National Security

David Sedney, leaving the Pentagon; The sexual assault crisis deepens for Hagel; Is the sailor’s kiss on V-J Day a sexual assault? No dressing down at DIA; Chaos aboard the Porter and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Sedney, departing. The deputy assistant secretary of defense for Af-Pak and a longtime Afghanistan hand, will leave the Pentagon May 31, according to the E-Ring's Kevin Baron. He will be replaced by Michael Dumont, a rear admiral in the Navy Reserve, who serves as chief of staff for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and deputy chief of staff for strategy, resources and plans there. Baron reports that "DOD policy denizen Jennifer Walsh will fill the seat in the short term." Sedney, one of the longest-serving DASDs, was a fixture on the defense secretary's so-called "Doomsday plane" anytime it went to Afghanistan. Pentagon pressec George Little yesterday called Sedney "a national treasure" who will be missed. Baron, on Dumont: "Dumont has extensive Af-Pak experience. He was chief of staff of the Office of the U.S. Defense Representative to Pakistan (ODRP) and then served as deputy chief of staff for stability operations at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command."

Hagel's biggest challenge as SecDef might not be the one he expected. No question the Pentagon's budget woes and regional instability in the Middle East and other operational issues will test Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. But the bigger leadership challenge, for now, will be resurrecting the military's reputation in light of the deepening sexual assault scandal, which took another, darker turn yesterday after revelations that an Army sergeant first class assigned to III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas was under investigation for pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault, and maltreatment of subordinates. Investigators are also looking into whether the soldier had forced a subordinate into prostitution, the WaPo and other outlets reported.

Again, it was a case of the person hired to monitor or prevent sexual assault being an alleged perpetrator.  The E-7 was also a program coordinator at the unit's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program -- echoing the case of the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention office, who was recently arrested on sexual battery charges. The sergeant was immediately removed from the job, and As a result of the new case, the Pentagon announced yesterday that Hagel had directed each service to re-train, re-credential, and re-screen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters. Hagel is also "looking urgently at every course of action to stamp out this deplorable conduct and ensure that those individuals up and down the chain of command who tolerate or engage in this behavior are appropriately held accountable," Little said.

Hagel is angry. Little, on Hagel getting the news about the latest incident: "I cannot convey strongly enough his frustration, anger, and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democrat from Missouri, who has been vocal on sexual assault issues in the military, says it's time to reevaluate who is being put into sexual assault prevention jobs.

McCaskill, in a statement last night: "Are folks filling these jobs who aren't succeeding elsewhere? Or are these jobs being given to our best leaders? These allegations only add to the mounting evidence of the need to change our military justice system to better hold perpetrators accountable and protect survivors of sexual assault."

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. If we can get it in, we will. And help us fill our candy dish: news of the military weird, strange trends, personnel comings-and-goings, and military stories of success or excess. And please follow us @glubold -- it would make our Wednesday.

PC Alert: Is the iconic image of the sailor kissing the nurse on V-J Day amount to a sexual assault? In a word, yes. The kiss seen ‘round the world was captured by crackerjack photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, who snapped the picture in New York's Times Square after the Japanese surrendered. Most people assume the sailor was embracing his girlfriend, but in fact, the apparently intoxicated sailor, upon hearing the news of the surrender, ran out into the streets kissing a number of women he didn't know. As a Marine officer noted to Situation Report by e-mail: "If in 2014 when our troops pull out of Afghanistan, a sailor, soldier or Marine were to do the same thing, aggressively kissing strange women in the street with no prior consent, he would be facing charges under the new Article 120 and if convicted could possibly be required to register as a ‘sex offender.'"

Does the Navy celebrate the kiss with a life-size statue on the base near the Battleship Missouri? Yup. There are two known statues recreating the iconic Eisenstaedt image, including a life-sized one near the battleship memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Pic of "Unconditional Surrender," here.

More from the Marine officer on what it all means - "From my perspective this statue seems to embody the disconnect in the messages society is putting out right now. I would say this is a ‘teaching moment' but I think that phrase is too cliché and is often over used by those generating the mixed messages in the first place. There are some adult conversations our whole society needs to have on the state of male-female relations, but I don't think we are mature enough yet to handle such a conversation without devolving into political posturing, name calling, slogans and epitaphs geared at galvanizing our own preconceptions rather than find understanding and consensus for achieving the greater good for all."

No one will be dressed down for the "Dress for Success" presentation at DIA. An informal presentation on how to dress for work was never officially sanctioned, but it caused a stir after US News' Washington Whispers reported about it in February. But now the presentation itself was released after a FOIA request, as reported by US News here. The presentation tells women to dress according to their personality, body types, skin, hair and eye color. US News: "In terms of makeup, the presentation does not ‘advocate the 'The Plain Jane' look' - makeup ‘helps women look more attractive,' after all. But it reminds employees that "too much makeup distracts from a professional look" - you want "just enough to accentuate your features." The presentation also assures women that open toed shoes, as long as they're heels, are ‘no longer a faux-pas' (thank God!). But don't wear any stockings with them." But news of the presentation rose to the top of DIA, where its director, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, has bigger things to worry about. A memo Flynn sent to employees distanced the agency from the presentation. "I apologize to the entire workforce for the unnecessary and serious distraction of this 'Dress for Success' briefing," Flynn's memo says. "I too find it highly offensive." The memo says the agency did not condone the briefing, and, as Flynn says, "even smart people do dumb things sometimes." But, he added, "no one is going to be taken to the wood shed over this."

The Army is committed to the pivot. When it comes to "military diplomacy," senior level exchanges, exercises, and other face-to-face interaction with commanders in the Asia-Pacific region, the Army is on board, Baron reports. Baron: "It's yet another sign of the Pentagon's commitment to the rebalancing and Asian regional security...much of what the Army does in the Pacific is walled-off from the budget cuts required by sequester, including all funds for the defense of South Korea and extending to all of the ‘enabler' forces required to support that mission. That makes cuts in other areas even deeper, especially equipment maintenance," said Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander of U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC). Wiercinski: "We've been able to fence our engagements throughout our theater of operations... Those will continue to move forward."

FOIA in action: Navy Times gets the recording from the bridge of the USS Porter as it collides with a tanker.  Blow-by-blow by NT's Sam Fellman: "The officer of the deck recommended turning right immediately, the standard maneuver. [Porter's commanding officer] Arriola disagreed. The ship slowed instead, the crew weighing their options. But the supertanker continued bearing down. The OOD recognized that the merchant was crossing ahead of them but didn't press the issue. In the confusion, Arriola made a fateful choice -- turn left and streak across a vessel's bow for the second time. ‘Hard left rudder!' Arriola bellowed, according to a pilothouse recording. Arriola ordered five whistle blasts, the danger signal, and full speed to try to make it across the tanker's path. ‘All engines ahead flank,' Arriola ordered. ‘Let's go. Get me up there, flank!' Porter did not make it clear in time. The most complete and vivid picture of these missteps and what happened next has emerged from newly released ship logs and recordings, including a four-minute audio tape of the collision, all obtained by Navy Times via a Freedom of Information Act request." Read NT's story and hear the audio here.

The Navy is pretty proud of the drone it launched off an aircraft carrier. Yesterday, the Navy sent out three press releases touting the launch of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator from the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, landing about an hour later at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. There was the first release, then the one with pictures, then a final one just to make sure everyone saw it. It was the system's first at-sea, catapult launch, and it went well, apparently. Not to be outdone, images emerged of a new stealth drone being developed by the Chinese. Killer Apps' John Reed reports: "These jets are meant to replace the current crop of slow, low-flying, propeller-driven UAVs that military planners assume will be highly vulnerable in a modern conflict where one nation doesn't have absolute control over airspace. For example, the U.S. Navy envisions these planes doing everything from aerial refueling missions to penetrating advanced air defenses to perform strike and surveillance sorties. Until now, we had only seen Chinese versions of U.S. drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper and what appears to be an attempt to field a high altitude, jet-powered spy plane similar to the RQ-4 Global Hawk."

Getting out of your bubble: how cartoonists see the Pentagon's budget woes. It's worth looking at even if not all of them are all that clever because it reflects how people outside Washington see the defense budget. A nod to US News for putting it together. See the slide show here.

A Pakistan election monitor in Lahore writes on Reuters about the election: "...the winners and losers matter less than the historic process. For the first time, the entire nation was galvanized by election fever. A stunning 36 million new voters registered, especially women and young people. Voter turnout was 60 percent compared to 44 percent in 2008. An unprecedented 15,600 people ran for national or regional political office. Many from outside the ranks of Pakistan's traditional leaders," writes Anja Manuel this morning.

John Allen, former ISAF commander, to Situation Report, on the elections, by e-mail: "This was a real victory for the democratic process in Pakistan.  The election is historic, and the Pakistani people are to be congratulated for persevering at the polls. With this vote, the Pakistani people said yes to democracy and no to the forces of extremism and terrorism, which would have had the outcome be otherwise."

Get smart: on cyber. Talk today with cyber experts about how the U.S. government and the private sector can work to protect systems and intellectual property in "The New Spycraft: Cyber Espionage in the 21st Century." Where/when: Noon to 1:15 p.m. at the Truman National Security Project and the Center for National Policy at One Massachusetts Ave., NW. On the panel: CNP President Scott Bates; Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for Mandiant; Emilian Papadopoulos, chief of staff for Good Harbor. @CNPonline.

Noting


  • Defense News: Southcom, where modern ISR was born, wants more assets.
  • The Week: Can the military solve its sexual assault crisis?
  • AP: Two Army generals (Allyn, Colt) to testify in Sinclair case. 
  • Politico: Fixing the VA-DOD health system fiasco.
  • Army Times: Sequestration effects will last for years. 
  • Bloomberg: Russia ousting U.S. official accused of spying.
  • National Interest: Bomb, coerce or contain Iran. 
  • CNN: Israeli military: Syrian rockets hit Golan Heights.
  • Reuters: Syrian Internet is down.

 

National Security

Hagel will furlough civilians 11 days; Is the Air Force ready in Europe? Dempsey, not big on mil intervention in Syria; Why carrying pens is an occupational hazard for journos at Karzai’s palace; and a little bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Hagel will announce later today that DOD will furlough civilian employees for 11 days this year. At a "town hall" meeting at the Pentagon later today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will announce that after trying to find a way to eliminate furloughs altogether, he will have to force defense civilians on unpaid leave for 11 days. But he will give the services the option of exempting some employees from the furloughs as needed. That will be welcome news for the Navy, which had complained that it was having to force shipyard workers on unpaid leave even though the service could save the money in other ways. "He's reducing the number of furlough days from 14 to 11 and tried to reduce the number even more," a senior defense official told Situation Report, confirming an AP story that popped earlier this morning. "But after several rounds of meetings on sequestration and asking for different furlough scenarios, he decided that we really don't have a choice but to save money for the remainder of FY13 to support military readiness, operations, and training," the official said. "No one is happy with having to make this tough decision, especially him."

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report, where we're coming at you from sunny Florida where, believe it or not, there's reporting to be done. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. If we can get it in, we will. And help us fill our candy dish: news of the military weird, strange trends, personnel comings-and-goings, and military stories of success or excess. And please follow us @glubold -- it would make our Tuesday.

Apologies - For the erratic arrival time of Situation Report the last few days. Technical difficulties have been holding us up recently. We apologize on behalf of the ^&*&%$!* technology that holds us captive and makes us say mean things to no one in particular.

If the U.S. decides to act in Syria -- or anywhere else -- the pilots it might need to fly the missions could be a little rusty. Budget cuts are dampening readiness rates across the services. For the Air Force in Europe, that means fewer fighter squadrons at the ready. As of April 8, U.S. Air Force, Europe command had to ground three of their six fighting squadrons. The Air Force was able to get half of one of the grounded squadrons ungrounded, but budget cuts are still forcing pilots from 2½ squadrons in Europe to sit on their hands. That will quickly become a readiness problem, says Col. Jeff Weed, deputy director of operations for the command in an interview last week with Situation Report. If the Air Force there is called up to do something in the region, there won't be as many fighter squadrons at the ready. "If you have something that happens that would require four fighter squadrons in Europe, you don't have that right now," Weed said, adding that the grounded squadrons could still be tasked if need be, but there would be additional risk because they wouldn't be as ready as the squadrons that have been flying.

Because of where it sits, at a number of bases across Europe, USAFE has the assets that are likely to be considered for being called into action if the administration were to intervene militarily in Syria or, say, in North Africa. But grounding the squadrons, which include F-15s and F-16s, means less training time for those pilots -- and fewer flying hours with coalition partners, as well, Weed said. Typically there are between five and six such training opportunities with partner nations, which fall under what's known as the Tactical Leadership Program. This year, two of those classes, of about two weeks each, have been cancelled due to sequestration, Weed said, preventing pilots from practicing as mission commanders -- a critical task. "For two of the classes, we didn't have the money."

Weed says that the squadrons who are training are ready, but it's a question of how much the ones that aren't flying can be prepared. "For those squadrons that have flying hours, we're as ready as we ever were. For those squadrons that don't have flying hours, they are doing everything they can to be ready without playing the game."

His comments flesh out what Air Force leaders have been saying for a while. Air Force Secretary Mike Donley, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, May 7: "We've been consuming Air Force readiness for several years and will continue to focus resources available to meet combatant commander requirements. But with the steep and late FY '13 budget reductions brought on by sequestration, the readiness hole that we've been trying to climb out of just got deeper."

When a squadron has stood down, what do the pilots do?

"Literally, they are not flying," he said. There is still a little to do, and some pilots can fly in the "sims," or simulators, but otherwise, there is not much to do, Weed said. "You don't need to be flying to learn more about your airplane, to study the tactics manuals, but just like playing a professional sport, the longer you don't fly, the more your skills atrophy."

CSIS Tony Cordesman says that it's "awfully early" to say if cuts have yet had an impact on readiness. And, he said, as far as reducing training opportunities with coalition partners, it's unclear if an initial mission, say in Syria, would go forward without the U.S. taking the lead anyway. A strike mission in Syria would be a very "complex and technologically challenging" one the U.S. might go alone at first anyway, he said.

CSBA's Todd Harrison says you can't cut spending in Afghanistan so training and other areas are always going to be vulnerable to cuts. "What is the real impact on readiness, we won't necessarily know until they stand back up and start flying again," he said. "You're telling them to stop burning the gas for a period of time, but you're accepting a readiness hit because of that."
Situation Report corrects -- In an item in yesterday's edition, we said that Juliette Kayyem won the Pulitzer. She was a finalist, and we regret the error.

When no means no. (And we're not talking about sexual assault.)  The E-Ring's Kevin Baron assembled all the times Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey has said he does not want to get mired in the Syrian conflict. Of course, he knows it's not up to him and he'll salute smartly and take that hill if the administration decides to move out. But in the meantime, his best military advice, at least publicly, is to steer clear.  February 12, 2012 - On CNN: "I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us." February 14, 2012 - To the Senate Armed Services Committee: "It is a much different situation than we collectively saw in Libya. I think that's an important point to make, because we don't have as clear an understanding of the nature of the opposition." May 28, 2012 - On CBS "This Morning": "I think diplomatic pressure should always precede any discussions about military options. And that's my job by the way is options, not policy. And so we'll - we'll be prepared to provide options if asked to do so." June 7, 2012 - In the Pentagon: "The pressures that are being brought to bear are simply not having the effect, I think, that we intend. But I'm not prepared to advocate that we abandon that track at this point." More here.

Smuggle a decent pen into a Karzai presser and you could be banned. The notoriously security-conscious guards at Afghan President Hamid Karzai's palace -- who once vanished temporarily with one reporter's prosthetic leg to X-ray it -- have now prohibited reporters from carrying their own pens into press conferences. Instead, reporters are required to check their pens along with their mobile phones and other items and collect them when they leave. The reporters are instead required to use pens distributed by Karzai's people. Problem? The pens are crappy. So at last week's presser, two regular reporters got creative.  The NYT's Matthew Rosenberg and Rod Nordland sneakily slipped their own writing instruments into their shoes. Great plan until they were caught. The two were escorted out to check their pens, they were handed two Afghan pens, and returned to the presser, we're told. We suspect Afghan security at the palace will be asking everyone to remove their shoes from now on.

Did Ash Carter bring his own pen? Deputy SecDef Ash Carter met with Karzai at the Presidential Palace and also visited ISAF forces in Jalalabad and met with U.S. troops. It's unclear what the two talked about, even as pressure grows on the U.S. to make a public commitment to security force levels after 2014. From a readout: "Deputy Secretary Carter congratulated President Karzai on the progress of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) that is enabling the Afghan Forces to take the lead in security in over 90 per cent of the country. Deputy Secretary Carter reiterated the strong U.S. partnership with Afghanistan and emphasized the continued U.S. commitment to support the ANSF into the future.  Deputy Secretary Carter expressed his admiration for the performance and professionalism of the ANSF."

Erdogan arrives in Washington this week -- and CAP is concerned. The Center for American Progress is out with a report this morning that raises concerns about U.S.-Turkey relations -- and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's visit here this week. As important as the bilateral relationship is, the U.S. must note the way in which Erdogan has pushed back on criticism at home. "[T]he Obama administration places strategic concerns at the heart of the U.S.-Turkish bilateral relationship. The United States did not explicitly sideline issues of democratization, but these issues were superseded by more pressing concerns," the new report says. "The sidelining of press freedom, minority rights, and judicial reform now threatens to impact the joint strategic project being advanced by the United States and Turkey to establish secure and democratic governance in the region and foster economic growth. The fact that Turkey has regressed on issues of press freedom and stalled on judicial reform undermines the persuasive power of the Turkish democratic model on the wider region." Full report here.

Noting


  • Real Clear Defense: No more blank checks for DOD.
  • AP: Navy to launch first drone from carrier.
  • Defense News: Stimson Center: DOD could trim $1 trillion without eroding combat power.
  • Stripes: Osaka mayor: "Wild Marines" should consider using prostitutes.
  • Military Times: Hagel open to all options to address sexual assault.
  • Haaretz: Netanyahu meets with Putin to discuss Syria, Iran.