National Security

Panetta expands cyber force; The secretive campaigns against Hagel; The wrong runway for Mattis; Why piracy is down in Somalia, and a little more.

The Pentagon is dramatically expanding its cyber force if it can hire nearly 5,000 people to do it. In Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's remaining days at Pentagon chief, he is knocking out a number of initiatives. Last week, it was women-in-combat. This week, it's cyber-security. He has approved a major expansion of the force of cyber-troops over the coming years to make it more than five times the size it is today, the WaPo's Ellen Nakashima reported yesterday. "The move, requested by the head of the Defense Department's Cyber Command, is part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force. The command, made up of about 900 personnel, will expand to include 4,900 troops and civilians," she wrote. An incident last year in which a virus wiped data from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian oil company particularly concerned Panetta, who has warned of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" during his tenure in office. WaPo story:

Killer Apps' John Reed's piece on what the Pentagon asked the services to do for cyber.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report, where the Pentagon actually feels cozy on this cold and rainy DC morn. But also empty, since the feds called for a delay due to weather. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just drop me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.

The anti-Hagel campaign continues even though Washington wisdom dictates he'll be confirmed. Groups on the left and the right continue to hit Hagel. "We're making a substantial buy in our targeted states and are looking to increase our paid advertising campaign as the nomination process continues," one official from Americans for a Strong Defense, one such group, told Situation Report on Friday. Unlike some of the other national campaigns against Hagel, Americans for a Strong Defense, headed by a handful of Republicans, is this week running state campaigns through a "six-figure buy" and a grass-roots campaign in North Carolina, Utah, Alaska, Louisiana, and Arkansas to target undecided senators, Situation Report is told.

ICYMI: NYT piece on how secret donors are funding the anti-Hagel campaign over the weekend: "Those groups are joining at least five others that are organizing to stop Mr. Hagel's confirmation, a goal even they acknowledge appears to be increasingly challenging. But the effort comes with a built-in consolation prize should it fail: depleting some of Mr. Obama's political capital as he embarks on a new term with fresh momentum."

Republicans are bummed about Obama's second term Cabinet picks. Republicans aren't digging some of President Barack Obama's nominees, including Hagel, whose confirmation hearings are Thursday. The WSJ reports this morning that Obama's picks appear to have been made without acknowledging Republican "sensitivities." Peter Nicholas: "Senate Republicans are expected to zero in on Mr. Hagel's vote in opposition to naming the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and to question a comment he once made about the ‘Jewish lobby.'"

Want to know what experts make of the Brennan, Hagel, and Kerry team? Attend the first big event hosted by the newly merged think tank that is the Truman Project and the Center for National Policy. Doug Wilson, former Pentagon assistant secretary of defense for public affairs; Charles Stevenson, professorial lecturer in American foreign policy at SAIS; and the WaPo's Karen DeYoung will talk tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the Truman Project and CNP's offices on the Hill. One Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 333.

Remember the C-17 that landed at the wrong airport? Probably you don't. But it was carrying Jim Mattis. Killer Apps' John Reed spotted the Tampa Bay Times story: "The pilots were apparently so tired after a 12 hour flight from Italy that they landed the giant plane at an airport frequented by small propeller planes -- leaving the C-17 stranded for several days until its cargo could be offloaded, making the jet light enough to take off from the 3,580-foot runway, which is maybe a third the length of the runways at MacDill. But the best part of the story just became public. Among the C-17's cargo? Centcom boss Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who was flying into, or trying to fly into, Centcom headquarters at MacDill." Apparently, it's not the first time mil pilots have gotten confused, either.

Piracy has plummeted off the coast of Somalia. This month there were reports of a pirate called "Big Mouth" who quit the biz -- holding a press conference to announce it, no less -- and giving the American government and the international community reason to feel good that the combination of measures taken by the shipping industry and international governments, to include increased prosecution even of low-level pirates, has paid off.

"This multi-pronged strategy has led to results," Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told Situation Report in a recent interview. "We're seeing more pirates prosecuted, fewer ships being attacked, the statistics are striking."

According to the Navy, there has been a 75 percent decline in overall pirate attacks in 2012 over the year before. And the number of attacks in 2011 were half that what they were in 2010. Independent sources, Shapiro's office points out, substantiate the same trend. Last year, pirates captured 10 vessels, compared to 34 in 2011 and 68 in 2010, according to data provided Situation Report by State; and the last successful attack of a commercial vessel was in May of last year.

More stats: In January 2011, pirates held 31 ships and 710 hostages; today, pirates are holding four ships and 108 hostages.

Despite fears that putting armed guards on ships would create a Wild West, cowboys-at-sea climate, violence has not increased significantly, Shapiro told Situation Report. And since the skiffs pirates used only have so much capacity to hold heavy weapons, the pirates have not tried to one-up the guards aboard commercial vessels. Once the pirates realize that many ships are a "hard target," they refrain from attacking it, he said. Shapiro also said he was impressed also with the discipline that many commercial vessels exhibit when it comes to using weapons. In at least one shipping company, Shapiro said the ship's master controls the weapons and determines when they will shoot at a pirate skiff and when they won't. "It was clearly under control of the master, and it was not these teams running around, shooting in the water at anything that moved," Shapiro said. "There were clear lines of authority, lines of control." Efforts against the pirate facilitators and the financial networks have had an equal impact, he said.

Big Mouth's exit was a huge symbolic boon to the trend. "The investment is not paying off in the same way that it once did, so there are people who are exiting the business," Shapiro said.

Building up indigenous ground forces has also helped. What has really thwarted pirate networks is a ground force known as the Puntland Maritime Police Force, according to an expert who has worked on the ground in Somalia. The PMPF is about 400 men, recruited locally and trained to be a professional anti-piracy police force. And it's worked, says former Green Beret Roger Carstens, who is working on a project about Somalia and the maritime force and has spent much time on the ground there in recent months. "They basically went in and chased the pirates to keep them out," Carstens told Situation Report. "That kept the pirates out of the pirate towns, where they staged their attacks, and it screwed [their] investors," he said. But he warns that if support and resources ebb for the ground force, it could falter. That would be a good thing for the pirates.

"If they fail, you could easily see a resurgence of piracy writ large," Carstens said, emphasizing that the concentration of pirate activity emanates from Puntland, an area of northeastern Somalia that was declared an autonomous state in 1998.




National Security

Is Kim Jong Un for real? Why the guys-are-gross argument won’t work against integrating women; Old School: Barrow on women-in-combat; Mattis didn’t have a heads up he was out; Pizzas to Kabul; And a little more.

Is North Korea sounding scarier? North Korea is sounding more bellicose than usual as Kim Jong Un threatens what would be his first nuclear test and says the North's weapons would target the U.S. It was, as the NYT's David Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun wrote this morning, "more specific" than past warnings, and it comes at the same time that American intelligence shows the country is making strides in its nuclear and missile programs.

Some, including an AP report on Fox, say that North Korea's sabre rattling is just that. "If the past is any indication, its threats of war are overblown. But the chances it will conduct another nuclear test are high. And it is gaining ground in its missile program, experts say, though still a long way from seriously threatening the U.S. mainland."

Maybe, maybe not. MIT's John Park thinks North Korea's threats fit a trend and that the North is past the point of using those threats to be a bargaining chip. Park to Situation Report: "The days of North Korea using its nascent nuclear program as a bargaining chip for concessions are becoming more distant. Although North Korea has many more stages to go through before achieving a weaponized nuclear arsenal, this situation should not be viewed as a medium-term threat. The clear and present danger is that expanded long-range ballistic missile testing will expose the Asia-Pacific region's busy commercial sea lanes to increasing amounts of rocket debris. North Korea has long been a threat to international security because of its nuclear proliferation and missile sales. Now North Korea will become a top threat to regional safety."

Park adds early this morning: "The fact that we've passed the point of being able to engage the North Koreans in a grand bargain makes this a much bigger problem today than 3-4 months ago. Going forward, North Korean words are going to be rapidly translated into actions. Their claims that they'll launch more missile and nuclear tests aren't empty threats. It's more of a roadmap."

Welcome to Friday's edition of Situation Report, where we love us some metaphorical roadmaps, especially if they're easy to fold back up. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just drop me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.

Situation Report Reader: the "American Pie argument" against women in combat won't work. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey made their historic announcement yesterday that the Pentagon would begin the process to lift the ban on women serving in combat roles, ending what some would say is a fiction given that they are serving in combat zones already. In response to yesterday's WSJ op-ed by a former Marine who argues that combat shouldn't be open to women because of the gross things guys do in the field, Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of "A More Perfect Military," says: "If we accept this one, I suppose women shouldn't be medics, doctors, or nurses either, because women shouldn't be exposed to the raw reality of the human body. I know arguments ebb and flow, but this one is more than a hundred years old."

From the Women-in-Combat Archives: Watch retired Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Barrow (1979-1983) testify in 1991 to the SASC against integrating women into combat roles. Barrow: "It is most assuredly is about...combat effectiveness, combat readiness, winning the next conflict, and so we're talking about national security. Those who advocate change have some strange arguments, one of which is that the de facto women in combat situation already..., that women have been shot at, they've heard gunfire, they've been in areas where they could have been hit with missiles. Well exposure to danger is not combat, combat is a lot more than that... combat is finding and closing with and killin' or capturin' the enemy if you are down in the ground combat scheme of things. It's killin', that's what it is. And it's done in an environment that is often as difficult as you couldn't possibly imagine. Extreme environments, brutality, death, dying. It's [voice rising] uncivilized and women can't do it nor should they even [be] thought of as doing it. The requirements for strength and endurance renders them unable to do it.

And I may be old fashioned, but I think the very nature of women disqualifies them from doing it. Women give life, sustain life, nurture life, they don't take it. I just cannot imagine why we are engaged in this debate about the possibility even of pushing women down to the ground combat part of our profession. The most harm that could come would probably come to what it would do to the men in that kind of situation.... Perhaps Shakespeare said it best of all: ‘We few, we precious few, we band of brothers.' That's what it is, that would be shattered, that would be destroyed. If you want to make a combat unit ineffective, assign some women to it. It's a destructive proposition."

Only a few firing offenses : Unlike his predecessor, Bob Gates, who famously fired underperformers, Panetta has fired few people (although he forced Africom commander Gen. Kip Ward to retire as a three-star and showed the door to the head of personnel and readiness Cliff Stanley). A senior Pentagon official: "Some have said that Panetta hasn't fired enough people in the Pentagon. After yesterday's announcement on women in combat, you'd have to say that he's more interested in hiring than firing."

A slice of home: There are more than 30,000 pizzas on order for troops in Afghanistan for the Super Bowl under a program called "Pizza 4 Patriots."

Although no one has any QDR marching orders just yet, there sure is a lot of talk about it. Although the much-anticipated, always slightly disappointing bureaucratic exercise known as the Quadrennial Defense Review will begin any time now, it's clear that without a SecDef, there is only so much folks can do. Still, there is a lot of excitement about this year's QDR. This week, Stimson had an event with the Marines' Maj. Gen. Frank McKenzie. And today, CSIS will host another QDR event, this one an all-day thing, with notables like Todd Harrison, Mike O'Hanlon, Clark Murdock, Sean Brimley, David Berteau, and Gordon Adams. USIP's Steve Hadley gives the keynote.

We'd also tell you all about the Cato event on the pivot to Asia that is on the Hill this morning -- if registration wasn't already closed. Popular event.

Whither the U.S. on Mali? There was an interesting development over the last 24 hours, with a faction of the Mali rebels indicating they would peel off, potentially negotiate with the French, and go so far as to help fight other extremists in the northern part of the country. AP: "Three al-Qaida-linked extremist groups have controlled Mali's vast northeast for months, capitalizing on chaos that followed a coup d'etat in Mali's capital, Bamako, in March. But in a new sign of splintering, former Ansar Dine leader Alghabass Ag Intalla told the Associated Press on Thursday that he and his men were breaking off from Ansar Dine ‘so that we can be in control of our own fate.'" The leader said his group neither identified with AQIM or another group, the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa, but rather with a group with a set of grievances against the government.  

The WaPo this morning noted that buried in the line of questioning on Benghazi during SecState HRC's testimony the other day was a new thread: Clinton seems to be very clear on the need for U.S. engagement in North Africa, even as the White House seems to be unclear on a strategy in that region. Here's what Clinton said during testimony: "When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer and our security at home is threatened." But a WSJ story yesterday indicated the White House was dragging its feet when it came to helping the French defeat Islamic extremists in Mali's north. AP story:

WaPo op-ed on the different signals on Africa between HRC and the WH:

WSJ story on U.S. resistance to French plan.

Perhaps it will come up in the joint interview Obama and HRC are doing on ‘60 Minutes' on Sunday, being taped today, Politico reports.

There are more reports that Mattis was pushed. Earlier this week, we wrote about FP's Tom Ricks report, based on word he was getting from Pentagon insiders that Centcom Commander Gen. Jim Mattis was being pushed out for his concerns -- and the thorny questions he was asking at the White House -- about Iran and also Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ricks is writing this morning that he hears Mattis was given no heads up when he was replaced. He was traveling and in a meeting when an aide handed him a note saying the Pentagon had announced his replacement.

A friend tells Tom this sends an awful signal: "What message does it send to the Services [the capital ‘S' suggests his friend may be military or former military] when the one leader known for his war-fighting rather than diplomatic or bureaucratic political skills is retired early via one-sentence in the Pentagon's daily press handout? Even in battle, Mattis was inclusive of all under his command. He took the time to pull together his driver and guards after every day's rotation on the battlefield, telling them what he thought he had learned and asking them for input. Surely senior administration officials could have found the time to be gracious. But they didn't." Ricks' blog:

Tom's posts have resulted in more reports, including from the NY Post and Fox, that the White House is indeed pushing him out. While it appears increasingly true and definitely a provocative narrative, but it's not clear why, if the WH was trying to get rid of him, they would be doing it now -- so close to when Mattis was expected to leave anyway. Pentagon insiders will tell you he's been asking tough questions about Iran and Afghanistan for most of his tenure at Centcom. If his questions have been inconvenient - what was the breaking point? And, as the WH pointed out to Ricks,  the average time a combatant commander serves is 2.7 years; Mattis will have served 2.6 at Centcom if he leaves in March.

Speaking of Mattis: Are you smarter than a Marine? We missed this in November, when the Christian Science Monitor first published a mini-version of one test required to join the Marine Corps -- or any U.S. service for that matter. It's a smattering of 24 questions from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (or ASVAB) given to all U.S. military recruits, from math to comprehension to common sense. The real test has more than 100 questions. Take the test here: