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.
- 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.