National Security

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.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report.

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.

 

National Security

Fears of more violence Egypt; Greenwald: wiretapping is expansive; Behind closed doors: what $1.1 billion paid for at the Mark Center; The $24 million “propaganda plane” for Cuba; and a little bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

The situation in Egypt is getting worse - again. NYT's Robert Worth: "Among the muddy, crowded tents where tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been living for weeks in a vast sit-in protest, men in Islamic dress can still be seen carrying incongruous signs above the teeming crowd: ‘Liberals for Morsi,' ‘Christians for Morsi,' ‘Actors for Morsi.' It is the vestige of a plea for diverse allies in the Brotherhood's quest to reinstate President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military on July 3. But in the wake of the bloody street clashes that took place just outside the sit-in early on Saturday, leaving at least 72 Brotherhood supporters dead and hundreds wounded, another, more embattled language can be heard among the masses gathered around a large outdoor stage. Many Brotherhood members are enraged by the reaction of Christian leaders and the secular elite, who - the Islamists say - seemed to ignore or even endorse the killings while giving full-throated support to calls by Egypt's defense minister, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, for a continued crackdown." Read the rest, here.

Chuck Hagel, warning Al-Sisi that his clampdown on the Brotherhood might not end well. The White House is increasingly worried that Egypt's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood could go it underground and to take up arms. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has emerged as the administration's point man on Egypt, has been on the phone with Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi repeatedly over recent weeks, warning him that he could take it too far with the Islamist group. The WSJ's Adam Entous: "Despite those exhortations, Gen. Sisi called for massive demonstrations on Friday, which precipitated the deadliest single incident in the more than two years since Egypt's revolution. The U.S. also had sent messages urging calm to Brotherhood leaders, but officials said the group, like the military, showed little sign of backing down. Read the rest here.

Why the situation in Egypt is its own Perfect Storm. Sophia Jones, writing on FP: As the sun rose over Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque early Friday morning, the thousands of residents of the pro-Morsi tent city there prepared for their most direct confrontation yet with Egypt's military rulers. As mothers combed the hair of their young daughters and men read the morning newspaper, teenage boys lined up in military-like formation, chanting in unison that they would defy army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the new political order. In Sisi's televised address on Wednesday, July 24, following another deadly bombing that targeted police, the general who orchestrated the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi urged the Egyptian masses to "prove their will" and give security forces a "mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism." His remarks -- and the subsequent popular mobilization by both pro- and anti-Morsi groups -- have led to fears that Egypt is on the cusp of further bloodshed." Read the rest of her piece, here.

FP Slideshow: "Carnage in Cairo," here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report.

$1.1 billion and the doors don't even open right. There's another reason not to love the sparklingly new but never-popular Mark Center complex south of the Pentagon, where more than 6,000 military and defense civilians work behind closed doors. Or, in fact, not so much. Each of the building's interior doors is having to be replaced, refit or repaired because few of them latch correctly. The Pentagon blames the contractor for shoddy or "non-compliant" work on a building that cost a whopping $1.1 billion to complete, just last year, and is forcing the contractor, Duke Realty, in conjunction with Clark Construction, to replace more than 650 interior doors throughout the complex.

"An issue has been recently identified regarding contractual compliance with some door and lock assemblies and hardware," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Crosson told Situation Report, speaking for Washington Headquarters Services, which took more than a week to respond to basic questions about the project and then would not disclose the cost of the remediation work - saying that since the contractor is paying for it, WHS is unaware of the cost. Read more on this, below, including what Rep. Jim Moran thinks about it

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's a $24 million propaganda program for Cuba. The Cable's John Hudson writes: "It's difficult to find a more wasteful government program. For the last six years, the U.S. government has spent more than $24 million to fly a plane around Cuba and beam American-sponsored TV programming to the island's inhabitants. But every day the plane flies, the government in Havana blocks its signal. Few, if any, Cubans can see the broadcasts. The program is run by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, and for the last two years, it has asked Congress to scrap the program, citing its exorbitant expense and dubious cost-effectiveness. ‘The signal is heavily jammed by the Cuban government, significantly limiting this platform's reach and impact on the island,' reads the administration's fiscal year 2014 budget request.

But each year, hard-line anti-Castro members of Congress have rejected the recommendation and renewed funding for the program, called AeroMarti. Now, under the restrictions of government-wide belt-tightening, AeroMarti may finally die, but its fate has yet to be sealed. Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, to Hudson: "It's hard to believe we are still wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on beaming a jammed TV signal - that fewer than 1 percent of Cubans can see - from an airplane to the island." Read the rest of Hudson's report here.

NSA concerns reaching critical mass. The NYT this morning has a Behind the Music on the move to crack down on government surveillance under the headline, "Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance."  Jonathan Weisman: "[It] started with an odd couple from Michigan, Representatives Justin Amash, a young libertarian Republican known even to his friends as ‘chief wing nut,' and John Conyers Jr., an elder of the liberal left in his 25th House term. But what began on the political fringes only a week ago has built a momentum that even critics say may be unstoppable, drawing support from Republican and Democratic leaders, attracting moderates in both parties and pulling in some of the most respected voices on national security in the House. The rapidly shifting politics were reflected clearly in the House on Wednesday, when a plan to defund the National Security Agency's telephone data collection program fell just seven votes short of passage. Now, after initially signaling that they were comfortable with the scope of the N.S.A.'s collection of Americans' phone and Internet activities, but not their content, revealed last month by Edward J. Snowden, lawmakers are showing an increasing willingness to use legislation to curb those actions.  

"Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, have begun work on legislation in the House Judiciary Committee to significantly rein in N.S.A. telephone surveillance. Mr. Sensenbrenner said on Friday that he would have a bill ready when Congress returned from its August recess that would restrict phone surveillance to only those named as targets of a federal terrorism investigation, make significant changes to the secret court that oversees such programs and give businesses like Microsoft and Google permission to reveal their dealings before that court." Read the rest here.

Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, on the need to rein in NSA telephone surveillance: "There is a growing sense that things have really gone a-kilter here."

Could Snowden become Big Brother's BFF? FP's Shane Harris writes  that when former NSA contractor Snowden exposed the NSA's secrets, he did so saying he wanted to roll back a spying apparatus that put the U.S. on a path to "turnkey tyranny." But, Harris writes: "...his revelations could end up having the opposite effect. Instead of declawing a single surveillance state, Snowden's leaks could ironically wind up enhancing government spying around the globe. According to experts who are advising U.S. email, cloud data storage, and social media companies, executives are concerned that foreign governments -- particularly ones with fewer protections for personal privacy and free speech -- are already beginning to demand that U.S. tech companies relocate their servers and databases within their borders. Under normal circumstances, companies would rarely comply with those migration demands, especially if those countries have reputations for heavy-handed internal policing. But now that the United States is being seen as a global spying power, they may have little choice."

Meanwhile, on ABC's "This Week", Glenn Greenwald said Snowden isn't overstating one of his original claims: that relatively low-level workers like him have jaw-dropping access to wiretap just about anybody. Greenwald: "One of the most amazing parts of this entire episode has been that top-level national security officials like James Clapper really did get caught red-handed lying to the American Congress, which everyone now acknowledges, about what the NSA is doing...?The way that I know exactly what analysts have the capability to do when they're spying on Americans is that the story I've been working on for the last month that we're publishing this week very clearly sets forth what these programs are that NSA analysts -- low level ones, not just ones who work for the NSA, but private contractors like Mr. Snowden -- are able to do. The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they've collected over the last several years. And what these programs are, are very simple screens like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address and it does two things: it searches a database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you've entered. And it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address of that IP address do in the future. ??And it's all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst... And NSA officials are going to be testifying before the Senate on Wednesday. And I defy them to deny that these programs work exactly as I just said."

It's not Snowden, stupid. The Guardian's John Naughton writes that the press is missing the story on Snowden. He's not the story, Naughton writes, but the fate of the Internets is: The fact is "that the net is finished as a global network and that US firms' cloud services cannot be trusted."

The Doors at the Mark Center, continued:

Because the Mark Center contains agencies that work regularly with sensitive information, the broken doors pose a potential security risk, this for a complex that was built to consolidate a number of DOD agencies in one facility "that could meet DoD's high anti-terrorism security standards," according to the complex's Wikipedia entry.

Over the last several months, employees there began to notice that the heavy doors, typical for that kind of government building, were beginning to sag and as a result weren't latching properly. The door replacement project is about 75 percent complete and will be done by the end of September.

Tenants at the Mark Center: In addition to Washington Headquarters Services, which serves as the chief administrator for the Mark Center complex as well as the Pentagon itself, there are a number of policy offices located there, including representatives from DOD's Acquisition and Technology and Programs and Resources directorates and the Defense Education Activity department. The Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, which oversaw Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's controversial strategic review process, is also located at the Mark Center, which is about five miles south of the Pentagon on Interstate-395.

Not everyone's favorite place: The Mark Center complex was never at the top of anyone's list, due to its cost and the fact that it added thousands of employees with no access to a subway system and so poured traffic onto already congested area roads. The building was the result of a move by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005, which forced a number of DOD agencies, as well as the WHS itself, to move into a centralized location for the more than 6,400 employees. Critics have railed over the Mark Center over the years, from local politicians to regional leaders. Two years, ago, a Department of Defense Inspector General report that found the Defense Department's transportation management plan for the complex was based on faulty data. Employees started moving into the building last year.

Rep. Jim Moran, the Democrat from Virginia, to Situation Report via e-mail: "This is yet another example of the poor planning and high cost associated with the Mark Center... "We are continuing to monitor the situation closely, this latest development is just another disappointment related to the project."

Also: In addition to the door replacement project, there is a completely separate door installation contract in which doors are being added in some offices to help add an extra layer of security and keep information technology contractors, for example, who might be servicing a computer tower, for example, out of sensitive areas. "This is a standard practice in projects that require access to sensitive or otherwise controlled workspaces," Crosson said. "The afterhours work by the contractor is necessary to minimize disruptions to the workforce in the building during normal duty hours."

The Business of Defense

  • Defense One: Sequester and the supply chain: "Life or death" for the F-35's supply companies.
  • Defense News: Turkey's sat-launcher plans raises concerns.
  • Breaking Defense: Wall Street Journal scrambles to keep up with Breaking D.

The Stans

  • AFP: Taliban bomb kills nine in Afghanistan.
  • AP: UK troops return briefly to Helmand; questions raised on ANSF capabilities.
  • NYT: An Afghan media mogul, pushing boundaries.
  • Al Jazeera: Karzai to visit Pakistan, first time in more than a year.

Syria, Year Three


  • Reuters: Syria says army retakes Homs from rebels.
  • NYT: A link to Syria's ancient past endures as war creeps closer.