National Security

FP's Situation Report: A runoff likely, but election a signal of smoother relations

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 run off.  The WSJ's 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: " 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."

Welcome to Monday'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: Do please follow us @glubold and @njsobe4.

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.


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.