National Security

FP's Situation Report: Hagel to launch a big review of awards

How the off-ramp from Afghanistan has a former black site on it; What would you do with $26 billion?; Leo Shane gets a new gig; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Page One: Karzai suspects the U.S. is secretly staging "insurgent" attacks in Afghanistan to undermine his government. The WaPo's Kevin Sieff: "President Hamid Karzai has frequently lashed out at the U.S. military for causing civilian casualties in its raids. But behind the scenes, he has been building a far broader case against the Americans, suggesting that they may have aided or conducted shadowy insurgent-style attacks to undermine his government, according to senior Afghan officials. Karzai has formalized his suspicions with a list of dozens of attacks that he believes the U.S. government may have been involved in, according to one palace official. The list even includes the recent bomb and gun assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, one of the bloodiest acts targeting the international community in Afghanistan, the official said. The attack, which left 21 people dead, including three Americans, was almost universally attributed to the Taliban." U.S. Ambo Jim Cunningham: "It's a deeply conspiratorial view that's divorced from reality." More here.

Fade to black: The off-ramp from Afghanistan includes a stop at a former CIA black site. FP's own spook, Dan Lamothe: "The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania is a short drive from the Black Sea and the port city of Constanta, a sprawling metropolis with beach resorts, museums, and nightclubs. It's also about to become the main transit point for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops flowing out of Afghanistan. It won't be the first time Washington has used the base for a sensitive mission, however: If human rights groups are correct, the facility also used to house one of the CIA's notorious "black site" detention facilities.

"The spy agency's mysterious use of the base has never been fully explained. In 2005, The Washington Post first reported the United States had secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe, but decided not to identify their locations at the request of the U.S. government. The organization Human Rights Watch demanded further investigation into CIA activities on the base shortly afterward, noting that the U.S. intelligence service had landed planes on the base, commonly known as MK, and that public access to the base had been sealed off. The Romanian government denied any detention facilities were there -- but did acknowledge allowing the agency to quietly land planes on the base.

"That complicated history serves as the backdrop to MK's new mission, which will begin next month, as the primary transit point for the troops returning home from Afghanistan. In 2006, MK became the first military installation in a former Warsaw Pact country to host a permanent presence of U.S. troops. It consisted primarily of a headquarters staff and rotating groups of troops charged with training the Romanians, giving the U.S. access to a strategically located base along the Black Sea." Read the rest here.

Meanwhile... State passed the Menendez test: The Senate paves the way to sell Apache helos to Iraq's Maliki so he can do battle with a resurgent al-Qaida. FP's own John Hudson: "... The weapons sale, which the Obama administration strongly supports, had been held up by Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other powerful lawmakers because of concerns that Maliki could use the equipment for an internal crackdown on Iraq's various minority communities. Menendez's committee has now agreed to the sale because the State Department adequately addressed his concerns, according to a Senate aide familiar with the matter. The move clears the way for Baghdad to lease six Apache attack helicopters and buy 24 more, and includes training, logistical support and equipment. The total price tag is estimated at more than $6.2 billion.

"Iraq has wanted the helicopters for more than a year, but Maliki's government has stepped up its lobbying campaign in recent months because of his country's intensifying war with the al-Qaeda militants who recently conquered the key city of Fallujah. Maliki used a recent meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to personally ask for his help in winning over lawmakers like Menendez." Read the rest here. Supporting docs from State for FMS wonks: The official notification here and the "support notification" here.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend.  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, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Hagel is about to launch a big review of how troops are recognized and awarded in the post-war military - and drone crews will finally get an answer, early in 2015, on how they'll get their own kind of recognition. Just before Leon Panetta left the Pentagon, the former Defense Secretary threw a political grenade into the building's E-Ring when he created a new award -- a "distinguished warfare medal" -- in recognition of the work drone operators do. But so far, no medals have been issued. Chuck Hagel, Panetta's successor, still hasn't announced a decision on he'd like to handle an issue that may seem silly to the civilian world -- but is beyond-radioactive within the military. 

As a former director of CIA and then Pentagon chief, Panetta felt it was time to show drone pilots and others in the community that the Defense Department values their work. In a military where medals and public recognition are the coin of the realm when it comes to promotions, many felt drone crews were unsung heroes. But the new medal caused an uproar. Ground troops felt disrespected because in the hierarchal world of military order, it sat two awards up from the Bronze Star medal in precedence -- and three above the Purple Heart. That was seen as a bit of a slight at infantrymen in the war zones, because the personal risks and valor they exhibited on the ground now appeared to be seen as less valuable than "joystick operators" working out of  places like Creech Air Force Base, down the highway from Las Vegas, Nev.

Enter Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a former Army sergeant who fought on the ground in Vietnam and immediately saw the need to take a deep breath on this issue. A month or so after entering office, upon the advice of Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Pentagon's other service chiefs, Hagel killed the medal altogether. Instead, he said he would create a "distinguishing device" -- later known as the "Remote Impacts Device" -- that would be affixed on existing medals, in effect downgrading recognition for drone operators. But that's all that was said. Nearly 10 months later, key specifics about the recognition -- who should be eligible, what awards it can be affixed to, and how operators would rate it -- have yet to be announced. 

That's because Hagel is preparing to launch a broad review of how all troops are honored for their service as the long war in Afghanistan winds down and U.S. forces potentially find themselves in other hotspots. Rear Adm. John Kirby, to Situation Report last night, saying the new review, to be announced formally in a few weeks and concluded in 2015, will include service members who operate remote technology, like drone pilots, as well as more "traditional forms of arms: "Having seen combat himself, Secretary Hagel fully understands and respects the traditions that come with awards and decorations," Kirby said. "This is a process that will take time and care, but he believes it's important it's done right." Read the rest of our piece here.

Read Mark Thompson's piece on the A-12, the Navy's stealth attack plane that never would be, here.

Then read J.D. Gordon's opinion-bit about when politicians exploit the military - and then decide they don't need them anymore, here.

If you had $26 billion, what would you do? Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio: "The Pentagon's budget plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 will outline how it would spend an additional $26 billion if Congress could find the money, according to U.S. officials. The White House Office of Management and Budget last week directed the Pentagon to produce the what-if list as part of an "investment fund" it would include when President Barack Obama's proposed budget is submitted to Congress on March 4. The Pentagon would present the fund to demonstrate its priorities if more money were added to what was allocated in last month's congressional budget deal, one of the officials said. The wish list could include weapons, base maintenance, projects to improve readiness or research programs, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified in advance of the budget release." Read his story here.

Stimson's Russell Rumbaugh ("R3") on the omnibus bill and the "hidden priority" that is readiness: "The FY14 Omnibus just signed into law chops $30 billion from the pre-sequester defense budget, reducing it to a level that will likely be fairly stable for the next few years. Although the defense budget will erode a bit in real terms over the next two years, the Omnibus brings the base defense budget to its lowest nominal value planned under the Budget Control Act and the Bipartisan Budget Act. After years of fighting over government spending, this appropriations bill gives the first clear look at what the priorities in defense budget will actually be in the future. Probably to many people's surprise, readiness was prioritized over everything else, warding off the dangers of a hollow force." Read the rest here.

Curious about military retirement? Acting DepSecDef Christine Fox and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Sandy Winnefeld appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning to talk about recent changes to military retirement and compensation generally. That's at 9:30 in Dirksen G-50; they'll be followed by a second panel that includes John Tilelli of the Military Officers Association of America; Gordon Sullivan of the Association of the United States Army; Richard Delaney of the Retired Enlisted Association and David Chu (former Pentagon Personnel Chief) who is now at the Institute for Defense Analyses. Senators! Expect an earful.

Apologies: We saw our mistake yesterday just after we blasted Situation Report. In our item yesterday about Air Force public affairs, we demoted Les Kodlick. it's Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, not Colonel. Sorry for the error.

Shane is the new Maze: Leo Shane's got a new gig. From his "mass email:" This is my last week at Stars and Stripes. It has been a great nine years here, and I appreciate all of the help that you all have been during my time reporting here... And I hope you'll continue providing that help. I'm heading over to the Military Times group to take over Rick Maze's old spot, covering military personnel issues and veterans policy on Capitol Hill...I'm looking forward to the new team and the new opportunities it brings." Best luck to Shane in filling aMaze-ingly large shoes, but he won't need it.

Jim Stavridis on Syria, scotch, "warrior-scholars" and cyber-command. War on the Rocks' Ryan Evans sat down with the former SACEUR/EUCOM Commander. One question he asked was the role NATO could play as a peacekeeper force in Syria - and where Turkey comes into it. Stavridis: "We are a long way from a peacekeeping force of any kind in Syria. If and when the United Nations decides to intervene, it will require a Security Council Resolution to authorize the use of force.  If the United Nations Security Council chooses to ask NATO to take on the task (as it did in Libya), I believe NATO would be the most credible and combat ready force with built-in command and control to take on the mission.  But at the moment, the UN clearly would not authorize such a mission due to deep disagreement on the Security Council (principally between the United States and Russia) about the proper course to take.  Turkey would obviously be integrally involved in such a force, whether it was NATO or a UN coalition of some other type.

And Evans also asked why Stavridis likes scotch: Stavridis: "I always remember my Dad, a USMC Colonel and combat veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, having a sip of Scotch at the end of the day with my Mom.  My sister and I would join them (not in the Scotch, sadly), but I always associate a little good Scotch with family, the end of the work day, and relaxation.  I have about 40 different single malt Scotches I have picked up here and there, and my favorites are the heavy, peaty types:  two of my favorites are Laphroaig and Ardbeg, from Islay. Generally, I like them over an ice cube or two, although a purist would say drink them neat or with a dash of water.  It is all good.  Wish I had one right now..." Read the rest of the questions here.

Page One: The Assad regime blocks aid to Homs. The WSJ's Sam Dagher, in Homs, Syria: "Attempts to send convoys of food and medicine to thousands of people under siege in a rebel-held area of Homs failed Monday, lowering hopes about the regime's commitment to confidence-building measures coming out of peace talks in Geneva. Syrian government and United Nations officials met for talks in Homs, Syria's third-largest city, but they couldn't agree how to implement a U.N. plan proposed to the regime more than a week ago. The regime insisted on Sunday in Geneva and on Monday in Homs that it would only discuss the evacuation of civilians." Story here.

Tara Sonenshine, former EVP of the U.S. Institute of Peace and more recently State's Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, on the blurring of borders and pseudo-states and how hard it is to teach geography in 2014: "...Syria is the most urgent case defying our notion of a country. Most observers can hardly make sense of who is fighting. Bashar Assad still runs the place and seems to have no interest in stepping down. The rest is a blurry mess of images and names - jihadists, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, the al Nusrah Front and a host of coalitions that don't seem very coalesced. Iraq is challenging its own geography. U.S. troops fought to liberate citizens from the yoke of tyranny and gave Iraqis back their country. Now extremists have taken parts of that territory and are flying their own flag. That is confusing. (And what's with the Kurds - is Kurdistan a real place?) Lebanon is now a country with a northern part run by Western-style bankers and politicians and a southern portion that is constantly lobbing missiles at Israel. It sounds like an uneasy marriage." Read the rest of her bit here in The Washington Times. 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: ISAF rebukes Afg release of detainees

Karzai holds a presser; Tarnishing brass: generals doing the wrong thing again; Are U.S. veterans selfish?; "Fake Admiral Kirby" and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

"A major step backward:" The ISAF command in Kabul is condemning Afghanistan's decision to release 37 "dangerous" detainees from the Parwan Detention Facility. From the strongly-worded ISAF statement issued late last night from Kabul: "United States Forces-Afghanistan has learned that under direction of the Afghan government, the Afghan Review Board, led by Abdul Shakoor Dadras, has ordered the release of the first 37 of 88 dangerous individuals under dispute who are legitimate threats to security and for whom there is strong evidence or investigative leads supporting prosecution or further investigation. This extra-judicial release of detainees is a major step backward in further developing the rule of law in Afghanistan. The ARB is releasing these individuals without referral to an investigative body or the Afghan justice system despite the fact that the U.S. has disputed these 88 cases.

"Of the 88 detainees under dispute, 40 percent have participated in direct attacks wounding or killing 57 Afghan citizens and security force members and 30 percent participated in direct attacks wounding or killing 60 U.S. or coalition force members. The U.S. has provided extensive information and evidence on each of the 88 detainees. The disputed cases contain strong evidence of violations of Afghan law or strong investigative leads requiring review by the Saranwal for prosecution or further investigation by the National Directorate of Security." ABC News story from this morning here.

ISAF Commander Gen. Joe Dunford is reportedly headed to the White House today to talk Afghanistan. Dunford and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Jim Cunningham recently met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, presumably to talk about the bilateral security agreement and other issues in advance of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech tomorrow night. That speech, long thought to be the vehicle through which Obama would announce his plans for Afghanistan after this year, may or may not contain any major announcements.

After the WSJ reported late last week that the White House was considering a 10,000-or-nothing option and that the idea was to clear all troops out of Afghanistan two years after Obama left office, the LATimes' David Cloud reported over the weekend that Dunford is planning to go to the White House today to make the case. Cloud: "To make the deployment more attractive to a skeptical White House, Dunford says the 10,000 should pull out by 2017, when Obama leaves office, according to two officials, who confirmed a Wall Street Journal report. The Pentagon previously had favored deploying the troops for a decade." More here.

Meanwhile, Karzai held a presser over the weekend after his meeting with Dunford and Cunningham. A few choice bits from a translated transcript provided by ISAF:

Karzai: "We want a close relationship with the U.S. but not at the cost of Afghan life.  In exchange we want security for Afghans; otherwise, they should go.  Our country has a 5,000 year history.  A lot of foreigners have come and gone.  Our country has its own history and honor."

Karzai: "Twelve years ago, we witnessed U.S. forces defeat Al Qaida within a matter of months.  I assure you we want them to be here, but have a honest relationship with us. 

The elections will be held on time.  They tell us that 90% of the election sites are safe and ready to open."

Karzai: (in answer to a question from a reporter): "We have been in contact with US about the BSA.  Some people here say, just "sign the agreement without any conditions," but, if I do this, and then there is bombing in our country, who will get blamed?  Do you think we should sign the BSA? ((asked the reporter))

Reporter: "Yes, because all these years we took aid from foreign countries and we want to establish security in this country."

A senior State Department official told Situation Report Friday at a reporter's roundtable that an abrupt withdrawal is not a good idea. "I think what we're talking about and what the Bilateral Security Agreement is supposed to establish is a long term security partnership and a responsible drawdown progressively over time, rather than an abrupt and total departure."

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend.  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, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Counting on the Zero Option: Will the U.S. lose its capabilities to launch drone strikes against al-Qaida if the U.S. pulls completely out of Afghanistan? Intel agencies are scrambling to find an answer. The NYT's David Sanger and Eric Schmitt: "... Until now, the debate here and in Kabul about the size and duration of an American-led allied force in Afghanistan after 2014 had focused on that country's long-term security. But these new concerns also reflect how troop levels in Afghanistan directly affect long-term American security interests in neighboring Pakistan, according to administration, military and intelligence officials. The concern has become serious enough that the Obama administration has organized a team of intelligence, military and policy specialists to devise alternatives to mitigate the damage if a final security deal cannot be struck with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has declined to enact an agreement that American officials thought was completed last year." More here.

Tarnished brass: A spate of general officers behaving badly is a headscratcher for the Pentagon - or maybe it isn't. According to a Page Oner by the WaPo's Craig Whitlock this morning, a commander at the 82nd Airborne, Martin Schweitzer, met a member of Congress and then couldn't resist zipping out an e-mail after the meeting referring to her as "smoking hot" and referring to explicit sexual acts. Another lectured his troops about having a "zero tolerance" for sexual assault but Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts himself was under investigation over allegations that he had physically assaulted one of his mistresses on multiple occasions [italics ours].

Whitlock has more:  "The embarrassing episodes are described in previously undisclosed files of military investigations into personal misconduct by U.S. generals and admirals. Along with about two dozen other cases obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, the investigations add to a litany of revelations about misbehaving brass that have dogged the Pentagon over the past 15 months and tarnished the reputation of U.S. military leadership. Since November 2012, when an adulterous affair felled David H. Petraeus, the CIA director and most renowned Army general of his generation, the armed forces have struggled to cope with tawdry disclosures about high-ranking commanders... The subject is painfully sensitive inside the Pentagon, where many generals and admirals say they are appalled but reluctant to openly criticize their peers.

Said an Army brigadier to Whitlock, commenting on the spate of cases: "It's just offensive when you see people do some of the things we've seen. It's just completely offensive...As officers, we ought to be held to a higher standard. Some of this stuff you're seeing with folks is just completely unacceptable."

Read the report on Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts here.

Read the report on Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer here.

Read the report on Brig Gen. David Uhrich here.   

First in SitRep: The Institute for the Study of War is publishing a paper by Valerie Szybala this morning titled "Assad Strikes Damascus" about the regime's attempts to re-take its own capital last year and how the rebel offensives in July and August of last year threatened the regime's control of Damascus. From ISW's Kim Kagan: "Szybala also demonstrates how America's failure to respond to the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus fundamentally undermined the Free Syrian Army and the gains the opposition had made inside of Damascus over the summer 2013. And she describes the regime's campaign design and execution in Damascus to implement its starvation into submission plans. Despite these advantages, the regime is not able to defeat the opposition decisively in Damascus. Assad is playing a longer game, aimed at legitimizing his rule in international eyes through presidential elections in June 2014."

The Syrian regime, running out of options: "...Earlier in the war, the strength of the Syrian military was at a low point and it demonstrated that it did not have the manpower to hold one major city and attack another at the same time. By the fall of 2013 it was maintaining successful operations simultaneously in Aleppo and Damascus, a clear indication of how much the regime's forces have actually been strengthened. Yet even as these augmented forces continue to attack, the regime is showing signs of its limitations. Neither side in Damascus is currently positioned for a decisive victory on the ground.

"It is likely that the violence and destruction will continue well into 2014. There are a number of conceivable actions that could change this trajectory and hasten the end of the war in Syria. A serious effort - most likely by Saudi Arabia - to arm the rebels with heavy weapons and train them in significant numbers could allow the rebels to finally gain the upper hand..."The Syrian regime's longer-term strategy for retaining power is focused on holding elections in June 2014. Presidential elections are held every seven years in Syria, and Bashar al Assad has given clear signals that he intends to run in the Syrian presidential election this summer." Read the whole report at ISW's web site this morning here.

FP's James Traub asks, if American nation building is dead, what nation remains at home? Traub: "I have spent the last three weeks teaching a class on nation-building (with Bruce Jones, director of the Center on International Cooperation at NYU). Our students, who had come to Washington from NYU Abu Dhabi, were very enthusiastic about the subject. I, however, am having my doubts. My chief conclusion from the experience is that the American experiment in state-building, to use the less jingoistic name for the subject, which began 20 years ago in Haiti and the Balkans, has come to an end. We may soon look back upon it with mingled awe and dread, as the British do upon the Raj." Read the rest here.

Al-Qaida goes corporate. The NYT's Ben Hubbard: "The letter bore the corporate tone of a C.E.O. resolving a turf dispute between two middle managers. In formal prose and numbered lists, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, directed one of the group's affiliates in Syria to withdraw to Iraq and leave operations in Syria to someone else. The response was unequivocal. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, declared that his fighters would remain in Syria 'as long as we have a vein that pumps and an eye that blinks.' It was the first time in the history of the world's most notorious terrorist organization that one of the affiliates had publicly broken with the international leadership, and the news sent shock waves through the online forums where jihadists meet. In no uncertain terms, ISIS had gone rogue." More here.

Time's Mark Thompson asked the question a lot of people are thinking but not sure they want to ask out loud: Are veterans selfish? Thompson: "It's an impudent question, but one that naturally surfaces given the outrage rolling in from assorted veterans' groups as Congress and the Pentagon seek ways to trim government spending that sometimes affects those who have volunteered to fight America's wars. It's also the predictable downside to enlisting only 1% of the nation's citizens to fight, and possibly die, to strive to achieve national goals. When presidents and congresses insist on waging war with no shared sacrifice, it should come as scant surprise that those who have done all the sacrificing squawk when their expected benefits end up on the chopping block.

Thompson: "...But it is disquieting. It suggests that the nation is developing a military caste, separate and apart from the nation. It seems the military is in danger of becoming just another special interest group." Do read the rest here.

Meanwhile, the "100,000 Jobs Mission" reached its goal seven years early, we're told this morning - companies hired 117,439 military veterans. We're told that the coalition, of which J.P. Morgan Chase is the founder, has grown to 131 companies. Maureen Casey, director of Military and Veterans Affairs at JPMorgan Chase: "Reaching this important milestone is great news for veterans and employers alike... We have been able to make a difference in the lives of so many of our nation's veterans, and those veterans bring tremendous skills and experience to the workplace." Situation Report reported late last year that the coalition announced it will double its original hiring goal to a total of 200,000 U.S. military veterans by 2020. More info here.

It's getting real: a fake Twitter handle for Pentagon Pressec John Kirby. There is now a "Fake Admiral Kirby" Twitter handle for Pentagon Presssec Rear Adm. John Kirby, which means he's totally arrived. Choice tweets by @zorching over the last several days: "Missed opportunity. Hagel should have said we are zorching those ships to the black sea...Hey why is @matrabechault [French reporter for Agence France-Presse Mathieu Rabechault] get called on by the French MOD? He is one of ours. That will make this a 3+1. He is ruining everything...Mental note: Got to get Hagel to keep answers under 15 minutes!... I am not going to call on you @lbaldor [AP's Lita Baldor] at 2+2 news conferences if you do not ask at least one relevant question to country/topic at hand!... And our favorite, but we swear we are not "Fake Admiral Kirby:" Why is this SecDef always late for press conferences? Adm. Mullen, he was always on time. Did I say that out loud?"

Ima let you finish: In case you missed it the other day, NBC's Andrea Mitchell interrupted Jane Harman during an interview about the NSA when she had to stop her mid-sentence to break the news: Justin Bieber had been arrested in Miami. Mitchell: "Uh, Congresswoman Harman, let me interrupt you, Congresswoman, let me interrupt you just for a moment, we have some breaking news out of Miami... Justin Bieber has been arrested on a number of charges..." HuffPo's Jack Mirkinson: "We would LOVE to know what was going on in Andrea Mitchell's head when she was forced to cut off a discussion about the NSA for breaking news about Justin Bieber's arrest." Video here.

Speaking of public affairs, the Air Force announced a replacement for the retiring Col. Les Kodlick. Her name is Col. Kathleen Cook, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs Director, and she will replace Kodlick on February 28, when Kodlick retires. Kodlick, in his e-mail to "PA Professionals:" Colonel Cook is a superlative PA who is well respected around the Air Force and across the career field; her leadership and command experience are downright impressive.  She has led at the Joint, MAJCOM, and Wing levels and commanded at the group and squadron.  Many of you also will be interested to know she started her career as an enlisted Airman Musician trumpet player; how cool is that!... She's smart, astute, direct and most importantly she cares deeply about Airmen and our profession.  You'll know what's on her mind, and she'll challenge you to be your best. Congratulations Kathleen, I am proud of you.  As Carol and I transition, I do so knowing our career field is in great hands! Keep charging and God Bless! Les A. Kodlick."

Tunisia approved a new Constitution. Members of Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve the country's new Constitution on Sunday night, finally completing a two-year drafting process and opening the way to a new democratic era three years after the uprising that set off the Arab Spring.

The constitution passed with 200 votes of the 216 members present in the assembly, easily obtaining the necessary two-thirds majority needed for ratification. Legislators rose to their feet, greeting the result with applause, victory signs and some tears.

The assembly had already voted for the charter's individual articles during sessions over the past three weeks, with some intense bargaining between the main political groups over last amendments. A final reading and vote on the entire document was needed to complete the process. 'Some did not get what they wanted but it was a constitution of consensus,' the assembly speaker, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, said ahead of the vote. In the end, only 12 assembly members voted against the charter and four abstained." The rest here.