National Security

FP's Situation Report: Schweitzer in the doghouse

Nuland speaks undiplomatically; DoD won't mothball the George Washington; Peace talks in Pakistan; GI Joe looks amazing at 50; The dog of war; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

A brigadier in the doghouse: Martin "Smoking Hot" Schweitzer disciplined by Dempsey. CNN's Barbara Starr: "Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey has privately disciplined one of his top generals, who has been investigated by the Army for sending an inappropriate e-mail about a female member of Congress, CNN has learned. Two senior U.S. military officials said Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer was ordered by Dempsey to no longer participate in weekly briefings to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the movement of troops around the world. The Pentagon has been under scrutiny for several lapses in ethical behavior among top generals and in the ranks.?Hagel has publicly made ethics a top priority."

Cutting Schweitzer out of the meeting illustrates frustration at the highest levels about ethical lapses. Starr: "It's an extraordinary action to take because Schweitzer, as deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Chiefs, oversees a highly classified briefing about information presented to Hagel weekly. It's one of the most critical briefings at the Pentagon because the secretary of defense is asked to sign each military order to send troops to any locations overseas." Schweitzer, in a statement, called his comments "a terrible attempt at humor." Details here.

What did Schweitzer say? The WaPo's Craig Whitlock, first reporting all of this Jan. 26: "...Last summer, Army prosecutors were combing through the e-mail accounts of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, a commander facing a court-martial on sexual assault, adultery and other charges, when they uncovered a raunchy exchange with two other generals. The exchange started in March 2011, when Schweitzer, then a colonel and the deputy commander for operations for the 82nd Airborne Division, held a meeting with Ellmers, a newly elected House member whose district included Fort Bragg. Schweitzer gave a pointed summary of the meeting in an e-mail to a superior, Maj. Gen. James Huggins, while copying Sinclair, then a fellow colonel and an 82nd Airborne commander.

'First - she is smoking hot,' Schweitzer wrote. 'Second - briefing went well .?.?. she was engaging .?.?. had done her homework. She wants us to know she stands with us and will work/push to get the Fort Bragg family resourced.'

"That, and what came next, led prosecutors to turn over the e-mail chain to the Army inspector general for a full investigation. 'He sucks :-) still needs to confirm hotness,' Sinclair teased in a reply. More than an hour later, Schweitzer responded with an apology for the delay, saying he had masturbated '3 times over the past 2 hours' after the meeting with the congresswoman." WaPo story here.

Welcome to Friday'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. Like what you see? Please 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.

Undiplomatic speak: "F--- the EU," says State's Victoria Nuland in a leaked phone recording. In a clip posted yesterday on YouTube, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs is heard speaking to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine about the turmoil in Kiev. The WaPo's Anne Gearan: "In the call, Nuland ... was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with [ambassador] Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine's to resolve." American officials were quick to finger Russia as the source of the recording, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the recording "was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government. I think it says something about Russia's role." The State Department acknowledged the authenticity of the call and said that Nuland had apologized to EU officials.

The Russians have a word for this kind of illicitly-obtained juicy material, writes Gearan: "Kompromat," meaning "compromising materials."  Full story here.

No lie: The Pentagon scraps plans to mothball the carrier George Washington. The WSJ's Julian Barnes on Page One: " The Pentagon has dropped a plan to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers after the White House intervened to head off a brewing political fight. The military had proposed an early retirement of the USS George Washington, reducing the U.S. carrier fleet to 10, as part of plan to deal with cost cuts imposed by Congress. That touched a nerve among a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a letter last week to block the move and preserve what they argued is a potent symbol of American power. The behind-the-scenes battle illustrates how politics often complicates the task of wringing savings from the U.S. military budget. Lawmakers, facing pressures from defense contractors and local communities, often oppose proposed cuts to military bases, aircraft and shipbuilding programs and weapons systems." Read the rest of his bit here.

Peace talks got started in Pakistan, after all. Representatives of the government and the Taliban negotiated Thursday in Islamabad after a meeting scheduled for Tuesday fizzled when the government side never showed. Salman Masood in the NYT: "After almost four hours, both sides described the talks as ‘cordial and friendly.'" More here.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Taliban have ramped up their violent campaign against the media. On FP, Beenish Ahmed writes that a January triple murder of Express News employees may mark a watershed moment: "a wholesale targeting of the press as part of the organization's propaganda war against the Pakistani state..."

"‘The way that Express News is being picked out and targeted, makes absolutely clear that we are being given some sort of message, 'Fahd Husain, director of news at Express TV, said as the network shifted into live coverage of its murdered employees. Not long after, while the bodies of the slain still lay under white sheets, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan called in to the channel to take responsibility for the shooting: ‘Express TV, like a lot of other Pakistani media outlets, is acting as propagandists against the Pakistani Taliban,' he said in an attempt to justify the attack on live TV. What happened next was even more astonishing: Express anchor Javed Chaudhry began to negotiate a sort of informal peace settlement with the TTP, offering coverage on demand in exchange for security." The bizarre interaction continues.

Army intel system in Afghanistan slammed...by the soldiers trying to use it.  Military.com's Brendan McGarry: "U.S. Army units in Afghanistan say the service's multi-billion-dollar battlefield intelligence system is so complicated and unreliable that they continue to use commercial software instead, from Microsoft PowerPoint to Palantir.  That's according to a Nov. 3 internal assessment of the service's so-called Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS (pronounced "dee-sigs"). Military.com obtained a copy of the previously undisclosed memo, which includes feedback on the technology from several units serving in the country.  The 130th Engineer Brigade arguably had the harshest criticism: ‘DCGS continues to be; unstable, slow, not friendly and a major hindrance to operations at the [battalion] level and lower, organic [joint staff communications-electronics directorates] being unable to work on them, requiring an entire set of private IP addresses that do not ‘work' with the rest of the domain structure, unstable [tactical entity databases], system ‘upgrades' that erase or lose all of the user's data, woefully inadequate computing power, and the loss of ~3-5 calendar days per month due to systems issues.'"  Yikes-read the full story here.

Dog of war: the Afghan Taliban have captured a military canine. ISAF officials confirmed that the war's only canine POW is a British dog that went missing during a mission in December, according to the BBC. Bearded Taliban fighters paraded the dog, called "Colonel," in a video, and also brandished assault rifles and grenades of the type used by American forces. The BBC's David Loyne: "Dogs are considered unclean by Afghans, and their use by international forces in house searches has been controversial. Rumors and myths have risen among insurgents about the capacity of dogs, including the widely held belief among Taliban fighters that the dogs are trained to kill."

FP's rundown of the story, which credits Air Force Times' Jeff Schogol for digging up (like a bone!) the fact that the dog is British, not American. Read that here.

Into the Penalty Box for evading sanctions on Iran.  The NYT's Rick Gladstone:  "The Obama administration penalized nearly three dozen companies and individuals in eight countries on Thursday, accusing them of evading Iranian sanctions.  It was the administration's most extensive enforcement action to target Iran since a temporary international agreement on that country's disputed nuclear program was completed in November and put into effect last month.  Announced by the Treasury Department office that oversees sanctions enforcement, the punishments were at least partly devised to send a message that the United States is not relaxing economic pressures on Iran, apparently to blunt an atmosphere of optimism that has resulted from the temporary nuclear agreement. This week, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized France after it sent a large trade delegation to Iran.  ... A Treasury announcement said the enforcement action had singled out "a diverse range of entities and individuals located around the world" for evading American sanctions aimed at Iran. There was no immediate comment from the Iranian government."  Read it here.

Meanwhile, Rouhani's brother walked into the only Jewish hospital in Tehran to deliver cash money. The NYT's Thomas Erdbrink: " The brother of Iran's president walked into Tehran's only Jewish hospital on Thursday, delivering a surprise donation along with the message that the Health Ministry would give more attention to hospitals that traditionally serve Christian and Jewish Iranians." Said a nurse by telephone: "We are very happy...This is a good sign." Read the rest here.

Homeland Defense:  "Test Run" for attacking the U.S. electrical grid?  The LATimes Evan Halper and Marc Lifsher:  "Shooters armed with assault rifles and some knowledge of electrical utilities have prompted new worries on the vulnerability of California's vast power grid.  A 2013 attack on an electric substation near San Jose that nearly knocked out Silicon Valley's power supply was initially downplayed as vandalism by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the facility's owner. Gunfire from semiautomatic weapons did extensive damage to 17 transformers that sent grid operators scrambling to avoid a blackout. 

But this week, a former top power regulator offered a far more ominous interpretation: The attack was terrorism, he said, and if circumstances had been just a little different, it could have been disastrousJon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when the shooting took place, said that attack was clearly executed by well-trained individuals seeking to do significant damage to the area, and he fears it was a test run for an even larger assault." 

Where's the love? There's the love: The LATimes references the WSJ story that ran earlier this week on page one, but unlike the WSJ, it also references the Foreign Policy story by Shane Harris more than a month ago - on Dec. 27. Read Shane's story here. Read the full LAT article here.

Speaking of the homeland: Former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson this morning delivers his first major address as Secretary of Homeland Security. He'll speak at the Wilson Center at 11:30 this morning, then there will be a Q&A with the Wilson Center's Jane Harman. Watch it live right here.

More Money for Missile Defense?  Andrea Shalal-Esa reports for Reuters that "The U.S. Defense Department plans to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in extra missile defense funding over the next five years as part of the fiscal 2015 budget request, say congressional sources and an expert.  Nearly $1 billion of that sum will pay for a new homeland defense radar to be placed in Alaska, with an additional $560 million to fund work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests, said Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, and two of the congressional sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.  ... The request is expected to garner bipartisan support in Congress, but it may also spark questions about billions of dollars spent over the past two decades on a ‘kill vehicle' built by the Raytheon Co that is used to hit enemy missiles and destroy them on impact." Read the full text here

He's never had to have knee surgery and he looks amazing: G.I. Joe turns the big 5-0. The "movable fighting man" turns 50 this February (but the DOB is a little hazy.) "Joe stood for everything that was meant to be good: fighting evil, doing what's right for people," former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld told the AP. 1964 price: $4. AP's Chris Carola: "[Joe] remained popular until the late 1960s, as opposition to Vietnam intensified and parents shied away from military-related toys. Hasbro countered in 1970 by introducing 'Adventure Team' G.I. Joes that played down the military connection. Into the '70s, G.I. Joes featured "lifelike hair" and "kung-fu grip" and were outfitted with scuba gear to save the oceans and explorer's clothing for discovering mummies. Hasbro discontinued production later that decade. In the early 1980s, Hasbro shrank Joe to 3¾ inches, the same size as figures made popular by "Star Wars." It has stuck to that size, with the occasional issue of larger special editions." More here.

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Bob Work: The Ax Man Cometh

How Whack-a-Mole in Pakistan could end; Is Pyongyang fielding a new "road-mobile" ICBM?; Peckerwood is the new black; What is a Skinny Puppy and why is it mad?; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

The Ax Man Cometh: Bob Work likes analysis, ships and bad B-movies. Can he cut the Pentagon's budget? ...Work, the chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security, will be nominated by the White House as the new deputy secretary of defense by the end of the week, possibly even today, U.S. officials tell Situation Report. That will leave Work with one of the most difficult jobs imaginable: slashing the Pentagon's bloated budget and pushing back against the powerful lawmakers and senior military officials who will do all they can to preserve the status quo.

Work will have three things on his plate, said Jim Stavridis, the retired four-star admiral who now serves as the dean of Tufts University's Fletcher School: "The budget, the budget and the budget."

Work has earned a reputation as a careful analyst and a hands-on manager who is well suited to running the day-to-day operations of the Pentagon during a time of fundamental changes to its missions and resources. He has shown a willingness to make controversial decisions like supporting the killing of an advanced vehicle cherished by his fellow Marines.

At the same time, those who know him say Work can be quick to cut off debate and resistant to hearing opposing views. At CNAS, which has long prided itself for being staffed by strong personalities who enjoy intellectual jousting, Work has been seen as ponderous and occasionally closed off from his staff. As one individual who knows Work put it: "He's boring even as a defense nerd."

But it's not all Work and no play: ...Juan Garcia, the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, has seen a different side of Work. The two men agreed one of them would visit the wounded at Bethesda Naval Hospital at least once a month. Work, Garcia said, also had another passion.

"He's also a guy with a true appreciation for bad B-movie action flicks," Garcia told Situation Report in an e-mail, citing 2011's Battle: Los Angeles as an example. "I look forward to having him back in the building." Read our pre-nom, mini-profile here.

Work's work is cut out for him: Four think tanks agreed, roughly, on defense spending yesterday. Defense News' Paul McCleary: "...During a briefing held in the Dirksen Senate Office building on Wednesday, a group of well-known budgetary and strategic thinkers from the four think tanks coalesced around a roughly similar set of options for the Pentagon over the next decade: The venerable A-10 attack plane should be retired, along with the U2 spy plane and the F-18C/D models, while the Navy should lose two to four of its current aircraft carriers. Hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, the event also featured the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Center for a New American Strategy (CNAS), and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

"The effort is the organization's yearly attempt to game out the options being weighed by the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). While all four teams cut carriers and destroyers from the Navy's arsenal - they only did so in order to preserve funding to add to the Navy's submarines and also to replace the current carriers with newer models - keeping the industrial base happy-instead of giving mid-life overhauls to existing flattops. Read McCleary's piece here. And click here for the slides from each think tank at CSBA's event yesterday.

Apropos of nothing: In the A, B, C, D and E-Rings: Peckerwood is the new black. Ever since Clyde Vaughn, the retired three-star who served as the director of the Army National Guard, used the word "peckerwood" during a hearing in Congress this week, it's become the word-du-jour in the Pentagon. From a dear friend of Situation Report: "Peckerwood is the new black.  After General Vaughn used the phrase in hill testimony yesterday I've heard it constantly in the halls."

HA! "...First everyone had to look it up (no one wants to become a statistic) but once Webster verified the word is only a run-of-the-mill 'often disparaging' noun defined as 'a rural white southerner' it displaced honey badger as the most used idiom."

Here's the quote from Vaughn: "I told them: We got to catch the first peckerwoods to get out here and mess this thing up for everybody, and we got to prosecute them quickly." Here's FP's Dan Lamothe's story from the hearing here.

Welcome to Thursday'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.

Page One: The Pakistan drone program is being curbed - and the game of Whac-a-Mole could begin to be over. The WSJ's Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman and Saeed Shah: "The Obama administration will narrow its controversial drone program in Pakistan to target a short list of high-level terrorists, and aim to end it during the prime minister's current term, senior U.S. officials have told their Pakistani counterparts.

The downsizing of the covert Central Intelligence Agency program reflects Pakistani objections to the strikes and logistical constraints on the spy agency at the end of this year, when U.S. troops are scheduled to pull out of neighboring Afghanistan, according to administration, intelligence and military officials.

"Senior U.S. officials said they have discussed the revisions with Pakistani officials in a series of meetings over the past six months. U.S. officials say the goal is to make the drone campaign less of an irritant in the two countries' troubled relations, without preventing the CIA from conducting higher-priority operations during the time the program has left. The changes fall short of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's demands for an immediate freeze in drone strikes...

Now, the list of new targets doesn't replenish itself. The WSJ: "...Officials say the revision is meant to move the CIA away from what some critics call a 'Whac-A-Mole' approach and put the U.S. on a path to end the program, though not as quickly as drone critics and the Pakistani government would like. The CIA has long added new targets to a longer 'kill list' on a rolling basis as old targets are hit. Now, U.S. officials say, the 'kill list' is not self-replenishing, a change long sought by Islamabad. 'By taking one off, we're not automatically putting one on,' a senior U.S. official said. As a result, the number of targets on the list are decreasing as the CIA's drones focus on a more limited number of high-level targets that "will enable us to conclude the program," the official said." Read the rest here.
The soldier behind the SOTU: CBS' David Martin profiles Cory Remsburg, the Army Ranger who did (count 'em) 10 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before being critically injured by a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan in October 2009. He met President Obama three times - then got an invite to sit next to Michelle at the State of the Union address last week. People have been wondering about him ever since.

David Martin: "Which is the tougher fight, against the enemy or the fight you're fighting now against your wounds?"

Cory Remsburg, slurring, because it took almost eight months before he could speak after the attack: "Hands down now."

Martin: "Hands down now."

The segment's kicker -

Martin: "And what does Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg think of the extraordinary service he gave his country?"

Remsburg: "In a perfect world, I'd do it all again. I'd go back if they let me [thumbs up]."

Martin: "We all know it's not a perfect world. But Cory Remsburg just might be a perfect soldier. David Martin, CBS News, Phoenix, Arizona."  Watch the whole report here and cry.

Eek: North Korea has taken the initial steps toward fielding a "road-mobile" intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting parts of the U.S. Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio: "...The KN-08 has been been displayed twice in parades, and 'we assess that North Korea has already taken initial steps towards fielding this system, although it remains untested,' Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said in his latest annual unclassified Worldwide Threat assessment.

North Korea's missile development, along with concern about Iranian weapons programs, is the principle rationale for the $34 billion U.S. ground based-missile defense program managed by Boeing Co., which hasn't had a successful interception test since December 2008." Read the rest here.

Adm. John Kirby's readout of Chuck Hagel's phoner with South Korea's Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan Jin: They discussed "the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the United States' unwavering commitment to the U.S.-ROK alliance, and the importance of regional cooperation to reinforce deterrence against North Korean threats," reaffirmed the "strength of the alliance" and agreed that "close consultation and coordination are pivotal in promoting alliance unity and readiness in all areas."

"Skinny Puppy" sends a bill to the Pentagon, but where's the invoice? The BBC: "A Canadian rock band has sent a bill to the US military after being told its music was used to torment suspected terrorists at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, a member has said.

"Skinny Puppy keyboardist Cevin Key told CTV News the band sought $666,000 (£409,000) for use of its music. Key said a fan who had served as a guard there informed the group its music had been used. A US military spokesman told the BBC it had not received an invoice. Lt Col Todd Breasseale said the defense department would not comment on procedures at Guantanamo Bay."

Keyboardist Cevin Key: "I am not only against the fact they're using our music to inflict damage on somebody else but they are doing it without anybody's permission." Read the rest here.

Scandal Update:  Hagel worried about an "ethical breakdown" in the U.S. military:  Most of Wednesday's Pentagon briefing dealt with the problem that is becoming a bigger and bigger thorn in the Pentagon's side.  AP's Lita Baldor and Bob Burns: "Concerned that ethical problems inside the military might run deeper than he realized, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered service leaders Wednesday to add urgency to their drive to ensure ‘‘moral character and moral courage'' in a force emerging from more than a decade of war. Almost a year into his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel had been worried by a string of ethics scandals that produced a wave of unwelcome publicity for the military. But in light of new disclosures this week, including the announcement of alleged cheating among senior sailors in the nuclear Navy, Hagel decided to push for a fuller accounting.

"... The steady drumbeat of one military ethics scandal after another has caused many to conclude that the misbehavior reflects more than routine lapses."

Pentagon pressec Kirby: ‘‘He definitely sees this as a growing problem...‘And he's concerned about the depth of it... ‘I don't think he could stand here and tell you that he has - that anybody has - the full grasp here, and that's what worries (Hagel) is that maybe he doesn't have the full grasp of the depth of the issue, and he wants to better understand it." Read the rest of the AP report here.

Debbie James Love: Kori Schake, writing on FP, says that finally, the Air Force gets the leader it deserves. Read her bit here.

On Syria, Kerry says Assad's position has "improved a little bit" but he's not winning, it's a stalemate:  Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, the Secretary of State also said "Iran is not open for business" contrary to recent assertions by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and "Nobody should doubt for an instant that the United States is prepared to enforce the sanctions that exist. And all of our allies are in agreement that those sanctions are staying in place until or unless there is a deal." In response to critical comments from some Israeli officials about remarks Kerry made at the Munich Security Conference ("For Israel, there's an increasing de-legitimation campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it, there's talk of boycotts, and other kinds of things.") Kerry pushed back "I've been ... attacked before by people using real bullets not words, and I'm not going to be intimidated."   He also made clear he won't run for President in 2016. For the invu, click here.

Pentagon says to industry - stem that urge to mergeReuters' Andrea Shalal-Esa: "...Elana Broitman, whose office at the Defense Department reviews deals that involve national security issues, told an investor conference that ‘there are far fewer of the large firms, so we're in a more constrained environment.  Even though we're seeing a budget downturn which has corresponded to consolidation in the past, we'd be less comfortable now because of that smaller number." Read the rest here.

Cool Code Name News:  "Taranis" and "Colossus" are the British code names for the UK's no-longer-quite-so-top secret unmanned drone and a World War II code breaking early computer. Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, was unveiled in 2010 but had its first test flight only recently.  The builder, BAE systems, calls it "the pinnacle of British engineering."  Read more from the BBC here.  And as for "Colossus," a happy 70th birthday wish is in order; it was first used by the brainy gang at Bletchley Park on February 5, 1944 to crack messages sent by Hitler and his generals.  It stayed secret for decades, continuing its service against the then Soviet Union, as noted, also by the BBC, here (check out all the tubes in the photo.)

Check out FP's cartoonist Matt Bors' bit today: Sugarfree ScarJo to the Rescue: If only Middle East peace were this easy, here.