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February 4, 2012

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CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Jan. 30, 2012 – 6:41 p.m.

White House Aims for Flexibility in War Budget

By Frank Oliveri, CQ Staff

The Obama administration is again building extra room into its war funding request, a move that ultimately could take pressure off the base defense budget, senior congressional aides say.

President Obama’s request for fiscal 2013 assumes the military would have about 68,000 troops still in Afghanistan throughout fiscal 2013, which is more than are expected to be there under current plans.

In 2010, the president sent a “surge” of 33,000 additional troops into Afghanistan to change the war’s momentum, raising the U.S. military force to a total of 98,000, a senior congressional aide said. By the end of this calendar year, if not sooner, all the surge forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan, barring any unforeseen changes in the war.

This means that early in the new fiscal year, the military could have several thousand fewer troops in Afghanistan than envisioned in the budget request for the Overseas Contingency Operations account (OCO), which pays for the war, stabilization efforts in Iraq and counterterrorism operations. The number of troops could also be reduced further during the fiscal year, ahead of a planned withdrawal by the end of 2014.

The extra padding in the war spending account makes sense, officials say, because it gives the Pentagon flexibility if the war in Afghanistan worsens.

But if the U.S. military drawdown proceeds as planned, the account could be used the same way it was in fiscal 2012: to pay for such things as operations and maintenance items that don’t fit in the base budget.

The issue came up Jan. 25 when Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta during a briefing over dinner with top defense lawmakers if further troop reductions were planned in Afghanistan during 2013. Panetta could not say definitively, sources indicated.

The president is planning to request $88.4 billion for the war in fiscal 2013, significantly less than the $115 billion enacted in fiscal 2012.

Some of that extra room may be needed in the event of automatic spending cuts, known as a sequester, which was part of last year’s Budget Control Act (PL 112-25). Budget experts said the law appears to require that the sequester be applied to the OCO account in fiscal 2013 and beyond. That would eat away at some of the cushion built into the war funding.

Of course, a sequester is far from a foregone conclusion, several experts noted. And the final call on whether sequestration applies to the OCO account will be made by the Office of Management and Budget through a report to the president due Jan. 2, 2013.

Separately, the conservative planning is justified “given the amount of uncertainty” in the war’s progress, a senior congressional aide said. “They always say they will make decisions on troop levels based on what is happening on the ground,” the aide explained.

Another senior congressional aide said all the surge forces could be out of Afghanistan within several months.

“My strong belief, however, is that the next troop reduction announcement will be made around May (and I don’t think they’ve officially decided on that number),” the aide wrote in an email, noting that the 68,000 troops assumed in the request “is probably just a place holder.”

What’s Past Is Prologue

A third senior aide noted that the administration, in its fiscal 2012 OCO request, had built in funding for thousands more troops than the existing agreement with Iraq permitted. But the administration was unable to work out an agreement for some U.S. troops to remain in Iraq.

The end result, the aide said, was that appropriators were able to shift to the war fund billions of dollars in operations and maintenance costs and other items typically in the base defense budget.

The flexibility was useful because of reductions that were mandated by the Budget Control Act, which forced lawmakers to reduce the fiscal 2012 base defense budget from Obama’s request of $539.5 billion down to $518 billion.

“Last year it was an extreme situation because so much happened late,” the senior aide said. “The reductions caught us by surprise.”

The budget law set caps that mandate reductions of $487 billion in planned defense spending over 10 years. In addition, the law’s sequester mechanism could force cuts of an additional $450 billion from planned defense spending. The sequester could be averted if lawmakers reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, which would overturn the mechanism.

Regardless, the reduction in planned defense spending is already causing difficult budget pressure, and the war fund could serve again as a relief valve.

One senior congressional aide said, “I don’t know what we’ll do this year. We have a whole year to consider it.”

But a second senior aide who watches the issue closely said, “I would, however, not be totally shocked if that number also represented a future slush fund to offload some base budget costs,” adding that there are “lots of possibilities for end-of-the-year reprogramming.”

Kerry Young and Megan Scully contributed to this story.

 

Pentagon punts on major program cuts

Fedtimes

By MARCUS WEISGERBER | Last Updated:January 30, 2012

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2013 budget plan to cut $259 billion from spending over the next five years is unlikely to damage America’s defense industrial base largely because it sidesteps major program cuts in a presidential election year, according to analysts.

Part of the justification for leaving the larger programs in place, analysts said, is the potential to use them as bargaining chips during upcoming negotiations over sequestration, the $500 billion in automatic budget cuts that would take effect in January 2013 absent agreement to a broader debt deal between Congress and the Obama administration.

In a Thursday preview of the dod spending request to be submitted to Congress on Feb. 13, only a handful of programs were canceled or deferred, moves that were far less dramatic than widely anticipated.

A big problem, analysts expect, is that Pentagon cuts could go deeper than envisioned by the administration, which means that many of the programs that dodged a bullet this time around likely will be targeted in a post-election future, like cutting an aircraft carrier, one of three systems that can deliver nuclear weapons; or trimming the most expensive program in history, the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“There are lots of big cuts out there,” said Clark Murdock, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at a Friday event. “They could have taken off the 11th carrier, they could have done deeper cuts in ground forces.”

Instead, by slipping purchase decisions for a number of programs, dod created short-term cost savings that will inevitably increase the need for more dramatic cuts in coming years, according to analysts.

Republican House Armed Services Committee Chairman “Buck mckeon can fume all he wants, but $525 billion [in annual defense spending] is not exactly a significant cut to what was spent last year,” said Jim Hasik of Hasik Analytic. “Right now, you’re still borrowing a trillion bucks or more a year, and it has to come out of somewhere in the long term if you don’t want to wind up like Greece.”

The Pentagon received a $531 billion appropriation in 2012.

Indeed, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his team maintain — as did their predecessors — that debt remains among the nation’s leading security threats.

The ability to cede large, visible programs will be part of the administration’s strategy, Murdock said.

“Those are all standing right there, but they’re for the negotiation over what’s going to replace sequester.”

And in an election year, the political cost of eliminating major programs would be steep.

“They don’t want to be seen as the guys that killed the 11th carrier,” Hasik said. “There was some timidity here; they’re punting in some extent to the next administration.”

Pentagon officials insist the cuts detailed last week were developed apolitically.

“Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact on all 50 states and many … Congressional districts, across America,” Panetta said Thursday.

Panetta’s budget highlights last week were the first tranche of $487 billion in cuts to planned defense spending over the next decade as mandated by the Budget Control Act that lawmakers passed in August to cut U.S. debt by $2.1 trillion as a condition to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. As part of the deal, lawmakers are to identify $1.2 trillion to be applied to debt reduction, otherwise automatic cuts would be triggered in a process referred to as sequestration. For the Pentagon, that would mean another $500 billion would have to be cut from its budget over the next decade.

Analysts are divided over whether these automatic cuts can be avoided.

The line-by-line breakdown of dod’s $525 billion fiscal 2013 budget proposal is expected to be released Feb. 13.

Although the detailed budget numbers have not been disclosed, cuts were not divided equally among the services.

“We made a very conscious decision … In August that we were not going to do what the department traditionally has done in a time when we were drawing down, and that is just hand out proportional cuts to the services,” Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview on Thursday.

Dod officials levied specific cuts based on the results of a comprehensive strategy review, which puts more emphasis on military operations in the Pacific region and fighting on a contested battlefield. This document is intended to shape dod spending over the next decade.

The strategy favors Air Force and Navy systems, thus those two service budgets are expected to grow. The plan calls for shrinking the Army by 57,000 soldiers, leading to a slimmer budget, which has swelled after a decade of ground combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I believe intuitively that you’ll find the Air Force and the Navy probably did a little bit better proportionally and financially,” Winnefeld said, adding deviating from the strategy could render it useless and send dod back to the drawing board.

“If we get another budget hit, we’re going to have to probably go back and redo the strategy,” Winnefeld said.

This could mean further modifying the Pentagon’s ability to fight in multiple regions simultaneously and change the pace of personnel cuts, the admiral noted.

Like other top defense leaders, Winnefeld warned of the devastating effect automatic cuts would have on the U.S. military.

“If we see sequestration, we’re going to turn this very healthy process we just went through right on its head, where instead of building a strategy and doing budget decisions that flow from that strategy, we’re going to take and cut with a chainsaw and then we’re going to have to build a new strategy,” Winnefeld said. “I guarantee you, it will have to be a new strategy that would be built out of the ashes of sequestration.”

To avoid sequestration-level spending cuts, dod would have to make further budget concessions, Murdock said.

“They know at a minimum that there is a second round to avoid a sequester cut,” he said.

Even cybersecurity funding, one of the few areas where investment will increase, will be focused on fixing vulnerabilities rather than advancing capabilities.

“There will be an approach to review a lot of our cyber capabilities,” Chris Coleman, a cybersecurity executive at Cisco, said. “We’re realizing that [U.S.] weapons systems may be exploitable through the cyber mechanism.”

For months, the defense industry had been bracing for dramatic, doomsday-level program cuts. But the 2013 budget preview showed weapon-buying cuts far below those fears.

While cuts will be problematic for some companies, they likely spare major defense firms.

“When they’re slipping programs, they’re actually trying to take care of the industrial base, and they’re sending a signal we’re willing to pay some more for that,” Hasik said.

A number of analysts expressed concern that the Navy’s five-year shipbuilding plan, particularly a decision to buy fewer high-speed transport ships, could pose financial problems for Austal.

The Australia-based company, which makes Navy ships in Alabama, builds one version of the Littoral Combat Ship and is on contract for 10 Joint High Speed Vessel transports, but lost at least eight future ships.

The Pentagon said last week it will carefully monitor the industrial base as a whole and will address shortfalls in the shipbuilding sector.

Analysts say the Pentagon’s decision to make deep cuts in personnel spared deeper cuts to procurement accounts.

“[T]he plan to reduce personnel saves a lot of money to spend on acquisition,” Peter Singer, an analyst with the Brookings Institution think tank, said.

Steve Grundman, an independent analyst and former dod industrial policy chief, found the ability to make personnel cuts surprising.

“They’re not the kinds of choices that I would have thought the Pentagon could so quickly come to grips with in this restructuring cycle,” he said. “That they have, and at the same time, are willing to take on the ballooning costs of military compensation and benefits, is the primary reason yesterday’s announcement is no bloodbath for defense contractors.”

The budget proposal could benefit smaller companies, Singer said. “It’s a budget that, while it has cuts in it, is very forward-looking. It’s looking at new domains of warfare and new acquisition programs,” he said. “That’s good for smart, active companies. For companies looking to protect outdated programs of record, it’s not a good budget.”

It is yet to be seen if companies would dig in for what would likely be an uphill battle to avoid program cuts.

Northrop Grumman, in a statement, expressed disappointment that the Air Force chose to end production of one specific version of the Global Hawk surveillance drone.

“Northrop Grumman is disappointed with the Pentagon’s decision, and plans to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to program termination,” the company said.

Zachary Fryer-Biggs also reported for this story.

 

 

FAA delays issuing proposed rules on small drones in airspace

Latimes.com

By W.J. Hennigan

9:54 AM PST, January 30, 2012

The Federal Aviation Administration has pushed back the date when it will propose new rules for the use of small drones in national airspace.

The FAA had said it planned on issuing its proposal, seen as the first step toward opening the nation’s skyways to drone aircraft, by this month. But now the earliest that the rules will be published is sometime “this spring,” the FAA said.

The agency did not provide specifics on why the date was being postponed.

Meanwhile, a number of industries interested in using drones, such as utility companies and law enforcement agencies, are awaiting the FAA’s proposal.

Not everyone has waited for authorization to use drones. Just last week, real estate agents were warned by the Los Angeles Police Department not to use images of properties taken from unmanned aircraft, saying the flying drones pose a potential safety hazard and could violate federal aviation policy.

The FAA doesn’t permit drones in national airspace on a wide scale out of concern that the remotely piloted aircraft don’t have an adequate “detect, sense and avoid” technology to prevent midair collisions. Under FAA rules, any drone flying above 400 feet needs “certification or authorization” from the administration.

But the FAA does not publish a complete list of the groups and organizations that have the permits. This has drawn fire from the San Francisco-based digital legal advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The foundation, known better as the EFF, filed a lawsuit in Northern California’s U.S. District Court against the Department of Transportation earlier this month for withholding the names of organizations interested in flying drones in civil airspace.

The EFF said in the lawsuit that its Freedom of Information Act request on getting the names has gone unacknowledged since last April by the FAA, which is overseen by the Department of Transportation.

The EFF said it’s concerned that there is currently no information available to the public about who specifically has obtained these authorizations or for what purposes.

 

New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable?

Latimes.com

The Navy is testing an autonomous plane that will land on an aircraft carrier. The prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.

By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

January 26, 2012

The Navy’s new drone being tested near Chesapeake Bay stretches the boundaries of technology: It’s designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one of aviation’s most difficult maneuvers.

What’s even more remarkable is that it will do that not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but without a pilot at all.

The X-47B marks a paradigm shift in warfare, one that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. With the drone’s ability to be flown autonomously by onboard computers, it could usher in an era when death and destruction can be dealt by machines operating semi-independently.

Although humans would program an autonomous drone’s flight plan and could override its decisions, the prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.

“Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability,” said Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert. “This is difficult with a robot weapon. The robot cannot be held accountable. So is it the commander who used it? The politician who authorized it? The military’s acquisition process? The manufacturer, for faulty equipment?”

Sharkey and others believe that autonomous armed robots should force the kind of dialogue that followed the introduction of mustard gas in World War I and the development of atomic weapons in World War II. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the group tasked by the Geneva Conventions to protect victims in armed conflict, is already examining the issue.

“The deployment of such systems would reflect … a major qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities,” committee President Jakob Kellenberger said at a recent conference. “The capacity to discriminate, as required by [international humanitarian law], will depend entirely on the quality and variety of sensors and programming employed within the system.”

Weapons specialists in the military and Congress acknowledge that policymakers must deal with these ethical questions long before these lethal autonomous drones go into active service, which may be a decade or more away.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said policy probably will first be discussed with the bipartisan drone caucus that he co-chairs with Rep. Howard P. “Buck” mckeon (R-Santa Clarita). Officially known as the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the panel was formed in 2009 to inform members of Congress on the far-reaching applications of drone technology.

“It’s a different world from just a few years ago — we’ve entered the realm of science fiction in a lot of ways,” Cuellar said. “New rules have to be developed as new technology comes about, and this is a big step forward.”

Aerial drones now piloted remotely have become a central weapon for the CIA and U.S. military in their campaign against terrorists in the Middle East. The Pentagon has gone from an inventory of a handful of drones before Sept. 11, 2001, to about 7,500 drones, about one-third of all military aircraft.

Despite looming military spending cuts, expenditures on drones are expected to take less of a hit, if any, because they are cheaper to build and operate than piloted aircraft.

All military services are moving toward greater automation with their robotic systems. Robotic armed submarines could one day stalk enemy waters, and automated tanks could engage soldiers on the battlefield.

“More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties,” aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo, who helped develop the intercontinental ballistic missile, wrote in his new book, “Let Robots Do the Dying.”

The Air Force wrote in an 82-page report that outlines the future usage of drones, titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047,” that autonomous drone aircraft are key “to increasing effects while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk.” Much like a chess master can outperform proficient chess players, future drones will be able to react faster than human pilots ever could, the report said.

And with that potential comes new concerns about how much control of the battlefield the U.S. is willing to turn over to computers.

There is no plan by the U.S. military — at least in the near term — to turn over the killing of enemy combatants to the X-47B or any other autonomous flying machine. But the Air Force said in the “Flight Plan” that it’s only a matter of time before drones have the capability to make life-or-death decisions as they circle the battlefield. Even so, the report notes that officials will still monitor how these drones are being used.

“Increasingly humans will no longer be ‘in the loop’ but rather ‘on the loop’ — monitoring the execution of certain decisions,” the report said. “Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions.”

Peter W. Singer, author of “Wired for War,” a book about robotic warfare, said automated military targeting systems are under development. But before autonomous aerial drones are sent on seek-and-destroy missions, he said, the military must first prove that it can pull off simpler tasks, such as refueling and reconnaissance missions.

That’s where the X-47B comes in.

“Like it or not, autonomy is the future,” Singer said. “The X-47 is one of many programs that aim to perfect the technology.”

The X-47B is an experimental jet — that’s what the X stands for — and is designed to demonstrate new technology, such as automated takeoffs, landings and refueling. The drone also has a fully capable weapons bay with a payload capacity of 4,500 pounds, but the Navy said it has no plans to arm it.

The Navy is now testing two of the aircraft, which were built behind razor-wire fences at Northrop Grumman Corp.’s expansive complex in Palmdale, where the company manufactured the B-2 stealth bomber.

Funded under a $635.8-million contract awarded by the Navy in 2007, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program has grown in cost to an estimated $813 million.

Last February, the first X-47B had its maiden flight from Edwards Air Force Base, where it continued testing until last month when it was carried from the Mojave Desert to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland. It is there that the next stage of the demonstration program begins.

The drone is slated to first land on a carrier by 2013, relying on pinpoint GPS coordinates and advanced avionics. The carrier’s computers digitally transmit the carrier’s speed, cross-winds and other data to the drone as it approaches from miles away.

The X-47B will not only land itself, but will also know what kind of weapons it is carrying, when and where it needs to refuel with an aerial tanker, and whether there’s a nearby threat, said Carl Johnson, Northrop’s X-47B program manager. “It will do its own math and decide what it should do next.”

william.hennigan@latimes.com

 

Cybersecurity Report: All Countries Lag Behind the Bad Guys

From: www.cio.com

– Grant Gross, IDG News Service

January 30, 2012

The U.S. and U.K. are relatively well prepared for cyberattacks, compared to many other developed nations, but everyone has more work to do, according to a new cybersecurity study from mcafee and Security & Defence Agenda (SDA).

The report, which ranks 23 countries on cybersecurity readiness, gives no countries the highest mark, five stars. Israel, Sweden and Finland each get four and a half stars, while eight countries, including the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, receive four stars. India, Brazil and Mexico ranked near the bottom.

No country is ahead of cyberattackers, said Phyllis Schneck, CTO of the public sector for mcafee. The bad guys are “faster and swifter” than the good guys, she said.

Cybercriminals don’t have to wrestle with legal and policy questions and freely share information with each other without worrying about competitive issues, she said. “We’re up against an adversary that has no boundaries, and we have to go to meetings and write reports to put data together,” Schneck added. “We’re at a huge disadvantage.”

SDA, a cybersecurity think tank in Brussels, interviewed 80 cybersecurity experts for the report and surveyed an additional 250. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said they believe a cyber arms race is happening, and 36 percent said they believe cybersecurity is more important than missile defense. Nearly half, 45 percent, said cybersecurity is as important as border security.

A common theme among the cybersecurity experts was a need for real-time global information-sharing about cyber-threats. Cyber-experts have long called for the better sharing of information among companies and between private businesses and government, Schneck said, but the report opens up the idea of new global agreements — short of difficult-to-approve treaties — that can lead to information sharing.

Countries can work together to establish information-sharing “rules of the road,” Schneck said. “While you can’t have a free for all — just throw it all out there — there should be a way to take the most egregious information and make it actionable by a man on a machine.”

Companies are worried about endangering their customers, lowering their stock prices and other problems that come from sharing too much information, she added. “I think every rational person on the planet would agree that, if you put all our information together, we get a better threat picture,” she said. “By the time we figure out the crumb that we can share, it’s no longer even valuable.”

But real-time information sharing is one way legitimate groups can gain an advantage over cyberattackers, Schneck said. “That’s what the adversary cannot do,” she said. “The adversary does not own the network infrastructure; the good guys do. They can’t do anything real time, as far as putting data together, we can.”

In the country rankings, cybersecurity experts interviewed for the report praised U.S. efforts, including the creation of a U.S. White House cybersecurity czar last year. In recent years, the U.S. government has focused more on cybersecurity, they said.

Countries ranking in the middle of the pack included Japan, China, Russia and Canada, while Brazil, India and Romania received two and half stars and Mexico just two stars.

“In India, we went straight from no telephones to the latest in mobile technology, and the same with Internet-connected computers,” said Cherian Samuel of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. Samuel was quoted in the report.

The ratings are based on the Cyber Security Maturity Model developed by Robert Lentz, president of Cyber Security Strategies and former deputy assistant secretary for cyber in the U.S. Department of Defense. Lentz’s model pushes for resilient, predictive defense capabilities as opposed to reactive and manual or tools-based defenses.

The report makes a number of recommendations. Among them: Companies and governments should work together to set up trusted information-sharing groups and pump up public education campaigns focused on cybersecurty. The report also calls on companies to focus on smartphone and cloud computing security.

 

Officials Warn of Advanced Cybersecurity Threat to US Agencies, Business

HStoday.us

By: Mickey mccarter

02/01/2012 (12:00am)

Cybersecurity challenges rank among the top threats facing the United States in the coming year as the country struggles with identifying and attributing security breaches and protecting the supply chain for US information networks, the top US spy told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence (DNI), pointed to difficulties US authorities face in separating complex cyberespionage from comparatively simple cyberattacks and correctly attributing those cybersecurity breaches to the state or non-state actors responsible for them.

In addition, the nation may encounter challenges in securing vulnerabilities in global supply chains that feed US information technology products, Clapper said in testimony, Unclassified Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Committee for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Owing to market incentives, innovation in functionality is outpacing innovation in security, and neither the public nor private sector has been successful at fully implementing existing best practices,” Clapper warned.

Due to these circumstances, federal agencies must improve their collaboration with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure in the private sector.

In the past year, cyberintruders have found more ways to get around detection and attribution technologies, Clapper testified. Both state and non-state actors have grown more sophisticated in their capabilities to circumvent cyberdefenses.

The top nation states posing cybersecurity threats are China and Russia, Clapper said. Organizations within those two countries have perpetuated “extensive illicit intrusions into US computer networks” and have stolen a lot of American intellectual property, as reported by the National Counterintelligence Executive in the biennial economic espionage report in October 2011.

Nonstate actors consist largely of hacker groups like Anonymous and Lulz Security (lulzsec), Clapper noted. A robust use of social media has enabled hacker groups to increase their role in international and domestic politics.

“We currently face a cyber environment where emerging technologies are developed and implemented faster than governments can keep pace, as illustrated by the failed efforts at censoring social media during the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya,” Clapper stated.

As for cyberattacks, hacker groups have demonstrated a preference for distributed denial of service attacks that overwhelm government or corporate websites and knock them offline, Clapper said. They also have defaced websites. The groups have employed these methods in attacks against NASDAQ and the International Monetary Fund, demonstrating their interest in the US financial sector.

Hackers also have demonstrated increasing adeptness at more sophisticated attacks as well, launching raids against prominent security companies, Clapper cautioned. Groups compromised digital certificates issued by US and dutch companies last year and attacked security firm RSA in March 2011, stealing algorithms in the company’s authentication software.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also discussed cybersecurity threats in her State of Homeland Security address in Washington, DC, Monday. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to deploy intrusion detection tools across federal civilian agencies to protect their networks, she reported.

DHS also continues to reach out to the private sector to share expertise and best practices for securing information systems, Napolitano noted. The department collaborates with information sharing and analysis centers in the financial services, electricity and telecommunications industries, among others, placing industry representatives alongside DHS experts to mitigate cyberincidents.

“We continue to work with the private sector, other government national security and law enforcement agencies and the international community to mitigate the risks and reduce the potential for a malicious actor to be successful,” Napolitano stated.

In 2011, the DHS Computer Emergency Readiness Team responded to more than 100,000 incidents and produced more than 5,000 cybersecurity alerts for action by government and industry. The US Secret Service stopped about $5.6 billion in losses with their investigations of financial crimes and another $1.5 billion through investigations of cybercrimes. Moreover, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) combated more than 140 transnational criminal organizations, putting a stop to more than $1 billion in thefts and the illegal export of 50,000 pieces of technology, according to DHS.

DHS is working with other federal agencies to align their activities and to work with international law enforcement under the Global Supply Chain Security Strategy released last week, Napolitano added.

 

Nations to Bolster Defenses: McAfee


Eweek.com

Jan 31, 2012

By Fahmida Rashid

Cyber-security experts are concerned about the prospect of cyber-war and the growing number of cyber-threats, according to a recent report released by mcafee.

Over half, or 57 percent, of cyber-security specialists surveyed in the “Cyber-security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules” report said a global arms race is taking place in cyberspace, McAfee said Jan. 30. In addition, 84 percent of those surveyed said cyber-attacks threaten national and international security as well as trade.

Respondents felt cyber-security should be considered a part of the country’s military defense. About 36 percent of respondents said cyber-security is more important than missile defense. Another 45 percent believe cyber-security is as important as border security.

“For the moment, the ‘bad guys’ have the upper hand—whether they are attacking systems for industrial or political espionage reasons, or simply to steal money,” the researchers wrote in the report.

Criminals are able to “choreograph well-orchestrated attacks” because they have large funding streams, are more agile and don’t operate under any legal restrictions when it comes to sharing data, Phyllis Schneck, mcafee’s vice president and CTO, said in the report. “Until we can pool our data and equip our people and machines with intelligence, we are playing chess with only half the pieces.”

The defense industry has a “solid partnership” with the Department of Defense to share threat intelligence, but this type of relationship needs to be expanded to include other industries, Kevin Gronberg, senior counsel of the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives, said in the report.

Unfortunately, the report also found that the private sector is not well-prepared to handle cyber-attacks. Only 20 percent of the respondents from the private sector said their organizations are taking part in cyber-security exercises or taking precautions, according to the report. About 56 percent of respondents claimed there is a skills shortage among the cyber-workforce.

The report also rated the “cyber-readiness” of various countries based on how a nation’s defenses are perceived by cyber-experts. Size or wealth doesn’t necessarily translate to the country’s ability to defend itself against emerging threats and attacks, the report found.

While none of the countries got the highest five-star rating, Israel, Sweden and Finland were ranked with four-and-a-half stars and were perceived as being the most prepared to deal with cyber-attacks. The United States, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom were rated four stars.

China, Italy, Poland and Russia were rated with only three stars, and Mexico was considered to be the worst prepared of the 23 countries rated.

“It has taken the spectacular increase in cyber-attacks for political leaders in the United States, the European Union and part of Asia to sit up and take stock of the costs,” the researchers wrote.

Approximately 67 percent of the respondents said the United States and other countries should create regulations to block criminals and attackers from conducting cyber-espionage or damaging critical infrastructure. In the report, 43 percent of respondents said damage or disruption to critical infrastructure is the greatest single threat that has wide economic consequences.

Law enforcement authorities should also be given more power to fight crime that crosses national borders, the report suggested.

Mcafee commissioned Security & Defence Agenda, a nonprofit research group in Brussels, to conduct the study. The report included responses from 80 policymakers and cyber-security specialists in government, business and academic sectors in 27 countries, as well as responses collected from anonymous surveys of more than 250 world leaders from 35 countries.

 

Old Challenges Emerge for Modern C2

February 2012 – By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

The command and control forward (C2-Forward) concept displayed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, reflects the needs of a joint air component commander operating in a multiservice environment. The individual services must design their C2 systems around their own mission needs, but they also must allow for interoperability.

Tradition vies with innovation in the threat department.

Future command and control systems may have agility serving as the foundation for their success. Changes in missions, enabling technologies and threats are altering the landscape for command and control capabilities at all levels of military operations.

The emergence of cyber as a warfighting domain has changed the equation for providing reliable command and control (C2). Ubiquitous networking of a mobile force may offer more command capabilities, but it also opens up opportunities for cybermarauders to ply their trade. And, the growing possibility that terrorists might deploy weapons of mass destruction is increasing the importance of long-dormant nuclear C2.

John G. Grimes, former assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration (ASD NII) and department chief information officer (CIO), believes that the military needs a very agile C2 capability to deal with today’s network-centric environment. That need for agility reflects both the challenges to the network and the missions it must fulfill.

“A C2 system is dictated by the mission it has to support,” Grimes declares. “It can be a global mission, or it can be a very local mission. And, the operational side of it is dictated by the person responsible for executing the mission.”

C2 is an operational function, Grimes offers, and an operational commander must know how to use its tools and technology. First, however, that commander must understand the doctrine and how it affects a unit—whether that unit is a single unmanned aerial vehicle or a nuclear weapon platform.

The most critical elements of C2 are situational awareness and decision support aids along with battle damage assessment, which Grimes says is often lost in the C2 decision process but is important for C2 efficiency. Operating within an enemy’s decision cycle is critical for decision making, he states, and situational awareness is vital.

The individual services have performed substantial work in C2 because each has its own C2 capability for the types of missions it must face. And, these capabilities must reflect each service’s mission needs. “Anything you do in C2 has to be based on a concept of operation,” Grimes emphasizes. He notes that the U.S. Army established an effective logistics system to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was a relatively simple means of C2 that supported the active fight.

A community of interest effort that began in the department’s CIO office about six years ago has been striving to ensure that these diverse C2 systems interoperate, Grimes relates. That interoperability, along with that affecting NATO, remains a concern, he allows.

Another concern is cyber. As a new warfighting domain, cyber will require a comprehensive real-time C2 system that also will rely on computer-to-computer tools—particularly for engaging in offensive cyberwarfare, Grimes observes. When a network detects an attack, its leaders need the capability to react immediately even before the nature of the attacker is known.

“Computer-to-computer tools have become more critical because the dynamics of warfighting, with all the information available, make it important that information is there quicker and is accurate for decision making,” Grimes declares. The speed inherent in direct computer linkage enhances the decision process, he adds.

One traditional C2 area that recently has been lacking in emphasis is nuclear C2, Grimes states. Even deep into the post-Cold-War era, nuclear C2 remains an important element. New threats have emerged in the nuclear arena from countries such as North Korea and potentially Iran, and Russia has indicated that it will modernize its nuclear force and strategic defenses. “It’s critical that our C2 decision processes are in place and continuously exercised to make sure we are ready to go,” he says.

“More than that, they [nuclear C2 assets] operate over a net-centric network that must be hardened against cyber and nuclear effects, and they must be able to operate through a nuclear exchange just like they used to be during the Cold War,” he continues. “I do not see that as being a priority today, and a lot of that comes back to the budget situation.”

Grimes allows that five years ago most experts would have believed that U.S. nuclear weapons never would be used again. Now, however, the new and different threats have changed that attitude. Smaller nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists could be delivered to an urban target without the use of a missile or aircraft.

Even Pakistan cannot be overlooked as a nuclear threat, Grimes offers. Al- Qaida and Pakistan have had discussions over the terrorist group’s presence in that country, and Pakistan cannot be ruled out as a potential source of nuclear proliferation.

A National Guardsman uses Blue Force Tracker to communicate with a tactical operations center during joint exercise to simulate responses to a nuclear attack on the United States. Long-dormant nuclear C2 capabilities may need to be upgraded to deal with the changed nature of the nuclear threat.

So, the same technologies employed in the Cold War are required now to understand how to defend against this type of nuclear weapon—and to respond and recover if one is used, Grimes says.

Another major concern that has resurfaced is electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. This threat may come not so much from a nuclear detonation but instead from a non-nuclear EMP pulse weapon. U.S. military laboratories have been working on these types of weapons both for offensive use and for defensive purposes. This type of “electrical fire” weapon employing new technologies would be a serious threat to electrical infrastructures, Grimes points out.

Again, being able to maintain effective C2 during this type of attack would require an agile C2 capability, Grimes emphasizes. He suggests that nuclear C2 is not at its peak in readiness because it has not been emphasized the way it was during the Cold War.

A related issue is network-centric operation and the protection of data in the infrastructure, Grimes allows. “You can have all the information in the world, but if it is not accurate and you can’t get it to the commander to make a decision in real time, then it’s not worth a darn to you,” he declares.

“The network itself is the potential problem,” Grimes warns. “Today, I would resist putting everything for nuclear C2 on the Internet—IP—for controlling forces. I resisted that when I was in office [ASD NII], and we kept the red switch program of circuit switches so that we had alternative ways of operating.

“Denial of service is critical,” he says. “Either one of those [Internet or red switch] can have a denial-of- service attack if you take down the physical layer of the transmission media, both terrestrial and space.”

Grimes continues that a majority of the C2 network is provided by commercial carriers, and the military has arrangements with them to protect their networks. The only segment that is not covered commercially is provided instead by military satellites. A host of new military satellites are scheduled to increase the networking capacity, but they likely will supplement rather than supplant the commercial links.

“With commercial vendors, you have to have redundancy so that you get immediate restored service,” he says.

To achieve the agile C2 capability that Grimes believes is necessary will require two accomplishments, he says. Achieving the first focuses on how operators organize to fight, which stems from their basic operational concept. The other realm involves technology to support operator needs. “Many C2 systems and capabilities operate in a harsh environment. It’s not a benign and clean environment, so any technologies used to support C2 must take this into account,” he emphasizes. Desert combat is different from operations in cold regions, for example, and technologists must take that into account.

Experts also must be sensitive to enemy capabilities to jam or spoof C2 systems, particularly with cyberthreats, Grimes states. In addition to cyber attacks, spoofing can be achieved through conventional electronic warfare measures. All these threats must be taken into consideration in C2 design, with function playing a key role. “You wouldn’t want to invest a lot of money in tactical systems that are hardened for EMP for the soldier; that would be unnecessary,” he points out. Yet, networks must be secure and hardened to provide a degree of positive control for any decision, especially at the strategic level.

Grimes believes that the military is taking the right approach to building effective C2, but he has some concerns. The increase in cyber exploitation makes a big target for potential and existing adversaries.

“When a major task force is stood up, it must interoperate with the combatant command with which it is deployed,” he points out. “When units—Army, Navy or Air Force—are brought into theater, they must interoperate with the task force.

“All these are subject to cyber attacks and spoofing, and one must ensure that the networks supporting those missions are there so the task force can operate,” he declares.

Another problem is outsourcing the production of U.S. military equipment components. Some of these foreign-made electronics could have unwanted embedded hardware or software that would permit an enemy to exercise its own command and control over that particular system.

The Defense Department and the services are addressing many of these issues, but they must bring together the operators—the J-3s, the G-3s, the N-3s and the A-3s, Grimes says. These people must be the drivers for C2 for their various missions.

“There has to be new thinking because there are new tools out there,” Grimes states. He cites the Web, new satellites and new technology-based capabilities such as smartphones. One C2 growth area is the use of video, he observes, noting that many of the sensor platforms and pods in use today employ it. “All of that [technology] is coming fast, and it’s being used in certain special operations areas already. It will become pervasive in C2 as we go forward,” he warrants.

 

GOP Lawmaker on Potential BRAC Request: ‘Kill It’

Feb. 1, 2012 – 06:49PM |

By KATE BRANNEN

Defense News

Rep. Buck McKeon, Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee, did not mince words when asked what he would do to a Pentagon request for domestic base closures.

“Kill it,” he told an audience at a Feb. 1 conference of the Reserve Officers Association. “That’s going to be our approach.”

Speaking before McKeon took the stage, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said if Congress will not allow reductions in dod infrastructure, lawmakers would have to identify other areas in the defense budget that can be cut.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that as part of the 2013 budget, the Pentagon will ask Congress for legislation that would establish a new Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission, last formed in 2005.

“If we’re adjusting the size of the force, we think we should ask Congress for a BRAC,” Dempsey said.

Less than an hour later, Mckeon said such a request would be dead on arrival, at least in the House.

“I am not going to put it in our bill,” he said in reference to the annual defense authorization bill, the major defense policy legislation.

He urged people in the audience to get in touch with any Senator friends they may have to convince the Senate Armed Services Committee not to include such a provision in its version of the bill.

If the Senate passes a bill that includes it, “we’ll fight it out in conference,” he said. After the House and Senate pass versions of the defense policy bill, members from each chamber reconcile disagreements in conference before sending the bill to the president to sign into law.

Mckeon also said he would like to hold hearings this spring on how much money has been saved through the last round of BRAC.

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith has said he’s supportive of base closures.

“I think without question we’re going to have to do base realignment,” he said in an interview last week. “I don’t see how any person looking at the strategy and looking at the changes coming down could conclude otherwise.”

The most likely scenario, according to history, is Congress will ask for reports on the effectiveness of BRAC in its 2013 policy bill and then wait until 2014 to include language that would authorize a new BRAC, David Berteau, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

“The track record says that you’ve got to request it, knowing you might not get it this year,” said Berteau. Berteau served as a senior BRAC official during the 1990s base closures.

That President Obama is making a BRAC request during an election year shows just how serious the administration is about getting it done, Berteau said.

For the military, reductions in infrastructure are part of an overall approach to creating a “balanced force;” cuts need to be distributed across manpower, training, equipment and infrastructure, Dempsey said.

If Congress tells dod it can’t touch its stateside facilities and installations, the question becomes, “OK, where do you want me to tinker?” Dempsey said.

Whether it’s military pay, retirement benefits, end strength or BRAC, if Congress limits cuts in one area, it will need to identify new areas for savings otherwise the defense budget won’t meet the requirements of the Budget Control Act, Dempsey said.

“I didn’t pass the Budget Control Act,” he said. “I didn’t ask for this cut.”

Mckeon did vote for the Budget Control Act, which raised America’s borrowing limit on condition that $2.1 trillion be cut from the nation’s debt. The first half of that comes from spending caps imposed on discretionary spending over the next decade, including $487 billion from Pentagon’s projected spending over the 10-year period.

If Congress fails to raise the remaining $1.2 trillion, automatic spending cuts start in January 2013, through a process called sequestration. For dod, this includes an additional $500 billion cut over 10 years.

Explaining his vote in August, mckeon said, “We didn’t get to read the bill. It was already a fait accompli.”

While he promised to fight BRAC, mckeon made no guarantees on rolling back the $487 billion.

“I can’t promise you that these cuts will be undone,” he said. “That law’s been written.”

Mckeon does plan to push back on sequestration and cited legislation he’s introduced that would delay the process for a year by banking on a 10 percent reduction to the federal workforce through attrition over the next 10 years.

 

Air Force Still Plans To Buy Some Global Hawks

Nextgov

By Bob Brewin 01/27/12 02:00 pm ET

 

The air force will continue to buy a new specialized version of the northrop grumman global hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft despite plans announced yesterday by the defense department to cancel older versions and use manned u-2s instead, air force chief of staff norton schwartz told reporters today.

Schwartz said the Air Force will continue to buy Global Hawks equipped with a type of radar gizmo known as the Ground Moving Target Indicator, which is able to eyeball moving vehicles, a capability the U2 lacks. He did not say how many Global Hawks with the Ground Moving Target Indicator the Air Force intends to buy.

Schwartz indicated the older versions — roughly 20 aircraft — will probably end up in the “boneyard,” an outdoor storage area at Davis-Monthan air force base in Tucson, Ariz., where they will be maintained in a way that they can be used again quickly.

When the air force started development of the global hawk, Schwartz said the service thought it would be cheaper to buy, operate and maintain them than the u-2. “in reality, the global hawk is not less expensive to operate [than the u-2],” he said, nor is it as capable either.

Deputy secretary of defense Ashton Carter said yesterday that the global hawk had “priced itself out of the niche for taking pictures from the air.”

 

NATO allies grapple with shrinking defense budgets

Washington Post

Published: January 29

NATO allies are confronting a sustained weakening of the military alliance as ailing economies are forcing nearly all members, including the United States, to accelerate cuts to their defense budgets at the same time.

The Pentagon’s recent decision to eliminate two of the army’s four brigades in Europe is the latest blow to NATO military capabilities. It extends a year of grim announcements from members of the alliance that they can no longer afford their security commitments and that a long period of austerity is in the offing.

Obama administration officials warned last year that European members of NATO could no longer expect the United States to shoulder a disproportionate burden of maintaining the 28-member alliance, the bedrock of trans-Atlantic security and diplomacy since the end of World War II. The United States accounts for 75 percent of all NATO defense spending, up from 50 percent during the Cold War.

Instead of coming forward, however, European members of NATO are in retreat. Britain announced troop cuts this month that will eventually shrink the size of its army by nearly one-fifth; it already has mothballed its only aircraft carrier.

Germany is trimming the size of its armed forces by a similar amount and canceling orders for fighter jets, helicopters and other weapons systems. Italy, which imposed deep defense cuts two years ago, is confronting another round that could include steep reductions in the number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters ― a U.S.-made plane ― that it had planned to buy.

“Of course it is a painful time,” Hans Hillen, the defense minister of the Netherlands, said in an interview. “The problem of cutting defense is not a European hobby, or an American one, these days. It’s because of the economic crisis.”

The Dutch government decided last year to ax 12,000 Defense Ministry jobs, including 30 percent of the military’s general staff. “All the countries have problems with budgets, and they have to make choices,” Hillen said.

U.S. and NATO officials fret that the cutbacks will further erode military weaknesses that were exposed during last years air war in Libya. Several European countries quickly ran out of munitions and had to order them on an emergency basis from Washington. European militaries also lacked capability to refuel their own planes or conduct adequate surveillance from the air.

If there ever was a time in which the united states could always be counted on to fill the gaps that may emerge in european defense, that time is rapidly coming to an end. Ivo Daalder, the u.s. ambassador to nato, told reporters in washington last month.

At the same time, europe’s austere economic outlook is leading to a further weakening of the core ability to defend ourselves, said norwegian defense minister Espen Barth Eide.

Oil-rich Norway is an exception to the trend; it is increasing its defense budget. But Europe’s overall economic woes are exacerbating existing tensions within NATO, Eide said in a recent speech at the center for security and international studies, a Washington-based think tank.

In Washington, the long-held vision of Europe is that there’s a bunch of reasonably rich countries, relatively lazy, and not standing up for American-initiated missions abroad as much as they should, he said.

In contrast, Eide said, resentment and opposition to the US.-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan has reduced popular backing for NATO among many western European countries. NATO was identified simply as the organization that takes away our sons and daughters and sends them to faraway places to do nation-building in the desert.

Pentagon officials said the two army brigades they are eliminating in Europe each has about 5,000 soldiers would be replaced in part by u.s.-based units that would rotate periodically to the continent to conduct joint training exercises. The reductions are part of a larger effort to cut $487 billion in projected spending over the next decade.

“I still think we’re going to have plenty of capacity to lead, if asked to lead, with boots on the ground, depending on the operation,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told reporters Friday.

Odierno added that the u.s. military wasnft counting on its cash-strapped nato allies to fill the void. gwe certainly are going to need our partners to move along with us as we do this, but i donft think therefs any great expectation that they would provide more.h

There are about 80,000 u.s. service members stationed in europe, along with more than 200,000 family members and civilian employees.

Plans have been afoot to reduce those numbers for many years. In 2004, then-defense secretary donald rumsfeld announced a similar plan to remove two of four u.s. army brigades on the continent, but army leaders successfully resisted.

As recently as april, the pentagon said it would leave three brigades in europe and wait until 2015 to bring the fourth one home. Army officials said the troops are critical to carrying out training missions with nato allies, especially those from eastern europe that joined the alliance only in the past decade.

The pentagon has not publicly identified which of the four brigades will leave Europe. But officials Friday pointed toward the 170th infantry brigade, based in Baumholder, Germany; and the 172nd infantry brigade, based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Remaining would be the 2nd cavalry regiment in vilseck, germany, and the 173rd airborne brigade combat team in vicenza, italy.

The locations of those bases are legacies from the cold war, when u.s. and nato forces were focused on the threat of a soviet land invasion.

Hillen, the dutch defense minister, said the withdrawal of the u.s. army brigades was unlikely to trigger anxiety in western europe but would be felt more keenly among nato countries that border russia and still see moscow as a security concern.

As part of a new military strategy released this month, the obama administration said it would devote greater attention and resources to asia while maintaining a robust presence in the middle east. That has fed concern among european allies that they will get short shrift over the long term and lose their influence in washington.

More worrisome, however, is the possibility that the pentagon’s attempts to get europe to bear more of nato’s costs could backfire, said heather a. Conley, director of the europe program at the center for strategic and international studies. By bringing home u.s. troops, washington may inadvertently give european allies an excuse to cut their defense budgets even more.

“I don’t see a plausible scenario for Europe to step forward,” said Conley, a former state department official in the George W. Bush administration. We don’t start having these tough but important discussions, we run the risk of all of us just cutting away and leading to strategic drift.

 

Public-private pay gap varies greatly by education level

GOVEXEC

BY ANDREW LAPIN

JANUARY 30, 2012

Though federal employees on average make more than their private sector counterparts, the story changes when the statistics are broken down by education level, according to a new study by the congressional budget office.

In a comparison of civilian federal employees to private sector workers with similar observable characteristics, CBO found that federal workers come out on top in average wages (2 percent higher), benefits (48 percent higher) and total compensation (16 percent more).

CBO analyzed payroll data from 2005 to 2010 among both groups of employees based on similar occupations, employer size, demographics, geographic location and years of work experience, among other criteria.

After separating out the data by level of education, more distinctions became apparent. Federal civilian workers with only a high school diploma or less fared much better than private sector employees with the same: They earned 21 percent more wages, 72 percent higher benefits and 36 percent more in total compensation.

Government workers with bachelor’s degrees still did better, but not by as much. Though they earned roughly the same hourly wages, they made 46 percent more in benefits and averaged 15 percent higher total compensation than their private sector counterparts.

In contrast, among employees with a professional degree or doctorate, federal workers earned 23 percent less in wages and 18 percent lower total compensation, while receiving about the same benefits as the private sector employees with identical degrees.

In an accompanying blog post, CBO acknowledged that there are other, nonmeasurable factors at play in accounting for the pay gap. For example, CBO noted, “federal workers tend to be older, more educated and more concentrated in professional occupations than private sector workers.”

According to CBO, the average age of federal workers is four years higher than that of their private sector counterparts — 45 years versus 41 years.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Andrew Biggs, formerly the deputy commissioner of the social security administration, has performed his own pay gap research in the past and is pleased with COB’s study.

“By and large, they went about it the right way because they looked at it from the point of view of the individual,” Biggs told government executive. He said he was glad to see findings of this nature coming from a government organization rather than a think tank because it’s a little more difficult for public employee advocates to play the smear game.

Biggs said pay variations offer proof that across-the-board federal employee pay cuts are not a feasible option. Any effective cuts would have to take education into account as well as demand for specific jobs, he argued.

American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage, however, said the findings should have no bearing on how federal employees are paid.

“This CBO study answered an entirely academic and irrelevant question for federal pay policy,” he said in a statement. It “is probably interesting for academics, but its findings are completely irrelevant for determining wages or benefits for any group of employees.”

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said in a statement that she agreed with the finding that highly educated employees are paid less than their private sector counterparts, but added the report should not be considered a definitive statement on federal pay.

She said such studies support misguided efforts to decrease federal pay.

“An enormous amount of time and energy is going into studies purporting to show that federal workers are overpaid,” Kelley said. “It is just a foolish drive for the lowest common denominators, and is missing the big picture — which is what are we going to do to put people back to work and accelerate the economic recovery?”

 

Lord compares current cyber ops to early flying ops

 

Posted 1/30/2012

By Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb

24th Air Force Public Affairs

 

1/30/2012 – Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — The top communications officer in the air force visited here jan. 13 and spoke to cyber airmen about the road ahead for operations.

Lt. Gen. William lord, the air force’s chief information officer and chief of warfighting integration, talked about changes in the air force, compared current cyber operations to flight operations between World War I and World War II and spoke on the importance of the cyber mission.

“The first thing i will tell you is to relax,” he said. “it’s ok, your air force has been through change for a long, long time. I would argue since our inception.”

Lord talked about the development of air power based on operations that gave way to changes by the adversary that, in turn, called for more innovation.

“What happens when you put a camera in the cockpit of one of those little airplanes and, in world war I, fly over the enemy’s battlespace and take a picture,” he asked “what did we just create with that airplane? ISR – an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. So what was the bad guy’s reaction to that? Yeah, shoot them down. So what was invented next? The fighter. What happens when you arm that guy with a bunch of hand grenades and he’s flying over a bunch of trenches and drops them in the trenches? We invented the bomber.”

“I think that’s what we’re doing with cyber right now,” said lord. “We know that we can do some kinetic things with a non-kinetic weapon. We know that we’re moving information, but we haven’t realized the full potential. We will. And we’re doing some very cool things now, just like we were doing some very cool things with early aviation in military history.”

Lord said the cyber mission has become so important to joint military capabilities that some army units consider not operating if cyber capabilities are not in play. He said Battlefield Airborne Communications nodes are one of those capabilities.

BACN facilitates tactical edge information exchange among airborne and ground systems.

He said network operations continuously evolve such as using internet relay chat (MIRC) as a force multiplier. He said when MIRC was enabled on the air force network more than a decade ago, people wondered how and why airmen would use it, but left the program in the hands of younger airmen, non-commissioned officers and air force civilians to figure it out.

“Do you think we could take MIRC off the network now,” he asked. ” what capability do we use when a marine sniper is peering through a long scope at a cave entrance looking at a predator feed, talking to an [intelligence] analyst who’s listening in to a conversation and chatting back via MIRC saying, ‘no, don’t get the guy on the left; get the guy on the right?'” lord said, “it wasn’t invented for that reason, but adaption of the tool by smart people in the air force made it happen.”

“I have no idea what we’ll use social networking for, but I’m smart enough now to know that we ought to put a Facebook-like capability on the air force portal,” he said. “And we did and over 400,000 of you have signed up for it.”

He said an example of air force members adapting that tool came from correspondence between an airman working on an aircraft engine at spangdahlem air base, germany, and communicating with another airman at kadena air base, okinawa, to fix a problem.

“That’s what we’re going to use it for,” he said. “you’re going to figure out better ways of doing our business if we arm you with some of that capability.”

Lord said he foresees wireless capabilities replacing fiber-optics and a multitude of other changes, some budget related.

He said people in the air force from the 1980s on have seen increased budgets each year.

“Well guess what? Those days are over!” he said. And in february, the new budget will be rolling out.”

Lord said the air force secretary and chief of staff have charged him with using his title 40 chief information officer hammer on the business systems and the air force’s combat systems. Even with budget cuts, the air force will still be required to modernize and protect the network at the same time.

“It’s breathe in a bag time,” he reiterated. “The potential for confusion and turmoil exists. We want to try to eliminate that. We won’t, but i do want you to know that there are people who think about it and are concerned about it and that you have a voice in helping with how this ride ends. I think it’s a glass half full. While it was lieutenant lord who bought an IBM Selectric iii [typewriter] and leaves with kinetic effects happening as a result of non-kinetic activity, the future is wide open, and it’s an exciting time to be in your air force.”

 

 

U.S. lags Finland, Sweden and Israel in cybersecurity

NEXTGOV

By Aliya Sternstein 01/30/2012

The United States and China are less prepared for disruptive computer attacks than smaller countries such as finland and israel, according to the first-ever ranking of individual nations’ cybersecurity postures.

The smaller nations’ greater dependence on the Internet and strong private sector oversight partly contributed to their high scores, noted a report released Monday by the Security and Defense Agenda, a Brussels think tank. The purpose of the study was to show how each country’s defenses stack up against each other’s.

Although hackers in China and Russia are understood to be behind much of the cyber espionage in the united states, the countries are less able to defend their own networks, the research showed.

Using a scale of one to five stars, analysts granted Finland, Israel and Sweden each four and half stars. The United States scored four, while China and Russia each earned three stars. Mexico was the least prepared, according to its two-star rating. No countries reached as high as five stars or as low as one star. Security firm Mcafee partnered with the Brussels researchers on the study, which surveyed more than 250 world leaders and interviewed about 80 big thinkers in security from governments, academia and the private sector

Timo Härkönen, government security director in the Finnish prime minister’s office, told the report’s authors that his country has come to realize that the government’s main network is not defensible, so resources are concentrated on securing specialized systems.

“Much of the information there [on the government network] is aimed at the general public. We simply have to accept that it will be attacked and invest in protecting more sensitive networks like those of the police, border guards and defense forces, and the government’s own confidential network,” he said in the report. Finland aims to erect a common, secure network for each of these authorities by 2013.

The study judged each country’s readiness based on the pervasiveness of defensive measures such as basic computer hygiene; network-defense technologies such as firewalls and electronic signatures; and standards for enabling a robust, compatible “cyber ecosystem.”

Israel’s strength in offensive cyber operations could stem from the government’s philosophy that networks are literally vital systems. “cybersecurity is not about saving information or data, but about something deeper than that,” isaac ben-israel, senior security adviser to prime minister benjamin netanyahu, said in the study. “it’s about securing different life systems regulated by computers. In israel we realized this 10 years ago.”

Critical infrastructure operators in israel, including power companies, water plants and banks, are instructed by law on how to secure their systems, the report stated.

In the United States, intellectual property theft perpetrated by China and Russia is the most damaging form of breach, according to the study. While public-private partnerships aimed at thwarting cyber espionage are growing, laws limit information sharing, some experts said. “Congress moves extremely slowly. We need government and the private sector to work together better, faster and across more sectors,” said Kevin Gronberg, senior counsel for the House Homeland Security committee. But the report says other experts view the relationship as a “big brother-little brother one, rather than a partnership of equals,” adding, “in the U.S. we struggle with the idea of trusting government.”

More than half the study participants said they regard cyberspace as an international domain, in the same way sea and outer space are global commons. International military organizations such as NATO appear to share this belief. Last fall, NATO tripled funding to protect its networks by committing 28 million euros.

Russia, perceived as a sanctuary for cyber thugs, scored relatively low in protecting its own civilians. The country is home to bank-cracking viruses and systems called botnets that hijack people’s computers to blast spam. Russia has a hard time identifying its hackers partly because, unlike other countries, it allows users to register Web services anonymously. But the country is less dependent on the Web than other large nations, however, so cyber intrusions are not as great a threat to critical services.

That said, Vitaly Kamluk, a Russia-based malware expert at Kaspersky Labs, noted, “we’re growing more and more like the rest of the world now. What’s new is that Russian hackers are now targeting local citizens, which they didn’t before.”

Little is known about China’s information warfare capabilities, but according to the report, the security industry there is still in its fledgling years. It does have military training programs that include cyberwar instruction. There are reports of a Chinese cyber militia that is a “loose web of cowboy hackers” not formally connected to the military or to the civilian government, who hack for somewhat patriotic reasons.

 

Pentagon Fine-Tunes CIO Job, Shuts Down Networks Post

NEXTGOV

By Bob Brewin 01/30/12 06:43 pm ET

 

Teri takai, the defense department’s chief information officer, will lose “acquisition specific functions,” according to a Jan. 11 memo signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that was sent to me by a benevolent reader today.

That memo, which formally disestablished the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration organization mandated by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in August 2010, transfers the CIO acquisition functions to the undersecreatry of Defense for acqusitions, technology and logistics, a post Carter held before getting his deputy stripes.

The memo said the Pentagon cio will, however, retain statutory responsibility for acquisitions related to defense business systems “for which the primary purpose is to support information technology infrastructure or information assurance activities.”

The Pentagon cio will serve as the “primary authority for the policy and oversight of information resources management, to include matters related to information technology, network defense and network operations,” the memo said.

The commander of U.S. Strategic Command, based in Omaha, Neb., “will continue to direct operations to secure, operate and defend DoD information networks in compliance with policy direction,” the memo said.

This realignment, carter said, “will further our efforts to eliminate duplicative functions and refocus efforts to ensure that resources and activities are directed to the highest overall priorities of the department, particularly in today’s fiscal environment of constrained budgets and reduced spending.”

 

Bill would have feds feel the bite of missed contracting goals

FCW.COM

BY MATTHEW WEIGELT

Jan 31, 2012

The chairman of the House Small Business Committee would like to put some sharp teeth into the rules on small-business contracting goals. He has proposed increasing the annual goal and putting senior executives on the hook when their agencies miss the mark.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) Introduced the Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contracting Act Jan. 31. The legislation boosts the annual governmentwide small business contracting goal from 23 percent―a goal rarely reached―to 25 percent.

The federal government spends nearly $540 billion through contracts each year, so the 2-percent increase could potentially yield about $11 billion to small companies — if agencies actually meet the goals. The legislation would set a goal of awarding 40 percent of all subcontracted dollars to small businesses. Its an increase from the current goal of 35.9 percent.

The small business committee said early data appears to show the government missing the 23-percent goal by more than 3 percent in fiscal 2011.

As a result, government officials would feel the pinch if their agency comes up short. The bill would withhold the agency’s senior executives from receiving bonuses. Executives also could possibly miss out on a sabbatical the following year, if the agency doesn’t award enough contracts to small business.

“Small businesses have proven time and time again that they can perform a service or produce goods for the government cheaper and often quicker than their larger counterparts. However, various bureaucratic impediments remain for small contractors. Any avenue to save taxpayer dollars, increase competition and spark growth is the route we should be taking,” graves said.

Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the professional services council, said the bill has good intentions, but this and another new piece of legislation on set-asides may impose a consequence on agencies that wasn’t initially intended.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) introduced a bill that would cut an agency’s budget by 10 percent for missing a small-business contracting goal. It and gravesf legislation may be encouraging agencies from the wrong angle.

“Cuts in pay are rarely a motivator,” particularly when the senior executives who have no way of influencing small-business contracting decisions are affected, Chvotkin said.

Agencies may decide to reduce their contracting goals to avoid the 10-percent penalty in Owens’ proposal, Tiffany Wynn, an associate at the Crowell and Moring law firm, wrote in a post on the Government Contracts Legal Forum blog about the legislation.

These bills would only add to the frustration among officials in agencies that don’t meet their contracting goals, Chvotkin said. In addition, agencies shouldn’t face increased percentages without additional tools from Congress to help them achieve the new measure.

“The small-business set-asides are just goals,” not formal requirements, so tough consequences may not be the best option, he said.

Further, the goals are set within a federal procurement system built around other objectives, Chvotkin said. The system’s core objective is to get agencies quality products and services on schedule at the best price.

Set-asides are a factor in procurement decisions, and the system needs a balance between contracting goals and meeting the central objective, he said.

 

FCC seeks public comment on LightSquared petition

The would-be LTE carrier wants the FCC to say that GPS devices aren’t entitled to interference protection

COMPUTERWORLD

By Stephen Lawson

January 30, 2012 02:29 PM ET

    

IDG News Service – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on a petition by embattled mobile startup LightSquared that says GPS receivers aren’t entitled to protection from interference.

Lightsquared wants to operate a 4g mobile data network using radio spectrum next to the GPS (global positioning system) band. Tests have shown interference between that proposed network and gps, and under a conditional waiver from the FCC, Lightsquared can’t launch until interference concerns have been resolved.

The carrier says GPS receivers, such as cell phones, car navigation units and aviation equipment, improperly use its licensed frequencies because they were built with inadequate filters. It also claims tests have been rigged to show harmful interference. After conflict between Lightsquared and GPS makers heated up, last month Lightsquared asked the FCC for a declaratory ruling that GPS receivers do not have the right to use its spectrum without interference.

The FCC announced the public comment period on Friday. In its public notice, the agency said comments must be submitted within 30 days, for a deadline of Feb. 27. After that, the FCC will accept responses to those comments for 15 days, or until March 13.

The debate over Lightsquared’s plan pits growing demand for mobile broadband against the importance of gps for personal, business and government applications. The carrier wants to offer both a satellite-based mobile data service spanning North america and a faster LTE (long-term evolution) service in metropolitan areas. Lightsquared will sell its services wholesale to other carriers, who will be able to sell either satellite or LYE services or both.

 

 

 

Air Force leaders publish new strategy document

 

Posted 2/1/2012

2/1/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz released the ‘Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets’ white paper Feb 1.

“The Air Force has made the hard choices to closely align with the new strategic guidance in our FY13 budget submission by trading size for quality,” the leaders stated. “We will be a smaller but superb force that maintains the agility, flexibility, and readiness to engage a full range of contingencies and threats.”

The Air Force strategy document provides an overview of the way forward for the present and future Air Force. The Following areas are outlined in the document: The Air Force new strategy; force structure; readiness; modernization; more disciplined use of Defense dollars; and taking care of people.

“It is our intent, indeed our obligation, to the American people and our Airmen to remain the world’s finest Air Force in the years and decades to come,” Donley and Schwartz penned. “Innovative and adaptable, America’s Air Force will continue to meet emerging challenges and ensure the security of the Nation and its bright future.”

To read the ‘Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets’ http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120201-027.pdf

 

 

Microsoft launches Kinect for Windows aimed at developers and businesses

Washington Post

By Stefanie Fogel | venturebeat.com, Published: February 2

 

Microsoft today launched the Kinect for windows commerical program, bringing the xbox 360 motion-sensing peripheral hardware and software to the pc platform. The company hopes businesses around the globe will take advantage of the kinect to improve internal operations, build new customer experiences, and potentially revolutionize their respective industries.

“It’s been just over a year since we launched Kinect for Xbox 360, and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible with Kinect,” said Craig Eisler, general manager for Kinect for Windows. “By offering hardware and software that’s designed specifically for Windows applications, we hope to inspire visionaries around the world to create transformative breakthroughs with Kinect―taking its gesture and voice capabilities beyond the living room into other industries such as education, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail.”

Microsoft says 300 companies from 25 countries such as United Health Group, American Express, Mattel, Telefonica, and Toyota are already developing applications through the Kinect for Windows early adoption program. To encourage smaller businesses to use the hardware, Microsoft and startup seed funding program techstars are running a Kinect Accelerator program, which offers entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators the opportunity to develop applications with the Kinect as part of a 3-month intensive competition.

Microsoft claims the kinect for windows sensor is a fully-tested and supported kinect experience. It offers features such as advanced speech and audio capabilities with the latest microsoft speech components; near mode which sees objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the sensor; improved skeletal tracking that enables control over which user is being tracked by the sensor; and a commercial ready installer that makes it easy to install Kinect for windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.

The Kinect for windows commercial license and purchasable hardware will be available in 12 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United States and United Kingdom) at a suggested retail price of $249 usd.

COPYRIGHT 2012, VENTUREBEAT

 

 

Obama to announce Veterans Job Corps

WASHINGTON POST

By Steve Vogel, Published: February 3

 

President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on Thursday described the program as “a bold new effort” to lower the high unemployment rate for post-Sept. 11 military veterans, which stood at 13.1 percent in December. The government estimates that 250,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans are unemployed.

Obama proposed the corps in his State of the Union address last month, describing it as “enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.”

At an appearance Friday at an Arlington County firehouse, Obama is also expected to announce that the budget to be released this month includes $5 billion in funding proposed in the American Jobs Act to spur police and firefighter hiring in 2012.

Preferences for the grants will go to communities that hire post-9/11 veterans.

Obama said in his address last month that his administration will “help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.”

The White House also is announcing an expansion of entrepreneur training for service members leaving the military.

The Veterans Job Corps will involve projects such as repairing trails, roads, levees and recreational facilities, according to the White House.

Other work could include providing visitor programs, restoring habitat, protecting cultural resources, eradicating invasive species and cutting brush to reduce the risk of forest fires.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that the Civilian Conservation Corps, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Depression to put hundreds of thousands of the unemployed to work on projects in government parks and lands, serves as a “very good indicator” of what the administration hopes to accomplish with the Veterans Job Corps.

“When one looks back at the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, we take great comfort that those who take this on will leave a great legacy for the United States,” Salazar said during a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the veteran employment initiatives.

Salazar said that the program would “make a significant dent” in the deferred maintenance that has become common at many federal, state, local and tribal lands as government budgets have been cut.

Salazar said the veterans program could serve as a “gateway to permanent positions” with the National Park Service, as many young people who take temporary jobs at national parks or wildlife refuges end up making a career of such work.

“Those veterans who have served will have a place here at the Department of Interior,” he said.

Salazar noted that some of the nation’s first park rangers were from African American cavalry regiments known as Buffalo Soldiers, which patrolled Yosemite and Sequoia national parks to protect wildlife against poachers.

 

 

House members introduce flood of small-business legislation

Fcw.com

By Matthew Weigelt

FEB 02, 2012

Small business advocates in the house continue to introduce bills in support of small federal contractors. The latest bill would bring into the light the process by which agencies insource work and give firms standing to challenge an insourcing decision in court.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced the subcontracting transparency and reliability (star) act on feb. 2.

Under the bill, agency officials would have to allow the public to comment on the agency’s procedures for bringing in-house work that a small business has been doing. The small business advocates within a department, such as Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) officials, would have to review the procedures as well.

The bill would also give small businesses the opportunity to challenge insourcing decisions in court.

Mulvaney tackles subcontracting problems as well in the bill. A small business could not subcontract more than 50 percent of what the government pays it for a contract. There would be a penalty for violating the rule, including a possible three-year suspension from contracting, a fine or jail.

The legislation is designed to ensure that small businesses that get the contracts are doing the bulk of the work. It would make it easier to crack down on deceptive large businesses hiding behind small businesses.

“The STAR Act will help provide an even playing field for many small contractors who otherwise would not have the resources to fight deceitful subcontracting and unjustified insourcing within the federal procurement system,” said Mulvaney, chairman of the Small Business Committee’s Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee.

Mulvaneyfs legislation was introduced two days after the Small Business Committee chairman, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), introduced two bills. One bill would pressure agencies to meet their small business contracting goals or take bonuses away from senior federal officials. The Government Efficiency through Small Business Contracting Act (H.R. 3850 ) also raises the governmentwide contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent.

Graves introduced the small business advocate act (h.r. 3851 ) the same day. It would make the osdbu director a senior executive position and report directly and exclusively to the agency head. The small business committee wrangled with agency officials in 2011 about the access their osdbu directors had to the top-ranking official.

In addition to these three bills, Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), member of the Small Business Committee, introduced a bill that would cut an agency’s budget by 10 percent in the following fiscal year if that agency missed the set small-business contracting goal.

Each of the bills has been referred to the small business committee for further consideration.

 

Air Force announces force structure overview for fy 13 and beyond

 

BY ANN STEFANEK

SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

2/3/2012 – Washington (afns) — Air Force officials announced proposed force structure changes which support the new DoD strategic guidance retiring 286 aircraft over the next five years, including 227 in fiscal year 13.

According to Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, the Air Force is shaping itself for future challenges by realigning air force assets with the defense department’s new strategic guidance.

“We’ve had to adjust our force structure based on our strategic objectives and to balance capability and capacity with constrained budgets,” donley said. “we must have the right tools and enough of them to credibly deter potential adversaries and to deliver on our objectives.”

The new strategic guidance requires the joint force to be capable of fighting one large scale, combined arms campaign with sufficient combat power to also deny a second adversary, and de-emphasized large-scale, prolonged stability operations. The air force’s approach to this new strategy is to retire fighter, mobility, and isr that are beyond those needed to meet the capacity requirements of the new defense strategic guidance.

“Where possible, we attempted to retire all aircraft of a specific type, allowing us to also divest the unique training and logistic support structure for that aircraft,” air force chief of staff gen. Norton schwartz explained. “when that was not possible, we worked to retire the oldest aircraft first, and redistributed aircraft into effective and economical units, eliminating other units when that was most efficient. Where we retained older aircraft, we are taking steps to ensure they will remain viable into the future.”

Although the U.S. has removed all combat forces from Iraq and the new strategic guidance reduces the steady state requirement for ground forces, the air force expects steady state rotational requirements to remain constant, or perhaps increase.

According to Schwartz this continuing combatant commander requirement for air force aircraft and airmen to deploy forward was a key factor in determining the required mix between active and reserve component forces due to differences in sustainable deployment rates and operations tempo.

Schwartz also explained the need for reductions in the reserve component.

“Two decades of military end strength and force structure reductions in our active duty component has changed the mix of active duty to reserve component forces,” Schwartz said. “We’ve carefully considered the mix and what the appropriate balance should be between the active and reserve components. The reserve component is a critical and essential part of our total force, but must be balanced and matched appropriately within a constrained fiscal environment.”

“We’re going to do this intelligently in a way that balances tempo, that keeps the right mix of assets, modern and less modern, in each of the components, and we’re doing this in an inclusive fashion with air national guard and air force reserve leadership,” said schwartz.

The air force is going to get smaller, and all of the components–active, guard and reserve– are going to get smaller together, he said.

Schwartz also emphasized that we will avoid a hollow force by protecting readiness at any force level, and strengthen our integration of the total force team of active duty, guard, and reserve airmen.

“to ensure an agile and ready force, we made a conscious choice not to maintain more force structure than we could afford to properly train and equip,” Schwartz said. “We’ve taken this approach to preserve the capabilities the nation requires of its air force.”

The announcement specifies the force structure changes experienced by the total force: air force active duty, air national guard, and air force reserve and will save the air force $8.7 billion over the next five years.

For fiscal years 2014-2017 the air force plans to reduce 50-plus aircraft from its inventory, continue to reshape the missions between the total force, and increase reserve component participation in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as cyber missions.

Implementation of these actions will occur only after completion of appropriate environmental analyses. The air force is scheduled to announce related force structure manpower changes in march.

For more details about the fiscal 2013 force structure http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120203-027.pdf

 

Khamenei: Iran will back ‘any nations, any groups’ fighting Israel

Washington Post

By Thomas Erdbrink, Published: February 3

TEHRAN — A fiery anti-Israel speech by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered shortly after a successful Iranian satellite launch, added to growing global tensions Friday, as Israel warned that it might mount a preemptive strike against the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities despite U.S. objections.

“From now onward, we will support and help any nations, any groups fighting against the Zionist regime across the world, and we are not afraid of declaring this,” Khamenei said during a rare Friday prayer lecture at Tehran University.

“The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off,” the supreme leader said. “And it definitely will be cut off.”

Most of Khamenei’s rhetoric was not new. But the timing and setting of his speech hardened a standoff that some analysts say has the potential to spark military action. Such a development would disrupt the international coalition that has emerged to confront Iran over its nuclear program, as well as jeopardize oil markets and the fragile global economy.

Khamenei’s speech, which comes ahead of a planned resumption of nuclear talks, exemplified his view of Iran as the flag-bearer in battles against the “arrogant powers,” a term used in Iranian political discourse to describe the United States and its allies.

U.S. and European sanctions, Khamenei said, are actually helping Iran to develop and will never succeed in halting the country’s nuclear enrichment program.

“These sanctions are aimed at making Iran back down, but Iran will not back down,” he said. “These sanctions are aimed at dealing a blow to us, but in fact, they are of benefit to us.”

The supreme leader’s tone Friday differed from that struck recently by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said last month that Iran is ready for talks with the West. While Khamenei did not mention the upcoming nuclear discussions, he made clear that compromises such as suspending uranium enrichment are not on the table. Iran has the upper hand in its standoff with the West, he said, because its opponents are “fading powers.”

Khamenei also said that Israel has become “weakened and isolated” in the Middle East because of the revolutions — he called them “Islamic awakenings” — that have spread through the region.

He suggested that Iran’s support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas and for Lebanon’s Hezbollah had helped lead to victory in their battles with “the Zionist state,” as Israel is officially called here.

“We got involved in the anti-Israeli issues, which resulted in victory in the 33-day and 22-day wars,” Khamenei said, referring to Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon and its incursion into the Gaza Strip in late 2008.

An adviser to Khamenei said in a recent interview that despite the divergence in tone, Iran’s leaders see eye to eye when it comes to the West: Iran welcomes dialogue, but don’t expect it to compromise.

“Compare the U.S. to a complaining neighbor, baselessly nagging about everything,” said Mohammad Kazem Anbarlouei, editor in chief of the Resalat state newspaper. “Why would you compromise with such a person? And why should we compromise with the U.S.? They should just leave us alone.”

Khamenei’s speech came hours after Iran’s state-run media reported that the country had launched into space a small satellite carried by a homemade rocket. The launch, which had been planned and announced months ago, is part of a series of festivities celebrating the 33rd anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which culminated in the collapse of the monarchy on Feb. 11, 1979.

State-run television reported that the Navid-e Elm-o Sanat (“Good message of science and industry”) microsatellite carries camera and telecommunication devices and was designed and manufactured in Iran.

Ahmadinejad joined the launch remotely via video link and said he was hopeful the launch would “send a signal of more friendship among all human beings,” wire services reported.

Iran’s space program is controversial, as Western nations fear the rockets could be used for regional attacks and — if the country were to produce a nuclear weapon — be fitted with a nuclear warhead. Iran has repeatedly stated that its missile program is for defensive purposes only.

The Navid satellite will orbit Earth at an altitude of up to 234 miles, the Associated Press reported, citing the Islamic Republic News Agency. It is the third small satellite Iran has built and launched in the past few years and the first of three scheduled for launch in early 2012.


 

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