015 and beyond.

Dunford, in written statement to senators: "In my view our overall objective in Afghanistan after 2014 will be to sustain our hard-won security gains after 2014 so that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists... to accomplish this objective, the primary missions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan should be to (1) train, advise, and assist the ANSF; (2) provide support to civilian agencies, and (3) conduct counter-terrorism operations.  This mission set will include force protection for our brave young men and women and, as available, the provision of in extremis support for our Afghan forces."

But meanwhile, the fallout from the scandal in Washington continues. A new report this morning in the WSJ shows tension between David Petraeus at CIA and the White House over Benghazi, and anger over his releasing a detailed timeline on the Sept. 11 attack at the diplomatic compound there. "Mr. Petraeus wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own time line of the Sept. 11 attacks...seeking to set the record straight and paint the CIA's role in a more favorable light. Mr. Clapper and agencies including the Pentagon objected, but Mr. Petraeus told his aides to proceed," senior officials told the WSJ's Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman.

Panetta is wrapping up a bilateral meeting with Thailand today, and tomorrow the secretary flies to Cambodia for meetings there. After a bilateral meeting with the Cambodians, the secretary will sit with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in a somewhat informal roundtable to discuss issues of mutual interest, Situation Report is told. The Pentagon's Asian pivot is in part about building and expanding partnerships as the U.S. looks to build its presence and engagement in the region. Following the meeting, Panetta will see the Angkor Wat shrine.

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There is some tension over the Allen matter on the Panetta trip. With a scandal that has felled the director of the CIA and is now threatening the career of the Afghanistan war commander, reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are trying to get him to answer the myriad questions they have, including whether the defense secretary overreacted in triggering an investigation into ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen, jeopardizing his career and reputation, when defense officials, general officers, and others are now saying there might not be much to the e-mails between him and Jill Kelley, the socialite from Tampa. Allen has also maintained there was no wrongdoing.

But in the scripted itinerary of the "bubble" in which Panetta and other top officials travel, there is frustration among the press corps, as the Pentagon tries to keep focus on the pivot to Asia.
Some days ago, Panetta conducted a media availability on the plane from Hawaii to Perth, Australia, and then retired to his quarters as is typical on such trips. Hours later, reporters were the first ones to be told about the matter regarding Allen when Pentagon press secretary George Little read a statement about the investigation. Once on the ground, Panetta took two questions on the matter in a regularly scheduled press conference. At other opportunities, we understand, attempts to get other questions answered have been avoided. And according to an individual on the trip, there is visible tension between the press corps and Defense Department's press operations as reporters are upbraided for wanting to ask more questions on the Allen issue. Panetta was supposed to do a press event in Cambodia tomorrow but will now read a statement after meeting with defense ministers and now will not take questions.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is frustrated with the press corps' complaints. A senior defense official tells Situation Report that the secretary has had one gaggle, two press conferences, and offered up other backgrounders and on-the-record events. "An interesting threshold for griping," the defense official said. "There's only so much a Secretary of Defense can say about a matter that's under investigation, and reporters know that," the official said, adding that the event in Cambodia will be at the historic Angkor Wat shrine. Giving reporters the ability to ask questions about sexual allegations would not be appropriate, the official said. "We'd planned to have a press availability there, but it's of no profit to anyone on an Asia-Pacific trip if recycled questions on tawdry Washington controversies come up every time."

The Pentagon's senior military officer ducked the press corps traveling with Panetta. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey, who is also traveling in Asia but on a separate trip from Panetta, didn't speak with independent reporters who are part of Panetta's Asia trip. Only when he was alone with Jim Garamone, an in-house reporter for the Pentagon, did he speak candidly about his views on the matter regarding Allen. He said that he agreed with Panetta that people shouldn't jump to conclusions on the investigation into ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen. From what he sees so far, there's nothing to the e-mails between Allen and Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite.

Dempsey: "We have John Allen scheduled to become the [European Command] commander, and I wouldn't want him to miss that opportunity unless there is reason for that to happen," the chairman said. "I don't see that at this point, but I see this investigation and how long it could take affecting that."

Lawyer-ing up: Col. John Baker, a Marine Corps J.A.G. officer, released a statement on behalf of Allen, saying the ISAF commander, a Marine, would not have any comments on the situation while the investigation is going forward. "General Allen intends to fully cooperate with the Inspector General Investigators and directed his staff to do the same. To the extent there are questions about certain communications by General Allen, he shares in the desire to resolve those questions as completely and quickly as possible," according to Baker's statement.

Meanwhile, Africom Commander Gen. Carter Ham, speaking to reporters in Paris amid the demotion of the former Africom commander and the other scandals, said shortcomings of any officer reflect poorly on the entire office corps: "Any taint on an individual has a tendency to blemish the institution -- and it's unhelpful."

Stan McChrystal's book, delayed by security checks, will now be out in January. "My Share of the Task" was to come out just after the election. But the Pentagon's security vetting process -- backlogged, meant his original publication, scheduled for this week, couldn't be met. It will now be published Jan. 7.

From the publisher: "General McChrystal spent nearly two years working closely with military officials to make sure he followed all the rules for writing about the armed forces, including special operations. He was extremely careful not to include any information that would endanger any military personnel or their mission."

Obama vowed to roll up his sleeves on negotiating a budget plan with Congress, which would presumably include a deal on defense sequestration. A report compiled by a number of independent defense experts and released by the Stimson Center, suggests ways in which the Pentagon's budget could be made sustainable. The report, "A New U.S. Defense Strategy for a New Era: Military Superiority, Agility and Efficiency," sets out 10 "operating principles" that emphasize better efficiency, from personnel to procurement. "The group concluded that the strategy could be implemented in this current budgetary environment without much risk," Barry Blechman, the co-founder of Stimson, told Situation Report. That strategy is predicated on agility and small footprints, smarter investments -- that are focused on real threats, not notional ones -- and no large-scale invasions.

"We should not go into situations and let them evolve into protracted ground conflicts," Blechman said. "It's just too hard a job for anyone and we shouldn't try it."

The report shows ways in which the Pentagon could trim $1 trillion over 10 years. The report suggests the Army's force structure could be cut by one-third, the Marines to 150,000. The Air Force could eliminate some fighters (no more than 300 fighters have ever been used in each of the air wars since Desert Storm, the authors point out), and the Navy could accelerate its retirement of some cruisers. Rotational deployments -- which do not include families and which enable the military to have a less disruptive presence in some countries -- could also help create a path to fiscal sustainability, Blechman said. "The Air Force started moving to that model in the 1990s.... I think they will resume it again, and we think the Army can follow the same model," he said. "It gives predictability and avoids the problems of being ensnared overseas."

The report was signed by a number of retired generals, from the Army's Daniel Christman to the Navy's Bill Owens to the Marine's Jim Cartwright to the Air Force's Dave Deptula. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Leslie Gelb, Gordon Adams, and Graham Allison, among others, were also a part of the defense advisory committee and embrace its conclusions. The report, out early this morning:

Jill Kelley and her husband Scott created the "Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation" in 2005 to "conduct research into efforts to discover ways to improve the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients." And according to a 2007 tax return, the charity raised $157,000. But it spent the same amount on expenses. "There's no record of cancer research or no record of care for patients," CNN's Drew Griffin reported. The charity spent $43,000 on meals and entertainment, nearly $9,000 on automotive expenses, and nearly $7,000 on "dues and subscriptions." CNN reports that another $58,000 was spent on "program services," but there is no record of what that is. The charity was dissolved in 2007 but retains its 501 (c)(3)status with the IRS.