National Security

No honor cordons at the Penty; Why the SEALs backed down; Fighting al-Shabab old school; Airman: keep my pay; Lockheed, BAE, feeling it; A new “Pentagon hammer” for State: $5 million wine glasses; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

SEAL tactics: grab and go. Unless you can't. Twenty years to the day after the failed "Black Hawk Down" Ranger mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, the commander of a Navy SEAL team attempting to extract a terrorist kingpin from a coastal village pulled his unit out as the mission started to founder and it became clear the militant leader couldn't be taken alive. The snatch-and-grab mission on Oct. 4 began as planned. SEAL Team Six, the same unit that targeted Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, approached the Somali coast in the darkness. Their target, according to U.S. military officials: the leader of al Qaeda's East Africa branch, a Somali-born Kenyan named Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima. Elements of the unit got past the beach, military officials tell Situation Report. But at some point during the perilous mission, the SEAL team came under heavy fire. It soon became clear to the unit commander that the team could not capture Ikrima alive, and he determined that they should abruptly withdraw without their prize. The risk to civilian life, as well as the threat to the team itself also drove what was described as a "conscious decision" to pull back out, a military official said. "Once the gunfight breaks out, they realize they're not going to be able to capture this guy without the risk becoming too high," the official added, confirming news first reported by CNN. "They made a decision, 'hey, not today,' and out they came." Retired special forces officer Roger Carstens, on how war and killing is a "business-like proposition:" "Risk is assessed, efforts are produced, and progress is ruthlessly measured," he said. "If the costs exceed the benefits, a withdrawal is ordered; No harm, no foul." Read the rest of our story here.

More of how it went down, according to NBC: "According to multiple U.S. military sources, the lead boat landed, and the assault team hit the beach near the Southern Somali town of Barawe, headed for the fortified seaside compound of their target. U.S. intelligence had determined that Ikrima, one of two terror suspects targeted by the military in simultaneous raids thousands of miles apart this weekend, planned the terror group's operations outside of Somalia. The SEALs entered the compound and took the positions they had selected based on the intelligence collected in advance of the raid. Then a lone al Shabaab fighter walked out into plain view, smoked a cigarette, and went back inside, one source familiar with the details of the raid said. The fighter played it cool, and gave no indication that he had spotted the SEALs. But he came back out shooting, firing rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle. Soon the American commandos were under siege from the warlord's well-armed fighters."

Breaking Defense's Sydney Freedberg on the raid model: The raid itself came like a blitzkrieg from the blue to outsiders. But for the American military and its African allies the headline-grabbing attack was just one part of a low-profile, years-long effort. It's a war the Pentagon's top counterterrorist,, assistant secretary of Defense Michael Sheehan, has publicly called a model for operations across Africa." More of his bit here.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us at and we'll stick you on. And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease. Remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold.

Holding Abu Anas al-Libi on the USS San Antonio while he is interrogated is the legal model the Obama White House likes. But Sen. Lindsey Graham wants to go old-school: send him to Gitmo. FP's John Hudson: "The Obama administration's expected decision to try suspected al Qaeda operative Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai in federal court in New York City as opposed to a military tribunal has relaunched a heated debate over the prosecution of suspected terrorists. Ruqai, known by his alias as Abu Anas al-Libi, is currently being interrogated on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean... a string of hawkish Republicans have come out against the idea of treating Libi as anything but an enemy combatant -- with some calling for his immediate detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ‘I believe the most responsible course of action would be to hold him as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay for intelligence gathering purposes,' Graham said in a statement. ‘U.S. Navy ships were never intended to be confinement and interrogation facilities in the War on the Terror. The use of ships, instead of Guantanamo Bay, will greatly compromise our ability to gather intelligence from captured terrorists.'" More here.

The "analog war:" Fighting al-Shabab in six easy steps. Speaking of Carstens, who has spent extensive time on the ground in Somalia since he retired, he has some advice to anyone talking about hunting down al-Shabab. Never start a sentence like this, he says: "When I was in Afghanistan..." Writing on FP, Carstens (who, btw, is now in Afghanistan!) "This is war Africa-style -- and the participants are all about keeping it personal, spiritual, and above all, analog. Expect cell phones instead of secure satellite communications, Toyota Land Cruisers as opposed to "up-armored" Humvees, and maps instead of GPS. And you can forget about the so-called "golden hour" -- a term that applies to being medically evacuated to a primary care facility within an hour of being wounded. If you get winged in Somalia, you are being evacuated in a Toyota or Casspir armored vehicle over a dirt road on a trip that may take 12 or more hours. And yes, you may die. Get happy. In short, anyone who wants to advise in Africa had better put in some time on the continent -- and even then couch any comments with respect and humility, recognizing that the mentees might have a few things to teach the mentor." Read his five other points here.

Look-ee here: The kind of raids conducted in Africa over the weekend could be done by uber cool, tricked out Army stealth choppers in 2030. FP's John Reed: "The Army is trying to revolutionize a chopper fleet that hasn't changed all that much in the last 30 years. Four companies are trotting out designs to make it happen. One proposed aircraft looks like a minivan with rotors; another, like a V-22 Osprey tilt rotor on steroids. There's also sleek, stealthy-looking chopper. And the last resembles an awkward cross between a UH-60 Black Hawk and a V-22. The Army last week signed ‘technology investment agreements' with the four firms -- a Bell-Lockheed Martin team, a Boeing-Sikorsky team, Karem Aircraft and AVX aviation -- to develop prototypes that will compete to be the basis for the ground service's light and medium-sized helicopters of the 21st Century." More here.

So it's come to this on #shutdown. An active duty airman, frustrated at the government shutdown and uncomfortable that the military has been singled out for pay when so many others aren't being paid, is harnessing his outrage to raise money to help feed Americans.  The airman has begun a fundraising Web site,, to raise awareness of the problems of shutdown - and hunger in America. "I was equally frustrated to see Congress choose to fund my paycheck while my brothers and sisters go without," said the Air Force Tech Sergeant in an e-mail to Situation Report and other media outlets, requesting anonymity. "I don't want it."

The airman created a site for service members to donate their paychecks or a portion of their paychecks to Feeding America, which he said feeds 37 million Americans each year. He has raised $7,000 of his $50,000 goal, he said. "Please help me send Congress this message: service members fight to protect and promote a more perfect union; this isn't it. And until Congress restores funding, we will step in and donate our paychecks along with our lives to protect the country we love." The airman sent the e-mail after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel lifted the furloughs for most defense civilians, but the Tech Sergeant's ire is more at Congress for failing to pass a budget to re-open government.

And to this. The latest indignity to a government shutdown? The Pentagon can't pay the $100,000 gratuity payments it sends immediately to troops who have been killed because there isn't the money to do it. The message seemed to be to Congress was: "seriously?" Also, the Pentagon noted yesterday, funding known as "CERP" that commanders have long used in warzones to help them glean intelligence, conduct outreach and help stabilize their areas of responsibility has dried up under the shutdown, and training for deploying units has also been curtailed.

And then there's this. Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli Minister of Defense, is arriving at the Pentagon today. But the traditional "honor cordon," in which soldiers or the ceremonial unit from other services, stand in formation with their rifles to welcome a foreign dignitary, won't be held. Why? We're told #governmentshutdown. The cost of outfitting the ceremonial teams in their finest dress uniforms and transporting them to the Pentagon, combined with the support the teams need from civilians - some of whom were not brought back to work under the order by Hagel over the weekend - means the honor cordons can't be held.

Furlough ain't just for defense civilians. Industry is feeling it, too. Defense News' Marcus Weisgerber: "Lockheed Martin began furloughing 2,400 employees who work in US government facilities that are closed due to the ongoing government shutdown, the company said Monday. The Maryland-based company has received a ‘stop-work order' for employees working in these government facilities, Lockheed spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in an email. ‘Of the 2,400 employees, approximately 2,100 work on civilian agency programs and 300 work on DOD programs,' he said. ‘The affected employees are located in 27 states, with the majority based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.' ... At BAE Systems, about 1,000 employees with the company's intelligence and security division have been ‘excused for work,' Linda Hudson, the company's president and said CEO, wrote Sunday on the BAE Systems website." Read the rest here.

Amid talk of an impasse between the U.S. and Afghanistan over the security agreement, Karzai says he wants a Loya Jirga. The WSJ's Nathan Hodge, in Kabul:  "Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would convene a traditional national gathering to scrutinize plans for a bilateral security agreement with the U.S., upping the ante in talks over a future American military presence in Afghanistan.

"Speaking to reporters Monday at the presidential palace in Kabul, Mr. Karzai said he would convene the Loya Jirga assembly of local Afghan representatives within a month to open ‘all aspects' of the proposed agreement to a national forum. The deal under negotiation between Kabul and Washington would pave the way for a small U.S.-led military force to conduct limited counterterrorism missions and oversee training of Afghanistan's army and police after the coalition's mandate expires at the end of 2014. But talks have been difficult, and disagreements persist over critical issues such as how U.S. forces would respond to external aggression and what latitude they would have in counterterrorism operations. Karzai: "The people of Afghanistan are the rulers, the decisions of this country lie with the people of Afghanistan, so whatever the people of Afghanistan decide, the government will obey." More here.

It's a State thing, you wouldn't understand. The State Department says it needs $5 million of new, hand-crafted glasses for its embassies overseas, in effect saying, it's the cost of doing business. FP's John Hudson: Congress is asking the State Department for specifics about a recent $5 million contract for handcrafted glasses for use in embassies around the world, The Cable has learned. The order, which came on the eve of last week's government shutdown, is a potential five-year contract for 20 different styles of custom handcrafted stem and barware from the Vermont-based glassblowing company Simon Pearce. The specifics of the congressional inquiry are unclear, but one Hill aide who contacted The Cable was less than enthused. "Seems like a poor use of funds given the current budget environment," he said. A State Department official, speaking on background, said the order was not unusual. 'It's probably not a surprise to you or anyone else that the State Department and our embassies have nice dinnerware,' the official said. ‘It would probably be expected for anyone representing the U.S. government abroad.' The official also said the timing, just before the government shutdown, was not atypical. ‘It's not unusual for lots of contracts to be awarded by the end of the fiscal year,' the source said." More here.

Speaking of State, it has a favorite anonymous network. FP's Shane Harris and Hudson: "A far-flung group of geeks, supported by the U.S. State Department, has built a tool for anonymous communication that's so secure that even the world's most sophisticated electronic spies haven't figured out how to crack it. That's the takeaway from the latest revelations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The NSA has used aggressive computer attack techniques to monitor people using the Tor network, a service that's funded by the U.S. government and allows users to remain anonymous when they're connected to the Internet. But the agency has not been able to undermine the core of the Tor system, which was developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in 2002. It remains a viable means for people to connect to the Internet anonymously. Although Tor's complete reliability has been called into question in light of the NSA's efforts -- which may have begun as early as 2006, according to the Washington Post -- for now it's State Department 1, NSA 0, in the anonymity wars." Read the rest here.

National Security

A tale of two raids; Hagel briefed two weeks ago; “Most” defense civilians return; Who is still non-essential?; Kayani calls it quits; Where is Lloyd Austin?; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Two bold raids, one suspect in custody. The twin, unrelated raids, one in Libya and the other in Somalia, put a new foreign policy win on the board for the Obama White House with the capture of Abu Anas al-Liby, accused of helping to plan the bombings of American embassies in 1998 in Africa and, after the successful raid in Libya, now in a brig on a Navy ship in the Med. The raid in Somalia did not go as planned, with Seal Team Six coming up rather empty handed after the daring mission in Somalia. In neither case were American lives lost, however. FP's Shane Harris: "Since President Obama stepped into the White House, his administration has had a rather consistent reaction when it located an accused terrorist: drop a Hellfire missile on the guy's head. Saturday was different...Capture may be the priority, but it's not the norm. The Obama administration has killed far more suspected terrorists and militants with drones and special operations strikes than it has brought back to face justice in the U.S. courts system. Indeed, on the same day that U.S. forces were capturing al-Liby, special operations commandos launched a strike in Somalia aimed at a senior leader of the terrorist group Al Shabab, which has claimed responsibility for the audacious assault against a shopping mall in Nairobi. The dual operations provided a stark example of the breadth of U.S. counterterrorism policy, which can encompass law enforcement actions as well as clandestine attacks." More here.

A rendition: The WaPo's Ernesto Londono: "The capture of an alleged al-Qaeda operative outside his home by Special Operations forces in Tripoli on Saturday and his secret removal from Libya was a rare instance of U.S. military involvement in ‘rendition,' the practice of grabbing terrorism suspects to face trial without an extradition proceeding and long the province of the CIA or the FBI. U.S. officials hailed the capture of [Abu Anas al-Liby] who was wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, as an intelligence coup that will disrupt efforts by al-Qaeda to strengthen its franchise in North Africa." The rest here.

Underreported: the fact that the Somalia raid came 20 years to the day after "The Day of the Ranger," otherwise known as the Battle of Mogadishu or Black Hawk Down. Somalia had remained, notionally at least, the operational "third rail," something no one wanted to touch.

The role Hagel played. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was briefed two weeks ago from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey and the Vice-Chairman, Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, along with Under Secretary for Defense Mike Vickers and other senior leaders on Libya and for Somalia, respectively. Hagel made his decision to recommend action a few weeks ago to the White House, where the President ultimately signed off, a senior defense official tells Situation Report.

The raids showed what can be done in this new era of warfare - and what can't always be done. The NYT's David Sanger and Peter Baker: "Four vans with tinted windows converged in a comfortable Tripoli neighborhood as a leader of Al Qaeda returned home on Saturday from early morning prayers. As his wife watched with alarm from a window, the men - armed with silencer-equipped weapons, some masked and some not - smashed his car window. Within moments, they were gone, taking with them one of America's most wanted terror suspects. Around the same time about 3,000 miles away, highly trained commandos from the same Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden slipped out of the sea and stormed into a villa in Somalia to capture another man high on America's target list. Met by a hail of bullets and then a lengthy gunfight, they withdrew without their quarry from a country best known to many Americans as the scene of ‘Black Hawk Down.'

The latest chapter in President Obama's efforts to combat Al Qaeda and its loose affiliates turned out to be a tale of two raids, one that succeeded and one that did not. The seizure of Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, better known as Abu Anas al-Libi, from outside his home in Tripoli, where he was living largely in the open, represented a long-sought victory for the United States. But the failure of the Somalia operation underscored the limits of America's power even for one of its most storied military units.

"Thanks in part to the Bin Laden raid in Pakistan by SEAL Team Six in 2011, many Americans have become accustomed to the triumphs of Special Forces and see them as a substitute for the larger-scale military operations that characterized Iraq and Afghanistan for so many years. The disparate results in two corners of North Africa over the weekend served as a reminder of the uncertainties and dangers inherent in any form of warfare." Read the rest here.

Is there an African Pivot now? The Atlantic's Hilary Matfess, here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us at and we'll stick you on. And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease. Remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold.

He knew they were coming: the story you didn't know, the one about al-Shabab's attack on the U.N. in Mogadishu earlier this year. FP's Colum Lynch: "It started on an uneventful day in May 2013, three weeks before the United Nations' newly-minted special representative, Nicholas Kay, was due to arrive in Mogadishu. Kay's presence would inaugurate a new era of international support for Somalia's Western-backed government, which was not yet one year old. Behind closed doors, a U.N. security analyst received a troubling intelligence tip: Al-Shabab, Somalia's then-dormant Islamist militant group, which would orchestrate the bloody Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi just a few months later, was plotting a sophisticated terrorist strike against a list of Somali government facilities and outposts of its African and Western allies. The prime target, however, was the U.N.'s humanitarian compound in downtown Mogadishu."

Lynch's detailed account of the attack itself: "It was nearly 11:30 a.m., when Abdiqadir Abshir Mohamud, a Somali security guard, peered out from his station at Guard Tower #1 and noticed a suspicious vehicle approaching the U.N.'s front gate. Instinctively, he picked up his radio and sent out an alarm to his colleagues. Before he had time to fire, the suicide bomber drove up to the front gate and triggered an explosion that blew a steel door from the compound entrance. In an instant, Mohamud was dead, killed by the force of the blast. The scene inside the U.N. compound was immediately chaotic. Ibrahim Hassan Abdille, a Somali security guard posted at the front gate and his supervisor, Arshur Hussein Hashi, were injured by the blast. Shaken badly, Hashi crawled on his hands and knees for cover. The last thing he saw before he passed out was a militant entering the blown-out entrance and one of his guards, Dahir Abdulee Mo-alim, lying mortally wounded. Bayhal Mohamed Osman, another Somali guard, survived the explosion, taking cover behind a row of concrete Hesco barriers that formed an inner wall of security separating the majority of U.N. staffers from their predators. His training had taught him to anticipate a second stage of attack. "When I heard the first boom, I knew they were coming," Osman later told U.N. officials." The rest of Lynch's story here.

The Pentagon will once again swell with civilian workers today. As the government shutdown stumbles into its second week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement Saturday means most of the 400,000 defense civilians who were furloughed are returning to work today. Some House Republicans, including Rep. Buck McKeon of California and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had urged Hagel to expand the definition of what workers were exempted from being furloughed under the government shutdown. But Hagel was attempting to cross his ‘T's and dot his ‘I's. Only after careful consultation with the Department of Justice and his own general counsel did he feel comfortable issuing an order for most of those furloughed to return to work today. Of the roughly 9,200 federal civilians at the Pentagon, about 90 percent of them, about 8,200, were on furlough and will return to work today.

Chuck Hagel's plane slowed down on Friday so he could finish two important video teleconference meetings. On his return from Asia on Friday aboard the E-4B "Doomsday" plane, the digital map showing the plane's flight path through Illinois and Indiana showed it turning its heading toward Texas at one point. At the same time, the "Time to Land" clock counter on the cabin wall, which typically counts downward the time before touchdown, started to increase in time, drawing some attention after 12 hours of flight. But the plane wasn't headed to Texas, at least not for long. A senior defense official told Situation Report that Hagel was on secure video teleconferences, one for furloughs and another for Afghanistan. Indeed, the Secretary was ensconced during most of the ride home.  Pilots had to add flight time in order for the Secretary to finish his calls and so took the long way back to D.C.

Still on furlough: The Early Bird. Since Hagel announced the return of "most" civilians from furlough, it was a question - who isn't returning? Turns out, the "POMA" (Pay our Military Act) doesn't include people from legislative affairs, chief information officer's office, the Office of the Inspector General and public affairs. So as Congress continues in its failure to pass a budget, some defense legislative people are still not on hand; information technology civilians are still at home, and the Act also deems the Office of the DoD Inspector General to be non-essential as well. Who else isn't covered? Many in the Pentagon's public affairs apparatus.  Civilian media spokespeople, speechwriters, photographers and community relations folks will remain on furlough. And that includes the folks at the Early Bird, the widely-read early morning e-mail highlighting articles on defense, which will stay dark for now.

The really non-essentials. Outside the Beltway's James Joyner: "First, there's something extremely awkward about calling back 90 percent of your civilian workforce. Under the earlier sequestration furloughs (which occurred before I entered federal service) and this past week's shutdown furloughs, there was at least the solidarity that came with virtually everyone being declared ‘unessential.' Indeed, there were constant jokes at the conference from those of us who teach at professional military education programs, Congressional Research Service researchers, and other furloughed employees who traveled on our own dimes about our shared fate. Now, though, we're going to have a relative handful of our ranks who are going to be declared not only "unessential" but told that they do not ‘contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.' That's a morale killer. More of his bit, here.

Twitter of the times: no Sunday football for many troops: "@PaulRieckhoff: Many overseas troops have no football today. Good for Howie for bringing it up. #FOXNFLKickoff #EndTheShutdown #IAVA"

On Rachel Maddow, last week, the GOP "flounders" to describe why again the government is shutdown. Watch it here.

Pakistan's Kayani to retire. Long thought to be in the works this fall, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani - considered a longtime friend to the U.S. military, and to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen in particular - is calling it quits. The announcement of his retirement means that he would not be appointed to another senior military job in a move thought to bolster democracy in the "coup-prone nation," as The WSJ termed it this morning. The WSJ's Saeed Shah: "The army's chief for six years, Gen. Kayani was credited with overseeing the U.S. ally's first democratic transfer of power, after this year's elections. He also launched the first serious operations against Pakistani Taliban militants in the troubled north west, in 2009... Gen. Kayani's announcement came just days after Pakistan's military and civilian officials had said he was lobbying the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for an extension in his service or another senior job inside or outside the armed forces. One possibility, these officials had said, was promoting Gen. Kayani to the military's Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, a largely ceremonial post that would have been endowed with new powers. Some officials believe that Gen. Kayani may yet be given temporary additional charge of the Joint Chiefs job, which falls vacant on Monday, until he retires as army chief on Nov. 29. He had also discussed two key civilian jobs with the government: becoming its defense adviser or ambassador to the U.S., which appear to remain possibilities, officials said. In 2010, the previous government had reappointed Gen. Kayani to a second three-year term as army chief, the most powerful job in the country's military." More here.

Dawn's Iftikhar Khan in a page oner:"For days now, Islamabad had been witness to speculations that like the PPP government that came earlier Sharif too had succumbed to pressure (be it military or American) and agreed to give Kayani an extension. The rationale for this was no different from the one presented in 2010 - continuation of policies and a stable environment which was needed as the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan and Pakistan battled militancy." More here.

Who's Lloyd Austin? The U.S. Central Command commander who has barely made a peep since being confirmed for still the most important combatant command jobs there is, turned up in Kabul over the weekend. Austin is told Pakistan will help facilitate the Afghan drawdown. IHT: "...The US commander, while terming Pakistan as a vital partner for regional security, appreciated its role in facilitating the drawdown. General Austin said that consultative forums like DCG had helped cement our military to military relations aimed at improving peace and stability in the region. He added that continued support in training, education and the Coalition Support Fund would act as tools necessary to keep relations on solid footing. General Austin who called on Secretary for Defence Lt Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik, and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shamim Wayne in Islamabad on Friday." More here.

A few small pics of him published by DOD's DVIDS, here.