By Gordon Lubold
Iraq is becoming more violent. Reuters: "A series of bomb attacks killed at least 22 people across Iraq on Monday, part of the country's worst wave of violence in around five years. At least 16 people died and 41 others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a crowded cafe in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. Two roadside bombs - one planted near a playground and another near a school - also killed six people and wounded dozens, some of them children, in the town of Muqdadiya, 50 miles northeast of the capital. Those blasts underlined a shift in tactics by suspected Islamist militants, who are increasingly targeting not only military checkpoints and marketplaces, but also cafes and recreational areas used by families and children. The latest bloodshed came as al Qaeda claimed responsibility for weekend bombings across Iraq which killed dozens of people during Eid al-Fitr, the festive end to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, heightening fears of even wider sectarian slaughter." More here.
Foreign Military Sales amid violence: the U.S. is poised to sell billions of dollars of equipment to Iraq. As Baghdad confronts a new wave of terrorism and violence, the Syrian conflict unfolds to the west and the Kurdish independence movement plays out in the north, the Pentagon has notified Congress of more than $4 billion worth of FMS to Iraq that includes everything from infantry carriers to ground to air rockets. Defense News' Paul McCleary: "And while these equipping, logistics, and maintenance deals are hardly small change, one US Army officer has recently said that dozens of deals worth billions of dollars more are in the pipeline. When taken as a whole, analysts say that the sales can be seen as a hedge against a variety of threats both internal and external, the most pressing of which remains the recent series of al-Qaida in Iraq-sponsored bomb attacks against Shia targets in Baghdad which have killed hundreds of Iraqis." Read the rest here.
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There are 148 senior civilians at DOD who never finished high school. The vast majority of GS-12 to GS-15 workers across the Defense Department are well-schooled. A handful aren't. According to the Pentagon, there are 148 DOD civilians who do not possess a high school degree or its equivalent. That's despite the fact that GS-12 workers can make, if they live in the greater Washington area, between $75,000 and $97,000 per year; GS-15 workers make between $124,000 and $156,000 annually in the same locale. It's not clear where the individuals who didn't finish high school reside across DOD, and it may not be in the D.C. area. But at a time when the Pentagon is furloughing civilian workers and examining compensation issues among the uniformed military, even the small number of civilian workers making such high salaries without completing high school is striking. According to DOD data provided to Situation Report, there are 105 GS-12 employees with no completed high school degree; there are 36 GS-13 workers with no high school degree; Among GS-14 workers, there is five. And among GS-15s, there are two individuals in the DOD work force who never finished high school. "There is not a general policy on education requirements for General Schedule (GS) positions ranging from 12 to 15," according to a Pentagon spokesperson, who pointed out that many GS positions - such as engineers and psychologists - have "positive education requirements."
GS qualifications and standards, here.
2013 GS payscale, here.
Other factoid: Out of roughly 800,000 defense civilian workers, only about 533 individuals received this rating: "did not meet expectations."
The File Denial Ends Here: the CIA did have a dossier on Noam Chomsky. The Cable's John Hudson: "For years, the Central Intelligence Agency denied it had a secret file on MIT professor and famed dissident Noam Chomsky. But a new government disclosure obtained by The Cable reveals for the first time that the agency did in fact gather records on the anti-war iconoclast during his heyday in the 1970s. The disclosure also reveals that Chomsky's entire CIA file was scrubbed from Langley's archives, raising questions as to when the file was destroyed and under what authority. The breakthrough in the search for Chomsky's CIA file comes in the form of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years, FOIA requests to the CIA garnered the same denial: "We did not locate any records responsive to your request." The denials were never entirely credible, given Chomsky's brazen anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s -- and the CIA's well-documented track record of domestic espionage in the Vietnam era. But the CIA kept denying, and many took the agency at its word. Now, a public records request by FOIA attorney Kel McClanahan reveals a memo between the CIA and the FBI that confirms the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky. Dated June 8, 1970, the memo discusses Chomsky's anti-war activities and asks the FBI for more information about an upcoming trip by anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The memo's author, a CIA official, says the trip has the "ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY" and requests "ANY INFORMATION" about the people associated with the trip. Read the rest at The Cable, here.
Dempsey is in Israel. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey is in Jerusalem and met with Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and had a "frank and wide-ranging discussion" on Syria as well as Iran and Egypt. Dempsey is also meeting today with Bibi Netanyahu.
USA Today's Jim Michaels, traveling with Dempsey: "America's top military officer said he remains concerned about Islamic extremist groups among the opposition in Syria but the United States and its allies are getting a clearer picture of the moderate groups they support. Dempsey: "I am concerned about the potential that the extremist ideologies will hijack what started out to be a kind of a popular movement to overthrow an oppressive regime." Read the rest here.
Staffers on a plane - Lt. Gen. Terry Wolf, Vice Admiral Harry Harris, Brig. Gen. Tom Cosentino, Joe Donovan, Cols. Ed Thomas, Dave Horan, John Novalis.
Reporters on a plane - NYT's Thom Shanker, Reuters' Phil Stewart and USA Today's Jim Michaels.
It's Old Home Week for Kerry before peace talks. The Globe's Bryan Bender: "The State Department's would-be arms control chief, Plymouth native Frank Rose, was once John Kerry's 17-year-old intern. Harvard Kennedy School scholar Sarah Sewell, who was first enlisted for his 2004 presidential run, has been nominated to take the reins of human rights policy. From the agency's chief of staff to its Mideast peace envoy, the new secretary of state has filled the top rungs of the State Department with numerous advisers from his 30-year political career in Massachusetts, according to a review of his six-month tenure. Secretaries of state have always had leeway to name their own top officials, but Kerry, like Hillary Rodham Clinton before him, is one of the few politicians to hold the top diplomatic post in modern times. That gives him a deep network of loyal political supporters and experts to take on leadership positions." Read Bender's piece here.
Irony alert: Pentagon sees "big data" as a national security risk. FP's Shane Harris: "The data divers at the Defense Department know better than most how to track down someone just by looking at his phone records. Now they want to know if America's enemies could cause a fiscal meltdown or a massive cyber attack by combing through Netflix queues, Uber accounts, and Twitter feeds.
The doomsday thinkers over at DARPA are looking for researchers to "investigate the national security threat posed by public data available either for purchase or through open sources." The question is, could a determined data miner use only publicly available information -- culled from Web pages and social media or from a consumer data broker -- to cause "nation-state type effects." Forget identify theft. DARPA appears to be talking about outing undercover intelligence officers; revealing military war plans; giving hackers a playbook for taking down a bank; or creating maps of sensitive government facilities. And: "The irony is delicious. At the time government officials are assuring Americans they have nothing to fear from the National Security Agency poring through their personal records, the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records." The rest, here. Who says mil-to-mil between the U.S. and Russia ain't swell: Intel from the Hagel-Kerry talks with Russia. During the talks late last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu not only invited American troops to observe Zapad 13, Moscow's annual military exercise with the Belarussians, but he also invited the U.S. to participate in a "tank competition" next year - on Russian soil, no less - in which American and European armor would be matched against Russian tanks. Backatcha: Shoygu announced that Russia had the best tanks in the world, and Kerry reminded him that Dempsey is himself a tanker, so the U.S. takes its tanks pretty damn seriously, too.
US Institute of Peace chosen by the Pentagon to facilitate the National Defense Panel, part of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. A review panel called the National Defense Panel has been appointed by the Pentagon to review the QDR, now getting underway now that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's strategic review is complete. As it did for the 2010 QDR, USIP will facilitate the review led by USIP's Paul Hughes, a retired Army colonel. As part of the Congressionally-mandated QDR process, the National Defense Panel is charged to review the QDR's finished product - due next year - and assess its assumptions, strategy, findings and risks. The panel will also conduct an independent assessment of a variety of possible force structures within the services, review resource requirements and provide recommendations to Congress and Hagel, according to a USIP statement.
On the panel: Co-chairs Bill Perry and John Abizaid; Eric Edelman, Jim Talent, Jim Marshall, Frank Kearney, Jim Cartwright, Michele Flournoy, Greg Martin, Michael Maples. For full release, click here.
Dakota Meyer, fighting to get his terp out of Afghanistan. Fox News' Justin Fishel and Jennifer Griffin: "Never leave a fallen comrade behind. That's the creed Sgt. Dakota Meyer -- later given the Medal of Honor for his actions -- was living by when he recovered four dead Americans in the Ganjgal Valley of Afghanistan during a deadly Taliban ambush. And it's the creed he cites today as he speaks out to try to save the life of a friend and comrade trapped in Afghanistan. An Afghan translator, who goes only by ‘Hafez' to protect his identity, fought alongside Meyer that day in September 2009 and has been waiting three years for a special visa that would allow him to live in the United States. Meyer fears that his application is being caught up in bureaucratic red tape and that if Hafez doesn't leave Afghanistan soon, he will be left behind." Read the rest, here.
Dan Prieto to OSD. Dan Prieto, a former senior staffer on the House Homeland Security Committee and until recently an executive at IBM, is heading to the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Penty. We're told he will be the Director for Cybersecurity and Technology in the office of the DoD Chief Information Officer. Among the things he's likely to focus on are working to help implement the requirements of President Obama's executive order on cybersecurity, deepening cyber engagement with Silicon Valley, and work to further strengthen relationships with Defense Industrial Base partners.
Stripes' Meg McCloskey, moving on: she's one of three new investigative reporters at ProPublica. McCloskey was hired to cover the military and DOD for ProPublica, the non-profit, investigative journalist organization that pursues subjects of exploration that are considered in the public interest. McCloskey, a former reporter for the Las Vega Sun before doing investigative journalism for Stars and Stripes, is headed to NY. Read more here.