National Security

FP's Situation Report: Hagel to make pitch for engagement; Boko Haram wants to sell the girls; American Legion: Shinseki should resign; Is it ethical to use dolphins in war?; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold with Nathaniel Sobel

Boko Haram's leader says he has taken abducted girls as slaves and he wants to sell them. The New York Daily News' Bill Hutchinson this morning: "A man claiming to be the leader of an Al Qaeda-trained terrorist group holding 223 girls snatched from a Nigerian school threatened Monday to sell them as brides - even those as young as 9. In a shocking 57-minute video, a man professing to be Abubakar Shekau called women "slaves" and ranted that Allah gave him permission to sell the abducted girls for as little as $12. It was the first time the group, called Boko Haram, boasted responsibility for the April 15 mass abductions at the Chibok Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria. 'I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off,' the man in the video railed, while holding an assault rifle." More here.

The WSJ's Gbenga Seun Ijagba and Drew Hinshaw: "...The girls don't appear in the video, and their whereabouts aren't known. State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday said there were indications that some of the girls had likely been moved out of the country. The video represented a grim update on what has become a hunt with few leads for an entire class of girls who weeks ago had been taking their final exams at a boarding school.

Shekau in the video: "‘Education is sin; it is forbidden,' ... ‘Women must go and marry.'" More here.

Meantime, Kerry winds up his trip to Africa and in Angola threatened sanctions against South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar. Reuters' Phil Stewart and Shrikesh Laxmidas: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry threatened sanctions and other "consequences" for South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar on Monday if he refuses to commit to peace talks aimed at ending more than four months of fighting that has killed thousands. Kerry flew to South Sudan on Friday, securing a commitment from President Salva Kiir to fly to Ethiopia for face-to-face talks with rival Machar. But Kerry failed to win a similar commitment from Machar when he later spoke with him by phone.

'He has a fundamental decision to make. If he decides not to (go) and procrastinates, then we have a number of different options that are available to us,' said Kerry, speaking to reporters in Angola's capital, Luanda, his last stop on a nearly week-long trip to Africa." More here.

And after yesterday's meeting in the Oval, the U.S. signs a 20-year lease with Djibouti to keep Camp Lemonnier open. The NYT's Eric Schmitt: "The Obama administration said Monday that it had signed a 20-year lease on its military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the only American installation on the continent and a staging ground for counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia. Djibouti, a country of fewer than one million people the size of New Jersey that borders the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, has played an increasingly significant role in seeking to stabilize regional crises. The deal reflects the small country's outsize strategic importance in helping the United States and other Western allies combat terrorists, pirates and smugglers in the region. In a 40-minute meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama and Ismail Omar Guelleh, the president of Djibouti, covered a range of security and development issues, aides said. But the talks centered on the critical role played by Camp Lemonnier, a sprawling base of 4,000 American service members and civilians that serves as a hub for counterterrorism operations and training." More here.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? 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. Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

Chuck Hagel is in Chicago today to make a pitch for why the U.S. should stay engaged around the globe. Hagel will address an event that is co-hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, chaired by former NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder, and the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, chaired by former political adviser for President Obama David Axelrod. The speech begins at 9:45 EST and will be carried live on the Pentagon Channel here.

From a senior defense official to SitRep this morning: "Secretary Hagel has long wanted to travel to Chicago, the capital of America's heartland, to discuss the imperative of continuing United States global leadership abroad. His speech will argue why and how the U.S. should remain engaged in world events and is all the more timely given recent polls showing nearly half of the country would prefer the U.S. pull back from the world stage."

The official noted that the speech comes as the House Armed Services Committee works to complete its markup of the 2015 budget bill and that Hagel will "continue his drumbeat" that the Pentagon needs the authority "to execute the tough decisions military leaders made earlier this year in the President's Budget."

What Hagel will say according to an excerpt provided to SitRep: "Although Americans today are increasingly skeptical of foreign engagement and global responsibilities, it is a mistake to view our global responsibilities as a burden or as charity. Let us remember that the biggest beneficiaries of American leadership and engagement in the world are the American people. Turning inward, history teaches us, does not insulate us from the world's troubles. It only forces us to be more engaged later - at a higher cost in blood and treasure, and often on the terms of others. This is perhaps more true than ever in today's globalized world. Walking away from the world, and our relationships, is not an option for the United States of America..."

Watch the WSJ's Jerry Seib provide a glimpse of the paradox that is the Obama presidency when it comes to foreign policy. WSJ teaser for his vid: "American's seem totally in sync with President Barack Obama's desire to stay out of military conflicts abroad, but they also seem troubled by it at the same time. According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 47% of Americans think the United States should be less active in global conflicts. But at the same time, only 38% said they approve of the job the president is doing handling foreign policy and about half said they want a president who projects strength and will take on America's enemies abroad." More here. 

Who's Where When today - Hagel speaks in Chicago, then a big day on the Hill:  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Marty Dempsey, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Sandy Winnefeld; Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Jim Amos and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Army Gen. Frank Grass all testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on military compensation at 9:30 a.m. ... Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy Director Paige Hinkle-Bowles testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs' Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce on "A More Efficient and Effective Government: Cultivating the Federal Workforce," at 2:30 p.m.

Bob Work starts his second official day as Deputy Secretary of Defense today. Work was sworn in by his boss, Hagel, yesterday morning at 8:45 a.m. Work already has a few aides and may bring some other people in from outside the building. Serving beside him for now: Jonathan Lachman will continue in his current role as acting chief of staff and joining Work are Dan Feehan as special assistant (a current White House Fellow) and  Tom Ehrhard (who used to be at CSBA and more recently at the Pentagon policy shop) as a senior advisor.

The American Legion calls on Shinseki to resign. Stars and Stripes' Chris Carroll: "The head of one of the nation's major veterans service organizations on Monday called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and top department leadership to step down following reports of delays and neglect at VA health centers around the nation. American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said Monday the incidents ‘are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system.' In a speech at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis, he also called for the resignations of Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey. Dellinger's call comes on the heels of whistleblower reports that more than 40 veterans may have died awaiting treatment while the Phoenix VA Health Care System maintained a secret waiting list designed to cover up delays in delivering care." More here.

Buck McKeon unveiled his $521 billion defense spending bill yesterday. The Hill's Kristina Wong and Martin Matishak: "House lawmakers on Monday released a $521 billion blueprint for the 2015 defense budget that rejects most of the Pentagon's cost-saving proposals.

"The top line figure is identical to the Pentagon's, but the legislation from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) would replace the Defense Department's requested cuts with different reductions. For instance, the bill rejected the Pentagon's plans to slow the growth of military pay and benefits; retire an aircraft carrier and the U-2 spy plane fleet; and launch another round of base closures. Instead, it calls for other cuts, including about $1.4 billion in the Pentagon's training, repairs and operations and maintenance budgets. The bill implicitly acknowledges it would lead to higher spending after 2015, when additional spending cuts under sequestration are to be implemented, but proposes no curbs on that spending, and instead asks the president to find new savings within the Pentagon budget. 'The chairman isn't going to make up the shortfall this year,' said a House aide on background." More here.

Heads up journos, think-tankers, lobbyists and other straphangers: Want to get on the HASC's distro ahead of tomorrow's markup? You have to sign up here by midnight to get on the list to receive markup updates on the budget. Do it here.

A former Marine throws his hat in the political ring in Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot's Bill Bartel: An Iraq War veteran who served in the Marine Corps announced Monday he's running as an independent against U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott in Virginia's 3rd Congressional District. Justin Gandino-Saadein, 32, said he believes a congressman who is not aligned with a political party has a better chance of breaking the partisan gridlock that has blocked compromise in Washington. 'We need a mediator to break the tension,' he said. 'They don't trust the parties.'" More here.

Syrian opposition offices in the U.S. are given "foreign mission" status. The WaPo's Karen DeYoung: The Obama administration has designated the offices of the Syrian Opposition Coalition a "foreign mission" in this country, a category that gives the group a symbolic boost in status but that falls well short of diplomatic recognition as a government. The designation, announced Monday, was timed to coincide with a visit to Washington by coalition President Ahmad al-Jarba this week. The administration also will ask Congress to provide an additional $27 million in nonlethal aid to the Syrian political opposition, bringing the U.S. total to $287 million." More here.

The White House is pushing private sector levers to isolate Putin. The NYT's Peter Baker on Page One: "The White House has pressured the chief executives of some of America's largest energy, financial and industrial corporations into canceling plans to attend an international economic forum in Russia to be hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin this month, the latest effort to isolate Moscow in retaliation for its intervention in Ukraine. The top executives of such giants as Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley, ConocoPhillips and other multinational companies with business in Russia have either pulled out of the conference or plan to do so after an intensive lobbying campaign by President Obama's advisers. Corporate officials predicted that nearly every American C.E.O. will now skip the forum in St. Petersburg." More here.

In the WSJ today, Marco Rubio argues for why Ukraine needs a lifeline - now! Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, on anchoring the hryvnia - the Ukrainian currency - would help Kiev immensely to deliver a blow to Putin, here.

A Ukrainian helicopter is downed as fighting resumes near the border with Russia. The WaPo's Simon Denyer, Fredrick Kunkle and Michael Birnbaum: "Pro-Russian insurgents shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter as heavy fighting re-erupted around a key rebel stronghold Monday, leaving at least eight people dead and dozens wounded. The fierce fighting in Slovyansk, a separatist stronghold, broke out as the Ukrainian government sought to regain control of the key Black Sea port of Odessa, dispatching a special police unit to that city after deadly clashes there between rival mobs supporting Ukraine and Russia.
"The day brought new setbacks to Ukrainian forces, with four troops killed and the helicopter shot down by rebel forces in clashes near Slovyansk that spanned several hours.
"It was the fourth Ukrainian helicopter to be shot down in recent days. In a visit to a checkpoint near the fighting, Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, acknowledged that after years of neglect, his country's military is weak and lacks basic supplies." More here.

Break, break new subject: Is it ethical to draft dolphins into war? Philip Hoare's BLUF in a NYT op-Ed today:  "Our objections to the use of dolphins in war may be sentimental, because we project idealized notions of placidity on their perennially smiling faces. We are imposing our own values, good and bad, on wild animals. But if we apprehend that dolphins are moral beings, then might they themselves object to being weapons of war? Perhaps we need to work on our dolphinese."  More here.

Meet the King Stallion, the U.S. Military's new muscular helicopter. FP's Dan Lamothe: "First there was the Sea Stallion, a workhorse helicopter that cut its teeth in combat in Vietnam. Then there was the Super Stallion, which offered more power and received heavy use in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, we've learned what's coming next: The King Stallion, the military's most powerful helicopter ever, which is set to fly for the first time later this year.

"Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, unveiled the colorful name and the first prototype of the helicopter able to make test flights in a ceremony at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.'s test facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday. The CH-53K, as the King Stallion is formally known, will replace the CH-53D Sea Stallion and the CH-53E Super Stallion, venerable aircraft that have been used so much in recent years that the military actually started renovating some that had been sent to the boneyard, where the military sends retired aircraft. The Marine Corps wants some 200 King Stallions, at a cost of up to $25 billion, counting research and development. They could be in use by 2019." More here.

July is the next deadline for America's next choppers. Defense News' Paul McLeary: "In July, the US Army will make its first big decision on how to proceed with the ambitious, decades-long developmental project to replace up to 4,000 Apache and Black Hawk helicopters by the mid-2030s. Four contractors are working on demonstrator and technology projects under the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program, which will eventually develop the baseline requirements for the $100 billion Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort. The teams will submit their work to the Army in June for evaluation, after which the number of competitors will likely be whittled to two that will build actual demonstrator aircraft that will fly from 2017 to 2019." More here.

A policy debate looms over the U.S. role in the market for 'zero day' cyber threats. Inside Cybersecurity's Chris Castelli: "In a bid to address questions about the federal government's willingness to conceal and exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities for intelligence purposes, the White House last week issued a statement on how it decides whether to reveal such a flaw, noting a key factor is protecting critical infrastructure. But there remains a looming policy debate about how to control the proliferation of zero-day exploits and whether the United States is in some ways contributing to the problem." More here.

Victims of sexual assault in the military may receive amnesty for minor crimes. U.S. News and World Report's Paul Shinkman: "Imagine you're a 20-year-old member of the armed forces who has just endured the trauma of a sexual assault or rape. You're sitting down in the office of a military criminal investigative division to tell a special agent about the horrific incident, in keeping with the Department of Defense's protocols. You begin with the details of what happened that evening: Perhaps you were drinking first, or had smoked marijuana. Or perhaps the incident began as consensual sex while you and your attacker were stationed in Baghdad or Kabul.
"Then the special agent, tasked with looking into this heinous crime and coordinating your participation in the subsequent investigation, closes his notebook and informs you he needs to read you your rights.
"‘It's one of the most difficult things we can do,' says Russell Strand, formerly with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. ‘I speak for all the agents I've worked with and talked to.'
"Strand points to the military's strict adherence to ‘good order and discipline,' the broad regulations that include stipulations that a rape victim must also be investigated if they admit to breaking military rules. This not only includes regulations against underage drinking, drug use, or consensual sex in a war zone, but also more nuanced rules such as some services' ban on anybody even entering a barracks room designated for the opposite sex. These exist to protect service members when it counts the most, particularly when they could fall victim to an enemy attack. But they also serve to deter victims from reporting crimes against them, or worse, provide a loophole for attackers to corner victims into keeping their mouths shut.
"...The panel is considering recommending the creation a list of violations for which a rape or assault victim would automatically be legally immune. This would allow investigators like Strand and his former colleagues to move beyond their own regulations that say they must read rights to any person who confesses to breaking military rules." More here.

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Is the CIA pulling out of Afg?; A nonprofit profits big time; Fixing UCLASS; A secret arms cache in Texas?; Troops don't got milk; and a bit more.

 

Here's a story of how one non-profit profited big time thanks to USAID and the war in Afghanistan. The WaPo's Scott Higham, Jessica Schulberg and Steven Rich, above the fold on Page One: "In 1998, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ and his wife from the war-wrecked region of Bosnia-Herzegovina began a humble international humanitarian effort out of a modest office in downtown Washington. After the United States launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mom-and-pop nonprofit corporation boldly ramped up, undertaking some of the federal government's biggest and most ambitious projects in the battle zones, everything from building roads to funding wheat production. In doing so, International Relief and Development increased its annual revenue from $1.2 million to $706 million, most of it from one corner of the federal government - the U.S. Agency for International Development. IRD has received more grants and cooperative agreements from USAID in recent years than any other nonprofit relief and development organization in the nation - $1.9 billion.

"Along the way, the nonprofit rewarded its employees with generous salaries and millions in bonuses. Among the beneficiaries: the minister, Arthur B. Keys, and his wife, Jasna Basaric-Keys, who together earned $4.4 million in salary and bonuses between 2008 and 2012.

"The story of IRD reflects the course of America's ambitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which started with great enthusiasm and consumed tremendous resources, only to see many hopes go awry. Nation-building projects aimed at supplanting insurgents and securing the peace that looked promising on paper in Washington proved to be difficult to execute in dangerous and unpredictable war zones.

"The nonprofit organization, in turn, has hired at least 19 employees from USAID, the lead government agency for addressing poverty and supporting democracy worldwide. Several of them came directly from their desks at the agency to occupy important posts at the company. Some of those employees, including the former acting administrator of USAID, received substantial pay raises by crossing the Potomac and joining IRD at its new offices in Arlington, Va., collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual salaries, bonuses and other compensation."

John E. Bennett, a former career State Department official and ambassador who led a reconstruction team in Baghdad that worked alongside IRD: "IRD is a nonprofit in name only... They built an organization designed to get USAID money." More here.

True devastation: Aid begins to trickle in for thousands displaced by Afghan landslides. The WSJ's Margherita Stancati: "On Friday, 15-year-old Zainab lost everything: her home, all her belongings, and her entire immediate family. ‘They are under the mud,' said the slight teenager dressed in an all-covering burqa. ‘I have no one.' Like many in her home village of Aab Barik in northeastern Afghanistan, Zainab spent the past two nights sleeping outdoors. Now, she and the other survivors are badly in need of food, clean water and shelter-aid that was just starting to trickle in over the weekend for the more than 4,000 displaced. She stood in a crowd of women on a hill overlooking an eerie landscape where mudslides buried homes of some 300 families. What is left of much of her village in Badakhshan province is hard to distinguish from the jumbled earth that swallowed it. Most of the mud-brick homes still standing have been abandoned." More here.

The CIA is leaving Afghanistan just as the fighting season arrives. The Daily Beast's Kim Dozier: "The CIA is dismantling its frontline Afghan counterterrorist forces in south and east Afghanistan leaving a security vacuum that U.S. commanders fear the Taliban and al-Qaeda will fill-and leaving the Pakistan border open to a possible deluge of fighters and weapons.

'The CIA has started to end the contracts of some of those militias who were working for them,' said Aimal Faizi, spokesman for outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a longtime critic of the CIA's Afghan operatives. "Some of them were in very important locations, so we deployed our troops there."

U.S. and Afghan military commanders tell The Daily Beast that Afghan forces are stretched too thin to replace many of those departing CIA paramilitaries. Thousands more CIA-trained operatives are about to get the boot ahead of what already promises to be a bloody summer fighting season. That could mean spectacular attacks against U.S. and Afghan targets just as the White House is weighing its long-term commitment to Afghanistan. And it could give the now-small al-Qaeda movement inside the country more freedom to grow and eventually hatch new plots more than a decade after the invasion meant to wipe out the perpetrators of the Sept. 11th attacks. Senior U.S. officials said the slow dismantling of the CIA's forces has also alarmed U.S. lawmakers, who had assumed those forces would remain in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban after U.S. troops withdrew." More here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? 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. Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

Who's Where When - Both Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey deliver remarks at the U.S. Transportation Command change of command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base Parade Field at 1:00 PM... Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh hosts the Air Mobility Command change of command ceremony and visits with airmen and families at Scott Air Force Base at 10:00 AM... Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Hawk delivers remarks on "Pacific Air Forces Strategy and Engagement in Asia- Pacific" at CSIS at 11:15 AM.

Also at CSIS today: a spirited talk on Ukraine with CSIS' Andrew Kuchins, Clark Murdock, Vikram Singh and moderated by Samuel Brannen, at 1:30pm. at CSIS. Deets here.

Just how far will Putin go? The WSJ's John Stoll, Charles Duxbury and Juris Kaza in Latvia on Page One: "The U.S. ambassador was trying to instill confidence in a country growing nervous. Addressing Latvian troops at this large military base last week, Mark Pekala pointed to nearby paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade and said the U.S. was locked ‘plecu pie pleca,' or ‘shoulder to shoulder' with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization partner.

"It was a valiant effort. But in an interview after the speech, Latvia's new defense minister, Raimonds Vejonis, offered a more sober view of the mind-set here. ‘The society has fear,' said Mr. Vejonis, who was a biology teacher when Latvia was still under Soviet rule. ‘We know what it means to be under Russia.'

"Some 23 years after becoming independent from the Soviet Union, this country of two million is fretting over just how far Russia's gaze toward its neighbors may reach. The fear reflects a broader ribbon of concern that runs through the Baltic region, which includes Lithuania and Estonia. But Latvia is the most Russian of the group.
"...A chief concern of the government-which is facing parliamentary elections in October-is the rise of what some officials call "provocateurs," people in the country believed to be spreading antigovernment sentiment on behalf of the Kremlin. For now, government leaders say the nation is "stable" and a new poll indicates the ruling Unity party gained substantial support among voters, with many saying they never want to compromise their status in the European Union." More here.

Pro-Russian activists attack a police station in Odessa. The WaPo's Simon Denyer: "Divisions deepened in Ukraine's third-largest city Sunday as pro-Russian militants attacked a police station in Odessa and freed 67 of their allies, while pro-Ukrainian activists gathered with sticks and clubs and vowed to defend the southern city from the kind of takeovers that have occurred in the eastern part of the country. The spread of the violence to Odessa has raised the stakes dramatically in the Ukraine crisis, bringing the conflict between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian forces to the country's most important port. The failure of the police to prevent the violence has underlined how quickly Ukraine's security forces are losing control of their country. Sunday's mayhem occurred two days after 46 people died in clashes and a fire in the city. The fact that most of those victims were pro-Russian activists has given their supporters a raw new sense of grievance." More here.

A U-2 spy plane caused a widespread shutdown of U.S. flights last week. Reuters: "A U-2 spy plane caused a computer glitch at a California air traffic control center that led officials to halt takeoffs on Wednesday at several airports in the Southwestern United States and ground planes bound for the region from other parts of the country, NBC reported on Saturday. The computer problem at a Federal Aviation Administration center slowed the journeys of tens of thousands of arriving and departing passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest in the country. Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were among other facilities affected by the order to keep planes grounded... NBC, citing unnamed sources, reported a U-2, a Cold War-era spy plane still in use by the U.S. military, passed through air space monitored by the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center and appears to have overloaded a computer system at the center." More here.

An arms cache in Texas probably connected to the CIA. The NYT's Charlie Savage on page A14: "In passing references scattered through once-classified documents and cryptic public comments by former intelligence officials, it is referred to as 'Midwest Depot,' but the bland code name belies the role it has played in some of the C.I.A.'s most storied operations. From the facility, located somewhere in the United States, the C.I.A. has stockpiled and distributed untraceable weapons linked to preparations for the Bay of Pigs invasion and the arming of rebels and resistance fighters from Angola to Nicaragua to Afghanistan. Yet despite hints that 'Midwest' was not actually where it was located, the secrecy surrounding the C.I.A. armory has survived generations of investigations...

"But three years ago, it became public that the C.I.A. had some kind of secret location at Camp Stanley, an Army weapons depot just north of San Antonio and the former Kelly Air Force Base, though its purpose was unclear. And now, a retired C.I.A. analyst, Allen Thomson, has assembled a mosaic of documentation suggesting that it is most likely the home of Midwest Depot." More here.

A Syrian rebel commander was reportedly kidnapped by Al Qaeda-linked forces. The LA Times' Nabih Bulos: "A prominent rebel military commander in southern Syria has been kidnapped by a hard-line Islamist faction linked to Al Qaeda, pro-opposition activists said Sunday. Col. Ahmad Nemeh, long the head of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army in Syria's southern Dara province, was taken by the Nusra Front, according to opposition advocates. Details of his abduction were not available, but some accounts said other commanders were seized as well... Nemeh, a former air force intelligence colonel who defected to the rebels, has long been a divisive figure in strategic Dara province. He has at times angered both hard-line Islamist groups and his Western and allied sponsors." More here.

A popular refrain: Rising Pentagon personnel costs could force cuts to other programs. Defense News' John Bennett: "The first of several fiscal 2015 Pentagon spending bills began to come into focus last week, signaling something the defense sector has been lacking for years: Stability. But that could change dramatically in 2016.

"The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is rejecting personnel-reform plans proposed by the Pentagon, which already has directed expected savings to other things. And that means lawmakers could end up raiding procurement accounts to keep military personnel programs whole, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That threat, however, is unlikely to materialize in fiscal 2015, say budget experts. That's because only a small amount of the proposed personnel reforms would occur in 2015, meaning the amount to offset is relatively low."

Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments to Bennett: "They need to find less than $2 billion in 2015... Remember, Congress doesn't do five-year budgets. So they only have to worry about one year: 2015." Read the rest here.

A lesser drone? The Navy messed up in developing a carrier-based drone, or UCLASS, Shawn Brimley argues in Defense One: "...One key issue involves how Congress deals with the Navy's poor choices in the development of a future carrier-based drone, or in Pentagon-speak, the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike, or UCLASS, program. The Navy made a mistake by issuing requirements that guarantee the fleet will receive a lesser drone than it could be getting. The Navy is asking for a carrier-version of non-stealthy surveillance drones that operate in uncontested (friendly) airspace. That costly decision will prevent the development of a true, surveillance-strike drone that can operate where they truly will be needed, in enemy airspace. This is a clear example of poor judgment.

"...So how should the Navy protect carriers operating so far offshore? By evolving the carrier's air wing. This isn't a new argument." More here.

Walt Jones wants answers from the Corps' Gen. Amos. Marine Corps Times' Andrew deGrandpre: "An outspoken member of Congress says he is frustrated that the Marine Corps' top general has not yet addressed questions put to him nearly two months ago about the fallout from a whistleblower complaint. At a March 12 House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Navy Department's 2015 budget, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., confronted Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos about the treatment of Maj. James Weirick, the attorney who accused Amos and others close to him of abusing their authority, and about comments Amos made to NPR refuting the sworn testimony of another general whom Amos removed as the convening authority in a series of high-profile legal cases. Weirick, who was fired from his post in September and served with a restraining order after sending a testy email to one of Amos' advisers, has an active reprisal complaint filed with the Pentagon Inspector General.

"In the hearing, Jones asked Amos to respond in writing within six weeks. It appears that the delayed response may be due at least in part to a technicality, as the formal exchange of questions from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon did not occur until several days after the hearing." More here.

Things that partners gotta know about working with Americans. James Howcroft for Small Wars Journal: "Military partnerships in an alliance or coalition are the norm today. The nature of current international threats, coupled with global fiscal and political problems, makes it unlikely Americans will deploy unilaterally to address the security challenges of the 21st century. On the other hand, it is unlikely that multinational military deployments will occur without US participation, if not in a leading role, then often in the form of a unique niche or support capability that our partners lack, such as our intelligence support, targeting, communications, aerial refueling and strategic lift  - the Libya and Mali interventions are but two examples. The ability of Americans and our partners to coordinate and cooperate within alliances and coalitions will greatly influence how successful we are at addressing the international security threats of the 21st Century. We can all learn to be better partners." More here.

As the NSA builds its arsenal, funding for cybermilitary goes up. Bloomberg's Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley: "On Florida's Atlantic coast, cyber arms makers working for U.S. spy agencies are bombarding billions of lines of computer code with random data that can expose software flaws the U.S. might exploit. In Pittsburgh, researchers with a Pentagon contract are teaching computers to scan software for bugs and turn them automatically into weapons. In a converted textile mill in New Hampshire, programmers are testing the combat potential of coding errors on a digital bombing range. Nationwide, a new league of defense contractors is mining the foundation of the Internet for glitches that can be turned to the country's strategic advantage. They're part of a cybermilitary industrial complex that's grown up in more than a dozen states and employs thousands of civilians, according to 15 people who work for contractors and the government. The projects are so sensitive their funding is classified, and so extensive a bid to curb their scope will be resisted not only by intelligence agencies but also the world's largest military supply chain." More here.

ICYMI: Continuing his Africa swing, Kerry urges the Congo's president not to run for a third term. The NYT's Michael Gordon: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday publicly urged the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect his nation's Constitution and not run for another term in 2016. There has been speculation among the political opposition that President Joseph Kabila, who has been in office since 2001, might seek to have the Constitution amended so that he could run for a third term in office... It was not clear how hard Mr. Kerry pressed his case in his closed-door meeting Sunday morning with Mr. Kabila at his white marble presidential palace. But Russell D. Feingold, the American special envoy for the region, was more explicit in a briefing for reporters Sunday morning. ‘The people of this country have a right to have their Constitution respected,' Mr. Feingold said. ‘The Constitution here provides for two terms.'" More here.

ICYMI, too: Kerry is pushing for South Sudan peace talks. Ralph Ellis for CNN: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet rebel leader Riek Machar next week for talks. Kerry traveled to Juba on Friday to push for face-to-face meetings between the feuding leaders. Thousands of people have died in South Sudan because of drought and political violence. About a week ago, rebels slaughtered at least 400 people in the town of Bentiu. Kerry, speaking at a news briefing in Juba, said he'd spoken with Kirr, who was willing to go to Ethiopia for the talks. Machar had indicated a willingness to meet through Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Kerry said. He said the talks might take place early next week. South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan three years ago after an internationally brokered referendum. Last year, Kiir accused Machar, his former vice president, of planning a coup. New violence broke out in the war-torn nation." More here.

Fox's 'Enlisted' might be the best show on television - and yet it could be cancelled. ICYMI on FP last week, here.

Troops got milk? Not so much. The Army Times' Joe Gould: "Holy cow! Troops need more milk. Defense Department experts are trying to reintroduce the idea of drinking moo juice as part of a broader healthy eating initiative at military dining facilities... But milk has not only grown less popular in the military, it has faded from the diet of American adults, said Dolloff-Crane. Because soda is more profitable for restaurants than milk, milk has been pushed off menus, altering people's habits and expectations. The dairy drive comes as officials across the services focus on bringing a healthier balance to cafeteria menus, re-examining the DoD recipe book in an effort to make dining facility options lower in salt and fat, but just as attractive.

Priscilla Dolloff-Crane, a food service specialist at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence in Fort Lee, Va., to Gould: "They'll hear it as, ‘Have more dairy, have a glass of milk, make it a lower-fat option,'... We want a delivery mechanism for a nutrient that's for good physiological conditions: bone, teeth and nerve function." More here.