National Security

FP’s Situation Report: That plan to move drone ops from CIA to DOD? Not happening right now; A plan forms to replace George Little at the Pentagon; Assad wants him some trucks from the U.N.; Bush’s bromance with Putin; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold 

In May, the White House leaked word that it would start shifting drone operations from the shadows of the CIA to the relative sunlight of the Defense Department in an effort to be more transparent about the controversial targeted killing program. But six months later, the so-called migration of those operations has stalled, and it is now unlikely to happen anytime soon, Situation Report has learned. The anonymous series of announcements with remarks President Obama made on counterterrorism policy at National Defense University in which he called for "transparency and debate on this issue." A classified Presidential Policy Guidance on the matter, issued at the same time, caught some in government by surprise, triggering a scramble at the Pentagon and at CIA to achieve a White House objective. The transfer was never expected to happen overnight. But it is now clear the complexity of the issue, the distinct operational and cultural differences between the Pentagon and CIA and the bureaucratic politics of it all has forced officials on all sides to recognize transferring drone operations from the Agency to the Defense Department represents, for now, an unattainable goal.

A U.S. official told Situation Report: "The physics of making this happen quickly are remarkably difficult... The goal remains the same, but the reality has set in."

A former senior government official familiar with intelligence matters says part of the reason for the complexity of the issue of migrating operations is because there is a system the Agency has developed over 12 years and it's not as simple as just handing it all over. "Building function is about moving knowledge as much as it is about moving aircraft," the person told Situation Report.

Another U.S. official told Shane Harris that there has not been some sort of policy reversal, and that the transition is moving forward, "but it obviously takes some time," the official said. "And as the process moves forward we also want to ensure that US capabilities remain robust and do not suffer." Read our exclusive on FP with Harris, here.

The U.S. is losing its advantage in spying. The NYT's David Sanger: "A congressional panel created long before the recent revelations about government electronic spying operations issued a blistering report on Tuesday charging that the intelligence world's research-and-development efforts are disorganized and unfocused. An unclassified version of the report, based on two years of work by independent experts and two officials from inside the agencies, concludes that the United States is losing its technological superiority over its rivals, which are gaining ‘asymmetric advantages' by making their own investments in such efforts and, in some cases, stealing American inventions." Read the rest of his bit, here.

Want to know what the CIA told presidential candidates? Check out the new downloadable audio book by the CIA and Government Printing Office, here.

Tampa's Jill Kelley (right, the one dragged into the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell-John Allen situation) writes in the WSJ this morning: "How the Government Spied on Me," here. An excerpt: "...We authorized the FBI to look at one threatening email we received, and only that email, so that the FBI could identify the stalker. However, the FBI ignored our request and violated our trust by unlawfully searching our private emails and turning us into the targets of an intrusive investigation without any just cause-all the while without informing us that they had identified the email stalker as Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with Mr. Petraeus. (I have never understood why she was stalking me and my family. In any event, she was not charged with a crime.)"

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Who will replace George Little at the Pentagon? Unclear, but a list of names - some you might expect and some you might not - have emerged. At the same time, Situation Report is told (Inside Baseball Alert!) that the Public Affairs shop may return to the Doug Wilson-Geoff Morrell model, in which there is an Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and a press secretary/spokesman/talking head/spox who is a different person. (In the case under then Defense Secretary Bob Gates, Doug Wilson served as the ASD and Geoff Morrell as the spokesman. While each man was considered effective in their roles, many cringe at the notion that the Pentagon would return to that two-headed monster. But it's possible that given the personalities, current demands and everything else that is involved, "OSD Public Affairs" will give that model another go, we're told.

"Both models can work, but it depends fundamentally on how the new members of the team want to play ball," one insider told us. "Some people prefer management while others prefer media-facing roles." This could include bringing a senior military officer back into the mix in some form.  So who's being considered for one of the civilian roles? Shawn Turner, a former Marine who served in the White House and is now chief spokesman at the Office of National Intelligence, is on a short list. But so is Matthew Miller, a former spokesman at the Department of Justice, and Brent Colburn, former comms director at FEMA who worked on Obama's re-elect. There are other names, including Jen Psaki, currently at State, Clark Stevens who has been at DHS and Price Floyd, now at BAE. But Floyd, the jocular King of CrossFit said this to Situation Report:  "While I have lost weight recently and would therefore look better on camera, I have not been approached by the White House to be DoD Spokesman."

Carl Woog, now Assistant Press Secretary, will likely see an elevated role when everything shakes out. From a DOD official, to Situation Report last night:  "Carl is a key senior strategist on Secretary Hagel's public affairs team. He is relied upon not only to represent critical issues to the press, but to make sure that the Secretary's public engagements help advance his key leadership priorities."

NPR's Steve Inskeep was a fly on the wall at Chuck Hagel's monthly lunch with the rank and file at the Pentagon. "You hear Hagel's pat on the back of the uniform," it starts out as one lunch begins on the 8:55 minute piece. Then Inkseep and Hagel talk women in combat, domestic partnerships, the limits of American power and the expansion of military benefits. NPR's bit, which ran just this morning, here.

At CSIS this week, former DepSecDef Bill Lynn, now with Finmeccanica, was interviewed by CSIS' Sam Brannen, here about national security trends and challenges.

Assad's plan for transferring chemical weapons abroad for destruction includes a request for heavy armored trucks and advanced comms gear. FP's Colum Lynch with this exclusive: "... according to a confidential account of the plan reviewed by Foreign Policy, it includes 120 Syrian security forces, dozens of heavy, armored trucks, and an advanced communications network linking Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. The extensive request for equipment with both civilian and military applications has already triggered expressions of alarm from Western diplomats. ‘Let's just say we will be looking at this list very skeptically, particularly items that could be diverted to a military program,' said one Security Council diplomat." More here.

How Vlad seduced Bush 43, or how the president of good and evil bromanced Vladimir Putin - and how a warm friendship turned to ice. The NYT's Peter Baker, writing on FP: "In the summer of 2006, President George W. Bush was relaxing at Camp David with the visiting prime minister of Denmark when the conversation turned to Vladimir Putin. It had been five years since Bush memorably peered into the Russian leader's soul. But now hope had been replaced by exasperation. Bush regaled his guest with stories of aggravating private dealings with Putin that underscored their growing rift. Bush was astonished that Putin had tried to influence him by offering to hire a close friend of the president's and he found Putin's understanding of the world disconnected from reality. ‘He's not well informed,' Bush groused. ‘It's like arguing with an eighth grader with his facts wrong.'"

"...Whether Bush or anyone else ever actually "had" Putin in the first place is debatable at best. But the story of Bush's eight-year pas de deux with the master of the Kremlin, reconstructed through interviews with key players and secret notes and memos, offers lessons for President Obama as he struggles to define his own approach to Putin and shape the future of the two nuclear powers." Read the rest here.

Nope, says Kerry, the Europe-U.S. missile defense system is on track despite diplomacy with Tehran. The WSJ's Patryk Wasilewski, in Warsaw: "The U.S. said Tuesday it was going ahead with its missile-defense plans for Europe despite improving relations with Iran, one of the main threats the system is designed to counter. The U.S. expects to put land-based missile interceptors in northern Poland by 2018, three years after a site in Romania is to become operational. The base in Poland will seek to protect Europe and the U.S. from ballistic missile attacks ballistic missile attacks that could be launched mainly from Iran. On the only European stop of a weeklong tour focused on the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked in Poland whether that element of the system could be abandoned, considering U.S. diplomacy and international talks with Iran over its nuclear program. ‘There is no agreement with Iran,' Mr. Kerry told a news conference in Warsaw. ‘Nothing has changed and the plans for missile defense are absolutely on target,' he added." Read the rest here.

ICYMI: Problems at Shaw Air Force Base and how officers (including two full-birds, five lieutenant colonels and a captain) apparently tolerated sexual harassment and assault. Air Force Times' Kristin Davis: "A pair of yellow women's panties hung for months in the mouth of a mounted tiger inside the 79th Fighter Squadron heritage room at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Pornographic magazines were kept in a drawer in the 77th Fighter Squadron bar and offered as gifts during roll call in the 55th Fighter Squadron. Pictures of scantily clad women showed up on briefing slides there, and offensive images and song lyrics remained on a shared network accessible to hundreds of airmen despite repeated complaints, a command-directed investigation into misconduct within the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw found." More here.

Viral: Soldiers farewell haka in New Zealand, which starts out making you think you're watching one thing when really you're watching another, here.

First sergeant with GED tells Corporal: "You'll never make it on the outside." From The Duffel Blog (and yes, dear readers, we understand TDB is satire but thanks for all your cards and letters informing us of same!): "A First Sergeant with more than 20 years of service in the Marine Corps and a high school equivalency degree told a Corporal being discharged after four years to attend college that there's no way he'll ever make it on the outside, sources confirmed. Cpl. Steven Winters, 23, an infantryman who served on multiple deployments and recently accepted to Columbia University in New York, will be ‘crawling back to the Corps within months,' according to 1st Sgt. Ted Harris." Read the rest here.

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Hagel: the U.S. must stay engaged; Did Kerry fumble in Egypt?; Dorothy Rowe served 70 years as a civil servant; Morsi’s day in court; Did the Pentagon’s police force chief play golf on company time?; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Chuck Hagel is coming out. The Defense Secretary is making a round of appearances and interviews, including a lengthy Q&A in The Atlantic recently, a sit-down with a columnist from Bloomberg yesterday, and likely others. Hagel, who is about nine months in office, is also appearing this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington for the second in a speech a senior defense official characterized as an attempt to explain how the Defense Department "must adapt to a changing strategic and fiscal landscape" which picks up where his National Defense University speech in April left off. This morning's speech, which was expected to begin at 8:15 a.m. ticks off six priorities "informed by lessons learned" from the top-to-bottom review Hagel ordered of Department spending and resources called the Strategic Choices Management Review. "The speech also conveys Secretary Hagel's perspective on emerging national security challenges and the role DoD should play in supporting America's foreign policy goals as the United States comes off a perpetual war footing," a senior defense official said in a statement. Excerpts of Hagel's speech, provided by the Pentagon: "With the end of the Iraq war and the winding down of the combat mission in Afghanistan, President Obama has been moving the nation off a perpetual war footing - one in which America's priorities, policies, and relationships around the world were dominated by the response to 9/11."

And: "No other nation has the will, the power, the capacity, and the network of alliances to lead the international community. However, sustaining our leadership will increasingly depend not only on the extent of our great power, but an appreciation of its limits and a wise deployment of our influence."

And: "More Americans, including elected officials, are growing skeptical about our country's foreign engagements and responsibilities. But only looking inward is just as deadly a trap as hubris, and we must avoid both in pursuing a successful foreign policy in the 21st century."

Hagel's NDU speech April 3, here. Briefing of Hagel rolling out the SCMR at the Pentagon on July 31, here.  

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report and happy election day. Vote early and often. We continue to welcome many new subscribers, very happy to have you. If anyone else out there misses the Pentagon's Early Bird, we'll be glad to sign you up to our morning report by sending us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Or, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here.

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This morning at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. a woman who has worked for the federal government, amazingly, for 70 years, retires. She's 88-year-old Dorothy Rowe, a financial analysis flight chief who is the longest-serving civil servant in the Air Force - and the second longest-serving across the Defense Department. She went to work in 1943 in Ohio and one of her first assignments was to learn the Dewey Decimal System. Her starting salary was $1,440 - per year. Today, Eric Fanning, the dual-hatted Undersecretary of the Air Force who is also the Acting Secretary, is travelling to Luke this morning to retire Rowe, who said she knew it was time to retire. "I had started working for the government when I was 17. I know the time has come now because I don't want to die sitting at my desk," she told a base paper reporter. Fanning will visit a number of operational units at Luke, to include the 309 Fighter Squadron and host an all-call with personnel from the base before presiding over Rowe's retirement.

Air Force Times' Kristin Davis' lede to her story about Rowe: "Payday went like this when Dorothy Rowe first went to work in Air Force finance: She'd drive to the bank and pick up enough cash to cover the base payroll - hundreds of thousands of dollars stacked inside big bags. Back at the office, Rowe would count it to make sure all of the money was there. Then she'd divide it up by base section. Finally, she'd count out the pay for every person on base." More here.

The Pentagon's Steven Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, or "Piff-Pa" was either the best boss ever - or the worst: an IG investigation. The WaPo's Craig Whitlock: "If you like playing golf on government time, [Calvery] might be just the boss for you. Then again, if the idea of fetching lunch and coffee for your supervisor every day doesn't appeal, you might want to work elsewhere... In a 40-page report released Monday, the inspector general also said that Calvery improperly allowed an unnamed relative to blast away at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency firing range, while using a PFPA weapon and ammunition." Calvery disputes the findings. The DOD IG report here. The WaPo piece here.

Behind the Music of a FOIA request, via Whitlock: "The inspector general began its misconduct investigation into Calvery after it received a couple of anonymous complaints in March 2011, as well as a letter from an unidentified U.S. senator. The inspector general labored on the inquiry for nearly two years, wrapping things up on Feb. 20, but then it kept the findings quiet. On April 2, The Post filed a request for the Calvery investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. On Monday, seven months later, the inspector general finally coughed up the report."

Morsi's day in court includes shoe-throwing, tirades and general chaos and claimed he's still the boss. Writing on FP, Bel Trew, in Cairo: "The moment Egypt's deposed Islamist president first opened his lips from a courtroom cage today, his defiant proclamation that he was still the country's ‘legitimate' leader was drowned out by the chants of lawyers and journalists calling for his blood." More here. Did Kerry fumble in Egypt? The NYT's editorial board says an "ill-advised visit undecuts earlier efforts to rebuke generals and promote democracy." Read it here.

Supply lines into and out of Afghanistan could get tricky. Again. A Pakistani opposition party says it will block NATO supply lines into (or out of) Afghanistan unless the U.S. stops drone strikes in that tribal area. UPI: "The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is led by the country's former cricket captain Imran Khan and is the ruling party in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, voted Monday to block the supply lines beginning Nov. 20 if the drone strikes in nearby tribal areas do not stop. The PTI is one of the parties which had campaigned strongly against the drone program during general elections last May and its latest resolution comes in the wake of last week's killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban, in a drone strike. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is the main route for transporting supplies to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan." More here.

But the WSJ's Saeed Shah: "...However, it remains unclear whether Mr. Khan's government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has the legal power to block the roads without the consent of the federal government." More on that here.

Read Shahan Mufti's piece today in the NYT, "Our Two-Faced Alliance with Pakistan," here.

The story of the drone strike in Yemen Aug. 8 on FP in which the U.S. says it was carrying out an operation against militants - but the dead boy's brother has a different story. That story here.

Did Israel push Iran to the negotiating table? Chuck Hagel told Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg he thinks so: "In this latest phase of the Iran drama, the differences between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama (which I wrote about here) are mainly concealed from view, but we're now seeing some small fissures. I've been curious to know what others in the Obama administration think about Netanyahu's current stance (a stance he shares with many in the U.S. Senate, by the way), so on a visit to the Pentagon late last week, one of the first questions I put to the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, was this: Is Netanyahu, in fact, using scare tactics in order to torpedo Iran negotiations?"

Hagel to Goldberg: "I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is legitimately concerned, as any prime minister of Israel has been, about the future security needs of their country... [and Netanyahu] "has got a history of being very clear on where he is on this."

"Hagel, now in his ninth month leading the Pentagon, argued that Netanyahu's threats of military action against Iranian nuclear sites, combined with the pressure of sanctions, may have actually encouraged Iran to take negotiations seriously." More here.

Random goodness apropos of nothing: The viral video of a man in the U.K. reacting after his son showed him his report card. "Is that real? Is that REAL?" Watch it here.

Watching The Back Door: The Mexican military takes over a town besieged by organized crime. GlobalPost: "The Mexican military was put in charge of security and operations Monday at a major Pacific port in Michoacan, a western state plagued by drug cartel violence. Government security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said high-ranking navy officers were taking over the administration and captaincy at the port of Lazaro Cardenas, which has the country's largest general cargo volume." More here.

On the Korean peninsula, news of the weird. The NYT's Choe Sang-Hun: "A North Korean naval vessel sank last month, killing an unspecified number of sailors, according to North and South Korean news media. The news first appeared on Saturday when the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported that the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, had visited a newly built cemetery for the sailors ‘sacrificed' on board the vessel, a submarine chaser, during ‘combat duties' last month. The news agency gave no further details about what happened but quoted Mr. Kim as instructing his navy to "find all the bodies," hinting at a sizable death toll. Photos of Mr. Kim visiting the cemetery with flowers showed a large mass tomb encircled by what looked like at least a score of headstones bearing the names and photographs of the sailors who had died.

But: "South Korean military officials said there was no military clash between the two Koreas last month." Read the rest here.