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October 15 2016

October 19, 2016





15 October 2016


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US Service Chiefs Lament Budget Squeeze


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Killer Robots? ‘Never,’ Defense Secretary Carter Says

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



Hyten Nominated as Next STRATCOM Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Strategic Capabilities Office Preparing for New Programs, Next Administration


By: Aaron Mehta, September 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


New Administration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Firefighting foam under fire for link to water contamination, injuries

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


By Barrie Barber – Staff Writer 3

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


‘Unnecessary exposure’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wright-Patt complaint filed

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

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

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

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

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


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


Drinking well shutdown

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

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

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

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


Health risks

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

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

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

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

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


EPA emergency orders extended

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


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

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

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

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


No federal enforceable standards

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

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

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

He questioned if any threshold level was safe.

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

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

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

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


Firefighter speaks out

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Collapse in Defense R&D Spending Hits Contractors Hard

By Sandra I. Erwin

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


US Unprepared for Space War

—Wilson Brissett



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



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


By Alex Kreilein    

September 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



DHS Audit: Over 800 Potentially Ineligible Immigrants Granted US Citizenship    

By: Amanda Vicinanzo, Online Managing Editor

09/21/2016 (10:45am)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Gary Johnson: My Foreign Policy Vision

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

Gary Johnson

October 7, 2016



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Intelligence Analyst: Russian Cyberattacks Could Roil US Elections

October 13, 2016 8:44 PM

Cindy Saine



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

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

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

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


Interference to date

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

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

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

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


Florida system

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

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

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

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

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

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


‘It would create chaos’

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

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

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

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

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


What would a CYBERCOM-NSA split mean?


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




What would an independent Cyber Command look like?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 11, 2016


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


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


A very particular set of skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Highlighting Title 10 capabilities

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

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

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

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

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


What’s next?

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


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

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

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

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

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



Does NSA support of CYBERCOM blur lines?

By: Mark Pomerleau, October 12, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rasmussen Reports


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

Bottom of Form

Saturday, October 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other surveys last week:

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

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

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

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