National Security

FP's Situation Report: Connecting the wrong dots on PTSD and Fort Hood

Karzai's got hand; Hagel is headed to Japan; Ash Carter to start talking; Iraqi wants the U.S. to take a stand; Carl Mundy, Jr. dies; and a bit more.

There is "very strong evidence" that Lopez had an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition, but no evidence yet that his mental condition was connected to his deployments overseas. The WSJ's Devlin Barrett, Julian Barnes and Nathan Koppel: "The top commander at Fort Hood said Thursday there is ‘strong evidence' the alleged attacker in Wednesday's mass shooting at the base had a history of psychiatric problems. Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said there was no indication that Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, the alleged shooter, was targeting any soldiers specifically, including the three soldiers killed or 16 injured. ‘We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition,' Gen. Milley said. ‘We believe that the fundamental underlying causal factor here.' Officials said they didn't have any records of specific disciplinary actions related to mental-health problems, but said they were reviewing the records." More here.

Noting: In the early hours of reporting the shooting and with a dearth of details, many reporters seized on the fact that Ivan Lopez had served in Iraq. Coupled with what Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior commander at Fort Hood, also briefed reporters, about the treatment for Lopez' depression and anxiety problems, it was too easy to connect the dots. It remains unclear what caused Lopez to do what he did. But his four-month tour in Iraq - in 2011, clearly not the darkest days there, and at a time when few Americans were even seeing combat - was not enough to draw the conclusion that Lopez' mental illness was combat-related.

Thusly: Countering the "Rambo narrative': CNAS' Philip Carter, on FP, about the media's misdiagnosis: "There is a military proverb that first reports from the battlefield are always wrong. [Yesterday's] reporting from Fort Hood should be taken with that caveat, especially to the extent that we blame the shooter's short Iraq tour for his violent rampage. We know far too little about the shooter, victims, and situation to conclude that military service or combat stress caused the carnage at Fort Hood. It would be enough for these stories to leap to conclusions about one particular shooting. Unfortunately, such reporting (in this case and that of the Navy Yard shooting last September) contributes to a deeply ingrained (and factually false) narrative about veterans that has become a part of the American psyche. This 'Rambo narrative' -- the idea that veterans are deranged killers suffering from post-traumatic stress, ready to explode in the workplace or at home - did lasting harm to the Vietnam generation of veterans. It persists today, and is only inflamed by reporting like that on the Fort Hood shooting." Read the rest here.

So who was Ivan Lopez? A quiet introvert who loved music. The WaPo's David A. Fahrenthold, Carol D. Leonnig and Matea Gold on the father of four: "... Friends recalled Lopez as a father, a devoted son and a talented percussionist who had joined Puerto Rico's police force in part because he wanted to play in the police department band. He had been crushed by his mother's unexpected death last fall but afterward had returned to his Army career at a new base." More 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 and we'll just stick you on. 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 do follow us @glubold.

A bipartisan vote declassifies the Senate torture report that concludes torture does not produce valuable intel. FP's John Hudson and Shane Harris: "In a surprisingly lopsided vote on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly to declassify a long-awaited and controversial report on the CIA's brutal program for interrogating suspected militants. The 11-3 vote caps months of debate and is a sign of the growing rift between the intelligence community and its overseers on Capitol Hill. Officials who are familiar with the prisoners say it details cases of detainees who were dunked in cold water, battered with truncheons, and slammed against concrete walls. These officials say it concludes subjecting prisoners to such harsh interrogations, including what human rights groups and others call torture, may have been counterproductive, and that the techniques didn't produce any leads that helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden. Other officials bitterly dispute that claim and say the report is deeply flawed and inaccurate." Full story here.

The Pentagon shouldn't expect an early Christmas. Defense News' Marcus Weisgerber: "The US military services have sent Congress wish lists that include $36 billion in priority items that were not included in the Pentagon's 2015 budget proposal. But actual passage of the lists seems unlikely." More here.

Ash Carter is about to start talking. The former DepSecDef, who left office last December after five grinding years running the Pentagon's day-to-day operations as its No. 2, is back after a three-month breather, Situation Report is told. The WorldWide Speakers Group, which handles former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and World Bank Chief Bob Zoellick, this week snagged Carter as a client. He is their first senior DOD official. It's a sign, we're told by a source knowledgeable about Carter's thinking, of his interest in taking some of his COO experience and applying it to the corporate world.  

It's back to school for the WaPo's Dana Priest, who will focus on national security issues as the Knight Chair at the University of Maryland. A UofMd. statement: "In her new role, Professor Priest's future investigative work for The Washington Post will be done with a small team of students who will not only help in research and reporting but will find new, smarter ways to tell important stories." More here.

Defense Department undersecretary for acquisition Frank Kendall vents frustration over the operating cots of Lockheed's F-35. Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio: "The Pentagon will decrease its $1.1 trillion estimate for the cost of supporting Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)'s F-35 fighter jet over a 55-year lifespan, the top U.S. weapons buyer said. It will drop to a number that's not trivial but is not as much" a reduction "as I would like," Frank Kendall, the Defense Department's undersecretary for acquisition, said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington. While debate over the aircraft, the costliest U.S. weapons system, has focused mostly on the price to develop and build the fighter, Pentagon agencies also have disputed its long-term operating costs, from spare parts to repairs." More here.

Gee whiz: The Marine Corps plans to equip Ospreys with wifi and troops with tablets. Marine Corps Times' Lars Schwetje and Gina Harkins: "The Marine Corps is testing hand-held tablet computers designed to give ground troops real-time target intelligence while en route to a raid point, and officials say the technological leap will change how the service carries out crisis-response missions in hostile parts of the world. The effort falls in line with the recent Marine Corps strategy to remake itself following budget cuts and the close of its long-term commitments in two land wars. The particular emphasis - combining mobile technology with older amphibious helicopter doctrine - is in part a reaction to larger scale demands of President Obama's Pacific pivot, as well as the smaller scale demands of the post-Benghazi diplomatic security climate in Africa." More here.

Iraqi Deputy PM Mutlaq wants the U.S. to take a stand. Writing on FP: "Iraqis will vote at the end of this month in our first national-level election since the departure of American troops in 2011. On the heels of last year, the bloodiest we've experienced in recent memory, and facing the prospect of even more violence ahead of us, some have lost hope (though others remain convinced the impending elections will bring change).
"Some cynicism is understandable. After all, an opposition coalition won more votes than current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in our last parliamentary election four years ago, but Maliki held onto power regardless. Now, the tactics of suppression voters confront have intensified as violence between armed groups rages in two regions of Iraq, Anbar and Diyala. That bloodletting could easily envelop Baghdad. Millions of civilians are caught in the crossfire. The rest of the piece here.

Ukraine implicates Yanukovych and Russia in the murder of protesters. The NYT's Andrew Roth: "The Ukrainian authorities said Thursday that former President Viktor F. Yanukovych and Russian security agents were involved in plans for elite police units to open fire on antigovernment protesters in February, killing more than 100 people in the days immediately before the downfall of his government. The report offered no hard evidence to back the assertions, however, and both Mr. Yanukovych and Russia's security agency denied any involvement in the shootings. The police have already arrested several members of one elite riot police unit responsible for the killings, said Arsen Avakov, the country's interim interior minister, but some others under investigation have fled to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last month." More here.

Karzai maneuvers to extend his influence into the next Afghan administrationThe NYT's Matthew Rosenberg: "American officials have ignored him, and Afghanistan's presidential contenders have tried to persuade voters that they will be different from him. But those hoping to see President Hamid Karzai slip into a quiet retirement may be disappointed in the months to come. On Saturday, Afghans will vote in a presidential election that Mr. Karzai has shaped at every stage. He narrowed the candidate field, dissuading potential candidates from entering the race and forcing his brother Qayum to leave it. He handpicked the officials who will preside over any election disputes. Then he blessed two of the three leading contenders with tens of thousands of dollars from his office's slush funds, hedging his bets that at least one candidate open to his influence will make it to a runoff, according to senior Afghan officials. It may be well into June before that second vote can be held, and Mr. Karzai will remain president in the meantime." More here.

After what aides described as a successful meeting in Hawaii of the 10 ASEAN defense ministers, Hagel is wheels up for Japan. Then he'll head to Beijing on Monday and then to Mongolia. He'll be back in DC Thursday night. Hagel hosted the 10 defense ministers in Hawaii, the first time the ASEAN conference has been held in the U.S. Hagel relished his role as host, we're told, and showed off with pride some of the American capabilities - like the "data fusion" screens on board the USS Anchorage that helps to give U.S. commanders a picture of what's happening in the Asia-Pacific "area of responsibility," including the locations of the ships and other assets. Many would like to see a similar capability built among Asian nations as they work to coordinate better together around natural disasters - and more atypical disasters, like the search for the missing jetliner. "The wheels got turning for some of these guys," one defense official said, "on how to advance coordination for the future." The group, which included two defense ministers who had apparently never been to the U.S., also saw F-22s come in for a landing and other aviation demonstrations. Many excitedly took out their phones to capture images of what they saw, and we're told they were quite a sight, all wearing the Anchorage ball caps they were given throughout their tour Thursday.

The Asia pivot might be shaking up the Pentagon's starting rotation, but the United States still needs a powerful Army to close it out in the 9th inning. CSIS's Maren Leed on FP: "At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee [Thursday], Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno testified that additional funding is needed to sustain an Army above the ‘absolute floor' of 440,000-450,000 troops he believes is required to execute the ‘updated' defense strategy, released last month along with President's Barack Obama's proposed budget for the next five years. That's 20,000-30,000 more troops than he's likely to get if sequestration continues -- and 40,000-50,000 less than his ideal number of 520,000.
"The new strategy and budget come at a time when America's role in the world remains up for debate. Recent polls reflect a falling appetite for U.S. military operations, and a continued desire to leave the bloody and frustrating legacies of Iraq and Afghanistan firmly in the rearview mirror. These sentiments capture a striking indifference to the world around us: unabated violence in Syria; Sunni extremists' spread into Iraq; continued tensions in Egypt; conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan; power struggles in nuclear North Korea; strains between India, China, and Pakistan; tensions in the East and South China Seas; a persistent terrorist threat; and the current contest over Crimea and perhaps more of Ukraine." The rest of her bit, here.

Today is the day you should be thinking about mine awareness. A State Department official: "The United States is the world's single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2.2 billion in more than 90 countries through more than 60 NGO partners around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. This vital assistance helps post-conflict countries consolidate peace and set the stage for reconstruction and development. Our efforts have assisted 15 countries around the world to become free of the humanitarian impact of landmines (‘impact free')..."

The WaPo's Emily Heil's interview with humanitarian demining advocate Jonathan Goldsmith, aka the Most Interesting Man in the World, here.

Carl Mundy Jr., the 30th Marine Commandant, has died. Marine Corps Times' Hope Hodge Seck: "Mundy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, several months ago, said his son-in-law, Bob Gunter. He died Wednesday night at his home in Alexandria, Va. Mundy served as commandant from 1991 to 1995 and helped to restructure the Marine Corps following the denouement of the Cold War... Mundy's two sons followed him into the Marine Corps. His oldest son, Brig. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III currently serves as commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade in California, while Col. Timothy S. Mundy serves as chief of staff for Combat Development and Integration at Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va. He also survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Gunter."

Hanging up the sword: one of our favorit-est stories ever in the WaPo was about the inherent struggle for military men and women as they transition their way out of a military life because it's a fascinating process. The piece, by the WaPo's Michael Ruane, in 1999, focused on Mundy: It began: "On a clear, chilly morning last winter, retired Marine Corps Commandant Carl E. Mundy Jr. stepped from a car outside the House of Representatives' Rayburn Office Building and marched up the steps for an appointment. It was 8 a.m., a bit early for Capitol Hill. But he was calling on an old friend, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), himself a retired Marine, wounded in Vietnam and a member of a powerful House subcommittee. Mundy, 64, who had taken off his general's stars and Commandant's laurel in 1995, used to come to the Hill attended by aides and advisers as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of 170,000 Marines. This morning, as the head of the USO, the venerable but haphazardly funded military morale agency, he was alone, in business attire, and hat in hand. For 15 minutes, he waited at Murtha's office. Finally, the congressman's scheduler arrived. There had been a mix-up. Murtha would not be in. By the way, the scheduler politely asked: 'Who are you?'

"...A military career can be cruel that way. You finish up, hang out the flag, slap on a bumper sticker: "Semper Fi, Mac." And head for the fishing hole. No more uniforms. No obvious chain of command. For the first time in years, you pick a permanent place to live--Mundy picked one 10 miles from the Pentagon. And if you were a high-ranking officer, you join the boards of corporations and foundations. Mundy joined seven."

Mundy, on retirement: "It's almost like jumping out of an airplane... You are weightless. There's no noise, or anything like that. The weight is off of you. You're not standing on your own feet. You're not bearing your own weight. You're just suspended in the air." The WaPo story, reprinted by Leatherneck magazine, here.

ICYMI - DOD is not sufficiently tracking revolving door stats, by Stripes' Chris Carroll: The Defense Department isn't properly keeping track of senior officials who leave the government to take jobs with defense contractors, the DOD Inspector General reported Tuesday. In the wake of concerns that defense officials with responsibility over contracting were moving to the private sector and improperly influencing the process - the so-called 'revolving door' between government and industry - Congress took action in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The law required generals, flag officers, senior civilians and program officials to seek written legal opinions on their new jobs. Under the provisions of act, DOD was also required to keep all such opinions and reports accessible in a central database for at least five years - but the DOD Inspector General said Tuesday that isn't being done." The rest here.

The world is much safer than 20th-century historians would have you believe. The Harvard Kennedy School's Ali Wyne for TNR: "With the centenary of World War I's outset approaching, historians and foreign-policy experts are warning leaders to revisit its lessons, lest they allow such catastrophes to repeat themselves. Among those lessons: never underestimate the power of misbegotten ambition. ‘If we cannot determine how one of the most momentous conflicts in history happened, how can we hope to avoid another such catastrophe in the future?' Margaret MacMillan asked in the New York Times last December. ‘Instead of muddling along from one crisis to another,' she concluded, ‘now is the time to think again about those dreadful lessons of a century ago-in the hope that our leaders, with our encouragement, will think about how they can work together to build a stable international order.' We should heed MacMillan's wisdom. But we should also appreciate the progress that global security has made in the intervening century." More here. 


National Security

FP's Situation Report: Another insider attack raises new questions at Fort Hood

Profiler: "not snapping behavior;" MRAPs to Pakistan; The nuances of hiring "heroes;" No BOGs: How America can shape the world; and a bit more.


By Gordon Lubold with Nathaniel Sobel

An Iraq veteran and military truck driver who deployed in 2011 and was being treated for mental disorders killed three, then himself, and brought all the sorrow and all the ache back to Fort Hood. Lubold's story: The shooter, identified in media reports as Specialist Ivan Lopez, used a semi-automatic pistol in an area of the sprawling base where medical and motor transport personnel work. When the shooting stopped, Lopez was confronted in a parking lot by a female military police officer, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior commander at the base. As the officer attempted to "engage" the shooter, Milley said, Lopez pulled a pistol out from underneath his jacket and shot himself in the head. He had been transferred to Fort Hood from another Army installation, also in Texas, in February, Milley said.

Lopez, who had a wife and children living in the area, had not been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature invisible wound of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he had "self-reported" a traumatic brain injury and was being treated for a number of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, Milley said. The soldier was a combat veteran, he said.

Milley: "Obviously we are digging deep into his background, any criminal history, psychiatric history, his experiences in combat, all the things you'd expect us to do are being done right now."

In November 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in what remains the worst mass murder at a military installation in American history. Last year, he was sentenced to death for the killings. He awaits execution at a facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Milley said Fort Hood will get through this: "Events in the past have taught us many things here at Fort Hood: we know the community is strong, we know the community is resilient, and we know the soldiers and the civilians and the families of this fort who have served so bravely in combat for the last 13 years in both Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and we will get through this."

Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former senior profiler for the FBI on CNN's 'New Day' to Chris Cuomo this morning: "This is not snapping behavior, which means they were fine yesterday and then decided to carry out this lethal act of suicide/homicide, it's well-planned, thought out behavior. It's very likely for a personal cause."

Blue on blue: how the Defense Department is grappling with insider attacks. The WaPo's Ernest Londono: "... In 2010, the Defense Department's report on the Nidal shooting said officials intended to 'develop a scientifically based list of behavioral indicators of potential violence.' It also said the military would work jointly with the FBI to "strengthen our understanding of the insider threat.' That review also called for more stringent measures to vet those seeking access to military installations around the country. Due to budget constraints, some of those recommendations have not been fully implemented, according to the report the Pentagon issued last month outlining its findings of the Sept. 16, 2013 Navy Yard shooting. The report said that several installations do not comply with physical security regulations that call for personnel screening people coming into bases to check their identification forms against military and law enforcement databases." More here.

The shooting will come up this morning on Capitol Hill, where Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Raymond Odierno are expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on ‘The Posture of the Department of the Army'. Deets 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 and we'll just stick you on. 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 do follow us @glubold.

Big project: Heroes wanted: Piecing together veterans' unemployment, by Greg Jaffe in the WaPo: "A two-tour Army veteran of the Afghanistan war pulled on a pair of old combat boots and headed off to his $8-an-hour job washing cars at a Ford dealership in Wichita Falls, Tex. 'My military background don't mean nothing,' he said. 'I am just another guy with a GED.'

"An unemployed Iraq veteran in San Antonio woke up late, as he always did these days, and searched the online job boards for new listings. "Same garbage as usual," he said.

"A 46-year-old former soldier, out of work for seven months, was so nervous that he was shaking as he waited in line at a veterans job fair in Louisville. 'It seems like I second-guess myself whenever I talk,' he said. Also at the fair was a man who ran one of the biggest veterans employment programs in the country, with thousands of jobs to fill. 'Okay, let's do it," he said, wading into the crowd and looking for someone to help.

"The four are part of a postwar economy that is unlike any in American history for veterans seeking work. Unemployment among veterans has been called a "black eye on our society" by the head of a major veterans group. "A moral obligation" is how President Obama has referred to it. "A national disgrace," a prominent Republican senator has said.

"The truth, though, is more complicated. Veterans who served in the post-Sept. 11 era have a higher overall unemployment rate than their civilian peers - but it was only about 2 percentage points higher in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are more likely to be employed in full-time jobs and on average earn more than peers who didn't serve. They report about the same levels of financial stress as Americans overall, according to a new survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation."

This impulse has led corporate America to make some massive promises... Add up all the pledges, and they total more than 1 million jobs for a population of unemployed post-Sept. 11-era veterans that is estimated most months by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 210,000. The math is overwhelming: There are now about five pledged jobs for every unemployed service member who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. It also raises some questions: If there really are more than 1 million jobs out there, why isn't every Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran employed? Is there a problem with what the companies are doing? Might it have something to do with the veterans themselves? Read the rest of the Jaffe story here.

Do Iraq and Afghanistan veterans think the wars were worth fighting? WaPo's Mark Berman: "Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are more likely than other Americans to say the wars were worth the costs, even as the newest generation of soldiers divides sharply along familiar partisan lines... Despite support outpacing the general public, veterans' support is still lukewarm, tempered by deep partisan divisions and nagging doubts that Iraqi and Afghan citizens appreciated their service." WaPo and the Kaiser Family Foundation survey here.

In this week's New Yorker George Packer writes about how soldiers "write their wars." Packer: "...The best literary work thus far written by a veteran of America's recent wars is Phil Klay's "Redeployment" (Penguin Press), a masterly collection of short stories about war and its psychological consequences. 'Redeployment' is military for 'return,' and Klay's fiction peels back every pretty falsehood and self-delusion in the encounter between veterans and the people for whom they supposedly fought." Read the rest here.

Feinstein picks up two key votes in support of unveiling the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA's Bush-era abuses.  FP's John Hudson: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein's quest to release a long-awaited and bitterly divisive report on the CIA's Bush-era detention and interrogation practices gained the support of two key Senators on Wednesday, all but assuring majority support to release the report's primary findings.

"In a joint statement, centrist Senators Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, said they will support the release of the findings, conclusions and executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,300 page report. The show of support comes ahead of a Thursday vote to release the summary and adds a thin bipartisan sheen to Feinstein's efforts to expose the CIA's harsh interrogation tactics in the post-9/11 era. ‘We remain strongly opposed to the use of torture, believing that it is fundamentally contrary to American values,' Collins and King said. ‘While we have some concerns about the process for developing the report, its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture. This inhumane and brutal treatment never should have occurred.'" More here.

In Brussels, Kerry proposes two steps to decrease Ukraine's dependence on Russian energy.  FP's Keith Johnson: "...Ever since the confrontation between Kiev and Moscow heated up late last year, and especially since Russia's forcible annexation of the Crimean peninsula in February, European leaders have been fretting about their energy security and heavy reliance on supplies of Russian natural gas. Ukraine, in particular, has been hammered by Russia's use of the energy weapon; on Tuesday, Russia jacked up by about 40 percent the price it charges for natural gas exported to Ukraine, and raised the specter of further price hikes that will put more stress on an already wobbly economy.
"Kerry, speaking at a U.S.-European Union Energy Council summit in Brussels, said that the U.S. wants to help ensure that Europe is able to accelerate its long-overdue energy diversification. ‘It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people's aspirations. It should not be used as a weapon,' Kerry said.
"He stressed two big measures
that could help Ukraine, in particular, get out from under Moscow's thumb: Bringing new sources of gas from Central Asia and sending gas from Eastern Europe back into Ukraine to undercut Russian dominance. He also nodded to the role that future exports of natural gas from the United States could play in diversifying global energy markets." More here.

The search for Flight 370 ain't cheap. Reuters' David Alexander: "The U.S. military has spent more than $3.3 million on the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and has put in place plans that nearly double the original $4 million available for the hunt, a Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday. Army Colonel Steve Warren said the Defense Department spent $3.2 million between March 8 and March 24 on the initial search for the Boeing 777-200ER, which went missing more than three weeks ago during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing." More here.

A former State intel official is sentenced to 13 months for leaking information to Fox News about North Korea's nuclear program. The WaPo's Ann Marimow: "A former State Department arms expert who leaked classified information to a Fox News reporter was sentenced Wednesday to 13 months in prison, after a pointed courtroom debate about the Obama administration's aggressive pursuit of unauthorized disclosures of top-secret information. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim pleaded guilty in February to sharing classified information from an intelligence report on North Korea with reporter James Rosen, Fox's chief Washington correspondent. Rosen was also targeted in the investigation by federal agents, who described him as a possible ‘co-conspirator' in order to search his personal e-mails." More here.

Follow the MRAPs - they're headed to PakistanDefense News' Paul McLeary: "While controversy swirls over reports that Pakistan may receive some of the excess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that the United States has sitting in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials are on the verge of completing a deal to send new and excess MRAPs to Islamabad, Defense News has learned. The 160 vehicles, all of which would be the MaxxPro MRAP variant made by US manufacturer Navistar, would be a mix of new builds and some from US Army prepositioned stocks in Kuwait, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who is not authorized to speak for attribution." More here.

Stimson's Russell Rumbaugh's one-pager on the implications for defense spending in Paul Ryan's budget, here.

After a lull in violence, three bombs kill a government official in Cairo. The FT's Borzou Daragahi: "Anti-government militants renewed their offensive against the Egyptian security forces on Wednesday, killing one senior interior ministry official and a civilian and injuring at least seven others in bombings in central Cairo and an attack in the provinces. Three bombs, thought to be activated by remote control, struck at midday near Cairo University, a site of unrest between the police and supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi. The dead official, reportedly assigned to a guard post just outside the university campus, was Brigadier General Tariq Mirjawi, head of the investigations division for Giza province, which encompasses eastern Cairo, state media reported." Full story here.

New release: Ahead of Tunisian PM Mehdi Jomaa's state visit to DC, CAP looks at the latest security and political dynamics in Tunisia. The Center for American Progress' Hardin Lang: "Tunisia provides an important example of a country where Islamists and non-Islamists are largely settling their differences through politics. But the country remains a work in progress, and the United States should stand ready to bolster the ongoing transition." Full report here.

Interested in Congo? CSIS is hosting an event this evening with Ambassador William Garvelink and Jennifer Cooke for Anjan Sundaram's new book Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo. More here.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber in Iraq killed five army recruits. AP's Sameer Yacoub in Baghdad: "An Iraqi police official says a suicide bombing near a military base in the country's north has killed five army recruits. Police Col. Fatah Rasheed says Wednesday's attack in the town of Riyadh took place when the bomber set off his explosives' belt, targeting recruits waiting in line at the gate of a military base to apply for jobs early in the morning." More here.

Two thirds of Afghan voters are under the age of 25, but the prospects for a fair and free election are slim.  The WSJ's Margherita Stancati and Yaroslav Trofimov in Kabul: "For Afghanistan's "Generation America," Saturday's presidential election marks a vital rite of passage. Almost two thirds of Afghans are younger than 25, and millions have come of age during the 12 years since U.S. troops and development dollars arrived. Despite a violent Taliban insurgency and rampant corruption, young Afghans have enjoyed unprecedented freedoms and opportunities, and many of them will be voting for the first time to preserve them.
"A smooth election is hardly assured. On Wednesday, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest at the entrance to the ministry of interior, killing six officers in one of central Kabul's most heavily guarded spots. An election critically disrupted by the Taliban-or stolen through fraud-could push Afghanistan into renewed civil war, reopening old ethnic fissures and imperiling many gains of the past decade.
"...Of the three presidential front-runners, former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, 70, is Mr. Karzai's favorite and is seen as the establishment candidate. The two others, former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani, 64, and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, 54, have chosen running mates who were warlords during the country's civil war. All of them, however, are working hard to woo the young vote. Mr. Rassoul pledged on Wednesday to fill his future government with young appointees. Mr. Ghani, in a recent interview, described himself as ‘the embodiment of the aspirations of the young men and women of this country.'" Full story here.

The Secretary of State issued a statement ahead of Saturday's Afghan elections. Kerry: "...The United States has proudly supported Afghanistan's electoral and security institutions. But make no mistake: this is Afghanistan's moment. These elections have been Afghan-owned from the start. The Afghan people have planned and prepared for this historic vote. The Afghan people are staffing and leading the electoral institutions. And the Afghan people are dedicated to protecting and advancing their own democracy." More here.
How can America shape the world without boots on the ground and bombs in the air? Good question.  For FP, USIP's Kristin Lord and Stephen Hadley attempt an answer: "Vladimir Putin's cynical efforts to annex Crimea and intimidate the fledgling government of Ukraine make it all too clear that naked aggression in world affairs is not a thing of the past. The United States and its allies must respond firmly when such aggression occurs. But there are other perhaps less dramatic instances of resorting to force of arms. These include unresolved disputes between states -- or ethnic, tribal, and religious disputes within states -- that degenerate into armed conflict. In many instances these conflicts can be prevented, and there is every reason to try to do so." More here.