Hagel to send destroyers to Asia; Today he's in Beijing; Reciprocation problems with China; LT says: "your soldiers will amaze you;" and a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold with Nathaniel Sobel
After the vote, Dunford urges Kabul to allow a foreign force to remain. The FT's Michael Peel in Kabul: "NATO's commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hit back at fears that the drawdown of his troops could lead to the collapse into civil war that followed the end of Soviet occupation more than 20 years ago. General Joseph Dunford said the peaceful voting in heavily populated areas for Saturday's presidential election had shown that Afghan soldiers were capable of securing the country.
"However, Dunford also urged the government to sign a deal to allow a small foreign force to stay. While many Afghans went to the polls with optimism in their country's first democratic transfer of power, the long-flagged withdrawal of almost all NATO forces has also sparked anxiety. This has undermined the economy and raised memories of past conflict. ‘We are not leaving, we are transitioning - there's a big difference,' Gen Dunford said in an interview at the widespread fortified compound of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in central Kabul. ‘I don't view what we are doing as withdrawing, so I reject the analogy with the Soviet days.'" More here.
Former ISAF commander John Allen says the U.S. must commit to a post-2014 force: "Very shortly now the U.S. and the international community ought to be unambiguously committing ourselves to a post-2014 presence in this country," Allen said told CFR's Gayle Lemmon, writing on Defense One. He called the vote "an enormous accomplishment by the Afghan people." Read the rest here.
Page One: Afghan elections likely point to a
Yaroslav Trofimov and Margherita Stancati in Kabul: "Former
World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah
appeared to be the two front-runners in Afghanistan's presidential election,
sidelining a candidate viewed as President Hamid Karzai's favorite, according
to partial results tallied by news organizations and one candidate.
"A victory for Mr. Ghani or Mr. Abdullah could significantly reduce the influence of Mr. Karzai, who has ruled Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion and paved the way for a long-term security deal with the U.S. that Mr. Karzai has not agreed to sign, a refusal that has infuriated Washington.
"Messrs. Ghani and Abdullah both say they will sign the bilateral security agreement, which is needed to maintain American aid and a limited U.S. military presence in Afghanistan once the international coalition's current mandate expires in December." More here.
Seven million voted in a country in which 15 million were registered, but the turnout was significant. The Atlantic's Uri Friedman: "...an estimated 7 million Afghans headed to the polls to choose from a roster of presidential candidates whose average age is 63. This in a country where 68 percent of the population is under the age of 25-where seven in 10 people were 12 or younger when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Arguably the most important storyline in this weekend's election-which marks the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's modern history-is the participation of Afghan youth, who will play an outsize role in shaping the country's future as U.S. troops withdraw." Full story here.
If you don't know anything about the military - or even if you do - you should read this bit by a lieutenant in Afghanistan on the War Council blog. Army 1st Lt. Scott Ginther on "What I Wish I Knew," here. #17: Your Soldiers will do amazing things: "Far more often than your Soldiers doing stupid things, you will be blown away at how talented they are. I have the following Soldiers in my platoon: a former blacksmith and rodeo clown, a NASCAR pit crewman, two carpenters, a private who is a multi-millionaire and drives and Audi R8, a Sugar Bowl-winning, University of West Virginia offensive lineman and a SSG who graduated college at 17 years old and taught physics at Tulane before the age of 26."
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Sea Air Space Expo begins at the Gaylord National in Washington, D.C. today. Deets here.
Pro-Russian protestors seize government buildings in eastern Ukraine. LA Times' Sergei Loiko: "Pro-Russia demonstrators on Sunday seized at least three government buildings in industrial cities of eastern Ukraine, which has been plagued by demonstrations in favor of stronger ties to Moscow. Early in the day several hundred demonstrators carrying Russian flags pushed through a police cordon in front of the regional administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, the UNIAN news agency reported. There were no officials or employees at work in the building and the police refrained from using force to stop the protesters, the report said. The demonstrators demanded a referendum in the region aimed at joining Russia and called for the release of former riot police officers arrested in Kiev last week. The officers are being held on suspicion of shooting protesters in the Ukrainian capital during violent clashes in February that led to the overthrow of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovich." More here.
A possible break in the search for 370 could come just in time. The WaPo's Chico Harlan: "An Australian navy vessel searching for a missing Malaysian passenger jet has picked up deep-sea acoustic signals 'consistent' with those emitted by an airplane's black box, the leader of the multinational search operation said Monday. Though officials cautioned that they had not yet confirmed the plane's location, the signals mark the most promising lead in a month-long search. If the acoustic noises ultimately lead searchers to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the timing of this breakthrough is extraordinarily fortunate: The batteries powering the plane's emergency beacons will likely run out within hours or days. Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said at a press conference in Perth - the noises are "probably the best information we've had" so far." The rest here.
Asia Pivoting: A day before landing in China, Hagel announces the deployment of two Navy destroyers to Japan. Reuters' Phil Stewart and Nobuhiro Kubo: "The United States moved on Sunday to reassure Tokyo over its mounting security concerns, saying it would send more missile defense ships to Japan following North Korean launches and use a high level trip to warn China against abusing its ‘great power.' Japan has watched with alarm in recent weeks as North Korea carried out a series of missile launches, including firing two medium-range missiles capable of hitting the U.S. ally. Tokyo has also voiced growing anxiety over China's military buildup and increasingly assertive behavior in a territorial dispute over East China Sea islands. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that two Navy destroyers equipped with missile defense systems would be deployed to Japan by 2017. It was a response, he said, to provocations from the North, which has also threatened to carry out a ‘new form' of nuclear test." More here.
I'll show you mine if you show me... Cyberdefense is at the top of the agenda on Hagel's visit to China but reciprocation isn't yet there. The NYT's David Sanger: "In the months before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's arrival in Beijing on Monday, the Obama administration quietly held an extraordinary briefing for the Chinese military leadership on a subject officials have rarely discussed in public: the Pentagon's emerging doctrine for defending against cyberattacks against the United States - and for using its cybertechnology against adversaries, including the Chinese. The idea was to allay Chinese concerns about plans to more than triple the number of American cyberwarriors to 6,000 by the end of 2016, a force that will include new teams the Pentagon plans to deploy to each military combatant command around the world.
"But the hope was to prompt the Chinese to give Washington a similar briefing about the many People's Liberation Army units that are believed to be behind the escalating attacks on American corporations and government networks. So far, the Chinese have not reciprocated - a point Mr. Hagel plans to make in a speech at the P.L.A.'s National Defense University on Tuesday." Full story here.
Milley has been getting good reviews for his steady hand at Fort Hood: he's seen as candid and forthright. And he's no stranger to combat. The WaPo's Greg Jaffe on Page One: "... Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley wrapped his arms around the woman and tried to console her in the hallway outside the hospital room. 'I've been in a lot of combat zones,' he said. 'I've seen a lot of wounded and injured soldiers. He's going to be okay.' Milley had returned to Fort Hood late last month, after a one-year tour of Afghanistan and a short leave. Eleven days later, Spec. Ivan Lopez opened fire on troops in his transportation unit and a surrounding two-block area, killing three soldiers and wounding 16 before he took his own life. As Milley visited the hospital Saturday, he was still wearing his Afghanistan combat boots, which had his blood type and the last four digits of his Social Security number written in marker on the ankle." More here.
Five years after the first Fort Hood shooting, the Army faces questions about why it couldn't prevent a second. FP's Lubold: "The Pentagon insists the changes put in place after the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood prevented this week's mass shooting there from being much worse. But its not yet clear that's true, and senior Army generals will face intensive scrutiny in the days and weeks ahead about whether they could have done more to keep Spec. Ivan Lopez from killing three fellow soldiers and wounding 16 more. In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting five years ago, a commission established by then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates created a laundry list of recommendations designed to better identify troubled soldiers, create systems to more quickly alert the soldiers and family members living at a base about an ongoing attack, and accelerate the speech at which medical care is provided to the wounded. Pentagon officials say that most of those changes that had been put in place at Fort Hood before Lopez, a 34-year-old Iraq veteran with a history of depression, allegedly walked into two different locations on the sprawling Texas base and opened fire." More here.
The Obamas will attend the memorial service at Fort Hood on Wednesday, more here.
These images are not of American troops in Afghanistan: they are Mexican soldiers in Mexico. But heroin is surging north out of Mexico and spreading into the U.S. See the pics and read that one here.
Hayden is out on a limb, and it's getting ugly over the Senate torture report. The HuffPo's Emily Swanson: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, may be too ‘emotional' to have produced a fair report on the CIA's use of torture, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday. Speaking on ‘Fox News Sunday' about a Senate Intelligence Committee report which criticizes the CIA program as excessive and ineffective at fighting terrorism, Hayden said Feinstein ‘wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.' ‘That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don't think it leads you to an objective report,' Hayden said." More here.
ICYMI: The CIA ain't going quietly on the drone war. Michael Sheehan, formerly at the Pentagon: "Some might want to get the C.I.A. out of the killing business, but that's not happening anytime soon." Read the NYT's Mark Mazzetti's story on Sunday's Page One, here.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline acknowledges its investigating improper conduct relating to its business in Iraq after a WSJ report recently. The NYT's Katie Thomas: "...Glaxo issued its statement after a report in The Wall Street Journal that the company had been warned about the practices in Iraq late last year by a person familiar with Glaxo's operations there. The person contended that Glaxo was violating United States and British antibribery laws by hiring government-paid physicians to promote its products in Iraq and paying for them to attend international conferences, The Journal reported. United States law prohibits companies from paying foreign government officials - including doctors - to promote their products, and at least a dozen large pharmaceutical companies have come under investigation in recent years in connection with that law.
Glaxo spokesman Stephen Rea, on operating in so-called emerging markets: "Operating in emerging markets is challenging given the issues many of these countries face with funding and maturity of their respective health care systems." But, he said, Glaxo's presence in such markets was important to improving access to medicine." More here.
Despite the interim deal, Iran still can't unfreeze much of its oil revenue. The WSJ's Laurence Norman, Nour Malas and Benoit Faucon: "Iran has been unable to withdraw much of the unfrozen oil revenue it was to receive under a November interim nuclear deal, a possible complication for efforts to end the decade long standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions... An estimated $100 billion in payments for Iranian oil imports has been locked up in accounts in the importing countries in compliance with U.S. banking sanctions that have been among the most effective in pressuring Iran economically. Only $4.2 billion was to be freed up gradually under the interim deal. One reason Iran is having difficulty tapping the unfrozen revenue is that banks remain fearful they could violate tight U.S. financial sanctions, especially while the outcome of talks on a final nuclear deal remains uncertain." More here.