Clapper's gag order; U.S. Troops to exercise in Eastern Europe; Nagl deals with a drug ring; Thumb-wrestling for Hagel, who is also wheels up today; McChrystal talks "career curveballs"; and a bit more.
The U.S. to partially resume military aid to Egypt. The WaPo's Ernesto Londoño: "The United States has decided to resume delivery of Apache helicopters to Egypt, the Pentagon announced late Tuesday, backtracking on a decision officials made last summer following the country's military coup and its violent aftermath. The Obama administration opted to go ahead with the delivery of 10 aircraft to help Egypt combat cells of extremists in the Sinai, even though Washington is unable to meet congressional criteria for the full resumption of aid. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Sedki Sobhy, in a phone call Tuesday that the United States is ‘not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition,' Rear. Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement released at 10 p.m. Hagel urged his counterpart to ‘demonstrate progress on a more inclusive transition that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians,' the statement said." More here.
Show of force: The Pentagon will conduct exercises across Eastern Europe with about 600 troops. AP's Lita Baldor: "U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of military exercises in four countries across Eastern Europe to bolster allies in the wake of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula last month. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday that the exercises will last about a month, and initially involve about 600 troops. An Army company of about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, will start the exercises Wednesday in Poland. Additional Army companies will head to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and are expected to arrive by Monday for similar land-based exercises in those countries. Under the current plan, U.S. troops would rotate in and out of the four countries for additional exercises on a recurring basis. 'We're looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year,' Kirby told reporters, adding that over time the exercises could expand to other countries." More here.
From the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw: "On Wednesday, April 23, a company-sized contingent of U.S. paratroopers from US Army Europe's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) will arrive in ?widwin, Poland, to begin exercises with Polish troops. This new exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. This action comes at the request of the host nations and demonstrates U.S. commitment to our collective defense responsibilities." Full statement here.
Gag order, ICYMI: DNI Clapper's war on the media and his own intel folks has received scant attention. Will it work or backfire? McClatchy's Jonathan Landay this week: "Employees of U.S. intelligence agencies have been barred from discussing any intelligence-related matter _even if it isn't classified _ with journalists without authorization, according to a new directive by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Intelligence agency employees who violate the policy could suffer career-ending losses of their security clearances or outright termination, and those who disclose classified information might face criminal prosecution, according to the directive, which Clapper signed March 20 but was made public only Monday by Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.
"Under the order, only the director or deputy head of an intelligence agency, public affairs officials and those authorized by public affairs officials may have contact with journalists on intelligence-related matters. The order doesn't distinguish between classified and unclassified matters. It covers a range of intelligence-related information, including, it says, 'intelligence sources, methods, activities and judgments.' It includes a sweeping definition of who's a journalist, which it asserts is "any person . . . engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security." More here.
From the Global Dispatch: "...If the directive succeeds in chilling employees' speech, the public will have to settle for executive branch talking points, which have been repeatedly revealed as drastically misleading if not outright falsehoods. The directive's thinly-veiled true intent is to silence employees, especially whistleblowers, and give the government absolute control over all public messaging related to the powerful, virtually unchecked, and far too secret national security apparatus. If Clapper is interested in stopping employees from exposing blatant wrongdoing, then he would prioritize creating safe and effective internal channels for whistleblowers, not draconian measures aimed at chilling speech." More here.
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Noting: We would love to bring you a couple other great stories from the WaPo today, including one from the WaPo's Craig Whitlock on Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison being reprimanded in a bungled sexual assault case, or another one on Page One, about how the Navy is trying again on the Marine One helicopter. Alas, the WaPo's paywall is extremely funky and won't allow this home subscriber access despite repeated tries. We totally get paywalls. But those who build them have to make it easy to unlock the door. We hope to get the problem fixed soon.
At USIP today, John Allen, Cameron Munter, Pete Lavoy and USIP's Moeed Yusuf talk counterinsurgency in Pakistan. Deets here.
At CSIS this afternoon, the Iraqi ambassador talks with Jon Alterman on Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections. Deets here.
Tomorrow at the Atlantic Council, India-Pakistan: The Opportunity Cost of Conflict; more here.
Read the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction's report on the State Department's assistance to Afghanistan, here.
You gotta-a se-e the baby: Kim Jong Un's baby pics, revealed. In the WaPo, here.
Vaya con dios: Wheels up for Hagel today. The Defense Secretary is headed to Fort Bragg, N.C., then to Mexico and then on to Guatemala in a short trip that will bring him home by the end of the week.
Staffers on a plane - Wendy Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff; Lt. Gen. Abe Abrams, senior military assistant; Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (who recently took over Western Hemisphere policy from Homeland Defense); Rebecca Chavez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; JP Eby, director of Travel Operations; Brent Colburn, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs; John Kirby, Pentagon Presssec; Greg Grant, speechwriter.
Reporters on a plane - Just two! AP's Bob Burns and Reuters' David Alexander.
Yesterday, Hagel toured DARPA and saw five technologies that are under development by the Pentagon's R&D arm. According to a pool report by Stripes' Chris Carroll, DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar showed Hagel the latest prosthetics technology as demonstrated by an old friend of Hagel's named Fred Downs, Jr., who lost an arm in a landmine explosion in Vietnam. Carroll: "Hagel hugged him and shook his mechanical hand, with Downs joking 'I don't want to hurt you.'... Downs demonstrated how he controls movements of the arm, which appeared to be partly covered in translucent white plastic, with two accelerometers strapped to his feet. Through a combination of movements, he's able to control the elbow, wrist and fingers in a variety of movements, including the thumbs up sign he gave Hagel. It took only a few hours to learn to control the arm, he said.
Downs: "It's the first time in 45 years, since Vietnam, I'm able to use my use my left hand, which was a very emotional time."
Carroll: "Hagel saw another technology before journalists covering the event were escorted out because the three other technologies DARPA wanted to show Hagel were of a sensitive nature. Those included "Plan X," known as "a foundational cyberwarfare program to develop platforms for the Department of Defense to plan for, conduct, and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to kinetic warfare;" and "Persistent Close Air Support," a system to "among other things, link up Joint Tactical Air Controllers with close air support aircraft using commercially available tablets;" and "Long Range Anti-Ship Missile," or "LRASM," which is planned to "reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, network links, and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments."
Wanna see a pic of Hagel thumb-wrestling fellow Vietnam vet Downs, who has a prosthetic arm? You'd have to click here for that.
John Nagl is dealing with a drug ring as headmaster at the Haverford School on Philadelphia's Main Line that was called "Main Line Take Over Project." Nagl, the former Army officer and expert in counterinsurgency who now heads the Haverford School is relooking at his school's drug policy after two former students set up a marijuana distribution network using current students as dealers. The NYT's John Hurdle and Emma Fitzsimmons: "... They enlisted local students to act as dealers, pushing them to sell at least one pound of marijuana a week, prosecutors said. During an investigation into the operation this year, detectives seized marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and several weapons, including a loaded assault rifle and a semiautomatic pistol, according to the Montgomery County district attorney's office.
Nagl, who said he was "shocked and appalled" by the charges, would re-examine the school's drug policy, and noted that drug use at his school was not widespread: "We will make sure that something like this never, ever happens again." More here.
Apropos of nothing: Wanna just totally feel good? You can't not if you listen and watch to Amadou and Mariam's Senegal Fast Food, a longtime favorite, and h/t to Jim Stavridis' FB post pointing it out some years ago. Youtube song and video here.
Stan McChrystal did an
interview with Linkedin and talked about the end of his military career, the
Rolling Stone article, and his new life in "Career Curveballs": McChyrstal: "The trick is to pick up the spin. Some pitchers
vary their delivery slightly, unintentionally signaling a curve. The 5-ounce
leather covered baseball is traveling at 90 mph, but with experience, you stay
in the batter's box, confident you can predict the trajectory, and either hit
or dodge the pitch. But no matter how good you think you are - you often fail.
Sometimes you swing and miss; sometimes the ball hits you in the head. Either
way, it hurts.
"In June 2010, after more than 38 years in uniform, in the midst of commanding a 46-nation coalition in a complex war in Afghanistan, my world changed suddenly - and profoundly. An article in Rolling Stone magazine depicting me, and people I admired, in a manner that felt as unfamiliar as it was unfair, ignited a firestorm.
"...I was raised a soldier. I was familiar with weapons, tactics, and war. But years on the battlefield had taught me that soldiering is really about people. Weapons don't dig muddy foxholes - people do. War plans don't evacuate wounded comrades - people do. The Pentagon doesn't create the brotherhood of the Army - people do. What I'd learned, above all other lessons, was the importance of those you surround yourself with. That lesson would be with me forever, uniform or no uniform... From starting a company to teaching at Yale, the past few years have been full of incredible experiences shared, most importantly, with true and lifelong friends." More here.
A camp in Libya meant to train "terror-hunters" is instead a safe haven for terrorists and al-Qaeda. The Daily Beast's Eli Lake this morning: "A key jihadist leader and long-time member of al Qaeda has taken control of a secretive training facility set up by U.S. special operations forces on the Libyan coastline to help hunt down Islamic militants, according to local media reports, Jihadist web forums, and U.S. officials. In the summer of 2012, American Green Berets began refurbishing a Libyan military base 27 kilometers west of Tripoli in order to hone the skills of Libya's first Western-trained special operations counter-terrorism fighters. Less than two years later, that training camp is now being used by groups with direct links to al Qaeda to foment chaos in post-Gadhafi Libya." Read the rest here.
State responded to reports that American journalist Simon Ostrovsky has been kidnapped in Ukraine. From State's Jen Psaki this morning: "We are deeply concerned about the reports of a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen journalist in Slovyansk, Ukraine, reportedly at the hands of pro-Russian separatists. We condemn any such actions... We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine. We have also raised our concerns with Ukrainian officials as they work with local authorities to try to de-escalate the security situation in and around Slovyansk." A HuffPo story here.
The OSCE Secretary
General tells FP that he's concerned about Kiev's planned offensive in eastern
Ukraine. FP's John Hudson: "A Ukrainian military push into
the country's restive east after the brutal murder of a local politician would
complicate efforts to reduce tensions between Kiev and Moscow and prevent
further violence in the country, the head of the international organization
charged with helping resolve the crisis said in an interview.
"Last week, major powers meeting in Geneva tasked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with helping end the violence in the country... Lamberto Zannier, the secretary general of the OSCE, said a new Ukrainian effort to oust the militants had the potential to setback international efforts to reduce tensions. ‘The whole spirit of Geneva was promoting de-escalation,' he told Foreign Policy. ‘It's certainly tough at this moment.'" Full story here.
Biden to Ukraine yesterday: ‘We stand with you'. The NYT's Andrew Higgins and Andrew Roth: "Vowing that the United States would never recognize Russia's ‘illegal occupation' of Crimea, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday reiterated America's support of Ukraine, declared that ‘no nation has the right to simply grab land from another' and called on Russia to stop supporting masked gunmen who have seized government buildings across the east of the country. Mr. Biden's remarks, made during a meeting with Ukraine's interim prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, signaled strong American backing for the shaky new government in Kiev that Moscow does not recognize and condemns as the illegitimate fruit of a putsch engineered by the West." More here.
Also, this: How Russia's president morphed from realist to ideologue -- and what he'll do next. Mark Galeotti and Andrew Bowen for FP: "A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Russian imperialism. When Vladimir Putin first came to power in 1999, he talked ideologically but acted rationally. He listened to a range of opinions, from liberal economist Alexei Kudrin to political fixer Vladislav Surkov -- people willing to tell him hard truths and question groupthink. He may have regarded the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century, but he knew he couldn't re-create it. Perhaps the best metaphor is that while he brought back the Soviet national anthem, it had new words. There was no thought of returning Russia to the failed Soviet model of the planned economy. And as a self-professed believer who always wears his baptismal cross, Putin encouraged the once-suppressed Russian Orthodox Church." More here.
Battlefield deaths decline, but military still has to bring grim news. TIME's Mark Thompson: "The wars are nearly over. So it is time for the U.S. military to reboot for one of its most somber tasks: Telling next-of-kin their loved one has died in the service of his or her country. Over the past 13 years, casualty-notification officers have had to take that long walk up to a family's front door, and make that dreaded knock that changes everything, 6,803 times. But with battlefield deaths down to a trickle, the Marines are seeking a new video to help train its Casualty Assistance Calls Officers (each service has its own title for the job) for a future where more will die in peacetime accidents than combat. ‘The current scenario is 100% war-related,' the corps says in a notice posted Tuesday. ‘A more current version is required to meet today's situations.'" More here.
Military Times' Mike Morones' interview with SecDef Gates, on another former spy named Putin, here.
Army Vs. National Guard: who gets those Apache helicopters anyway? NPR's Tom Bowman: "For decades the National Guard has fought hard against the stereotype that it was the place to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War, or that it's a place to get college money rather than combat duty. Guard leaders thought that after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq they had finally earned some respect. So it was a body blow when the Army's top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, unveiled his plan on Capitol Hill to take all of the National Guard's Apache helicopters and move them to the regular Army. The move would shift the nearly 200 Apache attack helicopters from the Guard and replace them with about 100 Black Hawks, the less glamorous, less lethal, troop-carrying helicopter. ‘For me personally, I'm insulted by it. Most guardsmen that I talk to, they feel insulted,' says retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett. He heads the National Guard Association, a lobbying group with a lot of clout on Capitol Hill. ‘They feel like they are now being told after 12 years of war that somehow they are just not the equal to the active guys.'" More here.
Abe's military push may
please the U.S. but rattle Japan's neighbors. The WSJ's Yuka Hayashi in Tokyo: "Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to remove six-decade-old constraints on his
country's military, a goal the Obama administration said Monday it supports-but
one that could also unsettle the region. When President Barack Obama arrives in
Japan on Wednesday, he will find a country fearful of China's rise and worried
about America's commitment to protecting its allies.
"To bolster Japan's role in regional security, Mr. Abe wants to change the government's interpretation of the constitution to allow for ‘collective self-defense'-meaning the military could come to the defense of allies such as the U.S. even if the country itself wasn't attacked. In theory, the changes would enable Japan to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile heading toward the U.S. or fire at a Chinese warship scuffling with an Australian cruiser. They would also give it more flexibility in a conflict over Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by China." More here.
China's Taiwan reality check. CSIS's Joseph Bosco for the National Interest: "Beijing has long needed a reality check on its Taiwan policy. Recently, that is what it got from both Taipei and Washington. Massive Taiwanese protests against closer economic ties with China make it clear that peaceful unification under Beijing's present rule will never be acceptable to the Taiwanese people. Having discarded an anti-Communist dictatorship, they have no intention of welcoming the Communist Party variety. At the same time, the U.S. Congress celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). It reaffirmed America's commitment to Taiwan's security and continued existence as a free, democratic country. While the resolution does not have the force of law the iconic TRA does, it reflected Americans' deep emotional and strategic connection to Taiwan. No U.S. Congress, with the power to authorize war, will ever tolerate a Chinese attack on Taiwan without mandating an overwhelming American response. Even a reluctant U.S. administration would be under enormous pressure to react with decisive military action-which, despite current budget constraints, it has the full capability to execute." More here.