National Security

Good intel: get out of buildings, onto the streets

The trouble with the Asia pivot; Cyber vulnerabilities at DOE; Allen’s hope for a quick investigation, and more.

As dozens more people have died in the escalating violence between Israel and Gaza, a personal appeal for a cease-fire from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon late yesterday: "This must stop," he said. Moon is traveling to the region today.

Meanwhile: "Utterly ridiculous and extremely regrettable" is the way Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima described an incident yesterday in which a Marine officer was found in a room that was not his own, apparently after drinking too heavily and trespassing on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Japanese are still seething over an incident last month in which two American sailors allegedly raped an Okinawan girl. That incident resulted in a curfew for American personnel that the Marine officer, Lt. Tomas Chanquet, appeared to have broken when he was discovered sleeping in a building on Okinawa.

It's certainly not the first time American service members have gotten into trouble there, but it's this kind of low-level wrongdoing that keeps defense officials up at night as the Pentagon takes the plunge into Asia. The current debate now is to what extent the U.S. will create large bases on which to operate in the region as it builds its presence to counter China (not likely) or if it will instead build stronger relationships with allies, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's trip last week was meant to do, and use those relationships to leverage its effect in the region while limiting the impact American service members have on local communities (way more likely - and cheaper).

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report, where the lull after the storm leaves us nervous and fidgety. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

In the post-Petraeus era, former agency folks say get out of the building and onto the street. There is a popular narrative coming out of last week among former intelligence officers when it comes to how the CIA should do its job after Petraeus. Drone operations and counter-terrorism activity in general has impeded the agency's ability to focus on collection, and the insatiable demand for targeting information, which requires less shoe leather and more computer screen time, means other important information may be overlooked at the peril of national security. Of course, it's not as simple as that, but the notion is that the kind of CT operations the Obama administration focuses on has drowned out important voices in the intelligence community. Indeed, many have said for a long time that the agency should return to its roots in collecting and analyzing intelligence and move away from paramilitary operations that some believe are more of the Pentagon's domain anyway.

"Let the military do their work and focus on intel-gathering," said a former analyst who wrote "The Human Factor," under the pseudonym Ishmael Jones. "It's what we need to do."

Jones said he benefited from spending most of his career outside of Washington and outside of buildings and headquarters, where the real work of intelligence collection and analysis is done.

"We need to get more guys out of the embassies, get ‘em out on the streets and then they can spy," he said. "It's not military work, it's briefcase work," he said.

Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, offers a perfect example of the kind of lean, fast, and flexible intelligence agency the U.S. needs to perform effective human-source intelligence work, Jones said.

Although much has been said about the culture shock Petraeus experienced when he left the military and arrived at the CIA, Jones and others believe he was trying to move the agency in the right direction and wanted to conduct a "rewriting of intelligence collection."

Former acting CIA director John McLaughlin told Situation Report that in collecting intelligence the U.S. must think like players of three-dimensional chess, not checkers.

"I don't see it as a situation where the agency has to move away from its operational posture. I see it as a situation where the president is going to continue to want those things from the CIA, but the CIA is going to have to deliver on classic collection and analysis," he said this weekend.

Will Petraeus' successor at CIA be a strong leader? Another former senior intelligence officer tells Situation Report that whoever replaces Petraeus, be it deputy director Mike Morell or perhaps White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan or somebody else, the agency needs a true leader who will get CIA back to basics -- not a "bureaucratically weak" director who blows with the political winds.

"I wish the intelligence community and CIA would get back into the intelligence business, instead of all this paramilitary stuff," the officer says. "We do need clandestine operations, we do need somebody to do military and paramilitary operations, but not to the exclusion of intelligence."

The officer describes the fear within the agency that the next leader may be like some in the national security apparatus today who give short shrift to intelligence but use it for access to the White House.

"Instead of using their skills to challenge common wisdom, to put the policy people off balance, they used their credibility in intelligence to validate what people in policy already wanted to do."

Petraeus' transition from military to civilian life was awkward, and he experienced cultural and personality clashes at the agency, the former officer, who did not work under Petraeus, says. He arrived there wanting to understand the issues, but the culture change he confronted and the recognition that he was no longer a four-star commander contributed to his inability to have as much of an impact as he might have thought he'd have. "I think all that went away when he realized that he couldn't lead but he had to follow."

It's unclear who will lead CIA, although McLaughlin says Acting Director Mike Morell would be an excellent choice: "At the end of the day, the guy walking into the Sit Room or the guy sitting down with the president has to take a dispassionate view.... The current acting director is that kind of a person."

McLaughlin's piece on "Spying 2.0" in Global Brief:

Meanwhile, the investigation into Allen's e-mail traffic may be quick. Unlike typical Department of Defense inspector general investigations, which are notorious for taking months to complete, the Allen investigation may take far less time. The White House's statements of support may reflect the expectation that Allen will be exonerated and then re-nominated for the job in Europe. If the investigation is indeed limited to reading the 20,000-30,000 pages of e-mails -- which many believe amount to only a few hundred actual e-mail exchanges because of copies and replies and forwards -- then officials say it shouldn't take much time to complete the investigation. But if the e-mail chains lead investigators to additional information that requires scrutiny, it will jeopardize Allen's chances for promotion and re-nomination to be Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Allen supporters say that would be too bad. "I'm all for going after the brass, but this could turn out to be a real miscarriage," a former defense official told Situation Report.

Read "Hell Week," FP National Security's piece on what insiders say about the Petraeus and Allen scandal here:

The good news? Cyber-security threats are down at DOE. The bad: there are still a lot of them, reports Killer Apps' John Reed: Although better cyber-security practices have reduced the number of reported vulnerabilities, "22 of those 38 vulnerabilities are brand-new while the remaining 16 went unresolved even after the inspector general noted them in 2011, according to a report released this month. This comes as the department has suffered ‘nearly 3,000 cyber-related incidents' over the last four years, according to the report."



Your Opinion Counts

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:

Welcome to the Friday edition of Situation Report, where we sometimes feel like we write for TMZ. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

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.

Gaza gets Hotter

Your Opinion Counts