COMPILED BY THE EDITORS OF DEFENSE NEWS & MILITARY TIMES
December 11, 2014
THE EARLY BIRD BRIEF
Get the most comprehensive aggregation of defense news delivered by the world’s largest independent newsroom covering military and defense.
TODAY’S TOP 5
1. Congress Inserts $554B for DoD in ‘Cromnibus’ Spending Bill
(Defense News) The massive spending bill unveiled Tuesday evening by congressional leaders includes $554 billion for the Pentagon, including base-budget growth. 2. Hagel: ‘Hope is not a strategy’
(The Hill) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed optimism that cuts to the military’s budget that affect troops would be overturned, although he acknowledged “hope is not a strategy.” 3. Commentary: Furthering military bonds in Southeast Asia
(Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks and Indonesian Gen. Moeldoko in Army Times) Indonesia and the United States have been developing a strong military bond for a number of years. This bond reflects the growth of Indonesia’s democracy, the great strides toward professionalism that have been made by Indonesia’s armed forces, and the strategic importance both countries place on our security ties under the Indonesia-U.S. Comprehensive Partnership. We have repeatedly demonstrated the growing value of our military cooperation for peacekeeping, disaster relief, intensified joint training, and modernizing weapons systems. As new priorities and challenges arise, the Indonesia-U.S. military relationship will be ready to respond. 4. Army building an airport just for drones
(Defense Systems) The Army’s ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport. 5. Explosion rocks US-Yemeni military base
(Associated Press) An al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen says it targeted a U.S.-Yemeni air base with rockets in retaliation for a U.S. raid on the group’s hideout to free an American hostage.
Marine describes losing comrades in Iraq in moving animated film
(Marine Corps Times) Marine veteran Travis Williams doesn’t try to hide the way his voice cracks when he describes the day he lost 11 teammates to a single roadside bomb in Iraq. VA employees doubt agency can police itself
(Atlanta Journal Constitution) Federal investigators with the VA inspector general’s office appear to be in the final stages of an inquiry into alleged mismanagement and mishandling of hundreds of thousands of health applications at the Veterans Affairs national enrollment office in Atlanta. Army vet awaits next move after being detained in airplane incident
(Houston Chronicle) Authorities are evaluating what to do next with an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and recently was arrested for an incident aboard a Qatar Airways flight in which he allegedly threatened to bring down the Houston-bound commercial flight. Police: Felon killed prosecutor in jealous rage
(Associated Press) Sullivan was a former Army attorney and a former state legislator. He served in the Washington House of Representatives from January 1997 to January 2001, representing Tacoma. Contractor walking away from VA hospital in Aurora
(Denver Post) The contractor building a new Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora said it will walk away from the troubled project after a federal board of appeals decision Tuesday that the VA breached its contract. Accuracy questioned in JPAC identification of WWII remains from Philippines
(Stars & Stripes) As the Defense Department attempts to identify World War II remains exhumed in the Philippines in August, questions have surfaced about the identification years ago of four sets of remains that were returned to families and buried.
Pentagon will have to hammer out details of new BAH cut
(Military Times) As Congress finalizes the first cut to the military’s tax-free housing allowance in a generation, defense officials will have to hammer out the details of precisely how much cash will come out of individual service members’ pockets. 20th hijacker’ seeks transfer to Guantanamo
(Associated Press) An imprisoned man known as the “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 terror attacks asked a South Florida federal judge Wednesday for a transfer to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where several alleged senior terror plotters are awaiting trial. Congress still eyeing military grooming standards
(Military Times) Tucked into the massive federal funding extension bill this week is language mandating a new report by this spring on how military commanders have responded to concerns about grooming standards. Bug in IBM Mobile Device Manager opens critical security gap
(C4ISR & Networks) A serious vulnerability identified in IBM’s Tivoli Endpoint Manager software – which allows for central management of mobile devices in a network – could give hackers a back door to push malicious code onto linked devices. Troops fear CIA torture report will spark attacks
(Military Times) Revelations of harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA fuels growing concern among troops and their families that they will be targeted by terrorists.
Lawmakers Boost Budgets for Abrams, Army Vehicles in Defense Bill
(Defense News) The M1 Abrams tank won $120 million for an upgrade program in the Defense spending bill unveiled by congressional leaders Tuesday, one of several increases for the Army’s heavy vehicle programs. Black Hawk rotor fails more than a mile high; pilots land safely
(Army Times) Three South Carolina National Guard helicopter pilots walked away from a harrowing Dec. 3 emergency landing in which their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter reportedly plummeted 6,000 feet in less than a minute after a main rotor failure. Laser On A Truck: Army’s Role In Offset Strategy
(Breaking Defense) Where do ground forces fit in the Pentagon’s new offset strategy? The answer may be an intriguing mix of old-fashioned armored forces, mobile missile launchers, and lasers on trucks. Chaplain under fire for comments during training
(Army Times) The chaplain for 5th Ranger Training Battalion is fighting back after a soldier complained that he advocated Christianity and used the Bible during a unit suicide prevention training session. Outgoing sergeant major of the Army calls for return to basics
(Stars & Stripes) As the U.S. presence in Afghanistan shrinks to some 10,000 troops after more than a decade of major counterinsurgency operations, the U.S. Army needs to get back to training for major conventional warfare, the Army’s outgoing top enlisted leader said on Tuesday.
Navy Tests Super Precise Laser Weapon in Persian Gulf
(Defense One) It’s a warm November day in the Persian Gulf. The radar system of the USS Ponce detects an incoming vessel. An operator aboard the ship, working a controller not dissimilar to a PlayStation 4 handset, takes aim at the target using the Navy’s Laser Weapon System or LaWS high-aperture telescope. He sees a red, rigid-hulled inflatable boat on fast approach. The operator executes the command to fire. No sound emerges from the deck of the Ponce; there is no burst of gunpowder. The laser precisely destroys a three-foot high stack of shells on the red boat but misses entirely a decoy human just a few inches away. Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Money for 15 Growlers, 12th San Antonio
(USNI News) The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill from Congress includes $1.46 billion for 15 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and $1 billion to start work on a 12th San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious warship, according to a summary of the bill released late Tuesday. FBI used secretive court to investigate Navy engineer
(Virginian-Pilot) Federal agents investigated a civilian Navy engineer earlier this year with the help of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to a court filing. 1 dead, 3 injured when buoy falls at Pearl Harbor facility
(Honolulu Star-Advertiser) A civilian contract worker was killed and three others injured Wednesday morning while working on a barge at Pearl Harbor’s Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility off Waipio peninsula. Submarine Norfolk to be inactivated at ceremony
(Virginian-Pilot) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine Norfolk will be inactivated in a ceremony Thursday.
Afghan Aid From U.S. Should Come With Conditions, Inspector Says
(Bloomberg) The U.S. should make continued aid to Afghanistan contingent on strict financial oversight of government ministries as foreign troops withdraw, according to an American inspector general. US ends control of Afghan prison
(Associated Press) The United States on Wednesday released the final three detainees from the Parwan Detention Center in Afghanistan, ending the U.S. operation of any prisons in the country after more than a decade of war, the Pentagon said. UK to deploy upgraded Puma helos to Afghanistan
(IHS Jane’s 360) Three Westland/Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC.2 medium transport helicopters are to be deployed to Afghanistan next year in the recently upgraded type’s first combat mission. Afghan Shiites Fear Sectarian Strife
(Wall Street Journal) The Taliban’s effort to unite all Afghans against foreign invaders has kept away, for now, the bloody sectarian strife that is pitting Sunnis against Shiites across much of the Muslim world.
Pentagon to Press Russia on Arms Pact Violation
(New York Times) The Pentagon has developed a range of military options to pressure Russia to correct its violation of a landmark arms control agreement, a senior Defense Department official told Congress on Wednesday. NATO Eyes Deployable Comm System for High Readiness Forces
(Defense News) The imminent availability of a new rapidly deployable communications system will boost NATO efforts to be able to rapidly field very high readiness forces, say executives responsible for delivering the equipment to the alliance. NATO Land Command fully operational, says commander
(Stars & Stripes) NATO’s Allied Land Command has finally reached full operational capacity, LANDCOM commander Lt. Gen. John Nicholson said at the close on Wednesday of NATO’s largest training exercise since the end of the Cold War. U.S. Lawmakers Set to Authorize New Financing for Ukraine
(Wall Street Journal) U.S. lawmakers are heading toward authorizing new aid for Ukraine that could unlock at least $1 billion in new financing for the country as its economic turmoil deepens from its standoff with Russia.
‘Let The Damn Army Clean Up The Mess:’ An (Almost) Story Of Suicide
(Stephen Carlson in Task & Purpose) I nearly died by suicide in 2009. I don’t know how you can fight something like that, and maybe you can’t. Don’t Run in the Pentagon
(Army Col. Michael Musso in Government Executive) Over the course of my 25 years of military service, I have acquired valuable lessons in leadership, time management, and organizational operations. Since soldiers are short on time, sharing these lessons with them as succinctly as possible communicates both the idea I want to get across and the value I place on their time. While the military is not the boardroom or the executive suite, fundamental ideas like these should be applicable to your own work as an executive. Can Ash Carter Finally Tame the Defense Acquisitions Behemoth?
(Alex Haber and Jeff Jeffress in the Council on Foreign Relations) For decades, pundits and policymakers have bemoaned the Pentagon’s cumbersome, sluggish procurement processes and rampant overspending, especially compared to industry counterparts. Though these arcane protocols will be challenging to improve, the stars appear to be aligning for actual reform. History of U.S. Weapons Proves Value of Realistic Operational Testing
(Director of Operational Test and Evaluation J. Michael Gilmore in National Defense) The purpose of operational testing is to assure the military services field weapons that work in combat. This purpose has been codified in both Title X of the U.S. Code and in the Defense Department 5000-series regulations. Authorizing Military Force Must Have Limits
(New York Times Editorial Board) Nearly five months and 1,100 airstrikes into the American-led war against the Islamic State, Congress has barely begun to fulfill its constitutional war-making responsibilities. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday belatedly opened debate on legislation that would authorize the use of force, but there’s no expectation that the work can be finished before the session ends on Thursday. That means it will be put off at least until January, when the new Congress convenes. The Obama Administration Wants a Super-Broad AUMF For the Islamic State (and Other Reactions to Yesterday’s AUMF Hearing)
(Jack Goldsmith in Lawfare) Secretary of State Kerry testified yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on the need for a new AUMF for the Islamic State (which Kerry referred to by the new moniker “Daesh,” and I will for now call “IS”). It was a revealing few hours. The Senators were well-informed and asked good questions with an unusual bipartisan flavor. Kerry was well-informed too and did his best to answer their questions. The big news is that Kerry laid the administration’s cards on the table about what it wants in an AUMF for IS. It wants quite a lot. Magical thinking on terrorism
(Diana Ohlbaum in The Hill) In a recent column for The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl excoriates the Obama foreign policy for its “sloppy thinking” that there is no military solution to the key international challenges facing our country. “Political and military solutions are not mutually exclusive but intertwined; political solutions are often dictated by military conditions,” Diehl argues. He goes on to suggest that what’s harming our national security is the failure to take aggressive enough military action in Syria and Ukraine. America Trades Torture for Drones
(Kathy Gilsinan in The Atlantic) The Senate’s report on CIA interrogation closes one dark chapter-and leaves another open. Explaining Pakistan’s Confidence
(Myra MacDonald in War on the Rocks) When Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, a former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, delivered a speech on Afghanistan in London last month, it was hard to miss the note of triumph. Afghanistan, he said, had already seen off two major world powers – the British Empire in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 20th. Now a third, the United States, was heading for the exit. For anyone who believes Pakistan’s aim in Afghanistan all along has been to turn the clock back to Sept 10, 2001 – when it exercised its influence over the country through its Taliban allies – it could almost have been a victory speech. Where Is Putin Leading Russia?
(Stephen Sestanovich in the Council on Foreign Relations) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual state of the nation address on December 4 failed to answer many questions about his intentions in Ukraine and his plan for dealing with Russia’s economic estrangement from Western states, says CFR’s Stephen Sestanovich. “It was a very eclectic, even incoherent, speech,” Sestanovich says. “There was a certain evasion on his part to some of the big economic problems that the country faces.” While Putin has not acted as aggressively in Ukraine as some Russian nationalists wish, Sestanovich says, he has continued to take measures in support of pro-Russian separatists while not pursuing compromise that could end the crisis over Ukraine.
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