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March 29 2014

March 31, 2014




White House Growth and Security Bill Includes $8B for New Weapons

Mar. 21, 2014 – 03:45AM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER | Comments


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s share of the White House’s $56 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative requests more than double the procurement money previously disclosed in budget documents earlier this month.

The bill, which is separate from the US Defense Department’s $496 billion 2015 base budget request, includes $26 billion for Pentagon projects. More than one-third, $8.7 billion, is eyed for procurement of new cargo aircraft, fighter jets, spy planes, helicopters and missiles.

The procurement request also covers upgrades to existing aircraft, tanks, other ground vehicles and unmanned aircraft.

The White House has proposed this money in addition to DoD’s base budget to make up for spending cuts caused by sequestration in 2013. The money, defense officials say, would help improve military readiness.

Budget overview documents released earlier this month, when DoD sent its 2015 budget request to Congress, showed about $4 billion aligned for procurement projects. The request included Boeing AH-64 Apaches, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, Boeing Chinooks, Boeing P-8 Poseidon spy planes, Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighters, General Atomics Reapers and Lockheed C-130J transport aircraft.

More detailed documents released this week show the Air Force’s request for 10 C-130Js is split evenly between rescue and special operations versions of the aircraft.

The Navy request also includes money for the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and Boeing C-40 transport.

The procurement request includes nearly $1 billion for communications and electronics equipment, with about half of that money eyed for Army projects.

Also included in the $26 billion request is nearly $2 billion for research-and-development projects. More than $10 billion is eyed for operations and maintenance.

In addition, the White House request includes nearly $3 billion for more than 100 military construction projects at dozens of bases across the US.



In Defense Industry, a Souring Mood on Acquisition Reform

By Sandra I. Erwin


When Trey Obering was deputy director of the Defense Department’s missile defense agency in 2002, he was asked to fix one of the most troubled acquisition programs in recent history. The airborne laser — a modified Boeing 747 jet that carried a megawatt laser to shoot down ballistic missiles — was handed over by the Air Force to MDA after eight years of nonachievement.

What Obering discovered was an epitome of procurement dysfunction. The Air Force had assembled a “standing army” of managers and engineers who were spending hundreds of millions of dollars on studies and design reviews before anyone ever fired the laser for the first time, says Obering, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and now a senior vice president at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

“We said, ‘Stop that.’ We are not going to pay for any more engineers. We want you to focus on firing the laser and taking the aircraft off to fly it,” Obering recalls during a recent interview. It took another two years to finally fire the laser, but technical accomplishments were not enough to save the program, which was terminated in 2010 after 14 years in development and projected cost estimates of about $1.5 billion per aircraft.

Although reams of new regulations have been laid on the military acquisition system to prevent these debacles, the underlying problems have not changed, Obering says. “Why is this so hard? It’s because the process has evolved over time to be so complicated, and there are so many stakeholders, and so many process owners that it is very difficult to affect real change.”

Many executives in the defense industry are deeply discouraged by the inertia, according to a recent survey by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Government Business Council. They polled 340 business leaders on defense acquisition issues, with particular focus on C4ISR programs (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance).

The survey revealed a general sense of pessimism about the future of high-tech government procurements. More than half of the executives called attention to a growing disconnect between what buyers expect and what contractors promise to deliver.

A sticky wicket in military programs is understanding the “technical risks,” says Obering. And there is rampant inefficiency. Defense programs get bloated and run up huge overhead costs before they produce anything, which often leads to budget overruns and, later, terminations, he says. “It’s not just design reviews and guys sitting around the table but doing something,” says Obering. “You demonstrate you have the technical risk in hand before you ramp up a standing army of engineers. That’s the risk reduction on the front end that the government should be demanding. That is what the contractor team should focus on before they start broad scale development.”

It might seem obvious to outsiders that government officials who manage procurement programs should deliver products, but the Pentagon’s arcane acquisition process does not necessarily encourage that, Obering says. “The fact is that program managers today spend more time managing up than they do managing down.” The Pentagon should streamline the oversight process, “empower those folks who are responsible for programs to be able to react and respond to technology and opportunities and threats.”


While industry executives frequently complain about Defense Department oversight and regulations, in this survey they actually suggest the government should take a more active role in programs. They would like to see procurement officials more engaged in the early phase of a program, to help prevent costly failures later. More than 60 percent of respondents said that greater government involvement in designing requirements could improve the overall acquisition process.

In complex programs, especially, government managers should be “lead integrators” who understand how to connect different systems and make them work together, says Obering. “This is demanded by the war fighter, and it’s going to be demanded by the budget. We have to get more out of programs,” he says. “There is so much more you can do with information by integrating capabilities. … We can’t afford things that don’t integrate, things that take too long.”

The Defense Department once had that integration expertise, but it rapidly degraded since the late 1990s when military budgets collapsed. “One of the unintended consequences was that the government lost the ability to manage and to own a technical baseline of a program, much less an integrated set of programs,” says Obering. “The survey says we have to get that back.”

At the start of a program, he says, the government must understand the technical risk and should make sure the contractor understands the technical risk. “That’s a huge area that is a big problem,” says Obering. “Contractors have a ‘can-do’ spirit and often will not realize the severity of the technical challenge they have in front of them.”

Industry executives, regrettably, have turned more cynical about the acquisition system, he says. “There is a lack of trust in the system, and a loss of accountability.”

Successful acquisitions can be done, but that usually happens when the government works outside the system, he says. “When we have an urgent operational need or a classified program, we streamline and strip away a lot of the processes and we really focus on how to get the job done,” says Obering. “We can do that. It’s going to take will and it’s going to take support from all the stakeholders, including the Congress, to get real reform done.”

The survey’s message is that “we need new thinking,” says Greg Wenzel, senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton’s strategic innovation group. “Operators, acquisition managers, engineers all agree we need to a better way to buy in a more agile fashion,” he says. “It’s not about buying more, it’s about thinking like an enterprise.” Government buyers need to “understand the portfolio of the things that they are acquiring and where they fit in the larger enterprise,” says Wenzel. For new technology acquisitions, the Defense Department should “build-in” interoperability from the start.


Satellite Industry Frets About Future Military Business

By Sandra I. Erwin


The Pentagon spends about a billion dollars a year on satellite communications services from commercial vendors, which supply about 80 percent of the military’s demand.

The industry is worried, however, about the future of its Defense Department business, for several reasons.

Much of the demand for satellite communications, or satcom, was generated by wars that are coming to an end. The Pentagon sees its future in Asia-Pacific, but has yet to share with vendors how it plans to acquire satcom in the region. Commercial satellite providers generally detest the Defense Department’s satcom buying methods because they favor one-year leases instead of the long-term agreements that private-sector investors prefer. Suppliers also fear that the Pentagon, as budgets shrink, will pare back spending on commercial services and will rely more on military-owned satellites.

Pentagon officials insist that these concerns are unfounded. They cite projections of soaring demand for commercial satcom in the coming years to satisfy the military’s appetite for data, for global connectivity and for bandwidth-hogging drones.

Industry CEOs say they are ready to provide additional capacity, but they need more specifics on the military’s future needs and also a financial commitment by the Pentagon in order to justify the cost of building, launching and maintaining satellites.

“We need to find a way for government and industry to plan together,” says Robert Tipton “Tip” Osterthaler, president and CEO of satcom supplier SES Government Solutions.

If the Pentagon is going to need more satcom, it should inform the private sector so companies can allocate enough bandwidth for the military even as the demand from commercial users continues to grow, says Osterhaler, a retired Air Force brigadier general.

The one-year leases, which are purchased by the Defense Department on the spot market, are inefficient for both buyers and sellers, he argues. They leave the Pentagon exposed to the vagaries of the satcom trade and that can result in higher prices. Short-term deals deter satellite providers from investing in additional infrastructure in the absence of assured business, Osterhaler says during an online forum hosted by Federal News Radio. “Short-term buying practices perhaps made sense before, when demand was lower, but they make less sense if you believe commercial satcom will be part of your essential infrastructure.”

The satcom industry and its congressional supporters are ratcheting up the pressure on the Pentagon to put forth a plan for future procurement of satellite services. Following a controversial satellite lease the Pentagon signed with a Chinese supplier last year, lawmakers pounced. The fiscal year 2014 Defense Authorization Act directs the Pentagon to develop a strategy for how to use commercial satcom. The deadline is coming up next month.

Among the staunchest critics of Pentagon satcom buying methods is Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. He questioned why the military a year ago signed a $10 million, one-year lease with a Chinese company to use a Thales Alenia Space satellite to provide communications for U.S. Africa Command.

Osterhaler says U.S. firms could provide those services but they need time to build capacity for the military and satisfy specific requirements that commercial buyers do not have. If more capacity is needed in Africa or in Asia, executives say, the Defense Department could work with the private sector to ensure that demand is met. “Long-term needs don’t match up with short-term buying practices,” Osterhaler says. “The incentives for commercial industry to make the necessary investments are pretty weak, at best.”

Military officials often assume the industry has plenty of capacity to sell at the right price, but the reality is more complex, Osterhaler adds. As global demand for broadband swells, commercial operators rapidly are sucking up the bandwidth, leaving the Pentagon in a precarious position, says Osterhaler. “Our big strategic commercial customers understand that we’re an essential infrastructure provider to them, and they behave accordingly. They’re open with us about their needs, and we make investments on their behalf.” Those investments for military users, he adds, are not taking place as they are for commercial customers. In an emergency, “There may not be enough capacity available at any price.”

Disagreements within the Defense Department over how to acquire satcom services have existed for years. The Government Accountability Office called out the Pentagon in 2008 for its inefficient lease approach. The Defense Business Board, made up of private sector executives, criticized the satcom buying system in a 2012 report. It suggested the Defense Department create a “single satcom organization” to oversee procurements, versus the current fragmented system. While the secretary of defense has policy oversight, purchases are handled by the individual military services. The Air Force Space Command is responsible for government-owned satellites. Satcom leases are managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

To boost competition, DISA teamed with the General Services Administration for the solicitation of satcom bids. The results have been mixed, Osterhaler says. GSA mandates that a percentage of contracts be awarded to small businesses, some of which are unqualified, he says. “In some cases asking small businesses to execute complex networks is probably not in the best interest of the users.”

The Defense Business Board predicts that as the demand for service increases in the future, the cost of satellite communications purchased by DISA will skyrocket. One solution is to change the procurement methods, the panel said. “Existing contracting procedures and DoD’s culture make partnerships with the private sector difficult.”

The Aerospace Industries Association, too, has recommended that the Pentagon consider greater use of hosted payloads on commercial spacecraft to reduce costs and improve service.

Like other satcom executives, Osterhaler would like to see the Pentagon adopt the “civil reserve air fleet” approach to satellite services. Under the CRAF program, the Air Force pays commercial airlines to keep a certain number of aircraft available for military contingencies. “In the space industry, we think it has potential. It would give the Defense Department access to a large amount of capacity for unanticipated needs.”

The Pentagon’s top buyer, Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, directed his staff in March 2013 to begin a 90-day study of military satcom needs and how the Pentagon could tap the commercial market. A year later, the status of the report is unknown. Defense Chief Information Officer Teri Takai told executives at a recent satellite industry trade show that the study is almost completed but offered no details.

Douglas Loverro, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, says the Air Force has launched several pilot programs to gauge the market. One option is to buy on-orbit transponders from unused commercial satellites. “It’s an experiment,” Loverro says. He admits the Pentagon is having a tough time deciding which direction to go. While it is normal for the military to plan major purchases years or decades in advance, “we’re not used to doing it for satcom,” he says. Another idea under consideration is a straight long-term lease, although Loverro warns that might be too expensive.

Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, spent the past two years surveying the private sector for money-saving ideas. She found that there are many opportunities to save money in the commercial space sector, but to take advantage of those deals, the Defense Department needs to revamp its buying methods.

A transition to a commercial-based model would have to be made within the next decade, before the Pentagon’s communications satellites — the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), the Mobile User Objective System Satellite (MUOS) and the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) — run out of service life. Officials have said the Pentagon most likely will be paring back future purchases of military-unique satellites, which cost a billion dollars apiece.

The U.S. Space Command has floated the idea of a new “space architecture” that includes a mix of low-cost military satellites and commercial payloads. That approach, which the military calls “disaggregation,” is a departure from the traditional practice of building large, complex satellites.

Loverro says the question is not if but how the Pentagon will tap commercial systems. A single commercial satellite can offer up to 150 gigabits per second of data throughput, he points out. “Our most capable military satellite can only carry 3 gigabits per second.”

A concern for vendors is the Pentagon’s satcom requirement for unmanned aerial vehicles, which demand dedicated pipes.

Loverro defends the Chinese satellite lease as necessary to fill commanders’ requests. The Pentagon will not renew the lease when it expires in May, he says. “It shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” and it was the result of a “lack of planning,” says Loverro. “We need to work better with the commercial world.”

Industry executives agree. “The Defense Department thinks of us as money grabbers. We need them to see us as trusted partners,” says Philip Harlow, president and chief operating officer of XTAR, which supplies satcom services to the U.S. government.

Companies are becoming impatient with the Pentagon dithering on a satcom procurement strategy, Harlow says in an interview. The Pentagon wants to pivot to Asia, but hasn’t yet recognized that the satcom industry is “less prepared for an Asia-Pacific engagement than it was for an engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan,” says Harlow. “That’s simply a function of where companies invest dollars: Where they have paying customers, mostly in populations centers. And that is not always where conflicts are fought.”

The industry needs the Defense Department to “tell us what is going to be needed,” he says.

The government’s stalling tactics are understandable, though. “The Defense Department doesn’t want to be put into a corner,” he says. “Going into an environment where they don’t control everything is uncomfortable.”

In the private sector, he says, “We need to see commitment from the Defense Department to change. … Some quarters of the commercial industry see the Defense Department as trying to kick the can down the road until they get more money and go back to business as usual.”


Growler Advocates Outline Stealth Vulnerabilities

By Amy Butler

Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

March 24, 2014


Despite a squeeze on investment accounts, the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget strategy prioritizes funding for the stealthy F-35—but at what cost, some in industry ask.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made clear the spending plan is a result of making hard choices and trades.

However, this virtually singular focus is jeopardizing U.S. dominance in electronic warfare (EW) capabilities, according to some industry officials, who note that even a stealthy aircraft like the F-35 requires some protective jamming support to penetrate the “bubble” of protected enemy air space. A pinch on research, development and procurement funding coupled with a necessary focus on addressing counterinsurgency threats for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than a decade have contributed to a loss of focus at the Pentagon on EW planning, they say. “We stopped doing some campaign analysis,” acknowledges Al Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering.

Critics of the Pentagon’s EW strategy point to the fiscal 2015 budget’s termination of the U.S. Navy’s ties to Boeing’s Super Hornet production line. The service likely will buy only its planned 138 EA-18G Growlers, the Pentagon’s newest airborne EW system, and deploy five to each carrier air wing. Navy officials have put funding for 22 more Growlers on their fiscal 2015 wishlist, but without relief from the spending constraints of the Budget Control Act, Boeing will be on its own to continue building the aircraft, unless the Navy can buy more Growlers. Congress approved funding for 21 ship sets of EA-18Gs in the fiscal 2014 budget.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is also planning to mothball seven, or half, of its EC-130 electronic attack aircraft in fiscal 2013, saving $315.8 million. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jim Jones, director of operations, plans and requirements, says that the service “can’t afford to program to a no-risk force, [and further investment in stealth] is a piece of that. . . . All of these capabilities add up to a more survivable capability.” When questioned about whether the Air Force would backfill the lost EC-130s with some other capability, Jones declines to provide information, acknowledging that this is likely an “unsatisfying” answer. This could point to a capability being developed in the classified world.

Much of the concern of skeptics is centered on the emergence of very-high-frequency (VHF) radars, which uniquely can be used to detect stealthy aircraft. “All ‘stealth’ means is delayed detection in [a specific] frequency,” says one industry official. With a VHF system, “you are essentially the size of your aircraft from long range,” the official notes. The concern is that these long-range radars can pass data to fire-control systems—including active, electronically scanned array radars—that are capable of launching air defense weapons. The integration of the two could compromise the advantage stealth brings, which is to make the aircraft hard to target rather than making it invisible.

“We are starting to see the emergence of some stressing capabilities to our conventional forces,” Shaffer says. That “other countries are going out of band is a threat and is a challenge to our systems. Make no mistake about it,” he says.

“VHF radar can’t do fire-control, but they can see you,” says Mike Gibbons, Boeing vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18G programs. “With low-frequency radars, they can tell which way to look, and they can scramble their super-cruising aircraft out to you. At that point, stealth isn’t going to help you.”

As it shifts focus away from counterinsurgency operations, the Pentagon is planning to dust off and update its campaign plans for more stressing engagements, such as addressing the anti-access, area-denial problem posed by new air defenses being developed and fielded by Russian and Chinese manufacturers. In doing so, the Pentagon likely will adjust its force structure plans for EW, including a possible increase in the number of Growlers needed, as well as ongoing work for the F-15 Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (Epaws), Raytheon Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer (Mald-J) version and podded or towed decoy options. The Navy, for example, is investing in podded Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) jammer systems through the Filthy Badger and Filthy Buzzard projects.

Fleet structure studies are done annually, and any changes would be briefed to Pentagon leadership for possible adjustment in the fiscal 2016 budget this summer, Shaffer says.

“All aircraft can be seen by certain radars. The trick is to disrupt the [kill] chain when someone can lock weapons on you. We are talking about the ‘perishability’ of stealth,” Gibbons says.

Growler advocates argue that the EA-18G, with its wide-spectrum EW and electronic-attack capabilities should be the “quarterback” for future strike packages, with the electronic-warfare officer in the backseat essentially managing the electronic battle.

During a flight demonstration last summer, Boeing showed that two EA-18Gs were capable of passively detecting a threat emitter and passing “very accurate” targeting data for a strike within “minutes.” Company analysis suggests adding another Growler to the engagement would allow for generating target coordinates in seconds. This operational concept could condense the time element of the kill chain and get at the “counter-shutdown” problem for air defenses, when threat emitters intermittently radiate and then shut down to avoid being targeted by radar-seeking weapons such as the AGM-88E Advance Anti-Radiation Guided Missile.

In its campaign to restore funding for the Growler, Boeing will have to walk a careful line. The company has to make the case that without more Growlers, even the stealthiest aircraft in the Pentagon’s fleet are vulnerable to emerging air defenses. This is a thorny and challenging argument to make as it quickly veers into classified territory. And its Pentagon customer is loath to acknowledge that its multibillion-dollar investment in stealth aircraft could be made vulnerable by comparatively small investment in networked air defenses. Boeing is already aggressively engaging Congress to lobby for more Growler money and has launched a grass-roots advocacy campaign website.

Although F-22s and F-35s are the most capable platforms at penetrating air defenses, they are not silver bullets and still require capable escorts to standoff at the edge of a hostile range to control the electronic battlefield, Growler advocates say. They suggest doubling the number of Growlers in each carrier air wing to 10. There is “plenty of room” on the future carrier deck to accommodate the additional aircraft, the industry official says.

While carrying the most advanced and fused avionics available, the F-35 is able to influence only the electronic battle within the frequency of its own Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 radar. But if an F-35 encounters a threat not in its database or outside its own radar band, it likely would not address it—whereas an electronic-warfare officer on an EA-18G could discern its capabilities and suppress it, if needed, the industry official says.

A final fleet determination has not yet come out of the Navy for Growlers, but Shaffer says the plans in place are sufficient for now. “We maintained our EW focus and in some cases have been looking to accelerate,” he says, noting investments in Mald-J and Epaws and hinting that classified work may be underway.

During a March 12 hearing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said he sees a “growing need” for more Growlers. The questions are: When it will be announced? And when will it be funded?

With Guy Norris in El Segundo, Calif.



Defense trims could limit US military’s vision for Pacific pivot

spending limit our vision?


By Jon Harper

Stars and Stripes

Published: March 24, 2014


WASHINGTON — Budget constraints and force requirements in other regions will likely stall the Pentagon’s plans to beef up the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific and send more high-tech weaponry to deter a rising China, officials and analysts say.

DOD released its $496 billion fiscal 2015 budget request earlier this month. Due to caps imposed by Congress’ bipartisan budget deal in December, the Pentagon is requesting $45 billion less than what it anticipated it would need to carry out the national defense strategy when it submitted last year’s budget request. DOD also released its Future Years Defense Program, which calls for $115 billion more in military spending than current law allows over the course of the next five years.

“Right now, the pivot [to the Pacific] is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen [due to budget pressures],” Katrina McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said at an Aviation Week conference in Arlington, Va. on March 4, according to multiple news reports.

Later that day, McFarland issued the following statement through a spokeswoman in what appeared to be an attempt to walk back her remarks.

“When I spoke at a conference, I was asked a question about the budget … and how it relates to our pivot to Asia. I was reiterating what Secretary Hagel said last week: that the shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific requires us to ‘adapt, innovate, and make difficult budgetary and acquisition decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable.’ That’s exactly what we’ve done in this budget [proposal]. The rebalance to Asia can and will continue.”

“[McFarland] obviously was disciplined and retracted those remarks,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said at a budget hearing the next day.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said the resources currently at his disposal are insufficient to meet operational requirements.

“The ability for the services to provide the type of maritime coverage, the air coverage of some of the key elements that we’ve historically needed in this part of the world for crisis response, have not been available to the level that I would consider acceptable risk [due to recent budget cutbacks],” he told lawmakers March 5.

During a March 4 budget briefing at the Pentagon, defense officials disputed the notion that the strategic shift will stall.

“We are going forward with a variety of issues that aren’t primarily financial [including realigning forces in the region]. We have a fairly robust shipbuilding program, averaging about nine a year, which over the long term will contribute [to the pivot]. So I think the budget [request] definitely supports the rebalance, and we’re not reconsidering it,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters.

But Todd Harrison, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent think tank in Washington, said there’s reason to doubt that DOD will be able to fully resource the pivot, given ongoing fiscal constraints and other strategic commitments.

“It’s coming close to the limits on what you can do in terms of scaling back the size of the department while still trying to increase our presence in the Asia-Pacific region. You know, fundamentally one of the conflicts that’s going to arise within this [defense] strategy is that we’re trying to increase our presence in the Asia-Pacific region while maintaining our presence in the Middle East and in Europe and other areas, and I don’t think we can actually do all of those things in the long run with less funding,” he said.

Republican hawks share those concerns.

“The administration has committed to a rebalance to the Asia-Pacific while also sustaining a heightened alert posture in the Middle East and North Africa … A declining defense budget, reduction in troop strength and force structure, and diminished readiness suggests that we can’t do both, or if we do, we do so at an increased risk to our forces and their missions,” Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing March 5.

Doubts about the pivot are not confined to political and military circles in Washington. America’s Asian allies also question whether the shift to their neighborhood will continue. In the face of continuing Chinese belligerence and North Korean unpredictability, many countries in the region are increasing their defense spending and buying new weapons platforms even as they encourage the U.S. to play a more active role in the area and hope the Pentagon moves more of its forces there.

Christine Wormuth, the deputy undersecretary of defense for Strategy, Plans and Force Development, acknowledged the problem at a March 10 conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I’m well aware that there is concern in the region about whether we will be able to sustain the rebalance. We hear those messages as well. And part of why we’re as engaged talking to countries in that region is to assure them that even in the face of some greater fiscal austerity than we’ve seen in the past decade, we are very committed to that region,” she told attendees.

The fate of the rebalance may ultimately depend on events elsewhere in the world, according to Harrison.

“[DOD] would favor continuing the pivot to the Pacific, but reality and the facts and the situation on the ground may draw you back to the Middle East, or to Europe for that matter, regardless of what your intentions are,” he said. “There’s a significant possibility [that the rebalance will be scaled back], and that will be driven by external events like what we’ve seen in Syria and what’s happening right now in Ukraine. World events can cause you to shift your focus in a way that you didn’t intend.”

The Ukraine crisis appears to have done just that. In the wake of Russia annexing Crimea, America’s NATO allies fear further aggression.

“The old idea of NATO … predicated on a Europe that no longer has any threats — that, unfortunately, has turned out, with the actions we’ve seen against Ukraine, no longer [applies],” Estonian President Toomas Ilves said on March 18 during a joint news conference with Vice President Joe Biden in Warsaw.

The U.S. has tried to reassure its regional allies by deploying 12 F-16s to Poland and augmenting American involvement in NATO’s Baltic air policing program. The Navy also sent another destroyer to the region and kept the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea longer than planned.

“We’re exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military cooperation, including rotating U.S. forces to the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises, as well as training missions,” Biden said.

Some say the future of the pivot is in Congress’ hands.

Locklear told lawmakers that the pivot is under way, but he questions whether it will maintain its momentum.

“If you come to my headquarters, we’re moving forward with the aspects of rebalance. I mean, we’re working hard on the alliances, on the exercises that underpin them. We’re moving our force structure into places we need to. The real question is whether or not the force that Congress will eventually buy to give us, is it adequate for the security environment that’s changing?” he said. “Whether or not we can resource to meet the challenges and remain the preeminent guarantor of security in the Pacific area, I think that’s the question.”

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations, told members of the House Armed Services Committee last week that eliminating an aircraft carrier and a naval air wing from the fleet, which would be necessitated by sequestration, would put the pivot in jeopardy.

“The Asia-Pacific is important, and we are rebalancing toward it. [But] if you go from 11 to 10 carriers, you exacerbate that what is already a very difficult [force requirement] problem to the point where … the deterrence factor goes down dramatically when you have gaps [like that],” he said.


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other senior defense officials have repeatedly warned that a failure to eliminate sequestration would result in “unacceptable risks” to America’s ability to execute its defense strategy.

But many analysts are doubtful that Congress will give the Pentagon the money it says it needs.

“I don’t think there is the will in the Congress to increase the defense budget for a bit, number one. And I don’t think you have a president pressing them hard to do so … I’m not necessarily sure [the sequestration cap] is even a floor [for how low the defense budget will go],” Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said at a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council March 5.

“I think DOD has made the best case they can [but] I think you’re going to continue to have a disconnect in Congress that’s been shockingly, in my mind, united on both sides of the aisle, saying even if they don’t like it, they don’t see a way out of [the Budget Control Act],” according to Maren Leed, a senior analyst at CSIS. “So I personally would be surprised if any of that [desired budget increase] is achieved. So what else can [Pentagon leaders] do? They can keep talking [but] I don’t think it will matter.”


Nukes, Crimea, And Possible Putins

Adam Elkus

March 24, 2014 · in Analysis

As the Crimea crisis steadily worsens, many have floated the counterfactual: what if Ukraine hadn’t given up its nuclear weapons? Walter Russell Mead and other commentators have pointed to an old article by John Mearsheimer arguing that Ukraine ought to have resisted giving up the old Soviet nuclear weapons that the USSR’s collapse left in Kiev’s hands. That way, the Russians would have thought twice before making like Brezhnev in the heart of Eurasia. This is an exercise in counterfactual inference—and an awfully faulty one. In explicating why Mead and others error, we can learn a valuable lesson about the complexities of counterfactual analysis.

So why are Mead (and by extension Mearsheimer) wrong? After all, nukes seem to have been a boon for North Korea. Iran seems to want them precisely because of the perception that a nuke means you force the world to treat you according to Big Boy Rules. As Harvard political science PhD student Anton Strezhnev notes, the counterfactual instinct isn’t the problem here. But just as Mobb Deep famously noted the streets have no room for halfway crooks, geopolitics has no room for halfway counterfactualists:

In order to ask what would have happened had Ukraine opted to retain its arsenal, it is important to think through the entire counterfactual. The problem with the “if only Ukraine had nukes” line of argument it assumes that Russia would have tolerated a nuclear weapons state on its border in the first place. If we were to hold the world in 2014 constant and by magic turn Ukraine into a stable nuclear power, then perhaps Russia would have been deterred from occupying Crimea. But this is not the counterfactual we’re interested in.

The assumption that the Russians would have tolerated a nuclear Ukraine is a big one to swallow. A good deal of Israeli security policy is premised on encouraging the perception in Washington that Jerusalem would rather send Israeli Air Force pilots on the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Doolittle Raid than tolerate a nuclear Iran. The security of weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Pakistan, and North Korea are also a topic of hot debate today, and the preventive war in Iraq was premised on the specter of Saddam Hussein handing his arsenal to terrorists. We have been told that we must engage in preventive war with Iran because it may have weapons itself, may give them to extremists, or use them to underwrite aggressive behavior.

When we think through the entire counterfactual, we see that there are plausible outcomes in which Russia would have taken preventive action to secure its arsenal by force. And even if it didn’t, Strezhnev argues that a conflict resembling the India-Pakistan crisis could have been possible in a world in which Ukraine kept its nukes. Strezhnev cites a model that casts the problem as a two-player game, but introduces more players besides Ukraine and Russia (like Poland, the Baltic states, the United States, etc.) making the model more complex. Though if we work through it, it remains to be seen whether or not it gives Mearsheimer’s newfound fans any more reason for optimism compared to a two-player dynamic. For all we know, it might be far worse!

Regardless of how the problem is represented, we have to ask the right counterfactual question. As Strezhnev points out, the counterfactual implied by pundits that cite Mearsheimer asks “What if Ukraine suddenly got nukes in 2014?” That’s a different counterfactual than the possibilities of Ukraine’s nuclear choices in the early 1990s—one perhaps considered interesting when contemplated in an abstract sense, but also likely irrelevant. We could also explore the outcome of Watchmen’s godlike Mr. Manhattan suddenly becoming real and pledging fealty to America. Then it would be a legitimate question of if a Mr. Manhattan-equipped America could deter Russia from invading Ukraine. However, neither outcome occurred in early 2014 nor is it likely to occur in the future. Hence, there’s little point of contemplating it.

So how could the Ukranian nuke enthusiasts have done better? Pay better attention to the problem of counterfactual inference. Counterfactual inference is extremely important in social science and science more broadly, particularly when it come to small probabilities. Wars in particular are rare events in world politics. And as complex a problem is the Ukraine nuclear counterfactual, there exist far worse risk questions. Take Stephen Pinker’s argument that the risk of war is declining, and we live in an era distinguished by the “better angels of our nature.” Many experts in national security have argued about this, but what do the academics writing on on risk, probability, and causal inference say?Risk iconoclast Nassim Nicholas Taleb had a bone to pick with this. Wars, again, are rare events and a theory like Pinker’s must deal with many problems that come from rare and dangerous events, such as the survivorship effect of erroneously believing that what kills you makes you stronger and the effect that nested counterfactuals (e.g., layered counterfactual states) in a potential history have on our ability to assess risk. Taleb did not feel that Pinker sufficiently tackled such difficulties. Political scientist and forecaster Jay Ulfelder, in contrast, is more sympathetic to Pinker’s reasoning. And others say we need to wait 150 years to know for sure.

What we don’t have to wait 150 years to do, however, is to take better stock of these kind of problems. Yes, a world of possibilities exists. But whenever we make a counterfactual about a past situation, we are revving up what scientist Peter Turchin dubs an “imperfect time machine.” Turchin was discussing the problem of reaching back into the far past to test theories about the development of human civilization, but his metaphor could be expanded to think about the problem of assessing a complex historical event (or non-event), the choices available to the actors involved, and the probabilities and desirabilities of alternative outcomes.

The time machine we want is one that would transport us back in time to the event, give us a menu of possible actions, and show us each outcome in fine resolution. We don’t have such a contraption, and if it could be made it would be hidden away in the same government warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant got stashed at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Until then, we’re left to watch Ukraine burn and ponder possible Putins with the crude historical and social scientific tools we have available.


Back to Land Lines? Cell Phones May Be Dead by 2015




The Fiscal Times

March 1, 2011


What do a cell phone, a laptop and an electric car have in common?

All three use batteries made with lithium — the lightest metal in nature. About five grams is in an average laptop, about half a gram in a cell phone. Surprisingly, what keeps your devices charged and wireless can also affect your brain: It’s an active ingredient in drugs used to treat manic depression. Batteries using lithium have twice the capacity of traditional nickel cadmium batteries, creating a “lithium boom” in several places around the world as these technologies become more ubiquitous. In China, cell phone sales were up 57 percent last year; in India, cell phone use is expected to double by 2014.


The More We Use It the More We Lose It

Lithium is difficult to find and excavate. Tiny amounts are found in compounds everywhere, including in the bodies of mammals, but in extremely small quantities. The best way to mine it is to dig under the beds of dried lakes with high saline contents, where volcanoes in wet climates leached groundwater into a landlocked basin tens of thousands of years ago — not exactly in your backyard. Very few places on the globe match these exacting conditions, and some of them are politically problematic.


The Afghan Connection

The world’s best reserves are in the Bolivian Andes, with smaller quantities in Chile, China and the U.S. The Pentagon created a stir last year when a leaked memo called Afghanistan a potential “Saudi Arabia of lithium” because of deposits located in dried salt beds in the west — though much of it remains unexploited because of the war. Bolivian President Evo Morales has said he wants the nation to mine its own lithium and he has discouraged foreign investors; but it’s uncertain if Bolivia can build the necessary extraction plants to handle the expected high demand. The Western Lithium USA Corp. announced plans last year to develop a deposit in the Kings Valley region of Nevada, which could yield up to 11 million tons.


Crisis by 2015?

A shortage could affect the price of laptop computers, as well as cause a slowdown in the production of hybrid electric cars that could cripple new initiatives in Detroit, and undermine President Obama’s plans to reduce our dependence on oil. The car manufacturer Mitsubishi has predicted a worldwide supply crisis by 2015 if new reserves are not discovered. Obama has called for at least 1 million of these plug-in vehicles on the roads by then. Conventional nickel-cadmium batteries do not allow them to store as much energy or drive as far as lithium, which has been a major impediment to the future success of electric cars. New advances in nanotechnology may allow more lithium than ever before to be stored inside hybrid car batteries, as much as 10 times the previous levels, putting even more pressure on global supplies.

– See more at:



March 25, 2014, 11:40 am

Boehner: No boost to defense spending

By Erik Wasson


House Republicans will not seek to increase defense spending in their 2015 budget in the wake of the crisis with Russia, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will keep both the top-line spending level of $1.014 trillion for 2015 and the specific caps for defense and non-defense spending.

The two-year budget deal reached in December put a $521 billion cap on non-defense spending and a $492 billion cap on defense spending, not including funds for the war on terrorism.

Boehner was asked about the 2015 level and whether defense spending would be left subject to automatic spending cuts known as sequestration over the following six years.

“I don’t know that we’re far enough along in that project to make that determination. In terms of the spending for defense in this year, I believe that we’ll abide by the budget agreement that we’ve already made,” Boehner said.

Ryan is expected to release his budget resolution next week. It would likely receive a House vote before the mid-April Easter recess.

Ryan’s budget is expected to balance within 10 years without raising revenue, a feat that will require trillions in spending cuts.

Adding new defense spending into the mix would require deeper cuts from non-defense spending or from mandatory entitlement programs.

House and Senate appropriators have already begun crafting the 2015 bills and a House budget resolution that alters the caps from the December deal would complicate an effort to complete all 12 appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year for the first time since the mid-1990s.

Russell Berman contributed.

Read more:


Lawsuit Raises Red Flags For Government Cloud Users


A California lawsuit suggests the federal government must take stronger steps to protect government data from data mining and user profiling by cloud service providers.

In the technology-rich world we live in, it’s critical for everyone to understand how their data is processed and used. For the government, it is arguably even more important, given the massive amounts of sensitive citizen data it possesses and stores.

As we move to more sophisticated, data-driven technological environments such as the cloud, it is imperative that all government entities become hypervigilant about making sure that vendors are handling this information appropriately. I am not the first person to say this, and I will certainly not be the last.

Recent disclosures in a California lawsuit have raised several red flags about how government data could be used by cloud vendors — particularly vendors with business models that rely heavily on advertising revenue and monetizing user data. The lawsuit alleges that Google violated federal and state wiretap and privacy laws by data mining the email content of students who used Google’s Apps for Education and Google’s Gmail messaging service. US district judge Lucy Koh handed Google a victory last week by refusing to let the case proceed as a class action.

Though the lawsuit created a stir in the education community over privacy concerns, it also raises important questions for government administrators. Information revealed in the lawsuit suggests that public-sector users of certain cloud services, including the federal government, may not be protected from systematic data mining and user profiling for advertising purposes if they do not have clear protections in place.

The potential streamlining and cost-saving benefits of cloud computing have prompted the federal government to make adoption of cloud computing a high priority. With this in mind, we need to take appropriate measures to ensure the government makes the transition to the cloud in the correct way, with data privacy and lawful data use as top concerns. If the government does not implement these changes carefully, it faces the risk that sensitive data will be exposed, and those risks are simply too high.

I speak from experience. Given my former position at the Office of Management and Budget, where I was responsible for the federal government’s IT, data security, and privacy policies, I believe these issues are more important than ever. There are several foundational issues that government CIOs must address when they are looking at securing, procuring, and drafting their cloud contracts.


These issues include:

Clauses prohibiting unauthorized data use: All cloud service providers must ensure that their services use data only in ways that are explicitly, contractually sanctioned, and those assurances must be guaranteed and written into the contract.

A system to measure efficacy: Cloud service providers also must have a system for reporting on the efficacy of agency information security programs. That system needs to augment audit programs and validate the written assurances from cloud providers.

Specific bring-your-own-device (BYOD) language: Agency CIOs and policy makers must rethink their security policies by restricting the type and/or amount of work that employees can perform on their smartphones unless adequate protections are in place, such as digital rights management and robust enterprise device management technologies. In addition, it is critical that agencies and industry develop efficient, technical solutions that enable federal workers to take advantage of the convenience that these devices offer, while ensuring the security of sensitive federal information.

This year, I co-authored a white paper discussing some of these recommendations in greater detail. One conclusion I’ve reached in my research is that cloud vendors need to be more transparent with regard to how they store, use, and monetize public-sector data — especially vendors with roots in advertising and the monetization of user data. And agencies must be more explicit in their contracts about data-mining practices.

Despite all these voiced concerns, government entities do not typically require any of the above recommendations or guidelines from cloud contractors.


From my experience working at federal agencies, I understand that altering the way government entities procure services takes time and input from many stakeholders. However, I strongly believe our procurement process needs to include the specific terms and conditions related to data use and ownership in an effort to address these issues in greater detail. If we want to get cloud right, these guidelines should serve as the foundation.


Putin’s Challenge to the West

Russia has thrown down a gauntlet that is not limited to Crimea or even Ukraine.


March 25, 2014 6:52 p.m. ET


Russian President Vladimir Putin has a long-festering grudge: He deeply resents the West for winning the Cold War. He blames the United States in particular for the collapse of his beloved Soviet Union, an event he has called the “worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

His list of grievances is long and was on full display in his March 18 speech announcing the annexation of Crimea by Russia. He is bitter about what he sees as Russia’s humiliations in the 1990s—economic collapse; the expansion of NATO to include members of the U.S.S.R.’s own “alliance,” the Warsaw Pact; Russia’s agreement to the treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe, or as he calls it, “the colonial treaty”; the West’s perceived dismissal of Russian interests in Serbia and elsewhere; attempts to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO and the European Union; and Western governments, businessmen and scholars all telling Russia how to conduct its affairs at home and abroad.

Mr. Putin aspires to restore Russia’s global power and influence and to bring the now-independent states that were once part of the Soviet Union back into Moscow’s orbit. While he has no apparent desire to recreate the Soviet Union (which would include responsibility for a number of economic basket cases), he is determined to create a Russian sphere of influence—political, economic and security—and dominance. There is no grand plan or strategy to do this, just opportunistic and ruthless aspiration. And patience.

Mr. Putin, who began his third, nonconsecutive presidential term in 2012, is playing a long game. He can afford to: Under the Russian Constitution, he could legally remain president until 2024. After the internal chaos of the 1990s, he has ruthlessly restored “order” to Russia, oblivious to protests at home and abroad over his repression of nascent Russian democracy and political freedoms.

In recent years, he has turned his authoritarian eyes on the “near-abroad.” In 2008, the West did little as he invaded Georgia, and Russian troops still occupy the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. He has forced Armenia to break off its agreements with the European Union, and Moldova is under similar pressure.

Last November, through economic leverage and political muscle, he forced then-President Viktor Yanukovych to abort a Ukrainian agreement with the EU that would have drawn it toward the West. When Mr. Yanukovych, his minion, was ousted as a result, Mr. Putin seized Crimea and is now making ominous claims and military movements regarding all of eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine is central to Mr. Putin’s vision of a pro-Russian bloc, partly because of its size and importantly because of Kiev’s role as the birthplace of the Russian Empire more than a thousand years ago. He will not be satisfied or rest until a pro-Russian government is restored in Kiev.

He also has a dramatically different worldview than the leaders of Europe and the U.S. He does not share Western leaders’ reverence for international law, the sanctity of borders, which Westerners’ believe should only be changed through negotiation, due process and rule of law. He has no concern for human and political rights. Above all, Mr. Putin clings to a zero-sum worldview. Contrary to the West’s belief in the importance of win-win relationships among nations, for Mr. Putin every transaction is win-lose; when one party benefits, the other must lose. For him, attaining, keeping and amassing power is the name of the game.

The only way to counter Mr. Putin’s aspirations on Russia’s periphery is for the West also to play a strategic long game. That means to take actions that unambiguously demonstrate to Russians that his worldview and goals—and his means of achieving them—over time will dramatically weaken and isolate Russia.


Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas must be reduced, and truly meaningful economic sanctions must be imposed, knowing there may be costs to the West as well. NATO allies bordering Russia must be militarily strengthened and reinforced with alliance forces; and the economic and cyber vulnerabilities of the Baltic states to Russian actions must be reduced (especially given the number of Russians and Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia).

Western investment in Russia should be curtailed; Russia should be expelled from the G-8 and other forums that offer respect and legitimacy; the U.S. defense budget should be restored to the level proposed in the Obama administration’s 2014 budget a year ago, and the Pentagon directed to cut overhead drastically, with saved dollars going to enhanced capabilities, such as additional Navy ships; U.S. military withdrawals from Europe should be halted; and the EU should be urged to grant associate agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

So far, however, the Western response has been anemic. Mr. Putin is little influenced by seizure of personal assets of his cronies or the oligarchs, or restrictions on their travel. Unilateral U.S. sanctions, save on Russian banks, will not be effective absent European cooperation. The gap between Western rhetoric and Western actions in response to out-and-out aggression is a yawning chasm. The message seems to be that if Mr. Putin doesn’t move troops into eastern Ukraine, the West will impose no further sanctions or costs. De facto, Russia’s seizure of Crimea will stand and, except for a handful of Russian officials, business will go on as usual.

No one wants a new Cold War, much less a military confrontation. We want Russia to be a partner, but that is now self-evidently not possible under Mr. Putin’s leadership. He has thrown down a gauntlet that is not limited to Crimea or even Ukraine. His actions challenge the entire post-Cold War order including, above all, the right of independent states to align themselves and do business with whomever they choose.

Tacit acceptance of settling old revanchist scores by force is a formula for ongoing crises and potential armed conflict, whether in Europe, Asia or elsewhere. A China behaving with increasing aggressiveness in the East and South China seas, an Iran with nuclear aspirations and interventionist policies in the Middle East, and a volatile and unpredictable North Korea are all watching events in Europe. They have witnessed the fecklessness of the West in Syria. Similar division and weakness in responding to Russia’s most recent aggression will, I fear, have dangerous consequences down the road.

Mr. Putin’s challenge comes at a most unpropitious time for the West. Europe faces a weak economic recovery and significant economic ties with Russia. The U.S. is emerging from more than a dozen years at war and leaders in both parties face growing isolationism among voters, with the prospect of another major challenge abroad cutting across the current political grain. Crimea and Ukraine are far away, and their importance to Europe and America little understood by the public.

Therefore, the burden of explaining the need to act forcefully falls, as always, on our leaders. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Government includes the act of formulating a policy” and “persuading, leading, sacrificing, teaching always, because the greatest duty of a statesman is to educate.” The aggressive, arrogant actions of Vladimir Putin require from Western leaders strategic thinking, bold leadership and steely resolve—now.

Mr. Gates served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006-11, and as director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush from 1991-93.



What Defense Could Learn About Cyber From Financial Firms

Mar. 26, 2014 – 12:35PM | By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS | Comments


WASHINGTON — As the defense industry sorts out the complications of information sharing and improved cyber protection, it might turn to another sector thought by many experts to have the best security in the US: financial firms.

It may not be surprising that financial groups effectively protect their networks; a successful attack could cost a company millions, if not billions, of dollars. That drove financial firms to launch an industry information-sharing initiative in 1999, creating one of the better repositories of information on attacks and attackers in the world.

Defense companies normally don’t face that kind of risk. If an attacker breaks in and steals fighter jet designs, the company probably won’t lose any money because it is unlikely the company would have been allowed to sell the fighter to the attacking nation.

But what financial industry insiders point to is that the collective need for protection has overwhelmed the natural distrust and competitiveness of the individual companies.

“Within financial services, security and cyber issues have really become a noncompetitive issue,” said John Carlson, executive vice president of technology risk at BITS.

Carlson, speaking with Lilly Thomas and Brian Peretti at a recent Atlantic Council event, said the cooperative spirit does serve as a bit of an outlier.

“That’s not necessarily the case in the IT community more broadly, with security firms that are competing very aggressively for marketing products and services. But within financial services, there is a sense that we need to share information, we need to collaborate,” he said.

What has made it difficult at times for defense companies is that beyond the need for protection, many are also trying to sell protection services. Nearly every major defense contractor has a stated goal of growing its cyber business, often marketing their products as having superior intelligence on the threat environment.

“If they can say that they’re the ones who understand threats to the defense industrial base, they can sell a product,” said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute.

Despite that desire, the US Defense Department has leaned heavily on contractors to share information with the Defense Cyber Crime Center. But sources and experts have said that the quality of the data provided was modest, with companies withholding what they could.

“They didn’t want to make the central sharing database good, because they wanted to offer it as a service as well,” Paller said.

There’s also the issue of trust. The most prominent initiative to increase information sharing was the Defense Industrial Base cyber pilot program. That program, while slow to get going, eventually started to yield better intelligence, according to sources. But as soon as the program’s control was transferred from the Defense Department to the Department of Homeland Security in 2012, companies became increasingly fearful of leaks.

That lack of trust has been one of the reasons industry has pushed for new legislation to protect companies that share information. Such legislation has passed in the US House, but has yet to be voted upon in the Senate, which has focused on more comprehensive legislation.

But in the financial world, a level of trust has developed, Carlson said.

“They have to have trust.That is a critical element of this,” he said. “They may not even have agreements amongst themselves to protect the information, but they trust one another and are willing to take the risk.”

The ability to get and share that data from companies is crucial because government, despite concerns stoked by the Edward Snowden disclosures, doesn’t have effective visibility on all of the company networks.

“If you just look to us, for government to tell you how the next attack is going to come, that’s probably not going to be the most effective, because we don’t see all the attacks,” said Peretti, acting director of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy at the Treasury Department.

The Defense Department is trying to set up a public/private mechanism for information sharing, but it has hit some bumps along the way. In January, the Government Accountability Office sustained a protest to a $26 million contract to provide support for the new DIBNet, citing a failure by the Defense Information Systems Agency to “reasonably evaluate” the virtues of alternative bids. That deal will be recompeted in the coming months.

Other contracts for DIBNet have been less contentious, with several going to the cyber behemoth Booz Allen Hamilton.

Paller said that it takes time to convince participants to give up meaningful information, citing one English group’s experience.

“For the first five meetings, people just sat there and just absorbed information, but by the sixth meeting, people opened up completely,” he said. “If there is a reason to trust, a really strong reason to trust, sharing can happen.”

For defense, there’s the complication of working with a complex industrial base that includes many smaller companies, some of which might not have the best security practices. One suggestion has been to create minimum standards for security.

Such standards exist in the financial sector but can be a burden, according to Lilly Thomas, vice president of Independent Community Bankers of America, an association of smaller financial institutions.

One big problem is that these institutions have to rely on third party vendors because having a private security team is expensive, Thomas said.

Defense and the financial sector share some common problems, but cooperation has proved to be the greatest tool the latter has used, according to Carlson, something that might be needed in defense.

“In response to the increasing cyber threat, the financial services sector has really worked much more closely together,” he said.




The unblinking eye – Commercial spy satellites gain power as resolutions sharpen

Mar. 26, 2014 | 1 Comment


Space-based sensors devoted to intelligence gathering are poised to receive a major upgrade driven by the perceived need to identify and monitor a growing range of potential threats. The unstated goal is to create a massive satellite network forming the equivalent of a single, unblinking eye in space.

This new emphasis is likely to extend the reach of commercial satellite imagery providers—already the government’s primary source of unclassified mapping data and location-based imagery products. Much of this imagery is sharable with state and local governments, allies, coalition partners and even some nongovernment organizations.

“Outsourcing a large percentage of imagery requirements to the civil side not only makes sense, it’s essential,” says Mark Brender, executive director of the DigitalGlobe Foundation, which supports educational uses of geospatial technology. “Intelligence-gathering satellites can’t be everywhere at once, and, according to one member of Congress, each one of them costs as much as a Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier.

“Commercial imagery provides resiliency and products that are good enough to meet a vast majority of intelligence imagery needs but at a much lower cost. As this technology migrates from the black world of intelligence to the white world of commerce, whole new services and jobs are created, like Google Earth.”


Resolution revolution

Relative sharpness of pixel resolution has long formed the dividing line between military and civil reconnaissance satellites, but that line is blurring. If the commercial providers have their way, the next generation of civil satellites may offer capabilities comparable to secret military spacecraft thought to offer resolutions measured in inches.

In May of last year, commercial provider DigitalGlobe asked for release from a government policy limiting them to resolutions of a half-meter. The company wants permission to sell 0.25-meter (9.8-inch) resolution imagery on the open market, the same degree of resolution it provides to some of its U.S. government customers.

For comparison, the first civil imagery satellite, the LandSat launched in 1972, offered 90-meter ground resolution and even this, Brender says, “concerned some people in the U.S. government at that time.”

Resolution is largely a function of aperture (mirror) size and altitude, and the larger the mirror the sharper the resolution. Commercial imaging satellites now have about 1-meter diameter mirrors and the next logical step for them, according to Brender, is a 1.5-meter mirror.

The aperture size of military satellites wasn’t public knowledge until the GEOINT 2009 Symposium. James Clapper, then under secretary of defense for intelligence and now director of national intelligence, revealed during a keynote address that a new generation of electro-optical imaging satellites proposed for the Air Force would have an aperture size of 2.4 meters — the same as the Hubble Space Telescope.

In addition, the civil side may be moving ahead faster than the government in the critical arenas of data management and storage, as well as the complex ground station infrastructure needed to manage satellites through their life cycles.

“Things are changing rapidly,” says Jeff Harris, a former director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), operator of spy satellites for the U.S. intelligence community. “The breadth and depth of applications and ease of processing have given mere mortals a power that used to reside only at the highest levels of government.”

“It’s a function of the demand curve, the same way it happened with aerial photography from [manned] aircraft and drones. First it was the optical products and ultimately it will happen with radar. Next you’ll see LIDAR on the commercial side. It’s simply a matter of cost point.

“When we were [developing] these capabilities, we often asked ourselves is it best to be No. 1? Does it make sense to put so much effort into developing the marketplace when the technology becomes ubiquitous so quickly?”


NRO’s modernization plan

NRO is continually updating its satellite fleet and its most recent mission — NROL-39 — blasted into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base late last year. Although details surrounding the classified payload were not released, experts surmise it was a Topaz radar imaging satellite built as a replacement for the earlier Lacrosse/Onyx series ordered as part of the over-budget and partially scrapped future imaging architecture program.

NROL-39’s mission logo — an all-seeing cartoon octopus with suction-cupped tentacles extending over the globe — brought NRO an uncharacteristic degree of public attention amid recent allegations regarding National Security Agency spying, as did the mission’s ambitious tagline: Nothing is beyond our reach.

While the NRO’s plans are opaque to outsiders, a recent declassified, heavily redacted report could provide a degree of insight. According to the agency’s FY 2012 congressional budget justification obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, NRO is looking for “evolutionary and revolutionary” improvements to geospatial intelligence, signals intelligence and multi-intelligence gathering, as well as improved satellite communications and ground systems.

A key focus area is “temporal responsiveness,” or the ability to re-task satellite sensors on the fly and thus make their output more relevant to high-level decision-makers and also to troops in the field. This effort could encompass machine-to-machine tasking; tip and cue; and new, “dynamic” user interfaces, the report states.

The report also reveals a desire to target specific individuals with multiple and varied sensor types. To fulfill this need to “identify, characterize and understand” single targets, the NRO is encouraging “unusual or unexpected” uses of its existing sensors and systems.


Improved pattern analysis is another priority. This effort will likely combine massive computerized data sets, varied data sources and high-speed processing as a means of tracking people by studying their normal routines — and deviations — from Earth orbit.

Nuts and bolts-wise, NRO appears sold on the utility of cutting-edge carbon-nanotube technology. It seeks to use it in a range of applications, among them memory logic, power cables, structures, lithium-ion batteries, radiation-hardened microelectronics and high-efficiency solar cells. Phased-array technology is being “matured” toward the goal of horizon-to-horizon coverage.


DARPA thinks big

DARPA is peering even further into the future. Its membrane optical imager for real-time exploitation (MOIRE) program aims to provide real-time images and video from geosynchronous orbit — roughly 22,000 miles above the planet’s surface. Current spy satellites are generally restricted to low Earth orbits due to size and weight constraints.

Instead of mirrors, MOIRE will employ lightweight polymer membrane optics. Though less efficient than glass, membrane optics are significantly lighter and could allow comparable performance with roughly one-seventh the weight of traditional systems, according to DARPA.

The membranes would be housed in thin metal “petals” that would bloom, flower-like, from a housed 20-foot package to a deployed diameter of some 68 feet. DARPA says these would be the largest telescope optics ever made, “dwarfing the glass mirrors in the world’s most famous telescopes.”


US Air Force Faces Shortage of Engineers

Mar. 26, 2014 – 02:18PM | By AARON MEHTA | Comments


WASHINGTON — More than any other military service, the US Air Force depends on a constant stream of technological improvements and scientific breakthroughs. But according to the service’s chief scientist, a “perfect storm” of personnel issues is endangering the retention and recruitment of top scientific talent.

“When we asked recently across our AFRL [Air Force Research Laboratory] directorates how many of you are afraid of losing people, and know people have résumés on the street, every single hand went up,” Mica Endsley said. “So those are the kind of worries we have. We need to retain the people we’ve got, as well as be able to recruit in new people coming into the field, and it’s a challenge under those circumstances.”

There are about 26,000 personnel in the science and engineering career fields in the Air Force, roughly split at 16,000 civilian, 10,000 on active duty. Of that total, around 2,800 civilians and 500 military personnel work at Air Force research labs; the rest are involved in programs such as new system acquisition or maintenance offices.

Endsley said the service has seen an almost 30 percent loss in the last two years of senior scientists — the chief technicians and other leaders who help guide labs and develop new programs — leaving a potential void at the top levels.

“The curve is bimodal,” Endsley said. “We have a large number of people over 50. We have a larger number of people under 35. Then we have a gap in the middle, where we didn’t recruit very much in the 1990s.


“As we move early retirements in and have senior people leaving, there’s going to be a gap in leadership where we don’t have many people in the middle ranks to take over,” she said.

At the same time, recruitment of young people with technical expertise has become challenging.

The issue isn’t a lack of budget, although like everyone else, the research labs would be happy to accept more funding. The service’s top two officials made it clear at a February event that they recognize the need to protect those investments.

“S&T [science and technology] funding is absolutely essential to a service that prides itself on being fueled by innovations, was born of technology and must stay ahead of the technological curve to be successful,” said Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff. “So we have to pay a lot of attention to S&T funding. Every funding line we have is coming down, but we can’t slash S&T.”

Those comments were echoed by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who said, “There was an effort to protect these accounts vis-à-vis others, primarily because it is so important.”

Numbers compiled for Defense News by analytics firm VisualDoD show research and development (R&D) funding for the Air Force in the proposed fiscal 2015 budget at $23.7 billion. Roughly $2.1 billion is requested for AFRL, a figure slated to grow slightly each year of the five-year future years defense program.

For fiscal 2015, the largest chunk of that funding — $689.1 million — is earmarked for the service’s Aerospace Systems Directorate.

But according to service estimates, the research labs touch little of that money — about 75 percent of R&D funding earmarked for the research labs is actually contracted out to academia and industry.

Endsley said she appreciates that the Air Force has tried to protect its investments in science, even as whole fleets of aircraft are being sacrificed on the altar of budget austerity. But she says the issue is more about morale than available funding.

The largest reason for the morale issue? Uncertainty, she said. The sequestered budget forced civilian furloughs in 2013. AFRL civilians outnumber active-duty personnel by more than five to one, and those individuals lost six days of paychecks, in addition to long-running civilian pay freezes. Although they were eventually paid for their time off during the government shutdown, that instability didn’t help.

Given all that, Endsley said, young aerospace engineers coming out of college with tuition debts to pay would be hard-pressed to choose the Air Force over an industry job. That the service rarely offers to pay for graduate school any more is another challenge to recruiting the next generation of engineers.

Another major challenge, and one she hopes to see changed, is the inability to travel to technical conferences, a Pentagon-wide problem stemming from a series of government travel abuses several years ago.

An engineer looking to travel to a scientific conference to present a paper needs special dispensation from Welsh. Given the daily demands on the chief of staff, getting that permission has proved a problem — and that’s turning people away.

“It’s very important they are interacting with other engineers in their profession, in academia and the commercial world,” Endsley said. “They need to be able to meet with them to figure out where to put our research dollars. They need to be publishing their work because that’s how science is done.”

Endsley wants to see scientific conferences handled differently than other conferences, and noted that “there have been some discussions at [the defense secretary level], but I haven’t seen any movement in that direction.”


While the civilian side raises concerns, the number of active-duty individuals in the S&T realm also concerns the chief scientist. Endsley said she believes the service should develop a separate promotion system for scientists and engineers, similar to how medical doctors or lawyers have different criteria.



Madman in the White House

Why looking crazy can be an asset when you’re staring down the Russians.



On the afternoon of April 19, 1972, seated in the Oval Office, President Richard Nixon instructed Henry Kissinger on what message he wanted the national security advisor to convey to his counterparts in the Soviet Union. In a few hours’ time, Kissinger would be aboard a red-eye flight to Moscow for a tense set of secret negotiations on the interrelated issues of the Vietnam War and nuclear disarmament. Unbeknownst even to the flight crew at Andrews Air Force Base, Kissinger was to be joined by a most important — and unusual — passenger: Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin. Nixon wanted to make sure the flight time wasn’t wasted on small talk.

“Henry, we must not miss this chance,” the president said, his taping system silently recording the session. “I’m going to destroy the goddamn country [North Vietnam], believe me, I mean destroy it, if necessary. And let me say, even [use] the nuclear weapon if necessary. It isn’t necessary,” Nixon hastened to add, “but, you know, what I mean is, that shows you the extent to which I’m willing to go.”

Nixon wanted to impress upon the Soviets that the president of the United States was, in a word, mad: unstable, erratic in his decision-making, and capable of anything. The American commander-in-chief wanted the Kremlin to know that he was willing to escalate even localized conventional military conflicts to the nuclear level. Kissinger understood: “I’ll tell [the Soviets] tomorrow night,” he vowed. The national security advisor even rehearsed for the president specific lines from the good cop/bad cop routine he intended to put on. “The more we do now,” he would tell his Soviet interlocutor, “the better.” He was akin to saying: On the shoulders of reasonable men, like you and me, rests the responsibility of preventing a madman, like Nixon, from taking things too far.

It wasn’t the first time the national security advisor had been exposed to the strategic potential of madness. The concept had originated, amid the nuclear anxieties of the 1950s, in the academic circles Kissinger had formerly inhabited. It was a product of game theory, a mathematic discipline — often applied to national security policymaking — that can be used to assess competitive situations and predict actors’ choices, based on prior actions by their competitors. Kissinger himself had endorsed the concept in his writings, as a professor of international relations at Harvard, a full decade before he came to the White House. “The more reckless we appear [the better],” he told Nixon that afternoon, “because after all, Mr. President, what we’re trying to convince them of is that we are ready to go all the way.”

In his post-Watergate memoir The Ends of Power, former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman wrote that his boss’s use of the strategy was hardly unconscious. “I call it the Madman Theory,” Haldeman recalled the president telling him. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button,’ and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

It didn’t play out quite that effortlessly: A number of very costly and destructive military operations would need to be executed, from the mining of Haiphong Harbor in May 1972 to the devastating “Christmas bombing” that December, before the North Vietnamese, badly weakened and with the assent of their Soviet masters, would return to the bargaining table in earnest. But return they did.

Fast-forward four decades and much has changed since the Nixon-Kissinger era: most notably, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of non-state actors in international affairs, and warp-speed advances in the fields of computing technology, satellite imagery, and data flow. But as always, much remains the same. In President Vladimir Putin, the former KGB colonel who once characterized the demise of the Soviet Union as “a major geopolitical disaster of the century,” the West is confronted with a Russian leader whose unrelenting quest to project strength makes him not altogether dissimilar from his Cold War predecessors.

Indeed, the idea has gained wide currency that the president of the Russian Federation — with his determination to restore his country to superpower status, his frequent dismissals of American exceptionalism, and his track record of checking American influence wherever he can — is determinedly immersed in an East-West struggle that bears striking similarities to the one that defined post-World War II history. “I hate to say it,” lamented a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who recently returned from a congressional delegation’s visit to Ukraine, “but Vladimir Putin is engaged in his own Cold War with us.”

Speaking at a summit of North American leaders in Mexico last month, Obama derided those who see the Ukraine crisis, Syria, or other contexts in which Washington and Moscow are presently clashing, as “some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.” Yet the president’s own national security advisor, Susan Rice, would later tell reporters following Crimea’s formal annexation: “Our interest is not in seeing the situation escalate and devolve into hot conflict.” Obama’s sarcasm notwithstanding, Rice’s comments betrayed that the United States has little choice but to see itself as engaged in a “cold” conflict.

This time, however, it is the Russians, not the Americans, who find value in the strategic use of “madness.”

This time, however, it is the Russians, not the Americans, who find value in the strategic use of “madness.” Following a telephone call with Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have confided that she was not sure the Russian leader was in touch with reality; “in another world” is how she reportedly described her interlocutor. And in the diplomatic volleys that followed Russia’s military seizure of Crimea, it was Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who, in a radio interview with the Voice of Russia, warned that the Kremlin might respond to additional sanctions by the United States and its European allies with “asymmetric measures.”

What did he mean, exactly? In post-9/11 parlance, of course, “asymmetric” is usually used in conjunction with “warfare,” and typically refers to the tactics that rogue regimes and non-state actors, like North Korea and al Qaeda, respectively, have deployed against conventional powers: cyberwarfare and terrorism, chiefly. However, it is more likely that Ryabkov, channeling Nixon and Kissinger, was seeking to exploit existing fears about such terminology, and meant to signal that Russia intends, should the crisis deepen, to bypass the traditional practice of tit-for-tat responses.

That, so far, is what Moscow has been confronted with — a tit-for-tat approach — and it shows that the Obama administration has ignored two critical lessons from the Cold War. The first is the value of projecting unpredictability — or in Nixon and Kissinger’s case, even madness. Whereas Nixon once instructed his national security advisor to tell Dobrynin, “I am sorry, Mr. Ambassador, but he [Nixon] is out of control,” Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have sought continually to impress upon the Kremlin their supreme reasonableness. “We would like to see this de-escalated,” Kerry said during his dramatic visit to Kiev earlier this month. “We are not looking for some major confrontation.” The president’s advisors have maintained, pro forma, that all options remain on the table, but Obama explicitly removed the most potent of them: “We are not,” he told San Diego’s KNSD-TV, “going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine.”

What’s more, the Obama administration has purposefully embarked on a course that the United States trod, with little success, during its Vietnam-era confrontations with the Soviets: the gradual escalation of punishments intended to produce changes in enemy behavior. After six fruitless hours of talks in London with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, aimed at staving off the Crimean referendum that ultimately proceeded apace, Kerry told reporters that if Putin makes a decision “that’s negative,” then the Western allied response “would be calibrated accordingly.” This “calibrated” response from Washington continued after the referendum, and after the formal annexation of Crimea, as manifested in Obama’s serial announcements of new sanctions on a list of senior Russian officials that expanded marginally each time.

The danger in this approach is twofold. First, it cedes all initiative to Putin — or, as Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said on Fox News immediately following Mr. Obama’s latest announcement of sanctions: “Mr. Putin, again, is controlling the battlefield, so to speak, and we’re reacting.”

Second, it fails to administer the lesson that President Lyndon B. Johnson learned, at such great cost, in Vietnam: namely, the perils of gradualism. If the idea is to apply pain — or “costs,” to use the Obama administration’s preferred language in this case — to an adversary, in order to compel it to do something or to cease doing something, the application of the pain in gradual, incremental doses will only enable the adversary to acclimate to these marginal increases in pain, which in each instance will not feel markedly different from the last set of imposed “costs.” It’s no surprise that Vladimir Putin will more readily accept incremental increases in pain than risk a form of retaliation that is massive and debilitating.

If the Obama administration assesses that the fate of Ukraine is not a vital enough national security interest to make it worthwhile to inflict massive and debilitating costs on Russia, then the administration’s next best option would be to sow doubt in the minds of Putin and his advisors about American intentions. Even though Washington may privately know itself to be unwilling to escalate the crisis, projecting the opposite could carry tangible benefits, both diplomatically and on the ground in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the president and his secretary of state have discarded that option, as well.

With six years in the Oval Office under his belt, Obama can be expected to have grasped these basic precepts of game theory as they apply to negotiations, or confrontations, with adversaries on the world stage. Richard Nixon learned them during what amounted to an extended apprenticeship for the presidency: his eight-year tenure as vice president. He took particular note of the leadership style of one of the era’s dominant geopolitical figures, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, with whom Nixon had come face-to-face during their heralded “kitchen debate,” in Moscow in 1959. And the future president, having narrowly lost the 1960 election, watched keenly as the burly Russian battered the youthful, inexperienced President John F. Kennedy, when the two met in Vienna, in 1961.

Looking back on his career in 1985, settled into an armchair in his Manhattan office, Nixon judged Khrushchev “the most brilliant world leader I have ever met.” Asked why, America’s only ex-president said simply: “He scared the hell out of people.”


SecAF discusses service’s top priorities

By Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service / Published March 26, 2014


WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James today provided a congressional panel with an overview of her top priorities for the Air Force.

Joined by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, James laid out the framework for her three top priorities for the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“Those three priorities are taking care of people, balancing today’s readiness with tomorrow’s readiness,” she said, “and ensuring that our Air Force is the most capable at the least cost to the taxpayer.”

Every job she’s ever had always has come down to people, 100 percent of the time, James said. “So taking care of people, to me, means we need to recruit the right people, retain the right people,” she added.

The secretary said developing people inside the force, and having a diversity of thought and backgrounds at the leadership table are needed to make innovative decisions and solutions going forward.

“We need to protect the most important family programs,” she said. “We need dignity and respect for all — and that includes combating sexual harassment and assault.” It’s also important to ensure everyone in the Air Force is living the service’s core values of integrity, service and excellence all the time, James added.

The secretary noted two areas of that have generated controversy lately: force reductions and compensation.

“We are coming down in all of our components — active, (Air National) Guard, Reserve and civilians,” James said. “And we will rely more, not less, in the future on our Guard and Reserve.”

That makes sense from both the mission standpoint and the budgetary standpoint, she said. “But as we draw down it’s not good enough just to get lower numbers,” she added. “We have to reshape the force.” At the moment, James told the panel, the Air Force needs balance — it has too many people in certain types of career fields and too few in others.

On compensation, James said the fiscal year 2015 budget request includes “reasonable ways” to slow the growth in military compensation across the Defense Department.

“This was one of those hard decisions that nobody is really happy with,” James said. “But it’s necessary to ensure that we free up some money to plow back into both the readiness of today as well as the modernization of tomorrow.” Fair compensation going forward, she added, also is part of taking care of the force.

James said her second priority is balancing today and tomorrow’s readiness. Air Force readiness has suffered over the years, she said, particularly last year, when flying squadrons were grounded, civilians were furloughed and maintenance was delayed because of sequestration spending cuts.

“In (fiscal year 2015), we have fully funded our flying hours and other high-priority readiness issues,” James said. “And if approved, we will see gradual improvements of readiness over time.”

While it won’t be overnight or in a year, the secretary said, “we’ll be on a good path of getting toward where we need to be.”

At the same time, the Air Force is looking to tomorrow, James said, and remains committed to programs such as the F-35 joint strike fighter, the KC-46 refueling tanker, the long-range strike bomber, and two-thirds of the nation’s nuclear triad: bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“We’re committed to all of this,” the secretary said. “We’re funding these going forward as well as beginning to replace aging platforms.”

The secretary noted her final priority is making every dollar count for the taxpayer. “To me, this means keeping acquisition programs on budget, on schedule,” she explained. “It means auditability as a fundamental principle of our good stewardship.”

It also means trimming overhead in the Air Force, including the 20 percent headquarters reduction Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed, she said, noting that she believes the Air Force will do even better than that.

James also emphasized the “very serious” impacts of reverting to sequestration-level budgets in fiscal 2016 and beyond, as current law requires.

“We do not recommend this,” she said. “We feel it would compromise our national security too much.” The bottom line is it’s a bad deal for the Air Force, the Defense Department and the country, James said, as she urged Congress to support the higher levels of defense spending under President Barack Obama’s budget.

James shared her vision of the Air Force in 10 years, projecting that it will be a highly capable, innovative and ready force.

“We will be a good value in everything that we do for our taxpayers,” she said. “We will be able to respond overseas decisively through unparalleled air power, and we’ll also stand ready to defend here at home when disaster strikes.

“We’ll be more reliant, not less, on our Guard and Reserve,” James continued, “and we will be powered by the very best airmen on this planet who live the culture of dignity and respect for all, integrity, service and excellence.”



Retirement Ceremony for General Keith Alexander

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Fort Meade, MD, Friday, March 28, 2014


Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

To my distinguished colleagues, whom I have the honor of sitting with here on this platform this afternoon, to members of Congress who are here, today, we thank and we honor the extraordinary service of General Keith Alexander. We also thank his family: Debbie, Jennifer, Julie, Diana, and Heather, and their hundreds and hundreds of grandchildren.

We thank you all for your tremendous support of Keith over many years, and your tremendous sacrifice to our country. Thank you.

Keith, our country thanks you for your extraordinary 40 years of service and your West Point classmate, Marty Dempsey, will have something to say about you a little later.

He may not be as kind.

As we end an era at the “Fort,” I want to say a few words to the men and women of the National Security Agency, because today, we also honor you, America’s silent sentries.

Given your skills and your training, many of you have left or turned down far more lucrative positions to work here. A 75 percent pay cut is hardly unheard of.

Thousands of you have undertaken multiple, voluntary deployments to combat zones, and your contributions have been decisive. They have made a difference. You enabled the military to dramatically reduce casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan by helping disable improvised explosive devices, and provided critical intelligence that helped hunt down the world’s most notorious terrorists.


Closer to home, your support to U.S. and Mexican authorities has helped combat the violence associated with the ongoing struggle against drug cartels operating near the U.S.-Mexican border.

There is much more that we just simply can’t discuss in public. But we can say this: from the Battle of Midway to the age of terror, our nation’s history would read far differently were it not for the NSA and its predecessors.

As the longest-serving Director of NSA, General Alexander has led this agency through countless intelligence breakthrough and successes. He’s also led NSA through one of the most challenging periods in its history, in our history. And he did so with a fierce, but necessary determination to develop and protect tools vital to our national security.

President Obama’s reforms, including his announcement yesterday on government retention of telephone metadata, reflect both the importance, the importance of signals intelligence—and the importance of honoring our nation’s tradition of privacy rights.

We will continue to engage in a more open dialogue with the American public, as Admiral Rogers emphasized a few weeks ago during his Senate hearing to succeed General Alexander. That is the spirit of today’s first-ever live broadcast from the headquarters of NSA in CYBERCOM.

But we will sustain our investments in intelligence be because it’s one of our most important national assets, because it keeps our troops a step ahead on the battlefield, and because America depends on it.

We also are protecting critical investments in our military’s cyber capabilities, which have been anchored by General Alexander’s vision for CYBERCOM.

The first email was sent on the DOD supported ARPANET when Keith was at West Point, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Today more than 40 trillion emails are sent each year. There are 60 trillion web pages. The internet accounts for one-fifth of GDP growth among developed countries, and it continues to connect, improve, and transform the lives of billions of people all over the world.

But our nation’s reliance on cyberspace outpaces our cybersecurity. During the course of my remarks today, DOD’s systems will have been scanned by adversaries around 50,000 times. Our nation confronts the proliferation of destructive malware and a new reality of steady, ongoing and aggressive efforts to probe, access or disrupt public and private networks, and the industrial control systems that manage our water and our energy and our food supplies.

The United States Government and the private sector grasp cyber threats far better than we did just a few years ago. And thanks to General Alexander’s visionary leadership as the first commander of U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense is on its way to building a modern cyber force of really true and tremendous professionals.

And this force is enhancing our ability to deter aggression in cyber space, deny adversaries their objectives, and defend the nation from cyber attacks that threaten our national security.

Even though we can respond to cyber attacks in any domain, this force is expanding the president’s options with full-spectrum cyber capabilities that can complement other military assets.

Our military’s first responsibility is to prevent and de-escalate conflict and that is DOD’s overriding purpose in cyberspace as well. General Alexander has helped leaders across DOD recognize that cyberspace will be a part of all future conflicts. And if we don’t adapt to that reality, our national security will be at great risk.

The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace. Instead, our government is promoting the very qualities of the internet in integrity, reliability, and openness that have made it a catalyst for freedom and prosperity in the United States and around the world.


Consistent with these efforts, DOD will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside the U.S. Government networks. We are urging other nations to do the same.

We will continue to take steps to be open and transparent about our cyber capabilities, our doctrine, and our forces with the American people, our allies and our partners, and even our competitors.

DOD’s initiatives in cyberspace are managed by the professionals that General Alexander has been recruiting and training here at Cyber Command. In 2016, that force should number over 6,000 professionals who, with the close support of NSA, will be integrated with our combatant commands around the world, and defend the United States against major cyber attacks. Continuing General Alexander’s work to build this cyber force will remain one of DOD’s top priorities.

To accomplish this goal, we are recruiting talent from everywhere. But we’re also encouraging people already here in the military, in DOD, to develop…cyber skills.

When I was here last year, I had the privilege of meeting dozens of people, many in this room, including Petty Officer First Class Chase Hardison. Chase Hardison is an Interactive Operator at CYBERCOM. Four years ago when Petty Officer Hardison was a Machinist’s Mate tending turbines, generators, and valves on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, he had a conversation with his wife about his future in the Navy, and he decided to sign up for a cyber course in Pensacola.

Petty Officer Hardison grew up in a town without high-speed Internet access, but he went on to graduate second in his class at Pensacola, missing first by only 4/100ths of a point. For now, he’s focused on his seven-month-old son Noah, and his making his way up to journeyman and then master operator. But he also knows he’ll have great options and opportunities when he’s ready to leave the Navy.

To continue recruiting and retaining talent like Petty Officer Hardison, we must build rewarding, long-term cyber career paths. Our military must enable our people to reinvent themselves for life and beyond their service. That’s a proud tradition of our armed forces. It is also how we shape a modern, cutting edge military that outmatches the most advanced adversaries. It’s how we stay ahead. It’s how we protect our country, our economy, our interests.

One of America’s most venerable historians, C. Vann Woodward once wrote that America’s enjoyment of nature’s gifts of three vast bodies of water — the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic — buffered us unlike any other nation from powers that might threaten our safety, freed us of anxieties, inspired our unique optimism, and put…a stamp on our special national character.

America has always adapted to new threats. But today, a networked world — a world in which oceans are crossed at the speed of light—presents challenges to American security that our nation has never before confronted.

Our responsibility, all of us, whatever the revolutions in technology, is to guard not only our nation, but also the fundamental character of our open society.

General Alexander, your vision, your dedication, your leadership have allowed us to begin that task. Now, it is ours to carry.

From a grateful nation, thank you, Keith.


Rasmussen Reports

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

Bottom of Form

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Many Americans may not be able to pinpoint Ukraine on a map, but that Eastern European nation is driving U.S. foreign policy these days and keeping President Obama on the go.

Most voters oppose Russia’s annexation of the Crimea section of Ukraine, but just 11% think U.S. and European Union economic sanctions on Russian officials will cause Russia to give up Crimea. Only 22% think the United States should take more aggressive action against Russia if the sanctions fail.

The president visited Europe this week to drum up support for tougher action against Russia. Voters strongly believe that the United States’ relationship with Europe is an important one, but a plurality (48%) thinks the Europeans benefit from it more than we do. Just over half (53%) have a favorable opinion of our NATO military alliance with the Europeans.

But 83% have an unfavorable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the man behind the annexation of Crimea.  

Forty-four percent (44%) of voters now rate Obama as a good or excellent leader. Forty percent (40%) think he’s doing a poor job.

The president’s daily job approval rating remains in the negative mid-teens where it has been for much of his presidency. 

Also on the diplomatic front, views of Secretary of State John Kerry have changed little since the president nominated him to the Cabinet post 15 months ago. Forty-four percent (44%) of voters view Kerry favorably, while 46% share an unfavorable view of the former senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

On the home front, the president’s policies faced legal challenges in two areas in recent days.

Despite opposition from the U.S. Justice Department, a federal judge two weeks ago upheld the right of states to require proof of citizenship before allowing someone to register to vote. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters believe everyone should be required to prove his or her citizenship before being allowed to vote.

The U.S. Supreme Court this past week heard a challenge of the new national health care law in which two businesses argued that for religious reasons they should not be required to provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their women employees. Voters by a 49% to 40% margin agree that a business should be allowed to opt out of providing coverage for contraceptives if it violates the religious beliefs of the business owner.

Voters still don’t like the health care law but are more supportive of government-mandated health insurance standards as long as consumers still can choose the kind of plan they want based on costs and coverage.

Democrats have led Republicans most weeks this year on the Generic Congressional Ballot and are now ahead by four.

Thirty-six U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs this November. Twenty-one are held by Democrats and 15 by Republicans. The GOP needs to pick up six new seats to take control of the chamber. Rasmussen Reports began polling key Senate races in mid-January and will be returning to these races in the months ahead because a lot can change. But this is what America thinks in the Senate races so far

In this past week’s surveys, Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley holds a slight lead over his three top Republican challengers in the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Iowa.

Incumbent Democrat Mark Begich is in a neck-and-neck battle with his two top Republican challengers. Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan, in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the U.S. Senate race in Alaska.

Short-term optimism about the nation’s economic recovery has reached an all-time low. Just 24% of Americans think the U.S. economy will be stronger a year from now, the lowest finding in over six years of regular surveying. Nearly twice as many (46%) expect a weaker economy in a year’s time.

Thirty-two percent (32%) think now is a good time for someone in their area to sell a house, down from September’s high of 39%. Still, only 18% say their home is worth less today than when they bought it, the lowest level of pessimism in three years of regular tracking.

The Rasmussen Consumer and Investor Indexes which measure daily confidence in both groups are down slightly from the beginning of the year but remain ahead of where they have been for much of the time since the fall 2008 Wall Street meltdown. 

Nineteen percent (19%) of Americans think they will be traveling more this year compared to 2013, while just as many (20%) expect to be traveling less.

But Americans overwhelmingly agree that whatever happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner, it won’t affect their travel plans. Frequent flyers are even more emphatic about that.

Only 38%, however, believe it’s even somewhat likely that we will ever find out exactly what happened to the missing plane.

In other surveys this week:

— Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction.

— Forty-three percent (43%) now believe the U.S. justice system is not fair to most Americans.

— Just 18% think U.S. public schools provide a world-class education.

— Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Americans say they are at least somewhat likely to buy or lease a new car in the next year, including 13% who are Very Likely to do so.

— Ford, the one Big Three automaker who didn’t take a federal bailout, is still better liked than General Motors and Chrysler, and a sizable number of Americans will buy Ford and not GM because of those bailouts.


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