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October 29 2016

 


 

 

 

29 October 2016

Newswire

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DigitalGlobe Acquisitions Speak to Changing Defense Market

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=7c996cd7-cbb4-4018-baf8-8825eada7aa2&ID=2334&RootFolder=/blog/Lists/Posts&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.18.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Oct 17, 2016

 

DigitalGlobe three years ago survived a bruising corporate battle to secure its position as the Pentagon’s sole commercial provider of high-resolution satellite Earth imagery. The company has since been challenged to deal with dramatic changes in the defense market, and has moved to buy up other companies in an effort to supplement the imagery business with increasingly lucrative intelligence and analysis services.

Overhead satellites today can photograph objects on the ground that are smaller than a home plate on a baseball field, but that alone is not enough to satisfy defense and intelligence agencies’ demands for more complex data. The government has a growing appetite for services such as advanced software apps and intricate analysis of collected images. Satellite imagery providers like DigitalGlobe not only are under pressure to deliver “valued added” services but are also coping with the emergence of lower-cost competitors and the democratization of the remote-sensing market.

Longmont, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe made its most aggressive move into the government services sector last week when it announced its intent to acquire The Radiant Group, a Chantilly, Virginia-based company with deep ties to the intelligence community and the secretive National Reconnaissance Office that builds the military’s classified satellites. Access to NRO contracts is vital to DigitalGlobe as its primary customer, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, recently signed a “strategic purchasing” agreement with that office.

“We have to go beyond data to deliver more information-based products and insight to the government,” Tony Frazier, DigitalGlobe senior vice president of U.S. government solutions, told National Defense.

The $140 million acquisition would significantly boost DigitalGlobe’s services business. The Radiant Group projects about $100 million in revenue for 2016. Of DigitalGlobe’s approximately $700 million in projected revenue, $130 million is for services. The addition of Radiant could boost DigitalGlobe’s share of government work from about 65 percent of total revenues today to 75 percent.

The Radiant Group buy follows other takeovers of services-focused firms during the past two years. DigitalGlobe bought Spatial Energy, a company focused on analyzing complex geospatial information; and Tomnod, a business that specializes in using crowd-sourced information to add value to imagery.

“Radiant allows us to go much further,” Frazier said.

The geospatial intelligence business over time has broadened beyond data collection and analytics. A key asset that made Radiant Group an acquisition target is 400 employees with secret security clearances, including 250 software developers. This talent would allow DigitalGlobe to expand its turf beyond the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Radiant brings 80 new contract vehicles not just with NGA but also with the NRO, the Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Command.

The software development and engineering workforce is crucial, said Frazier, as government agencies transition to cloud-based applications and applied data science to “realize the full power of imagery,” he said. “Analysts need to access data from the cloud.” The Radiant Group has been known in intelligence community for exploiting open-source software and cloud computing.

Established players in the remote-sensing business have been hit on multiple fronts in recent years. Commercial demand has slowed down. And small-satellite launchers are disrupting the market. “There are more providers of data,” said Frazier. What DigitalGlobe now needs to stand out is to be able to “produce more value from the data,” he said. “The government wants more answers, not more data.”

Intelligence agencies continue to rethink their approaches to buying technologies from the private sector. NGA last month announced several new initiatives to increase its reach into the commercial geospatial industry.

Congressional committees for years have been concerned about the perceived slow pace of innovation in the geospatial area. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during a September hearing pressed NGA Director Robert Cardillo to explain how the agency was stepping up efforts to monitor global flashpoints like Russian operations in eastern Ukraine, Iran’s compliance with last year’s nuclear deal and China’s development of new islands in the South China Sea.

Cardillo said the agency plans to shake up its longstanding methods of acquiring technologies. DigitalGlobe remains a “traditional partner,” he said, but NGA also is actively reaching out to commercial imagery suppliers dubbed “new space providers” such as Planet, formerly Planet Labs, Google’s Terra Bella, Black Sky Global and Earthcast.

The era of “multi-year, multi-billion dollar awards for decades types of service had their place and their time” but not any more, he said.

Just six years ago, NGA signed 10-year $7 billion deals with DigitalGlobe and archrival GeoEye Imagery Collections Systems to provide satellite images under NGA’s “enhanced view” commercial imagery program. A fiscal crunch slashed projected spending on imagery in half, and without enough work to keep two companies in business, DigitalGlobe and GeoEye merged in 2013.

NGA is working with the General Services Administration to set up a contract vehicle that is targeted at small companies. Cardillo said this vehicle will be available in early 2017. The plan is to move from long-term contracts to “swipe my government credit card to do some testing and some evaluation, some exploration of the interfaces” arrangements.

Planet, for instance, has dozens of very small satellites up in space that are scanning the globe. Under a new agreement with NGA, Planet will give the agency access to data from those satellites. “More importantly, what I’m excited about is beginning to apply algorithms and models against that data set to find out not just what you can image but what can you sense,” said Cardillo. “Think of a service that we could subscribe rather than a pixel flow.”

Cardillo said he supports DigitalGlobe making bigger inroads into services such as “algorithms and models” because that is what the government needs now. NGA just entered the seventh of a 10-year contract with DigitalGlobe and agency leaders have suggested those long-term deals are out of favor. “We negotiated that eight years ago,” when the industry was very different, Cardillo said. “Today in our conversations with these new space providers, there’s very little about square kilometers. It’s more about data sets and algorithms, and what kind of filter can they put on that screen to understand what’s happening.”

DigitalGlobe’s Frazier said the company is pursuing its own partnerships with nontraditional firms as it adapts to the realities of the government market. It teamed up with CosmiQ Works and NVIDIA in a venture called SpaceNet, a blend of commercial satellite imagery and labeled training data that is made available at no cost to the public. The goal is to encourage development of computer vision algorithms to automatically extract information from remote sensing data.

This is one way to generate new customers for satellite imagery, said Frazier. “People can build algorithms at no cost,” he said. “One of our goals is to help build ecosystems, encourage more providers of algorithms to help answer questions and create new demands for imagery.” The SpaceNet consortium, for example, organized an “image mining challenge” to engage developers and data scientists to automate the extraction of map features and indicators of activity from satellite imagery.

In the face of fresh competitive challenges at home, DigitalGlobe is looking to expand its non-U.S. sales. High-resolution imagery is a tightly controlled export and the regulatory hurdles can be significant. After submitting a license request in 1999, the company received approval in 2014 to sell images with a resolution of 25 centimeters, a step up from the previous export license that only allowed 50 centimeters.

Executives have been waiting for three years on a request to allow sales of the company’s native-resolution shortwave infrared imagery. DigitalGlobe SWIR imagery was used during Canadian wildfires to penetrate the heavy smoke, showing where the fires were burning. Current restrictions required the company to degrade the SWIR resolution, “effectively throwing out 75 percent of the data and needlessly reducing the firefighters’ decision-making confidence,” DigitalGlobe founder and chief technology officer Walter Scott wrote in a Space News op-ed.

“It’s time for the U.S. government to rethink the basic premise underlying commercial remote sensing regulation,” Scott argued. “The U.S. space technology edge has eroded, and satellite imagery is now available from dozens of countries.” Scott and other industry executives have advocated for an end to the current restrictive environment of “no, until foreign competition catches up,” to a permissive one of “yes, unless there is a compelling national security or foreign policy reason to deny approval.”

 

Government alleges former NSA contractor stole ‘astonishing quantity’ of classified data over 20 years

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/government-alleges-massive-theft-by-nsa-contractor/2016/10/20/e021c380-96cc-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3_story.html?utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2010.21.16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

By Ellen Nakashima October 20 at 5:42 PM

Federal prosecutors in Baltimore on Thursday said they will charge a former National Security Agency contractor with violating the Espionage Act, alleging that he made off with “an astonishing quantity” of classified digital and other data over 20 years in what is thought to be the largest theft of classified government material ever.

In a 12-page memo, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and two other prosecutors laid out a much more far-reaching case against Harold T. Martin III than was previously outlined. They say he took at least 50 terabytes of data and “six full banker’s boxes worth of documents,” with many lying open in his home office or kept on his car’s back seat and in the trunk. Other material was stored in a shed on his property.

One terabyte is the equivalent of 500 hours’ worth of movies.

Martin, who will appear at a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Friday, also took personal information about government employees as well as dozens of computers, thumb drives and other digital storage devices, the government memo said.

The government has not alleged that Martin passed any material to a foreign government, but contends that if he is released on bail he could do so.

A federal contractor suspected in the leak of powerful National Security Agency hacking tools has been arrested and charged with stealing classified information from the U.S. government, according to court records and U.S. officials familiar with the case. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

Though he lacks a valid U.S. passport, the government said Martin could still flee to a foreign government that might wish to help him. Prosecutors said he has communicated with unnamed people in Russian and in June downloaded information on Russian and other languages.

The prosecutors also said Martin had an “arsenal” of weapons in his home and car, including an assault-rifle-style tactical weapon and a pistol-grip shotgun with a flash suppressor.

In a complaint unsealed earlier this month, the government charged him with felony theft of government property and the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, a misdemeanor. The prosecutors said that when an indictment is filed, they expect charges to include “violations of the Espionage Act,” offenses that carry a prison term of up to 10 years for each count.

Prosecutors will argue Friday that Martin, 51, of Glen Burnie, Md., presents “a high risk of flight, a risk to the nation and to the physical safety of others,” and that he should not be released from jail.

“The case against the defendant thus far is overwhelming, and the investigation is ongoing,” said Rosenstein, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Myers and trial attorney David Aaron. “The defendant knows, and, if no longer detained, may have access to a substantial amount of highly classified information, which he has flagrantly mishandled and could easily disseminate to others.”

Continued detention without bail is necessary, prosecutors said, because of “the grave and severe danger that pretrial release of the defendant would pose to the national security of the United States.”

Martin’s attorneys argued in a memo filed Thursday that their client is not a flight risk and should be released under court-approved conditions pending trial. “The government concocts fantastical scenarios in which Mr. Martin — who, by the government’s own admission, does not possess a valid passport — would attempt to flee the country,” wrote public defenders James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman.

Martin’s wife and home are in Maryland, they said. He has served in the U.S. Navy. “There is no evidence he intended to betray his country,” they said. “The government simply does not meet its burden of showing that no conditions of release would reasonably assure Mr. Martin’s future appearance in court.”

The government also alleged that Martin took a top-secret document detailing “specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States.” Prosecutors did not name the enemy. The document, prosecutors said, contained a warning, in capital letters, that said: “This conop [concept of operations] contains information concerning extremely sensitive U.S. planning and operations that will be discussed and disseminated only on an absolute need to know basis.”

Martin was not involved in the operation, the government said, and had no need to have the document or know its specifics.

Another document found in his car contained handwritten notes describing NSA’s classified computer systems and detailed descriptions of classified technical operations, the prosecutors said.

In an interview before his arrest, Martin denied having taken classified material and only admitted to it when confronted with specific documents, prosecutors said. He had access to classified data beginning in 1996, when he was with the Navy Reserve, and that access continued through his employment with seven private government contractors.

The government alleged that Martin was able to defeat “myriad, expensive controls placed” on classified information.

They said the devices seized show he made extensive use of sophisticated encryption. He also used a sophisticated software tool that runs without being installed on a computer and provides anonymous Internet access, “leaving no digital footprint on the machine,” they said.

In August, a cache of highly sensitive NSA hacking tools mysteriously appeared online. Although investigators have not found conclusive evidence that he was responsible for that, he is the prime suspect, said U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. That is the event that set off the search that turned up Martin, the officials said.

In July, according to the prosecutors’ memo, he watched a video about how law enforcement authorities catch computer users who wish to remain anonymous on the Internet. “He has a demonstrated ability to conceal his online communications and his access to the Internet,” the prosecutors said.

To support their argument that Martin poses a danger to the community, they noted that in late July, he went to Connecticut to buy a “Detective Special” police-package Chevrolet Caprice. While searching his house, the FBI also recovered 10 firearms, only two of which were registered, the government said. Prosecutors said a loaded handgun was found in a case on the floorboard of the Caprice, in violation of Maryland law.

Martin’s wife, Deborah Vinson, was “very upset” to learn about his arsenal, prosecutors said, and asked the FBI to take custody of the firearms because she was afraid that he would kill himself if he “thought it was all over.”

If Martin had taken the classified material “for his own edification, as he has claimed, there would be no reason to keep some of it in his car, and arm himself as though he were trafficking in dangerous contraband,” prosecutors said.

 

 

Air Force Chief Sees Decades of More War Operations

Military.com | Oct 19, 2016 |

by Oriana Pawlyk

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/10/19/air-force-chief-sees-decades-more-war-operations.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2010.21.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

The U.S. Air Force’s top officer said he expects the high pace of war-related operations to continue for decades to come.

“We’ve been deploying now for 15 years,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. “We’ve probably got 15, 20 years to go.”

His comments came Wednesday at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, during a spouse and family forum hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

While fewer airmen are deploying, the time they spend away is increasing — driven in part by missions related to the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a resurgent Russia and China’s increased military activity in the Pacific.

Rising Deployment Times

On average, enlisted airmen deployed for 132 days and officers for 128 days in 2015, up from 110 days and 93 days, respectively, in 2013, according to an analysis by Air Force Times.

Goldfein last month announced an initiative to deploy airmen in teams of three or more, rather than dispatching them individually.

“I’m concerned that over the past 15 years, we have migrated into sending too many single airmen into combat,” Goldfein said at the time. “While we will never be the service that says, if you want an airman, you get an entire squadron — because that’s not what the nation needs, we need to be a little more flexible than that — I think the pendulum has swung a little too much to individual airmen.”

Continued deployment demands put pressure on the Air Force’s goal of a 1:2 deploy-to-dwell time, or six months deployed and one year at home. In 2015, no career fields increased from the 1:2 mark, with all but six keeping rates of 1:3 or lower, according to Air Force Times.

Family Programs

Goldfein asked a panel of military family advocates how efforts such as the Exceptional Family Member Program are catering to families when loved ones are deployed.

“Is there anything in our system that actually reaches out to a deployed spouse, or is a deployed spouse really looking at the exact same process as a couple that’s together?” he said.

Air Force Lt. Col. Andy Cruz, the 14th Medical Group deputy commander, responded, “I know from a base level that the key spouse program at the base I just came from works along with the airmen, family readiness center … to develop different programs monthly. ”

Panel member Dr. Ed Tyner, deputy director of the Defense Department’s special needs program, said, “At our level at OSD, we’ve done several trainings on doing warm handoffs,” using the term to describe when a primary care provider personally introduces a patient to a behavioral health specialist. “But again, it’s probably only going to be if the family member comes in and asks for it, because they won’t always know [the program exists],” he said.

 

Cyber threat center growing in its integration role as it enters year 2

By Jason Miller | @jmillerWFED

October 20, 2016 5:32 pm

http://federalnewsradio.com/ask-the-cio/2016/10/cyber-threat-center-growing-integration-role-enters-year-2/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2010.21.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center has been in place now for a little more than a year.

Tonya Ugoretz, the director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), said the center is maturing to meet the assorted needs of government from senior executives to chief information security officers to program and mission leaders.

“As an integration center, everything we’re doing is in partnership with the rest of the community and that includes our analyses. We are not adding another voice to the many agencies who may publish analyses on cyber threat issues. What we are integrating is the intelligence community’s coordinated assessment of cyber threat issues,” Ugoretz said on Ask the CIO. “Analytically, when decision makers want to know what do we collectively assess is going on, who do we collectively assess is behind something, CTIIC is the one who brings together the community on cyber threat issues to provide that integrated assessment. That doesn’t mean we are watering it down to a lowest common denominator that everyone can agree on. What it means is we bring the community together and we are very clear and transparent about what we can agree on and with what level of confidence. But also importantly what we disagree on and why, and what are the gaps in our understanding that collectively as a community we can address to help us increase our confidence in what we assess.”

Tonya Ugoretz is the director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center.

Ugoretz said the first year of the CTIIC focused on filling the gaps in the sharing of cyber threat intelligence and building the relationships across government.

President Barack Obama created the CTIIC in February 2015. By September, the center launched its initial efforts with Ugoretz as director and a host of detailees from across the intelligence, Defense and civilian agency communities.

Ugoretz said the CTIIC has been building capacity across its three lines of business:

Building awareness—CTIIC is taking the sharing of information further than just making sure someone sees the information, but actually understands what it means. “When we identify new threat information that we feel is significant, we have to ensure we are explaining to customers why we are highlighting it. We do that by working very extensively with our partners in other cyber centers to add context,” she said. “Our analysts anticipate and address those questions on the front end. They really work the phones. They reach out and coordinate with all their counterparts within the community. What we do is build products that address all those questions so we are not only highlighting new threat information, but we’re also saying ‘here’s a way to think about it and here’s how to place it in a broader context so you see where it fits in the bigger story.'”

Integrating analysis—The center is trying to break the habit of looking at cyber information in isolation. Ugoretz said threats and vulnerabilities are best understood if agencies also understand the motivations, intent and capabilities of the cyber hackers. “Our analysts look at working with a very broad community of counterparts in the U.S. intelligence community who look not only at technical information and cyber specific activity, but they also work with regional analysts, leadership analysts and people who understand the geopolitical context in which these state actors are acting and in that way through our analysis, try to give a fuller picture of what’s happening,” she said. The CTIIC also helps coordinate information when the government is responding to a cyber attack. The President’s policy directive 41 issued in July details where the center fits in when the government responds to a cyber incident.

Identifying opportunities—The line of business continues down a similar path as integrating analysis where the CTIIC broadens the view of a cyber incident. Ugoretz said the center will help the White House and Defense Department understand the options in responding to an attack. “The goal is to help inform decision making so pulling all those inputs together and presenting them in a way what leads to what we call ‘decisionable decisions.’ What’s challenging too in this newer field of cybersecurity is to always have decision makers feel comfortable thinking through what will be the impact of this action,” she said.

As the CTIIC enters its second year, Ugoretz said she has several goals, including ensuring the staff is documenting its processes and they are as effective and efficient as possible.

“We are already thinking ahead because we are a multi-agency center and we do have a proportion of detailees so how do we do succession planning, how do we pass down institutional knowledge and how do we clearly document our processes, and even some of these things that we do and don’t do that we’ve all internalized here, but may not be written down on a piece of paper?” she said. “Another is expanding our ability to reach more customers with our work. Right now as we’ve been growing, we’ve been focusing on doing a version of a product and trying to put that out. But as we build capacity and have more resources in terms of personnel and production and the whole tail that helps support all the important pieces of producing quality analytic products, we want to look at how do we reach other parts of the community who may not have access at their desktops to highly classified information or who work other functional or regional missions that aren’t specifically cyber, but who would benefit from knowing this activity that maybe the actor they follow in another context is doing.”

Ugoretz said the CTIIC did a lot of outreach in year one and will do even more in year 2 to reach that broader community.

Another second year priority relates back to PPD 41 and information sharing to make sure the right agencies have the right data to make cyber related decisions.

Ugoretz said the center also will continue to work on a common taxonomy called the cyber threat framework, and metrics.

“We want to ensure we in the community and hopefully outside the community aren’t using different terminology when we are describing different types of activity by threat actors. Hopefully what that will enable us to do is compare apples to apples and do some meaningful trend analysis over time so that we can see when we do get questions about whether activity is increasing or decreasing or if things are moving in a certain way, we can give really well informed answers to those questions,” she said. “We have counterparts in the Office of the National Intelligence Manager for cyber here at ODNI who have really been the lead within the community and with partners in pushing this concept forward. They are developing a framework that will be available publicly at the unclassified level that hopefully folks can use and I don’t think there’s any assumption that it’s one size fits all.”

 

Meet the Air Force’s ‘ultimate battle plane’ and your new close-air support

https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/the-ghostrider-the-most-heavily-armed-gunship-ever-will-send-enemies-running?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.26.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

By: Stephen Losey, October 25, 2016 (Photo Credit: Airman Kai White/Air Force)

 

HURLBURT FIELD, FLORIDA – In the not-too-distant future, when ground troops call for close-air support, the ‘Ghostrider’ and its deadly arsenal could come to their rescue.

The AC-130J Ghostrider is set to be the most heavily-armed gunship in history, bristling with 30mm and 105mm cannons, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, and the ability to carry Hellfire missiles and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.

But that’s not all.

Some day in the future, the Ghostrider could even be equipped with a high-energy laser.

That’s right. Lasers.

When it hits the battlefield in a few short years, the Ghostrider will be the most heavily armed gunship in history – a badass plane providing close-air support to U.S. troops on the ground and delivering withering firepower that will send enemies running for the hills.

Aircraft such as the F-35 and A-10 may be the focus of headlines, arguments on Capitol Hill between brass and lawmakers, and viral videos pulsing with hard rock. But despite drawing a fraction of the attention, the AC-130 and all its variants have been workhorses of the past 15 years of war. 

They rained down fire on the Taliban and al-Qaida during the early days of the Afghanistan war, and fought in many more battles there over the years. They supported ground troops during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as well as in subsequent clashes, such as the battles of Fallujah. They conducted raids on Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi’s forces during the civil war there in 2011. And as the military’s focus gradually turned to the Islamic State militant group, the AC-130’s guns were trained on ISIS fighters, vehicles and oil trucks in places such as Raqqa, Syria.

Since it first flew to war during Vietnam, the AC-130 has destroyed more than 10,000 trucks, the Air Force says. The AC-130J is the fourth generation of this model, and will eventually replace the aging U and W variants – and it’s a virtual certainty that it will be loitering above the battlefield, wherever Americans are fighting, for decades to come.

The AC-130W Stinger II has a 30mm cannon, precision-guided munitions, and the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. The AC-130U Spooky has 25mm, 40mm and 105mm guns. And the now-retired AC-130H Spectre had 20mm, 40mm and 105mm cannons. But until now, no gunship has had this combination of multiple high-powered cannons and precision-guided munitions.

On Sept. 6, an AC-130J Ghostrider lifted off from a runway at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and flew northeast to the range at nearby Eglin Air Force Base.

Sitting on the range was an old, lone tank used for target practice. The crew of the Ghostrider trained its newly added 105mm cannon – basically a Howitzer mounted in the plane’s belly – on the tank and opened fire, striking the tank several times.

The test was a success, the Air Force said, and a major milestone on the path to the AC-130J achieving initial operating capability, which is expected to come in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017.

‘A bomb truck with guns’

The Ghostrider is a Lockheed C-130J that’s been heavily modified until it practically bristles with weaponry – so much so that Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, former head of Air Force Special Operations Command – famously called it “a bomb truck with guns” and “the ultimate battle plane” in 2015.

Walking through the cargo bay of the 130J, the sheer amount of firepower on display quickly becomes apparent. After leaving the cockpit, one first encounters the block 10 30mm cannon – an automatic weapon that can fire up to 200 rounds per minute, each roughly the size of a Coca-Cola bottle, out of the left side of the plane.

“Each round blows up with the equivalent [blast] of a hand grenade,” said Maj. Jarrod Beers, a weapons system officer on the AC-130J, on Sept. 7. “And there are plenty of them on the aircraft.”

The 30mm brings a lot of flexibility to the Ghostrider’s crew. Not only is it trainable, making it easier to aim at a target without having to reorient the entire plane, but its ammunition feeds in from two different chains. This can give the Ghostrider plenty more of one kind of ammo to shoot – but it can also allow airmen to quickly switch to a second kind of ammunition if they need to take out a different threat.

“It’s a very capable, and very awesome weapons system,” Beers said.

Toward the aft end of the plane, also aiming left, is the block 20 105mm cannon. The Ghostrider originally wasn’t meant to have the 105mm, which was also mounted on the older AC-130U Spooky model, but Heithold insisted on adding it, telling reporters last year, “I want two guns.”

The 105mm cannon shoots rounds that weigh 50 pounds apiece – with more than 32 pounds of explosive – and are about 2 ½ to 3 feet long, Beers said. To illustrate what kind of a boom it delivers, some of the Army’s howitzers also fire 105mm shells.

“It’s literally an artillery weapon that we decided to shoot down from the sky, instead of up from the ground,” Beers said.

But that massive boom also recoils the gun back 49 inches, with 14,000 pounds of force – easily enough to instantly kill an unfortunate crew member caught behind it. For that reason, a safety cage was built around the 105mm cannon to keep airmen away from danger.

Beers said the airframe of the AC-130J is stronger than it normally would be so that it can handle the fatiguing effect of such massive recoil. But, he said, the crew is careful not to shoot both the 30mm and 105mm at the same time, since that would double up on the stress and recoil.

But the crew feels the recoil nonetheless. For example, an AC-130U pilot with the 4th Special Operations Squadron, who asked that his name not be used, said sustained bursts of his plane’s 25mm Gatling gun – which can fire 1,800 rounds per minute – actually pushes the nose to the right.

“As pilots, we need to counteract that force to make sure the gun stays where it needs to shoot,” the Spooky pilot said. “You can definitely feel the 105 when it shoots. It’s a huge recoil from the 105, but definitely the 25mm is the most significant recoil that we feel up front.”

The AC-130J will carry 80 105mm rounds, and can fire more than 10 rounds a minute, Beers said, and the plane’s crew can also use the controls to aim it at targets.

AFSOC spokeswoman Erica Vega said in an email that the successful Sept. 6 test of the 105mm was to make sure systems worked together so the gun can safely fire.

“Future tests will look more into actual vs. expected accuracy and other system performance standards,” Vega said. “We should learn a great deal more from those tests, and that will contribute to the aircraft’s overall effectiveness, and in turn, better prepare it for IOC.”

Between the 30mm and the 105mm cannons is the MOP, or Mission Operator Pallet – two stations, one for WSOs like Beers and one for an enlisted sensor operator, each with multiple video screens and instruments controlling the array of cameras and sensors that help the crew target, and another control used to fire weapons. It uses some instruments borrowed from the F-35, which Beers said helps save money.

“This is the zoom stick, and this is the boom stick,” Beers said, gesturing first to the control on the left and then to the control on the right.

Beers demonstrated how he uses the “zoom stick” to turn the plane’s cameras 360 degrees and toggle between a standard view and infrared, switch the infrared’s polarity, and tweak the image for better resolution. He pointed it toward a light pole far off in the distance on the tarmac and zoomed in – and zoomed, and zoomed, and zoomed again, until a tiny red bulb on top of the light pole filled the screen, pixelated and shimmering beneath the thermal heat radiating up.

“That’s as good as it’s going to get right now because of the thermals,” Beers said, “That doesn’t look good on the ground, but in the air, it’s a pretty darn good picture.”

From the MOP, crew members must absorb a massive amount of information for their situational awareness – where friendly troops and aircraft are, where enemies and their vehicles are, where civilians are – using radio communications, emails, targeting data, and video beamed in from other sources, such as command headquarters.

“It’s a pretty formidable arsenal, and we haven’t even gotten to the Griffins yet,” Beers said.

The AGM-176A Griffin missiles are the centerpiece of the Ghostrider’s precision-strike package – and part of what makes it truly stand above its predecessors. The plane carries 10 Griffins, which are essentially half-scale Hellfire missiles that are laser-guided, with a fragmentation warhead and a GPS backup to ensure it lands on target. Each Griffin stands nose-up in a roughly 4-foot-tall tube mounted in its tail. When it’s time to fire, the Griffin is electrically launched out of the back of the plane, pops out its fins, and orients itself into the windstream. When it’s far enough away, its rocket motor fires and it “goes screaming off past the plane,” Beers said.

“It’s nuts, it’s the coolest thing ever,” Beers said.

Master Sgt. James Knight, left, an aerial gunner with the 18th Flight Test Squadron, performs a pre-flight inspection at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, July 29, 2015.

But those missiles – being precision-guided munitions – are much more expensive than the 30mm or 105mm shells, Beers said. So they’re typically reserved for the highest-priority targets that must be hit with the greatest accuracy. The AC-130J also can carry Hellfire missiles and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.

All the various weapons on board allow the crew to gradually escalate the amount of force used to meet the threat.

“So, [we] take out the smaller targets with the 30, then escalate up to the 105, and even the 250-pound glide munitions [GBU-39 bombs] as we go up,” Beers said.

 

Frickin’ lasers

And it could get even cooler. At the Air Force Association’s conference last September, Heithold declared, “I want a high-energy laser on an AC-130J gunship by the close of this decade.”

“This isn’t Star Wars stuff, folks,” he continued. “The technology is ripe for doing this. I’ve got the space, I’ve got the weight, and I’ve got the power.”

Heithold floated the idea of first using a laser — possibly mounted in place of the 105mm gun – in a defensive capacity, to take down an enemy missile fired at the AC-130J. But eventually, Heithold said, he envisioned using it for offense, to disable enemy aircraft or other vehicles. Such a laser could have come in handy during the 1989 capture of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, he said. During that operation, four Navy SEALs died in the process of destroying his boat and airplane to keep him from escaping.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice had we had a high-energy laser on an AC-130 that would have simply zapped some point on that airplane?” Heithold said at AFA. “Disable the aircraft and nobody knows it happened until they go to use it, because nobody heard anything and nobody saw anything. You haven’t spooked anybody, you’ve simply disabled the aircraft.”

 

 

Maj. Brian Pesta, right, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 pilot, and Maj. Jason Fox, 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, look out the left window during the delivery flight of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider.

Beers agreed that a silent laser would be a great weapon to have at his disposal.

The laser would “give us an advantage, and be able to just take out a truck from miles away, without nobody knowing,” Beers said. “I’m looking forward to trying them out.”

Heithold has also suggested buttressing the plane’s capabilities with small drones to help it fight in heavy cloud cover. When targets are under thick clouds, he said, the 130J can’t identify and hit them. But if the plane could launch a drone from its rear tubes, instead of the usual missile, Heithold said it could fly below the clouds and target the enemy.

Beers also said a drone could help in mountainous terrain, or in areas with heavy fire that would otherwise endanger the 130J.

“So now I’m not risking myself and my crew in order to go in and prosecute that target,” he said. It would “give us an advantage over previous generation gunships at that point.”

 

A lighter aircraft — but at what cost?

But there’s more than just its weaponry that makes the Ghostrider remarkable. It’s lighter, faster and more efficient, Beers said, and burns 25 to 30 percent less gas than legacy aircraft. It flies at a top speed of about 362 knots, or 416 miles per hour – well above the roughly 300 mph top speed of the AC-130U. The AC-130J can fly a maximum range of 3,000 miles and up to 28,000 feet in the air – about twice as far, and roughly 3,000 feet higher than the AC-130U.

A big part of what makes the Ghostrider more efficient is its six-bladed propellers, which provide more thrust and allow it to carry more ammunition or fuel. 

But the increased efficiency may come at a price, however. The AC-130J was dinged by the Pentagon’s weapons testers, the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, in a 2013 report for having lighter armor than its predecessor, the AC-130U. The report said the AC-130U’s armor protects aircrew stations, personnel, ammunition and critical systems against a 37mm high-explosive incendiary round at a range of 10,000 feet, or about 3,000 meters.

Staff Sgt. Derek Watson, a special missions aviator with the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2, inspects a wing of an AC-130J Ghostrider during a pre-flight inspection at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 2, 2016.

The AC-130J’s armor, on the other hand, protects primary crewmember positions and oxygen supplies against a 7.62mm ball projectile at 100 meters, the report said. The armor on the AC-130J also doesn’t cover the Mission Operator Pallet, which weapons testers said should be considered a primary crewmember position and protected.

When asked about the tester’s armor concerns, Vega said in an email, “The final AC-130J will have adequate defensive systems [and] features to fulfill its designed role. As the aircraft approaches IOC, all systems will be finalized and adjustments made.”

In another email, AFSOC spokesman Michael Raynor said, “Lt. Gen. [Brad] Webb [current AFSOC commander] has gone on record saying there are no trade-offs being made with security of the crews.”

In the J’s cockpit, a series of multi-function electronic displays has replaced the old analog dials that used to clutter up the view of pilots and navigators. So, instead of having, say, a physical weather radar in front of a navigator’s face, whether or not he needs it, crewmembers can call up only the most pertinent digital instruments such as radar and collision avoidance systems or hide unwanted instruments with the ease of flipping through an iPad app.

“Looking at this is crazy,” said Beers, who previously served as a navigator on older planes like the C130E/H. “This is a totally spaceship type of thing up here. The plane has a lot more ‘go,’ it’s quieter, it’s more comfortable inside, the air conditioning is better, which allows us to be better for the guys” on the ground.

And Beers is champing at the bit to put this plane into action to protect his fellow service members.

“The biggest thing for me is to make sure the guys on the ground get home OK,” he said. “That’s really what makes it worth it at the end of the day.”

 

 

Game Over: GAO Protest Reveals Cost Was Deciding Factor in B-21 Contest

By: Valerie Insinna, October 25, 2016

 

WASHINGTON — Eight months ago, the Government Accountability Office shot down Boeing’s protest of the government’s decision to award the B-21 bomber contract to competitor Northrop Grumman. With the Tuesday release of its 52-page decision, the public now can read why.

The gist of GAO’s argument, which redacts all pricing and technical information, was that Northrop’s offering met the technical specifications at a price much lower than Boeing’s proposal.

“Significant structural advantages in Northrop’s proposal — specifically, its labor rate advantage and decision to absorb significant company investment — also strongly impacted the outcome of this essentially low-price, technically acceptable procurement,” the office said in its conclusion. “Northrop’s significantly lower proposed process for the LRIP phase created a near-insurmountable obstacle to Boeing’s proposal achieving best value or to Boeing’s protest demonstrating prejudice in the cost realism evaluation.”

The Air Force in October 2015 awarded Northrop the contract to develop and produce its newest bomber, now designated the B-21 Raider. Northrop beat out a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team for the two-pronged contract that covers the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the program as well as the first five low-rate initial production lots.

According to the GAO decision, Boeing argued that the Air Force did not effectively measure the risk of Northrop’s bomber. The company contended that if the service had followed definitions set in the request for proposals, Northrop would not have met four out of seven unnamed technical capability subfactors. Boeing also stated that Northrop’s proposal was “inherently high risk” with regard to certain requirements in a way that should have rendered its offering unacceptable.  

GAO shot down those claims, saying its review found the Air Force evaluated Northrop’s bid in a way that was “reasonable and consistent” with the RFP.

Boeing also alleged that the service overestimated the price of its own offering and relied too heavily on independent government estimates.

 

Again, the GAO disagreed.

“We see no error in the Air Force’s rejection of supporting cost data presented in Boeing’s proposal, or its upward adjustment to Boeing’s proposed EMD costs,” it wrote.

 

The office noted that both Northrop’s total weighted price and total estimated price were lower than Boeing’s. Although Boeing calculated that its proposal price had been overestimated by a dollar amount that was redacted in the report, even if Boeing’s proposal was adjusted by that figure it would have not been enough to topple Northrop, which would have nabbed the contract on the basis of its lower total weighted price.

Thus, GAO said Boeing could not demonstrate that the Air Force had demonstrated competitive prejudice — a situation where the company would have won the contract if not for the government mismanagement or wrongdoing.

 

It’s the Raider: Air Force unveils name of new B-21 bomber

While much of the document was redacted, the decision sheds light on many interesting aspects of the competition. After the companies submitted their proposals to the Air Force in 2014, the service found both offerings technically unacceptable and held eight rounds of discussions where the competitors worked through deficiencies, although the GAO noted that some risk still remained with each proposal.

Those discussions failed to resolve questions about ​both Boeing and Northrop’s cost estimates for the EMD phase of the program, which Air Force found to be overly optimistic when compared with its own independent government estimates. Even after eight rounds of talks, neither company was able to put forward a proposal that could be considered realistic with respect to the majority of the cost categories.

But while Northrop increased its own estimates, Boeing kept its own cost data at the same level, the GAO said. And, partially because Northrop offered to pay for certain expenses internally on its own dime, the company was able to keep EMD costs below Boeing’s throughout the duration of the discussion process.

 

DHS Is Drawing Up ‘Strategic Principles’ for Internet of Things


http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2016/10/internet-things-will-have-new-strategic-principles-soon-dhs-secretary-says/132611/?&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By Joseph Marks

Staff Correspondent, Nextgov

October 25, 2016

 

The Homeland Security secretary is working with law enforcement and private companies to prevent massive distributed denial of service attacks.

U.S. officials believe the cyberattack that interrupted Twitter, Netflix and other websites Friday has been mitigated, Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Monday.

DHS held an information sharing conference call with 18 major communication services providers the day the distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack occurred, Johnson said.

DDoS attacks involve hacking into unsecured computers and other internet-connected devices, then using those devices to flood a site with more requests and commands than it can handle. Friday’s attack targeted Dyn, a company that provides web optimization services to numerous major internet companies.

Johnson confirmed security researchers’ reports the Friday attack used a type of malware called Mirai, which targets connected devices such as webcams and entertainment systems, and was earlier used to attack the website of cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs and a French internet service provider.  

The DHS cyber operations hub, the National Cybersecurity Communications and Integration Center, is working with law enforcement and private companies on ways to combat the malware, Johnson said.

DHS is also working on a set of strategic principles for securing connected devices, known as the internet of things, which will be released in coming weeks, he said.

The internet of things has grown exponentially in recent years but the security of those devices has lagged, Joshua Corman, director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, told reporters in a conference call today.

Many connected devices carry known software vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, but consumers either don’t know how to patch those vulnerabilities or, in some cases, aren’t able to, he said.

On an individual level, those vulnerabilities—a connected refrigerator sending out spam emails, for example—are not particularly dangerous, he said. When those vulnerabilities are taken in aggregate, however, they can do great damage as the Dyn attack showed. 

“There’s a strong instinct to focus on safety critical [systems] where bits and bytes meet flesh and blood,” Corman said. “The cognitive dissonance from this particular set of attacks is you can’t neglect lower-priority devices.”

 

US wants Mexico under grid security pact before year’s end

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-wants-mexico-under-grid-security-pact-before-years-end/article/2605577

By John Siciliano • 10/25/16 8:04 PM

 

The Obama administration is scrambling to make Mexico by the end of the year a full-fledged member of a North American industry pact that works to defend the electric grid from cyberattacks.

The reason for the eleventh-hour move to include Mexico in the cybergroup is likely a result of the contentious presidential election and the administration’s goals of creating a North American clean energy grid. Such collaboration would be far less likely if Republican nominee Donald Trump gets into office with his walled-off vision for the U.S., said a senior industry official. But it would benefit Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who said at last week’s final debate that an integrated North American grid with Mexico would be a priority if she were elected.

“There is always a risk when you have democracies go through their elections,” said Sergio Marchi, president and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association, who hosted a meeting Monday at the Canadian embassy in Washington between officials from the two nations on the need for greater collaboration.

“New administrations bring new priorities,” Marchi said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “We’re hoping that whoever becomes president that when we look at energy and environment from a North America perspective that we continue to build bridges between us and not erect walls or divisions.”

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The meeting focused on greater collaboration on electricity with a focus on new cybersecurity and reliability standards being developed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, which is a standards-making body overseen by federal energy regulators.

The group’s CEO, Gerry Cauley, addressed the event on Monday, where he discussed moving ahead soon to begin the process of including Mexico under the reliability organization’s mandatory cybersecurity standards, which Canada and Marchi’s members are already participants in. Marchi’s group is the lead trade association of Canada’s power industry and is involved in U.S. regulatory proceedings that affect how electricity flows between the shared north-south border.

The new talks with Mexico underscore a significant expansion of the standards due to the growing threat of cyberattack that all three countries face and the expanded trade of electricity across borders.

That was something that President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto discussed during a meeting in Ottawa in June.

The Ottawa meeting “pushed us further down in terms of deepening our bonds and our synergies at a time when a lot of headwinds around the world are blowing against collaboration,” Marchi said.

 

Clinton won’t side with Dakota pipeline protesters

By John Siciliano • 10/28/16 11:04 AM

“The first concern is that we continue this march,” he said. “I like to think that we can become more than just the North American Free Trade Area and become a North American community with a community increasingly of shared values and shared ambitions.”

Energy Department officials at the meeting discussed a visit to Mexico City last week where grid collaboration and bringing the country under NERC’s security and reliability standards topped the agenda.

Marchi, who is privy to the NERC process as a member of the organization, said “they’re hoping for Mexico to sign onto the reliability standards before the end of the year, which would be great.”

Cauley discussed the timeframe at the Monday meeting at the embassy.

“Gerry also talked about how important it is to further integrate Mexico … and that our sector is the only sector in all of North America that has mandatory standards when it comes to reliability,” Marchi said. “So he talked about how important it is to strengthen that and that Mexico is part of the story.”

Cybersecurity must remain a priority, Marchi said. “In other words, the electricity companies and grids are one of the highest targets for hack attempts.”

The industry is being “pushed to spend more money on technology and more money on … experts” to defend against the attacks, and greater collaboration between the U.S., Canada and Mexico is part of that defense strategy.

“Security and sharing of information is absolutely the first line of defense,” Marchi said. He said the continent can’t afford to deal with the security threat like playing “a hand of poker, you know, you keep your cards close to the vest and a faceless look.”

“But we can’t play poker with cybersecurity,” he said. “We need to share what is happening, what technologies are we using so that we might all be more intelligent and effective individually.

“So, those would be the … issues as we look to the election results, which have been captivating to say the least,” he said. “Those are some issues that we think about once the dust settles and the administration begins to work of the people.”

Marchi also said the Canadian power industry wants to have its own presence in Mexico because of the growing trend of collaboration, and it plans to set up a Mexico contingent of his trade group there.

The focus between Mexico and Canada will be on clean energy development, recalling the collaborative agreement the countries signed in June to derive 50 percent of their energy from low-carbon, low-emission power plants by 2025.

Canada’s power sector will be lobbying for building six transmission lines across the U.S. and Canadian border to begin moving more electricity from Canada’s hydroelectric dams to expand renewable energy across North America.

“We have 35 lines that connect the north-south grid now and there are six in development,” Marchi said. “If we complete those six, it will increase the capacity of export flows by 50 percent, which is a sizable number.”

 

Clinton, Trump have options to break SECDEF glass ceiling

By: Lawrence J. Korb and Carly Evans, October 25, 2016 (Photo Credit: AP photos)

Editor’s note: The following is an opinion piece. The writers are not employed by Military Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff. 

 
 

One of the most important decisions the next president will make is who to appoint as defense secretary. With the military still engaged in actual war-fighting and shows of force around the globe – and despite spending more on national security than at any time since World War II – many military leaders and their congressional supporters claim the Pentagon does not have sufficient funds to maintain its required force structure or necessary level of readiness or modernize its nuclear and conventional forces. The next secretary will face a host of challenges across a broad spectrum. 

Hillary Clinton has promised that, if elected, she will insure that at least half of her cabinet will be made up of women. Since women have already held two of the three top national security posts – secretary of state and national security adviser – it would be more than appropriate for her to break the glass ceiling in the Pentagon by appointing a woman to the post, particularly as women play an increasing role in the armed forces. 

If Donald Trump is elected, he too should consider appointing a qualified woman to the post. 

One of the critical attributes any nominee can bring to the Pentagon’s top spot is actual military and combat experience. This will enhance credibility within “The Building” when it comes to issues ranging from force deployment to the needs of combat veterans to controlling the increasing cost of military compensation, or even the challenges faced by military families. It will bring an informed point of view to a president who has never served. 

This point was emphasized recently by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, himself a military veteran, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents. In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, he noted that “neither candidate has seriously addressed how he or she thinks about the military, the use of military force, the criteria they would apply before sending that force into battle, or broader questions of peace and war. Based upon what each candidate has said and done, who can we trust with the lives of young Americans in uniform?”

In addition, if the new secretary has legislative experience, it would help her deal with the Congress, particularly the armed services and appropriations committees that play an increasingly critical role in determining the size and shape of the annual defense budget.

Fortunately, both parties have candidates who more than fit these criteria: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst. 

Gabbard, who serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, has been in elected office in the state, local or federal level for most of the past 16 years. She has served as a legislative aid for Sen. Daniel Akaka, a fellow Hawaiian Democrat who left office in 2013. 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, joined fellow lawmakers and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America advocacy group in April in a rally to urge Congress to protect funding for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

But more important, she has interrupted her service in elected office on two occasions when, after enlisting in the Hawaii National Guard, she twice volunteered to deploy to Iraq – once as an enlisted soldier and again in 2009, after earning her commission, as a platoon commander. 

Gabbard continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard, where she has obtained the rank of major. Her fitness for the top job in the Pentagon was emphasized in a recent article critical of Democratic elected officials for abandoning the legacy of John and Robert Kennedy and not trying to end the wars in the Middle East. Adam Walinsky, Robert Kennedy’s speechwriter, points out in a piece for Politico that the one exception is “the marvelous Democratic member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, a reservist who has twice deployed to Iraq and knows of what she speaks.”

Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa and is the first woman elected to Congress from that state, serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has also held elected office at the state and local level. In addition, she spent 23 years in the Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard, retiring in 2015 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. She commanded the largest battalion in the Iowa Army National Guard and spent 14 months in Kuwait and Iraq in 2003-04 as a company commander, driving more than 400 supply convoys from Kuwait into Iraq.

In addition, Ernst has previously volunteered in support of battered and abused women and children, often going to hospital or safe house to give comfort. She would bring credibility and experience to dealing with the issue of sexual abuse in the military. 

Either of these female combat veterans and legislators would bring more to the Pentagon’s top spot than most of the men who have held this post for the past 70 years. The next president should consider appointing either one regardless of party; the last two Democratic presidents have appointed Republicans to the Pentagon’s top spot. 

Of course, this assumes Gabbard and Ernst can support the new president’s national security policies. Clinton could not go wrong appointing Ernst, nor would Trump make a mistake appointing Gabbard. This would not only break the glass ceiling in the Pentagon, but send a great signal to the women who play an increasing role in our military, and to the country, that partisan politics should not impact our military or defense policy.

Lawrence J. Korb, a retired Navy captain, served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. Carly Evans is a public policy master’s degree candidate at The George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School, where she specializes in national security and foreign policy.


 

October 15 2016

 


 

 

 

15 October 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

 

US Service Chiefs Lament Budget Squeeze

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-service-chiefs-lament-budget-squeeze?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By: Joe Gould, September 15, 2016 (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Top US military officials told lawmakers Thursday their services have been squeezed by budget instability and spending caps — and that under sequestration cuts, they would not have the resources to defend the country.

The four-star service chiefs testified at a Senate Armed Services hearing on Thursday at Capitol Hill that under fiscal pressure, they have been prioritizing ready units over modernization. The instability, exemplified by the ritual of year-end continuing resolutions, leads to waste, they said.

“Eight years of continuing resolutions, including a year of sequestration, has built additional cost and time into everything we do,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said. “The services are essentially operating in three fiscal quarters a year now. Nobody plans anything important in the first quarter.”

If faced with two major conflicts at once, as outlined by the current military guidance, the US would win, but face high risk, the officials said.

“The only thing more expensive than deterrence is fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is losing a war,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.

The service chiefs affirmed that they are against an option being floated in the House for Congress to pass a long-term continuing resolution, as well as the House-passed defense policy bill’s plan to shift $18 billion in emergency funding for base budget needs.

Lawmakers were largely solicitous, saying the myriad threats the US faces should spur Congress to unshackle the military from the the caps dictated under the 5-year-old Budget Control Act.

“Our preference is stable and long-term funding,” Milley told Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who fired off a leading line of questions on the matter.

SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said that with the Budget Control Act, Congress “lied to the American people” because the law failed to reduce the national debt. The military, he said, is “becoming effectively hollow against great-power competitors.”

 

There are five more years of caps, McCain warned, noting a $100 billion mismatch between budget cap levels and the Pentagon’s five-year defense plan, and $30 billion of base requirements buried in the emergency operations account. By his calculations, the country must come up with $250 billion more for defense to meet its current strategy.

“Put simply, we have no plan to pay for what our Department of Defense is doing right now, even as most of us agree that what we are doing at present is not sufficient for what we really need,” McCain said.

The Army is challenged to sustain its counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions and rebuild its capability against near-peer great power threats. Uncertainty has driven the Army to prioritize readiness in the 2016 defense policy bill, as it will continue to do, over modernization, end strength and infrastructure.

“In other words, we’re mortgaging future readiness for current readiness,” Milley said.

The Army asked for continued support for modernization in key areas, including aviation, command-and-control networks, and integrated air and missile defense.

The Navy faces a “triple whammy,” Richardson said: the high demand of naval platforms and personnel, years of budget uncertainty and the budget levels of the Budget Control Act. The service has largely curtailed modernization as a result.

Continuing resolutions, Richardson said, undermine the trust and confidence suppliers have in the Navy and hinders it from making cost-efficient block buys of parts and supplies.

The Marine Corps this year had its largest unfunded priority list ever, at $2.6 billion. At the same time, “The Marine Corps is as busy as at the height of recent wars,” Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said.

The Marine Corps needs 38 amphibious warships with an availability of 90 percent to support two Marine expeditionary brigades and provide for its forcible entry mission. It will have 34 by 2022 under its long-range ship strategy.

Neller said the right combination would include 12 big-deck amphibious ships, 12 LPD-class vessels, 12 comparable hull forms and two LHA(R) America-class amphibious assault ships, and “others.”

The Air Force bought about 175 fewer fighter aircraft than it did 25 years ago, though it remains committed to its top three conventional acquisition priorities, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A Pegasus and the B-21 long-range bomber, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

The 2017 budget also requests recapitalizing its bomber fleet, including the B-21, replacing the Air-Launched Cruise Missile with the Long Range Standoff Weapon — a program with some Capitol Hill pushback.

The budget instability, Goldfein said, prevents the Air Force from replacing aging airframes, expanding the cost of maintenance exponentially.

The industrial base too suffers when demand is unpredictable, and companies have had to lay off their technical workforces.

“Everything we deal with in terms of unstable budgets, they deal with as well,” Goldfein said.

 

Killer Robots? ‘Never,’ Defense Secretary Carter Says

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. and Colin Clark on September 15, 2016 at 4:00 AM

http://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/killer-robots-never-says-defense-secretary-carter/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

IN FLIGHT TO ANDREWS AFB: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is pushing hard for artificial intelligence — but the US military will “never” unleash truly autonomous killing machines, he pledged today.

“In many cases, and certainly whenever it comes to the application of force, there will never be true autonomy, because there’ll be human beings (in the loop),” Carter told Sydney and fellow reporter John Harper as they flew home to Washington.

Carter’s trip to Austin and San Francisco had been all about outreach to the information technology community. In particular,, he said, “we’re making big investments” in autonomy, which is the centerpiece of Carter’s Third Offset Strategy to retain America’s high-tech edge. But, he emphasized, technology must operate within legal and ethical limits.

This is the issue that Vice Chairman of the Vice Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, calls the Terminator Conundrum. The prestigious Defense Science Board, which recently released its summer study on the issue of autonomy, called for immediate action on the development of autonomous capabilities at the same time that it stressed the need for building verifiable trust in such weapons.

DSB did not state whether weapons should be allowed to kill humans without a human in the loop. But the study authors say that, “when something goes wrong, as it will sooner or later, autonomous systems must allow other machine or human teammates to intervene, correct, or terminate actions in a timely and appropriate manner, ensuring directability. Finally, the machine must be auditable—in other words, be able to preserve and communicate an immutable, comprehensible record of the reasoning behind its decisions and actions after the fact.”

Carter came down on the side of human intervention from the start. “Whatever the mix (of manned and unmanned systems), there’s always going to human judgment and discretion,” Carter said. “That’s both necessary and appropriate.”

But isn’t that unilateral disarmament, I asked, when countries like Russia and China are at least talking about autonomous weapons control? As Army War College professor Andrew Hill and retired colonel Joseph Brecher argued in a recent essay, no one may particularly want a world with independent killer robots, but if there’s a big tactical disadvantage to making your robots wait for slow-moving human brains to order them to fire, then the logic of the prisoner’s dilemma forces both sides to go autonomous. No less a figure than the Pentagon’s top buyer, Frank Kendall, has publicly worried that, by insisting on human control, the US will suffer a self-inflicted disadvantage against less scrupulous foes.

Carter and his deputy secretary, offset architect Bob Work, advocate “human-machine teaming,” a symbiotic approach in which humans provide insight, objectives, and guidance to the computers that carry out their orders. It’s essentially analogous to how commanders lead their human subordinates today, Carter argued. The subordinate, be it man or machine, acts on its own knowledge but within the tactical, legal, and ethical bounds set by its superiors.

“Whether it’s a subordinate command, a manned aircraft, or an autonomous system, when you send it to use force, you want it to use the information on site to have the best effect,” Carter said, “(but) you set things up (in advance), give orders and instructions such that everything that is done, is done in a way that is compatible with the laws of armed conflict… as well as American military doctrine.”

Many important military missions don’t involve the use of lethal force, Carter added, and those are the first fields we’ll see autonomous decision-making anyway. Missile defense often comes up in this context, since allocating different weapons — interceptors, lasers, jammers — to incoming missiles requires making technical judgments at several times the speed of sound. Today, Carter emphasized cyber and electronic warfare, the manipulation of digital information moving over a network (cyber) and/or through the electromagnetic spectrum (EW). (The two fields overlap in the case of wireless networks).

“People tend to want to think of autonomous systems for the use of lethal force,” Carter said, “but their most likely applications in the near-term and mid-term are for such tasks as scanning networks for vulnerabilities, scanning incoming traffic, and doing the kind of work that a cyber defense analyst needs to do today by hand.” Artificial intelligence could handle the microsecond-by-microsecond spread of a computer virus or the lock-on of an enemy targeting radar better than could slower-moving human brains.

Giving an AI control of cyber defenses or radar jammers doesn’t give it the capability to kill anyone — at least not directly. But in a modern military, protecting networks, both wired and wireless, is still a matter of life and death. While we won’t yet be trusting robots to have their finger on the trigger, we’ll still be trusting them with our troops’ lives.

 

The Air Force is employing ‘two-ship’ approach to RPA operations

http://www.c4isrnet.com/articles/the-air-force-is-employing-two-ship-approach-to-rpa-operations?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

By: Mark Pomerleau, September 15, 2016 (Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/Air Force)

 

The Air Force is using a two-ship approach to operations with its unmanned aircraft, described as a lead aircraft accompanied by a second, each providing the other mutual support.

“So typically right now as MQ-9s [Reapers] are tasked – and MQ-1s [Predators] – it’s one airplane to achieve one mission. What we’ve found out at…weapons school is that you can have twice the effect sometimes twice as fast with two airplanes,” Lt Col Landon, chief of MQ-1 and MQ-9 operations in the persistent attack and reconnaissance division at Air Combat Command, told C4SIRNET in a recent interview. For security reasons, we refer to him by only his rank and first name.

Expanding on this concept, Landon said “it would be like an F-16 – you have a lead, you have a number two – they operate two-ship operations for mutual support of one another and then in the MQ-9-MQ-1 world we’ve taken that mutual support construct and changed it to or have grown it to achieve effects on the battlefield faster, whether those are kinetic or non-kinetic effects.”

First devised at the weapons school, the tactic is one of the new concepts being gamed at the annual Red Flag exercise that takes place at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, said Landon. The purpose is to get folks ready for combat missions in a realistic combat training environment involving a bevy of manned aircraft integrating with unmanned aircraft.

“I think that people will not be aware of the fact that the MQ-9 can operate as a two-ship and it is happening in limited amounts in combat,” he said. “We’re finding in some places that one aircraft is not enough to meet the requirements. In some situations we’ll have two airplanes tasked to the same area on similar missions. And that’s when we take…sensors being like [ Multi-Spectral Targeting System] or the synthetic aperture radar…to mass those for an effect or…mass weapons for an effect.”

 

Red Flag is a good venue to demonstrate and execute this ability of operating two Reapers in the same area, he explained. “In combat,” he continued, “we find that at times we are in a position to operate either in a formation or as two independent aircraft come together to execute the mission and we find that we are more successful with multiple sensors and multiple weapons to achieve whatever effect it is that we’re trying to chase after.”

These two-ship operations involve two separate combat air patrols, or CAPs. A CAP typically consists of four aircraft and enable the force to rotate aircraft into the sky for constant monitoring of a particular area. The Air Force currently operates 60 CAPs daily, but the Pentagon announced plans last year to increase the overall CAPs to 90 by 2019, with the following breakdown; the Air Force will remain at 60 (given the high demand its work force face, increasing its CAPs is not feasible), the Army will contribute between 10 and 20 per day, Special Operations Command will contribute 10 per day and contractors will contribute 10 CAPs strictly providing ISR sorties, not strike, which is against the laws of war.

Providing a brief vignette of how this comes together during operations, Landon said aircraft are “tasked to operate in the same area on the same mission and then as airmen we determine to best meet the desired effect, we have a faster way of doing that and that would typically be through a two-ship, but two combat air patrols coming together to operate as one.”

The force is “pushing the bounds of tactics,” he added, with Reapers and Predators executing as two-ships, which is not how the service has operated in the past.

During Red Flag, remotely piloted aircraft such as the MQ-1 and MQ-9 don’t participate in ISR, but rather combat missions. They work with manned assets to practice and game “the kinetic side of the operation,” Landon said, conducting close air support, flight coordination reconnaissance and combat search and rescue, for example. These exercise help the force determine how to deconflict the air space with all these various assets in close air support missions, for instance, he said.

A recent focus of Red Flag has been on the contested, degraded and operationally limited environment, he said. As peer competitors continue to field more advanced capabilities such as radar, signal jamming equipment that can interrupt the satellite communications signal necessary to pilot RPA, or anti-aircraft batteries, which taken to together are referred to as anti-access/area denial, slow moving RPAs can be susceptible to being shot down and even rendered ineffective. These systems excelled in the permissive air environments against technologically inferior insurgent groups conducting counterterrorism and high-value individual targeting operations.

During a luncheon keynote last year, then- assistant deputy chief of Staff, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Maj. Gen. Linda Urrutia-Varhall, noted that Russia and China are advancing their capabilities in this space creating A2/AD environments while 80 percent of airmen entered the force after 9/11, meaning all they know is the counterterrorism fight. While Urrutia-Varhall, now the director of operations at NGA, said the Air Force won’t walk away from counterterrorism, it must adjust to new threats as the intense high-value terrorist target mission contributed to a neglect in other capabilities and mission sets.

It is still unclear how the Air Force seeks to adapt these platforms for these environments. In many cases, the force is still working on it with concepts such as the third offset strategy. “I think we’re still sort of learning — how do you take the advantages that you’ve achieved in this network, in the permissive [environment of southwest Asia], and sort of be able to take it into the non-permissive?” said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Newell, the Air Force’s director of strategy, concepts and assessments and deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements. “I’m not sure that I have great answers for you other than we see the value of it, we see that it is forever a part of how our Air Force operates, and I think you’re going to see that us [exploiting] the advantages of a persistent ISR network and [applying] it to an A2/AD environment will be a challenge for us that will continue.”

 

Likely, future operating concepts will involve a combination of aircraft – manned and unmanned to include small devices designed to swarm and overwhelm enemy radar or anti-aircraft. Landon did not provide specifics regarding new concepts the force intends to employ in this complex space, but did, however offer “right now in [Operation Inherent Resolve] we are operating in a contested environment. A very complex environment as you know from what we’re seeing in the news with the diplomatic efforts of the Russians…the fact is that yes there is value and we are applying these lessons learned in the current combat environment.”

He added that Red Flag allows the force to educate airmen about multiple aircraft and capabilities to prepare them for combat.

 

 

Hyten Nominated as Next STRATCOM Head

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/hyten-nominated-as-next-stratcom-head?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

By: Aaron Mehta, September 9, 2016 (Photo Credit: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/DoD)

WASHINGTON — Gen. John Hyten, the current head of US Air Force Space Command, has been nominated as the next leader of US Strategic Command.

Hyten will replace Adm. Cecil Haney. It is unclear if Haney will move to another role or retire.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called Hyten, who took over Space Command in August 2014, “a model for generations of men and women in uniform.”

“Gen. Hyten is the perfect choice to lead this critical command in the years to come, as the men and women of STRATCOM carry out missions essential to our national defense – including sustaining nuclear deterrence through a safe, secure, and effective triad, helping defend our networks and deter malicious actors in cyberspace, and preparing for the possibility of a conflict that extends into space,” Carter said in the statement.

Hyten’s nomination had been widely expected following Wednesday’s announcement by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James that he would be replaced at Space Command by Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hyten will have his hands full at STRATCOM. The Pentagon is facing down a series of major nuclear modernization programs, all of which are starting in the next several years. Keeping those programs on track – and vitally, given their impact on the overall Pentagon budget, from going over cost – will be a major challenge as Hyten moves forward.

He also will have to deal with the threat of a modernizing nuclear force in Russia, as well as potential nuclear risks from North Korea, which this week successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test.

 

 

Strategic Capabilities Office Preparing for New Programs, Next Administration

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/strategic-capabilities-office-preparing-for-new-programs-next-administration?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By: Aaron Mehta, September 9, 2016

WASHINGTON — When US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter unveiled his 2017 budget plan in a February speech, he also pulled the curtain back on a secretive, only-whispered-about office located in the same building as the Pentagon’s mad-science office DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Suddenly out in the light, the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and its director, William Roper, began a process of reaching out both to the public and industry to begin gathering ideas and proposals for new technologies that can help the Pentagon with its near-term requirements.

Now, as the Pentagon is formulating its 2018 budget proposal, Roper is preparing to make a decision on what programs he wants to move forward with in the coming year.

“August is our busiest month because it’s really the time you have to decide out of all the ideas you’ve been working on, what is still the front-runner, and which ones have picked up baggage along the way,” Roper said. “This is sort of the final round of what ideas go forward or not. … The next couple of weeks will determine what we do for the next few years”

Although they share some DNA, the SCO’s mission is different from that of DARPA. Whereas the latter is focused on finding and prototyping the game-changing technologies for the future fight, the SCO is trying to understand current, existent needs and address them in new ways.

The most public example of an SCO project is the Standard Missile 6, which Roper’s office helped turn from a defensive weapon into a ship-killing one. It’s about taking current capabilities that exist and finding new ways to utilize them.

Ben FitzGerald, an analyst with the Center for a New American Security, said that while the SCO is technology-focused, it is better to think of Roper’s team as a strategy office instead of an acquisition hub.

“It’s interesting to me the role that SCO is playing conceptually in the Pentagon now, which to me has all the hallmarks of the Office of Net Assessment in prior eras,” FitzGerald said. “You have a small team with a highly empowered guy-with-the-answers in charge of it. We don’t know exactly what they’re doing, but it gives us hope, and, to the extent our adversaries know about it, gives them pause. I think that is the role the SCO is playing more than any other organization in the Department of Defense right now.”

Roper himself acknowledged that role, saying: “For us to really help industry, we have to be very good strategists and analysts here.”

“It’s too much to ask a great engineer to also be a good strategist,” Roper added. “The resident expertise is always going to be with the person who made it. We’re going to be working with great engineers, and what we can give to them is the context for which it will be used.”

That concept ties into how the SCO is working with industry and developing ideas forward.

When Roper first sat down with reporters in May, he said he was looking forward to hearing more from industry now that his office was more public. That included a Broad Area Announcement on a government contracting website actively soliciting information on new programs and ideas from both the defense industry and non-traditional suppliers.

The office has seen a lot of ideas as a result, Roper said, but noted that companies initially were coming to him with traditional pitches geared toward hitting a requirement — a piece of technology that would fit a specific mission set.

 

Roper said that’s not what he wants to see. Instead, he wants to know about a piece of technology, learn what it can and can’t do, and then guide industry toward a mission set or need that the SCO, and its partners in the military services, feel they need to fill.

“We have been sorting through the submissions and will be ready to make some decisions on them soon, but they are decisions that will be made in the SCO context — a piece of technology applied to the mission we think it’s most useful for,” Roper said.

Roper added that the office does the same internally with the Pentagon, operating a “Match.mil” to create cross-service connections among people who are working on similar technologies.

 

New Administration

It is widely expected that Carter will be replaced by the next president when they take office in January. Even if Carter is asked to stay on for the near-term, however, there is no guarantee a new administration will look at the SCO’s budget and not decide it could be better spent elsewhere.

Asked whether he was concerned about the future of his office, Roper expressed cautious optimism.

“It’ll be interesting to see. I would like to think, and I do think it’s true, that we have now become a strategic partner for the services,” he said. “I would think if an administration came in and they were thinking about whether something was valuable or not, the first thing [they] would want to know is: If it wasn’t here, who would be upset? And if no one is upset then you have a good case to say: ‘Why is it here?’ ”

Which is why the fact the SCO has managed to get programs up and running in conjunction with the services is important — not just because of the technology itself but because it creates what Roper hopes is support among the services for his office. That SCO is willing to use its budget to get programs up to the point of operational testing, which means services do not have to spend their own research and development funds on these programs at the riskiest stage of their development.

FitzGerald compares the SCO to the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) office, which got off to a slow start in its first year and was turned into a direct report to Carter in order to jump-start its programs.

“The SCO has benefited from a longer ramp-up period than the DIUx has had, so it has successes it can make its case off of,” FitzGerald said. But, he noted, the mission sets are different for the two organizations.

“DIUx isn’t there to build things. They are there to connect interesting tech companies with important defense problems, whereas SCO is trying to fuse operational concept, war fighting need, new technologies, and get that into the services,” FitzGerald said. “They are very different organizations with different missions and different factors for success.”

 

Firefighting foam under fire for link to water contamination, injuries

Foam caused shutdown of drinking wells at Wright-Patterson and will no longer be used at the base. Defense Department has launched a nationwide investigation.

 

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/firefighting-foam-linked-to-water-contamination-in/nsWg3/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By Barrie Barber – Staff Writer 3

Posted: 6:54 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016

 

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A fire suppressant foam linked to the shutdown of two drinking water wells at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base injured a firefighter during a training incident and the Defense Department has launched an investigation to determine how widespread the problem is across the nation.

The firefighter, Michael R. Strouse, was injured when piping inside a fire cab ruptured and shot the chemical at high pressure into his eyes, he said.

“My face was chemically burned and my eyes were really blood shot and they were sore,” Strouse said in an interview with this newspaper. “Then the next day I was actually taken off the job.”

Strouse, 38, a veteran firefighter for more than a decade at Wright-Patterson, was reassigned to administrative duties. But his condition gradually worsened, he said. He’s now been off work for more than three months.

The injury to Strouse comes as concerns over aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, have soared in recent years.

AFFF has been used in training by the military since the 1970s and is considered more effective than water to extinguish petroleum-based fires.

But it is suspected of causing groundwater contamination – not just here but in communities near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where some drinking wells were shut down this year.

The Defense Department has launched an investigation to determine how widespread the problem is at hundreds of military bases. A preliminary list is expected by early next year, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James B. Brindle said.

The wells in Colorado had levels of perfluorinated compounds found in AFFF that exceed U.S. EPA levels – in one case 20 times the threshold, according to media reports. At issue are the compounds in AFFF known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA), which some researchers suggest have been linked to cancer and other health ailments.

At Wright-Patterson the Air Force says the old foam will be incinerated and replaced with an environmentally safer foam as part of an Air Force-wide $29 million effort to rid bases worldwide of the potentially carcinogenic compound. The replacement foam is free of PFOS and has little to no PFOA, according to the military.

The drinking water at Wright-Patterson is now safe to drink, according to base officials.

The Air Force says AFFF will no longer be used in training exercises. If used on an emergency basis it will be treated as a hazardous material, according to the Air Force.

The old foam was sprayed for more than two decades in exercises at Wright-Patterson, according to base spokeswoman Marie Vanover.

“There is approximately 14,000 gallons of AFFF in the inventory and we will ensure it is disposed of in a proper and safe manner,” she said in an email.

However, the union that represents Wright-Patt firefighters, concerned about its members’ exposure to the chemical, balked at the base’s initial plan to use firefighters to remove the foam from trucks and storage.

 

‘Unnecessary exposure’

Wright-Patterson firefighters’ concerns arose when Strouse was injured on the job.

Steven McKee, secretary/treasurer with the International Association of Firefighters Local F88, said the union had expected to “fervently battle” initial plans to use firefighters to remove it from trucks and storage.

“Obviously, handling it is an issue,” said McKee, also a firefighter.

Base officials have since said they would use contractors for the foam cleanup at a cost of $4,000. Wright-Patt has more than 75 firefighters and about 15 fire trucks.

“It’s unnecessary exposure for us,” said Brian L. Grubb, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local F-88, which represents Wright-Patterson firefighters.

The issue of who will remove AFFF is under contention at other Air Force Materiel Command bases in Georgia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and California, union leaders say. The IAFF says it asked to negotiate the removal at those bases but was rebuffed by senior Air Force leaders who said refilling AFFF was a long-standing firefighter responsibility.

“We’re concerned about any exposures, especially if we have another catastrophic failure” in a fire truck, said Roy Colbrunn, an IAFF district field service representative and former Wright-Patterson firefighter. The process would require firefighters to drain and rinse trucks three times.

“This is a hazardous material we feel should be remediated by a specialized trained workforce, not the firefighters,” he said.

AFMC spokesman Derek Kaufman said each base has the authority to make its own decision on the issue. Historically, firefighters have refilled AFFF in trucks and equipment, he said in an email.

Firefighters are trained to handle AFFF and many are certified hazardous materials technicians “trained and paid to handle the most hazardous chemicals the Air Force deals with,” Kaufman wrote.

He said the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine evaluated the health risk and concluded the process of draining, rising and refilling AFFF “presented a low health risk to the workers, who only require limited personal protective clothing.”

 

Wright-Patt complaint filed

Strouse and the two firefighters in the truck cab with him last October have shown “elevated levels” of perfluorinated chemicals in their blood since the incident, Grubb wrote in a complaint to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control.

A full NIOSH investigation on the union complaint could take a year. The agency sent investigators to Wright-Patterson within the past two weeks.

“What I hope will come from it will be changes in the way the Air Force investigates accidents,” Grubb said.

In preliminary recommendations released Friday, NIOSH investigators told Wright-Patterson that firefighting employees should wear protective clothing and equipment, such as a face shield and closed toe shoes, when transferring AFFF; flush exposed skin with large amounts of water; and update operating procedures on safe work practices and protective equipment.

The three-decade-old fire truck Strouse was injured in was pulled out of service Sept. 1 immediately after the NIOSH inspectors visit and fire chiefs removed the foam out of the vehicle, Grubb said.

 

Vanover said a safety investigation into the cause of the incident that led to Strouse’s injury was inconclusive. “There is no history that the truck had any maintenance issues,” she said in a statement.

 

Drinking well shutdown

The city of Dayton quietly shut down seven water production wells at Huffman Dam near the boundary of the base fence line in June in what a city environmental manager called a “precautionary measure,” but the city says it has not detected the suspected compounds in the production wells or the water distribution system that serves 400,000 customers. The wells remain closed.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency extended emergency orders for 90 days shutting down the two water production wells in Area A at Wright-Patterson where water contamination was first detected and required monthly sampling.

Wright-Patterson and other military bases aren’t alone. Highly fluorinated chemicals have contaminated drinking water supplies of more than 6 million Americans, at military bases, airports, and industrial sites, according to estimates of researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere.

In July, the Air Force announced plans to spend $4.3 million to treat wells in Colorado communities near Peterson Air Force Base “at which preliminary indications are that the service may be a potentially responsible party for the PFOA/PFOS contamination,” Air Force Civil Engineer Center spokesman Mark D. Kinkade said in a statement to this newspaper.

 

Health risks

Studies have linked highly fluorinated chemicals with kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disruption, lower birth weight and size, liver malfunction and hormone changes, according to the independent, non-profit Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

But a Centers for Disease Control spokesperson said “more research is needed to confirm or rule out possible links between health effects of potential concern and exposure” to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The substances are found in many products, from pizza boxes to cell phones, researchers say.

Some, but not all studies have shown certain PFAS may increase the risk of cancer, cholesterol, and impact growth, learning and behavior in children and fetuses, decrease fertility and adversely affect the immune system, according to CDC spokesperson Taka L. Allende.

The CDC is in the midst of a study on the potential health impact of “exposure to these compounds from contaminated drinking water,” Allende said in an email.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowered the lifetime exposure guidelines for humans to 70 parts per trillion, which prompted the shut down in May of two drinking wells at Wright-Patterson and a drinking water advisory – since lifted — for pregnant women and infants.

 

EPA emergency orders extended

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler extended emergency orders for 90 days in late August to shut down the two drinking water wells in Area A and required Wright-Patterson officials to sample wells monthly to detect potential contamination.

 

“While none of the production wells are currently above the health advisory level the elevated presence of PFOA/PFOS requires continued monitoring to ensure that drinking water above the health advisory level is not put into distribution,” Butler said in an Aug. 23 directive to base commander Col. Bradley W. McDonald.

The Ohio EPA pressed Wright-Patterson officials to expand a groundwater monitoring network to fill in “data gaps” to determine where a plume of contamination could head. Wright-Patterson plans to add 50 groundwater monitoring wells in coming weeks and, for the first time, sample the Mad River to find how far contamination has spread.

The Air Force expects to investigate nearly 200 active duty, Air National Guard and closed bases where the foam may have been sprayed. The foam was used widely in training exercises in the military since the 1970s.

In a statement, a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. military “is committed to working closely with regulators, communities, and other stakeholders to protect human health and take action so that DoD continues to provide safe drinking water to its servicemen and their families.”

 

No federal enforceable standards

Cincinnati attorney Robert Bilott said he contacted the U.S. EPA in 2001 to tell the agency of the health threats the compounds posed in drinking water. He said he learned of the risks while involved in litigation against chemical manufacturer DuPont in West Virginia.

“There is still no federal enforceable standard for these chemicals in drinking water,” he said.

U.S. EPA set threshold guidelines — but not enforceable standards — in May 2016, he added.

He questioned if any threshold level was safe.

“This chemical will build up in human blood when you’re exposed to even the tiniest amounts over time,” he said.

When contacted for a response, an agency spokeswoman said U.S. EPA’s review into the potential risks associated with PFOA began in the 1990s.

An environmental researcher said the “regrettable substitutes” to replace AFFF are “equally persistent and can be more difficult to filter out of drinking water.”

“There are non-fluorinated firefighting foams that should be considered for use instead,” Arlene Blum, a study co-author and executive director of the independent, non-profit Green Sciences Policy Institute in Berkley, Calif., said in an email.

 

Firefighter speaks out

Strouse said he wants to spread the message of what happened to him to avoid it happening to another firefighter.

Since the incident, his eyes burn painfully frequently, leaving him unable to drive, he said.

“I no longer drive a car anymore,” said Strouse, who once drove fire trucks. “My wife carts me around.”

Inside and outdoors, he wears sunglasses to shield his eyes from light.

Doctors diagnosed him with dry eye disease, and rosacea, a skin inflammation condition, and pingueculae, or small yellow bumps on his eyes, he said and medical documents show.

 

A physician’s evaluation showed Strouse experienced exposure to AFFF to his eyes, ears and mucus membranes. The health record also said lab tests showed the “core chemicals contained in AFFF were elevated within his serum.”

A July 2016 medical report, signed by a doctor, said Strouse was “unable to perform the duties of the job” because of his medical condition.

Three months prior to the incident, Strouse said he passed a job-related health exam “with flying colors.”

A medical doctor has not conclusively linked the health issues to the exposure to foam, but medical authorities have tied the health problems to the incident in the fire truck cab, Strouse said.

“Basically, what happened was when the chemical shot in my eyes … it damaged the ability of my eyes to tear and keep lubricated,” he said.

Strouse’s wife, Terri, has watched his health worsen.

“I’m very angry about this,” she said. “This could have been avoided.”

“I just wish his quality of life could be better instead of always suffering,” she said.

 

 

Collapse in Defense R&D Spending Hits Contractors Hard

By Sandra I. Erwin

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=7c996cd7-cbb4-4018-baf8-8825eada7aa2&ID=2294&RootFolder=/blog/Lists/Posts&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-13-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

One key source of revenue for the defense industry — research and development contracts — appears to be in free fall. Analysts see a collapse in Pentagon R&D contracts as bad news for all defense contractors but especially for the largest firms that historically have dominated this sector.

Government cutbacks imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act and a simultaneous decline in war spending collectively have ravaged defense research-and-development programs and have resulted in a steep drop in R&D contracts awarded to private firms, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

CSIS analysts Andrew Hunter, Greg Sanders, Jesse Ellman and Kaitlyn Johnson drew their research from federal procurement data. The study sheds new light on the massive impact that the military spending drawdown is having on the defense industry. Defense R&D contract obligations peaked at $47.5 billion in 2009 and dropped to $22.4 billion in 2015. The numbers in the study are in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars.

The timing of the automatic cuts set by the BCA coincided with a decline in war spending, and the combined effect was “quite profound,” Hunter said Sept. 12 during a meeting with reporters.

Overall defense spending since the 2009 peak is down 28 percent, and contract spending has fallen by 35 percent. By comparison, R&D contracts have plunged by 53 percent, the CSIS report estimated.

 

“And we may not have seen the bottom,” says Ellman. Just between 2014 and 2015, defense R&D contracts fell by 17 percent, compared to overall DoD contracts that declined by just 5 percent. The implication is that pressure to cut spending should continue to fall disproportionately on R&D contracts, he notes. “I’d be hesitant to say this is the floor.”

There is no one single program cut that explains this, he says. “It’s a continued broad-based decline in R&D contracting activity. It slowed a bit in 2014 but accelerated in 2015.”

Almost everything across the defense R&D enterprise is being cut, although some programs more than others, and contractors are bearing the brunt of the reductions, says Hunter. One of the study’s most staggering findings, he says, is that the Pentagon is gutting the R&D accounts that pay for “system development and demonstration.” The SDD funds are expended in the latter stages of a newly designed weapon system before it goes into low-rate production.

“There is a six-year trough in the development pipeline for major weapon systems,” he says. Big-ticket programs that were in development in the 2000s have either been terminated or transitioned to production.

“What you don’t see is anything coming in to replace them. Typically when you see a major program going to production you see another going into the heavy development phase, something that will come along to fill the gap,” says Hunter. “What we found is that nothing came in to fill the gap.”

This “trough” is not a complete absence of R&D funding but “it is a decided minimum compared to historical levels,” he says. SDD has plummeted by over 70 percent. The Pentagon is protecting “basic research” budgets that fund projects in the earliest stages of R&D, he says. “The really massive reductions have been in the later stages of R&D.”

Among the Pentagon’s major weapon-development shops, the Missile Defense Agency has slashed R&D contract spending the most, about 68 percent. In 2015 alone, R&D contracts by MDA are down 58 percent, Hunter says. “This doesn’t look like a one-year anomaly, but more like a fundamental change in what they are doing.”

The Army more so than the Navy or the Air Force has made a deliberate choice to “move away from SDD of any meaningful kind,” says Hunter. This trend is indicative of the Army having put much of its equipment modernization on hold. “It is a choice to buy things that are in production,” he says. The Army is now doing that with its trucks and helicopters.

One reason for abandoning SDD investments is the great deal of uncertainty about what the Army’s future missions will be, and what will be required for those missions, Ellman adds. “For the foreseeable future the trough is likely to continue in the Army. They haven’t been able to pin down what their next generation of vehicles will be.”

Hunter says the Army’s modernization budgets overall are “down catastrophically” by more than 60 percent. The trends seen over previous decades have been turned upside down, he notes. In past military drawdowns the Army would take a “procurement holiday” but preserve R&D funds, “so when the money comes back, they have something to buy in the pipeline that had been developed.” Now, if a major conflict erupted and the Army needed new equipment, it would probably buy what it had before, he says. “There’s not much out there that’s new.”

The current state of play in R&D spending is likely to cause major disruptions in the defense industrial base, the CSIS study indicates. The deep cuts to SDD spending are particularly alarming for the Pentagon’s top five contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. The Big 5 are holding their market share overall but are dramatically losing market share in R&D contracts, Hunter says. “There is a massive disinvestment from the traditional defense contracting R&D enterprise that has been there for many decades.”

 

The Big 5 had a 50 percent market share in 2000, which peaked at 60 percent in 2006, and is now down to 33 percent. At the same time, the size of the pie has shrunk dramatically. “They’re getting half the share they used to get of a pie that is half as big,” Hunter says.

“This was a surprising finding,” he adds. “We’re not crying big tears for the Big 5 but we think this is notable in terms of what’s happening in the industrial base.” While the large firms lost share, more small and primarily medium size business have grabbed more work. “We see a move away in the R&D space from the Big 5.”

For nontraditional companies looking to get into the defense sector, the budget trends are “terrible,” Hunter says, “but the market access looks pretty good.” It is a reasonable conclusion to draw from the data that the dominance of traditional heritage companies is in peril even if fewer new competitors are interested in entering the defense market.

The conventional wisdom that big companies with large programs — with supposedly strong political support — are immune from cuts is completely disproven by the contracting numbers, says Hunter. “The theory that everything is tied to campaign contributions, that there is an inelasticity in procurement because of the political influence of big contractors: We didn’t see that in our data.”

The system is “less entrenched than it appears,” he says. “The notion that you can’t beat the Big 5, that they have so much political influence that they’re going to knock everyone out of the way is essentially the opposite of what we see.”

Ellman points out that in 2008, 1,100 vendors a year were coming into the defense market. By 2013, the number fell to about 400 a year. Small “up and coming” vendors are especially discouraged by the defense R&D market. The dollars going to small vendors are down by 75 percent since 2009. The companies disproportionately affected by this are those that are “too big to be categorized as a small business and too small to be big.”

One of the consequences of fewer companies playing in the R&D sector is the lack of competitive contracting. One-bid contracts have increased, Ellman says. In 2015, 17 percent of overall R&D contracts put out for competition only received one bid, which is double the rate of overall DoD contracts. The decline of new entrants is especially seen in “small, growing vendors on the verge of moving to the medium realm.”

Another way to view the R&D contracting trends is in the context of larger shifts taking place in the defense market. One is that the Defense Department is slashing spending on contractors overall, from 54 to 46 percent over the past five years. “That has a significant impact on industry,” Hunter says.

Another headwind for contractors are political forces that are slowing down and stalling big-ticket military procurements. Both within the Defense Department and Congress, there is an unprecedented “degree of difficulty in generating support for major defense acquisition programs,” says Hunter. The only programs that appear to be moving forward are nuclear modernization systems like the Air Force’s long-range bomber and the Navy’s new nuclear-missile submarine. Many other programs that are not being championed at the highest levels of power, meanwhile, “don’t seem to be getting through the system.”

 

US Unprepared for Space War

—Wilson Brissett

9/12/2016

http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Pages/2016/September%202016/September%2012%202016/US-Unprepared-for-Space-War.aspx?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-13-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

​The key mission for the US space program is to fight war, but because much of US space infrastructure was developed in an era “when space was considered a benign environment, little thought was given to system protection or defense,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting Friday in Washington, D.C. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event, Whiting said as a result the US is unprepared to protect and defend its space assets. “Today the US space enterprise is not resilient enough to successfully prosecute or even survive a high-end conflict that extends into space,” Whiting said. Calling US space programs “absolutely foundational and indelible to the American way of war,” Whiting discussed a plan that would “provide the United States with space capabilities that can help deter a war from extending into space and to ensure that we prevail” if one ever does. Central to that vision would be the move from a technology replacement model focused on “functional availability”—or the lifecycle and maintenance of a satellite—to one of “resilience capacity,” where decisions are made based upon the ability of systems to defend themselves from potential attack.

 

 

Amid growing U.S. cybersecurity threat, a critical lack of trained experts

 

By Alex Kreilein    

September 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/09/24/amid-growing-u-s-cybersecurity-threat-a-critical-lack-of-trained-experts/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%209.26.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

Months have passed since the FBI took aim at encryption in the case of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Once the dust settled, our country began to take a different look at the dangers of unprotected data.

A series of incidents has revealed alarming vulnerabilities in our digital defenses. In the worst of these, we’ve seen a foreign power seek to influence our presidential election through the breach of voter registration databases in Illinois and Arizona, and the theft of sensitive information from national party headquarters. These pose a grave threat to our democracy.

Forty-four years ago, our country suffered through turmoil after a similar break-in at the Democratic National Committee’ headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Now we face the humiliation of revisiting the same crime, but this time perpetrated online by foreign state actors seeking to undermine public confidence in our elections.

We clearly need to bolster our defenses to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. Companies across the nation must also protect themselves from attackers that exploit security weaknesses. These challenges can only be met by first addressing the critical shortage of cybersecurity experts.

 

Watching the FBI stumble through the encryption debate opened our eyes to the severity of this shortage. Most of the agency’s struggles could have been avoided with personnel trained in the right forensics procedures. Focusing instead on requiring companies to compromise encryption security indicated that a different type of expertise was needed.

The FBI isn’t alone. Breaches at hospitals, retailers and in our own government have shown the dangers of ignoring this threat. Accordingly, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed, particularly since people with these skills are in very short supply.

In 2010, a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found the United States had only 1,000 high-level cybersecurity professionals when 30,000 were needed. Today there are more than 120,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions — a figure greater than the number currently employed. Twelve thousand openings are in Colorado.

High salaries are offered to lure these experts. The national average exceeds $93,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in Denver that figure is $98,590. Unfortunately, generous compensation hasn’t come close to attracting the number of applicants needed.

The problem is that our schools aren’t providing necessary education. Only one in eight high schools teach AP computer science. Few universities offer cybersecurity coursework and many graduates face difficulty transitioning into this workforce.

Some companies scramble to plug staffing holes with offshore contractors. That won’t work for critical infrastructure jobs requiring security clearance for which only American citizens qualify.

Our government’s battle against encryption technology was a distraction from more pressing challenges. Instead of fighting U.S. companies in the courtroom, we should be developing talent in the classroom to fight cyber attacks from abroad.

Colorado has taken the lead in this area. Our state has established the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs, and the Denver area has emerged as a hub for cybersecurity companies. Specialized training facilities have been a key factor in this growth.

The steps we are taking locally offer promise for the future, but the global stakes are immense. Russia-based attackers have already shut down Estonia’s banking system and Ukraine’s electrical grid.

While these events were temporary disruptions, they may have been the proving ground for much larger attacks. Future wars will be waged first in cyberspace where key infrastructure is disabled to aid kinetic, on-the-ground assaults.

The recent cyberattacks against our country demonstrate the grave danger posed by hostile foreign powers. Our country has the ability to combat these threats, but we must allocate resources where urgently needed. Prioritizing skills education — from grade school to job retraining — is essential to build the cybersecurity defenses we need. Only through investment in these capabilities can we be prepared to meet the challenges before us.

Alex Kreilein is co-founder and chief technology officer of SecureSet, a Denver-based accelerator and cybersecurity academy.

 

 

DHS Audit: Over 800 Potentially Ineligible Immigrants Granted US Citizenship    

By: Amanda Vicinanzo, Online Managing Editor

09/21/2016 (10:45am)

http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/daily-news-analysis/single-article/dhs-audit-over-800-potentially-ineligible-immigrants-granted-us-citizenship/c9a55e117c204d8497814e73bf962124.html

 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted US citizenship to more than 800 individuals with deportation orders after their fingerprint records could not be located, according to an audit released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The federal watchdog’s report revealed that not all paper-based fingerprint records were uploaded and digitized when DHS transitioned to a digital fingerprint repository, the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). In fact, IDENT is missing 148,000 digitized fingerprint records of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives.

Although Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), one of DHS’s predecessor agencies, created IDENT in 1994, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators only began consistently uploading fingerprints into the repository around 2010.

It is USCIS policy to deny naturalization to any applicant who has received a final deportation order and there are no other circumstances to provide eligibility. By granting citizenship to these individuals, they are eligible to serve in law enforcement, obtain a security clearance, and sponsor other aliens intending to enter the United States.

“Because IDENT does not include 148,000 digitized fingerprint records of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives, USCIS adjudicators may continue in the future to review and grant applications without full knowledge of applicants’ immigration and criminal histories,” the report stated.

Furthermore, DHS’s digital fingerprint repository is capable of exchanging information with the FBI’s repository. However, the FBI’s database is incomplete because not all paper-based fingerprint records were sent to the FBI.

“As long as the older fingerprint records have not been digitized and included in the repositories, USCIS risks making naturalization decisions without complete information and, as a result, naturalizing more individuals who may be ineligible for citizenship or who may be trying to obtain US citizenship fraudulently,” the report stated.

DHS concurred with the Inspector General’s recommendation to upload and digitize all remaining fingerprint cards and establish a plan for evaluating the eligibility of each naturalized citizen whose fingerprint records reveal deportation orders under a different identity.

 

 

Gary Johnson: My Foreign Policy Vision


Show me an America with less debt, greater economic strength, and robust trade relationships across the globe, and I will show you a safer, more secure, America.

Gary Johnson

October 7, 2016

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/gary-johnson-my-foreign-policy-vision-17974?page=3&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.10.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

 

I recently delivered a major foreign address at the University of Chicago, in which I highlighted the need for a departure from our foreign policy adventurism—and the need to demonstrate American strength through economic trade and through diplomacy.

Although President Obama ran for office in 2008 on a promise to get America out of Middle Eastern wars, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his administration continued a series of policies of regime changes, particularly in Syria and Libya.

First, let’s be absolutely clear. The president’s first and most solemn responsibility is to keep us and our freedoms safe, especially from foreign attack. If the government does nothing else, it must do that.

Keeping us safe means having a military capability that is unquestionably second to none. Ronald Reagan was onto something when he spoke of “peace through strength,” and even in our most severe budgetary constraints, we have the resources to maintain the greatest defense on the planet.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot reduce military spending. In fact, we must.

Where the debate comes into play is what we expect our military to do. The best word to describe my approach to military interventions abroad is that I am a skeptic. As president, I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm’s way. I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests. I will be the skeptic in the room.

And there is good reason for skepticism. Just look at the past fifteen years. I supported going into Afghanistan after 9/11 to deal with Al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts. We were attacked, and we attacked back. But seven months after we sent our troops to Afghanistan, Al Qaeda had scattered to the winds and the Taliban had been removed from power. Al Qaeda was gone, but we stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. We’re still there.

We’ve been on every side of the conflicts in Afghanistan that have defied resolution for generations. You all are too young to remember, but there was a time when we were fighting on the same side as Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets, who learned the hard way the futility of engaging in Afghanistan’s tribal wars and politics.

Although the oft-claimed idea that we actually armed and supported bin Laden has never been documented, we were, however, arming and supporting those on the same side as him in the resistance.

We accomplished our mission in Afghanistan, and we should have stopped there. Today, too many lives and too many dollars later, the Taliban is returning to Afghanistan. And if we were to mount another surge, remove them, and stay there another fifteen years, the same thing would happen as soon as we left—unless and until Afghanistan takes its own destiny into its own hands.

Likewise, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify an instance where our military interventions and regime changes in the past fifteen years have improved the lives of anyone. Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. No question about it. But are the Iraqi people better off today because we decided to take him out? Are we safer here in America? No.

In fact, let’s not forget that, as bad as he was, Saddam was the roadblock standing in the way of Iran’s rise as a real threat to the rest of the region. Removing him freed Iran to pursue its ambitions and turn its attentions elsewhere. An unintended consequence, for sure. But a real one we must admit, and which should have been anticipated.

And let us also not forget that, prior to our invasion of Iraq, Turkey was a strong and reliable NATO ally in the region. But that relationship went south in a big way when we invaded Iraq, an action Turkey opposed for its own reasons. Today, as we deal with ISIS and Syria, we wish we had the old Turkey and our strong alliance with them back.

As for Iraq itself, well, it is obviously a tragic mess. Saddam was horrible, but is what we replaced him with any better?

Libya. Same song, different verse. We used our military to help overthrow Qaddafi. Again, a bad guy and, by most standards, a war criminal. But what took his place? Did we have a plan? Did we consider the potential consequences, with which we are living today?

I could go on, but the lesson is clear. Is it our fault that chaos has consumed nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, or that violent extremists have found homes in the wake of our interventions? No. It isn’t our fault alone. We had good intentions, but we intervened with no clear vision of the outcomes, and frankly, with no clear vision as to the overall U.S. interest, which should be the guiding principle.

I’m a chess player. Making a move without looking ahead to your opponent’s moves or even what your own next move might be usually doesn’t turn out well in the end. Our foreign policy, or lack of it, over the past fifteen years, has been a series of erratic chess moves, and the match isn’t going well.

We need a chess player in the White House. More important, we need a policy guided by principle, not politics.

The first and overriding principle is that our foreign policy and military actions must support clear U.S. interests. That seems obvious, but in recent years, it has not been the case. Our interests are our lives, our property and our freedom. They are not necessarily a desire to shape the world in our own image or to pick winners and losers in civil wars on the other side of the globe.

The second principle is that we must expect and demand that other nations shoulder the responsibility for their own defense and economic well-being. We are broke. We cannot any longer subsidize the national defense and economies of other nations. Yes, we will honor our commitments to NATO and other agreements, but other countries around the world have grown too dependent upon U.S. military power.

The U.S. military exists, first and foremost, to defend the United States and U.S. vital interests. If our actions sometimes help others, that is a useful byproduct. But it shouldn’t be confused with the U.S. military’s—and the U.S. government’s—core mission. Instead, we should expect other countries to defend themselves and their interests. If they did so, they would have greater capabilities for dealing with local problems before they become global ones. We should want more countries who share our values to be acting to defend those values, not paying us to do it for them.

Today, U.S. military spending accounts for roughly one-third of total military spending of the entire world, exceeding the combined total of the next seven largest military budgets including those of Russia and China. Here at home, military spending accounts for almost half of all discretionary federal spending.

U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab for far too many others around the world, and we simply cannot afford it.

Third, we must not ask our military to engage in conflicts without a clear mission and clear authorization. In Afghanistan and Iraq, what were our objectives. When could we possibly know when “mission accomplished” arrived? In 1991, when President George H. W. Bush ordered our troops to push Saddam and the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, with the support of a broad coalition, they had a clear objective, achieved that objective in a matter of weeks, and the president resisted the temptation to push on into Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein.

Many second-guessed that decision, but it was a clear objective, a clear mission, and had a firm conclusion. That is what our military deserves, and what they expect. Our last two presidents have not provided that certainty to either our military or to the American people. Rather, we have engaged in conflicts with no clue as to the outcome or the “end game.” Lives have been lost, hundreds of billions spent, and vacuums created that have made the world more dangerous.

As for authorization, whatever happened to the constitutional notion that Congress should declare wars? The interventions that have cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars over the past fifteen years have been conducted on the basis of authorizations passed by Congress in the aftermath of 9/11. Congress has since allowed the president to conduct “executive wars” while avoiding their responsibility to place a check—or an approval—on those wars. Yes, they have continued to fund them, but as far as casting the tough votes to drop bombs or deploy our young men and women, Congress has been AWOL.

We need to honor the War Powers Act and force both Congress and the president to only engage in war with a clear authorization from both the Executive and Legislative Branches. As president, I will honor the War Powers Act, without hiding behind dubious legal opinions from my own lawyers.

If we adopt and follow these basic principles, the politically sensitive idea of reducing military spending becomes realistic. We must balance the federal budget, and it is fallacy to believe we can do so without being smarter and more focused in our military spending. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission has regularly concluded that we have excess capacity in military bases of more than 20 percent. We have tens of thousands of troops stationed in places like Japan and Europe—for what purpose? We have weapons systems the military doesn’t even want, and yes, we are subsidizing the national defense of too many other nations with our own troops, equipment and deployments.

With defined missions, a focus on defense rather than intervention, regime change and nation-building, we can gain significant military savings while, in fact, better securing our safety here at home.

I often say we must “rule the world with diplomacy and free trade.” That isn’t just a slogan. What is missing from our foreign policy is the idea that we must operate from a position of economic and, therefore, diplomatic strength. Right now, we are wringing our hands because Russia and China are imposing their wills across the globe, and we appear powerless to influence their decisions or ambitions.

That would not be the case if those nations—and others—had no choice but to be concerned about the economic and diplomatic ramifications of their actions. Conversely, our strongest and most valuable alliances are not with nations who are dependent upon our military, but rather with those nations who are dependent upon our goods, services, markets and trade.

We are foolish if we believe that we can continue to be the world’s premier superpower if we do not put our financial house in order. The Soviet Union ultimately crumbled because it bankrupted itself with flawed economic policies and overextensions of its military. No one conquered them; they crumbled from within.

Likewise, it is absurd to believe, in a global economy, that we can somehow restore our economic strength and competitiveness by building walls, both physical and financial, between ourselves and competitors—as some would have us do.

Show me an America with less debt, greater economic strength, and robust trade relationships across the globe, and I will show you a safer, more secure, America.

 

Finally, we cannot talk about foreign policy and national defense without discussing ISIS and other extremists who have done us harm, and will do so again. Terrorism and the threat from extremists are real. But our approach to those threats must be real as well.

The notion that we will someday celebrate V-I Day, Victory over ISIS, is both naive and misleading. It won’t happen. What must, and I believe, will, happen is that we focus our resources on isolating the extremists, containing them, and starving them of the funds and support they must have to mount large-scale attacks. Tens of thousands of boots on the ground won’t do it. Dropping bombs on the other side of the globe won’t do it. And pretending that some military-style Global War on Terror will bring about a clear victory is not realistic.

Protecting American lives, freedom and property from extremists here and abroad will be a continuing process combining law enforcement, gaining greater cooperation from other nations, military action where clearly appropriate and effective, and many other efforts.

We may never know if and when we have won a “War on Terror.” It simply isn’t that kind of threat, and we need to deal with that reality. And we certainly won’t win that war with a foreign policy that continues to contribute to chaos and vacuums of power across the globe.

Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson), the former two-term Governor of New Mexico, is the Libertarian Party nominee for president. His running mate is Bill Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts. Learn more at http://JohnsonWeld.com.

 

Intelligence Analyst: Russian Cyberattacks Could Roil US Elections

October 13, 2016 8:44 PM

Cindy Saine

http://www.voanews.com/a/intelligence-analyst-russian-cyber-attacks-could-roil-elections/3550243.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2010.14.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WHITE HOUSE — 

Malcolm Nance is extremely worried about what might happen as U.S. votes are tallied on Nov. 8, election night.

A career U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence official with 33 years of experience, Nance said he had overwhelming evidence that Russia is seeking to interfere in U.S. elections to put “not just a finger, but their whole hand” on the scale to help Republican nominee Donald Trump and hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Nance said a number of private companies had traced cyberattacks exposing potentially damaging Democratic Party emails and voicemails back to cyber “fingerprints” clearly identified in the past as those of Russian state hackers. He said the same fingerprints were found in what turned out to be Russian hacking of power plants in Ukraine and of the German parliament.

Nance outlined his evidence in a book published this week, The Plot to Hack America.

 

Interference to date

Last Friday, the Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence put out a joint statement formally accusing Russia of hacking into the computers of U.S. political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, and orchestrating the release of the contents in conjunction with WikiLeaks.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the accusations, saying interfering in the U.S. election would not be in Russia’s interest. Putin said U.S. authorities should pay more attention to the content of the emails, instead of who had taken and exposed them.

Trump has also repeatedly questioned why Clinton and others say that Russia is behind the attacks, and he has expressed admiration for Putin as a strong leader. Trump campaign surrogates say Clinton is simply trying to distract from the contents of the emails.

Current Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into his emails was part of a broader investigation into Russian cyberattacks. Podesta claimed longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone had “advance knowledge” of the leaks. Stone has admitted he is in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

 

Florida system

U.S. federal investigators believe Russian hackers are also behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida’s election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters.

Nance said Russian military intelligence also attempted cyberattacks on voter databases in Illinois and Arizona. Illinois officials said data on about 90,000 people might have been breached, while Arizona officials said they saw no indication that hackers had succeeded in accessing data in their systems.

Several states across the country have reported scans of their computer systems, which is often a precursor to a breach.

Nance told VOA he was not worried that Russian agents would attempt to hack into individual voting machines. What he fears is cyber mischief at a state level that could discredit the results.

“It’s far easier to create mayhem and chaos on Election Day by, at the end of the day, going to a state which is controversial, like Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump has said he expects the state to be stolen,” he said.

All it would take is hacking into the computer on which the state calculates its results, and “removing some digits from one column and then putting them in another column and then moving them back 5 minutes later so that people know it’s a hack, all right?” Nance said.

 

‘It would create chaos’

What would that do? “It would create chaos in the entire electoral process, and it would give one side the ability to claim that the election has been invalid and should be done again,” he said, “and that could literally create a constitutional crisis in the United States, if not civil disobedience and violence.”

Nance rejected assertions that he was accusing Russia of supporting Trump for political reasons.

“This is not a partisan issue. Someone — a foreign intelligence agency at the bequest of a former director of the KGB [the main security agency for the former Soviet Union] — is attempting to hijack the American electoral system for the first time in 240 years,” he said.

Brookings Institution foreign policy expert Thomas Wright told VOA he didn’t know about the technicalities of cyberattacks, but he did say Trump and Putin have similar worldviews, since Trump opposes NATO and other U.S. military alliances in Europe and Asia and has long expressed respect for authoritarian figures.

He said the hacking allegations had shined a light on the vulnerabilities of the U.S. electoral process.

 

What would a CYBERCOM-NSA split mean?

http://www.c4isrnet.com/articles/battlefield-of-the-future-identities

 

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 10, 2016 (Photo Credit: Stock; Illustration by Jennifer Milbrett/Staff)

This is Part I of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command.

 

Much has been made over the discussions surrounding a potential separation of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. Such a determination would involve severing the “dual-hat” leadership of these organizations, which share the same chief, as well as raise questions of what CYBERCOM standing up as its own independent organization might look like.

Since its creation in 2009, the command has been co-located with the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland, sharing personnel, tactics, tools and a director. Officials have long lauded the rich partnership both organizations share, especially the NSA’s history in the signals intelligence business.

During recent congressional testimony, when pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a vehement opponent to splitting these organizations, NSA Director and CYBERCOM Commander Adm. Mike Rogers agreed that maintaining the dual hat currently is in the best national security interest of the country. Rogers has, however, expressed that the two organizations will likely have to split eventually.

“I’ve been very public about saying I believe in the long run the right thing is to keep these two aligned, but to separate them. As Cyber Command, particularly, gains more capacity and more capability, the demand on Cyber Command’s time, resources and capabilities just continue to grow,” Rogers said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington in September. “I just think you need two people full time focused on this, but even as we do that, you’re going need to keep these closely aligned.”

In practical and operational terms, what would a split mean?

Both organizations, while often times conducting similar activity, are defined under different statutory terms. CYBERCOM, as a military organization under the chain of command of the secretary of defense, falls under Title 10 of the United States Code. The NSA, on the other hand, as an intelligence organization falls under the scope of Title 50, though it does perform Title 10 duties from time to time. These legal distinctions trigger certain roles and responsibilities for the organizations that govern them.

“Cyberspace operations as a Title 10 operations is a military operation, not an intelligence operation,” Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general of Army Cyber Command, said. “So it’s very important and we go through a lot of training and we have our operational lawyers very much with us on everything. … You have to understand under what authorities are you conducting what operation, and we work that very carefully.”

Retired Gen. Jennifer Napper, who served as the director of policy, plans and partnerships for CYBERCOM, said intelligence is key for any operation, cyber or otherwise.

“I think it’s important to understand that in any operation you want to have as much and as good intelligence as you can. And we have built out our intelligence forces over the years, whether you’re talking about surveillance or anything else, to go look and find and fix the enemy,” she told C4ISRNET in an August interview. “We need to be able to do the same thing in cyber and the guys that understand that part of the intelligence world are sigint because they do go out and do great intelligence work for our country using their capabilities across the signals intelligence. I think it’s very important that they stay close so that any operation is properly informed by the intelligence apparatus.”

 

Pontius also lauded the strong relationship NSA and CYBERCOM share in the signals intelligence space.

“There is a close working relationship between signals intelligence and cyber. One can inform the other, but also the other informs the other,” he said. “There’s things that we very much could see from a cyberspace operations point of view that could say: Here’s something we need to look at from a signals intelligence point of view. Or we may have indications and warnings from signals intelligence that says: We believe adversaries are thinking about pursuing this kind of thing against our networks or our systems — you need to look in this area.”

A fully separate CYBERCOM would have to rely solely on its own personnel, tools and infrastructure.

The close relationship with NSA was logical at the beginning in standing up a brand new organization with similar, yet separate mission sets and skills. However, the similarities have presented the potential to blur these intelligence and war fighting lines — or Title 10 and Title 50.

In addition to the head of CYBERCOM and NSA being dual-hatted, many employees of each also share this designation. A former NSA worker, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity, explained that many individuals in this dual-hat role conduct intelligence work for the NSA and once they discover an entry point into a network, they can “flip their hat” and create cyber effects for CYBERCOM.

This issue — balancing the equities between the spying and effects — is at the heart of the Title 10 and Title 50 debate, the former NSA worker said. The NSA will find the path inside to exploit the target, but the effects generated as well as the planning and executing will be conducted within CYBERCOM’s Title 10 authorities.

The dual-hat aspect should be viewed as vector versus payload, the former NSA worker said. Title 50 for cyberwarfare will always be used to find the vector and find the target, but the payload might be different as opposed to a spying payload. Title 10 will want a physical payload, the source added.

The dual-hatting of individuals is not necessarily unusual, according to a former government official who dealt with many national security issues, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity. The dual-hatting of staff members made sense when first standing up CYBERCOM given budget constraints, the former national security official said, noting that the notion of dual-hatting has been around for a long time and is common at other agencies within the military and the intelligence community such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. NSA as a support organization will often times execute Title 10 authorities, according to the former government official.

The nature of cyberspace operations pairs very close to the signint and hacking capabilities fostered among a competent NSA workforce, making it a great parent organization to help stand up a new military command focused on cyber operations. However, the skills involved in this space are very specialized and might not suit the military based upon the way its training architecture is set up. More on this in Part II.

 

 

 

What would an independent Cyber Command look like?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 11, 2016

 

This is Part II of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

Top decision-makers in the government continue to debate the merits of splitting the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. If this divorce occurs, what would an independent CYBERCOM look like?

 

A very particular set of skills

One of the important issues surrounding the debate are skills and resources. The personnel at NSA have benefited from more than 50 years of expertise in signals intelligence collection and operation, making the marriage with CYBERCOM an attractive option.

“There are some things that our force needs in the way of technical skills that are similar to NSA,” Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, deputy commander of CYBERCOM, said Sep. 20 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “If we can use their training, we use it. We pay money to NSA, they provide those types of courses. If they have specific enabling capabilities, the capacity to build things that we would use, we have the ability to request that support.”

However, these skills take a long time to learn and develop, and some don’t believe the current military architecture suits fostering these technical proficiencies.

A former NSA worker, who spoke to C4ISRNET on background, believes the current framework is not serving the intelligence community — the NSA — or CYBERCOM as well. The skills necessary for the intelligence and technical know-how involved in cyber operations is far more intensive than what the current military billets and rotations allow for, the source said.

Military analysts typically are trained in a particular skill set and are sent to a duty station, which usually lasts for about three years. When looking at cybersecurity and warfare, one must train analysis in normal mechanisms of intelligence and technical tradecraft of cyberwarfare, the former NSA worker added, noting that it is difficult to train someone to a high level of ability in three years.

The NSA benefits from the civilian cadre of workers that don’t have to worry about cycling out, which, from a military and CYBERCOM perspective, means there is no continuity of operations, the source explained. There would have to be a change in authorities or the way people are billeted if the military wants to stand up CYBERCOM on its own to conduct the types of operations more independently than they currently are, relying on NSA’s personnel and tool sets.

Part of the issue is that only men and women in uniform are allowed to conduct and generate effects under the constructs and laws of war.

“Remember the law of armed conflict, it specifically prescribes what civilians and uniforms can do,” Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of CYBERCOM and director of the NSA, said during recent testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in September, responding to a question regarding the value of forming an elite, civilian-based cyber group in contrast to losing military personnel for failing to meet fitness tests. Rogers said this would depend on the mission given to this entity because there are some things in the law of armed conflict that civilians can’t do. Rather, service members in uniform must perform certain tasks related to “application of force and capability” in this regard, he said.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, told C4ISRNET noted the issue of a scarcity of skill sets, such as hacking or cyber exploit reservoirs, should the organizations go their separate ways. If this scarcity exists on either side, it might be necessary to have the same set of individuals on a single target, he said, noting the dual-hat role — or what he termed as “toggling” between CYBERCOM and NSA roles.

 

This toggling between the Title 10 — defense and war fighting authorities under the law — and Title 50 — covert and intelligence authorities — engenders an entirely new set of problems if the organizations split. Deconfliction could become an issue if done improperly, meaning CYBERCOM forces could interrupt or even disrupt collection and espionage activity being conducted by the NSA.

The nature of cyberspace makes this issue appear trickier, as many cyber weapons are dual use, meaning the tool used to penetrate a network can also be used to cause effects.

State Department Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter told Congress in May that while he does not know what a cyber weapon is, he looks at a tool’s intended effects.

“I think researchers will tell you they use malware … to try to protect our systems,” he added, highlighting how complicated the cyberspace arena can be.

This dual use is exactly why it might make sense to continue the current course with CYBERCOM and NSA’s relationship, according to a former government official who dealt with numerous national security issues and spoke to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity. Those that are gaining access to networks are often the ones that can deploy the effect, meaning they are also best postured to brief commanders and others as opposed to having two separate organizations doing each, which can cause a competition in the way of resources and personnel, the former official said.

One CYBERCOM official recently said that the command is looking to develop “loud” cyber tools that can be attributed to the Department of Defense.

“In the intelligence community, you never want to be caught, you want be low and slow, you never really want to be attributed. There’s a different paradigm from where you are at in the intelligence community,” CYBERCOM Executive Director Shawn Turskey said. “But there’s another space over here, where maybe you definitely want to be louder, where attribution is important to you and you actually want the adversary to know.”

The reason for this being that joint force commanders might want their goals or objectives to be known in order to convey a message, according to an official at CYBERCOM who spoke to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity.

In addition to independent reliance on its own workforce with the requisite cyber skills, the command will also need its own independent resources and infrastructure. As CYBERCOM generates capacity and capability — it reached full operational capability in 2010, and its Cyber Mission Force is nearing initial operational capabilty at the end of September with full operational capability planned for the end of 2018 — it will make more sense to separate.

Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, deputy commander of CYBERCOM, explained that as the command grows, so will its independent military — or Title 10 — capabilities.

“As we grow, the department has a very conscious plan to build more independent, called Title 10, DoD capacities we promote because there is a need to have some independent military capabilities in this area,” he said. “Over time our dependency and interaction I think with NSA … you’ll see that move more to the rear. And I think you’ll see the National Security Agency, as we mature, just become a combat support agency in support of our joint command like they already support other combatant commands around the world.”

In terms of the specific Title 10 capabilities, the command could be looking to increase, McLaughlin told C4ISRNET. These might include bolstering the readiness and experience of the force, an independent training range and material capability “to defend networks at scale, and it’s the material capability that would empower the cyber force,” he said.

 

He specified this is not at the expense of Title 50 capabilities because “our requirements go up there to DoD process to get a requirement validated and funded.”

“Our respective responsibilities are not such that one grows while the other diminishes,” CYBERCOM spokesman Col. Daniel J.W. King told C4ISRNET in an email. “We have separate mission sets and capabilities, but our missions and capabilities are mutually supportive and that would not change in an elevation scenario.  U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are and will remain strong partners.”

King added that NSA and CYBERCOM are “distinctly different in mission, responsibilities, authorities, and organizational alignment. NSA provides unique technical intelligence support for USCYBERCOM’s cyber mission force teams. USCYBERCOM provides information that NSA can integrate with other intelligence in fulfilling their mission.”

The last two NSA directors, Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander — the latter of who was CYBERCOM’s first commander — declined to comment for this article.

 

Highlighting Title 10 capabilities

Separating CYBERCOM and the NSA could make CYBERCOM a Title 10, military war fighting organization, setting it up for greater successes in the future. Frank Cilluffo, associate vice president and director at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, has proposed a model similar to Joint Special Operations Command in the cyber domain. JSOC is the hyper-elite force subunified of Special Operations Command responsible for such feats as the Osama bin Laden raid.

“A Cyber JSOC … would gather the crucial players, then weigh their inputs and whatever competing interests and concerns may be in play. Just as JSOC draws upon CIA assets and input for kinetic purposes, so Cyber JSOC would use NSA assets and input to achieve U.S. cyber ends and goals,” Cilluffo wrote in an April op-ed.

“Best known for its manhunting operations, JSOC synchronizes and integrates military and intelligence components to learn and strike quickly,” his op-ed read. “In Iraq, JSOC’s special operators skillfully executed a ‘decapitation strategy’ against al Qaeda’s leaders, key facilitators and senior operatives. In Afghanistan, they wielded ‘an array of enablers’ such as drones and attack helicopters to accomplish their tasks.”

Such a cyber military organization or construct “integrates war fighting and war planning. … It actually enhances the Title 10 authorities because many would argue that you don’t want to compromise sources, methods and intelligence capabilities to engage in using cyber as a means of response,” he told C4ISRNET in a recent interview. “Right now I don’t think there’s visibility across … the community that steals secrets for a living. … I think the role that cyber is playing in conflict and war fighting is so great today that the Title 10 implications are becoming more, if not, are more significant” than Title 50.

“I actually feel we’ve got to … peel off CYBERCOM from NSA,” he said. “If you fight, you fight to win. So does that mean we might be losing some of our intel capability? Maybe.” But, he said, this might create a need to enhance the war fighting capability.

 

What’s next?

The former government official, who spoke to C4ISRNET on background, said a fully independent CYBERCOM would likely look similar to what it does now, though an independent CYBERCOM would likely rely on its own infrastructure as opposed to that of the NSA.

 

A fully separate CYBERCOM would be able to pull together other intelligence agency information — as it provides support to the military when needed — and would be focused more on top-line targets, according to the former NSA worker who also spoke to C4ISRNET on background. If CYBERCOM were not tied to NSA’s priorities, it would be more flexible in doing what is necessary from a cyber-effects standpoint as opposed to what it currently does in supporting the NSA and being involved in cyber contingency planning.

The former NSA worker said the fight against the Islamic State group is a good example of the lack of flexibility. The counter-ISIS effort has received criticism that it hasn’t been fully effective in its effort because the command was stood up to fight a more sophisticated, nation-state adversary as opposed to a militant group with sometimes unorthodox capability sets.

CYBERCOM needs to stand on its own and build its own infrastructure, the source continued, noting that CYBERCOM might die if it fully separates from the NSA. The NSA can support the command, the source added, but CYBERCOM should not be wholly reliant on the agency.

NSA’s marriage is too close to CYBERCOM, the source said, citing the lack of flexibility as a war fighting organization and reliance on NSA capabilities, as the military billeting process, for which roles and assignments can change frequently, does not fall in line with the technical training need in cyberspace.

While a fully independent CYBERCOM would need to rely on its own personnel, resources and infrastructure, a fully independent NSA could focus on being more of a support arm to the military and national security agencies.

 

 

Does NSA support of CYBERCOM blur lines?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 12, 2016

This is Part III of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

The Title 10 versus Title 50 debate has long surrounded the way intelligence and covert activity is conducted in accordance with the law. A key issue surrounding intelligence and war fighting efforts is the blurring of lines clearly identified in statutes. For example, intelligence organizations are barred from spying domestically on American citizens.

As the discussions of a potential split between the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command continue to swirl, what would an empty-nested NSA, freed from its child organization, CYBERCOM, look like?

Title 10 of the United States Code outlines authorities for the military and war fighting, while Title 50 stipulates the authorities of intelligence community organizations such as the NSA.

In some instances, lines involving military intelligence collection or operations can be easy to blur to the common observer. A former NSA worker told C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity that some NSA personnel became uncomfortable with the militarization of their activity, as the agency is supposed to be independent and equally serve all branches in military and combatant commands. Integrating CYBERCOM distorts this in a way that subverts the mission and doesn’t do favors for CYBERCOM, the source added.

Operation Neptune Spear, the operation to kill Osama bin Laden conducted by members of the now-famed SEAL Team 6, exemplifies the shifting roles within these authorities. While conducted by the military, the operation fell under the command of the CIA and was conducted as a covert operation, allowing plausible deniability by the United States if things went wrong.

The ex-NSA worker described the Special Operations Command relationship with the CIA as a parallel here, adding that the key difference is the CIA is not integrating with these forces like the NSA and CYBERCOM; SOCOM is not wholly dependent on CIA to conduct its mission, whereas CYBERCOM is wholly dependent on the NSA.

Moreover, the source was sure to stress the fact that intelligence serves all the military; it is not integrated together in an operational sense. The NSA, as an intelligence organization, serves both cyber and non-cyber missions for military forces on a global scale, though CYBERCOM has, to some degree, become the NSA’s operational arm, the source contended.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, pointed out to C4ISRNET that there is nothing in existing law that says CYBERCOM could not conduct a Title 50 operation. In fact, the president can make specific designations to that degree triggering specific covert action authorities, he said.

Chesney added that the Defense Intelligence Agency often times will conduct covert action, and if the president wants to designate a military organization to conduct activity as to not be acknowledged officially by the U.S. government not related to an armed conflict, this mirrors covert action.

A former government official who dealt with many national security issues, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity, emphasized that just because an organization — including Title 10 forces — doesn’t operate openly, it does not mean they are conducting covert action. Militaries have always engaged in deceptive behavior, the source said, adding the Title 10 versus Title 50 debate has persisted for decades and government lawyers will continue to wrestle with it.

Similar questions arose with the advent of air power, the former government official said.

When it comes to current cyber operations, however, retired Gen. Jennifer Napper, formerly of CYBERCOM, does not think there is the potential for the blurring of lines. Providing an example in the physical world to justify her position, she said in the fight against the Islamic State group, Title 10 forces are allowed to use UAVs for surveillance.

“The same thing needs to be done in cyber where the Title 10 forces can use the tools that are given to them for their intelligence gathering,” she said. “Remember the large organizations like the NSA are designed for national security so there are national security issues — that’s not a tactical appliance or application.”

The debate between these statuary and operational constructs will continue into the future as new concepts and technologies are developed.

With the continued debate surrounding a CYBERCOM-NSA split, what are the practical prospects of such a decision?

 

What are U.S. officials saying about a potential NSA-CYBERCOM split?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 13, 2016 (Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP)

This is Part IV of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

A number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are vehemently opposed to severing the dual-hat position between the director of the National Security Agency and commander of US Cyber Command.

 

What are the prospects that the NSA and CYBERCOM will split in the final months of President Barack Obama’s final term?

“Let me be very clear, I do not believe rushing to separate the dual hat in the final months of an administration is appropriate given the very serious challenges we face in cyberspace and the failure of this administration to develop an effective deterrence policy,” Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz., said during a hearing in September. “Therefore, if a decision is prematurely made to separate NSA and Cyber Command I will object to the confirmation of any individual nominated by the president to replace the director of the National Security Agency if that person is not also nominated to be the commander of Cyber Command.”

The Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence are pushing for the split as to reduce the tension regarding use of resources that are currently shared.

While noting that the close partnership and working relationship made sense at the beginning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter conceded during an appearance at a  TechCrunch Disrupt fireside chat in September that “it’s not necessarily going to — the right approach to those missions overall in the long run. And we need to look at that and it’s not just a matter of NSA and CYBERCOM.”

Carter told the audience that there is no timeline for a decision on a split, noting that Congress is also examining this issue. However, Carter told reporters recently that “ultimately, whenever that decision is made, it will be made by the president, because both NSA and CYBERCOM ultimately report to the president. They’re part of the Department of Defense, but that’s a decision that only the president can take.”

Going forward, a full, standalone CYBERCOM separated from NSA might not rest on the Title 10 versus Title 50 legalities, Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, told C4ISRNET, noting there are significant legal complexities that are glossed over within this context. Rather, he said, the issue on whether to separate should rest upon policy equities.

For one, how things are payed for matters. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot more money on two separate organizations if there will be a significant duplication of resources and action, he said. However, on the other hand, it might be necessary to split them to better tend these equities.

Former NSA director, retired Gen. Keith Alexander,  said last year to FCW that in the near future, CYBERCOM will continue to share a leader with the NSA.

“If we separate them, two years later you’re going to put them back together. So don’t waste your time.”

 

Rasmussen Reports

 

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, October 15, 2016

When this mess of a presidential election is finally over, the winner’s going to have to deal with the mess the country’s in. But you sure couldn’t tell it from the current presidential campaign.

Just 30% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction this week, consistent with surveying since early 2013. 
At week’s end, 50% approved of President Obama’s job performance; 49% disapproved.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) are angry at the current policies of the federal government, and 81% are angry at Congress.

Only 27% of Americans believe the United States is safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. That’s up just one point from 26% in June which was the lowest level of confidence measured in 10 years of regular tracking.

Just 32% of voters believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

Sixty percent (60%) of Americans consider themselves middle class, and another 16% say they’re upper-middle class. But 63% of voters say the economy is unfair to the middle class

Seventy-two percent (72%) believe America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago. Sixty percent (60%) think race relations are worse since Obama’s election in 2008.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Americans say crime in their community has increased over the past year. But at the same time voters by a 51% to 36% margin believe there is a war on police in America today. 

Despite these serious concerns, the focus of the presidential campaign this past week was an 11-year-old video in which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made graphic sexual comments about women. Later in the week, there was a flurry of news reports alleging a history of sexual harassment on the billionaire developer’s part.

But, hey, that’s no surprise:  Voters strongly believe the media is more interested in controversy than in the issues when it comes to the presidential race. 

Also, as in previous presidential election cycles, voters think reporters are far more likely to help the Democratic nominee than the Republican candidate. This helps explain why there was a lot less media interest this week in WikiLeaks’ release of internal high-level Democratic Party e-mails showing, among many other things, collusion between top Hillary Clinton campaign officials and journalists at several major news organizations including the New York Times and CNN.

When it comes to the economy, national security and other major issues, voters are lukewarm about Obama’s policies but expect Clinton to continue them. Voters think Trump will change those policies for better or worse.

Clinton held a seven-point lead over Trump on Monday in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch, her biggest ever, following the airing of the video with his graphic remarks. But as voters began responding to Sunday night’s Clinton-Trump debate, her lead dropped to five points on Tuesday and four points on Wednesday. Trump edged ahead on Thursday and was still slightly ahead at week’s end. We’ll see next week what impact the new sex claims have on the race.

Discipline was the word for Sunday night’s second presidential debate. But just 24% of voters say they’ve ever changed the way they were going to vote after watching the debates between presidential candidates.

Clinton has charged that the video shows her Republican rival’s demeaning attitude toward women. But Trump counters that Clinton was an enabler who allowed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to sexually assault women for years. Voters tend to agree with Trump that Bill Clinton’s behavior was worse.

A growing number of Republican officials are asking Trump to drop out of the presidential race because of the video and the other allegations, and one-out-of-four GOP voters think that’s a good idea. Most do not, and Trump supporters overwhelmingly second that emotion.

Most Republican voters still think top GOP leaders are hurting the party with their continuing criticism of Trump and are only slightly more convinced that those leaders want Trump to be president. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans already believed in June that their party leaders didn’t want Trump to win.

Even back then, Trump seemed to be a third-party candidate running against both major parties.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it has confirmed hacking attempts on election systems in more than 20 states and has offered to provide states free testing of their systems before Election Day. While most voters are concerned about their state’s election system being hacked, they think state and local officials will do a better job protecting their vote than the feds will.

Just 24% trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time, and that includes only five percent (5%) who say it does the right thing almost always.

In other surveys last week:

The United States pays more of the United Nations’ bills than any other country – roughly $3 billion a year. Even as the UN chose a new secretary general with a questionable financial past, most U.S. voters say America is not getting a good return on its investment in the international organization.

— What does America think of the U.S. government’s decision to hand control of the internet over to an international consortium?

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Bob Dylan, but as recently as five years ago, the iconic American singer-songwriter of the 1960s was a virtual unknown to more than one-out-of-three adults in this country.

October 15 2016

 


 

 

 

15 October 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

 

US Service Chiefs Lament Budget Squeeze

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-service-chiefs-lament-budget-squeeze?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By: Joe Gould, September 15, 2016 (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Top US military officials told lawmakers Thursday their services have been squeezed by budget instability and spending caps — and that under sequestration cuts, they would not have the resources to defend the country.

The four-star service chiefs testified at a Senate Armed Services hearing on Thursday at Capitol Hill that under fiscal pressure, they have been prioritizing ready units over modernization. The instability, exemplified by the ritual of year-end continuing resolutions, leads to waste, they said.

“Eight years of continuing resolutions, including a year of sequestration, has built additional cost and time into everything we do,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said. “The services are essentially operating in three fiscal quarters a year now. Nobody plans anything important in the first quarter.”

If faced with two major conflicts at once, as outlined by the current military guidance, the US would win, but face high risk, the officials said.

“The only thing more expensive than deterrence is fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is losing a war,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.

The service chiefs affirmed that they are against an option being floated in the House for Congress to pass a long-term continuing resolution, as well as the House-passed defense policy bill’s plan to shift $18 billion in emergency funding for base budget needs.

Lawmakers were largely solicitous, saying the myriad threats the US faces should spur Congress to unshackle the military from the the caps dictated under the 5-year-old Budget Control Act.

“Our preference is stable and long-term funding,” Milley told Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who fired off a leading line of questions on the matter.

SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said that with the Budget Control Act, Congress “lied to the American people” because the law failed to reduce the national debt. The military, he said, is “becoming effectively hollow against great-power competitors.”

 

There are five more years of caps, McCain warned, noting a $100 billion mismatch between budget cap levels and the Pentagon’s five-year defense plan, and $30 billion of base requirements buried in the emergency operations account. By his calculations, the country must come up with $250 billion more for defense to meet its current strategy.

“Put simply, we have no plan to pay for what our Department of Defense is doing right now, even as most of us agree that what we are doing at present is not sufficient for what we really need,” McCain said.

The Army is challenged to sustain its counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions and rebuild its capability against near-peer great power threats. Uncertainty has driven the Army to prioritize readiness in the 2016 defense policy bill, as it will continue to do, over modernization, end strength and infrastructure.

“In other words, we’re mortgaging future readiness for current readiness,” Milley said.

The Army asked for continued support for modernization in key areas, including aviation, command-and-control networks, and integrated air and missile defense.

The Navy faces a “triple whammy,” Richardson said: the high demand of naval platforms and personnel, years of budget uncertainty and the budget levels of the Budget Control Act. The service has largely curtailed modernization as a result.

Continuing resolutions, Richardson said, undermine the trust and confidence suppliers have in the Navy and hinders it from making cost-efficient block buys of parts and supplies.

The Marine Corps this year had its largest unfunded priority list ever, at $2.6 billion. At the same time, “The Marine Corps is as busy as at the height of recent wars,” Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said.

The Marine Corps needs 38 amphibious warships with an availability of 90 percent to support two Marine expeditionary brigades and provide for its forcible entry mission. It will have 34 by 2022 under its long-range ship strategy.

Neller said the right combination would include 12 big-deck amphibious ships, 12 LPD-class vessels, 12 comparable hull forms and two LHA(R) America-class amphibious assault ships, and “others.”

The Air Force bought about 175 fewer fighter aircraft than it did 25 years ago, though it remains committed to its top three conventional acquisition priorities, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A Pegasus and the B-21 long-range bomber, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

The 2017 budget also requests recapitalizing its bomber fleet, including the B-21, replacing the Air-Launched Cruise Missile with the Long Range Standoff Weapon — a program with some Capitol Hill pushback.

The budget instability, Goldfein said, prevents the Air Force from replacing aging airframes, expanding the cost of maintenance exponentially.

The industrial base too suffers when demand is unpredictable, and companies have had to lay off their technical workforces.

“Everything we deal with in terms of unstable budgets, they deal with as well,” Goldfein said.

 

Killer Robots? ‘Never,’ Defense Secretary Carter Says

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. and Colin Clark on September 15, 2016 at 4:00 AM

http://breakingdefense.com/2016/09/killer-robots-never-says-defense-secretary-carter/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

IN FLIGHT TO ANDREWS AFB: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is pushing hard for artificial intelligence — but the US military will “never” unleash truly autonomous killing machines, he pledged today.

“In many cases, and certainly whenever it comes to the application of force, there will never be true autonomy, because there’ll be human beings (in the loop),” Carter told Sydney and fellow reporter John Harper as they flew home to Washington.

Carter’s trip to Austin and San Francisco had been all about outreach to the information technology community. In particular,, he said, “we’re making big investments” in autonomy, which is the centerpiece of Carter’s Third Offset Strategy to retain America’s high-tech edge. But, he emphasized, technology must operate within legal and ethical limits.

This is the issue that Vice Chairman of the Vice Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, calls the Terminator Conundrum. The prestigious Defense Science Board, which recently released its summer study on the issue of autonomy, called for immediate action on the development of autonomous capabilities at the same time that it stressed the need for building verifiable trust in such weapons.

DSB did not state whether weapons should be allowed to kill humans without a human in the loop. But the study authors say that, “when something goes wrong, as it will sooner or later, autonomous systems must allow other machine or human teammates to intervene, correct, or terminate actions in a timely and appropriate manner, ensuring directability. Finally, the machine must be auditable—in other words, be able to preserve and communicate an immutable, comprehensible record of the reasoning behind its decisions and actions after the fact.”

Carter came down on the side of human intervention from the start. “Whatever the mix (of manned and unmanned systems), there’s always going to human judgment and discretion,” Carter said. “That’s both necessary and appropriate.”

But isn’t that unilateral disarmament, I asked, when countries like Russia and China are at least talking about autonomous weapons control? As Army War College professor Andrew Hill and retired colonel Joseph Brecher argued in a recent essay, no one may particularly want a world with independent killer robots, but if there’s a big tactical disadvantage to making your robots wait for slow-moving human brains to order them to fire, then the logic of the prisoner’s dilemma forces both sides to go autonomous. No less a figure than the Pentagon’s top buyer, Frank Kendall, has publicly worried that, by insisting on human control, the US will suffer a self-inflicted disadvantage against less scrupulous foes.

Carter and his deputy secretary, offset architect Bob Work, advocate “human-machine teaming,” a symbiotic approach in which humans provide insight, objectives, and guidance to the computers that carry out their orders. It’s essentially analogous to how commanders lead their human subordinates today, Carter argued. The subordinate, be it man or machine, acts on its own knowledge but within the tactical, legal, and ethical bounds set by its superiors.

“Whether it’s a subordinate command, a manned aircraft, or an autonomous system, when you send it to use force, you want it to use the information on site to have the best effect,” Carter said, “(but) you set things up (in advance), give orders and instructions such that everything that is done, is done in a way that is compatible with the laws of armed conflict… as well as American military doctrine.”

Many important military missions don’t involve the use of lethal force, Carter added, and those are the first fields we’ll see autonomous decision-making anyway. Missile defense often comes up in this context, since allocating different weapons — interceptors, lasers, jammers — to incoming missiles requires making technical judgments at several times the speed of sound. Today, Carter emphasized cyber and electronic warfare, the manipulation of digital information moving over a network (cyber) and/or through the electromagnetic spectrum (EW). (The two fields overlap in the case of wireless networks).

“People tend to want to think of autonomous systems for the use of lethal force,” Carter said, “but their most likely applications in the near-term and mid-term are for such tasks as scanning networks for vulnerabilities, scanning incoming traffic, and doing the kind of work that a cyber defense analyst needs to do today by hand.” Artificial intelligence could handle the microsecond-by-microsecond spread of a computer virus or the lock-on of an enemy targeting radar better than could slower-moving human brains.

Giving an AI control of cyber defenses or radar jammers doesn’t give it the capability to kill anyone — at least not directly. But in a modern military, protecting networks, both wired and wireless, is still a matter of life and death. While we won’t yet be trusting robots to have their finger on the trigger, we’ll still be trusting them with our troops’ lives.

 

The Air Force is employing ‘two-ship’ approach to RPA operations

http://www.c4isrnet.com/articles/the-air-force-is-employing-two-ship-approach-to-rpa-operations?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%209.16.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

By: Mark Pomerleau, September 15, 2016 (Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/Air Force)

 

The Air Force is using a two-ship approach to operations with its unmanned aircraft, described as a lead aircraft accompanied by a second, each providing the other mutual support.

“So typically right now as MQ-9s [Reapers] are tasked – and MQ-1s [Predators] – it’s one airplane to achieve one mission. What we’ve found out at…weapons school is that you can have twice the effect sometimes twice as fast with two airplanes,” Lt Col Landon, chief of MQ-1 and MQ-9 operations in the persistent attack and reconnaissance division at Air Combat Command, told C4SIRNET in a recent interview. For security reasons, we refer to him by only his rank and first name.

Expanding on this concept, Landon said “it would be like an F-16 – you have a lead, you have a number two – they operate two-ship operations for mutual support of one another and then in the MQ-9-MQ-1 world we’ve taken that mutual support construct and changed it to or have grown it to achieve effects on the battlefield faster, whether those are kinetic or non-kinetic effects.”

First devised at the weapons school, the tactic is one of the new concepts being gamed at the annual Red Flag exercise that takes place at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, said Landon. The purpose is to get folks ready for combat missions in a realistic combat training environment involving a bevy of manned aircraft integrating with unmanned aircraft.

“I think that people will not be aware of the fact that the MQ-9 can operate as a two-ship and it is happening in limited amounts in combat,” he said. “We’re finding in some places that one aircraft is not enough to meet the requirements. In some situations we’ll have two airplanes tasked to the same area on similar missions. And that’s when we take…sensors being like [ Multi-Spectral Targeting System] or the synthetic aperture radar…to mass those for an effect or…mass weapons for an effect.”

 

Red Flag is a good venue to demonstrate and execute this ability of operating two Reapers in the same area, he explained. “In combat,” he continued, “we find that at times we are in a position to operate either in a formation or as two independent aircraft come together to execute the mission and we find that we are more successful with multiple sensors and multiple weapons to achieve whatever effect it is that we’re trying to chase after.”

These two-ship operations involve two separate combat air patrols, or CAPs. A CAP typically consists of four aircraft and enable the force to rotate aircraft into the sky for constant monitoring of a particular area. The Air Force currently operates 60 CAPs daily, but the Pentagon announced plans last year to increase the overall CAPs to 90 by 2019, with the following breakdown; the Air Force will remain at 60 (given the high demand its work force face, increasing its CAPs is not feasible), the Army will contribute between 10 and 20 per day, Special Operations Command will contribute 10 per day and contractors will contribute 10 CAPs strictly providing ISR sorties, not strike, which is against the laws of war.

Providing a brief vignette of how this comes together during operations, Landon said aircraft are “tasked to operate in the same area on the same mission and then as airmen we determine to best meet the desired effect, we have a faster way of doing that and that would typically be through a two-ship, but two combat air patrols coming together to operate as one.”

The force is “pushing the bounds of tactics,” he added, with Reapers and Predators executing as two-ships, which is not how the service has operated in the past.

During Red Flag, remotely piloted aircraft such as the MQ-1 and MQ-9 don’t participate in ISR, but rather combat missions. They work with manned assets to practice and game “the kinetic side of the operation,” Landon said, conducting close air support, flight coordination reconnaissance and combat search and rescue, for example. These exercise help the force determine how to deconflict the air space with all these various assets in close air support missions, for instance, he said.

A recent focus of Red Flag has been on the contested, degraded and operationally limited environment, he said. As peer competitors continue to field more advanced capabilities such as radar, signal jamming equipment that can interrupt the satellite communications signal necessary to pilot RPA, or anti-aircraft batteries, which taken to together are referred to as anti-access/area denial, slow moving RPAs can be susceptible to being shot down and even rendered ineffective. These systems excelled in the permissive air environments against technologically inferior insurgent groups conducting counterterrorism and high-value individual targeting operations.

During a luncheon keynote last year, then- assistant deputy chief of Staff, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Maj. Gen. Linda Urrutia-Varhall, noted that Russia and China are advancing their capabilities in this space creating A2/AD environments while 80 percent of airmen entered the force after 9/11, meaning all they know is the counterterrorism fight. While Urrutia-Varhall, now the director of operations at NGA, said the Air Force won’t walk away from counterterrorism, it must adjust to new threats as the intense high-value terrorist target mission contributed to a neglect in other capabilities and mission sets.

It is still unclear how the Air Force seeks to adapt these platforms for these environments. In many cases, the force is still working on it with concepts such as the third offset strategy. “I think we’re still sort of learning — how do you take the advantages that you’ve achieved in this network, in the permissive [environment of southwest Asia], and sort of be able to take it into the non-permissive?” said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Newell, the Air Force’s director of strategy, concepts and assessments and deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements. “I’m not sure that I have great answers for you other than we see the value of it, we see that it is forever a part of how our Air Force operates, and I think you’re going to see that us [exploiting] the advantages of a persistent ISR network and [applying] it to an A2/AD environment will be a challenge for us that will continue.”

 

Likely, future operating concepts will involve a combination of aircraft – manned and unmanned to include small devices designed to swarm and overwhelm enemy radar or anti-aircraft. Landon did not provide specifics regarding new concepts the force intends to employ in this complex space, but did, however offer “right now in [Operation Inherent Resolve] we are operating in a contested environment. A very complex environment as you know from what we’re seeing in the news with the diplomatic efforts of the Russians…the fact is that yes there is value and we are applying these lessons learned in the current combat environment.”

He added that Red Flag allows the force to educate airmen about multiple aircraft and capabilities to prepare them for combat.

 

 

Hyten Nominated as Next STRATCOM Head

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/hyten-nominated-as-next-stratcom-head?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

By: Aaron Mehta, September 9, 2016 (Photo Credit: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/DoD)

WASHINGTON — Gen. John Hyten, the current head of US Air Force Space Command, has been nominated as the next leader of US Strategic Command.

Hyten will replace Adm. Cecil Haney. It is unclear if Haney will move to another role or retire.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called Hyten, who took over Space Command in August 2014, “a model for generations of men and women in uniform.”

“Gen. Hyten is the perfect choice to lead this critical command in the years to come, as the men and women of STRATCOM carry out missions essential to our national defense – including sustaining nuclear deterrence through a safe, secure, and effective triad, helping defend our networks and deter malicious actors in cyberspace, and preparing for the possibility of a conflict that extends into space,” Carter said in the statement.

Hyten’s nomination had been widely expected following Wednesday’s announcement by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James that he would be replaced at Space Command by Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hyten will have his hands full at STRATCOM. The Pentagon is facing down a series of major nuclear modernization programs, all of which are starting in the next several years. Keeping those programs on track – and vitally, given their impact on the overall Pentagon budget, from going over cost – will be a major challenge as Hyten moves forward.

He also will have to deal with the threat of a modernizing nuclear force in Russia, as well as potential nuclear risks from North Korea, which this week successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test.

 

 

Strategic Capabilities Office Preparing for New Programs, Next Administration

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/strategic-capabilities-office-preparing-for-new-programs-next-administration?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By: Aaron Mehta, September 9, 2016

WASHINGTON — When US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter unveiled his 2017 budget plan in a February speech, he also pulled the curtain back on a secretive, only-whispered-about office located in the same building as the Pentagon’s mad-science office DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Suddenly out in the light, the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and its director, William Roper, began a process of reaching out both to the public and industry to begin gathering ideas and proposals for new technologies that can help the Pentagon with its near-term requirements.

Now, as the Pentagon is formulating its 2018 budget proposal, Roper is preparing to make a decision on what programs he wants to move forward with in the coming year.

“August is our busiest month because it’s really the time you have to decide out of all the ideas you’ve been working on, what is still the front-runner, and which ones have picked up baggage along the way,” Roper said. “This is sort of the final round of what ideas go forward or not. … The next couple of weeks will determine what we do for the next few years”

Although they share some DNA, the SCO’s mission is different from that of DARPA. Whereas the latter is focused on finding and prototyping the game-changing technologies for the future fight, the SCO is trying to understand current, existent needs and address them in new ways.

The most public example of an SCO project is the Standard Missile 6, which Roper’s office helped turn from a defensive weapon into a ship-killing one. It’s about taking current capabilities that exist and finding new ways to utilize them.

Ben FitzGerald, an analyst with the Center for a New American Security, said that while the SCO is technology-focused, it is better to think of Roper’s team as a strategy office instead of an acquisition hub.

“It’s interesting to me the role that SCO is playing conceptually in the Pentagon now, which to me has all the hallmarks of the Office of Net Assessment in prior eras,” FitzGerald said. “You have a small team with a highly empowered guy-with-the-answers in charge of it. We don’t know exactly what they’re doing, but it gives us hope, and, to the extent our adversaries know about it, gives them pause. I think that is the role the SCO is playing more than any other organization in the Department of Defense right now.”

Roper himself acknowledged that role, saying: “For us to really help industry, we have to be very good strategists and analysts here.”

“It’s too much to ask a great engineer to also be a good strategist,” Roper added. “The resident expertise is always going to be with the person who made it. We’re going to be working with great engineers, and what we can give to them is the context for which it will be used.”

That concept ties into how the SCO is working with industry and developing ideas forward.

When Roper first sat down with reporters in May, he said he was looking forward to hearing more from industry now that his office was more public. That included a Broad Area Announcement on a government contracting website actively soliciting information on new programs and ideas from both the defense industry and non-traditional suppliers.

The office has seen a lot of ideas as a result, Roper said, but noted that companies initially were coming to him with traditional pitches geared toward hitting a requirement — a piece of technology that would fit a specific mission set.

 

Roper said that’s not what he wants to see. Instead, he wants to know about a piece of technology, learn what it can and can’t do, and then guide industry toward a mission set or need that the SCO, and its partners in the military services, feel they need to fill.

“We have been sorting through the submissions and will be ready to make some decisions on them soon, but they are decisions that will be made in the SCO context — a piece of technology applied to the mission we think it’s most useful for,” Roper said.

Roper added that the office does the same internally with the Pentagon, operating a “Match.mil” to create cross-service connections among people who are working on similar technologies.

 

New Administration

It is widely expected that Carter will be replaced by the next president when they take office in January. Even if Carter is asked to stay on for the near-term, however, there is no guarantee a new administration will look at the SCO’s budget and not decide it could be better spent elsewhere.

Asked whether he was concerned about the future of his office, Roper expressed cautious optimism.

“It’ll be interesting to see. I would like to think, and I do think it’s true, that we have now become a strategic partner for the services,” he said. “I would think if an administration came in and they were thinking about whether something was valuable or not, the first thing [they] would want to know is: If it wasn’t here, who would be upset? And if no one is upset then you have a good case to say: ‘Why is it here?’ ”

Which is why the fact the SCO has managed to get programs up and running in conjunction with the services is important — not just because of the technology itself but because it creates what Roper hopes is support among the services for his office. That SCO is willing to use its budget to get programs up to the point of operational testing, which means services do not have to spend their own research and development funds on these programs at the riskiest stage of their development.

FitzGerald compares the SCO to the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) office, which got off to a slow start in its first year and was turned into a direct report to Carter in order to jump-start its programs.

“The SCO has benefited from a longer ramp-up period than the DIUx has had, so it has successes it can make its case off of,” FitzGerald said. But, he noted, the mission sets are different for the two organizations.

“DIUx isn’t there to build things. They are there to connect interesting tech companies with important defense problems, whereas SCO is trying to fuse operational concept, war fighting need, new technologies, and get that into the services,” FitzGerald said. “They are very different organizations with different missions and different factors for success.”

 

Firefighting foam under fire for link to water contamination, injuries

Foam caused shutdown of drinking wells at Wright-Patterson and will no longer be used at the base. Defense Department has launched a nationwide investigation.

 

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/firefighting-foam-linked-to-water-contamination-in/nsWg3/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-12-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

By Barrie Barber – Staff Writer 3

Posted: 6:54 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016

 

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A fire suppressant foam linked to the shutdown of two drinking water wells at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base injured a firefighter during a training incident and the Defense Department has launched an investigation to determine how widespread the problem is across the nation.

The firefighter, Michael R. Strouse, was injured when piping inside a fire cab ruptured and shot the chemical at high pressure into his eyes, he said.

“My face was chemically burned and my eyes were really blood shot and they were sore,” Strouse said in an interview with this newspaper. “Then the next day I was actually taken off the job.”

Strouse, 38, a veteran firefighter for more than a decade at Wright-Patterson, was reassigned to administrative duties. But his condition gradually worsened, he said. He’s now been off work for more than three months.

The injury to Strouse comes as concerns over aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, have soared in recent years.

AFFF has been used in training by the military since the 1970s and is considered more effective than water to extinguish petroleum-based fires.

But it is suspected of causing groundwater contamination – not just here but in communities near Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where some drinking wells were shut down this year.

The Defense Department has launched an investigation to determine how widespread the problem is at hundreds of military bases. A preliminary list is expected by early next year, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James B. Brindle said.

The wells in Colorado had levels of perfluorinated compounds found in AFFF that exceed U.S. EPA levels – in one case 20 times the threshold, according to media reports. At issue are the compounds in AFFF known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA), which some researchers suggest have been linked to cancer and other health ailments.

At Wright-Patterson the Air Force says the old foam will be incinerated and replaced with an environmentally safer foam as part of an Air Force-wide $29 million effort to rid bases worldwide of the potentially carcinogenic compound. The replacement foam is free of PFOS and has little to no PFOA, according to the military.

The drinking water at Wright-Patterson is now safe to drink, according to base officials.

The Air Force says AFFF will no longer be used in training exercises. If used on an emergency basis it will be treated as a hazardous material, according to the Air Force.

The old foam was sprayed for more than two decades in exercises at Wright-Patterson, according to base spokeswoman Marie Vanover.

“There is approximately 14,000 gallons of AFFF in the inventory and we will ensure it is disposed of in a proper and safe manner,” she said in an email.

However, the union that represents Wright-Patt firefighters, concerned about its members’ exposure to the chemical, balked at the base’s initial plan to use firefighters to remove the foam from trucks and storage.

 

‘Unnecessary exposure’

Wright-Patterson firefighters’ concerns arose when Strouse was injured on the job.

Steven McKee, secretary/treasurer with the International Association of Firefighters Local F88, said the union had expected to “fervently battle” initial plans to use firefighters to remove it from trucks and storage.

“Obviously, handling it is an issue,” said McKee, also a firefighter.

Base officials have since said they would use contractors for the foam cleanup at a cost of $4,000. Wright-Patt has more than 75 firefighters and about 15 fire trucks.

“It’s unnecessary exposure for us,” said Brian L. Grubb, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local F-88, which represents Wright-Patterson firefighters.

The issue of who will remove AFFF is under contention at other Air Force Materiel Command bases in Georgia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and California, union leaders say. The IAFF says it asked to negotiate the removal at those bases but was rebuffed by senior Air Force leaders who said refilling AFFF was a long-standing firefighter responsibility.

“We’re concerned about any exposures, especially if we have another catastrophic failure” in a fire truck, said Roy Colbrunn, an IAFF district field service representative and former Wright-Patterson firefighter. The process would require firefighters to drain and rinse trucks three times.

“This is a hazardous material we feel should be remediated by a specialized trained workforce, not the firefighters,” he said.

AFMC spokesman Derek Kaufman said each base has the authority to make its own decision on the issue. Historically, firefighters have refilled AFFF in trucks and equipment, he said in an email.

Firefighters are trained to handle AFFF and many are certified hazardous materials technicians “trained and paid to handle the most hazardous chemicals the Air Force deals with,” Kaufman wrote.

He said the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine evaluated the health risk and concluded the process of draining, rising and refilling AFFF “presented a low health risk to the workers, who only require limited personal protective clothing.”

 

Wright-Patt complaint filed

Strouse and the two firefighters in the truck cab with him last October have shown “elevated levels” of perfluorinated chemicals in their blood since the incident, Grubb wrote in a complaint to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control.

A full NIOSH investigation on the union complaint could take a year. The agency sent investigators to Wright-Patterson within the past two weeks.

“What I hope will come from it will be changes in the way the Air Force investigates accidents,” Grubb said.

In preliminary recommendations released Friday, NIOSH investigators told Wright-Patterson that firefighting employees should wear protective clothing and equipment, such as a face shield and closed toe shoes, when transferring AFFF; flush exposed skin with large amounts of water; and update operating procedures on safe work practices and protective equipment.

The three-decade-old fire truck Strouse was injured in was pulled out of service Sept. 1 immediately after the NIOSH inspectors visit and fire chiefs removed the foam out of the vehicle, Grubb said.

 

Vanover said a safety investigation into the cause of the incident that led to Strouse’s injury was inconclusive. “There is no history that the truck had any maintenance issues,” she said in a statement.

 

Drinking well shutdown

The city of Dayton quietly shut down seven water production wells at Huffman Dam near the boundary of the base fence line in June in what a city environmental manager called a “precautionary measure,” but the city says it has not detected the suspected compounds in the production wells or the water distribution system that serves 400,000 customers. The wells remain closed.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency extended emergency orders for 90 days shutting down the two water production wells in Area A at Wright-Patterson where water contamination was first detected and required monthly sampling.

Wright-Patterson and other military bases aren’t alone. Highly fluorinated chemicals have contaminated drinking water supplies of more than 6 million Americans, at military bases, airports, and industrial sites, according to estimates of researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere.

In July, the Air Force announced plans to spend $4.3 million to treat wells in Colorado communities near Peterson Air Force Base “at which preliminary indications are that the service may be a potentially responsible party for the PFOA/PFOS contamination,” Air Force Civil Engineer Center spokesman Mark D. Kinkade said in a statement to this newspaper.

 

Health risks

Studies have linked highly fluorinated chemicals with kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disruption, lower birth weight and size, liver malfunction and hormone changes, according to the independent, non-profit Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

But a Centers for Disease Control spokesperson said “more research is needed to confirm or rule out possible links between health effects of potential concern and exposure” to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The substances are found in many products, from pizza boxes to cell phones, researchers say.

Some, but not all studies have shown certain PFAS may increase the risk of cancer, cholesterol, and impact growth, learning and behavior in children and fetuses, decrease fertility and adversely affect the immune system, according to CDC spokesperson Taka L. Allende.

The CDC is in the midst of a study on the potential health impact of “exposure to these compounds from contaminated drinking water,” Allende said in an email.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowered the lifetime exposure guidelines for humans to 70 parts per trillion, which prompted the shut down in May of two drinking wells at Wright-Patterson and a drinking water advisory – since lifted — for pregnant women and infants.

 

EPA emergency orders extended

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler extended emergency orders for 90 days in late August to shut down the two drinking water wells in Area A and required Wright-Patterson officials to sample wells monthly to detect potential contamination.

 

“While none of the production wells are currently above the health advisory level the elevated presence of PFOA/PFOS requires continued monitoring to ensure that drinking water above the health advisory level is not put into distribution,” Butler said in an Aug. 23 directive to base commander Col. Bradley W. McDonald.

The Ohio EPA pressed Wright-Patterson officials to expand a groundwater monitoring network to fill in “data gaps” to determine where a plume of contamination could head. Wright-Patterson plans to add 50 groundwater monitoring wells in coming weeks and, for the first time, sample the Mad River to find how far contamination has spread.

The Air Force expects to investigate nearly 200 active duty, Air National Guard and closed bases where the foam may have been sprayed. The foam was used widely in training exercises in the military since the 1970s.

In a statement, a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. military “is committed to working closely with regulators, communities, and other stakeholders to protect human health and take action so that DoD continues to provide safe drinking water to its servicemen and their families.”

 

No federal enforceable standards

Cincinnati attorney Robert Bilott said he contacted the U.S. EPA in 2001 to tell the agency of the health threats the compounds posed in drinking water. He said he learned of the risks while involved in litigation against chemical manufacturer DuPont in West Virginia.

“There is still no federal enforceable standard for these chemicals in drinking water,” he said.

U.S. EPA set threshold guidelines — but not enforceable standards — in May 2016, he added.

He questioned if any threshold level was safe.

“This chemical will build up in human blood when you’re exposed to even the tiniest amounts over time,” he said.

When contacted for a response, an agency spokeswoman said U.S. EPA’s review into the potential risks associated with PFOA began in the 1990s.

An environmental researcher said the “regrettable substitutes” to replace AFFF are “equally persistent and can be more difficult to filter out of drinking water.”

“There are non-fluorinated firefighting foams that should be considered for use instead,” Arlene Blum, a study co-author and executive director of the independent, non-profit Green Sciences Policy Institute in Berkley, Calif., said in an email.

 

Firefighter speaks out

Strouse said he wants to spread the message of what happened to him to avoid it happening to another firefighter.

Since the incident, his eyes burn painfully frequently, leaving him unable to drive, he said.

“I no longer drive a car anymore,” said Strouse, who once drove fire trucks. “My wife carts me around.”

Inside and outdoors, he wears sunglasses to shield his eyes from light.

Doctors diagnosed him with dry eye disease, and rosacea, a skin inflammation condition, and pingueculae, or small yellow bumps on his eyes, he said and medical documents show.

 

A physician’s evaluation showed Strouse experienced exposure to AFFF to his eyes, ears and mucus membranes. The health record also said lab tests showed the “core chemicals contained in AFFF were elevated within his serum.”

A July 2016 medical report, signed by a doctor, said Strouse was “unable to perform the duties of the job” because of his medical condition.

Three months prior to the incident, Strouse said he passed a job-related health exam “with flying colors.”

A medical doctor has not conclusively linked the health issues to the exposure to foam, but medical authorities have tied the health problems to the incident in the fire truck cab, Strouse said.

“Basically, what happened was when the chemical shot in my eyes … it damaged the ability of my eyes to tear and keep lubricated,” he said.

Strouse’s wife, Terri, has watched his health worsen.

“I’m very angry about this,” she said. “This could have been avoided.”

“I just wish his quality of life could be better instead of always suffering,” she said.

 

 

Collapse in Defense R&D Spending Hits Contractors Hard

By Sandra I. Erwin

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=7c996cd7-cbb4-4018-baf8-8825eada7aa2&ID=2294&RootFolder=/blog/Lists/Posts&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-13-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

One key source of revenue for the defense industry — research and development contracts — appears to be in free fall. Analysts see a collapse in Pentagon R&D contracts as bad news for all defense contractors but especially for the largest firms that historically have dominated this sector.

Government cutbacks imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act and a simultaneous decline in war spending collectively have ravaged defense research-and-development programs and have resulted in a steep drop in R&D contracts awarded to private firms, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

CSIS analysts Andrew Hunter, Greg Sanders, Jesse Ellman and Kaitlyn Johnson drew their research from federal procurement data. The study sheds new light on the massive impact that the military spending drawdown is having on the defense industry. Defense R&D contract obligations peaked at $47.5 billion in 2009 and dropped to $22.4 billion in 2015. The numbers in the study are in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars.

The timing of the automatic cuts set by the BCA coincided with a decline in war spending, and the combined effect was “quite profound,” Hunter said Sept. 12 during a meeting with reporters.

Overall defense spending since the 2009 peak is down 28 percent, and contract spending has fallen by 35 percent. By comparison, R&D contracts have plunged by 53 percent, the CSIS report estimated.

 

“And we may not have seen the bottom,” says Ellman. Just between 2014 and 2015, defense R&D contracts fell by 17 percent, compared to overall DoD contracts that declined by just 5 percent. The implication is that pressure to cut spending should continue to fall disproportionately on R&D contracts, he notes. “I’d be hesitant to say this is the floor.”

There is no one single program cut that explains this, he says. “It’s a continued broad-based decline in R&D contracting activity. It slowed a bit in 2014 but accelerated in 2015.”

Almost everything across the defense R&D enterprise is being cut, although some programs more than others, and contractors are bearing the brunt of the reductions, says Hunter. One of the study’s most staggering findings, he says, is that the Pentagon is gutting the R&D accounts that pay for “system development and demonstration.” The SDD funds are expended in the latter stages of a newly designed weapon system before it goes into low-rate production.

“There is a six-year trough in the development pipeline for major weapon systems,” he says. Big-ticket programs that were in development in the 2000s have either been terminated or transitioned to production.

“What you don’t see is anything coming in to replace them. Typically when you see a major program going to production you see another going into the heavy development phase, something that will come along to fill the gap,” says Hunter. “What we found is that nothing came in to fill the gap.”

This “trough” is not a complete absence of R&D funding but “it is a decided minimum compared to historical levels,” he says. SDD has plummeted by over 70 percent. The Pentagon is protecting “basic research” budgets that fund projects in the earliest stages of R&D, he says. “The really massive reductions have been in the later stages of R&D.”

Among the Pentagon’s major weapon-development shops, the Missile Defense Agency has slashed R&D contract spending the most, about 68 percent. In 2015 alone, R&D contracts by MDA are down 58 percent, Hunter says. “This doesn’t look like a one-year anomaly, but more like a fundamental change in what they are doing.”

The Army more so than the Navy or the Air Force has made a deliberate choice to “move away from SDD of any meaningful kind,” says Hunter. This trend is indicative of the Army having put much of its equipment modernization on hold. “It is a choice to buy things that are in production,” he says. The Army is now doing that with its trucks and helicopters.

One reason for abandoning SDD investments is the great deal of uncertainty about what the Army’s future missions will be, and what will be required for those missions, Ellman adds. “For the foreseeable future the trough is likely to continue in the Army. They haven’t been able to pin down what their next generation of vehicles will be.”

Hunter says the Army’s modernization budgets overall are “down catastrophically” by more than 60 percent. The trends seen over previous decades have been turned upside down, he notes. In past military drawdowns the Army would take a “procurement holiday” but preserve R&D funds, “so when the money comes back, they have something to buy in the pipeline that had been developed.” Now, if a major conflict erupted and the Army needed new equipment, it would probably buy what it had before, he says. “There’s not much out there that’s new.”

The current state of play in R&D spending is likely to cause major disruptions in the defense industrial base, the CSIS study indicates. The deep cuts to SDD spending are particularly alarming for the Pentagon’s top five contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. The Big 5 are holding their market share overall but are dramatically losing market share in R&D contracts, Hunter says. “There is a massive disinvestment from the traditional defense contracting R&D enterprise that has been there for many decades.”

 

The Big 5 had a 50 percent market share in 2000, which peaked at 60 percent in 2006, and is now down to 33 percent. At the same time, the size of the pie has shrunk dramatically. “They’re getting half the share they used to get of a pie that is half as big,” Hunter says.

“This was a surprising finding,” he adds. “We’re not crying big tears for the Big 5 but we think this is notable in terms of what’s happening in the industrial base.” While the large firms lost share, more small and primarily medium size business have grabbed more work. “We see a move away in the R&D space from the Big 5.”

For nontraditional companies looking to get into the defense sector, the budget trends are “terrible,” Hunter says, “but the market access looks pretty good.” It is a reasonable conclusion to draw from the data that the dominance of traditional heritage companies is in peril even if fewer new competitors are interested in entering the defense market.

The conventional wisdom that big companies with large programs — with supposedly strong political support — are immune from cuts is completely disproven by the contracting numbers, says Hunter. “The theory that everything is tied to campaign contributions, that there is an inelasticity in procurement because of the political influence of big contractors: We didn’t see that in our data.”

The system is “less entrenched than it appears,” he says. “The notion that you can’t beat the Big 5, that they have so much political influence that they’re going to knock everyone out of the way is essentially the opposite of what we see.”

Ellman points out that in 2008, 1,100 vendors a year were coming into the defense market. By 2013, the number fell to about 400 a year. Small “up and coming” vendors are especially discouraged by the defense R&D market. The dollars going to small vendors are down by 75 percent since 2009. The companies disproportionately affected by this are those that are “too big to be categorized as a small business and too small to be big.”

One of the consequences of fewer companies playing in the R&D sector is the lack of competitive contracting. One-bid contracts have increased, Ellman says. In 2015, 17 percent of overall R&D contracts put out for competition only received one bid, which is double the rate of overall DoD contracts. The decline of new entrants is especially seen in “small, growing vendors on the verge of moving to the medium realm.”

Another way to view the R&D contracting trends is in the context of larger shifts taking place in the defense market. One is that the Defense Department is slashing spending on contractors overall, from 54 to 46 percent over the past five years. “That has a significant impact on industry,” Hunter says.

Another headwind for contractors are political forces that are slowing down and stalling big-ticket military procurements. Both within the Defense Department and Congress, there is an unprecedented “degree of difficulty in generating support for major defense acquisition programs,” says Hunter. The only programs that appear to be moving forward are nuclear modernization systems like the Air Force’s long-range bomber and the Navy’s new nuclear-missile submarine. Many other programs that are not being championed at the highest levels of power, meanwhile, “don’t seem to be getting through the system.”

 

US Unprepared for Space War

—Wilson Brissett

9/12/2016

http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Pages/2016/September%202016/September%2012%202016/US-Unprepared-for-Space-War.aspx?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%209-13-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

​The key mission for the US space program is to fight war, but because much of US space infrastructure was developed in an era “when space was considered a benign environment, little thought was given to system protection or defense,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting Friday in Washington, D.C. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event, Whiting said as a result the US is unprepared to protect and defend its space assets. “Today the US space enterprise is not resilient enough to successfully prosecute or even survive a high-end conflict that extends into space,” Whiting said. Calling US space programs “absolutely foundational and indelible to the American way of war,” Whiting discussed a plan that would “provide the United States with space capabilities that can help deter a war from extending into space and to ensure that we prevail” if one ever does. Central to that vision would be the move from a technology replacement model focused on “functional availability”—or the lifecycle and maintenance of a satellite—to one of “resilience capacity,” where decisions are made based upon the ability of systems to defend themselves from potential attack.

 

 

Amid growing U.S. cybersecurity threat, a critical lack of trained experts

 

By Alex Kreilein    

September 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/09/24/amid-growing-u-s-cybersecurity-threat-a-critical-lack-of-trained-experts/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%209.26.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

Months have passed since the FBI took aim at encryption in the case of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Once the dust settled, our country began to take a different look at the dangers of unprotected data.

A series of incidents has revealed alarming vulnerabilities in our digital defenses. In the worst of these, we’ve seen a foreign power seek to influence our presidential election through the breach of voter registration databases in Illinois and Arizona, and the theft of sensitive information from national party headquarters. These pose a grave threat to our democracy.

Forty-four years ago, our country suffered through turmoil after a similar break-in at the Democratic National Committee’ headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Now we face the humiliation of revisiting the same crime, but this time perpetrated online by foreign state actors seeking to undermine public confidence in our elections.

We clearly need to bolster our defenses to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. Companies across the nation must also protect themselves from attackers that exploit security weaknesses. These challenges can only be met by first addressing the critical shortage of cybersecurity experts.

 

Watching the FBI stumble through the encryption debate opened our eyes to the severity of this shortage. Most of the agency’s struggles could have been avoided with personnel trained in the right forensics procedures. Focusing instead on requiring companies to compromise encryption security indicated that a different type of expertise was needed.

The FBI isn’t alone. Breaches at hospitals, retailers and in our own government have shown the dangers of ignoring this threat. Accordingly, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed, particularly since people with these skills are in very short supply.

In 2010, a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found the United States had only 1,000 high-level cybersecurity professionals when 30,000 were needed. Today there are more than 120,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions — a figure greater than the number currently employed. Twelve thousand openings are in Colorado.

High salaries are offered to lure these experts. The national average exceeds $93,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in Denver that figure is $98,590. Unfortunately, generous compensation hasn’t come close to attracting the number of applicants needed.

The problem is that our schools aren’t providing necessary education. Only one in eight high schools teach AP computer science. Few universities offer cybersecurity coursework and many graduates face difficulty transitioning into this workforce.

Some companies scramble to plug staffing holes with offshore contractors. That won’t work for critical infrastructure jobs requiring security clearance for which only American citizens qualify.

Our government’s battle against encryption technology was a distraction from more pressing challenges. Instead of fighting U.S. companies in the courtroom, we should be developing talent in the classroom to fight cyber attacks from abroad.

Colorado has taken the lead in this area. Our state has established the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs, and the Denver area has emerged as a hub for cybersecurity companies. Specialized training facilities have been a key factor in this growth.

The steps we are taking locally offer promise for the future, but the global stakes are immense. Russia-based attackers have already shut down Estonia’s banking system and Ukraine’s electrical grid.

While these events were temporary disruptions, they may have been the proving ground for much larger attacks. Future wars will be waged first in cyberspace where key infrastructure is disabled to aid kinetic, on-the-ground assaults.

The recent cyberattacks against our country demonstrate the grave danger posed by hostile foreign powers. Our country has the ability to combat these threats, but we must allocate resources where urgently needed. Prioritizing skills education — from grade school to job retraining — is essential to build the cybersecurity defenses we need. Only through investment in these capabilities can we be prepared to meet the challenges before us.

Alex Kreilein is co-founder and chief technology officer of SecureSet, a Denver-based accelerator and cybersecurity academy.

 

 

DHS Audit: Over 800 Potentially Ineligible Immigrants Granted US Citizenship    

By: Amanda Vicinanzo, Online Managing Editor

09/21/2016 (10:45am)

http://www.hstoday.us/briefings/daily-news-analysis/single-article/dhs-audit-over-800-potentially-ineligible-immigrants-granted-us-citizenship/c9a55e117c204d8497814e73bf962124.html

 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted US citizenship to more than 800 individuals with deportation orders after their fingerprint records could not be located, according to an audit released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The federal watchdog’s report revealed that not all paper-based fingerprint records were uploaded and digitized when DHS transitioned to a digital fingerprint repository, the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). In fact, IDENT is missing 148,000 digitized fingerprint records of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives.

Although Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), one of DHS’s predecessor agencies, created IDENT in 1994, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators only began consistently uploading fingerprints into the repository around 2010.

It is USCIS policy to deny naturalization to any applicant who has received a final deportation order and there are no other circumstances to provide eligibility. By granting citizenship to these individuals, they are eligible to serve in law enforcement, obtain a security clearance, and sponsor other aliens intending to enter the United States.

“Because IDENT does not include 148,000 digitized fingerprint records of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives, USCIS adjudicators may continue in the future to review and grant applications without full knowledge of applicants’ immigration and criminal histories,” the report stated.

Furthermore, DHS’s digital fingerprint repository is capable of exchanging information with the FBI’s repository. However, the FBI’s database is incomplete because not all paper-based fingerprint records were sent to the FBI.

“As long as the older fingerprint records have not been digitized and included in the repositories, USCIS risks making naturalization decisions without complete information and, as a result, naturalizing more individuals who may be ineligible for citizenship or who may be trying to obtain US citizenship fraudulently,” the report stated.

DHS concurred with the Inspector General’s recommendation to upload and digitize all remaining fingerprint cards and establish a plan for evaluating the eligibility of each naturalized citizen whose fingerprint records reveal deportation orders under a different identity.

 

 

Gary Johnson: My Foreign Policy Vision


Show me an America with less debt, greater economic strength, and robust trade relationships across the globe, and I will show you a safer, more secure, America.

Gary Johnson

October 7, 2016

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/gary-johnson-my-foreign-policy-vision-17974?page=3&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.10.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

 

I recently delivered a major foreign address at the University of Chicago, in which I highlighted the need for a departure from our foreign policy adventurism—and the need to demonstrate American strength through economic trade and through diplomacy.

Although President Obama ran for office in 2008 on a promise to get America out of Middle Eastern wars, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his administration continued a series of policies of regime changes, particularly in Syria and Libya.

First, let’s be absolutely clear. The president’s first and most solemn responsibility is to keep us and our freedoms safe, especially from foreign attack. If the government does nothing else, it must do that.

Keeping us safe means having a military capability that is unquestionably second to none. Ronald Reagan was onto something when he spoke of “peace through strength,” and even in our most severe budgetary constraints, we have the resources to maintain the greatest defense on the planet.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot reduce military spending. In fact, we must.

Where the debate comes into play is what we expect our military to do. The best word to describe my approach to military interventions abroad is that I am a skeptic. As president, I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm’s way. I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests. I will be the skeptic in the room.

And there is good reason for skepticism. Just look at the past fifteen years. I supported going into Afghanistan after 9/11 to deal with Al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts. We were attacked, and we attacked back. But seven months after we sent our troops to Afghanistan, Al Qaeda had scattered to the winds and the Taliban had been removed from power. Al Qaeda was gone, but we stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. We’re still there.

We’ve been on every side of the conflicts in Afghanistan that have defied resolution for generations. You all are too young to remember, but there was a time when we were fighting on the same side as Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets, who learned the hard way the futility of engaging in Afghanistan’s tribal wars and politics.

Although the oft-claimed idea that we actually armed and supported bin Laden has never been documented, we were, however, arming and supporting those on the same side as him in the resistance.

We accomplished our mission in Afghanistan, and we should have stopped there. Today, too many lives and too many dollars later, the Taliban is returning to Afghanistan. And if we were to mount another surge, remove them, and stay there another fifteen years, the same thing would happen as soon as we left—unless and until Afghanistan takes its own destiny into its own hands.

Likewise, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify an instance where our military interventions and regime changes in the past fifteen years have improved the lives of anyone. Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. No question about it. But are the Iraqi people better off today because we decided to take him out? Are we safer here in America? No.

In fact, let’s not forget that, as bad as he was, Saddam was the roadblock standing in the way of Iran’s rise as a real threat to the rest of the region. Removing him freed Iran to pursue its ambitions and turn its attentions elsewhere. An unintended consequence, for sure. But a real one we must admit, and which should have been anticipated.

And let us also not forget that, prior to our invasion of Iraq, Turkey was a strong and reliable NATO ally in the region. But that relationship went south in a big way when we invaded Iraq, an action Turkey opposed for its own reasons. Today, as we deal with ISIS and Syria, we wish we had the old Turkey and our strong alliance with them back.

As for Iraq itself, well, it is obviously a tragic mess. Saddam was horrible, but is what we replaced him with any better?

Libya. Same song, different verse. We used our military to help overthrow Qaddafi. Again, a bad guy and, by most standards, a war criminal. But what took his place? Did we have a plan? Did we consider the potential consequences, with which we are living today?

I could go on, but the lesson is clear. Is it our fault that chaos has consumed nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, or that violent extremists have found homes in the wake of our interventions? No. It isn’t our fault alone. We had good intentions, but we intervened with no clear vision of the outcomes, and frankly, with no clear vision as to the overall U.S. interest, which should be the guiding principle.

I’m a chess player. Making a move without looking ahead to your opponent’s moves or even what your own next move might be usually doesn’t turn out well in the end. Our foreign policy, or lack of it, over the past fifteen years, has been a series of erratic chess moves, and the match isn’t going well.

We need a chess player in the White House. More important, we need a policy guided by principle, not politics.

The first and overriding principle is that our foreign policy and military actions must support clear U.S. interests. That seems obvious, but in recent years, it has not been the case. Our interests are our lives, our property and our freedom. They are not necessarily a desire to shape the world in our own image or to pick winners and losers in civil wars on the other side of the globe.

The second principle is that we must expect and demand that other nations shoulder the responsibility for their own defense and economic well-being. We are broke. We cannot any longer subsidize the national defense and economies of other nations. Yes, we will honor our commitments to NATO and other agreements, but other countries around the world have grown too dependent upon U.S. military power.

The U.S. military exists, first and foremost, to defend the United States and U.S. vital interests. If our actions sometimes help others, that is a useful byproduct. But it shouldn’t be confused with the U.S. military’s—and the U.S. government’s—core mission. Instead, we should expect other countries to defend themselves and their interests. If they did so, they would have greater capabilities for dealing with local problems before they become global ones. We should want more countries who share our values to be acting to defend those values, not paying us to do it for them.

Today, U.S. military spending accounts for roughly one-third of total military spending of the entire world, exceeding the combined total of the next seven largest military budgets including those of Russia and China. Here at home, military spending accounts for almost half of all discretionary federal spending.

U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab for far too many others around the world, and we simply cannot afford it.

Third, we must not ask our military to engage in conflicts without a clear mission and clear authorization. In Afghanistan and Iraq, what were our objectives. When could we possibly know when “mission accomplished” arrived? In 1991, when President George H. W. Bush ordered our troops to push Saddam and the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, with the support of a broad coalition, they had a clear objective, achieved that objective in a matter of weeks, and the president resisted the temptation to push on into Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein.

Many second-guessed that decision, but it was a clear objective, a clear mission, and had a firm conclusion. That is what our military deserves, and what they expect. Our last two presidents have not provided that certainty to either our military or to the American people. Rather, we have engaged in conflicts with no clue as to the outcome or the “end game.” Lives have been lost, hundreds of billions spent, and vacuums created that have made the world more dangerous.

As for authorization, whatever happened to the constitutional notion that Congress should declare wars? The interventions that have cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars over the past fifteen years have been conducted on the basis of authorizations passed by Congress in the aftermath of 9/11. Congress has since allowed the president to conduct “executive wars” while avoiding their responsibility to place a check—or an approval—on those wars. Yes, they have continued to fund them, but as far as casting the tough votes to drop bombs or deploy our young men and women, Congress has been AWOL.

We need to honor the War Powers Act and force both Congress and the president to only engage in war with a clear authorization from both the Executive and Legislative Branches. As president, I will honor the War Powers Act, without hiding behind dubious legal opinions from my own lawyers.

If we adopt and follow these basic principles, the politically sensitive idea of reducing military spending becomes realistic. We must balance the federal budget, and it is fallacy to believe we can do so without being smarter and more focused in our military spending. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission has regularly concluded that we have excess capacity in military bases of more than 20 percent. We have tens of thousands of troops stationed in places like Japan and Europe—for what purpose? We have weapons systems the military doesn’t even want, and yes, we are subsidizing the national defense of too many other nations with our own troops, equipment and deployments.

With defined missions, a focus on defense rather than intervention, regime change and nation-building, we can gain significant military savings while, in fact, better securing our safety here at home.

I often say we must “rule the world with diplomacy and free trade.” That isn’t just a slogan. What is missing from our foreign policy is the idea that we must operate from a position of economic and, therefore, diplomatic strength. Right now, we are wringing our hands because Russia and China are imposing their wills across the globe, and we appear powerless to influence their decisions or ambitions.

That would not be the case if those nations—and others—had no choice but to be concerned about the economic and diplomatic ramifications of their actions. Conversely, our strongest and most valuable alliances are not with nations who are dependent upon our military, but rather with those nations who are dependent upon our goods, services, markets and trade.

We are foolish if we believe that we can continue to be the world’s premier superpower if we do not put our financial house in order. The Soviet Union ultimately crumbled because it bankrupted itself with flawed economic policies and overextensions of its military. No one conquered them; they crumbled from within.

Likewise, it is absurd to believe, in a global economy, that we can somehow restore our economic strength and competitiveness by building walls, both physical and financial, between ourselves and competitors—as some would have us do.

Show me an America with less debt, greater economic strength, and robust trade relationships across the globe, and I will show you a safer, more secure, America.

 

Finally, we cannot talk about foreign policy and national defense without discussing ISIS and other extremists who have done us harm, and will do so again. Terrorism and the threat from extremists are real. But our approach to those threats must be real as well.

The notion that we will someday celebrate V-I Day, Victory over ISIS, is both naive and misleading. It won’t happen. What must, and I believe, will, happen is that we focus our resources on isolating the extremists, containing them, and starving them of the funds and support they must have to mount large-scale attacks. Tens of thousands of boots on the ground won’t do it. Dropping bombs on the other side of the globe won’t do it. And pretending that some military-style Global War on Terror will bring about a clear victory is not realistic.

Protecting American lives, freedom and property from extremists here and abroad will be a continuing process combining law enforcement, gaining greater cooperation from other nations, military action where clearly appropriate and effective, and many other efforts.

We may never know if and when we have won a “War on Terror.” It simply isn’t that kind of threat, and we need to deal with that reality. And we certainly won’t win that war with a foreign policy that continues to contribute to chaos and vacuums of power across the globe.

Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson), the former two-term Governor of New Mexico, is the Libertarian Party nominee for president. His running mate is Bill Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts. Learn more at http://JohnsonWeld.com.

 

Intelligence Analyst: Russian Cyberattacks Could Roil US Elections

October 13, 2016 8:44 PM

Cindy Saine

http://www.voanews.com/a/intelligence-analyst-russian-cyber-attacks-could-roil-elections/3550243.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2010.14.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WHITE HOUSE — 

Malcolm Nance is extremely worried about what might happen as U.S. votes are tallied on Nov. 8, election night.

A career U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence official with 33 years of experience, Nance said he had overwhelming evidence that Russia is seeking to interfere in U.S. elections to put “not just a finger, but their whole hand” on the scale to help Republican nominee Donald Trump and hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Nance said a number of private companies had traced cyberattacks exposing potentially damaging Democratic Party emails and voicemails back to cyber “fingerprints” clearly identified in the past as those of Russian state hackers. He said the same fingerprints were found in what turned out to be Russian hacking of power plants in Ukraine and of the German parliament.

Nance outlined his evidence in a book published this week, The Plot to Hack America.

 

Interference to date

Last Friday, the Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence put out a joint statement formally accusing Russia of hacking into the computers of U.S. political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, and orchestrating the release of the contents in conjunction with WikiLeaks.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the accusations, saying interfering in the U.S. election would not be in Russia’s interest. Putin said U.S. authorities should pay more attention to the content of the emails, instead of who had taken and exposed them.

Trump has also repeatedly questioned why Clinton and others say that Russia is behind the attacks, and he has expressed admiration for Putin as a strong leader. Trump campaign surrogates say Clinton is simply trying to distract from the contents of the emails.

Current Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into his emails was part of a broader investigation into Russian cyberattacks. Podesta claimed longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone had “advance knowledge” of the leaks. Stone has admitted he is in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

 

Florida system

U.S. federal investigators believe Russian hackers are also behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida’s election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters.

Nance said Russian military intelligence also attempted cyberattacks on voter databases in Illinois and Arizona. Illinois officials said data on about 90,000 people might have been breached, while Arizona officials said they saw no indication that hackers had succeeded in accessing data in their systems.

Several states across the country have reported scans of their computer systems, which is often a precursor to a breach.

Nance told VOA he was not worried that Russian agents would attempt to hack into individual voting machines. What he fears is cyber mischief at a state level that could discredit the results.

“It’s far easier to create mayhem and chaos on Election Day by, at the end of the day, going to a state which is controversial, like Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump has said he expects the state to be stolen,” he said.

All it would take is hacking into the computer on which the state calculates its results, and “removing some digits from one column and then putting them in another column and then moving them back 5 minutes later so that people know it’s a hack, all right?” Nance said.

 

‘It would create chaos’

What would that do? “It would create chaos in the entire electoral process, and it would give one side the ability to claim that the election has been invalid and should be done again,” he said, “and that could literally create a constitutional crisis in the United States, if not civil disobedience and violence.”

Nance rejected assertions that he was accusing Russia of supporting Trump for political reasons.

“This is not a partisan issue. Someone — a foreign intelligence agency at the bequest of a former director of the KGB [the main security agency for the former Soviet Union] — is attempting to hijack the American electoral system for the first time in 240 years,” he said.

Brookings Institution foreign policy expert Thomas Wright told VOA he didn’t know about the technicalities of cyberattacks, but he did say Trump and Putin have similar worldviews, since Trump opposes NATO and other U.S. military alliances in Europe and Asia and has long expressed respect for authoritarian figures.

He said the hacking allegations had shined a light on the vulnerabilities of the U.S. electoral process.

 

What would a CYBERCOM-NSA split mean?

http://www.c4isrnet.com/articles/battlefield-of-the-future-identities

 

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 10, 2016 (Photo Credit: Stock; Illustration by Jennifer Milbrett/Staff)

This is Part I of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command.

 

Much has been made over the discussions surrounding a potential separation of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. Such a determination would involve severing the “dual-hat” leadership of these organizations, which share the same chief, as well as raise questions of what CYBERCOM standing up as its own independent organization might look like.

Since its creation in 2009, the command has been co-located with the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland, sharing personnel, tactics, tools and a director. Officials have long lauded the rich partnership both organizations share, especially the NSA’s history in the signals intelligence business.

During recent congressional testimony, when pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a vehement opponent to splitting these organizations, NSA Director and CYBERCOM Commander Adm. Mike Rogers agreed that maintaining the dual hat currently is in the best national security interest of the country. Rogers has, however, expressed that the two organizations will likely have to split eventually.

“I’ve been very public about saying I believe in the long run the right thing is to keep these two aligned, but to separate them. As Cyber Command, particularly, gains more capacity and more capability, the demand on Cyber Command’s time, resources and capabilities just continue to grow,” Rogers said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington in September. “I just think you need two people full time focused on this, but even as we do that, you’re going need to keep these closely aligned.”

In practical and operational terms, what would a split mean?

Both organizations, while often times conducting similar activity, are defined under different statutory terms. CYBERCOM, as a military organization under the chain of command of the secretary of defense, falls under Title 10 of the United States Code. The NSA, on the other hand, as an intelligence organization falls under the scope of Title 50, though it does perform Title 10 duties from time to time. These legal distinctions trigger certain roles and responsibilities for the organizations that govern them.

“Cyberspace operations as a Title 10 operations is a military operation, not an intelligence operation,” Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general of Army Cyber Command, said. “So it’s very important and we go through a lot of training and we have our operational lawyers very much with us on everything. … You have to understand under what authorities are you conducting what operation, and we work that very carefully.”

Retired Gen. Jennifer Napper, who served as the director of policy, plans and partnerships for CYBERCOM, said intelligence is key for any operation, cyber or otherwise.

“I think it’s important to understand that in any operation you want to have as much and as good intelligence as you can. And we have built out our intelligence forces over the years, whether you’re talking about surveillance or anything else, to go look and find and fix the enemy,” she told C4ISRNET in an August interview. “We need to be able to do the same thing in cyber and the guys that understand that part of the intelligence world are sigint because they do go out and do great intelligence work for our country using their capabilities across the signals intelligence. I think it’s very important that they stay close so that any operation is properly informed by the intelligence apparatus.”

 

Pontius also lauded the strong relationship NSA and CYBERCOM share in the signals intelligence space.

“There is a close working relationship between signals intelligence and cyber. One can inform the other, but also the other informs the other,” he said. “There’s things that we very much could see from a cyberspace operations point of view that could say: Here’s something we need to look at from a signals intelligence point of view. Or we may have indications and warnings from signals intelligence that says: We believe adversaries are thinking about pursuing this kind of thing against our networks or our systems — you need to look in this area.”

A fully separate CYBERCOM would have to rely solely on its own personnel, tools and infrastructure.

The close relationship with NSA was logical at the beginning in standing up a brand new organization with similar, yet separate mission sets and skills. However, the similarities have presented the potential to blur these intelligence and war fighting lines — or Title 10 and Title 50.

In addition to the head of CYBERCOM and NSA being dual-hatted, many employees of each also share this designation. A former NSA worker, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity, explained that many individuals in this dual-hat role conduct intelligence work for the NSA and once they discover an entry point into a network, they can “flip their hat” and create cyber effects for CYBERCOM.

This issue — balancing the equities between the spying and effects — is at the heart of the Title 10 and Title 50 debate, the former NSA worker said. The NSA will find the path inside to exploit the target, but the effects generated as well as the planning and executing will be conducted within CYBERCOM’s Title 10 authorities.

The dual-hat aspect should be viewed as vector versus payload, the former NSA worker said. Title 50 for cyberwarfare will always be used to find the vector and find the target, but the payload might be different as opposed to a spying payload. Title 10 will want a physical payload, the source added.

The dual-hatting of individuals is not necessarily unusual, according to a former government official who dealt with many national security issues, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity. The dual-hatting of staff members made sense when first standing up CYBERCOM given budget constraints, the former national security official said, noting that the notion of dual-hatting has been around for a long time and is common at other agencies within the military and the intelligence community such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. NSA as a support organization will often times execute Title 10 authorities, according to the former government official.

The nature of cyberspace operations pairs very close to the signint and hacking capabilities fostered among a competent NSA workforce, making it a great parent organization to help stand up a new military command focused on cyber operations. However, the skills involved in this space are very specialized and might not suit the military based upon the way its training architecture is set up. More on this in Part II.

 

 

 

What would an independent Cyber Command look like?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 11, 2016

 

This is Part II of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

Top decision-makers in the government continue to debate the merits of splitting the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. If this divorce occurs, what would an independent CYBERCOM look like?

 

A very particular set of skills

One of the important issues surrounding the debate are skills and resources. The personnel at NSA have benefited from more than 50 years of expertise in signals intelligence collection and operation, making the marriage with CYBERCOM an attractive option.

“There are some things that our force needs in the way of technical skills that are similar to NSA,” Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, deputy commander of CYBERCOM, said Sep. 20 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “If we can use their training, we use it. We pay money to NSA, they provide those types of courses. If they have specific enabling capabilities, the capacity to build things that we would use, we have the ability to request that support.”

However, these skills take a long time to learn and develop, and some don’t believe the current military architecture suits fostering these technical proficiencies.

A former NSA worker, who spoke to C4ISRNET on background, believes the current framework is not serving the intelligence community — the NSA — or CYBERCOM as well. The skills necessary for the intelligence and technical know-how involved in cyber operations is far more intensive than what the current military billets and rotations allow for, the source said.

Military analysts typically are trained in a particular skill set and are sent to a duty station, which usually lasts for about three years. When looking at cybersecurity and warfare, one must train analysis in normal mechanisms of intelligence and technical tradecraft of cyberwarfare, the former NSA worker added, noting that it is difficult to train someone to a high level of ability in three years.

The NSA benefits from the civilian cadre of workers that don’t have to worry about cycling out, which, from a military and CYBERCOM perspective, means there is no continuity of operations, the source explained. There would have to be a change in authorities or the way people are billeted if the military wants to stand up CYBERCOM on its own to conduct the types of operations more independently than they currently are, relying on NSA’s personnel and tool sets.

Part of the issue is that only men and women in uniform are allowed to conduct and generate effects under the constructs and laws of war.

“Remember the law of armed conflict, it specifically prescribes what civilians and uniforms can do,” Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of CYBERCOM and director of the NSA, said during recent testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in September, responding to a question regarding the value of forming an elite, civilian-based cyber group in contrast to losing military personnel for failing to meet fitness tests. Rogers said this would depend on the mission given to this entity because there are some things in the law of armed conflict that civilians can’t do. Rather, service members in uniform must perform certain tasks related to “application of force and capability” in this regard, he said.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, told C4ISRNET noted the issue of a scarcity of skill sets, such as hacking or cyber exploit reservoirs, should the organizations go their separate ways. If this scarcity exists on either side, it might be necessary to have the same set of individuals on a single target, he said, noting the dual-hat role — or what he termed as “toggling” between CYBERCOM and NSA roles.

 

This toggling between the Title 10 — defense and war fighting authorities under the law — and Title 50 — covert and intelligence authorities — engenders an entirely new set of problems if the organizations split. Deconfliction could become an issue if done improperly, meaning CYBERCOM forces could interrupt or even disrupt collection and espionage activity being conducted by the NSA.

The nature of cyberspace makes this issue appear trickier, as many cyber weapons are dual use, meaning the tool used to penetrate a network can also be used to cause effects.

State Department Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter told Congress in May that while he does not know what a cyber weapon is, he looks at a tool’s intended effects.

“I think researchers will tell you they use malware … to try to protect our systems,” he added, highlighting how complicated the cyberspace arena can be.

This dual use is exactly why it might make sense to continue the current course with CYBERCOM and NSA’s relationship, according to a former government official who dealt with numerous national security issues and spoke to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity. Those that are gaining access to networks are often the ones that can deploy the effect, meaning they are also best postured to brief commanders and others as opposed to having two separate organizations doing each, which can cause a competition in the way of resources and personnel, the former official said.

One CYBERCOM official recently said that the command is looking to develop “loud” cyber tools that can be attributed to the Department of Defense.

“In the intelligence community, you never want to be caught, you want be low and slow, you never really want to be attributed. There’s a different paradigm from where you are at in the intelligence community,” CYBERCOM Executive Director Shawn Turskey said. “But there’s another space over here, where maybe you definitely want to be louder, where attribution is important to you and you actually want the adversary to know.”

The reason for this being that joint force commanders might want their goals or objectives to be known in order to convey a message, according to an official at CYBERCOM who spoke to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity.

In addition to independent reliance on its own workforce with the requisite cyber skills, the command will also need its own independent resources and infrastructure. As CYBERCOM generates capacity and capability — it reached full operational capability in 2010, and its Cyber Mission Force is nearing initial operational capabilty at the end of September with full operational capability planned for the end of 2018 — it will make more sense to separate.

Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, deputy commander of CYBERCOM, explained that as the command grows, so will its independent military — or Title 10 — capabilities.

“As we grow, the department has a very conscious plan to build more independent, called Title 10, DoD capacities we promote because there is a need to have some independent military capabilities in this area,” he said. “Over time our dependency and interaction I think with NSA … you’ll see that move more to the rear. And I think you’ll see the National Security Agency, as we mature, just become a combat support agency in support of our joint command like they already support other combatant commands around the world.”

In terms of the specific Title 10 capabilities, the command could be looking to increase, McLaughlin told C4ISRNET. These might include bolstering the readiness and experience of the force, an independent training range and material capability “to defend networks at scale, and it’s the material capability that would empower the cyber force,” he said.

 

He specified this is not at the expense of Title 50 capabilities because “our requirements go up there to DoD process to get a requirement validated and funded.”

“Our respective responsibilities are not such that one grows while the other diminishes,” CYBERCOM spokesman Col. Daniel J.W. King told C4ISRNET in an email. “We have separate mission sets and capabilities, but our missions and capabilities are mutually supportive and that would not change in an elevation scenario.  U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are and will remain strong partners.”

King added that NSA and CYBERCOM are “distinctly different in mission, responsibilities, authorities, and organizational alignment. NSA provides unique technical intelligence support for USCYBERCOM’s cyber mission force teams. USCYBERCOM provides information that NSA can integrate with other intelligence in fulfilling their mission.”

The last two NSA directors, Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander — the latter of who was CYBERCOM’s first commander — declined to comment for this article.

 

Highlighting Title 10 capabilities

Separating CYBERCOM and the NSA could make CYBERCOM a Title 10, military war fighting organization, setting it up for greater successes in the future. Frank Cilluffo, associate vice president and director at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, has proposed a model similar to Joint Special Operations Command in the cyber domain. JSOC is the hyper-elite force subunified of Special Operations Command responsible for such feats as the Osama bin Laden raid.

“A Cyber JSOC … would gather the crucial players, then weigh their inputs and whatever competing interests and concerns may be in play. Just as JSOC draws upon CIA assets and input for kinetic purposes, so Cyber JSOC would use NSA assets and input to achieve U.S. cyber ends and goals,” Cilluffo wrote in an April op-ed.

“Best known for its manhunting operations, JSOC synchronizes and integrates military and intelligence components to learn and strike quickly,” his op-ed read. “In Iraq, JSOC’s special operators skillfully executed a ‘decapitation strategy’ against al Qaeda’s leaders, key facilitators and senior operatives. In Afghanistan, they wielded ‘an array of enablers’ such as drones and attack helicopters to accomplish their tasks.”

Such a cyber military organization or construct “integrates war fighting and war planning. … It actually enhances the Title 10 authorities because many would argue that you don’t want to compromise sources, methods and intelligence capabilities to engage in using cyber as a means of response,” he told C4ISRNET in a recent interview. “Right now I don’t think there’s visibility across … the community that steals secrets for a living. … I think the role that cyber is playing in conflict and war fighting is so great today that the Title 10 implications are becoming more, if not, are more significant” than Title 50.

“I actually feel we’ve got to … peel off CYBERCOM from NSA,” he said. “If you fight, you fight to win. So does that mean we might be losing some of our intel capability? Maybe.” But, he said, this might create a need to enhance the war fighting capability.

 

What’s next?

The former government official, who spoke to C4ISRNET on background, said a fully independent CYBERCOM would likely look similar to what it does now, though an independent CYBERCOM would likely rely on its own infrastructure as opposed to that of the NSA.

 

A fully separate CYBERCOM would be able to pull together other intelligence agency information — as it provides support to the military when needed — and would be focused more on top-line targets, according to the former NSA worker who also spoke to C4ISRNET on background. If CYBERCOM were not tied to NSA’s priorities, it would be more flexible in doing what is necessary from a cyber-effects standpoint as opposed to what it currently does in supporting the NSA and being involved in cyber contingency planning.

The former NSA worker said the fight against the Islamic State group is a good example of the lack of flexibility. The counter-ISIS effort has received criticism that it hasn’t been fully effective in its effort because the command was stood up to fight a more sophisticated, nation-state adversary as opposed to a militant group with sometimes unorthodox capability sets.

CYBERCOM needs to stand on its own and build its own infrastructure, the source continued, noting that CYBERCOM might die if it fully separates from the NSA. The NSA can support the command, the source added, but CYBERCOM should not be wholly reliant on the agency.

NSA’s marriage is too close to CYBERCOM, the source said, citing the lack of flexibility as a war fighting organization and reliance on NSA capabilities, as the military billeting process, for which roles and assignments can change frequently, does not fall in line with the technical training need in cyberspace.

While a fully independent CYBERCOM would need to rely on its own personnel, resources and infrastructure, a fully independent NSA could focus on being more of a support arm to the military and national security agencies.

 

 

Does NSA support of CYBERCOM blur lines?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 12, 2016

This is Part III of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

The Title 10 versus Title 50 debate has long surrounded the way intelligence and covert activity is conducted in accordance with the law. A key issue surrounding intelligence and war fighting efforts is the blurring of lines clearly identified in statutes. For example, intelligence organizations are barred from spying domestically on American citizens.

As the discussions of a potential split between the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command continue to swirl, what would an empty-nested NSA, freed from its child organization, CYBERCOM, look like?

Title 10 of the United States Code outlines authorities for the military and war fighting, while Title 50 stipulates the authorities of intelligence community organizations such as the NSA.

In some instances, lines involving military intelligence collection or operations can be easy to blur to the common observer. A former NSA worker told C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity that some NSA personnel became uncomfortable with the militarization of their activity, as the agency is supposed to be independent and equally serve all branches in military and combatant commands. Integrating CYBERCOM distorts this in a way that subverts the mission and doesn’t do favors for CYBERCOM, the source added.

Operation Neptune Spear, the operation to kill Osama bin Laden conducted by members of the now-famed SEAL Team 6, exemplifies the shifting roles within these authorities. While conducted by the military, the operation fell under the command of the CIA and was conducted as a covert operation, allowing plausible deniability by the United States if things went wrong.

The ex-NSA worker described the Special Operations Command relationship with the CIA as a parallel here, adding that the key difference is the CIA is not integrating with these forces like the NSA and CYBERCOM; SOCOM is not wholly dependent on CIA to conduct its mission, whereas CYBERCOM is wholly dependent on the NSA.

Moreover, the source was sure to stress the fact that intelligence serves all the military; it is not integrated together in an operational sense. The NSA, as an intelligence organization, serves both cyber and non-cyber missions for military forces on a global scale, though CYBERCOM has, to some degree, become the NSA’s operational arm, the source contended.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, pointed out to C4ISRNET that there is nothing in existing law that says CYBERCOM could not conduct a Title 50 operation. In fact, the president can make specific designations to that degree triggering specific covert action authorities, he said.

Chesney added that the Defense Intelligence Agency often times will conduct covert action, and if the president wants to designate a military organization to conduct activity as to not be acknowledged officially by the U.S. government not related to an armed conflict, this mirrors covert action.

A former government official who dealt with many national security issues, speaking to C4ISRNET on condition of anonymity, emphasized that just because an organization — including Title 10 forces — doesn’t operate openly, it does not mean they are conducting covert action. Militaries have always engaged in deceptive behavior, the source said, adding the Title 10 versus Title 50 debate has persisted for decades and government lawyers will continue to wrestle with it.

Similar questions arose with the advent of air power, the former government official said.

When it comes to current cyber operations, however, retired Gen. Jennifer Napper, formerly of CYBERCOM, does not think there is the potential for the blurring of lines. Providing an example in the physical world to justify her position, she said in the fight against the Islamic State group, Title 10 forces are allowed to use UAVs for surveillance.

“The same thing needs to be done in cyber where the Title 10 forces can use the tools that are given to them for their intelligence gathering,” she said. “Remember the large organizations like the NSA are designed for national security so there are national security issues — that’s not a tactical appliance or application.”

The debate between these statuary and operational constructs will continue into the future as new concepts and technologies are developed.

With the continued debate surrounding a CYBERCOM-NSA split, what are the practical prospects of such a decision?

 

What are U.S. officials saying about a potential NSA-CYBERCOM split?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 13, 2016 (Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP)

This is Part IV of a four-part series on the underlying issues surrounding the potential split of the NSA and Cyber Command. 

 

A number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are vehemently opposed to severing the dual-hat position between the director of the National Security Agency and commander of US Cyber Command.

 

What are the prospects that the NSA and CYBERCOM will split in the final months of President Barack Obama’s final term?

“Let me be very clear, I do not believe rushing to separate the dual hat in the final months of an administration is appropriate given the very serious challenges we face in cyberspace and the failure of this administration to develop an effective deterrence policy,” Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz., said during a hearing in September. “Therefore, if a decision is prematurely made to separate NSA and Cyber Command I will object to the confirmation of any individual nominated by the president to replace the director of the National Security Agency if that person is not also nominated to be the commander of Cyber Command.”

The Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence are pushing for the split as to reduce the tension regarding use of resources that are currently shared.

While noting that the close partnership and working relationship made sense at the beginning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter conceded during an appearance at a  TechCrunch Disrupt fireside chat in September that “it’s not necessarily going to — the right approach to those missions overall in the long run. And we need to look at that and it’s not just a matter of NSA and CYBERCOM.”

Carter told the audience that there is no timeline for a decision on a split, noting that Congress is also examining this issue. However, Carter told reporters recently that “ultimately, whenever that decision is made, it will be made by the president, because both NSA and CYBERCOM ultimately report to the president. They’re part of the Department of Defense, but that’s a decision that only the president can take.”

Going forward, a full, standalone CYBERCOM separated from NSA might not rest on the Title 10 versus Title 50 legalities, Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, told C4ISRNET, noting there are significant legal complexities that are glossed over within this context. Rather, he said, the issue on whether to separate should rest upon policy equities.

For one, how things are payed for matters. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot more money on two separate organizations if there will be a significant duplication of resources and action, he said. However, on the other hand, it might be necessary to split them to better tend these equities.

Former NSA director, retired Gen. Keith Alexander,  said last year to FCW that in the near future, CYBERCOM will continue to share a leader with the NSA.

“If we separate them, two years later you’re going to put them back together. So don’t waste your time.”

 

Rasmussen Reports

 

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, October 15, 2016

When this mess of a presidential election is finally over, the winner’s going to have to deal with the mess the country’s in. But you sure couldn’t tell it from the current presidential campaign.

Just 30% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction this week, consistent with surveying since early 2013. 
At week’s end, 50% approved of President Obama’s job performance; 49% disapproved.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) are angry at the current policies of the federal government, and 81% are angry at Congress.

Only 27% of Americans believe the United States is safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. That’s up just one point from 26% in June which was the lowest level of confidence measured in 10 years of regular tracking.

Just 32% of voters believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

Sixty percent (60%) of Americans consider themselves middle class, and another 16% say they’re upper-middle class. But 63% of voters say the economy is unfair to the middle class

Seventy-two percent (72%) believe America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago. Sixty percent (60%) think race relations are worse since Obama’s election in 2008.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Americans say crime in their community has increased over the past year. But at the same time voters by a 51% to 36% margin believe there is a war on police in America today. 

Despite these serious concerns, the focus of the presidential campaign this past week was an 11-year-old video in which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made graphic sexual comments about women. Later in the week, there was a flurry of news reports alleging a history of sexual harassment on the billionaire developer’s part.

But, hey, that’s no surprise:  Voters strongly believe the media is more interested in controversy than in the issues when it comes to the presidential race. 

Also, as in previous presidential election cycles, voters think reporters are far more likely to help the Democratic nominee than the Republican candidate. This helps explain why there was a lot less media interest this week in WikiLeaks’ release of internal high-level Democratic Party e-mails showing, among many other things, collusion between top Hillary Clinton campaign officials and journalists at several major news organizations including the New York Times and CNN.

When it comes to the economy, national security and other major issues, voters are lukewarm about Obama’s policies but expect Clinton to continue them. Voters think Trump will change those policies for better or worse.

Clinton held a seven-point lead over Trump on Monday in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch, her biggest ever, following the airing of the video with his graphic remarks. But as voters began responding to Sunday night’s Clinton-Trump debate, her lead dropped to five points on Tuesday and four points on Wednesday. Trump edged ahead on Thursday and was still slightly ahead at week’s end. We’ll see next week what impact the new sex claims have on the race.

Discipline was the word for Sunday night’s second presidential debate. But just 24% of voters say they’ve ever changed the way they were going to vote after watching the debates between presidential candidates.

Clinton has charged that the video shows her Republican rival’s demeaning attitude toward women. But Trump counters that Clinton was an enabler who allowed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to sexually assault women for years. Voters tend to agree with Trump that Bill Clinton’s behavior was worse.

A growing number of Republican officials are asking Trump to drop out of the presidential race because of the video and the other allegations, and one-out-of-four GOP voters think that’s a good idea. Most do not, and Trump supporters overwhelmingly second that emotion.

Most Republican voters still think top GOP leaders are hurting the party with their continuing criticism of Trump and are only slightly more convinced that those leaders want Trump to be president. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans already believed in June that their party leaders didn’t want Trump to win.

Even back then, Trump seemed to be a third-party candidate running against both major parties.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it has confirmed hacking attempts on election systems in more than 20 states and has offered to provide states free testing of their systems before Election Day. While most voters are concerned about their state’s election system being hacked, they think state and local officials will do a better job protecting their vote than the feds will.

Just 24% trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time, and that includes only five percent (5%) who say it does the right thing almost always.

In other surveys last week:

The United States pays more of the United Nations’ bills than any other country – roughly $3 billion a year. Even as the UN chose a new secretary general with a questionable financial past, most U.S. voters say America is not getting a good return on its investment in the international organization.

— What does America think of the U.S. government’s decision to hand control of the internet over to an international consortium?

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Bob Dylan, but as recently as five years ago, the iconic American singer-songwriter of the 1960s was a virtual unknown to more than one-out-of-three adults in this country.

August 6 2016


 

 

 

6 August 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

More locally transmitted Zika in U.S. expected: official

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-fauci-idUSKCN10B0TQ?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-1-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Jul 31, 2016 3:36pm EDT

 

The United States will likely see more cases of local Zika virus transmission going forward, a U.S. health official warned on Sunday, although it is unlikely to turn into a broader situation as seen in Brazil or Puerto Rico.

The comments comes after Florida authorities on Friday reported the first sign of local transmission in the continental United States, concluding that mosquitoes likely infected four people with the virus that can cause a serious birth defect.

“We definitely don’t take this lightly. This is something we always anticipated and prepared for the worst,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during CBS’ “Face the Nation” program on Sunday. “But we do not feel this is going to turn into that broadly disseminated situation that we’ve seen in Brazil or that we’re seeing in Puerto Rico.”

He added that this is in “stark contrast” to Puerto Rico, where conditions will lead to a major outbreak.

Fauci said that health authorities are working to reduce mosquitoes in affected areas, and encouraged individuals to stay indoors, cover up and use insect repellant.

He added that “phase one” trials of one contender of the Zika vaccine will likely start in coming weeks. If that’s successful, there will be wider trials beginning early 2017.

 

Zika strikes overseas U.S. troops

Patricia Kime, Military Times 1:44 p.m. EDT August 1, 2016

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/08/01/zika-strikes-overseas-us-troops/87911662/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-2-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Thirty-three active-duty service members have contracted Zika since the Pentagon began tracking infections earlier this year, including one who is expecting a baby, according to Defense Department surveillance records.

The cases all were acquired outside of the continental United States, but the Defense Department continues to monitor U.S. military installations at risk for mosquito-borne diseases, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Maj. Benjamin Sakrisson said Friday.

“[We are actively testing mosquitoes] as part of our ongoing integrated vector control and surveillance programs at bases and installations,” Sakrisson said.

DoD did not provide details on the status of the expectant mother or her unborn baby. Zika has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly; one study released in May by the Centers of Diseases Control and Prevention and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimated that fetuses of mothers infected with Zika in their first trimester face up to a 13 percent chance of being born with severe brain abnormalities.

As of July 27, in the continental United States and Hawaii, 1,658 cases of Zika have been reported to CDC, with the majority, 1,642, contracted through exposure to mosquitoes outside the United States. Fifteen cases are thought to have been sexually transmitted and one was the result of a laboratory exposure.

On Monday, the state of Florida announced that 14 Zika infections likely were caused by local mosquitoes in the Miami area — the first known cases of direct transmission from U.S. mosquitoes.

U.S. military installation managers began aggressively monitoring for the species of mosquitoes that can carry Zika and other diseases in March.

Nearly 200 installations are in areas where mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika are also found.

While no mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika on military bases, the Navy obtained a positive reading for West Nile virus at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Maryland, in July, but according to Sakrisson, no human cases have occurred.

In addition to the 33 troops diagnosed with Zika, six military family members also have tested positive, also contracting the disease outside the continental U.S.

“According to a Defense Department release, the researchers have signed an agreement with Sanofi Pasteur to further develop and manufacture a vaccine from purified, inactivated Zika.

The developers hope to begin human testing of the product by the end of the year.”

The tombstone of US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan is seen in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. Fellow Republicans are joining the rising chorus of criticism of Donald Trump for his disparagement of the bereaved parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim who was awarded a Bronze Star after he was killed in 2004 in Iraq.

 

 

Joint Force 2035: Lasers, Biotech and Global Instability

Aaron Mehta, Defense News 11:59 a.m. EDT July 29, 2016

WASHINGTON — The US military of 2035 will have to deal with the breakdown of global norms, the proliferation of dangerous technologies via the commercial sector, and hypersonic weaponry, according to a recent document issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Titled “Joint Operating Environment 2035,” the document seeks to lay out what the Pentagon will be facing in 20 years time in order to help guide how the department is spending its resources today.

The document features a number of themes familiar to anyone who has heard Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joe Dunford, Defense Secretary Ash Carter or other top service officials speak in the last 18 months: Challenges will come both from great-power competitions and complex issues such as insurgencies or mass migration; the spread of technology means the US military dominance is not assured; and the need to develop capabilities that can match both the high and low end of future fights.

There is also an acknowledgement that defense technologies are going to be spun off from the commercial sector, and not vice versa – again, a theme Carter has brought up in almost every speech he has given as defense secretary.

Just what those issues look like in 2035 versus now, however, is where the document’s authors begin to dig into the details. They identify six broad geopolitical challenges the Joint Force will have to deal with 20 years from now:

  • Violent Ideological Competition: irreconcilable ideas communicated and promoted by identity networks through violence.
  • Threatened US Territory and Sovereignty: encroachment, erosion, or disregard of US sovereignty and the freedom of its citizens from coercion.
  • Antagonistic Geopolitical Balancing: increasingly ambitious adversaries maximizing their own influence while actively limiting US influence.
  • Disrupted Global Commons: denial or compulsion in spaces and places available to all but owned by none.
  • A Contest for Cyberspace: a struggle to define and credibly protect sovereignty in cyberspace.
  • Shattered and Reordered Regions: states unable to cope with internal political fractures, environmental stressors, or deliberate external interference.

That, in turn, comes with a set of technological challenges. As Carter likes to remind audiences, the vast majority of technology now is developed in the private sector, but the Pentagon has often struggled to adapt it for military use. The authors of the report warn that the department will need to find an easier way of using that technology, because the commercial world will continue to lead development efforts.

The report also warns that the rise of non-state actors such as the Islamic State group – described in the report as “privatized violence” – will continue, as will the rapidity of those groups coming together. The spread of 3D-printing technologies and readily available commercial technology such as drones means those groups can be increasingly effective against a fully prepared military force.

“Transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups, and other irregular threats are likely to exploit the rapid spread of advanced technologies to design, resource, and execute complex attacks and combine many complex attacks into larger, more sustained campaigns,” the authors write – warnings that seem to already have come true given the rise of ISIS and multiple reports of the group’s use of cheap, commercial drones for intelligence-gathering.

What US technologies should be in play by 2035? It’s a litany of the types of programs that DARPA and others in the Pentagon are starting to invest in – robotics, adaptive manufacturing/3D-printing and alternative power sources.

In terms of scientific spending, the authors suggest that the Pentagon should invest in applied meta-materials, man-made composite materials that can manipulate electromagnetic radiation to reduce signature; nanotechnology that can lead to improved material sciences; bio-engineering that could lead to “construction of new biological parts, brain-computer interfaces, or the re-design of natural biological systems to manufacture drugs, chemicals, materials, or food”; and super dense batteries with greater energy output.

The latter is key to the focus on directed-energy weaponry, another technology the authors predict will be used in the field come 2035 – the deployment of a less-than 100 KW laser for precision attack.

“Electrical laser systems will become smaller, lighter, and cheaper, and the introduction of femto- and pico-second pulses will lead to novel sensors and effects. Ultra-precise, multiple-shot, weaponized lasers will easily achieve >100 KW, permitting stealthy engagements at longer ranges with less dwell time required to achieve effects,” the authors write.

The authors also warn that it is “probable” that one or more state actors will have hypersonic weapons ready to use by 2035.

The report certainly strikes a concerned tone, one that largely reaches the conclusion that the US will no longer be able to dominate the globe the way it has for the past 20 years. And that realization, the authors write, should guide how the US is spending its funding today.

“It is unclear whether the Joint Force can be simultaneously proficient at addressing contested norms and persistent disorder with currently projected capabilities, operational approaches, and fiscal resources,” the authors conclude. “Therefore, the United States must consider military investments that acknowledge there may be times when it is more appropriate to manage global security problems as opposed to undertaking expensive efforts to comprehensively solve them.”

 

Missile Defense Agency needs to fund more research into new technologies, ex-director says

Phillip Swarts, Air Force Times 12:07 p.m. EDT July 30, 2016

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/07/30/missile-defense-agency-needs-fund-more-research-into-new-technologies-ex-director-says/87736782/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-1-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief&from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

 

The Missile Defense Agency is facing a budget shortfall that could jeopardize research into next generation technology, a retired Air Force general said Friday.

The Defense Department agency is responsible for keeping Americans and allied nations safe from missile attacks — both nuclear and conventional — but a constrained fiscal environment is making it difficult to research ways to defend against threats from China and Russia, said Lt. Gen. Trey Obering (ret.) at a conference held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

“Why is this budget squeeze at [research and development] a problem, frankly? One thing we have to realize is what we’re talking about is not today; we’re talking about the future,” said Obering, who served as director of the MDA from 2004 to 2008 and deputy director from 2003 to 2004.

“Even if we’re only talking about North Korea and Iran, we have to invest in this R&D to keep up with that ‘limited’ threat, because those threats are evolving and they’re becoming more mature,” Obering continued. “And then, of course, if we’re talking about a very aggressive China or a more belligerent Russia, we’ve got a long way to go to address that as well.”

The Pentagon needs to invest in technologies like space-based targeting and tracking systems and directed energy weapons that could quickly shoot down any missile launched by an adversary. The breakthroughs in technology are especially needed since the missiles themselves are becoming better and faster, Obering said.

“We have to be able to overcome things like advance countermeasures, maneuvering warheads, hypersonic vehicles and much more,” he said.

Between 2007 and 2015, MDA’s budget dropped 23 percent, from an estimated $11 billion to $8.5 billion, according to a study published by Thomas Karako, a missile defense expert with CSIS.

“MDA has been hit, especially over the last eight to 10 years, with a significantly reduced topline,” Karako said.

Army Maj. Gen. Ole Knudson, the current deputy director of MDA, said the agency is trying to deal with a tight fiscal environment as best it can.

“The topline reductions that MDA has taken are what they are,” he said. “They also are pretty much in line with what the department has taken overall. Even though there have clearly been those topline reductions, we’ve at least done all we think we could to keep on increasing both capability and capacity.”

The agency is still working to develop new technology, like directed energy weapons that could disable missiles early in their launch stages, Knudson said.

“We’ve continued to try and work some of these aspects of future technology, not as much as maybe we would have hoped or as fast, because we sometimes had some reductions in things we asked for,” he said. “I’m not going to say it’s been … I’ll call it ‘as perfect’ … as maybe we could have been if we didn’t have the topline cuts. But the topline cuts are there.”

Obering warned that America needs to make missile defense a top priority.

“We are in a fundamentally different world then we’ve known in the past,” he said. “We talked in the past about near-peer. We have peer competitors now. We have a much more dangerous world we’re entering into.”

The funding side of defense – especially for technologies like missile defense – needs to change to meet the ever-adapting threats, Obering said.

“We can’t rely on a 1971 acquisition process built for the Cold War and a funding process that was made years and years — decades — ago,” he said. “So we need to be making some fundamental looks at what we’re doing, how we’re doing business and what should we be placing our bets on for the future, because if we keep going through the way we are now, we’re going to have a whole different conversation in another 10 years.”

 

Snapping up cheap spy tools, nations ‘monitoring everyone’

[FRANK BAJAK and JACK GILLUM]

August 2, 2016

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/snapping-cheap-spy-tools-nations-040126777.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-2-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

LIMA, Peru (AP) — It was a national scandal. Peru’s then-vice president accused two domestic intelligence agents of staking her out. Then, a top congressman blamed the spy agency for a break-in at his office. News stories showed the agency had collected data on hundreds of influential Peruvians.

Yet after last year’s outrage, which forced out the prime minister and froze its intelligence-gathering, the spy service went ahead with a $22 million program capable of snooping on thousands of Peruvians at a time. Peru — a top cocaine-producing nation — joined the ranks of world governments that have added commercial spyware to their arsenals.

The purchase from Israeli-American company Verint Systems, chronicled in documents obtained by The Associated Press, offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how easy it is for a country to purchase and install off-the-shelf surveillance equipment. The software allows governments to intercept voice calls, text messages and emails.

Except for blacklisted nations like Syria and North Korea, there is little to stop governments that routinely violate basic rights from obtaining the same so-called “lawful intercept” tools that have been sold to Western police and spy agencies. People tracked by the technology have been beaten, jailed and tortured, according to human rights groups.

Targets identified by the AP include a blogger in the repressive Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, opposition activists in the war-ravaged African nation of South Sudan, and politicians and reporters in oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

“The status quo is completely unacceptable,” said Marietje Schaake, a European Union lawmaker pushing for greater oversight. “The fact that this market is almost completely unregulated is very disturbing.”

The Verint documents that AP obtained in Peru, including training manuals, contracts, invoices and emails, offer more detail than previously available on the inner workings of a highly secretive industry.

“There is just so little reliable data on this,” said Edin Omanovic, a researcher at Privacy International, a London-based advocacy group. “These commercial tools are being used in a strategic and offensive way in much the same way that military tools are used.”

The scope and sophistication revealed in the Peru documents approximates, on a small scale, U.S. and British surveillance programs catalogued in 2013 by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. That trove showed how the U.S. government collected the phone records of millions of Americans, few suspected of crimes. Even after some reforms, there is still much to be done in the U.S. and abroad to rein in Big Brother, privacy advocates say.

Reached at Verint’s corporate headquarters in Melville, New York, an assistant to CEO Dan Bodner said the company would have no comment. “We typically don’t comment to reporters,” said Barbara Costa.

Verint and its main competitors hail from nations with well-funded spy agencies, including the United States, Israel, Britain and Germany, and have operated with limited oversight.

With more than $1 billion in yearly sales, Verint is a major, longtime player in an industry whose secrecy makes its size difficult to quantify. Verint Systems Ltd., the subsidiary that sold the surveillance package to Peru, is based in Herzliya, Israel, outside Tel Aviv.

In regulatory filings, the parent corporation boasts upward of 10,000 customers in more than 180 countries, including most of the world’s largest companies and U.S. law-enforcement agencies. The company says its products help businesses run better and “make the world a safer place.” In 2007, Verint provided Mexico with a U.S.-funded, $3 million surveillance platform aimed at fighting drug cartels.

Surveillance sales account for about a third of its business. However, the company discloses little about those products, which it says collect and parse massive data sets to “detect, investigate and neutralize threats.”

It also does not identify its law enforcement and intelligence agency clients, but the AP independently confirmed through interviews and documents that it has sales in countries including Australia, Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland.

 

About half of Verint’s surveillance dealings are in the developing world, said analyst Jeff Kessler of Imperial Capital in New York.

The Peru installation — known as Pisco, a nod to the local brandy — illustrates how the private surveillance industry has piggybacked on multibillion-dollar government research in the West. Many security experts who honed their skills in Israel’s military have gone to work in the private sector, effectively putting their tech chops at the service of less sophisticated nations for a fraction of the cost.

Like spy tools wielded by larger nations, Pisco lets officials “intercept and monitor” satellite networks that carry voice and data traffic, potentially putting private communications of millions of Peruvians at risk.

A software manual offers step-by-step instructions on how to intercept those communications with Verint equipment: Connect to a satellite, identify the callers, then “open a voice product” — their jargon for a phone call.

 

‘PINPOINT NEW TARGETS OF INTEREST’

Since the early 2000s, Verint and top competitor Nice Systems have sold mass surveillance products to the secret police in Uzbekistan, according to extensive research by Mari Bastashevski for Privacy International. She found the companies also sold such systems to neighboring Kazakhstan, also a tightly governed nation.

Israeli technicians from both companies have rotated in and out of Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, for tech support and maintenance, Bastashevski found. Nice Systems sold its surveillance business to Israeli defense heavyweight Elbit Systems last year.

That equipment has let Uzbek secret police quickly locate and arrest people who discuss sensitive information on the phone or via email, dissidents say.

“The authorities’ main weapon is people’s fear,” said Tulkin Karayev, a Sweden-based exile. “Freedom of speech, freedom of expression — all this is banned.”

Asked by the AP whether Nice Systems’ sales had enabled political repression, Elbit spokeswoman Dalia Rosen would not comment. “We follow the leading standards of corporate governance and focus on ethical behavior in our business dealings,” she said.

Over the past two decades, Uzbekistan has “imprisoned thousands to enforce repressive rule,” Human Rights Watch reported last year. The price of dissent is arbitrary detention, forced labor and torture, the group said. A report submitted to the U.N. by three rights groups deemed torture by the secret police systematic, unpunished and encouraged.

Three years ago, metal worker Kudrat Rasulov reached out to Karayev from Uzbekistan via Facebook seeking advice on how he could help promote free expression in his country. The exile said he suggested that Rasulov, now 46, write critical commentary on local media reports. Rasulov’s weekly reports were then published online under a pseudonym. Rasulov thought he was being careful. He created a new email account for every article he sent, and the two men discussed the articles over Skype. But after six months, Rasulov was arrested. He is serving an 8-year-prison sentence for subversion.

Karayev believes Rasulov was undone by surveillance, and Human Rights Watch agreed. The court’s sentence found he was convicted based in part on his Skype communications and contact with Karayev, the group said in a report.

“They were reading Skype. They were listening to his phone calls. That’s the way they build their cases,” said Steve Swerdlow, the report’s author.

In Colombia, Verint has racked up millions in sales. As recently as 2015, U.S. customs officials funded maintenance for a wiretapping system, according to government contracts. Nearly a decade ago, its products were abused by officials who were later sacked for illegal eavesdropping, senior police and prosecutors told the AP at the time, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Like the United States, most countries require court orders to use the technology. But where rule of law is weak, abuse is not uncommon.

The Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago saw a government fall after a wiretapping scandal involving Verint-supplied equipment. In 2009, a total of 53 people, including politicians and journalists, were illegally monitored, according to a former senior security official who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. The Verint equipment remains operative, though now a court order is needed to use it.

One piece of the Verint product mix that Trinidad and Tobago bought is Vantage Broadway. A promotional brochure published by Israel’s defense ministry for a 2014 trade show in India describes it as data-analysis and pattern-seeking software. It pairs with a product called Reliant to “intercept, filter and analyze huge volumes of Internet, voice and satellite communication.” The package Peru bought includes both Reliant and Vantage, documents show.

The little regulation that exists in the commercial mass-surveillance trade falls under a non-binding international arms export-control regime called the Wassenaar Arrangement. In December 2013, it was amended to add monitoring products like Reliant and Vantage and “attack-ware” that breaks into smartphones and computers and turns them into listening posts.

The United States has not ratified the amendment; the federal Commerce Department proposed rules that raised objections in Silicon Valley. Israel says it is complying, and the European Union ratified the update. But Schaake, the EU lawmaker, said its 28 member states act independently and “technologies continue to be exported to countries that are known human rights violators.”

Surveillance technology from Israel, meanwhile, is being used in South Sudan, where a 2 ½-year-old civil war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, a panel of U.N. experts reported in January. U.N. and human rights groups say the government deploys it to track down, jail and torture dissidents and journalists.

The ability of South Sudan’s intelligence agency “to identify and illegally apprehend individuals has been significantly enhanced” through the acquisition of “additional communications interception equipment from Israel,” the U.N. experts wrote.

They did not name the suppliers, and a government spokesman declined to discuss the issue. While there is no direct evidence that Verint is a supplier, an AP reporter confirmed the names of two company employees on a flight in May from Ethiopia to the South Sudanese capital of Juba. Typing on a laptop, one was working on a presentation that named the three telecoms that operate in the country.

Verint did not respond to questions about whether it supplied surveillance technology to South Sudan.

An activist jailed for four months in Juba said his interrogators spoke openly about tapping his phone, played recordings of him in intercepted phone conversations and showed him emails he had sent. He spoke to the AP on condition he not be identified, saying he fears for his life.

Joseph Bakosoro, a former South Sudanese state governor who was also held without charge for four months, said his interrogators played for him a voicemail that had been left on his cellphone. They claimed it was evidence he backed rebels.

Bakosoro said the voicemail proved only that he was being bugged.

 

His interrogators didn’t hide that.

“They told me they are monitoring me,” he said. “They are monitoring my phone, and they are monitoring everyone, so whatever we say on the telephone, they are monitoring.”

 

‘WHO WILL GUARD THE GUARDS?’

Three years after Peru acquired the Verint package, it’s not yet up and running, Carlos Basombrio, the incoming interior minister said just before taking office last week. “When it becomes operative, it will be used against organized crime (in coordination) with judges and prosecutors.”

Located in a three-story building next to the country’s DINI spy agency, Pisco sits on a Lima military base off-limits to the public. It can track 5,000 individual targets and simultaneously record the communications of 300 people, according to agency documents, with eight listening rooms and parabolic antennae affixed outside to capture satellite downlinks.

Control of Pisco was shifted to the national police after the spying scandal that crippled the intelligence agency. Verint sent Israeli personnel to train Peruvian operators, adding eight months of instruction at the host government’s request, records show.

One major eavesdropping tool has, however, been active in Peru since October. It can physically track any phone in real time using geolocation. Under a July 2015 decree, police can locate phones without a court order, but would need one to listen in.

Government officials wouldn’t offer details on what software was being used to track cellphones. But two months before the decree, DINI officials said payment had been authorized for a Verint geolocation product called SkyLock. That software enables phone-tracking within the country, and a premium version can pinpoint any mobile phone in most countries.

All four Peruvian phone companies agreed to cooperate on geolocation, signing a pact with the government the details of which were not disclosed.

Civil libertarians consider warrantless geolocation a dangerous invasion of privacy, especially in a nation with pervasive public corruption. Peru’s incoming congress is dominated by Fuerza Popular, a party associated with imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori. He ran one of the most corrupt Latin American regimes in recent history.

In July 2015, the Verint surveillance platform got caught in the chaos of Peruvian politics.

Word of the purchase was leaked, triggering a government audit. The Miami-based Verint vice president who made the sale, Shefi Paz, complained about the phone companies’ apparent foot-dragging in emails and letters to DINI officials. They weren’t making themselves available for meetings.

“Verint should not have to suffer from political delays,” Paz wrote . Reached by phone, Paz declined to comment.

The eavesdropping products Verint and its peers sell play an important role in fighting terrorism, said Ika Balzam, a former employee of both Verint and Nice. That is a common industry claim, echoed by politicians.

And yet, Balzam acknowledged, there are no guarantees that nation-states won’t abuse surveillance tools.

“There is a saying,” Balzam said: “‘Who will guard the guards?'”

 

 

Neither Clinton Nor Trump Will Be Able to Fix the Pentagon’s Budget

By Marcus Weisgerber Read bio

August 2, 2016

http://www.defenseone.com/business/2016/08/neither-clinton-nor-trump-will-be-able-fix-pentagons-budget/130420/?&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

With the federal budget capped through 2021, defense spending will be an immediate first test of the next American president.

When the next president takes office in January, he or she will be staring down a 254-day deadline to either negotiate a budget deal with Congress or watch automatic cuts come to the military budget.

“I think the [Budget Control Act] is probably the biggest challenge that the next administration faces, [and] not just for defense,” said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of the Budget Control Act, the 2011 deficit-reduction law that all but accidentally placed caps on the federal budget for a decade. Its restrictions last through fiscal 2021, encompassing almost the entire four-year term of the next president.

The Pentagon has long argued it cannot operate effectively at these levels. Its current 2017 budget proposal, now under debate by Congress, calls for a total of $113 billion above the caps between 2018 and 2021.

“Whoever the next administration is, they are likely going to want to exceed those caps,” Harrison said. “They’re going to be put in the same situation the Obama administration has been in: that they have to strike a deal with Congress.”

And good luck with that. The Obama administration has been unable to strike a long-term budget deal repealing the Budget Control Act, although it has supported two smaller, two-year deals that increased Pentagon and non-defense spending caps. The latest of those deals will expire at the end of fiscal 2017 — that is, Oct. 1, 2017.

That means a Clinton or Trump administration will find itself facing a budget deadline just 254 days after taking the oath of office on Jan. 20. Pentagon officials are already warning of cuts that would come to the military if the budget caps return.

Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress since 2015. While Democrats might win control of the Senate, they are not expected to win the 60 seats needed to pass legislation in these days of rampant filibusters. Republicans are expected to retain control of the House.

“I’m not optimistic that we’re going to see enough of a shift in the makeup of Congress that it will break the budget stalemate we’ve had for the past five years,” Harrison said.

The Pentagon has used short-term budget deals, as well as an uncapped war budget account, the infamous overseas contingency operations, known as OCO, to weather spending reductions.

“If they can’t continue to get that, then you’ve got a problem,” Harrison said. “Then you’re getting cut down to the budget caps.”

Harrison predicts Clinton, like Obama, would fight to raise both Pentagon and non-defense spending caps. Trump would likely only argue to raise defense spending caps only, just as Republicans have wanted to do for the past five years.

“That’s the pattern that we’ve seen over the past five years,” Harrison said. “I don’t expect that that will change. Whether it’s Clinton or Trump, quite frankly, it depends more on Congress.”

So the stalemate remains. Or does it? Lawmakers, along with whoever is elected president, will likely find themselves negotiating a short-term budget deal, as happened in 2013 and 2015.

“You’ve got to negotiate a compromise,” Harrison said.

So start your countdown clocks — but also remember that few of the dire predictions mooted in 2012 came true.

 

How Putin Weaponized Wikileaks to Influence the Election of an American President

By Patrick Tucker Read bio

July 24, 2016

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/how-putin-weaponized-wikileaks-influence-election-american-president/130163/?oref=d-dontmiss

 

Evidence suggests that a Russian intelligence group was the source of the most recent Wikileaks intel dump, which was aimed to influence the U.S. election.

Close your eyes and imagine that a hacking group backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin broke into the email system of a major U.S. political party. The group stole thousands of sensitive messages and then published them through an obliging third party in a way that was strategically timed to influence the United States presidential election. Now open your eyes, because that’s what just happened.

On Friday, Wikileaks published 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. They reveal, among other things, thuggish infighting, a push by a top DNC official to use Bernie Sanders’ religious convictions against him in the South, and attempts to strong-arm media outlets. In other words, they reveal the Washington campaign monster for what it is.

But leave aside the purported content of the Wikileaks data dump (to which numerous other outlets have devoted considerable attention) and consider the source. Considerable evidence shows that the Wikileaks dump was an orchestrated act by the Russian government, working through proxies, to undermine Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.

“This has all the hallmarks of tradecraft. The only rationale to release such data from the Russian bulletproof host was to empower one candidate against another. The Cold War is alive and well,” Tom Kellermann, the CEO of Strategic Cyber Ventures told Defense One.

Here’s the timeline: On June 14, cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, under contract with the DNC, announced in a blog post that two separate Russian intelligence groups had gained access to the DNC network. One group, FANCY BEAR or APT 28, gained access in April. The other, COZY BEAR, (also called Cozy Duke and APT 29) first breached the network in the summer of 2015.

Cybersecurity company FireEye first discovered APT 29 in 2014 and was quick to point out a clear Kremlin connection. “We suspect the Russian government sponsors the group because of the organizations it targets and the data it steals. Additionally, APT 29 appeared to cease operations on Russian holidays, and their work hours seem to align with the UTC +3 time zone, which contains cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg,” they wrote in their report on the group. Other U.S. officials have said that the group looks like it has sponsorship from the Russian government due in large part to the level of sophistication behind the group’s attacks.

It’s the same group that hit the State Department, the White House, and the civilian email of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The group’s modus operandi (a spearphishing attack that uploads a distinctive remote access tool on the target’s computer) is well known to cyber-security researchers.

In his blog post on the DNC breaches CrowdStrike’s CTO Dmitri Alperovitch wrote “We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well. In fact, our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis. Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter.”

The next day, an individual calling himself Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be the culprit behind the breach and released key documents to back up the claim, writing: “Shame on CrowdStrike.”

Crowdstrike stood by their original analysis, writing: “these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.”

Other security firms offered independent analysis and reached the same conclusion. The group Fidelis undertook their own investigation and found Crowdstrike to be correct.

A Twitter user named @PwnAlltheThings looked at the metadata on the docs that Guccifer 2.0 provided in his blog post and found literal Russian signatures.

His findings were backed up by Dan Goodin at Ars Technica. “Given the evidence combined with everything else, I think it’s a strong attribution to one of the Russian intelligence agencies,” @PwnAllTheThings remarked to Motherboard.

Motherboard reporter Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai actually conversed with Guccifer 2.0 over Twitter. The hacker, who claimed to be Romanian, answered questions in short sentences that “were filled with mistakes according to several Romanian native speakers,” Bicchieri found.

A large body of evidence suggests that Guccifer 2.0 is a smokescreen that the actual culprits employed to hide their involvement in the breach.

That would be consistent with Russian information and influence operations. “Russian propagandists have been caught hiring actors to portray victims of manufactured atrocities or crimes for news reports (as was the case when Viktoria Schmidt pretended to have been attacked by Syrian refugees in Germany for Russia’s Zvezda TV network), or faking on-scene news reporting (as shown in a leaked video in which “reporter” Maria Katasonova is revealed to be in a darkened room with explosion sounds playing in the background rather than on a battlefield in Donetsk when a light is switched on during the recording),” notes a RAND report from earlier in July.

The use of Wikileaks as the publishing platform served to legitimize the information dump, which also contains a large amount of personal information related to democratic donors such as social security and credit card numbers. This suggests that Wikileaks didn’t perform a thorough analysis of the documents before they released them, or simply didn’t care.

It’s the latest installment in a trend that information security researcher Bruce Schneier calls organizational doxing and that Lawfare’s Nicholas Weaver calls the weaponization of Wikileaks.

The most remarkable example of which, prior to the DNC incident, was the June 2015 the publication of several sets of NSA records related to government intelligence collection targets in France, Japan, Brazil and Germany. The data itself was not remarkable, but it did harm U.S. relations and may have compromised NSA tradecraft. “Wikileaks doesn’t seem to care that they are being used as a weapon by unknown parties, instead calling themselves a ‘library of mass education’. But the rest of us should,” Weaver writes.

 

The evidence so far suggests it’s a weapon that Putin used to great effect last week.

 

How Hackers Could Destroy Election Day

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/03/how-hackers-could-destroy-election-day.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-3-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

8.03.16

 

Donald Trump is already warning that the election’s going to be ‘rigged.’ Maybe, maybe not. But hacking the vote—and throwing the country into chaos—is terrifyingly simple.

Stealing and leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee could be just the start. Hacking the presidential election itself could be next, a bipartisan group of former intelligence and security officials recently warned. Whoever was behind the DNC hack also could target voting machines and the systems for tabulating votes, which are dangerously insecure.

“Election officials at every level of government should take this lesson to heart: our electoral process could be a target for reckless foreign governments and terrorist groups,” wrote 31 members of the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, which includes a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and a former secretary of Homeland Security.

That echoes warnings computer security experts have been sounding for more than a decade: that the system for casting and counting votes in this country is also ripe for mischief.

It also appears to mirror the concerns of one presidential candidate.

“I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest,” Donald Trump told voters in the key swing state of Ohio this week. Trump has complained before about bias and interference in the Republican nominating process, but this was the first time he claimed that the general election would be targeted.

A spokesman for Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, dismissed the Republican nominee as a “reflexive conspiracy theorist.”

But the election system in the United States can be manipulated, experts warn, through targeted attacks on its several weak points.

Whether Trump knows that is unclear. But he was priming the pump for Election Night mayhem—and perhaps playing right into hackers’ hands. Voters who have already been told to be on the lookout for shenanigans would be rightly incensed to learn that their votes had been manipulated. And a candidate who merely suggested that the system had been hijacked—without offering any proof—could inflame those passions and spread uncertainty. And God forbid the campaigns wind up suing one another over disputed ballots; the Supreme Court is down a justice, and is tied 4-4 between liberals and conservatives.

“It’s hanging chads weaponized,” former National Security Agency official Stewart Baker told NBC, referring to the 2000 election’s paper ballot controversy.

Surely, hackers know that. If someone really wanted to “rig” the election, here are five ways he might do it, from attacking the ballot box to exploiting the raw emotions stoked by a conspiracy-minded candidate.

 

Intercept the Ballots

Once ballots are cast at a polling place, they’re sent to another location to be counted. And while they’re in transit, they’re vulnerable to tampering—especially if they travel electronically.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia allow military personnel and overseas voters to return their ballots electronically, according to Verified Voting, a nonprofit group that advocates transparency and security in U.S. elections. “The election official on the receiving end has no way to know if the voted ballot she received matches the one the voter originally sent,” the group warns.

Some ballots are sent through online portals, which exposes the voting system to the internet. And that’s one of the most dangerous things elections officials can do, because it provides a remote point of access for hackers into the election system.

“Anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be connected to the internet, don’t connect it,” Pamela Smith, Verified Voting’s president, told The Daily Beast. U.S. officials have also given that same advice to the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids. Smith and her colleagues recently told U.S. officials crafting computer security guidelines that elections systems should also be treated as vital national assets, and protected as such .

Some ballots are returned via digital fax or email. And some—bafflingly—are sent via email.

“Without encryption, emailed ballots can be easily modified or manipulated en masse while in transit from the voter to the local election officials,” David Jefferson, a voting security expert and computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, warned in a blog post in 2011.

The threat is still real. Jefferson called it “trivial” for someone with a modicum of technical skills to filter out ballots from a particular county or state and “to automate a process to either discard ballots that contain votes she does not like, or replace them with forged ballots that she likes better, all the while keeping the voter’s signed waiver and envelope attachments intact. Such malicious activity would only result in a transmission delay on the order of one second or so.”

Most states that allow voters to return ballots via the internet limit the practice to overseas voters. But in close elections, those votes could make a difference. Alaska is also unique in that it allows anyone in the state to send in their ballots online.

“Marking and sending votes over the internet is my biggest concern,” Smith said. “They could be infected or tampered with. Or something could just go wrong and you couldn’t do a good recount.”

That’s especially concerning in states that allow voters to electronically return their ballots but don’t have paper backups to record how that person actually voted.

 

Lie to the Voting Machines

This may be one of the trickier hacks to pull off, but potentially one of the most damaging.

Ballot definition files are an indispensible piece of the electronic voting system. They tell a voting booth what precinct it’s sitting in, which races appear on the ballot, the candidate’s relationship to those races, and other essential information that a voter needs to cast his ballot correctly. When a voter touches a candidate’s name on a machine’s screen, it’s the ballot definition file that tells the machine to record that touch as a vote. The file actually defines how the machine sees the ballot.

And how are ballot definition files delivered to the voting machine? In some cases, via the internet. A corrupted ballot definition file could, in theory, tell the machine to count votes for Clinton as votes for Trump, and vice versa.

Such a mix-up has actually happened, though not by design. In a 2006 county election in Iowa, officials were surprised to find a popular incumbent—who’d been in office more than 20 years—losing to a practically unknown 19-year-old college student. When they stopped electronic voting and counted ballots by hand, they saw that the voting machines were miscounting all the races on the ballots.

It turns out that the machines weren’t programmed to know that not every ballot in the county looked alike. Some put one candidate’s name at the top in one precinct, and others changed the order. This is a process known as “ballot rotation,” and it’s meant to avoid favoritism or bias by always having one candidate’s name at the top of the ballot. The machine didn’t know that.

In a hack, the ballot definition file could be corrupted not to recognize this rotation, throwing the whole election off kilter. How badly? In that Iowa race, the voting machines had the incumbent coming in 9th place out of 10 candidates. When officials recounted the ballots by hand, they saw he had actually won.

 

Target a State with No Paper Trail

Electronic voting machines pose risks. But jurisdictions can minimize them by creating tangible records called voter-verified paper audit trails. Think of it like a receipt that shows the voter how his selection was counted. Audit trails also let election officials conduct a hand-count if necessary. If a hacker changed the votes cast on a machine, the paper trail should tell counters for whom the votes were really meant.

But five states use electronic voting machines with no auditable paper trail—Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey, according to data from Verified Voting. And seven states use a mix of paper ballots and electronic machines with no paper trail. Among them are the electoral battlegrounds of Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Experts say states with no or incomplete audit trails pose a prime target for manipulation. If a hacker altered the vote totals in the machine, not only would there be no paper record to provide an authoritative count, but election officials might not even realize they’d been hacked, because the only record of the vote count would be the compromised machine.

“This is one of those things about paperless, electronic voting that makes it so unusual and problematic. How would you know?” says Smith of Verified Voting.

Voters in Washington state got a taste for this uncertainty in their 2004 gubernatorial election, Smith says. The election results were close—down to 100 votes in some counties—but in places that used voting machines without paper records, the candidates had to just trust that the machines had recorded the votes properly. They couldn’t be recounted by hand.

And in one election in North Carolina the same year, a machine with no paper trail that was used for early voting in a county government office inexplicably stopped counting votes. About 4,500 were irretrievably lost, in a statewide contest that was decided by fewer than 2,000 votes, Smith says.

“In a situation like that, what do you do? They didn’t even have punch cards to hold up,” she said, alluding to the infamous 2000 presidential recount in Florida, where election officials had to visually inspect cards to determine which candidate voters actually cast a ballot for.

Some counties in Florida are using electronic machines now, which were introduced to reduce the likelihood of another recount fiasco. But in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the scene of so much confusion in 2000, there’s a mix of paper ballots and machines with no paper trails.

 

Go After Wireless Systems

Machines that can connect to each other or the internet wirelessly are the soft underbelly of election hacking.

In one of the most notorious cases of vulnerable election systems, researchers from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency found that WINVote, a touchscreen voting machine used in elections between 2002 and 2014, including three presidential races, contained wireless cards that would let an attacker “access the WINVote devices and modify the data without notice from a nearby location” .

The machines communicated with each other using an encrypted wireless system, but foiling it was easy: the password to gain access was “abcde,” which the Virginia researchers charitably described as “weak.”

“With that passphrase it was possible to join to the WINVote ad-hoc network with specialized security workstations and start attempting to compromise the WINVote device’s operating system,” the researchers wrote.

Virginia decertified the machines, and they’re no longer in use. In fact, no state uses WINVote, according to research from Verified Voting. But any election system that uses wireless components at other points in the tallying process is potentially at risk. That includes machines that may have wireless systems that election officials think they’ve disabled, but are actually still turned on. That was the case with WINVote.

 

Say You Hacked The Vote, Even If You Didn’t

Hackers don’t need to actually hijack a voting machine or ballot software to undermine confidence in election results. Merely the credible claim that an election had been tinkered with could compel a candidate’s supporters to cry foul, particularly if the vote counts are close or if the candidate performed worse than expected.

“If you have a system that’s been shown to have vulnerabilities, even if someone doesn’t attack them, but creates the impression that they might have, in a closely contested election you’ve got a problem,” Avi Rubin, a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University, and one of the first technologists to warn about vote hacking, told The Daily Beast.

Given Trump’s claims that the system is rigged, and his pattern of inciting supporters, it’s not hard to imagine the nominee seizing on just the claim of foreign hacking as evidence of interference.

“Launching a disinformation campaign on social media, or via text messages, is not challenging. And you only need a small percentage of people [to react] to have results,” John Wethington, a vice president at computer security company Ground Labs, told The Daily Beast. Disinformation can also be used to depress turnout. “Tell them that a particular polling location is closed. Or notify them that the voting machines in a particular area have been compromised,” Wethington said. People might stay away if they think the election is already stacked against them.

Particularly if their candidate tells them so.

 

US Air Force Secretary Skeptical of No-First-Use Nuclear Policy

Aaron Mehta, Defense News 4:51 p.m. EDT August 3, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/2016/08/03/secaf-no-fan-no-first-use-nuclear-policy/88007752/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%208.4.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WASHINGTON — Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James would be “concerned” if the US implemented a formal no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons, at a time when the White House reportedly is considering such a move.

 

Speaking Aug. 3 to Defense News and sister publication Air Force Times, James also said the service is briefing members of Congress that have expressed doubts about the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization strategy in order to make the case for funding the new Long Range Standoff (LRSO) nuclear cruise missile.

Over the past month, reports have emerged that President Barack Obama is considering enacting a no-first-use policy — in which the US would pledge not to preemptively launch a nuclear strike against another nation — before leaving office.

As would be expected, the nonproliferation community has cheered the idea, and a group of congressional Democrats recently wrote to Obama urging the adoption of that policy. But those who view nuclear deterrence as key to American security have expressed concerns such a plan would put the US on its heels, especially given recent Russian modernization of its nuclear arsenal.

Asked specifically her opinion on a no-first-use policy, James said, “Personally, I have questions about it. I would be concerned with it.”

Those comments echo remarks from William Cohen, a former defense secretary from 1997-2001 under President Bill Clinton. Cohen told Defense News July 21 that he doesn’t support a no-first-use declaration. Instead, Cohen said he hopes to see “a very rigorous diminution in our numbers and much greater cooperation with countries who possess” nuclear weapons.

James added that “I imagine we will hear more about [Obama’s nuclear-policy thoughts] in the next few months.”

That strategy, at this point, appears to include moving forward with major recapitalization efforts on a number of nuclear programs. Last week, the Air Force offered a request for proposals on both the LRSO and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) programs, the latter of which would replace the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

That the service went ahead with both those RFPs, James noted, “speaks for itself” in terms of how vital the Air Force feels those modernization efforts are.

But on the Hill, the nuclear modernization strategy has increasingly come under a microscope from congressional Democrats. In particular, the LRSO, which would replace the service’s Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) program, has become a target as a potential cut in order to free up money for the coming “bow wave” of modernization costs expected to hit the Pentagon in the mid-2020s.

Leading the charge against LRSO are two powerful Democrats: House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, Wash., and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-President Dianne Feinstein of California. The latter is particularly notable, as control of the Senate now appears a possibility for the Democratic party following November’s election.

James called the discussions over LRSO the result of a “reasonable difference of opinion among people who are all trying to do the same thing,” and said the service is trying to provide information that shows why the LRSO is important going forward.

“Our job is ultimately [to provide] the best military advice we can give,” James said. “We go over there. We brief. We brief both in unclassified and classified ways that ‘This I why we believe the LRSO is needed’.”

That argument rests on the need for the Air Force to have a “credible” deterrent for its bomber fleet, she said.

“We’re going to have our B-21s eventually, but our B-52s we also anticipate keeping for a substantial period of time. And without a standoff capability, those B-52s won’t be able to do the job in the mid-20202s,” James said. “So it’s directly related to that threat, the Anti-Access/Area Denial kind of environment. So we go to Congress and we explain this as well.

“It really does relate to what is going on around the world. That’s why we need it. But, again, reasonable people have differing opinions.”

 

 

After Zika vaccine breakthrough, DoD researchers to test it in humans

Patricia Kime, Military Times 5:24 p.m. EDT August 4, 2016

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/08/04/after-zika-vaccine-breakthrough-dod-researchers-test-humans/88117884/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Mil%208.5.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

On the heels of a National Institute of Health announcement Wednesday that the facility is launching clinical trials on humans of a Zika vaccine, the Defense Department said Thursday its vaccine candidate has been tested in monkeys and has been proved effective.

Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School published an article online in the journal Nature saying that with two animal studies having been completed, they are ready to proceed with their own human trials.

The researchers found that the military-developed vaccine induced antibody production in two weeks and complete protection in monkeys after a second dose four weeks later.

“Results from both the mouse and non-human primate testing are encouraging and support a decision to move forward with … our partners to advance our vaccine candidate to human trials,” said Col. Stephen Thomas, an Army infectious disease specialist.

Zika hits the U.S. military: 41 troops, 7 family members diagnosed

The military trials are a third of their kind. In addition to the NIH trials, Inovio Pharmaceuticals began testing its experimental Zika vaccine July 26.

“The Army has an interest in supporting development of countermeasures against Zika,” said George Ludwig, a researcher with the Army Medical Research and Material Command. “Infection diseases have traditionally been the greatest threat to solder health and readiness both in the field and in garrison.”

As of Aug. 3, 41 active-duty, reserve and National Guard members have been diagnosed with Zika, including one service member who is expecting a baby.

An additional seven family members have been diagnosed with Zika.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,650 cases of Zika have been diagnosed in the United States, including 433 pregnant women, and 4,750 cases have been reported in U.S. territories.

Nearly all but 15 U.S. cases were contracted outside the United States. They include 15 sexually transmitted cases and one lab-acquired case.

The NIH study kicked off Tuesday with the vaccination of the first patient. The study calls for testing 80 volunteers at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Emory University in Atlanta and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Both the NIH and Inovio vaccines are DNA vaccines, which unlike traditional vaccines that use deactivated or weakend viruses, or proteins from the virus designed to prompt an immune response, use genetic material derived from the viruses’ key proteins to stimulate the immune system.

 

The vaccine being developed by WRAIR and Beth Israel is based on more traditional vaccine development technology.

If any of the vaccines are proved effective, they would be made available to women and teenagers of childbearing age as well as their sexual partners, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.

In more than 80 percent of patients, a Zika virus infection causes few or no symptoms. But it can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads and partially developed brains, and death to affected fetuses.

The CDC this week issued a travel advisory to part of Miami, telling pregnant women they should not travel to parts of the city where Zika has been found. Since Zika can linger for 10 weeks or maybe more in blood of pregnant women, they are advising that women with Zika wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant and men with Zika should wait at least six months after symptoms to consider fathering children.

A breakthrough in the development of a Zika vaccine could also lead to prevention of other viruses related to Zika, including dengue, which infects roughly 390 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization, as well as yellow fever and chikungunya.

All are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which lives in the tropics and can summer in the United States.

 

Zika arrives in US: Debunking top myths about the virus

By Nicole Kwan

·Published August 05, 2016

· FoxNews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/08/05/zika-arrives-in-us-debunking-top-myths-about-virus.html

 

With the Rio Olympics starting Friday in the country where over 165,000 suspected Zika cases have been reported this year, and local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission reported in Florida, it’s natural to be concerned about the infectious disease that’s been dominating the headlines.

While some information about the outbreak is available— such as transmission, symptoms and containment efforts— questions about the virus remain.

 

Should I be concerned?

According to the experts, the answer depends on where you live and if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.

Certain areas of the country, specifically Florida and the Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana and Texas, have a high concentration of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and be more at risk of a Zika virus outbreak.

“Zika is far more contained than people realize,” Dr. Peter Hotez , Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told FoxNews.com. “Areas of concern are cities like Brownsville, Texas, Corpus Christi, Houston, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami.”

While there is an outbreak in a very circumscribed area of Miami, Hotez believes the whole city to be at risk, as individuals with Zika in their bloodstream are traveling to other parts of the city.

“If you’re living in a city at risk and are pregnant, you need to give a lot of thought to how you’re going to alter your behavior— maximizing your time indoors, talking with your obstetrician about how to apply DEET or an alternative insect repellent,” Hotez, who is also Founding Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said.

While there are 1,825 Zika cases in the continental U.S., compared with other regions— Puerto Rico has 5,582— it’s a drop in the bucket, said Dr. Federico Laham, medical director for pediatric infectious disease at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.

“If you are not pregnant or not an adult planning to have a partner who is pregnant, I don’t think [there’s] any reason for concern or any need for testing,” Laham told FoxNews.com.”Zika is believed to be an uncomplicated infection with self-limited symptoms that don’t have any long-lasting complications.”

 

How active are Zika-carrying mosquitoes?

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is an urbanized mosquito that has adapted to human habitats, especially urbanized areas where there’s crowding, which could be a suburb or any area with a certain density of people.

“Aedes aegypti tends to be a day biter, but once it’s inside houses, it could bite anytime,” Hotez said, adding that West Nile virus is still a concern, as it’s prevalent in the same places that have Zika.

In their lifespan, mosquitoes that carry Zika generally travel less than 150 meters (164 yards), according to the CDC, though the World Health Organization reports an average flight range of 400 meters (437 yards). The average lifespan of an Aedes aegpyti mosquito is two weeks.

The Aedes albopictus mosquito can also carry Zika, but it is not as efficient in spreading the virus as Aedes egypti, because it also feeds on birds and other mammals, interrupting transmission.

Most Americans favor late-term abortion if Zika harms fetus, STAT-Harvard poll finds

Zika vaccines work in monkeys, boosting hopes for people

New York attorney general says fake Zika protection claims swiftly dropped

Should women at all stages of pregnancy be worried about microcephaly?

Yes and no. While the effects of Zika on pregnant women and their unborn babies are still unknown, the most concerning stage is early pregnancy.

“Because of its similarity to other infections and findings about microcephaly, many of these things take a long time to develop and may affect the fetus early in pregnancy,” Laham said. “A mom can pass the infection to the baby at the time of birth if she gets the infection later on, but we doubt that will result in any kind of congenital problems like microcephaly. It takes time to develop— it’s not something that happens in a few days or weeks.”

Studies have shown evidence of Zika in amniotic fluid, placenta and fetal brain tissue.

Hotez agreed that the effects on unborn fetuses and young children are still unknown, but said it’s too early to know determine there are any neurological effects.

 

Is everyone who gets Zika symptomatic?

No. Cautioning that there is still a steep learning curve for Zika, Hotez said that research suggests 80 percent of infected people do not show symptoms, but he believes the percentage to be higher.

 

In the recent cases of local transmission in Florida, four out of the five patients did not have symptoms.

That being said, one of Hotez’s biggest worries is Zika cases that aren’t being reported.

“My big nightmare scenario is we’re missing Zika transmission in certain cities and as a consequence we could start seeing microcephaly cases seven, eight, nine months from now,” he said. “That would be really tragic.”

 

Can you be ‘cured’ of Zika?

Yes, once you’re infected you’re immune to the virus.

“The vast majority of [infected] people will develop antibodies and then you’re fine,” Hotez said. “You’re basically self-cured and immune.”

The lack of funding by Congress— right before the peak infection period of July-September— means the disease will be fought on the local level, leading to Hotez’s worry that cases aren’t being transmitted.

“[Congress] just left without making a decision, which was really shocking,” he said.

 

Will Zika stay in my system forever?

No. Most infected individuals will have Zika in their system for a period of 2 to 3 weeks and in the bloodstream for about a week.

However, if pregnant woman is infected, there is the possibility that the virus could go into the fetus, then back into the mother, he added.

The CDC advises non-pregnant couples use condoms or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks after onset if a female partner is diagnosed with or experiences symptoms of Zika and for at least six months if a male partner is diagnosed or has symptoms.

 

Will kissing spread Zika?

Probably not. In June, a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine detailed a case of Zika potentially being transmitted through oral sex, bringing to question whether the virus could be spread by other biological fluids, such as saliva during kissing.

“I don’t think [transmission through kissing] has been well-established at all,” Hotez said. “We want to keep our eyes on the prize— the overwhelming mode of transmission is still fro mosquito bites.”

 

Does Zika cause paralysis?

Still unclear. Zika has been linked to Guillen-Barre, a neurological illness that mostly lasts a few weeks and causes muscle weakness, and, sometimes, paralysis. According to the CDC, researchers do not fully understand what causes the syndrome, but most patients report a bacterial or viral infection before they have symptoms.

Guillen-Barre is rare and is found in 1 in 1,000 Zika patients, with some estimating 1 in 500 cases, Hotez said.

“It’s a very, very unusual complication and that shouldn’t really force any kind of fear,” Laham said. “Literally any virus like flu or the cold can cause all types of crazy infections.”

 

Guillen-Barre is usually an immune response to a virus.

“In the case of Zika, it happens so early on in the course of illness many of us are thinking Zika may cause Guillen-Barre by some kind of direct invasion of nervous tissue,” Hotez said.

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

 

Bottom of Form

In a presidential race where most of the media seem to treat policy positions like an afterthought, it may be a surprise that there are some pretty clear differences between the two major political parties and some obvious areas of agreement, too.

Voters don’t share President Obama’s upbeat assessment of the nation and strongly believe the United States is coming apart. Even the majority of his fellow Democrats share that gloomy assessment.

Only 31% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction, although that’s up from 21% a month ago following the murder of policemen in Dallas and Baton Rouge. That was the lowest level of optimism since October 2013.

Sixty percent (60%) think race relations have gotten worse since Obama’s election eight years ago.

The economy remains the number one issue for all voters this election cycle, but Republicans are a lot more worried about national security and illegal immigration than Democrats are. Illegal immigration ranks dead last for Democrats who rate the environment third in importance.

Americans strongly agree with both major presidential candidates about the importance of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and are willing to pay more for consumer goods to make it happen. Voters aren’t big fans of NAFTA and other international free trade deals.

Voters still tend to view Obamacare negatively, and fewer voters than ever expect it to lower health care costs. These findings are significant given that most voters still say lowering health care costs is more important than universal coverage, the top priority of the president’s plan.

Obama, Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats avoid using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” publicly because they believe it implicates all Muslims for the actions of extremists. Donald Trump and many Republicans place high importance on the language, saying an enemy cannot be defeated if it is not identified by name. Sixty percent (60%) of all voters continue to believe the United States is at war with radical Islamic terrorism. 

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal reached last year are accusing the Obama administration of paying a secret ransom to Iran after it was revealed that the United States sent $400 million in cash on the same day four U.S. detainees were released by the Iranian government. The president denies the ransom allegations, saying the payment was related to an older dispute, but most voters continue to express pessimism about the nuclear deal with Iran.

Republicans are again asking questions about Clinton’s health, while Democrats continue to insist that Trump release his tax returns. Most voters still believe major White House hopefuls should make public recent tax returns, but now most also think they should release their medical records, too.

But these aren’t the issues most of the media seems interested in covering this election season. Not that voters are surprised: 75% believe that when it comes to covering prospective presidential candidates, the media is more interested in creating controversies about them than it is in reporting where they stand on the issues. 

As in previous presidential election cycles, voters expect reporters covering political campaigns to help their favorite candidates and think it’s far more likely they will help Clinton than Trump.  

But most voters also don’t think Trump is helping himself with some of his comments.

Still, GOP voters prefer a party that’s more like Trump than one that’s more like House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest ranking Republican in Congress who easily defeated an anti-establishment opponent in Tuesday’s Wisconsin Republican primary.

Is the air going out of Clinton’s post-convention bounce in our latest weekly White House Watch survey.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters who are now or have been a member of a labor union say most organized labor leaders are out of touch with their members. This is a concern for Democrats this election cycle with many union members reportedly leaning toward Trump because of his positions on jobs and free trade even though union leaders are solidly behind Clinton.

If the presidential contest suddenly boiled down to a battle between the two vice presidential candidates, Republicans have the edge

Obama’s daily job approval rating remains slightly better than usual.

In other surveys last week:

The latest Rasmussen Reports Consumer Spending Monitor finds consumers in less of a spending mood.

— Attorneys general in 15 states are attempting to prosecute corporations and individuals that they believe are misleading the public about global warming. Most voters continue to believe the scientific debate about global warming is not over and oppose government action against those who question it.

— New Jersey last week moved a step closer to making striking union workers eligible for unemployment benefits, but most voters don’t welcome that idea where they live.

— Now that we’re in the heart of the summer, what does America think of the sunny season? 

July 30 2016


 

 

 

30 July 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

 

ISIS goes on the defensive in cyber

Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNET 7:02 a.m. EDT July 22, 2016

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/cyber/2016/07/22/isis-goes-defensive-cyber/87415706/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-25-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

ISIS has adapted its approach in the digital space to resist efforts aimed at disrupting and restricting its use of the internet, some experts say. A new report, made public today, details the items in ISIS’s digital toolbox that the group uses to resist these disruptive attempts.

The report, titled “Tech for Jihad: Dissecting Jihadists’ Digital Toolbox” and released by Flashpoint, an intelligence firm, notes that while “most communication platforms lack the sophistication necessary to ensure sufficient security … today’s jihadists constantly seek alternative ways to advance their agendas and communicate securely.” The report explains 36 of the most noteworthy tools and technologies leveraged by groups such as ISIS conducted by examining primary sources from the Deep and Dark Web. Most of the technologies, the report notes, have been used long before ISIS developed a public presence.

Jihadist organizations, according to the report, utilize encryption to protect their communications on a variety of platforms and services that include web browsers, email services, mobile devices and mobile applications. While many use traditional browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari, these services are not secure. “Jihadists enact stringent online security measures starting with the World Wide Web’s most fundamental portal: browsers,” the report said. “[T]ech-savvy jihadists are increasingly turning to highly-secure, alternative browsers such as Tor Browser and Opera Browser, so they can operate online more clandestinely without easily divulging their IP address and risking third-party surveillance.” They also use VPNs and DNS tools to obfuscate their location and IP address.

Encrypted tools are leveraged to protect emails as well as communications on mobile applications. Protected email services used by these groups include services that offer end-to-end encryption on emails, inbox encryption services that encrypt attachments and subject lines and services that guard against spam and phishing attempts. Additionally, common mobile encrypted communicates are Threema, WhatsApp and Telegram.

These groups have also leveraged tools that hide and delete files on devices as well as a tool called Net Guard, an open source firewall allowing users to specify apps connected to the internet.

While the exact culprit is not verifiable, one of the report’s authors said there has been a noticeable decline in ISIS’s Twitter activity and a significant uptick in use of encrypted platforms. This is likely a combination of the mass shuttering of social media accounts by the social media companies, CYBERCOM’s efforts against the group and the efforts of nongovernmental hacktivist groups such as Anonymous, said Laith Alkhouri, co-founder and the Director of Research & Analysis Flashpoint, in an interview with C4ISRNET.

Alkhouri said one of the ways ISIS has been effected in cyberspace isthe disruption of password-protected deep web forums used to communicate and release propaganda prior to widespread social media release. He was unable to say exactly who perpetrated these disruptions and hacks of one of ISIS’s top administrators.

ISIS’s hacking and cyber capabilities are often described as proficient, but disorganized. The group’s hacking community is a loosely knit community of ideologically driven hackers, another report from Flashpoint, released in April and titled “ISIS Cyber Capabilities,” said.

Alkhouri said ISIS does not have an official hacking or cyber wing and has not taken credit for any of the cyber activity perpetrated in its name on its official media channels, but it has praised calls to commit acts against perceived enemies in its name. ISIS has never acknowledged the presence of ISIS hackers that proclaim that they are hacking on their behalf, he said. ISIS does not coordinate or supervise the hacking collective working in their name.

Given ISIS’ capabilities and exploitation of technology — there’s a difference between the pro-ISIS hackers and ISIS, he added, noting that ISIS is not a cyber threat on par with nation-states. They use technology and the internet to further their agenda.

This is not say the group or its supporters will never pose a threat in cyberspace. “The challenge I look for or that concerns me when I look at the future is what happens if the non-state actor — [ISIS] being one example — starts to view cyber as a weapon system? That would really be a troubling development,” CYBERCOM Commander Adm. Michael Rogers told Congress in April.

Alkhouri said ISIS or pro-ISIS hacking groups could recruit individuals or organizations with far greater sophistication to join their ranks. He said he only saw one instance in which an individual that did not totally share the group’s ideology was recruited and helped the organization in the digital arena. British ISIS member Junaid Hussain, who was killed in an August 2015 drone strike and led the effort to launch and grow the so-called “Cyber Caliphate,” recruited Ardit Ferizi, a Kosovar hacker that collected and sent the personally identifiable information of U.S. service members to ISIS. Ferizi was eventually indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for his efforts.

 

U.S. goes to cyber war with ISIS

“As pro-ISIS cyber attacks and capabilities have gradually increased over time but remained relatively unsophisticated, it is likely that in the short run, these actors will continue launching attacks of opportunity. Such attacks include finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in websites owned by, for example, small businesses, and defacing these websites,” Flashpoint’s April report forecasts. “Other attacks may include DDoS attacks. Furthermore, advanced targeting and exfiltration are not far-fetched if the group is able to recruit outside experts into its fold… advancement of the cyber capabilities of pro-ISIS actors largely depends on the group’s ability to bring in a technological savvy, diverse group of people with broad technical skills.”

For some in the government these commercially available technologies that can be accessed by all pose a grave threat. “I think the biggest challenge for national security in the 21st Century as opposed to the 20th Century is that the things that are most likely to affect the future the most are going to be developed outside of the Defense Department,” William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office, said at the Defense One Tech Summit in June.

A recent report by the Rand Corporation discovered open-source and commercial off the shelf devices can have adverse effects on militaries in future urban conflicts. These technologies “are persistent and are dual-use, which means that they can benefit society or harm it,” the report said. “Although they are intended for commercial purposes, such as learning about shoppers’ preferences and finding new markets, they can easily be used by police and security services to identify and track criminals, terrorists, insurgents and spies.”

From its days as an al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq almost driven to extinction, ISIS has endured rising from the ashes of the Iraq War insurgency to rebrand, proving how it can adapt and evolve to changing circumstances, much to the fear of its enemies.

Alkhouri said the first creation of proprietary encryption technology for communication by al-Qaida in 2007 set a precedent for proprietary software development. Jihadi organizations can now trust their own proprietary technology as opposed to western technology, especially as smartphones and encryption for shielding communication is becoming more widespread.

ISIS and other groups have coped with technology changes. Alkhouri provided the unique example of members using Xbox Live and PlayStation 4 to as one unexpected form of communication used. He said ultimately it will be a whack-a-mole process: When one platform is scrutinized and attacked, ten other platforms will pop up.

 

 

Air Force works to keep older planes in air longer

By Barrie Barber – Staff Writer 5

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Sunday, July 24, 2016

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/local-military/air-force-works-to-keep-older-planes-in-air-longer/nr359/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-25-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — First flown in the 1970s, the Air Force could potentially fly the aging F-15 Eagle into the 2040s, according to a top Air Force official in charge of fighters and bombers.

It’s another sign the Air Force may have to keep planes in the air years longer than originally planned while it flies the smallest and oldest fleet in its history.

The average age of an Air Force plane is 27 years. In the interim, the aircraft have continuously flown combat missions for decades, and finding parts often becomes harder as the planes grow older, officials say.

The job to acquire, maintain and modernize more than 2,000 aircraft lands on the Fighters and Bombers Directorate at Wright-Patterson, a workforce of about 3,000 people across the country, said Brig. Gen. Michael J. Schmidt, who since April has been the directorate program executive officer.

Consider that the last B-52 Stratofortress rolled off the assembly line in 1962; the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-15 and F-16 Fighting Falcon first flew in the 1970s; the B-1 Lancer in the 1980s; and B-2 Spirit bombers have flown two decades.

Brig. Gen. Michael J. Schmidt is the Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Bombers, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air … read more

“If you think about those (aircraft), to get those initial operation capability dates, the technology in them was older than that,” Schmidt said. “(It’s a) huge amount of work in sustaining these legacy fleet of aircraft.”

 

About 20 percent of B-1 bombers, for example, have a parts issue at any one time, a rate about twice as high as other military aircraft, he said.

“Out-of-production parts and vanishing vendors are things that we deal with on every single program, but of course the older the airplane the harder it is to go out and find someone in industry sometimes that is either willing to do it or has the capability to do it,” he said.

For some needs, the Rapid Development Integration Facility at Wright-Patterson has made equipment, Schmidt said.

At the same time, the Air Force faces a shortage of skilled workers in maintenance depots, the one-star general said. More than 25,000 employees work in three Air Force depots at bases in Georgia, Oklahoma and Utah.

 

Eagle in the skies

The Air Force has started fatigue testing of the F-15 to determine if it can as much as triple the original life span, Schmidt said.

“We’re going to figure out through this fatigue testing process what things are breaking and how much do we have to invest to sustain that airplane to maybe three times the life cycle and then make some decisions on whether we can afford to do that,” Schmidt said.

One of the reasons the Air Force needs to fly the F-15 longer is because it bought far fewer F-22 Raptors meant to replace the F-15, an aviation analyst said. Another is a slower-than-expected pace to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the Air Force expects to declare ready to join the fleet later this year after years of delays and technical challenges.

Eventually, the F-35A will replace the A-10 and F-16.

“The early death of the F-22 program, along with slower-than-expected F-35 procurement, means that last generation just simply have to last longer,” Richard Aboulafia, a Teal Group analyst in Virginia, wrote in an email. “Since the F-15 is a great all-around fighter and strike aircraft, it will stay in service for decades to come.”

In recent weeks, congressional lawmakers have asked the Air Force to explore restarting production of the Raptor. Once envisioned to field a fleet of 750 fighters, the Pentagon slashed the number to 187 out of budget concerns and the last stealth fighter was built in 2011.

Schmidt said he would let the decision-makers determine the need for the jet, “but the longer we wait the more expensive it gets and the harder it gets to reconstitute that group of suppliers.”

Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney, for example, no longer assembles the jet’s engines, he said.

 

F-15 questions

Keeping the F-15 flying through 2040 depends on how threats evolve, what missions are highest priority and the cost to keep the plane airworthy, another defense analyst said.

“Older F-15s are already gone from the force, because you can’t fly tight maneuvers at supersonic speeds for decades without it taking a toll on the aircraft,” Loren Thompson, a defense expert with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and a defense industry consultant, wrote in an email.

“It isn’t clear that non-stealthy planes like the F-15 will be able to safely transit hostile airspace 30 years from now — even with upgrades like new jamming equipment,” he added.

Like the F-15, the Fighters and Bombers Directorate modernizes aging planes with updated communications, radar, navigation and defensive systems and weapons and manages foreign military programs of Air Force aircraft sold overseas, such as F-15s to Saudi Arabia, F-16s to Iraq, and the A-29 to Afghanistan and Lebanon, Schmidt said.

The directorate has pushed program managers to work with the defense industry to install new aircraft technologies more quickly through an “open architecture” and worked with small businesses to bring in innovations, Schmidt said.

Air Force depots also have added new capabilities, such as work on F-16 computer software, in recent years, he added.

 

Do recent veterans have more psychological problems than those of past wars?

Bret Moore, Special to Military Times 2:06 a.m. EDT July 25, 2016

Q: I’m a World War II veteran, and I find myself wondering about our country’s newest group of veterans. It seems like they are always talking about some disorder they have because of combat. Does our current generation of vets have more psychological problems than those of us from previous wars?

A: Your question is a tough one. My short and honest answer is, “I don’t think so.” The research comparing the rate of psychological conditions between different wars is sparse. But the information we do have seems to show that the rates of psychiatric ailments are fairly consistent between conflicts.

What makes it seem like our current veterans are battling more psychological problems may be a matter of awareness. Veterans, and the public at large, are more informed about conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. They understand that depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse can be consequences of extended and multiple deployments.

Increased awareness is likely only one part of the equation. Related to awareness, anti-stigma campaigns that focus on encouraging veterans to seek help leads to more veterans getting care. This does not mean that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have more problems than those from Desert Storm, Korea, Vietnam or World War II. It’s a matter of it being made easier and more acceptable for them to ask for help.

What I do know for sure is that the bond between veterans, regardless of which conflict they fought in, is one of the strongest bonds that can occur between groups. Veterans from all eras have much to teach and share with others.

 

Q: I retired from the Navy last year. Although I look back on my service with pride, I find myself hoping that my 8-year-old son doesn’t want to join the military when he’s older. I know it’s hypocritical, but it’s how I feel. Is this wrong?

A: It’s not a matter of right or wrong. It makes sense if a veteran looks back on his career and wells up with pride with the thought of his son or daughter serving. It’s also perfectly acceptable for a parent to reflect on how difficult and dangerous military service can be and not want that for a child.

My recommendation is to find comfort in the fact that the choice is the child’s. And if you’ve done your best as a parent, then you’ve given your child what he or she needs to make the best choice for their life. Beyond that, you’re just trying to control someone else’s future. That never turns out well!

 

Bret A. Moore, Psy.D., is a board-certified clinical psychologist who served two tours in Iraq. Email him at kevlarforthemind@militarytimes.com. This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey specific psychological or medical guidance.

 

Vladimir Putin’s Bad Blood With Hillary Clinton

Simon Shuster / Berlin @shustry

http://time.com/4422723/putin-russia-hillary-clinton/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-26-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

July 25, 2016

The Russian President has long held a grudge against Clinton for trying to weaken his rule when he was most vulnerable

In December 2011, Vladimir Putin came closer than he’s ever been to losing his hold on power. His decision that year to run for a third term as Russia’s President had inspired a massive protest movement against him. Demonstrations calling for him to resign were attracting hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Some of his closest allies had defected to the opposition, causing a split in the Kremlin elites, and Russian state media had begun to warn of a revolution in the making.

At a crisis meeting with his advisers on Dec. 8 of that year, the Russian leader chose to lay the blame on one meddling foreign diplomat: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“She set the tone for certain actors inside the country; she gave the signal,” Putin said of Clinton at the time, accusing her of ordering the opposition movement into action like some kind of revolutionary sleeper cell. “They heard this signal and, with the support of the U.S. State Department, started actively doing their work.”

Five years later, the U.S. presidential elections may have given Putin his chance for getting even. According to Clinton’s campaign staff and a number of cyber-security experts, Russian hackers in the service of the Kremlin were behind last week’s leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee. The hacked messages appeared to show DNC officials, who are meant to remain neutral during the Democratic Party’s primary race, favoring Clinton over her then-rival, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Reactions to the leak so far, including from Clinton’s campaign managers, have focused on what Russia would have to gain from helping Donald Trump win the Presidency. Trump’s flattering remarks about Putin in the past, as well as his recent equivocating about whether the U.S. should defend NATO allies in case of a Russian attack, would seem to support the notion that Trump is Russia’s favored candidate.

If the Kremlin has indeed begun interfering in the presidential race on Trump’s behalf, the bad blood between Putin and Clinton would seem like enough of a motivation. Putin’s list of grievances goes back a lot further than Clinton’s alleged support for the Russian protest movement.

In 2009, soon after President Obama took office, his newly appointed Secretary of State initiated what the White House called a “reset” in relations with Russia. At the time, Putin had already positioned himself as an adversary to the U.S., or at least a check on American influence in the world, and he showed no inclination for making friends with Obama. But constitutional term limits had forced Putin to switch to the less powerful role of Prime Minister the previous year, and his younger protégé, Dmitri Medvedev, then took over the presidency. In sharp contrast to his mentor, Medvedev began to cast himself as a liberal Westernizer with a particular affection for high-tech American gadgets.

 

That presented Washington an opportunity and, in the first year of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. tried to sidestep Putin and build better relations with Russia through Medvedev. As Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw these efforts, which saw the two Presidents visit each other’s countries—Obama in 2009, Medvedev in 2010—and establish a range of bilateral commissions to cooperate on everything from counter-terrorism to the tech economy.

But among Kremlin hardliners, who have since come to dominate Russian politics, Clinton’s efforts to flatter and befriend Medvedev all seemed like part of a scheme to undermine Putin and subvert his role as a counterweight to U.S. dominance in world affairs. One incident in particular drove home that perception.

In the spring of 2011, the U.S. and its allies began pushing for a military intervention in Libya to prevent the regime of Muammar Ghaddafi from massacring rebel forces and their civilian supporters. But without Russia’s acquiescence, the West could not pass a resolution in the U.N. that would provide a legal basis for the intervention. So Clinton and Obama began pressuring Medvedev to play along, and he ultimately agreed not to veto the resolution in the U.N. Security Council.

Putin was furious. The resolution, he said, resembled “the medieval calls for a Christian crusade,” one that Clinton, as the top U.S. diplomat at the time, helped to orchestrate. Later that same year, when Russia’s flawed parliamentary elections set off a season of street protests, Clinton spoke up in support of the demonstrations. “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted,” Clinton said. “And that means they deserve free, fair, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.”

It was a fairly tame statement of support for the Russian opposition movement. But Putin took it as a personal affront against his leadership, as well as a sign that Clinton was intent on manipulating the Russian presidential elections that were then just a few months away.

With a campaign based on Cold War rhetoric against the conniving West, Putin won that vote handily, and it is easy to see how he would relish the chance to manipulate the U.S. presidential elections in return.

At least in his public statements, he has tried not to take sides between Clinton and Trump too overtly. Asked during a panel discussion in June about his statements that Trump is a “colorful” politician, Putin said that Russia “never interferes in the internal political processes of other countries, especially the United States.”

Regardless of whom the U.S. electorate chooses as its leader in November, Putin said, Russia would work with the new American President in the hope of restoring constructive ties. “The world needs a strong country like the U.S., and we need it, too,” he said. “What we don’t need is for them to constantly interfere in our business and tell us how to live.” Considering his experience with Clinton’s supposed meddling in Russian affairs, it seems clear which candidate he would trust not to interfere in the Kremlin’s business.

 

 

The U.S. is apparently using anti-drone rifles against the Islamic State

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff July 26

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/07/26/the-us-is-apparently-using-anti-drone-rifles-against-the-islamic-state/?utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-27-16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

 

 

U.S. Marines with Task Force Spartan, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit on Fire Base Bell in Iraq, fire an M777A2 Howitzer at an Islamic State infiltration route March 18. (Cpl. Andre Dakis/U.S. Marine Corps)

A tweet posted last week by Peter Singer, a co-author of the book Ghost Fleet and a strategist at the New America Foundation, shows his book couched up against what appears to be a Battelle DroneDefender anti-drone rifle in a tent at Fire Base Bell outside Makhmour, Iraq.

The advent and proliferation of small, cheap drones has had a lasting effect on the battlefields of the 21st century. From Syria to Ukraine, the devices have been used in myriad ways, from filming propaganda videos to observing enemy locations. The presence of a U.S. anti-drone system, while a seemingly sensible counter-measure against the Islamic State’s fondness for using the remote-controlled aircraft, is a small glimpse into how the American military is adapting to evolving battlefield threats in the wake of its two protracted ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is unclear when the picture was taken, though the small American base was first stood up in March. Now renamed the Kara Soar Counter-Fire Complex, the outpost has been responsible for providing artillery support for Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces as they attempt to move northwest into the Tigris River valley.

According to Singer, he and his fellow author August Cole had sent the book as part of a care package to Iraq and had received the picture, and the permission to post it, as a thanks in response.

According to the rifle’s description on the manufacturer’s website, the rifle takes “no extensive training” and “disrupts the adversary’s control of the drone, neutralizing it so no remote action, including detonation, can occur.” The rifle is a “non-kinetic” weapon, meaning it doesn’t use bullets.

The system has the ability to disrupt the user’s control link to their drone as well as its ability to sync with a GPS network. It is unclear what type of frequency the rifle uses to attack its target, but the size of the dual front-mounted antennas suggest that the disruption pulse is distributed across multiple radio frequency bands. The rifle has a range of roughly 400 yards, will hit a drone in a 30-degree cone and can be ready to use and fire in less than a second, according to the site. Aside from the antennas and the attached battery pack, the anti-drone rifle appears to be very similar to the M-16/M-4 series of rifles carried by U.S. troops, including a similar stock and attachment system for accessories such as scopes and flashlights.

While small drones can be used to observe enemy locations, they can also be used to coordinate indirect-fire weapons such as mortars, rockets and artillery. Indirect-fire weapons are often fired beyond the line of sight of their intended target, making the presence of an observer that can see where the rounds are impacting invaluable. Using drones to observe and coordinate artillery and mortar strikes has been nearly perfected in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have used the tactic almost daily since the war started there in 2014.

In March, an Islamic State rocket attack killed Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin and wounded eight others at Fire Base Bell. Pentagon officials at the time said that the Islamic State had used 107mm Katyusha rockets. First debuting on World War II’s eastern front, the Katyusha rocket has been a staple in conflict zones ever since, and has been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The commander of the Marine unit stationed at Fire Base Bell recently told reporters that the base came under numerous rocket attacks during the unit’s 60-day stay there. It is unclear if the Islamic State used a drone to make their strikes more accurate, but its likely that the terror group used the small devices to at least perform some type of reconnaissance prior to targeting the American contingent.

 

 

What do ordinary citizens in the Arab world really think about the Islamic State?

By Mark Tessler, Michael Robbins and Amaney Jamal July 27

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/07/27/what-do-ordinary-citizens-in-the-arab-world-really-think-about-the-islamic-state/?utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-27-16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

 

What do ordinary Arabs think about the Islamic State? This spring, we added several questions to the standard battery of Arab Barometer surveys to find out. We asked a scientific sample of respondents in Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine, Algeria and Morocco the following questions:

 

To what extent do you agree with the goals of the Islamic State;

To what extent to do you support the Islamic State’s use of violence; and

To what extent do you believe the Islamic State’s tactics are compatible with the teachings of Islam?

 

Little support for the Islamic State

The findings were stark: Not many Arabs sympathize with the Islamic State. The percent agreeing with the Islamic State’s goals range from 0.4 percent in Jordan to 6.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing with the Islamic State’s use of violence range from 0.4 percent in Morocco to 5.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing that the Islamic State’s tactics are compatible with Islam range from 1.0 percent in Jordan to 8.9 percent in the Palestinian territories.

It’s important to dig deeper, though. While very few respondents express positive attitudes toward the Islamic State, it is possible that some who support the Islamic State’s goals or tactics or believe the group’s actions are compatible with Islam decline to answer the question or say they don’t know, rather than explicitly express approval of the Islamic State.

For sensitive issues like support for an extremist group, this is a common way to avoid expressing an opinion that is contrary to societal norms. For each question and each country, therefore, we also note the percent that decline to respond or say they don’t know. With these responses treated as expressions of support for the Islamic State, the percent having positive, or at least neutral, attitudes toward the Islamic State increases, particularly in Algeria and in the Palestinian territories. Nevertheless, it is clear, overall, that there is very little support for the Islamic State among these five Arab publics.

 

A key demographic differs little

What about younger and poorly educated men, who seem to be a primary audience for the Islamic State message? Breaking out the responses of male respondents age 36 or under who have had less than secondary schooling shows that even among this key demographic there is also little support for the Islamic State’s goals or for its use of violence, and that few consider the Islamic State’s tactics to be compatible with the teachings of Islam. Indeed, in some instances, positive attitudes toward the Islamic State are held by fewer individuals in the key demographic category.

 

A Tunisian exception?

 

Findings are similar with respect to whether the Islamic State’s tactics are compatible with the teachings of Islam, but with one potentially instructive exception. This concerns Tunisia, where 14.9 percent of poorly educated younger male respondents say that the Islamic State’s tactics are compatible with Islamic teachings, compared with 8.6 percent of other Tunisians.

The finding that younger and less-well-educated Tunisian men are more likely than other Tunisians to judge the Islamic State’s tactics to be compatible with Islamic teachings may help to explain why a large number of Tunisians have left the country to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. News reports place the number at 3,000 to 8,000, far more than any other Arab country with the exception of Saudi Arabia. And since most who have responded to the Islamic State’s call are poorly educated younger men, the comparatively high percentage that considers the Islamic State’s tactics to be compatible with Islam may provide a part of the explanation.

There are only 87 respondents in this key demographic category in the Tunisian survey, and so the findings should be accepted with a measure of caution, even though a non-parametric statistical test does show a very low probability of obtaining by chance alone the difference reported.

Only 3.4 percent of poorly educated younger Tunisian men express support for the Islamic State’s goals, and only 2.3 percent agree with its violent tactics. Nevertheless, it is notable that Tunisians in the demographic category that is the primary target of the Islamic State messaging are significantly more likely than other Tunisians, and their counterparts in other Arab countries, to consider the Islamic State’s tactics compatible with Islam.

 

 

Mark Tessler is the Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Michael Robbins is the director of the Arab Barometer. Amaney A. Jamal is the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics at Princeton University and director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice.

 

N. Korea: US Has Crossed Red Line, Relations on War Footing

 

By eric talmadge, Associated Press

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Jul 28, 2016, 2:03 PM ET

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/korea-us-crossed-red-line-relations-war-footing-40952388

 

North Korea’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs told The Associated Press on Thursday that Washington “crossed the red line” and effectively declared war by putting leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, and said a vicious showdown could erupt if the U.S. and South Korea hold annual war games as planned next month.

Han Song Ryol, director-general of the U.S. affairs department at the North’s Foreign Ministry, said in an interview that recent U.S. actions have put the situation on the Korean Peninsula on a war footing.

The United States and South Korea regularly conduct joint military exercises south of the Demilitarized Zone, and Pyongyang typically responds to them with tough talk and threats of retaliation.

Han said North Korea believes the nature of the maneuvers has become openly aggressive because they reportedly now include training designed to prepare troops for the invasion of the North’s capital and “decapitation strikes” aimed at killing its top leadership.

Han says designating Kim himself for sanctions was the final straw.

“The Obama administration went so far to have the impudence to challenge the supreme dignity of the DPRK in order to get rid of its unfavorable position during the political and military showdown with the DPRK,” Han said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown,” he said. “We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war.”

Although North Korea had already been heavily sanctioned internationally for its nuclear weapons and long-range missile development programs, Washington’s announcement on July 6 was the first time Kim Jong Un has been personally sanctioned.

Less than a week later, Pyongyang cut off its final official means of communications with Washington — known as the New York channel. Han said Pyongyang has made it clear that everything between the two must now be dealt with under “war law.”

Katina Adams, State Department spokeswoman for East Asia and the Pacific, said the U.S. continues to call on North Korea “to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations.”

She said the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are “defense-orientated” and have been carried out regularly and openly for roughly 40 years, and are designed to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. “These exercises are a clear demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the alliance,” she said.

South Korea’s unification, defense and foreign ministries did not immediately comment.

Kim and 10 others were put on the list of sanctioned individuals in connection with alleged human rights abuses, documented by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, that include a network of political prisons and harsh treatment of any kind of political dissent in the authoritarian state. U.S. State Department officials said the sanctions were intended in part to highlight those responsible for the abuses and to pressure lower-ranking officials to think twice before carrying them out.

Pyongyang denies abuse claims and says the U.N. report was based on fabrications gleaned from disgruntled defectors. Pointing to such things as police shootings of black Americans and poverty in even the richest democracies, it says the West has no moral high ground from which to criticize the North’s domestic political situation. It also says U.S. allies with questionable human-rights records receive less criticism.

Han took strong issue with the claim that it not the U.S. but Pyongyang’s continued development of nuclear weapons and missiles that is provoking tensions.

“Day by day, the U.S. military blackmail against the DPRK and the isolation and pressure is becoming more open,” Han said. “It is not us, it is the United States that first developed nuclear weapons, who first deployed them and who first used them against humankind. And on the issue of missiles and rockets, which are to deliver nuclear warheads and conventional weapons warheads, it is none other than the United States who first developed it and who first used it.”

He noted that U.S.-South Korea military exercises conducted this spring were unprecedented in scale, and that the U.S. has deployed the USS Mississippi and USS Ohio nuclear-powered submarines to South Korean ports, deployed the B-52 strategic bomber around South Korea and is planning to set up the world’s most advanced missile defense system, known by its acronym THAAD, in the South, a move that has also angered China.

Echoing earlier state-media reports, Han ridiculed Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, for a flight on a U.S. Air Force F-16 based in South Korea that he said was an action “unfit for a diplomat.”

“We regard that as the act of a villain, who is a crazy person,” Han said of the July 12 flight. “All these facts show that the United States is intentionally aggravating the tensions in the Korean Peninsula.”

Han warned that Pyongyang is viewing next month’s planned U.S.-South Korea exercises in this new context and will respond if they are carried out as planned.

“Nobody can predict what kind of influence this kind of vicious confrontation between the DPRK and the United States will have upon the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “By doing these kinds of vicious and hostile acts toward the DPRK, the U.S. has already declared war against the DPRK. So it is our self-defensive right and justifiable action to respond in a very hard way.

“We are all prepared for war, and we are all prepared for peace,” he said. “If the United States forces those kinds of large-scale exercises in August, then the situation caused by that will be the responsibility of the United States.”

Last year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises involved 30,000 American and 50,000 South Korean troops and followed a period of heightened animosity between the rival Koreas sparked by land mine explosions that maimed two South Korean soldiers. In the end, the exercises escalated tensions and rhetoric, but concluded with no major incidents.

Han dismissed calls for Pyongyang to defuse tensions by agreeing to abandon its nuclear program.

“In the view of cause and effect, it is the U.S. that provided the cause of our possession of nuclear forces,” he said. “We never hide the fact, and we are very proud of the fact, that we have very strong nuclear deterrent forces not only to cope with the United States’ nuclear blackmail but also to neutralize the nuclear blackmail of the United States.”

 

 

FBI Chief Warns ‘Terrorist Diaspora’ Will Come to the West

Chris Strohm

July 27, 2016 — 9:59 AM EDT

Updated on July 27, 2016 — 11:35 AM EDT

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-27/fbi-chief-warns-terrorist-diaspora-will-be-coming-to-the-west

Hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the U.S. to carry out attacks on a wider scale as Islamic State is defeated in Syria, FBI Director James Comey warned.

“At some point there’s going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said Wednesday in New York. “We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris,” said the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, adding that future attacks will be on “an order of magnitude greater.”

 

Comey’s blunt warnings echo those of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has scoffed at Obama administration efforts to defeat Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq. Nonetheless, the FBI chief’s comments reflect a consensus among U.S. intelligence officials that the group inevitably will strike out abroad as it continues to lose ground militarily under attack from a U.S.-led coalition.

CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that “our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.” Using an acronym for Islamic State, Brennan said, “as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”

 

‘Greatest Threat’

Comey, who called violence directed or inspired by Islamic State “the greatest threat to the physical safety of Americans today,” said that “a lot of terrorists fled out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is 10 times that or more.”

In his remarks at a conference on cybersecurity, Comey also cited the difficulty of heading off what are often called “lone-wolf” attackers acting on the group’s calls for violence.

It is “increasingly hard” for counterterrorism officials to find and stop individuals inspired or directed by Islamic State who use a knife or a vehicle to kill people, Comey said.

At the same time, U.S. officials have claimed increasing success in reducing Islamic State’s hold on the caliphate the group proclaimed across a swath of Iraq and Syria.

“We can say that the tide has turned,” Secretary of State John Kerry said last week. Using an Arabic name for Islamic State, he said, “Our coalition and partners on the ground have driven Daesh out of nearly 50 percent of the territory that it once controlled in Iraq and 20 percent of the territory in Syria.” But he also cited the need for “real-time communications between countries” and other measures to counter the group’s efforts “to transform themselves into a global terrorist organization.”

While Trump has said he would be more aggressive in attacking Islamic State if elected in November, he hasn’t provided details. His response to the threat of attacks in the U.S. is a vow to introduce “extreme vetting” of potential immigrants from certain “territories” affected by terrorism.

Attacks in France have left more than 230 dead since the start of last year. A mass shooting that killed 49 people at a nightclub last month in Orlando, Florida, was carried out by a man who claimed allegiance to Islamic State. Less than two weeks before the Olympic Games begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian police have rounded up a dozen people it said were possibly members of an Islamic State cell.

Beyond the West, Islamic State took credit for a July 23 suicide bombing at a rally in Kabul that killed more than 80 people, the deadliest single attack in Afghanistan in 15 years of war.

 

Encryption Debate

The FBI chief also spoke Thursday of the unresolved fight over law enforcement access to encrypted communications that brought his agency into conflict with Apple Inc. earlier this year.

The debate over encryption “has dipped below public consciousness right now,” Comey said.

The FBI is using that time to collect data on the negative impact that encrypted communications is having on investigations, he said. From October through March, 500 of 4,000 devices the FBI confiscated couldn’t be opened due to encryption, he said.

 

Debate by policy makers over the issue probably will have to wait until next year, after the U.S. elections, he said.

“At some point encryption is going to figure in a major event in this country,” Comey said. “We’ve got to have the conversation before that happens.”

 

 

New evidence confirms what gun rights advocates have said for a long time about crime

By Christopher Ingraham July 27

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/27/new-evidence-confirms-what-gun-rights-advocates-have-been-saying-for-a-long-time-about-crime/?utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-28-16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

Lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of all gun crimes, according to a novel analysis released this week by the University of Pittsburgh.

In the study, led by epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, researchers partnered with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to trace the origins of all 893 firearms that police recovered from crime scenes in the year 2008.

They found that in approximately 8 out of 10 cases, the perpetrator was not a lawful gun owner but rather in illegal possession of a weapon that belonged to someone else. The researchers were primarily interested in how these guns made their way from a legal purchase — at a firearm dealer or via a private sale — to the scene of the crime.

“All guns start out as legal guns,” Fabio said in an interview. But a “huge number of them” move into illegal hands. “As a public-health person, I’d like to be able to figure out that path,” he added.

More than 30 percent of the guns that ended up at crime scenes had been stolen, according to Fabio’s research. But more than 40 percent of those stolen guns weren’t reported by the owners as stolen until after police contacted them when the gun was used in a crime.

One of the more concerning findings in the study was that for the majority of guns recovered (62 percent), “the place where the owner lost possession of the firearm was unknown.”

“We have a lot of people with a lot of guns,” Fabio said, referencing statistics on the large number of guns in circulation. “And some of them aren’t keeping track of them for different reasons — maybe because they have a lot of them and they don’t use them that often.”

A number of factors could lead to legal firearms entering the black market. Owners could misplace them, or they could be stolen — either through carelessness on the owner’s part (leaving a gun in an unlocked car, for instance) or determination on the part of thieves.

It’s also likely that many guns on the black market got there via straw purchases — where a person purchases a gun from a dealer without disclosing that they’re buying it for someone else. This is illegal under federal law. One potential sign that straw purchasing is a factor in the Pittsburgh data: Forty-four percent of the gun owners who were identified in 2008 did not respond to police attempts to contact them.

The top-line finding of the study — that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes aren’t committed by lawful gun owners — reinforces a common refrain among gun rights advocacy groups. They argue that since criminals don’t follow laws, new regulations on gun ownership would only serve to burden lawful owners while doing little to combat crime.

 

But Fabio’s research suggests that this strict dichotomy between “good guys” and “bad guys” isn’t necessarily helpful for figuring out how to keep “good” guns — those purchased legally — from getting into “bad” hands. And there may be modest, non-burdensome ways to help keep guns in the hands of the good guys.

For instance, 10 states plus the District of Columbia have laws in place requiring gun owners to report the theft or loss of firearms to law enforcement, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that advocates for stronger firearm regulations. But in the majority of states, no such law is in place.

Additionally, past research has demonstrated that a small fraction of gun dealers are responsible for the majority of guns used in crimes in the United States. A 2000 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found that in 1998, more than 85 percent of gun dealers had no guns used in crimes trace back to them. By contrast, 1 percent of dealers accounted for nearly 6 in 10 crime gun traces that year.

The firearms bureau knows exactly who these gun dealers are — but they’re not allowed to share that information with policymakers or researchers due to a law passed by Congress in 2003. As a result, solutions for stanching the flow of guns from these dealers to crime scenes remain frustratingly out of reach for public-health researchers.

“There’s not much federal funding out there to do research on firearm and firearm safety,” Fabio said. As a result, “there’s not a lot of good research out there. The process of getting it done has been hindered by a lot of limits on academics and how they can do firearms research.”

In the meantime, researchers have to be creative — like partnering with local law enforcement agencies to find answers to their questions.

 

 

James: Crawl, walk run on enlisted pilots flying UAS

Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNET 4:16 p.m. EDT July 27, 2016

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/uas/2016/07/27/james-crawl-walk-run-enlisted-pilots-flying-uas/87583578/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-28-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

Recently, the Air Force for the first time adopted a new plan to allow enlisted service members to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unarmed, high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned surveillance aircraft. Now the service’s secretary is offering a cautious approach but noted more could come.

“What we’re doing is we’re opening up to the enlisted force the world of piloting for the Global Hawk. At the moment, that’s our focus because it’s something new and when you try something new, I’m a believer in crawl, walk run – do it, learn your lessons, do it well and then look at expanding down the line,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a July 26 Washington event hosted by Defense One.

 

Enlisted airmen one step closer to flying UAVs

However, while the current approach is only focused on these large, non-weaponized aircraft, James said there could be opportunities to expand in the future depending on how successful the initiative is.

 

“I absolutely do see possibilities for further expansion beyond Global Hawk but again I think it’s prudent when you start something new to start with something, what I call crawl, walk, run,” James said.

Currently, the force’s weaponized unmanned aircraft – the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper – are piloted by officers, and will be for the foreseeable future. As part of the Air Force’s so-called “get well plan” to help alleviate a force strained by growing demand for global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, contractors will take control of 10 daily combat air patrol sorties. The Air Force has been clear that the contractors will not operate weaponized aircraft, something James reiterated July 26.

 

Does the Pentagon need a Space Acquisition Agency?

by Mike Gruss — July 28, 2016

http://spacenews.com/does-the-pentagon-need-a-space-acquisition-agency/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%207.29.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Defense Department leaders suggested to government auditors that to improve the management and oversight of the national security space enterprise, the Pentagon should consider creating a single space force, one that would handle duties currently divided between the National Reconnaissance Office and at least seven other Defense Department agencies.

Debating the best organizational structure for the Pentagon’s space programs has been a decades long exercise for the national security space community. In a report released July 26, the Government Accountability Office said national security experts and Defense Department leaders recommended a series of reforms and the congressional watchdog agency studied three of those ideas.

 

Among the suggestions the GAO considered:

Starting a Defense Space Agency that would combine military space functions currently spread out over eight agencies but would leave the NRO, which builds and operates the country’s spy satellites, intact.

Creating a Space Acquisition Agency that would combine the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, which handles the majority of the Defense Department’s space acquisitions, with the NRO, which performs the same tasks for the intelligence community.

Standing up a Space Force that would combine all military space agencies, including the NRO, and would be led by a civilian secretary.

 

Such changes “would likely involve significant short- term disruption to DOD’s space organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities,” the report said. “However, given the long-standing fragmentation in space leadership and consequent challenges faced by DOD in synchronizing its extensive space enterprise, proposals such as these that may entail disruptive changes may nevertheless deserve a closer look.”

The GAO said the proposals should receive closer examination if the current organizational structure, which has been in place less than a year, proves ineffective. In October 2015, Bob Work, the deputy secretary of defense, designated the Air Force secretary as the Principal DoD Space Advisor. In that role, the PDSA oversees the entire DoD space portfolio and acts as an adviser to senior Pentagon leadership.

Some defense leaders also suggested doing nothing but seeing how the current changes play out, the report said.

“We and others have reported for over two decades that fragmentation and overlap in DOD space acquisition management and oversight have contributed to program delays and cancellations, cost increases, and inefficient operations,” the GAO report said.

Notably, the GAO found in 2012 that a lack of a government-wide authority hindered space situational awareness acquisition efforts.

The report, titled “Defense Space Acquisitions: Too Early to Determine If Recent Changes Will Resolve Persistent Fragmentation in Management and Oversight,” was sent to congressional defense committees and completed at the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

While not making any recommendations, the GAO said each of the reorganizations would offer benefits and drawbacks. A Defense Space Agency would not require changes for the intelligence community, but also would not consolidate all national security space activities. A Space Acquisition Agency would create a more cohesive approach for industry, but would require changes to the intelligence community’s change of command as well as more time and money to stand up a new organization. A Space Force would create visibility and attention, but would require congressional attention, an increased budget and may not shorten DoD review processes.

In a July 6 letter to the GAO, Defense Department leaders chafed at the ideas in the report.

“The Department does not concur with the GAO publishing this report at this time since it contains no new information on the reforms already adopted and states clearly that it is ‘too early to gauge’ whether these reforms are working,” said James MacStravic, a DoD acquisition official. “Identification of additional reforms for consideration before assessing the effectiveness of the existing reforms would be premature.”

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Saturday, July 30, 2016

 

The national political conventions are over. Now the real dirty work begins.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton remain deadlocked in our latest weekly White House Watch survey.   However, the survey was taken prior to Clinton’s acceptance speech at Thursday night’s Democratic National Convention. We’ll see next Thursday if Clinton got a bounce out of her convention.

In the key state of Nevada, Trump leads Clinton 43% to 38%, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson picking up eight percent (8%) of the vote.   This survey, too, was taken before the Democratic convention really got going but will be updated on Tuesday to see if this week’s confab made a difference.

Just 54% of voters nationwide still favor the presidential candidate they liked at the beginning of the year.

Heading into the Democratic convention, the party’s progressive wing had a lot to be fired up about, and it wasn’t the party’s nominee. 

Less than half of Democrats feel Clinton has done enough to win over supporters of her primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders, but most voters in their party still think there’s a good chance Sanders supporters will back her in the fall. 

Bill Clinton used to tell voters during his 1992 campaign for the presidency that they would be getting “two for the price of one” if he was elected, referring to his wife. Voters are strongly convinced that they’ll get the same deal if Mrs. Clinton is elected to the White House this fall. 

Does America think the former president is ready to be the nation’s first First Man? 

Despite complaints from progressives in her party, Clinton’s decision to make Virginia Senator Tim Kaine her running mate makes little difference to voters. The 2016 presidential election has, without a doubt, been an unusual one in many ways. The vice-presidential picks are no exception.

Which political party a voter is affiliated with remains a key indicator of which cable news network they watch. Television, primarily cable, still reigns supreme for political news among voters, but voters remain skeptical of the political news they are getting.

As in previous presidential election cycles, voters expect most reporters covering political campaigns to help their favorite candidates and think it’s far more likely they will help the Democrat than the Republican. 
Forty-nine percent (49%) think most reporters are biased against Trump, while only 18% believe most are biased against Clinton.

France experienced another terrorist horror this week when radical Islamicists invaded a church and brutally murdered a Catholic priest.  Americans aren’t confident that France can defeat these terrorists and worry that Europe is losing the war against terrorism.

America’s own war on terror continued with the murder of another policeman, this time in San Diego, California. Given the continuing national debate over police conduct, more Americans favor requiring police officers to wear body cameras while on duty but still tend to believe they will protect the cops more than those they deal with.

Only 14% think most deaths that involve the police are the fault of the policeman.  More Americans than ever (72%) rate the performance of the police in the area where they live as good or excellent. 

Republican Joe Heck holds a nine-point lead over Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto in our first look at the race in Nevada to replace retiring U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

In other surveys last week:

— Just 24% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

— Still, President Obama continues to earn better-than-average daily job approval ratings.

— Political conservatives have charged in recent months that major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are censoring their points of view. Regular users of those sites, especially those under the age of 40, strongly disagree with any attempts to close down free speech.

— The summer Olympics are just over a week away, and Americans are gearing up to watch even though they suspect many of the participating countries are cheating.

July 9 2016


 

 

 

9 July 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

 

Is China’s Mysterious New Satellite Really a Junk Collector—or a Weapon?

07.05.16 12:01 AM ET

Davix Axe

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/05/is-china-s-mysterious-new-satellite-really-a-junk-collector-or-a-weapon.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-5-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

The Chinese say the high-tech satellite they launched will clean up space debris, but its extendable robotic arm has some wondering whether it could have a more sinister purpose.

China just boosted a high-tech, mysterious new satellite into orbit. It might be a weapon. It might not be a weapon. There’s no way to be certain, either way—and that’s a problem for all spacefaring countries.

Especially the United States and China. Washington and Beijing are lofting more and more of these ambiguous satellites into orbit without agreements governing their use. In failing to agree to the proverbial rules of the orbital road, the two governments risk ongoing suspicion, or worse—a misunderstanding possibly leading to war.

The Roaming Dragon satellite rode into space atop a Long March 7 rocket that blasted off from Hainan in southern China on June 25. Officially, Roaming Dragon is a space-junk collector. Its job, according to Beijing, is to pluck old spacecraft and other debris from Earth’s orbit and safely plunge them back to the planet’s surface.

For sure, orbital debris poses a real hazard to the world’s spacecraft. In the summer of 2015, astronauts aboard the International Space Station—including two Russians and an American—sought shelter inside an escape craft when a chunk of an old Russian satellite appeared to be on a collision course with the station.

Luckily, the debris missed the space station. All the same, NASA and other space agencies have voiced their concern over the accumulation of manmade junk in space—and have taken initial steps to remove the most dangerous chunks.

Hence Roaming Dragon’s official mission. “China, as a responsible big country, has committed to the control and reduction of space debris,” Tang Yagang, a scientist with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, wrote on the Chinese space agency’s website.

But the Roaming Dragon’s design—specifically, its maneuverability and its nimble, extendable robotic arm—mean it could also function as a weapon, zooming close to and dismantling satellites belonging to rival countries.

Stephen Chen, a reporter for the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post—which has historically has been critical of the Chinese central government in Beijing—quoted an unnamed “researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing” calling into question the satellite’s purported peaceful mission.

“It is unrealistic to remove all space debris with robots,” the anonymous researcher allegedly stated, implying that Roaming Dragon would, in reality, be doing something else up there in orbit.

But there’s no way to prove that Roaming Dragon is a weapon until it actually attacks another satellite. And at that point, the world would surely have much bigger problems than mere spacecraft taxonomy, as an orbital ambush would almost certainly be a prelude to a much more destructive conflict on the surface.

“Space robotic arms, like many other space technologies, have both military and non-military applications, and classifying them as a space weapon depends on the intent of the user, not on the inherent capabilities of the technology,” Kevin Pollpeter, deputy director of the Study of Innovation and Technology in China Project at the University of California, San Diego, wrote in a widely cited 2013 research paper.

“China’s space robotic arm technology is thus a case study in the challenges of defining ‘space weapon’ and the difficulty in achieving space arms control,” Pollpeter added.

It’s an old problem, by space standards. Jeffrey Lewis, a strategic-weapons expert who blogs at Arms Control Wonk, pointed out in an email to The Daily Beast that NASA’s space shuttle, which first launched into orbit in a dramatic test in 1981, inspired the same worry in Moscow that Roaming Dragon could inspire in Washington.

Specifically, Russian analysts questioned the purpose of the shuttle’s famous “Canadarm”—the Canadian-made “Shuttle Remote Manipulator System” that prominently appears in many photos of the now-retired shuttle’s cargo bay. American analysts are not wrong to point out the potential military applications of Roaming Dragon’s robotic arm. But “the Russians said the same thing about the Canadian arm on the space shuttle,” Lewis told The Daily Beast.

As far as we know, the space shuttle, which last flew in 2011, never attacked another spacecraft. Nor, apparently, have any of the many other spacecraft that possess arms and maneuverability

The proliferation of these spacecraft underscores a failure on the part of the world’s governments to agree to orbital codes of conduct. “All the spacefaring countries are developing small satellites capable of conducting so-called autonomous proximity operations—and there are absolutely no rules about this,” Lewis explained.

“If China wants to build an inspector satellite to shadow one of our warning satellites, that’s just ducky as far as space law is concerned. In such an environment, even innocent programs will engender suspicion and initiate the basic arms race dynamics that threaten the use of space for everyone.”

That suspicion is already having a very real effect on the U.S. defense establishment. Growing ever more fearful of a possible ambush in space, in early 2015 Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work instructed John Hyten, the four-star general in charge of U.S. Air Force Space Command, to prepare his space operators and their satellites for a possible war in orbit.

But to a great extent, the paranoia is unjustified, according to Brian Weeden, a former Air Force space operator who is now a technical adviser to the Secure World Foundation in Colorado. “A lot of the so-called space weapons technologies that have been hyped by pundits or the media for decades are not actually very good weapons,” Weeden told The Daily Beast in an email.

For starters, it’s hard for a killer satellite to sneak up on one of America’s own spacecraft, what with NASA and the Air Force constantly monitoring Earth’s orbit via radar and telescope. “We would notice it maneuvering to match orbits with the target hours [or] days in advance,” Weeden said.

For that reason, “there are better, faster, or cheaper ways to accomplish the same goal” of knocking out a satellite, Weeden added.

Ground-based rockets, for example. The same boosters that propel satellites into orbit can, if aimed carefully, strike and destroy spacecraft in certain orbits. China famously tested a so-called direct-ascent satellite-killing rocket in 2007, striking an old weather sat and scattering thousands of pieces of debris—ironically, the same kind of debris Roaming Dragon ostensibly was designed to help clean up.

“I still worry a lot more about China’s direct-ascent ASAT,” Lewis said, using a popular acronym for an anti-satellite weapon.

Contrary to the South China Morning Post’s reporting, it’s entirely possible that Roaming Dragon is what Beijing claims it is—an orbital trash-collector. “It’s not crazy to think about trying to pull large pieces of junk out of high-traffic orbits, since those are potential sources of thousands of pieces of deadly smaller debris if the piece breaks up,” Gregory Kulacki, a space expert with the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Daily Beast in an email.

And to China’s credit, it apparently has been fairly transparent about Roaming Dragon—more transparent, in fact, than the United States is with many of its own spacecraft. Weeden said Chinese officials could go a step further in reassuring the world about Roaming Dragon’s mission. “They could release details of its orbit and provide advance notification of any maneuvers. That would set a very good example for other countries testing similar capabilities to follow, including the United States.”

As long as there’s such a fine line between war and peace in space, bold acts of transparency are the only way to prevent suspicion and conflict. That applies to Roaming Dragon and any other satellite—be it Chinese, American, Russian, or other—that can transform from an instrument of science to a weapon of war with the flip of a few switches.

“We should probably try talking to each other about it,” Lewis advised.

 

Clash Brewing Over Congressional Proposal to Create Nimbler Military Commands

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=7c996cd7-cbb4-4018-baf8-8825eada7aa2&ID=2243&RootFolder=/blog/Lists/Posts&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-7-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

As the House and Senate begin the process to reconcile vastly different defense policy bills, House Armed Services Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., hinted that he is weighing support for Senate language that would downsize the military command structure and require the secretary of defense to create nimbler organizations.

 

This is one of many provisions in the Senate version of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that seek to overhaul the Pentagon’s civilian and military organizations. These reforms have long been advocated by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as part of a broader effort to rewrite the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act.

McCain has pressed the case that current geography-based organizations are too rigid to respond to opportunist enemies like the Islamic State.

During a breakfast meeting with reporters July 6, Smith insisted that he has not yet made up his mind on whether he will support the Senate language on this matter, but suggested he would be inclined to back measures that flatten the military bureaucracy and give commanders more flexibility to respond to threats.

“I am intrigued by the possibility of going in this direction,” Smith said.

The White House firmly opposes the Senate language on grounds that it micromanages the military and creates additional bureaucracy.

Smith said he would weigh the objections raised by the Obama administration as the NDAA conference moves along. This is far from a “yes” or “no” answer, he said. “Does McCain have the exact right formula? Is the White House completely wrong in the criticism? No and no. But I think we have to move in that direction.”

Enemies like ISIS demand an unconventional response, he said. Smith is a fan of how former Joint Special Operations Command chief Gen. Stanley McChrystal organized teams to fight al-Qaida. “I was always impressed by his line that ‘it takes a network to defeat a network.'”

The U.S. military operates six geographic commands and over the years these organizations have become bloated and inefficient, Smith said, agreeing with McCain’s view. “We have too many mid and high-level managers,” he said. “They are not providing value added. We need to consolidate.”

McChrystal was able to “grab the assets from different parts of the Department of Defense” to deal with the threat at hand, he said. “We need to do that with cyber,” Smith said. “McChrystal was given wide latitude to do that against al-Qaida.”

In the current fight against extremist groups, he added, “We need to be able to get out of the CENTCOM or SOCOM command structure.”

Smith predicts change will not come easy. “It requires adaptability that most bureaucracies are hostile to,” he said. “I would like to see the possibility of infusing that type of flexibility to respond to the threat.”

The Senate’s version of the NDAA would eliminate five positions among general officers or admirals commanding combatant commands. It requires that the grade of an officer serving as the commander of a service or functional component command be no higher than lieutenant general or vice admiral. The bill directs the secretary of defense to create six “cross-functional teams” to take on high-priority missions.

The White House has pointed out that the Pentagon already is a proponent of using cross-functional teams, and the Senate bill only creates more administrative burdens. Obama issued a statement strongly objecting to the language, arguing that it “would undermine the secretary of defense’s ability to exercise authority, direction, and control over the department. The provisions would blur lines of responsibility and control over resources within the department, and would require the issuance of numerous unnecessary and burdensome policies, directives and reports.”

The administration contends that the Senate bill “undermines the secretary’s ability to create effective cross-functional teams, which are already an extremely common feature of the way the department is organized today.”

McCain recently praised McChrystal’s transformation of the Joint Special Operations Command and compared it to similar reforms now unfolding at the National Security Agency and the CIA.

 

“The premise is simple. To succeed against our present and future challenges, we need flatter, faster moving and more flexible organizations,” McCain said during a June 29 hearing.

McCain rebutted the administration’s pushback as “bizarre.” The legislation is being “attacked for undermining the secretary’s authority when the legislation would do the opposite,” said McCain. “The secretary would identify the missions of the teams, pick their leaders, approve their membership and direct their efforts.”

In testimony, McChrystal spoke about the “power of the cross-functional teams” he stood up in 2003 when he took over the Joint Special Operations Command. “Probably the best special operations force ever fielded,” he said. “On paper we had everything we needed to succeed — quality people, generous resourcing and aggressive, thoughtful strategies. And yet in Iraq, we were losing.”

McCain’s reforms do not weaken the Pentagon, as the administration argues, said James Locher, senior fellow in the Joint Special Operations University. He said the Senate language “gives a broad mandate from the Congress, but then leaves it to the secretary of defense to identify which areas he’s going to create mission teams in. And he can disestablish those teams when they’ve served their purpose.”

The president has threatened to veto the bill if it includes the Senate language on combatant command reorganization, but it is early to predict what could happen, as there are other, even more contentious items in the NDAA that are being negotiated.

Smith said the NDAA conference can be expected to last through the summer. “I’m optimistic that we will get something done.”

The outcome of the NDAA debate could upend an ongoing Pentagon initiative to realign forces to combat ISIS. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said June 20 that he is working with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford on a high-level plan to “develop a trans-regional network approach to counterterrorism.”

The goal is to tap into existing organizations in different geographic commands to provide “first response,” and to give U.S. Special Operations Command “coordinating authorities” to work across geographic divisions.

“We have to change how the Defense Department works and is structured, to ensure better trans-regional and trans-functional integration and advice,” said Carter. “Right now, the responsibility for integration among the combatant commanders and combatant commands reposed in the secretary of defense is inadequately supported by the formal authority of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he added. “That’s why, in some of our proposed improvements to the 30-year-old Goldwater-Nichols Act, we want to clarify the role and authority of the chairman to, among other things, help the secretary of defense synchronize resources globally for daily operations around the world.”

Senior policy analyst Linda Robinson, of the Rand Corp., said Dunford is pushing hard to implement this proposal. Dunford’s vision is to increase reliance on the U.S. Special Operations Command to coordinate counter-ISIS campaigns, Robinson told National Defense. “What’s going to make it more successful bureaucratically is the heavy role of the chairman and the joint staff in orchestrating this. Then it becomes less of a food fight with different combatant commanders perceiving they are being elbowed by the others.”

 

 

Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

Aaron Mehta, Defense News 7:31 p.m. EDT July 6, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/budget/2016/07/06/pentagon-seeks-nearly-26b-reprogramming-request/86781858/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-7-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has submitted its reprogramming request to Congress, with roughly $2.6 billion in funding shifts targeted.

The request, signed off by comptroller Mike McCord on June 30, will now need to be weighed by Congress.

In broad strokes, the reprogramming features the following pots of money:

•$1.174 billion in fiscal 2016 appropriations

•$54.8 million in fiscal 2016 overseas contingency operation (OCO) fund

•$583 million from the Defense Working Capitol Fund towards operations and maintenance requirements

•$155 million among various fiscal 2015 appropriations

•$499 million in fiscal 2015 OCO funding

•$128 million among various fiscal 2014 appropriations

Inside the fiscal 2016 increases, the Army gets a boost of $267 million. Included in that is $21 million in funding for testing and procurement on the Hellfire Longbow L7A missile and $1 million for the an engineering study for the Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System (E-HETS), but the majority of the funding goes to support for the service’s Long Haul Communications program.

That funding has to come from somewhere, and for the Army, it’s primarily by dropping $207.5 million from personnel costs. Much of that savings comes from lower-than-budgeted Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) average costs.

The reprogramming brings the Navy a boost of $476 million, including $129 million to boost flying hours for pilots. It also features $7 million to address depot level repair of components for Advance Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on CVN-78, as well as $4.6 million to complete certification for the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) capability.

As with the Army, the Navy found significant savings on personnel this year, freeing up $85.3 million. The Navy also freed up $40 million for F-18 funding due to a delay in the FY 2016 contract award for Infrared Search and Track (IRST) low rate initial production 2 (LRIP 2) contracts.

The US Air Force gained $273 million, including $10 million to support the aging UH-1N helicopter fleets, $7 million to support maintainenance at ICBM sites, and $6 million for the Space Mission Forces initiative, which seeks to improve the training and organization of airmen focused on the space domain. It also requests $10 million in a new start effort to procure the PGU-48/B weapon for the F-35A joint strike fighter, a sign that the long-delayed jet is close to going operational. The Air Force expects that funding stream to include $4 million each in its fiscal 2018 and 2019 budget requests.

Roughly $54 million is being sought to increase research and development efforts for the Air Force, including $23.9 million to keep the Air Force’s next-generation fighter program, referred to as “Next Generation Air Dominance” by the service, on schedule to support a 2017 milestone.

The funding is needed to keep “identifying and/or eliminating candidate technologies early in the analysis process to ensure more effective use of planned air superiority investment, and to ensure the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) incorporates an accurate capability picture. If funds are not received, [Next-Generation Air Dominance] activities will not be able to remain on schedule to support the FY 2017 [Material Development Decision],” according to the reprogramming note.

For the Air Force, the reprogramming shifts around $86 million in delayed aircraft procurement and maintenance, largely due to overperforming systems not needing as much work as expected.

Roughly $3 million was saved because of delays to the Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicles (GAARV) program, due to “suitability issues found during testing. The fielding decision has been pushed to the 4th quarter of FY 2017 to allow time to resolve these issues.”

Intriguingly, the reprograming includes a plus up of $9.2 million for procurement on a classified Air Force program. Another $9 million are reprogramed under the research and development heading. The Navy also shifted $20 million from a classified program marked as “LINK PLUMERIA.”

 

 

Why investment in space companies is heating up

By Samantha Masunaga

July 7, 2016, 3:00 AM

 

It used to be that the only way to get to outer space was through the government.

Those days are long gone, as the commercial space industry becomes increasingly crowded with companies geared toward such diverse goals as launching small satellites and mining the moon for minerals.

This has made the commercial sector increasingly active for investors. A January report from aerospace consulting firm the Tauri Group found that space start-ups have attracted more than $13.3 billion of investment, including $5.1 billion of debt financing, since 2000. Nearly two-thirds of that investment funding has come in the last five years.

The Times spoke with Chad Anderson, managing director of Space Angels Network, about the growing interest and what’s next for the industry. Space Angels Network is a New York-based investor in early-stage private space companies, with virtual offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Zurich, Hong Kong, Stockholm and London, and investor members all over the world.

The investor group has completed deals with outfits like Planetary Resources, a Redmond, Wash., company that intends to mine asteroids for minerals, and Planet, a San Francisco firm that launches small satellites to gather images of the Earth. The typical investment is $500,000 to $1 million.

Here is an edited excerpt.

It seems like every few months a new commercial space company makes its debut. What’s driving that?

Low-cost access to space, hands down.

All of the growth has come, really, over the last 10 to 12 years, so in my mind, it’s all riding on the back of SpaceX. In 2009, they had their first successful launch, Virgin [Galactic] got their first significant funding, and it was sort of on from there.

I think that people look at SpaceX and its lower prices and that is a big piece of the puzzle. But another piece that I think people overlook is that they simply publish their pricing. They say, ‘Here’s this rocket, here’s how much cargo we can carry to what orbit and here’s how much it costs.’

That really changed the game and so once there was access to space and you knew the price of it, suddenly people could say, ‘Oh it cost me $200,000 to launch my small satellite. I have a really good idea. I could build a business from that.’

Tell me about the origin of Space Angels Network.

We’ve been around since 2007. The idea then was to bring some credibility to the sector. We started off as a typical angel group and a handful of successful businesspeople that had put money in space ventures, and they did some good work to build credibility through those formative years.

As the industry has ramped up, we have grown into it. We went from 20 members in 2012 to 220 today. It’s really 100% year-over-year growth in membership for the last three years.

What do you look for when investing in companies?

We’re invested in 34 companies to date and we look for a lot of things that a typical angel or VC [venture capitalist] would look for. Space is a high-tech industry, but we’re still looking for really great teams, really big bold ideas, people that can work effectively in a dynamic landscape. We’re looking for people with ambitious business plans, but a practical route to near-term revenue.

I think a common misconception is that space has really long development times and is really capital intensive, but I’m not so sure that’s true. I think that’s true probably for launch companies but there’s a lot of different companies in space, from satellites to software to observation to other things, that’s less true for.

Are there particular areas of interest?

It’s a dynamic maturing market, there’s a lot going on. And we really look at it … in sort of three geographical regions –terrestrial, in-space and planetary. It’s really based on where the value is directed.

So terrestrial is like launchers and satellites. Most of the benefit is for Earth. In-space are things that are built or manufactured for space in space. And then planetary markets provide value to other surfaces like the moon and Mars, which are getting more interesting.

Space Angels has invested in that entire spectrum. There’s a lot of interest from VCs in the terrestrial markets because those are existing markets that are being disrupted. There’s no question about “Is somebody going to pay for this thing?” because they are. It’s more “Are there entrepreneurs doing this better, faster, cheaper?”

Space Angels Network recently invested in Astrobotic Technologies, a company competing for the $30-million Google Lunar X Prize, that intends to take payloads to the moon. Why return to the moon?

We landed but we didn’t do much. There’s a ton of interest in spending more time on the moon compared to 24 hours at a time.

I think that there’s a lot of opportunities for infrastructure development. People have referred to it as the eighth continent, and there’s a lot of resources on the moon that can be used to go deeper into space. Getting out of the Earth’s gravity is 99% of the issue. If you can launch from the moon … it doesn’t take much fuel or energy to get anywhere, so you can basically explore the solar system from that point.

 

Where do you see the commercial space industry going in the future?

The potential is crazy. You talk to people who were around and starting businesses in the Internet boom, and they talk about how similar it feels.

I think that the investors and members of Space Angels that are getting involved in this … see it as getting in at the ground floor of a new industry. They’re really looking to invest in the next Microsoft while it’s still a group of guys sitting around a computer lab. It’s nice to see it coming together, but we’re really just scratching the surface.

 

What’s Next for Drone Warfare?

John Loh and Ronald Yates, Special to Defense News 12:48 p.m. EDT July 7, 2016

The Air Force, once reluctant to accept unmanned drones as part of its combat force, now recognizes their value for missions such as surveillance and isolated attacks that are better suited for unmanned than manned aircraft. But, the Air Force needs to replace the hodgepodge of drones in its inventory with a force optimized to meet future scenarios in which they can excel. The next evolutionary step for remotely piloted aircraft — RPAs, as the Air Force calls them — is to refine their roles and operational concepts better, and put them through normal DoD requirements and acquisition processes and incorporate them as an integral part of the Air Force structure.

The Air Force operates Predator and Reaper RPAs, the first generation of unmanned strike aircraft. Most are flown from Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas. B-1 bombers and manned aircraft have also flown sorties on precision strikes against terrorist targets in the Middle East. The rush to get large numbers of RPAs quickly to surveil and attack terrorist threats in Iraq caused impulsive decisions.

Consequently, this force was thrown together more like a neighborhood pick-up team, not designed or procured through a rigorous requirements-based acquisition process nor positioned optimally for missions they fly. Now, the Air Force finds itself with RPAs and mission-control centers not well suited to the challenges they will face in the future.

Experience has shown that RPAs fill a critical need in warfare. Their characteristics of endurance, long range, continuous surveillance of broad and narrow areas, and immediate on-call precision attack of small, high-value targets in low-threat airspace make them preferable to manned aircraft in many scenarios.

The way forward should be to design, develop and procure the next generation of RPAs to perform missions in which RPAs have shown their advantages over manned aircraft while not trying to perform missions better suited to manned aircraft. The domain for this next generation of RPAs is vast, and it need not conflict with the domain of manned aircraft, a contentious aspect that has impeded their acceptance and future roles. Manned and unmanned combat aircraft can coexist, but to operate in synergy, they must be designed to take advantage of the strengths of each.

There is no shortage of scenarios well suited to this next generation of combat RPAs. Obviously, their current effectiveness can be improved with all-weather stealth technology, longer endurance, better sensors, larger payloads and connectivity to the global “info-sphere”. With these improvements, they can cover targets in other regions where terrorists congregate, such as North Africa, Yemen, Somalia and Southwest Asia. Further, with an optimized vehicle, RPAs can be incorporated into war plans against aggressive nation-state adversaries.

 

Next-generation RPAs can also be the foundation for enforcing international truces and treaties. They can provide continuous, high-resolution surveillance of important facilities to detect activity that could violate agreements, and immediately strike targets.

Establishing no-fly zones over contested areas is a viable alternative to nation-building. The continuous no-fly zones over Iraq for twelve years after the First Gulf War in 1991 demonstrated their effectiveness as a deterrent to further warfare. No-fly, no-drive zones patrolled with RPAs and manned aircraft can detect and strike any air or ground target, obviate the need for “boots on the ground”, and maintain air dominance over the area.

In the same vein, new, optimized RPAs would be the best choice for tracking activity and exerting U.S. influence in hot spots such as the Ukraine, Taiwan Straits, North Korea, Spratley Islands and Central America.

A new fleet does not require new infrastructure. Today’s RPAs have capable ground-based flight and mission-control facilities, and robust, jam-resistant data links. Fortunately, programs are already underway to upgrade them such that fielding a new force of RPAs would require little, if any, additional capabilities. And, the global info-sphere of space-borne, networked communications already exists to link RPAs in any region of the world.

The current fleets of Air Force RPAs were bought hastily to meet the immediate demands of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are unsuited for future world-wide scenarios. The Air Force now has an opportunity to put together an orderly program to replace the current RPA inventory with RPAs designed and developed from the outset for future roles and missions in which they can excel.

The Air Force is reconstituting its development planning process to be responsive to DoD’s push for acquisition reform under its Better Buying Power initiative. The service has done well in planning the development of manned aircraft. The same logical, disciplined development process should be applied to the next generation of combat RPAs. The result will yield the right combination of manned and unmanned combat airpower to ensure air dominance for any future contingency across the full spectrum of conflict.

Retired Gen. John Loh is a former Air Force vice chief of staff and former commander of Air Combat Command. Retired Gen. Ronald Yates is a former commander of Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Materiel Command.


 

June 18 2016


 

 

 

18 June 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

Air Force chief of staff: 40,000 to 60,000 more airmen needed

Oriana Pawlyk,

Air Force Times

May 28, 2016

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/05/28/air-force-chief-staff-40000-60000-more-airmen-needed/85036730/

 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, who will retire in July, said the service needs tens of thousands more airmen to become fully manned in today’s fast-paced environment.(Photo: SSgt. Nathan Lipscomb/Air Force)

As his tenure as Air Force chief of staff winds down, Gen. Mark Welsh is becoming increasingly blunt about where he thinks manpower levels should be — and that’s at full manning, 40,000 to 60,000 more airmen.

Air Force leaders have been advocating for more airmen to sustain the overworked and undermanned force. It’s where all the “bigger problems” stem from, Welsh said during a speech at an Air Force Association breakfast in the Washington, D.C.-area, Thursday.

“Every problem we have in growing, in modernizing, increasing mission capability, is manpower related,” he said.

The service expects to grow from its current level of about 311,000 active duty airmen to 317,000 by the end of fiscal 2016, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in February. But she plans to push past the end strength and request an additional 4,000 airmen.

But Welsh, who will retire in July, said that number is far short of what’s really needed to get manning levels to 100 percent.

The service is working harder to build up its cyber and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance units, and is training more airmen in newer aircraft systems like the F-35, which is supposed to reach initial operational capability between August and December.

Welsh pointed to the example of ISR, which is steadily increasing from 60 daily remotely piloted aircraft combat air patrols (or caps) a day, to 70 flights. And amid that increase, somewhere else in the world, an entirely new requirement for Air Force ISR assets is popping up.

“The pace of this support is wearing people out,” Welsh said, and “to get to 100 percent manning, or close to … my guess is 40,000 to 60,000 more people.

“People are a limiting factor right now,” Welsh said, “and adding more burden to them in any way, shape or form is a bad idea.”

Without additional manpower, the service — and the nation — risk losing a capable and fast-responding Air Force.

“The nation that’s going to win [the next war] is not the one with the biggest army,” Welsh said. “It’s not necessarily the one that has the most tanks, or longest range artillery systems. The one that’s going to win is the one with the best Air Force.

“It doesn’t mean that air power is pre-eminent,” he added, “but it does mean it is equally as critical as land and maritime power, and if you don’t have it, you will lose.”

 

 

China lashes out at US defense secretary criticisms

AP

May. 30, 2016

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e6231f7674c84a5a86da7c5f78236439/china-lashes-out-us-defense-secretary-criticisms

 

BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday lashed out at criticism from U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, accusing him of harboring a Cold War mentality and saying Beijing has no interest in “playing a role in a Hollywood movie” of Washington’s design.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Carter’s comment last week that China was creating a “Great Wall of self-isolation” was merely an attempt to provide cover for U.S. plans to deploy additional military forces to the Asia-Pacific region.

Carter’s remarks “laid bare the stereotypical U.S. thinking and U.S. hegemony,” Hua said at a daily news briefing.

“Indeed, there are some in the U.S. who live physically in the 21st century, but whose minds are stuck in the in the Cold War era,” she said.

“China has no interest in any form of Cold War, nor are we interested in playing a role in a Hollywood movie written and directed by certain U.S. military officials. However, China has no fear of and will counter any actions that threaten and undermine China’s sovereignty and security,” Hua said.

In a commencement speech Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy, Carter said China wants and enjoys the benefits of free trade and a free internet, but sometimes chooses to restrict both. He said the U.S. also continues to be concerned about Beijing’s actions in the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has sought to strengthen its claim to almost the entire region by building new islands atop coral outcroppings and adding airstrips, harbors and military infrastructure.

The United States is committed to upholding the freedom of navigation and commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes, Carter said.

“China’s actions (in the South China Sea) challenge fundamental principles, and we can’t look the other way,” Carter said.

 

National Security in a Data Age

 

By Chris Meserole

Sunday, June 5, 2016, 10:18 AM 

https://www.lawfareblog.com/national-security-data-age

Editor’s Note: Data should drive decision-making – the real question is how much should it do so? As big data and data analytics expand, it is tempting to assume they can solve many of the problems foreign policy decision-making has long faced. Chris Meserole, a pre-doctoral fellow here at Brookings unpacks some of the issues involved with big data when it comes to foreign policy and argues that it can inform our strategic reasoning but can’t supplant it.

***

We live in the era of big data and data analytics – and, increasingly, “data-driven decision-making.”

Yet, when it comes to national security, what would it mean for policy decisions to be data-driven? For the national security policy-maker, what can data and data analytics actually offer?

I’m not referring here to the use of data in implementing policy. When the Pentagon uses data analytics to cut procurement costs or when intelligence agencies use predictive analytics to identify potential targets, each is relying on data analytics to better execute policy.

By contrast, my concern is with using data to make policy. What does data-driven policy-making look like when it comes to national security?

To answer that, we need to walk through how we decide between competing policies in the first place. Very often, we reduce policy choice to a kind of shorthand. For example, we’ll often say something like, “We should intervene in Syria” or “I’m against the Iran deal.” Yet such catchphrases obscure a more complex thought process. Any time we advocate for one policy over another, what we’re really saying is, “a world in which we do X is more likely to be a better world than one in which we do Y.”

Every policy choice thus involves two sets of intuitions. The first set concerns how likely a given policy is to lead to a range of possible outcomes. The second concerns the value we assign each of those outcomes. Imagine if we were contemplating regime change. One set of intuitions would concern how likely we thought regime change would be to lead to a power vacuum, or to a dictator, or to a stable democracy. The other set would comprise value judgments about how much better or worse each of those outcomes would be compared to the status quo.

What does data-driven policy-making look like when it comes to national security?

Ideally, policy-making should involve careful deliberation about both sets of intuitions. Yet, in reality, we tend to focus much more on the value side. Sometimes that focus is deliberate: it’s easier to win a policy argument by assuming away any uncertainty about whether our policy will work and shifting the debate instead to a purely strategic or moral domain. But often it’s not deliberate at all. In fact, the strength of our convictions can bias our sense of how likely a policy is to work. When we believe deeply that a specific policy is the right policy, we can all too easily trick ourselves into thinking that it will inevitably work as intended.

Yet no matter how much we may try to frame policy debates in terms of values alone, probabilities are always at play. And that is where data can play a role: data analysis can remove many of the biases we may hold, consciously or not, about what the effect of a policy is likely to be.

Consider the debate over drone strikes. For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on just two aspects of that debate: the potential gain of reducing terrorist operations and the potential cost of civilian casualties. If we limit the debate to those factors, then whether we are for or against drone strikes will depend largely on how likely we think they are to disrupt terrorist groups and how likely to produce civilian deaths.

At issue is how to estimate each of those likelihoods. One option is to rely on gut instinct — which is to say, to rely on the patterns we subconsciously pick up on as we read about the effect of drone strikes in the news, discuss them with colleagues, etc. Another option is to rely on careful counterfactual reasoning, such as rigorously selecting cases and analyzing them in-depth.

However, if we want to estimate the likely effect of drone strikes with any precision, then data analysis offers a better approach. For instance, in a paper published earlier this year, Patrick Johnston and Anoop Sarbahi looked at data on drone strikes and insurgent activity in Pakistan and showed that drone strikes may reduce terrorist violence by nearly 25% in the week following an attack. If we couple that estimate with corresponding data on civilian casualty rates, we can begin to make an informed judgment about whether the strategic value of drone strikes outweighs the moral cost of potential civilian casualties.

If we want to understand how likely a range of policy outcomes may be, we will almost always be on surer ground when we incorporate empirical evidence and analysis.

Of course, even rigorous data analysis is far from foolproof. The process of building datasets often contains its own biases and underlying ethical implications, and analyzing data typically demands a host of strong assumptions. Further, when researchers disagree about which data and assumptions to use, they can arrive at contradictory conclusions.

Yet the question isn’t whether data analysis is perfect, but whether it’s better at constructing likelihoods than the alternatives. Are we better off estimating the likely effect of a policy based solely on our subconscious perceptions and the unknown biases that inform them? Or are we better off estimating those likelihoods empirically, after taking known biases into account? Data analysis will often be the better option. If we want to understand how likely a range of policy outcomes may be, we will almost always be on surer ground when we incorporate empirical evidence and analysis.

Again though, data analysis can only inform our intuitions about likely outcomes. It cannot inform the value we attach to those outcomes. Even if we had a model that validated perfectly, what would we do if it said there was an 80% chance of regime-led mass atrocity in a country, but only a 20% chance of a stable democracy taking root if we intervened? Or what would we do if the numbers were reversed? Such questions afford no easy answers, much less objectively right ones. Instead, they demand subjective decisions, however fraught, about which strategic or moral interests we ought to value most.

The great promise of the data revolution is that it will enable us to estimate potential policy outcomes much more accurately. Yet that is only one dimension of policy-making. Even in the age of big data, age-old questions about strategic and moral value will remain as pressing as ever.

 

 

Senate Approves Defense Policy Bill, Baiting Veto

Joe Gould, Defense News 1:12 p.m. EDT June 14, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/breaking-news/2016/06/14/senate-approves-defense-policy-bill-baiting-veto/85867192/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%206-15-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday easily approved an annual defense policy bill that authorizes roughly $602 billion in base defense and war spending — baiting a presidential veto.

 

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act’s passage came as the nation grapples with the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, in which a Florida man killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Reports the killer may have been inspired by jihadist ideas fueled debate of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged the killer’s motives were under investigation, but rapped the Obama administration’s counter-Islamic State efforts as “insufficient,” and lauded the bill as a means to “fight back.”

“We’re a nation at war, but we’re a nation under attack,” McConnell said in a floor speech ahead of the vote Tuesday. “We need to continue taking action to protect our country.”

The measure, which passed unanimously by the Senate Armed Services Committee, sailed through a Senate vote 85-13. Procedural squabbles effectively limited debate on nearly all amendments, which prevented debate on an amendment stripping language that would compel women to register for a potential military draft — a historic first for the US.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the committee’s Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both lauded the passage of the bill, stressing the aggressive acquisition reform measures it contained. That includes closure of the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer’s office and shifting its duties to two new defense undersecretaries for innovation and acquisitions management. It also contains far-reaching language that would curb cost-plus contracts and be more inclusive of contractors from outside the Beltway.

“The acquisition system is broken and needs to be fixed,” McCain said after the vote.

President Obama has threatened to veto the House and Senate versions of the bills — the House bill over its unorthodox treatment of overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, and the Senate bill over its acquisition reform provisions and limits it would place on the closure of the Guantanamo military detainment facility in Cuba.

The House last month passed a version of the policy bill that shifts $18 billion in OCO toward base budget requirements, and adds more troops, jet aircraft, shipbuilding and rotorcraft than the president’s budget. The House bill also cuts off OCO after April 30, 2017, a gambit to force the next president to ask Congress for supplemental defense spending next year.

The Senate last week voted down an amendment from McCain to raise the defense authorization by $18 billion, after Republicans voted down a measure to raise non-defense authorization by $18 billion.

Hawkish Republicans, led by McCain, pressed for added troops, ships, jets and tanks left out of the administration ‘s budget request, arguing a fiscally stretched military needs the increase as it struggles to absorb readiness and maintenance shortfalls and juggle threats the world over. McCain lost here and was frustrated in efforts to clear a logjam on amendments.

The procedural problems began after Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, insisted on a vote on his measure to prevent the government from indefinitely detaining US citizens for links to terrorism. Because senators would not allow the vote, the stalemate effectively blocked debate on all other amendments — including one to allow US visas to Afghans who served as interpreters to the US-led coalition.

The Senate was able to take action on Russian rocket engines as it took a voice vote to pass an NDAA amendment to allow the military to continue to use Russian RD-180 rocket engines to launch national-security satellites until the end of 2022, though — in a compromise with McCain — caps the number at 18. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who offered the amendment sought flexibility for the Pentagon while officials develop and test an American-made replacement, while McCain pressed for a quicker end to US reliance on the engines.

 

“This agreement is a win for America’s national security and taxpayers,” said Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair Sen. Dick Durbin. D-Ill., who jousted with McCain on the issue. “It will provide for a responsible transition to American-made engines and guarantee America’s access to space.”

The bill’s passage does not necessarily end the fight for more defense funding. SASC member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said he plans to press for more when the Senate takes up the defense appropriations bill.

“To those who have voted against expanding funding to defense, you have made a mistake,” Graham said. “Destroy radical Islam over there before it comes here. To do that you need a stronger military.”

The House and Senate bills face significant differences for lawmakers to debate in conference, chiefly their approaches to defense acquisitions reform, where the Senate takes a more aggressive tack, and defense funding.

With few days on Congress’ election-year calendar, lawmakers will have to act quickly to send the final version of the bill to Obama’s desk before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Obama has threatened to veto seven annual authorization bills, and did so last year over the blurring of wartime funding for base-budget needs, forcing a budget deal which netted parity for defense and non-defense spending.

Email: jgould@defensenews.com

 

 

DOD IT is killing CACs

By Zach Noble

Jun 14, 2016

https://fcw.com/articles/2016/06/14/dod-kills-cacs.aspx?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%206-15-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

The military is ditching the computer Common Access Card reader.

“We are embarking on a two-year plan to eliminate CAC cards from our information systems,” Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen said at a June 14 event sponsored by FedScoop and Brocade.

“Frankly, CAC cards are not agile enough,” Halvorsen said, noting, “It is really hard to get you a CAC card when people are dropping mortar shells on you and you need to get into your system. That doesn’t work.”

Halvorsen said the Pentagon will be looking to move to a new hybrid user authentication model, “true multi-factor,” that will combine biometric, behavioral analytics and passwords.

He said Pentagon officials will be working with NATO allies to develop a standard authentication process, so that NATO forces can better share IT functions.

CACs may still have a role for things like building access, Halvorsen added. The CAC announcement was one of several bits of news the DOD CIO dropped in his appearance.

Halvorsen also promised a new data center closure panel, made up of government and industry members, which will choose one of the Pentagon’s top 50 data centers to close and determine where to route the homeless data. He also teased a DOD move to an “on-prem cloud-based system that will include hybrid cloud and public cloud.” That formal announcement will come this summer, he said.

For contractors in the audience, Halvorsen sought to recast the traditional Pentagon-vendor relationship. Given constrained defense budgets, Halvorsen said, industry can’t pitch projects that cost the Pentagon $100 million up front and will pay off only after several years

“You’re going to have to share in that investment, and [then] share in the return,” he told vendors, indicating a desire for creative arrangements.

Another ask: completely autonomous cybersecurity tools. With the lightning speed of digital attacks, Halvorsen said, “I can’t have people in that loop” of breach response.

The DOD process of certifying commercial technology is “completely broken,” Halvorsen also noted, echoing earlier comments. He expects to be able to offer larger, trusted firms some level of self-certification.

“All of the upcoming changes will require close partnerships between the military and industry,” Halvorsen added, and it will all need to happen as systems stay up and running.

“Unfortunately my business is growing: we’re deployed everywhere,” he said.

 

 

What the Joint Chiefs’ Email Hack Tells Us About the DNC Breach

Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

By Patrick Tucker

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/06/what-joint-chiefs-email-hack-tells-us-about-dnc-breach/129089/?&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

The two attacks share a perpetrator and even some techniques. Here’s how to stop them.

The Russian hacking groups that stole the Democratic National Committee’s secret files on Donald Trump have plenty of experience in filching sensitive data from U.S. officials. Last year, one of the two groups, known as APT29 or COZYBEAR, broke into the Joint Chief’s non-classified email system. Here’s what last summer’s hack can teach you about what happened to the DNC, and how to keep it from happening again.

On Tuesday, officials with the information security company Crowdstrike disclosed that APT29 had injected malware onto the DNC network about a year ago, enabling the hackers to pick up opposition research on Donald Trump, among other information. The group is known for its spearphishing campaigns, which sends emails that appear to be from a trusted source. But when a recipient clicks on a link, her machine will download malicious code, in the case of the DNC hack, containing a Remote Access Tool (RAT). This code lets a hacker into the system — and takes pains to keep itself hidden. The malware can check “for the various security software that is installed on the system and their specific configurations. When specific versions are discovered that may cause issues for the RAT, it promptly exits,” Crowdstrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch wrote in a blog post.

The malware Crowdstrike discovered on the DNC network “allowed the adversary to launch malicious code automatically after a specified period of system uptime or on a specific schedule.” Basically, this means the malware can sit in the background of the network, possibly on a single machine, not drawing attention to itself, until it’s scheduled to spring into action. You might remove it from that machine, but by then it could have moved to somewhere else on the network.

Aside from the perpetrator, the DNC hack bares a number of things in common with the 2015 phishing attack on the Joint Chief’s non-classified email system.

In 2014, APT29 began using a backdoor malware dubbed HAMMERTOSS. Once an unsuspecting target opened an email from the group and downloaded the virus via a link, the malware installed itself and began using Microsoft Active Directory to move laterally among computers in the (Windows server) network. At specific times, the malware checked in with a web page (algorithmically generated Twitter pages have been used for this purpose) to receive instructions on uploading data. That allows it to remain difficult to detect and the upload harder to trace.

“While each technique in HAMMERTOSS is not new, APT29 has combined them into a single piece of malware. Individually, each technique offers some degree of obfuscation for the threat group’s activity. In combination, these techniques make it particularly hard to identify HAMMERTOSS or spot malicious network traffic,” wrote the computer security firm FireEye.

Here’s the thing, while it took the DNC almost a year to realized it had been hacked, the Pentagon detected the breach of its non-classified network within days. Last August, Defense One interviewed the head of the company that the Pentagon trusted to detect and remedy the breach. He asked that his name and the name of the company not be disclosed as they have not received clearance to discuss their role in mitigating the hack.

“We’ve been deeply involved in the remediation of the breach and so we obviously can’t talk about the scope and scale of cause of the breach because it’s classified,” the head of an information security company told Defense One last year.

The incident was a key example of a new trend, he said.

“When you typically see these large-scale attacks where you see these large amounts of lateral movement [jumping from one computer to another within the network] and especially when you have relatively tightly wound network controls, a lot of the time you don’t have the command-and-control architecture to be able to go in and see the attack,” he said. “So the advance threat characteristics change to be more automated, a kind of pervasive deployment using common vulnerabilities and exploiting them widely.”

That bears resemblance to what Crowdstrike just discovered APT29 doing to the DNC.

So how do you prevent that sort of thing? First, you need good situational awareness. No more letting scheduled-attack malware hide in the shadows until the lights go out.

“Typically, the biggest issue for our customers is assessing the state of the environment, vis-à-vis what’s running in the environment at that time and what’s accessing data. So being able to look at things like the running processes in the environment, being able to look at all of the users that are touching certain types of data and whether they’ve touched it in the past before, being able to see if there are interconnections from a network standpoint between different assets is one of the basic capabilities of the platform, just being able to see the state of every endpoint,” said the company head.

The way that you get that situational awareness is by designating a single central node to view what’s happening on every machine, sort of like peer-to-peer networking but with special safety features, and then send updates and patches to all of them at once, each one signed, allowing endpoint management from one place. If all the computers can only run updates that are signed by the central node, then the malware can’t hope from one to another, assuming that central node is not sending out signed, infected updates.

“You need to have one trust point. In our case, it’s our server,” the company head said. That trusted system generates a unique cryptographic signature for each “message,” which can be an action, a sensor recording data, a change to a setting, a command to a device, etc.”What ends up happening is that every node that receives the message, whether it receives it from its peer or it receives it from the server, or it receives it from an intermediary node like a relay, it checks that signature before it processes that message,” he said. “The protection that you have against a rogue node being taken over and then feeding its peers bad data is that you don’t have a private key to sign the message on the rogue node. Even if you could inject traffic into the stream, it would be immediately rejected because that traffic isn’t signed correctly. As a result of that, the public keys that reside on the clients would essentially alert the clients that the signature was invalid and to reject the message.”

FireEye discovered APT29 in 2014.

“We suspect the Russian government sponsors the group because of the organizations it targets and the data it steals. Additionally, APT29 appeared to cease operations on Russian holidays, and their work hours seem to align with the UTC +3 time zone, which contains cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg,” they write.

Not surprisingly, Russia has denied any role in both hacks.

 

 

US Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh Pessimistic About Defense Budget Outlook

Valerie Insinna, Defense News 7:20 p.m. EDT June 14, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/air-force/2016/06/14/welsh-pessimistic-defense-budget-outlook/85884804/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%206-15-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

WASHINGTON — The outgoing Air Force chief of staff is bracing for a continuing resolution this year, and is generally pessimistic that the Pentagon will be able to keep its modernization programs going forward without budget stability.

In an exclusive interview with Defense News on June 13, Gen. Mark Welsh said he was “not confident” about the current budget environment, citing potential complications that include the upcoming election, a new presidential administration and a return to mandatory spending caps in fiscal year 2018.

If spending returns to Budget Control Act levels, the Air Force is unlikely to be able to keep its modernization programs on track, with Welsh highlighting the T-X trainer and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization efforts as two programs that are particularly vulnerable.

“We go back to a sequester budget, everything is going to be affected,” he said. “Assuming we stay on the trend we have now with budgets, assuming we continue to get something at the current projected levels of funding [or] the vicinity of that between now and 2024, the T-X will stay on time.”

The same is true of the JSTARS recapitalization program, he added.

“If the funding stays where it is right now, we have it funded in the budget,” he said.

The service plans to release a request for proposals for the JSTARS recap by the end of the year. The legacy JSTARS, built by Northrop Grumman around a militarized variant of Boeing’s 700-300 aircraft, has provided ground surveillance since 1991 and is nearing the end of its service life. However, a contract for the engineering, manufacturing and development of its replacement has been delayed to the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Initial operational capability has slipped by two years, from fiscal 2022 to 2024.

 

Welsh ‘Confident’ in F-35, ‘Disappointed’ in KC-46 Delay

 

The Air Force also expects to issue an RFP for the T-X this year. Although initial operational capability stands at 2024, the service has delayed full operational capability from 2032 to 2034.

“I hate to tell you nothing could happen,” Welsh said. “But it’s funded in our budget, we’re on track, we’re comfortable with where the program stands right now.”

Should difficulties arise, it will be up to Welsh’s likely successor, Gen. David Goldfein, to keep programs moving forward. Welsh is slated to retire on July 1. Goldfein, who currently serves as the Air Force’s vice chief of staff, will testify in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a Thursday confirmation hearing.

Despite last year’s agreement between Congress and the White House on spending levels for fiscal 2016 and 2017, Welsh acknowledged there is a “pretty good possibility” that a continuing resolution will be needed to sustain funding levels when the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. That’s bad news for the Air Force, which would lose the ability to start new programs and change production quantities.

The instability could extend even further, into the next presidential administration, he said.

 

“I assume there’s going to be some turmoil here as the administration changes,” he said. “Over the next fiscal year I think there will be a little bit more turmoil. There will probably be a little bit of instability. I hope that’s not the case.”

Todd Harrison, a budget expert for Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed that Congress will need to pass a CR that extends at least until December to allow for the election season to wind down. Because both Democrats and Republicans have mostly agreed on the need to raise defense spending, the debate will hinge on whether to increase nondefense accounts.

Another potential barrier is that the House and Senate have taken a different approach to funding defense. While the Senate’s version of the defense authorization act stuck to last year’s budget agreement, the House designated $18 billion in the overseas contingency operations account as base expenses in order to boost procurement, readiness, and operations and maintenance funding.

Despite the difference in strategy, both the House and Senate defense committees have pushed for increases to the military’s defense budget, something Welsh commended. However, he declined to comment directly on the House language that would end the use of OCO come April, something Defense Secretary Ash Carter opposes.

“I think they’ve come up with every option they could think of to try to do this because I think they see the same problems that we do,” Welsh said. “How you get it done is going to be the trick, and whatever option you pick seems to be offensive to somebody. But clearly the best case would be a base budget that meets your needs for the future no matter what your job is as opposed to supplementing it with one year money that can’t be used to buy something that you need funds for over time.”

Although a short-term CR is undesirable, it is unlikely to have a “substantial impact” on Air Force programs, Harrison said.

“There aren’t a lot of new program starts or increases in production planned for FY17,” he said. “And a relatively short CR like this has become standard operating procedure.

Welsh, however, noted that OCO funds cannot be counted on for longterm budget planning, making it suboptimal for funding long term expenses.

“Because OCO can’t be used to invest in things over time [and] it can be just used for spending that year, it’s not the ideal way to fund anything except ongoing current activity in terms of things like flying or spare parts, weapons that are expended, those kind of things,” he said. “If we’re using it to do other things–while its money, which is helpful to us–we can’t use it for the things we need to do to keep the force viable over time.”

 

House Passes Defense Appropriations

Joe Gould, Defense News 1:54 p.m. EDT June 16, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/06/16/house-passes-defense-appropriations/85976830/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Military%206.17.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

WASHINGTON — The House easily passed its $576 billion defense appropriations bill on Thursday, 282-138—a bill which shorts wartime funding to pay for more troops and military hardware, a gambit to get a supplemental spending request from the next presidential administration.

The bill, which is $587 million below President Barack Obama’s request, shifts $16 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account toward base-budget needs—on par with the annual defense policy bill, which only authorizes the war budget through April 30, 2017. The policy bill passed the House last month, 277-147.

The funding scheme has been opposed by the White House, which has threatened to veto the bill because of it, as well as Defense Secretary Ash Carter and House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash. The Senate version of the bill uses a different means of funding defense, posing a significant discrepancy for lawmakers to resolve when the two bills go to conference.

“This bill fulfills the Congress’s most important responsibility – providing for the common defense. And it does so responsibly – funding those military needs that must be addressed now, planning and preparing for the future, and respecting the taxpayer by making common-sense budgeting decisions,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

The House considered 108 amendments, among them a rare vote on the politically unpopular Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke offered an amendment to remove the bill’s ban on funding a BRAC round, but it went down 263-157.

The House also shot down bipartisan amendments aimed at blocking funds unless Congress enacts a new Authorization on the Use of Military Force to replace the one in use since 2001. Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern, of Massachusetts, and Barbara Lee, of California, said Congress is shirking its responsibility to enact an AUMF to avoid debating the current war against the Islamic State.

“The authority being used today was written in 2001, and the world has changed,” Lee said. “I do think it is our responsibility to balance the powers of the executive and have that fulsome debate.”

Several other amendments aimed at restricting prisoner transfers from the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, passed the House. Republicans in both chambers have consistently inserted provisions in defense policy and spending bills to thwart the president’s goal of shuttering Guantanamo.

Here are a handful of other amendments and whether they made it onto the bill:

YES. Montana Republican Ryan Zinke’s amendment to add $80 million toward a competition to replace the venerable UH-1N Huey helicopters, which guard nuclear missile fields.

YES. Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin’s amendment to add roughly $29.8 million for the Navy to develop laser weapons and an electromagnetic rail gun.

YES. Michigan Republican Tim Walberg’s amendment to cut off funding for the Pentagon to spend on Afghanistan infrastructure projects.

NO. Alabama Republican Mike Rogers amendment to add funding for directed energy and other research and development at the Missile Defense Agency.

NO. Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley’s amendment to cut $75.8 million from the Long Range Standoff Weapon program, a next-generation nuclear cruise missile capability. The weapon is being discussed to arm the Long Range Strike Bomber, the planned replacement for the B-2.

NO. Texas Republican Ted Poe’s amendment to cut aid to Pakistan from $900 million to $700 million. Proponents decried links between Pakistan’s intelligence community and the Taliban.

NO. Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie’s amendment to bar warrantless searches of government databases for the communications of U.S. persons and bar government agencies from mandating data security vulnerabilities in products or services for surveillance purposes.

NO. South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney’s amendment to block wartime overseas contingency operations funds from being used for anything other than a contingency operation as defined by law. In the vote, 98 Democrats voted with the majority, while 30 Republicans switched sides to vote in favor of it.

NO. Michigan Democrat John Conyers’ amendment to bar the US from sending Saudi Arabia cluster munitions.

 

The ‘cyber jihad’ is coming, says this security firm

 

Harriet Taylor    | @Harri8t

Wednesday, 15 Jun 2016 | 10:33 AM ET

CNBC.com

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/15/the-cyber-jihad-is-coming-says-this-security-firm.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Military%206.17.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

Islamic terrorists are arming themselves with the technical tools and expertise to attack the online systems underpinning Western companies and critical infrastructure, according to a new study from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.

The goal of the report was to bring awareness to “a hyper-evolving threat” said James Scott, ICIT co-founder and senior fellow.

Dark web marketplaces and forums make malware and tech expertise widely available and — with plenty of hackers for hire and malware for sale — technical skills are no longer required. A large-scale attack could be just around the corner, said Scott.

“These guys have the money to go on hacker-for-hire forums and just start hiring hackers,” he said.

U.S. authorities are well-aware of the rising threat posed by Islamic terrorists armed with advanced cybertools. In April, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared a cyberwar against the Islamic State group, or ISIS.

Ransomware chatter rose to prominence on dark web jihadi forums around the fall of 2015 and continues to be a topic of debate, particularly among members of ISIS and Boko Haram.

“I had the same position that I have right now with this in December of last year with regards to ransomware hitting the health-care sector,” said Scott. “We were seeing the same exact thing.”

Much of the chatter on jihadi chat boards comes from Europeans and Americans, often social outcasts living vicariously through the online reputation of their handle — including disenfranchised teens or jailhouse Muslim converts turned radicals, Scott said. They may not have strong coding skills, but they have access to Western institutions and businesses and are looking to leverage that access to serve ISIS.

An example of the sort of conversation that takes place on Islamic dark web forums involved a cleaner in Berlin who worked the overnight shift and wanted to know how they could help, said Scott. Others chimed in, explaining how the janitor could load malware onto a USB device and plug it into a computer to allow them to remotely hack into the network.

“That is the kind of insider threat that we are going to be facing,” said Scott. “That is what they are seeing as the next step — an army of insider threats in the West.”

“These guys have the money to go on hacker-for-hire forums and just start hiring hackers”

Though not known for being particularly sophisticated in their use of technology — beyond the use of encrypted messaging services and creating malicious apps — Islamic terrorists are now aggressively seeking ways to bridge gaps in their knowledge, said Scott. This may come in the form of hiring hackers, recruiting tech-savvy teens and educating new recruits.

“They are rapidly compensating for that slower part of their evolution,” said Scott.

For example, ISIS operates what can best be described as a 24-hour cyber help desk, staffed by tech-savvy recruits around the globe. There are always about six operatives available to address questions, for example, about how to send encrypted messages, and strategize about how to leverage local access into cyberattacks. They also share tutorials, cybersecurity manuals and YouTube links, and try to recruit other techies, said Scott.

“It is obvious that cyber jihadists use dark web forums for everything — from discussing useful exploits and attack vectors, to gaining anonymity tips and learning the basics of hacking from the ISIS cyber help desk,” he said. “Setting up properly layered attacks is incredibly easy even if one has a modest budget. All one needs is a target and a reason.”

ICIT will present its findings and identify possible solutions for protecting critical infrastructure — along with a panel of industry experts and government officials — on June 29 in Washington.

 

Orlando shows how terror is evolving. Can FBI keep up?

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/0616/Orlando-shows-how-terror-is-evolving.-Can-FBI-keep-up?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%20Military%206.17.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief


Search for solutions The Orlando shooting did not fit into a single category of hate crime, mass shooting, or jihadist act of terror, the FBI says. This makes its job harder.

By Laurent Belsie, Staff writer June 16, 2016    

 

In a single moment, the Orlando shooting brought together three of the most contentious issues in the United States.

Within 12 hours of the attack, President Obama disparaged lax gun laws, Donald Trump tweeted about radical Islamic terrorism, and gay and lesbian celebrities decried a hate crime that took the lives of 49 people at a popular gay nightclub.

In the days since the attack, it has become increasingly clear that the actions of Omar Mateen did not fit into a single category of hate crime, mass shooting, or jihadist terror.

“I would call it a hate crime. I would call it terrorism. It’s both,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ronald Hopper on Wednesday.

The question for federal officials now is: How should they respond?

Orlando is further evidence that the nature of terrorism in the US is changing, making the job of federal investigators harder.

The Islamic State, in particular, is less concerned with strategic goals than simply spreading fear as widely as possible. It preys on any disgruntled Muslim angry enough to pick up a gun.

It doesn’t require them to go to Syria for training. It doesn’t require them to talk to jihadists online for instructions. It doesn’t require them even to know how to build bombs; guns will suffice.

Federal agencies are coping with this evolving threat. But the fact that Mateen was investigated twice by the FBI but not stopped speaks to vulnerabilities. Without more resources to cope with an exploding caseload, federal agencies will be hard-pressed to do more.

For this reason, the ultimate solution lies in fixing the issues in American society that are giving rise to lone wolf terrorists, some say.

There have been signs this was coming. “The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States,” said then-Attorney General Eric Holder to ABC News in 2010. “You didn’t worry about this even two years ago – about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do.”

 

The mutations of terror

What’s made the issue much more urgent is the rise of Islamic State and its approach to terrorism. While Al Qaeda aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Muslims, the Islamic State is determined to scare them – and everyone else – into submission.

“Most people, al-Qaeda’s leaders among them, can’t imagine that political success could come from enraging the masses rather than charming them,” wrote William McCants, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, in a Politico article last year.

Since the goal is pure terror, there’s no need for spectacular, highly planned attacks like 9/11. Any act of mass violence will do. Proper training is no longer a must, only the will to commit violence.

“The biggest change in terrorism since 9/11 is the jihadists’ embrace of mass shootings,” Mr. McCants writes in an e-mail. “They, like many other terrorists, used to be fixated on building bombs. But they’ve learned that mass shootings are easier to organize without detection and generate just as much media attention. ISIS has been exceptionally good at inspiring young men to carry out these attacks in its name.”

 

Portrait of a lone wolf

Mateen, an American citizen born to Afghan parents in New York, offers a picture of the difficulties in sniffing out such terrorists.

The FBI put him on a watch list in May 2013 after he made comments to coworkers claiming he had family and friends affiliated with Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. (That seemed unlikely since the two groups are enemies.)

Agents interviewed him twice before closing the investigation in March 2014 with too little evidence, according to FBI Director James Comey.

Mateen again came to their attention shortly afterward when the agency found he attended the same mosque as a Syrian suicide bomber. Again, the investigation was closed when the agency found “no ties of consequence,” according to Director Comey.

So, two years later, when Mateen walked into the St. Lucie (Fla.) Shooting Center to purchase a semiautomatic rifle and pistol, it raised no flags. He had the valid licenses. He passed the background check.

The owner of a different local gun store, however, says that his employees refused to sell Mateen body armor and bulk ammunition after he began asking “suspicious” questions, according to ABC News. Robert Abell of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, Fla., says he contacted authorities about Mateen before the massacre; the FBI did not respond to ABC News’s request for comment.

 

How the FBI is responding

In its defense, the FBI notes that it is already stepping up antiterror efforts. As of last fall, there were some 900 active investigations of ISIS sympathizers who live in the United States, according to the report from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. Last year, officials arrested 56 of them, the highest number of terror-related arrests in any year since the 9/11 terror attacks.

Yet the FBI has to walk a fine line, says Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the program and coauthor of the report. The FBI investigates thousands of potential domestic terrorists at any given time, the vast majority of whom never plan a terrorist act.

Deciding where to draw those lines is difficult.

Frances Townsend, who served as Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, worries that the current guidelines for domestic counterterror investigations may constrain investigators. Specifically, she says they harm agents’ ability to include social media activity and postings in their investigations.

 

“We have to make sure we don’t let the attorney general’s guidelines become what ‘the wall’ was to 9/11,” said Ms. Townsend, referring to the firewall preventing the sharing of information among intelligence agencies that existed before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But even if everything works, there’s an element of guesswork in figuring out who will move from being a mere sympathizer to taking up arms. “In most cases the motivations are complicated,” says Mr. Hughes at George Washington University. “People are complex and they do things for a variety of reasons.”

That’s certainly true for Mateen, who proclaimed allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the shooting and often angrily denounced gays to friends and family, but also frequently attended the gay nightclub he attacked, according to reports.

Addressing the rising lone wolf threat isn’t just a matter of what can and can’t be done in an investigation but will almost certainly entail additional resources, said Ms. Townsend.

“The question is, if we want the FBI to cover more threats, do we give the FBI more resources, more agents?” she asked in a conference call with reporters Monday.

 

Looking beyond law enforcement

Others suggest that the answers could lie beyond law enforcement alone.

Many lone wolf terrorists are driven to suicide for the same reasons that ordinary people are, as they try to cope with depression and marital strife, argues Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminology professor and author of a 2013 book, “The Myth of Martyrdom.”

“The Orlando shooter and many mass shooters fall within this demographic and seek to die, even when they claim to be ‘martyrs’ or attempt to hide their psychological pain,” says Mr. Lankford, via e-mail. “If we can make major progress on reducing suicides and helping people with suicidal thoughts, that would be an incredibly important step for America, and I believe a side effect would be a reduction in mass shootings.”

Another option is a comprehensive preventative approach to radicalization, argues Hughes of George Washington University. “You have a number of cases where there’s not enough evidence to prosecute, but the FBI is still concerned about the individual.”

That would mean targeted intervention from other groups than law enforcement. For example, the World Organization for Resource Development and Education has developed an innovative program in Maryland’s Montgomery County that aims to empower community members to intervene with vulnerable youth before they choose a path of violence.

The model could spread to other jurisdictions. It’s better that it’s a local rather than federal government solution, Hughes says, reducing the footprint of government intervention. At the federal level, too, he is confident Congress can push beyond partisan divisions to come up with ways to reduce lone-wolf terrorism.

“You tend to see a coalescing of congressional and other leaders to search for solutions” after events such as the Orlando shooting, Hughes says. “I am ever the optimist…. I think there’s always going to be a reevaluation.”

 

 

The Danger of Killing Islamic State’s Caliph

http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-16/the-danger-of-killing-islamic-state-s-caliph?utm_campaign=EBB+Military+6.17.16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_term=Editorial+-+Military+-+Early+Bird+Brief

June 16, 2016 10:58 AM EDT

By Tobin Harshaw

 

We’ve seen this movie before, but still don’t know how it ends: According to unconfirmed reports, the so-called caliph of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Raqqa, Syria. Similar rumors cropped up at least twice before, in January and October of last year, and both times the news of his death was greatly exaggerated. As for the latest report, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk said, “We have no reason to believe that Baghdadi’s not still alive, but we have not heard from him since the end of last year.”

Baghdadi’s silence or even death might seem like excellent news for the fight against the jihadists. An accomplished scholar of the Koran, he was named the “commander of believers” globally by Islamic State in 2014, a title not held since the fall of the Ottoman sultan.

But some military strategists and scholars of Islam make a strong argument that the U.S.-led coalition would be better off if Baghdadi remains alive and in charge.

Consider a 2014 study by Jenna Jordan of the Georgia Institute of Technology on so-called decapitation strikes against major terrorist groups. On the death of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, she writes, “decapitation is unlikely to diminish the ability” of al-Qaeda, “rather, it may have counterproductive consequences, emboldening or strengthening the organization.”

She bases her claim on the theory of “organizational resilience,” which may be more familiar to business school graduates than to counterterrorism operatives. Jordan doesn’t buy the argument that a cohesive group sharing an intense belief in a goal depends on the “charismatic leadership” (to use Max Weber’s phrase) of a single person like bin Laden or Baghdadi. Instead, she sees many clandestine groups as being bureaucracies often impervious to changes at the top. Such organizations “are diversified, have a clear division of administrative responsibilities and functions, follow rules and procedures, and are thus more likely to withstand the sudden removal of a leader or leaders.” All of those characteristics apply far more accurately to Islamic State than to the relatively decentralized al-Qaeda.

So if eliminating Baghdadi wouldn’t be a death blow to Islamic State, at least it would count as a victory in the ongoing war, right? Again, there is debate here. At the website War on the Rocks, Haroro Ingram of Australian National University and Craig Whiteside, a combat veteran teaching at the U.S. Naval War College Monterey, argue that “charismatic leadership is an inherently volatile and ephemeral form of leadership.” The caliph, they worry, could be replaced by a figure with far stronger military and organizational skills.

The authors highlight the history of Islamic State’s dark days after the 2006 death of its ruthless founder, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the prototypical charismatic leader. While Zarqawi’s guerilla war on U.S. troops made what was then called al-Qaeda in Iraq the most feared faction in the Iraqi insurgency, his eagerness to kill fellow Muslims raised the ire of not just the nation’s Shiite majority but also fellow Sunni radicals, including the al-Qaeda leadership. He was succeeded by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (no relation to the current caliph) who lacked Zarqawi’s battlefield bravado but was a skilled manager who took the long view. He mended fences with other jihadist groups and re-tooled the group to take advantage of the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Thus not only is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi replaceable, his successor could pose an even bigger threat, especially if he chose not to declare himself caliph of the Muslim world. That would open the possibility of Islamic State mending fences with other Sunni terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate the Al Nusra Front, which is emerging as the most potent military force in that nation’s civil war.

So what’s the alternative to decapitation? The best way to cripple a terrorist group may be to take out its “middle managers.” In an article for the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Peter Neumann, Ryan Evans (who founded War on the Rocks) and Raffaello Pantucci argue that the figures found on the org chart between the leadership elites and the field troops are the “connective tissue” that holds the organization together. Indeed, the French scholar Mathieu Guidere says that the U.S.-led coalition has made a priority of killing “technical cadres and the mid-level commanders who, though they don’t take the decisions, execute them … Without them, nothing could be done on the ground.”

With Islamic State forces on the rocks in both Fallujah, Iraq, and their capital of Raqqa, Baghdadi’s grand strategy appears increasingly flawed. Instead of targeting him and rolling the dice on his replacement, the U.S. should perhaps allow him to become, as Ingram and Whiteside put it, a “caliph without a caliphate.”

 

Cybersecurity not just the domain of cyber pros, DISA officials say

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/cyber/2016/06/15/cybersecurity-not-pros-disa/85935008/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%206-16-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Carten Cordell, C4ISR & Networks 2:50 p.m. EDT June 15, 2016

 

While the spotlight on cybersecurity has been magnified and the Internet of Things has made almost any item connectable to a network, ownership of protecting the network can no longer be limited to just cybersecurity professionals.

That was the message of a panel cyber experts from the Department of Defense, Defense Information Systems Agency and the U.S. Navy; gathered at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s DC chapter meeting on June 15.

“Cybersecurity people can’t really do cybersecurity,” said Richard Hale, DoD deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity.

“Given that computers are in everything now, and given that everything is cyber-attackable, it has to be everybody that has anything to do with designing, building, owning and operating — all these folks have to help do this stuff.”

The panel discussed the future of cybersecurity and efforts by the federal government to adapt its rapidly changing environment.

As the pace of connectivity spurs forward, the job of protecting the networks has also expanded, often beyond the resources of the people meant to protect them. DISA Chief Technology Officer David Mihelcic said that because of the speed and adaptability of bad actors, cybersecurity has now moved to a kind of horizontal altruism that affects multiple elements of the information technology industry.

“Security cannot be the sole domain of cybersecurity specialists,” he said. “It has to be owned by everyone, to include the program managers and engineers who are developing and acquiring the system, the system administrators charged with operating the systems.

“We are going to have specialists. We’re going to have the CPTs — the cyber protection teams. We’re going to have offensive information and our cybersecurity forces as well, but cybersecurity cannot be the sole domain. We, the developers, the technologists and you, our mission partners, need to ensure that the [whole thing] is secure.”

To that effect, the panel identified a number of challenges and ongoing initiatives that affect the government’s cybersecurity strategy, including:

 

Acquisition

One of the top hindrances to cybersecurity leading edge development appears to be the time it takes to navigate the acquisition process.

“We have built a system that tries to ensure that everything is fair,” Mihelcic said. “We’ve also put in place a system that requires us to plan five years in advance for what we want to spend money on, that requires us to upfront our requirements for what we want to buy and requires lots of independent testing and validation. The bottom line is that it could be years.”

Mihelcic estimated that from establishing a requirement for new cyber tools to contracting and testing, that it could take six years to approve, by which time, the cyber tool has become outdated.

The solution, he said, is to shift acquisition from a requirement-driven process to a needs-driven one. To achieve that would require an abbreviated IT acquisitions process that identifies agency needs.

“I still do want competition,” he added. “I don’t want to just say, ‘I see one spoon, therefore, I’m going to buy this spoon.’ Now I know that the spoon exists, so I want to say, ‘Anybody that’s got a thing that’s like the spoon, please send me a copy, and I will see which helps me eat cereal the best.'”

Mihelcic said that a rapid acquisition process, coupled with risk management and iterative testing could achieve these goals, some of which is currently happening at Defense Innovation Unit Experimental.

 

CYBERSAFE

Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the Director of Naval Intelligence and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, said one way the Navy was steering through its acquisition challenges was its CYBERSAFE program.

Inspired by the SUBSAFE — a 1963 quality control program started after the loss of the U.S.S. Thresher — CYBERSAFE debuted in 2015 and applies a set of standards through the entire lifespan of an IT procurement, from acquisition through deployment.

“That was the model that we used for CYBERSAFE,” he said, “to come up with a subset of critical components. The most critical components in certain systems that you can think of where there is a single point of failure, it might be a CYBERSAFE article.”

Branch said CYBERSAFE not only incorporates specific standards but secure supply chains and quality control.

“By using all of that, we establish that secure set of components and the cultural change that goes along with it,” he said.

It’s the defined standards that help streamline the process, and Branch said that the Navy has finished 18 standards with 29 still in progress.

 

Analytics

 

Another tool in the cybersecurity arsenal is the use of analytics. By using new ways to crunch large amounts of data, DISA deputy chief technology officer for enterprise services Jack Wilmer said that the agency has been able to increase threat detection.

“There are certain use-cases that we’ve done, one of them is called Fight by Indicator, which is where we receive reports of malicious activity,” he said. “What happened prior to our analytics is we’d receive these reports and then by hand, we would have to go and translate these reports to figure out the various countermeasures.

“We were able to automate a lot of that, and I think there was a 500 percent increase in the amount of countermeasures that each analyst could implement basically per day.”

Wilmer added that DISA is investing a lot in analytics with the hope of eventually developing real-time defenses.

Mihelcic added that some “quantum leaps” in deploying new analytics would soon be on the horizon, including an August update to DISA’s big data platform.

“That’s the technology that underlies [Cyber Situational Awareness Analytic Cloud],” he said. “What’s going to come out in August is the ability to essentially fork a copy of some or all the data that’s in the data cloud and be able to run custom analytics on top of it that can be mission-focused and not necessarily interact with the rest of the cloud platform.”

 

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The politicking barely slowed as America absorbed the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11.

Americans have increasingly worried that the government isn’t focused enough on domestic Islamic terrorism, and most Americans saw the horror in Orlando coming nearly three months ago.

The majority of voters question whether the government will be able to stop future terrorist attacks on the homeland and say the country’s Islamic community should be doing more to condemn such violence.

Forty-nine percent (49%) think Islam as practiced today encourages violence more than most other religions, and 71% say Islamic religious leaders need to do more to emphasize the peaceful beliefs of their faith.

The man who killed 49 and wounded dozens of others in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida this past weekend was born in the United States to Afghan refugee parents. While details of the attacker’s life are still emerging, he pledged allegiance to the radical Islamic State group (ISIS) in a 911 call to police during the shooting, and ISIS has taken credit for the massacre.

Donald Trump blames radical Islamic terrorism for the Orlando massacre; President Obama believes instead that it shows a need for more gun control. Most voters say the Orlando incident is more about terrorism than gun control, but most also agree that someone on a terrorist watch list should not be able to purchase a gun.

Hillary Clinton has finally broken with the president and for the first time this week identified “radical Islamic terrorism” as the enemy. She has long been criticized by Trump and other Republicans for her unwillingness to do so. Long before the horrific killings in Orlando and San Bernardino, California, 60%  of voters said the United States is at war with radical Islamic terrorism.

Secretary of State John Kerry now concedes that terrorism is a bigger threat to the United States than global warming. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters consider terrorism a greater long-term threat to this country. Just 23% consider global warming the bigger threat.

Trump has come under criticism from some leaders in his own party for his tough talk after the Orlando killings, reiterating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into this country until the federal government improves its vetting process. In late March, 45% of voters favored such a ban; 42% were opposed.

But the Obama administration is speeding the vetting process for Syrian refugees so 10,000 can come to the United States this year. Most voters still don’t welcome those newcomers from Syria and fear they are a threat to the country.

The president, however, continues to enjoy better-than-usual daily job approval ratings.

Hillary Clinton has moved to a five-point lead over Trump in Rasmussen Reports’ latest weekly White House Watch survey. It’s lucky for them that this year’s presidential election isn’t a popularity contest or both major party candidates might lose. Clinton and Trump are battling very high unfavorables.

On a less serious note, voters, especially men, would rather have a beer with Trump than with Clinton.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has endorsed Trump but is increasingly one of his most outspoken Republican critics. What is Ryan’s game?

Clinton and Bernie Sanders met privately on Tuesday, a meeting that could be critical to the future of the country but went largely unnoticed in the wake of the horrific weekend events in Orlando. Could this signal the party unity many Democrats are hoping for?

Democrats are much more enthusiastic than other voters about giving felons back their right to vote after they’ve served their time.

The trial of a Stanford University freshman charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has drawn widespread criticism for the perceived leniency of the judge’s sentencing. An overwhelming number of Americans agree that the six-month jail sentence is too easy, and most say cases like Stanford are fair game for politicians to discuss publicly.

Still, while just 37% of voters believe most judges are impartial and guided by the law, only 31% feel it is appropriate for elected officials and political candidates to criticize specific judges.

In other surveys last week:

— Two-out-of-three voters (67%) believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction.

Is America still a religious nation?

— Last year produced the lowest U.S. fertility and birth rate on record, but Americans still are far more concerned about the population growing too fast.

— Seventy-two percent (72%) think it’s important for someone to be married before they have children, including 41% who think it’s Very Important.

More voters support same-sex marriage, but most still don’t believe it’s an area that should be governed by the feds.

— With the summer driving season at hand, Americans are much more pessimistic about gas prices than they were last summer.

— Great Britain may vote to exit the European Union in a referendum next week, but Americans aren’t overly concerned about a possible “Brexit.”