Dunford: U.S. must stay in Afg.; Is the CIA driving away talent?; In the House: Iran sanctions bill; Furloughs may get another haircut; The VA can’t measure GI Bill success; McCain remembers Bud Day; Whither Rosie the Riverter’s factory? And a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold
Joe Dunford says it's simple: Afghanistan still needs the U.S. - and for years to come. NYT's Matthew Rosenberg: "The problem for General Dunford, the commander of American and allied forces here, is that most Americans no longer seem to believe that the United States needs the war in Afghanistan. In an interview on Sunday that he had requested [italics ours], General Dunford, 58, sought to counter an abundance of disheartening news recently about the war and to make a case for why American troops need to stay in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year. A central theme in his pitch: Americans will not be fighting and dying here after 2014. Afghans are already doing most of the fighting, he said, and by the end of next year ‘the actual fighting on a day-to-day basis will all be done by Afghans.' But, Dunford says: "Afghan forces, at the end of 2014, won't be completely independent... Our presence post-2014 is necessary for the gains we have made to date to be sustainable. American forces will be critical behind the scenes for at least another three or four years, he said, to help Afghans master the nuts-and-bolts of running a military: logistics, intelligence analysis, developing the air force. Dunford: "We're not talking about putting people on the ground, in harm's way."
And: "For American generals, running the war effort in Afghanistan has always been as much a diplomatic sales job as a battlefield command. Most often, that has meant managing President Hamid Karzai, whose occasional anti-American outbursts have included a threat to join the Taliban and calling Americans demons. But a steady drumbeat of bad news has forced General Dunford to turn his attention to the home front in an effort to counter the spreading perception that the war is a failed enterprise. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week found that only 28 percent of Americans think the war is worth fighting."
SIGAR, this morning: the Afghan Public Protection Force raises questions about costs, capabilities. The Special Inspector General of Afghan Reconstruction is out with a report this morning about the APPF, which among other things provides security for reconstruction projects. From a statement by SIGAR, this morning: "The audit of the APPF found continuing concerns remain about the force's capabilities and costs. Implementing partners reported that APPF officers provided little benefit and were unable to perform required duties. Additionally, relying on the APPF as the sole provider of security services raises concerns for future unrestrained cost increases. As it currently stands, the APPF can unilaterally establish its rates without fear of competition." SIGAR also released its quarterly report to Congress, here. Audit of the APPF, here.
"Expeditionary Airmen:" Read U.S. News' Paul Shinkman's report from Bagram about a new counterinsurgency mission putting "expeditionary airmen" in harm's way, here.
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An internal document shows the CIA has internal management problems and they may be driving the good ones out of the agency. The Los Angeles Times this morning has a story on an Inspector General report that reflects management challenges within the agency. LAT's Ken Dilanian: "CIA officials often assert that while the spy agency's failures are known, its successes are hidden. But the clandestine organization celebrated for finding Osama bin Laden has been viewed by many of its own people as a place beset by bad management, where misjudgments by senior officials go unpunished, according to internal CIA documents and interviews with more than 20 former officers."
According to the IG report: "Perceptions of poor management, and a lack of accountability for poor management, comprised five of the top 10 reasons why people leave or consider leaving CIA and were the most frequent topic of concern among those who volunteered comments" and, according to the report, CIA employees complained of "poor first-line supervision, lack of communication about work-related matters and lack of support for prudent risk taking."
How many respondents to the 2009 survey said they were resigning, or thinking about it, cited poor management? 55 percent.
How long did it take for the LAT to get the heavily redacted report? Two years after a FOIA request. Read the whole LAT story here.
At around 1pm today, Bradley Manning will learn his fate. CNN: "After spending three years in custody, the man accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history will learn Tuesday whether he has been found guilty of aiding the enemy. A verdict from the judge in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning will be announced at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for the military district of Washington. If found guilty on the aiding the enemy charge, Manning could be sentenced to life in prison. He has pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen lesser charges that carry a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars." More here.
The question on Iran: squeeze harder or back off? The Cable's John Hudson: "With the House of Representatives expected to vote on a tough Iran sanctions bill on Wednesday, a cohort of liberal Democrats are staging a last-ditch effort to stop it. In a letter obtained by The Cable, Reps. Jim McDermott, John Conyers, Keith Ellison and Jim McGovern urge the House leadership to delay the vote on the bill which they fear could jeopardize the Obama administration's renewed effort to engage Iran's newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani on the country's nuclear program. The dispute highlights the wide gulf on Iran policy between Congress and the White House. On the one side, you have the Obama administration easing sanctions on Iran last week and planning to engage with Rouhani, a relative moderate, on the nuclear issue in September. On the other side, the Republican-controlled House wants to squeeze Iran's oil exports to a trickle in a bill expected to pass with ease. That bill could then move to the Senate Banking Committee in September." According to the letter: "We believe that it would be counterproductive and irresponsible to vote on this measure before Iran's new president is inaugurated on August 4, 2013... A diplomatic solution remains the best possible means for ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, and the House of Representatives should not preempt a potential opportunity to secure such an outcome with another sanctions bill." Read Hudson's post, here.
Hagel is now considering a larger trim to the number of furlough days. As we first reported July 12, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was looking at trimming the number of furlough days from 11 to as few as eight days, which would represent the third time the Pentagon has reduced the number of furlough days since the initiative was announced earlier this year - for22 days of furloughs. Yesterday, AP reported that furloughs could be trimmed again, to as few as six days. "Officials said no final decisions have been made, but they believe civilian workers will be forced to take six to eight unpaid days off rather than the 11 days that had been scheduled. The move comes as workers begin their fourth week of furloughs -- a decision that riled department employees and prompted many to complain directly to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he visited military bases earlier this month."
The Air Force is expanding across the Pacific - and around China. Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of the Air Force's Pacific Command, told reporters yesterday that the Air Force is expanding its military presence across the Asia-Pacific region, sending jets to Thailand, India, Singapore and Australia. Killer Apps' John Reed reports: "For a major chunk of America's military community, the so-called pivot to Asia might seem like nothing more than an empty catchphrase, especially with the Middle East, once again in flames. But for the Air Force at least, the shift is very real. And the idea behind its pivot is simple: ring China with U.S. and allied forces, just like the West did to the Soviet Union, back in the Cold War. U.S. military officials constantly say they aren't trying to contain China; they're working with the Chinese and other Pacific nations to ‘maintain stability' in the region. Still, a ring of bases looks an awful lot like something we've seen before." In Australia, Carlisle said, the Air Force will dispatch "fighters, tankers, and at some point in the future, maybe bombers on a rotational basis" during a breakfast with reporters yesterday. Reed writes that the jets will likely start their Australian presence sometime in the next year at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base at Darwin (already crowded with Marines), before moving to nearby RAAF Base Tindal, citing Carlisle's remarks at the breakfast. But, Reed writes: "This is just the start of the Air Force's plan to expand its presence in Asia," according to Carlisle.
When would a cyber attack result in a response with real-world weapons? Gen. Marty Dempsey recently took a shot at the question at an event at Brookings. Dempsey: "[T]here is an assumption out there, I think, and I would like to disabuse you of it, that a cyber attack that had destructive effects would be met by a cyber response...That's not necessarily the case...And I think that what the president of the United States would insist upon, actually, is that he had the options and the freedom of movement to decide what kind of response we would employ. And that's why I say I don't want to have necessarily a narrow conversation about what constitutes war in cyber, because the response could actually be in...one of the other traditional domains." Writing for Defense One, CSIS's Vincent Manzo: "In other words, the method of an attack does not dictate the means of reprisal. That Dempsey took care to say a cyber attack with "destructive effects" makes clear that he was not referring to cyber espionage and theft but an operation that causes death and destruction... Dempsey is threatening to respond to attacks in space or cyberspace by using military force against land, air, or sea-based targets and vice versa." Read the rest, here.
John McCain described fellow POW Bud Day as someone who lived such an extraordinary life that it could have filled 10 lifetimes. McCain honored his longtime friend Bud Day, a veteran of WWII and the Korean and Vietnam wars yesterday after Day, 88, died over the weekend. Day was one of the two men who cared for McCain after his plane was shot down and he was captured in North Vietnam in 1967. McCain, on the Senate floor yesterday: "I had the honor of being Bud's friend for almost five decades of his 88 years. We met in 1967, when the Vietnamese left me to die in the prison cell Bud shared with Major Norris Overly. But, Bud and Norris wouldn't let me die. They bathed me, fed me, nursed me, encouraged me and ordered me back to life. Norris did much of the work. But, Bud did all he could considering that he, too, had recently been near death - shot, bombed, beaten savagely by his captors, and his arm broken in three places. He was a hard man to kill and he expected the same from his subordinates. They saved my life - a big debt to repay, obviously. But more than that, Bud showed me how to save my self-respect and my honor. And, that is a debt I can never repay. Bud was a fierce - and I mean really fierce - resister. He could not be broken in spirit no matter how broken he was in body."
On Thursday, wish the Post-9/11 GI Bill a happy birthday. The generous tuition assistance plan for veterans has paid some $30 billion for the education and training of about one million service members, veterans and family members. It's an enormously popular program even as some wonder if there should be ways to trim it - namely, the transferability aspect of the bill that allows service members to transfer its benefits to family members. Still, it is considered a success story except for one thing: the VA can't measure its success, Army Times' Rick Maze reports. "VA officials cannot say how many people have graduated from college or vocational schools as a result of the program pushed through Congress on the efforts of former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. It also cannot say how many veterans have found jobs as a result of the program. However, VA is trying to get answers to those questions. Robert Worley, director of VA's education service, said the ability to show graduation and employment rates for students who have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill could become a important issue if the program is targeted for cuts. ‘This is why we are working so hard,' Worley said." Read the rest here.
Ash Carter hosted a Japanese official yesterday at the Pentagon. The readout, from Pentagon pressec George Little, on Japanese Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense Akinori Eto: "The two leaders discussed the strategic environment and the possibility of a review of the 1997 U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines in order to meet emerging opportunities and challenges. They agreed that strengthening cooperation with other regional partners, including the Republic of Korea, is an important element of promoting peace and stability...They also discussed progress being made with respect to the Joint Strike Fighter program. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch to build upon the strong bilateral relationship between their two countries."
Rosie the Riveter's factory might be demolished. AP reports from Ypsilanti Township in Michigan that the factory where Rosie showed "that a woman could do a ‘man's work' by building World War II-era bombers, making her an enduring symbol of American female empowerment, will be demolished if money can't be found to save it. The Willow Run Bomber Plant, a 332-acre former Ford Motor Co. factory west of Detroit that churned out nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II, is slated to be torn down unless a group can raise $3.5 million by Thursday to convert at least some of the structure into a new, expanded home for the nearby Yankee Art Museum." Larry Doe, 70, of Ypsilanti: "The younger generation needs to know what people went through and be able to go and see what they did and how they did it for our country."
Who was Rosie? AP: "Rose Will Monroe, a Kentucky native who moved to Michigan during the war, starred as herself in the film and became one of the best-known figures of that era. She represented the thousands of Rosies who took factory jobs making munitions, weaponry and other things while the nation's men were off fighting in Europe and the Pacific." Read the rest here.