National Security

FP Exclusive: Odierno says the Army must change; Hagel expected to be confirmed next week; Is the Taliban playing chess while the West plays “Chequers”? Why North Korea wants a test; Flournoy on HQ staff: they grow “like weeds”; and a little more.

Whither the Army? At the end of more than a decade of two large land wars and budget cuts forcing new thinking in the military's role in the world, the Army is at a crossroads. While the much-hyped pivot to Asia seems to give the strategic nod to the Air Force and the Navy, with the small Marine Corps not far behind, the Army is now seen as having to adapt quickly to position itself for a new future. For the man who has to lead that transition, it's all about explaining what the Army does, how important decisions today will affect tomorrow, and what the service must do to change. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno is releasing his "strategic intent" this morning exclusively on FP and here in Situation Report, where he makes the case that his service is still critical, still relevant, and still necessary in an uncertain world. But he says the service must also adapt to meet an array of new challenges by making forces more scalable and investing heavily -- and earlier in their careers -- in building leaders, all while remaining accountable to the taxpayers who make the force possible.

Odierno: "To posture the force for the complexities of the strategic environment, we must simultaneously reform our processes and training to generate forces scalable from squad to corps. We cannot afford to limit our planning to brigade combat teams. Our success going forward will be built on deploying the right soldiers, with the right training, in the right size units, at the right time. Small unit leadership will be at a premium in this potential environment of dispersed, decentralized operations. In some circumstances that may require small teams of soldiers engaged in partnership activities. Others may require the combined mass of brigades, divisions, or corps. This does not necessarily suggest a smaller force, but an Army capable of deploying tailored packages to the point of need, while retaining the ability to rapidly reassemble into larger combat formations as requirements change or small conflicts expand."

On the Army of today: "[A]n objective assessment of what is required to fulfill our mission in a complex future environment against a constantly evolving range of threats demands that we continue to invest in the specific skills, equipment, and forces needed to do so effectively. This demands foresight and innovation, as well as a bottom-up engagement by our most valuable asset -- our soldiers and leaders. It also requires recognition that the Army, like our nation, must be good stewards of our resources in an era of increasing fiscal austerity."

On keeping pace with technology: "The cyber revolution has created new ways for people to connect. Information passes instantly over great distances, and entire virtual communities have been created through social media.... [M]any of our adversaries lack the ability to confront our forces physically, choosing instead to employ virtual weapons with potentially devastating effect. We must take full advantage of these technologies, building our own capabilities to operate in cyberspace with the same level of skill and confidence we enjoy on the land. We will either adapt to this reality or risk ceding the advantage to future enemies."

On equipment and the leaders it needs: "This effort requires equipment that gives our squads, as the foundation of the force, capabilities that overwhelm any potential foe, enabled by vehicles that improve mobility and lethality while retaining survivability. It needs a network that connects all our assets across the joint force together in the most austere of environments to deliver decisive results in the shortest time possible. It demands leaders with the ability to think broadly and critically, aware of the cultural lenses through which their actions will be viewed and cognizant of the potential strategic ramifications of their decisions."

The Navy's Adm. Jon Greenert wrote on FP about the Navy's pivot to Asia in November and the Marine Corps' Lt. Gen. Richard Mills wrote on FP last fall about the need for the Corps to return to the littorals for the bulk of the operations in the future.

Odierno's likely new boss will probably be confirmed by the full Senate next week, we're told. There are still a good many people who believe Chuck Hagel is the right man for the Pentagon's top job, but his showing at the confirmation hearing Thursday was roundly considered lackluster. That's why he's still working the Hill this week, visiting senators who are seen as key to getting him the 70 votes the Hagel camp wants. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to vote Thursday, and the full Senate will take up the confirmation next week before the President's Day recess, Situation Report is told. That could put Hagel in office within a couple of weeks. Indeed, Panetta's Farewell Tour begins this week.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report, where we're always trying to confirm the metaphorical space monkey story, warts and all. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com. 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.

Waiting, watching, and wondering about North Korea. North Korea's threat of conducting a third nuclear test and whether it will be composed of plutonium or uranium is still a mystery as the NYT reports this morning.  Why the test in the first place? Siegfried Hecker writes on FP that the North is "greatly limited in its ability to miniaturize a nuclear device to fit on one of its missiles. The 2006 and 2009 tests demonstrated that North Korea can build a nuclear device, but that its nuclear arsenal is likely limited to bulky devices that would need to be delivered by plane, boat, or van, thereby greatly limiting their deterrent value. To make its nuclear arsenal more menacing and provide the deterrent power Pyongyang's vitriolic pronouncements are aimed to achieve, North Korea must demonstrate that it can deliver the weapons on missiles at a distance."

"Talks about talks" between Afghanistan and Pakistan are taking form. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met at British Prime Minister David Cameron's country residence, Chequers, yesterday and agreed to "seek" a six-month timeline for a peace settlement between the two countries. It is seen as the first tangible steps toward  reconciliation between the two countries. As the U.S. draws up plans to withdraw and sketch out a post-2014 presence, there is increasing pressure to find ways to end the violence. But the U.S. Institute of Peace's  Scott  says it's a little premature to get excited about what transpired yesterday. "It is difficult to ascribe much significance to an agreement like this when the Taliban are not a party to it," Smith told Situation Report in an e-mail. "This is also the third time that a ‘major breakthrough' has been to open the same office in Doha. Only two weeks ago opening the same office was a ‘breakthrough' at the Washington summit, and even then the office had already been open for more than a year. The breakthrough seems so insignificant, and the timeline seems so unrealistic, that it seems that the Taliban are playing chess, and they're playing Chequers."

Ash Carter visited Turkey yesterday. He went to the U.S. embassy in Ankara, where he reaffirmed his "conviction" that the suicide bombing there "would not shake U.S. and Turkish commitments" to work together against terrorism, according to a statement released by the Pentagon. He also met with Turkish guards and expressed condolences to the family of Mustafa Akarsu, the Turkish guard killed in the attack. Carter also visited with Minister of National Defense Ismet Yilmaz and Under Secretary for Defense Industry Murad Bayar to talk counter-terrorism, violence in Syria, as well as "defense industrial cooperation." Carter also visited the new American Patriot battery deployed to Gaziantep.

Michele Flournoy weighs in on how not to create a hollow force. Cuts are inevitable, she argues in the WSJ this morning, but there is a right way and a wrong way. With history as a guide, the tack taken is usually the wrong way. "...the easiest way to reduce Defense Department spending quickly is to enact across-the-board cuts in military end-strength, operations and maintenance, and procurement-solving the budget problem on the back of the force rather than on the department writ large," she writes. Past drawdowns were predicated on new eras of peace -- after Vietnam, World War II, the Cold War -- but "no such calm appears on the horizon," says Flournoy, who was passed over for SecDef but whose voice remains an important one in defense circles. So how to make cuts? Cut down headquarters staffs, eliminate "unnecessary overhead" in the Pentagon, reduce military healthcare costs, close bases the Pentagon doesn't need, and reform acquisition.

Staffs have grown like weeds, she says. The number of "DoD civilians" has grown by a whopping 100,000 in the last decade. As an example, when she served in the Pentagon in the mid-1990s, the policy shop had 600 people. Today it has nearly 1,000, she says. "Delayering" -- eliminating excess people -- can achieve 15-20 percent in cost savings in the private sector, according to Flournoy. "Imagine the savings and enhanced performance that could result from delayering the Pentagon."

Into Africa

  • BBC: Remote mountains of Mali perfect for guerillas. 
  • Reuters: France arrests suspected Islamists in rebel probe.
  • WaPo: In North Africa, a decade of anti-terror errors. 

Noting

  • FP's The E-Ring: Pentagon war planning on hold for budget fight. 
  • The Atlantic: Images of intense battle scenes in Damascus. 
  • Danger Room: Palm-sized copter is the latest spy drone in Afghanistan.
  • NightWatch:  North and South Korea, China, Mali, Egypt, Iran and Syria.
  • FP's Killer Apps: The DoE e-mail alerting employees of cyber attack.
  • Blogs of War: Nixon and the role of intelligence in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

The Stan

  • Time: Retrograde: learning lessons from Afghanistan's logistical nightmare.   
  • AP: Bombing of tea house kills three in northern Afghanistan. 
  • Trudy Rubin: The next steps in Afghanistan. 

National Security

Panetta begins to wrap it up; “The Devil of Ramadi” killed by a vet he was trying to help; Is Hagel a prepper? Dempsey: “I’m not going to grade [Hagel’s] homework”; SIGAR’s Sopko at CSIS today; and more.

Panetta begins wrapping it up this week. Although his likely successor, Chuck Hagel, has not been confirmed, Panetta is tying up loose ends around the building and could be on the plane home to California within weeks. Situation Report is told that this Friday is the first of many formal events marking his departure. Each of the services will come together for an "Armed Forces Farewell Tribute" at Conmy Hall at Fort Myer, where Panetta will make remarks. Tomorrow, Panetta will have his last quarterly meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to discuss service member transition and mental health issues. On Wednesday, Panetta will give what's being billed as a major address at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall on "the state of affairs in Washington and his charge to future leaders," Situation Report is told, which will likely touch on budget issues. And on Thursday, Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey will testify on Benghazi before the SASC.

Panetta today: He'll lead his daily staff meeting at the Pentagon this morning and then meet with service chiefs in the tank this afternoon.

Ash Carter is in Turkey today: We're told he has finished a round of bilats with senior Turkish defense officials. He also met this morning with embassy employees, including local security guards, who were present during the attack on the U.S. embassy last week. "Dr. Carter expressed his most heartfelt thanks for their efforts and emphasized the continued strength of the U.S.-Turkish alliance," according to a defense official.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report, where we're with Doctrine Man -- the MVP last night was the power outage -- even if Panetta's 49ers did ultimately fall and Flacco got the nod in the end. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com. 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.

Soldiers from Camp Courage during Alicia Keys' singing of the national anthem last night at 1:09 (thanks to Rich Spiegel). Video here.

Dempsey thinks Hagel, likely his future boss, is smart and well-prepared. Asked yesterday during his joint appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Hagel's preparations for Thursday's confirmation hearing, Dempsey said: "I'm not going to grade his homework. But I will say that in my conversations with him, he was well-prepared, articulate, concise." When MTP guest host Chuck Todd asked him about his confidence in Hagel, Dempsey displayed his characteristic orneriness. "I'm not going to speak about confidence. He could be my boss. And when is the last time you saw a subordinate discuss their confidence in their potential boss? But I think he's got great credentials, my personal contacts with him have been very positive. And if he's confirmed, I look forward to working with him."

Panetta, on MTP, on additional hardening of embassies: "The important things to do are first of all you've got to build up the host company, the host country capacity. In the end, these embassies do depend on host country, the details that provide security. So you've got to have -- you've got try to develop that. Second issue is you've to harden these embassies as much as possible. And the third is that we've been working with the State Department to -- to determine whether additional Marines ought to be assigned to that area. And in the end, then you know the final alternative is our ability to respond in having our troops in a position where they can respond quickly. But I have to tell you, a lot of that still is dependent on whether intelligence tells us that we've got a big problem and gives us enough warning so that we can get to the place so we can respond."

Panetta on sequester: "[I]f Congress stands back and allows sequester to take place, I think it would really be a shameful and irresponsible act."

Dempsey on if al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is the number one security threat to the U.S.: "No, I wouldn't describe them as the number one national security threat but they are a threat that is localized, becoming regionalized and left unaddressed will become a global threat."

Panetta on the mission in Afghanistan: "The mission in Afghanistan is to establish a secure and a capable Afghanistan that can govern itself and ensure that al Qaeda never again establishes a safe haven in that country."

Panetta, on State's new travel warning for Afghanistan that states "Afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of Afghan citizens and foreign visitors."

Panetta: "There's a war going on in Afghanistan. This is not -- you know, this is not your peaceful little paradise, you know, where tourists can go there to sun bathe. This is a war area. And, you know, the fact is we've made good progress in the war. We've been able to have 75 percent of their population now under Afghan control and security. We've been able to diminish the Taliban's capabilities. Violence has gone down. We're also developing an Afghan army that has increased its operational skill to provide security. So we're on the right path towards trying to give Afghanistan the opportunity to govern and secure itself."

ICYMI: Was it hard for Hagel the hunter to become the hunted? We looked at what went wrong last week with Chuck Hagel's testimony and if it was the man or the staff who seemed to inadequately prepare for the moment. Though Hagel will likely be confirmed, last week's hearing didn't do a lot to change any professed fence-sitters. The cause? It takes a extra effort to shake the self-assuredness of a senator sitting on the dais versus the discipline required to sit on the hot seat and answer annoying questions from senators who used to be your equal, argues one former administration official in our story published Friday night.

"It's about getting confirmed," said one former administration official familiar with prepping officials for Hill testimony. "It's not about impressing them with your knowledge, it's about living to fight another day." Others wonder if his preppers didn't do him any favors. "Hagel had what was thought to be a strong team preparing him for battle on the Hill, including Liz King, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, who worked for Gates and then Panetta. She's considered someone who knows the Hill inside and out and would take an airtight approach to prep. ‘She knows what each member is going to ask, she knows the committee very well,' said the former administration official. But she's also known for having a low-key, non-argumentative manner, handling internal divisions with a calm demeanor in what is a decidedly alpha-male environment. That low-key approach  may open her up to criticism of not being tough enough when it counts, said the former official.

Some observers speculated Hagel possesses a kind of arrogance that may have contributed to the lackluster performance and as a result, may have shrugged off any extra prep the team around him was prepared to give. Indeed, it may be difficult for the hunter to become the hunted. As a senator, Hagel was used to sitting on the dais, staring down at government officials testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and asking the tough questions. He had never played the opposing player. Hillary Clinton was seen as a master of discipline, moving smoothly from the dais to the confirmation table when she became secretary of state. And John Kerry, sworn in Friday as secretary of state, was so well versed in diplomatic issues as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee that he couldn't help but be embraced by his former colleagues."

Ex-sniper Chris Kyle, "The Devil of Ramadi," was killed trying to help a fellow vet. Navy SEAL, sniper, and best-selling author Chris Kyle was killed in Texas over the weekend after another vet, a Marine named Eddie Ray Routh whom he was trying to help work through post-deployment issues, turned his semi-automatic handgun on Kyle and a friend, killing them both. The NYT's story about the shooting, which happened at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Texas, says Kyle, who had served four tours in Iraq, had sought to help other veterans returning from war. The reasons for the shooting remain unclear, but Routh is in custody. NYT: "Friends of Mr. Kyle's said he had been well acquainted with the difficulties soldiers face returning to civilian life, and had devoted much of his time since retiring in 2009 to helping fellow soldiers overcome the traumas of war. ‘He served this country with extreme honor, but came home and was a servant leader in helping his brothers and sisters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder,' said Mr. Cox, also a former military sniper. ‘Everyone has their own inner struggles, but he was very proactive about the things he was dealing with.'"

Oprah Winfrey made Tom Geary get goose bumps. Winfrey did the voiceover for Jeep's half-time ad honoring troops that might have been a little much but came close to watering the eyes anyway. Geary, a mechanical contractor quoted by the WSJ in a piece about Superbowl ads this morning, said: "I got goose bumps; I was on the verge of crying." Winfrey, as troops return home and jump into shiny new Jeeps: "Because when you're home, we're more than a family. We are a nation. That is whole. Again." Watch here.

One of our favorite places we've never visited is the Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, either the final resting place or a holding area for as many as 5,000 military airplanes. The Air Force's Airman magazine did a great piece, "Holding Pattern," on Davis-Monthan here.

What will Afghanistan's reconstruction look like in the future? John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, appears at CSIS this morning for an event that coincides with SIGAR's quarterly report to Congress. Noting

  • CS Monitor: A quiet envoy to the hermit kingdom of North Korea. 
  • Global Post: U.S., South Korea show off their strength.  
  • Danger Room: How a chaotic hostage rescue foreshadows Afghanistan's future.
  • Haaretz: Iranian official says Israel will regret Syrian strike. 
  • Defense News: Navy cuts global fleet goal to 306 ships.
  • Informed Comment: Iranian president accuses Parliament speaker of corruption.
  • All Africa: French warplanes hit Islamists near Kidal. 
  • The Duffel Blog: Intel community predicts Superbowl victors.