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Current News – Early Bird (April 23, 2013)

C U R R E N T   NEWS
E A R L Y   B I R D
April 23, 2013
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HAGEL TRIP

1. Hagel Emphasizes Need For Close US-Israel Ties
(Yahoo.com)…Robert Burns, Associated Press
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. and Israel need to ensure that their alliance is “closer than ever,” as Mideast security challenges grow more complicated.
2. Pentagon Chief Meets Netanyahu At End Of Israel Visit
(Agence France-Presse)…Dan De Luce, Agence France-Presse
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was meeting Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday at the end of a three-day trip which saw him touting strong backing for Israel despite differences over Iran’s nuclear project.
3. No Bunker-Buster Bomb In Israel’s Weapons Deal With U.S.
(New York Times)…Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger
American and Israeli defense officials welcomed a new arms sale agreement on Monday as a major step toward increasing Israel’s military strength, but Israeli officials said it still left them without the weapons they would need if they decided to attack Iran’s deepest and best-protected nuclear sites.
4. Hagel: US Military Aid Will Ensure Israeli Air Superiority
(Jerusalem Post)…Yaakov Lappin
… Hagel pointed out that the deal involves the selling of defense platforms never before made available by the United States to another country, adding that he had begun talks with Ya’alon about a future assistance program to Israel for 2017, when the current agreement ends.
5. Hagel Gets Geography Lesson
(Washington Post)…Craig Whitlock
Israel’s military gives U.S. defense chief an aerial tour of its hard-to-defend northern borders.
6. Hagel Seizes Chance To Show He’s Israel’s Friend, Not Foe
(Los Angeles Times)…Shashank Bengali
The Defense chief emphasizes U.S. ties to the nation and touts his fidelity to the Jewish people.
7. Hagel Says Iran Sanctions Need To Be Exhausted First
(USAToday.com)…Tom Vanden Brook
Economic sanctions and diplomacy must be exhausted before the United States and Israel contemplate any military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here Monday.

MIDEAST

8. Arming Of Syrian Rebels Puts U.S. Focus On Qatar
(Washington Post)…Karen DeYoung
… Allegations that some Qatari aid is flowing to extremists have been made primarily made by Qatar’s Persian Gulf neighbors, which are rivals for regional influence and which have their own equities in the outcome in Syria. All are friends of the United States, and their rivalry has put the Obama administration in a difficult position as it tries to establish the parameters of its Syria policy.
9. Jordan Opens Air Space For Drones To Spy On Syria
(London Times)…Sheera Frenkel and Nicholas Blanford
King Abdullah of Jordan has agreed to allow Israeli drones spying on Syria to enter Jordanian airspace, US officials said.
10. Egypt Says Russia To Help Revive Nuclear Program
(Reuters.com)…Reuters
Russia will help Egypt develop its nuclear power program, Trade and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh said on Monday, signaling that the Islamist-led state will press ahead with its quest for atomic energy.
11. Pentagon Encouraged By Egyptian Military Continuity
(The E-Ring (e-ring.foreignpolicy.com))…Kevin Baron
Although Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will make his first visit in office to Cairo this week to meet Egypt’s military chiefs, Pentagon officials working quietly for months to maintain historically close military-to-military relations say they haven’t missed a beat under the new civilian rule of President Mohammed Morsi.
12. Iranian Dismisses Effect Of Sanctions
(Washington Post)…Joby Warrick
Iran’s economy is clawing its way back to health after nearly a year of harsh Western sanctions, the country’s top financial official said in an interview in which he insisted that no amount of outside pressure would force Tehran to change its nuclear policies.

ASIA/PACIFIC

13. U.S. And China Put Focus On Cybersecurity
(New York Times)…Jane Perlez
The United States and China held their highest-level military talks in nearly two years on Monday, with a senior Chinese general pledging to work with the United States on cybersecurity because the consequences of a major cyberattack “may be as serious as a nuclear bomb.”
14. In China, U.S. Top Military Officer Defends U.S. Pivot To Asia
(Reuters.com)…Terril Yue Jones, Reuters
… Fang said there is a possibility that North Korea could launch a fourth nuclear test.
15. Report: China Is Top Source Of Cyber-Spying
(Washington Post)…Craig Timberg
Analyses of hundreds of documented data breaches found that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government were by far the most energetic and successful cyberspies in the world last year, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by government and industry investigators.
16. North Korea Demands Recognition As Nuclear Arms State
(Reuters.com)…Robert Birsel, Reuters
North Korea demanded on Tuesday that it be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, rejecting a U.S. condition that it agree to give up its nuclear arms program before talks can begin.
17. Pacific-Based Pilots Could Be Combat-Ready At Moment’s Notice
(Stars and Stripes (Pacific Edition))…Seth Robson
Even though the Air Force has grounded a third of its fighter squadrons due to sequestration, Pacific-based pilots and planes could be ready for combat at a moment’s notice, officials said Monday.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

18. Congress Slows Military Efforts To Save
(Yahoo.com)…Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press
… Idle aircraft and pricey ship deployments underscore the contradictions and conflicts as Congress orders the Pentagon to slash $487 billion in spending over the next 10 years and another $41 billion in the next six months. Yet, at the same time, lawmakers are forcing the services to keep ships, aircraft, military bases, retiree benefits and other programs that defense leaders insist they don’t want, can’t afford or simply won’t be able to use.
19. Survey: More Women In Military Report Sex Abuse
(USA Today)…Gregg Zoroya
Roughly one out of five military women say they were victims of unwanted sexual contact by another servicemember since joining the military, according to a Pentagon health survey conducted in 2011 and released Monday.
20. The Foreign Policy Shuffle
(Washington Post)…Al Kamen
… Two years later, Obama named Lippert assistant secretary of defense for Asia. On Friday, after only a year in that job, Lippert was tapped by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to be his chief of staff. (Coordination with White House policy should be quite seamless.)

DETAINEES

21. U.S. Sending More Medics To Guantanamo As Hunger Strike Grows
(Reuters.com)…Jane Sutton, Reuters
The U.S. military is sending additional medical personnel to the Guantanamo prison camp, where more than half the captives have joined a hunger strike to protest their open-ended detention, a camp spokesman said on Monday.

ARMY

22. Soldier: ‘I Just Did It Out Of Rage’
(Los Angeles Times)…Kim Murphy
U.S. Army Sgt. John Russell pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of five fellow service members and the attempted murder of another in Iraq in 2009 after the government agreed not to seek the death penalty.

AIR FORCE

23. In New Mexico Desert, Drone Pilots Learn The New Art Of War
(Reuters.com)…Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters
… Here in the New Mexico desert, the U.S. Air Force has ramped up training of drone operators – even as the nation increasingly debates their use and U.S. forces prepare to leave Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN

24. Kerry To Host Afghans And Pakistanis
(New York Times)…Michael R. Gordon
Secretary of State John Kerry will host a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday with top Afghan and Pakistani leaders to try to foster cooperation over the stalled reconciliation process with the Taliban and other thorny issues, American and Afghan officials said Monday.
25. Afghan Taliban Say Foreign Captives Are Well
(Agence France-Presse)…Agence France-Presse
A group of foreigners abducted by Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan are well and have been moved to a “safe area” inside the country, a spokesman for the militants said Tuesday.

NATO

26. Shrinking Europe Military Spending Stirs Concern
(New York Times)…Steven Erlanger
Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany’s entire military budget, endangering the alliance’s viability, its mission and its relationship with the United States. That was two years ago. Since then, with the Afghan war winding down and pressure from the European Union to limit budget deficits, Europe has only cut deeper.

KOREAN WAR

27. At Arlington, Keeping Faith With A Hero Of A Long-Ago War
(Washington Post)…Greg Jaffe
… The three commanders have never met the soldier in the casket, but they know of him: Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., who led the same battalion that they commanded in Afghanistan through one of the most disastrous battles of the Korean War and whose war ended in an unmarked grave near North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir.

BUSINESS

28. Cut Defense? A Fight Begins
(Wall Street Journal)…Dion Nissenbaum
One of the Pentagon’s biggest contractors is launching a lobbying campaign this week to rescue a venerable Army vehicle line from shrinking spending and shifting military priorities.
29. Pentagon Withholding From Lockheed Grows Over Management
(Bloomberg.com)…Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News
The Pentagon’s withholding of payments from Lockheed Martin Corp. over flaws in a business system used to track costs and schedules for its F-35 fighter has increased to $130 million.

COMMENTARY

30. Costly Overlap In The Military
(Washington Post)…Walter Pincus
Like young schoolchildren wildly chasing a soccer ball, each military service pursues its own intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collection platforms and the analytical systems required to understand the information they’ve gathered. Forget jointness among the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, which all see their futures in their own systems.
31. Israel Welcomes Hagel, A Friend Bearing Gifts
(Bloomberg.com)…Jeffrey Goldberg
… The friend is the new American secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel. And the gifts? Well, they are gifts the Iranian regime would prefer Israel didn’t possess: advanced radar packages that extend Israel’s ability to see east (and west, north and south, but east is what matters most at the moment), KC-135 refueling tankers, and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
32. The High Price Of A Peace Offering
(Washington Post)…Jim Hoagland
… Hagel is due here in the Emirates on Wednesday to arrange the final details of the complicated arms deal, whose negotiations have not been friction-free and which may wind up reducing Obama’s room to use diplomacy for nonproliferation.
33. China Consolidates Sea Claims As Asian Diplomacy Struggles
(Reuters.com)…Manuel Mogato, Reuters
… China’s consolidation and expansion of its grip on the disputed South China Sea looms over a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders in the tiny kingdom of Brunei this week as they try to kickstart stalled efforts to ease one of Asia’s biggest security flashpoints.
34. How About We Take Their Word For It
(ForeignPolicy.com)…Jeffrey Lewis
… For what it is worth, I believe the takeaway ought to be not that the harmless North Koreans can never do these things, but that they can and will continue to build a larger, more sophisticated arsenal until we make it worth their while to do something else with their limited resources. Double-dog daring them to prove it, on the other hand, is not helpful.
35. More Help For Syrian Rebels
(New York Times)…Editorial
… The president has wisely resisted calls to supply American weapons and to intervene directly. He should continue to do so. Nevertheless, in recent months, the C.I.A. has helped Arab governments and Turkey airlift arms and equipment to the rebels and provided training.
36. A Combatant Education
(Wall Street Journal)…Editorial
… The good news is that the plot was exposed before anyone was hurt, unlike in Boston the previous Monday. The plot is nonetheless another reminder that terrorists are increasingly looking to attack soft targets across the Western world that are hard to defend in a free society. The Iran-al Qaeda link is also worth more public attention.
37. The Proper Venue
(Washington Post)…Editorial
THE CHARGING OF BOSTON bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Monday put to an end, as a practical matter, an incipient debate about whether he should be held and questioned as an “enemy combatant.” That’s just as well, because it wasn’t a very intelligent discussion.
38. Bragg, Community Synergy Are In The Spotlight
(Fayetteville (NC) Observer)…Editorial
Army officials came to Fayetteville on Monday to listen to civilians. They heard a strong message: The life of this city and region, including our economy, is thoroughly intertwined with Fort Bragg.
Yahoo.com April 22, 2013

Hagel Emphasizes Need For Close US-Israel Ties

By Robert Burns, Associated Press
JERUSALEM— U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. and Israel need to ensure that their alliance is “closer than ever,” as Mideast security challenges grow more complicated. Hagel spoke briefly before starting a closed-door meeting Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his remarks, Netanyahu thanked the Obama administration for deepening ties over the past four years. And he said he appreciates the administration’s recent statements in support of Israel’s determination to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Netanyahu said Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its arming of terrorists are developments Israel “cannot accept.” Hagel was wrapping up a three-day visit to Israel and was heading to Jordan to consult with government officials. Later Tuesday he was to fly to Saudi Arabia.
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Agence France-Presse April 23, 2013

Pentagon Chief Meets Netanyahu At End Of Israel Visit

By Dan De Luce, Agence France-Presse
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was meeting Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday at the end of a three-day trip which saw him touting strong backing for Israel despite differences over Iran’s nuclear project. With US-Israeli relations strained over questions about the imminence of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear programme and Hagel dogged by his past criticisms of Israel, the Pentagon chief has stressed his full-throated support for the Jewish state in his first visit as defence secretary. Speaking on Monday, Hagel said he came away with a fresh perspective on Israel’s situation after a 90 minute helicopter tour of the occupied Golan Heights in the north, accompanied by his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon. “I had been in those areas in my many visits here. But I’d never seen it the way that the minister had it laid out for me, the north along the border,” Hagel told reporters. “And when you have that experience, as you know so well, it really does shape the kind of challenges and the kind of world that Israel’s living with, and in a clear way.” Later in the day, Hagel met Peres who welcomed him on what he said was a “timely and meaningful” visit. “It means that the message coming from you is that you are determined, as really a leader of the free world, not to permit Iran to make this terrible mistake and become nuclear. “If it can be achieved by diplomatic means, the better,” he said, warning that if diplomacy failed “then all options are on the table” referring to possible military action. Israel, believed to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has refused to rule out a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Hagel said on Monday that “every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself”. Although the two allies viewed the Iranian nuclear threat “exactly the same” Hagel admitted they did not see eye-to-eye over the timeline. “When you break down into the specifics of the timing of when and if Iran decides to pursue a nuclear weapon, there may well be some differences,” he said. During the trip, Hagel finalised details of a multi-billion dollar arms deal that will sell advanced US missiles, radar and aircraft to Israel, while at the same time supplying missiles to Saudi Arabia and F-16 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. Before arriving in Israel on Sunday at the start of a six-day regional tour, Hagel had said the arms deal sent a “very clear signal” to Tehran that military action remains an option to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons. After meeting Netanyahu, Hagel heads for a brief stopover in Jordan where more than 200 US military officers and specialists have been deployed to prepare for worst-case scenarios involving the Syrian civil war, including possibly having to secure the Damascus regime’s chemical weapons. After Jordan, Hagel is due to visit Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi.
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New York Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 6

No Bunker-Buster Bomb In Israel’s Weapons Deal With U.S.

By Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger
TEL AVIV — American and Israeli defense officials welcomed a new arms sale agreement on Monday as a major step toward increasing Israel’s military strength, but Israeli officials said it still left them without the weapons they would need if they decided to attack Iran’s deepest and best-protected nuclear sites. The mixed message came as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Yaalon, reaffirmed their commitment to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, while sidestepping a continuing disagreement between the two countries about how close to allow Iran to get toward such a goal. In public, Mr. Hagel again said that Israel had the right to decide by itself how to defend the country, and both officials said military action should be a last resort. But a close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that “the fundamental difference of views on how much risk we can take with Iran is re-emerging.” The new weapons sale package includes aircraft for midair refueling and missiles that can cripple an adversary’s air defense system. Both would be critical for Israel if it were to decide on a unilateral attack on Iran. But what the Israelis wanted most was a weapons system that is missing from the package: a giant bunker-busting bomb designed to penetrate earth and reinforced concrete to destroy deeply buried sites. According to both American and Israeli analysts, it is the only weapon that would have a chance of destroying the Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment center at Fordo, which is buried more than 200 feet under a mountain outside the holy city of Qum. The weapon, called a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, weighs about 30,000 pounds — so much that Israel does not have any aircraft capable of carrying it. To do so, Israel would need a B-2 bomber, the stealth aircraft that the United States flew nonstop recently from Missouri to the Korean Peninsula to underscore to North Korea that it could reach its nuclear sites. The Obama administration has been reluctant to even discuss selling such capability to the Israelis. Iran has consistently denied that it wants nuclear weapons and has called its uranium enrichment activities peaceful. The Fordo site has become an increasing source of concern to the Israelis. When they referred last year to Iran’s entering a “zone of immunity,” Israeli officials said the phrase referred to the moment when the facility would be complete, and immune from attack by Israeli forces. All the centrifuges that enrich uranium at the site have since been installed, but only about a quarter of them are now operating. Israel has asked the United States for weapons like the Massive Ordnance Penetrator in the past and has been turned down. American officials declined to say whether the yearlong negotiations with Israel that resulted in the new arms package had included a discussion of the new bomb. Instead, they pointed to a decision by President Obama to send advanced refueling tanker planes to Israel that would make it possible for the country’s fighter aircraft to reach as far as Iran. A similar refueling capability was turned down during the administration of President George W. Bush. George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said the arms package to Israel was “unprecedented” and would “guarantee and augment our strong ally’s qualitative military edge for a generation to come.” The debate is about more than just equipment. Israel’s position has been that Iran cannot be allowed to build up too large a stockpile of medium-enriched uranium that could allow it to then race for a bomb. When Mr. Netanyahu addressed the United Nations in New York last September, he drew a red line across a cartoon picture of a bomb, which aides later said indicated that Iran would not be allowed to amass enough medium-enriched uranium to get enough fuel to make a single weapon. But most of Iran’s production of that uranium is occurring inside the mountain at Fordo. So far, Iran has stayed just below Mr. Netanyahu’s red line, converting some of the fuel to a metallic form that can be used in a nuclear reactor — but that would take significantly more time to further enrich it to bomb-grade material. To the United States, this has offered up more time for a diplomatic solution. To many Israeli officials, it is a ploy, intended to buy time as Iran installs a new generation of centrifuges that could speed its production. “It’s all about timetables,” said Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s inner circle of strategists. “If you say the goal is to halt Iran in the enrichment phase, you don’t have much time. If you are waiting for Iran to weaponize” — the position the Obama administration has taken — “maybe you can give it another year or more.” Mr. Yaalon suggested that there was still time. “There are other tools to be used and to be exhausted, whether it is diplomacy, economic sanctions,” he said. Mr. Yaalon avoided mentioning another element of the strategy: sabotage of the Iranian program, which has included cyberattacks on enrichment facilities and the assassination of Iranian scientists. He urged support for Iranians who oppose the current government in Tehran, especially in advance of a presidential election scheduled for June. But without “a credible military option,” Mr. Yaalon warned, “there is no chance” that the Iranian government will curtail its nuclear ambitions. During a news conference with Mr. Yaalon at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Mr. Hagel pledged that the United States would sustain its commitment to ensuring Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” and he was emphatic in discussing Iran. “Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Hagel said. “Period.” That was far more definitive than anything he said in his confirmation hearing. There he talked about a strategy of containing Iran — a strategy that seemed at odds with Mr. Obama’s stated position — before correcting himself for the record to align with the administration’s position. The United States has promised Israel $3.1 billion in military financial assistance in this fiscal year, the highest amount ever. Mr. Hagel cited the $460 million the United States has already given to Israel for its missile-defense systems and noted the $220 million request for the next fiscal year. After his meetings in Tel Aviv, Mr. Hagel toured northern Israel by helicopter, crossing into the Golan Heights occupied by Israeli forces. The flight took him within a couple of miles of the Syrian side of their disputed border and about 30 miles from the Syrian capital, Damascus. On Monday evening, Amos Yadlin, the former head of military intelligence in Israel, told the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies that while any Israeli attack would only delay Iran’s program, “this delay could be important because we may have a regime change.” Mr. Yadlin, now the director of the institute, described the tactical differences between the United States and Israel on dealing with Iran as a “time gap.” “Israel has defined what the trigger is, what the red line is,” he said. Iran, he concluded, “is already there.”
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Jerusalem Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 1

Hagel: US Military Aid Will Ensure Israeli Air Superiority

By Yaakov Lappin
A major American arms sale will “ensure Israel’s air superiority in the future” while enhancing its long-range capabilities, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Monday at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in Tel Aviv. Hagel pointed out that the deal involves the selling of defense platforms never before made available by the United States to another country, adding that he had begun talks with Ya’alon about a future assistance program to Israel for 2017, when the current agreement ends. The arms sale includes V-22 Osprey helicopter-plane aircraft, refueling tankers, advanced radars for fighter jets and advanced missiles that target air defenses. The deal is part of a wider $10 billion package involving US sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, designed to provide Washington’s allies in the region with enhanced military capabilities against Iran. The UAE will take stock of 25 F-16 Desert Falcon jets worth nearly $5b. Ya’alon thanked Hagel for Washington’s support and stressed the deep security and intelligence cooperation between the two countries. “We are in a tough neighborhood in the Middle East,” Ya’alon said. “Iran is a security threat which funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. It is involved in terrorism in the whole world – Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya.” Ya’alon said that while he prefers a diplomatic solution to end the Iranian nuclear program, Israel is prepared to defend itself by itself. Later on Monday, the two defense chiefs boarded a helicopter for an aerial tour of Israel and its borders. They flew northwards, passing over Israel’s narrow waist, a roughly 14-kilometer stretch between the West Bank to the east and the Mediterranean to the west, before reaching the Golan Heights, where Ya’alon pointed out that Syrian rebel forces already control parts of the Syrian side of the border. They then headed south across the Jordan Valley, flying over Jerusalem and its Old City. Last week, the Pentagon announced it was sending 200 American soldiers to Jordan, adding that the deployment could end up being part of a larger movement of 20,000 soldiers to secure loose chemical weapons in neighboring Syria. The US is reluctant to get involved in Syria, but is preparing for the eventuality nevertheless.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 8

Hagel Gets Geography Lesson

Israel’s military gives U.S. defense chief an aerial tour of its hard-to-defend northern borders

By Craig Whitlock, in Tel Aviv
If Chuck Hagel didn’t know his Middle East geography before, he does now — thanks to a bird’s-eye tutorial from the Israeli military. In his first visit to Israel as defense secretary, Hagel took a one-hour, 40-minute tour of the northern half of the country Monday in an Israeli army UH60 Black Hawk helicopter, flying from Tel Aviv to the Golan Heights before circling over Jerusalem’s Old City. Just in case he didn’t immediately absorb the main lesson of the flight — that Israel is a really small country with difficult-to-defend borders — a tailored 35-page briefing book spelled it out in very familiar terms for a former U.S. senator from the Midwest. “The State of Nebraska is nine times the size of the State of Israel,” read the heading over a big map, in a reference to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The helicopter ride was the culmination of two busy days of bonding between Hagel and Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister. Both men are new to their jobs and lack the extensive personal relationships shared by many of their predecessors, so Yaalon tried to make up for lost time. On Sunday, after the Pentagon chief landed in Tel Aviv from Washington, Yaalon escorted him on a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, Yaalon hosted an official dinner for Hagel in Jerusalem — featuring a performer who belted out tunes from “Phantom of the Opera.” The pair met at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv for 90 minutes Monday and held a joint news conference. Then Hagel gamely agreed to join Yaalon on the helicopter tour, overriding Pentagon rules that generally prohibit the defense secretary from flying on foreign military aircraft. Like Hagel, 66, an infantryman who was twice wounded in Vietnam, Yaalon, 62, is a former soldier. He served in an elite paratrooper squad and later as chief of staff for the Israel Defense Forces. Although Hagel addressed Yaalon by his nickname, “Bogie,” the two appeared stiff and all business in public, with none of the backslapping and banter typical of their predecessors, Leon E. Panetta and Ehud Barak. Hagel’s bid to become defense secretary was nearly derailed by pro-Israel groups that questioned whether he was sufficiently supportive of the Jewish state or would take military action, if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Perhaps mindful of that, Hagel was intent throughout his visit on reassuring Israelis that he was committed to their security. Asked by an Israeli journalist whether he still thought that preemptive military action against Iran would be a bad idea — a sentiment he had expressed during his legislative career — Hagel gave a careful reply. “I’ve also said over the years one consistent thing: that all military options, and every option, must remain on the table in dealing with Iran,” he said. “That’s been a consistent position of mine regardless of the positions I held as a United States senator.”
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Los Angeles Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 3

Hagel Seizes Chance To Show He’s Israel’s Friend, Not Foe

The Defense chief emphasizes U.S. ties to the nation and touts his fidelity to the Jewish people.

By Shashank Bengali
JERUSALEM — Not long ago, Chuck Hagel’s past comments about Israel nearly torpedoed his nomination as Defense secretary. In his first visit here since winning confirmation, he’s sticking to one word in particular: “friend.” “I look forward to renewing some old friendships,” Hagel told reporters on the flight from Washington. Aides noted he had visited Israel six times as a U.S. senator from Nebraska and as a private citizen. After touring Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Hagel addressed a message in the guest book Sunday to “my friends of Israel.” He praised the museum and archive for its “beautiful and important tribute” and signed it, “your friend, Chuck Hagel.” Hagel has appeared a veteran statesman in his first two days of meetings here, touting not only the close relationship between the United States and Israel but also his fidelity to the Jewish people. In 2006, Hagel was quoted as saying that military force to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon wasn’t “a viable, feasible, responsible option.” But speaking Monday at the Israeli Defense Ministry, Hagel echoed the Obama administration’s position that military force remained an option. “As President Obama stated, Israel has a right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” Hagel said. The administration favors a stepped-up campaign of economic sanctions and political pressure against Iran to find a diplomatic solution. It says that military force should be a last resort, a view that senior Israeli officials, for now, seem to share. Hagel’s three-day visit to Israel, his longest stop in a weeklong Mideast swing, comes less than two months after his bitter confirmation process, including an unusual filibuster by his former Republican colleagues, that focused in part on his views about the Middle East. For weeks, some senators and pro-Israel lobbying groups pilloried Hagel as soft on Iran because of his past opposition to unilateral sanctions and military action to stop the Iranian nuclear threat. One ill-chosen phrase from 2006 — “the Jewish lobby” — in particular haunted Hagel, with critics describing it as borderline anti-Semitic. Hagel, who apologized for that remark during a testy confirmation hearing Jan. 31, says he’s moved on. “The confirmation hearing was years ago,” he said. U.S. officials are trying to finalize a major arms sale to Israel that includes V-22 Osprey transport helicopters, KC-135 refueling aircraft, advanced radar and other equipment to bolster the Israeli military, already by far the strongest in the Middle East. Hagel said the Obama administration was “committed to providing Israel with whatever support is necessary” and had approved $3.1 billion in direct assistance to the Israeli military this year, the highest for any country. At a joint news conference Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “I want, Chuck, to express my personal appreciation for your friendship and for your solid and powerful support for our country.” Still, Hagel hasn’t been able to escape his past comments. An Israeli reporter asked how his current rhetoric squared with his remarks in 2006. Hagel responded: “I’ve also said over the years one consistent thing: that all military options, and every option, must remain on the table in dealing with Iran. That’s been a consistent position of mine regardless of the positions I’ve held as a U.S. senator and as a civilian.” Since taking office, Hagel has quietly worked to reassure his critics, particularly in the Senate, where he served for 12 years and built close friendships, some of which were tested during the nomination process. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington last week, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who voted against Hagel’s confirmation after saying Iran had endorsed him for Defense secretary, called Hagel a friend. “We worked together for a long period of time, had some difference of opinion,” Inhofe said. “We’ll always remain good friends.” In Israel, where criticism of Hagel was more muted, conservative analysts say they expected little from his visit. Ruthie Blum, a right-wing columnist at the newspaper Israel Hayom, said Hagel was merely echoing views expressed in recent visits by Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry — and was trying not to make headlines. “When Obama and Kerry came here, they led the news. For Hagel, you have to search for it,” Blum said. “He has spoken platitudes that were to be expected.”
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USAToday.com April 223, 2013

Hagel Says Iran Sanctions Need To Be Exhausted First

Chuck Hagel is on his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief.

By Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today
TEL AVIV — Economic sanctions and diplomacy must be exhausted before the United States and Israel contemplate any military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here Monday. Hagel appeared in the capital with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to announce an agreement to sell Israel weapons, including advanced missiles and refueling planes that could be used to support a strike on Iran. The missiles are designed to destroy air-defense systems, and refueling aircraft would allow warplanes to continue attacks without returning to Israel. Hagel and Yaalon downplayed the estimates U.S. and Israeli officials have for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Israel believes the time frame is somewhat shorter than U.S. estimates and reserves the right to strike pre-emptively. That right was affirmed by Hagel in comments he made Sunday to reporters traveling with him to the Middle East. Any disagreements between the two nations on the timing of Iran’s nuclear capability, Hagel said, were “minor,” adding that “intelligence agencies always are within ranges” on their estimates. The bottom line, Yaalon said, is that Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions will be stopped. “There are other tools to be used and to be exhausted, whether it be diplomacy, economic sanctions or even more support of the opposition in Iran,” Yaalon said. Selling Israel the KC-135 refueling tankers represents a significant change in U.S. policy. The Obama and George W. Bush administrations had previously prohibited such sales because it would have given Israeli aircraft the ability to fly the distance needed to reach Iran. The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, which passed Congress and was signed by President Obama last July authorized tanker sales to Israel, as well as missile defense materials and specialized munitions. Hagel also spent more than an hour by helicopter touring Israel’s borders, including its frontier with Syria where a civil war has killed tens of thousands. Last week, officials in Great Britain and France allege that the government of Bashar Asaad may have used chemical weapons and have asked the United Nations to investigate. Hagel said U.S. intelligence agencies have yet to determine if chemical weapons were used. Hagel reiterated Monday that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer.” The United States is prepared to deal with such a contingency, though he declined to say what the Pentagon’s response would be. Hagel will also visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on his first trip to the Mideast as Pentagon chief.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 9

Arming Of Syrian Rebels Puts U.S. Focus On Qatar

By Karen DeYoung
BRUSSELS — When President Obama welcomes the leader of Qatar to the White House on Tuesday, he will doubtless thank the Qataris for hosting a major U.S. air base in the Persian Gulf, and for their help on a wide range of strategic issues from Libya to Afghanistan. But he is also likely to press Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to ensure that none of the weapons Qatar is sending to Syrian rebels end up with the Jabhat al-Nusra, which the administration has linked to al-Qaeda, and other Islamic extremist groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Allegations that some Qatari aid is flowing to extremists have been made primarily made by Qatar’s Persian Gulf neighbors, which are rivals for regional influence and which have their own equities in the outcome in Syria. All are friends of the United States, and their rivalry has put the Obama administration in a difficult position as it tries to establish the parameters of its Syria policy. Until recently, the administration exhorted its friends in the region not to send any weapons to Syria, lest they increase the bloodshed there. But as the civil war has dragged on for two years — and Assad has shown no signs of leaving — the United States has slowly stepped up its assistance to include non-lethal military support, while acknowledging and tacitly welcoming arms that are being supplied by both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Controlling the destination of those weapons, however, has proved problematic. At a meeting last weekend in Istanbul with opposition political and military leaders, all 11 governments in the self-styled “core group” of rebel backers agreed to channel military assistance only through the umbrella Syrian Military Council command led by Gen. Salim Idris. The command promised it would provide the aid only to “approved” fighting groups. “Each country made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance uniquely and solely to the military command,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at the close of the meeting. “It’s one of the most important things that can make a difference to the situation on the ground,” Kerry said. In addition to the United States, the Saudis and Qatar, the core group includes Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The question now is whether the agreement will stick, and whether Obama can help keep the core group on the same page. Earlier this month, he met in Washington with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and, separately, with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. In the next few weeks, Obama will also host Jordanian King Abdullah and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose countries share a border with Syria and have accepted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. All countries in the region fear an explosion of instability as the war increasingly takes on sectarian coloration. Most of the rebels are Sunnis, part of the Syrian majority that has long been oppressed by Assad’s minority Alawites, a Shiite sect. Other minority groups, including Christians and Druze, have been reluctant to abandon Assad as Islamic extremists — with at least rhetorical backing from al-Qaeda — have taken a more prominent role within the opposition military force. In some rebel areas under extremist control, Islamists have imposed social restrictions including banning smoking, drinking and uncovered women. The fractured political opposition has been unable to convince minority Syrians — and even some in their own camp — that they are committed to a pluralistic government to replace Assad, and are capable of keeping the country in one piece. Within the rebel military ranks, support has tended to gravitate to those who are the most capable, betterequipped fighters — often the extremists. Not all weapons and money to buy them are coming from Persian Gulf governments, U.S. officials said. Individuals in gulf countries who would favor a more religious coloration in Syria are also contributing. A senior State Department official at the Istanbul meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the vexing Syrian problem, related a recent conversation he said he had with a senior commander of the Syrian Military Council. “He said, ‘Some of my men, through their own connections, family and friends, know people in the gulf, business people who can literally get them millions of dollars in cases within a few days,’ ” the official recounted. He summarized the commander’s dilemma: “How do I tell my guys, Don’t take that money from that business guy who is backed by an Islamist network?” Kerry and other U.S. officials described the Istanbul meeting as a turning point, at which the opposition political leadership promised to rededicate itself to seeking a political solution to the war, albeit without Assad as a negotiating partner — along with unity of purpose and protection of minority rights. Away from the Syrians, donor countries argued for hours behind closed doors about their own disputes. “How can we make those asks of the [opposition] coalition when we know we actually have to sort out our own house?” said another diplomat at the Istanbul meeting.
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London Times April 23, 2013

Jordan Opens Air Space For Drones To Spy On Syria

By Sheera Frenkel and Nicholas Blanford
King Abdullah of Jordan has agreed to allow Israeli drones spying on Syria to enter Jordanian airspace, US officials said. The move, apparently brokered by President Obama during his Middle East trip last month, could significantly change the balance of power in the two-year-old Syrian insurgency against the Assad regime. Although the drones are intended to collect information about the movements of conventional and chemical weapons, they are capable of bearing missiles. And, say US officials, the same corridors through Jordanian air space could be used by fighter aircraft. President Obama conveyed Israeli security concerns about Syria when he saw the King on March 22. In particular he raised fears about the prospect that chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants. Two months ago Israel attacked a weapons convoy inside Syria. Western officials in the region said it was Israel that made the formal request to enter Jordanian airspace en route to Syria. The officials added that the move was part of a “closely co-ordinated plan” being devised between the United States, Israel, Jordan and Turkey to contain the dangers from Syria’s civil war. “The level of co-ordination is unusually high and what we would call ‘open’ as compared with the past,” an American government official based in Jordan said. “The fallout from Syria is really a regional threat, so we needed a regional alliance to confront it.” During his meeting in Jordan, Mr Obama emphasised that the move would allow Israel a clearer flight path for its drones. He said that intelligence being gathered by the Israelis would be shared with its allies. “We have a permanent presence in all the necessary countries to allow us to monitor the events in Syria in real time,” said an Israeli intelligence officer working near the border with Jordan. “Our intelligence on Syria is very strong and we have a very real need to ensure that these weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.” The Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronoth reported yesterday that Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, and King Abdullah have held “more than one secret meeting” in the past month to co-ordinate their positions on Syria. Israeli aircraft, including drones, fly several routes into Syrian airspace, including over the Mediterranean via its western coast and over Lebanon from the south. Israeli officials, however, said the preferred route was via Jordan, as it carried the lowest risk of detection. In addition to gathering intelligence, Israeli drones are equipped with missiles and can launch attacks. Yesterday Moshe Ya’alon, the Defence Minister, confirmed that Israel was behind the January strike on a weapons convoy in Syria, saying that it had acted to stop advanced weaponry reaching militants. Speaking at a press conference with Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, Mr Ya’alon said that Israel would not allow sophisticated weapons to fall into the hands of “Hezbollah or other rogue elements”. Hezbollah’s leadership admits that it has significantly strengthened its fighting capabilities since the last conflict with Israel in July 2006. The group is believed to have acquired Syrian-manufactured M600 guided missiles that could strike specific targets in Tel Aviv. However, Hezbollah, a long-standing ally of the Assad regime, has become ever deeper embroiled in the conflict in Syria. It is widely believed to have dispatched fighters to Damascus and some areas of Syria bordering Lebanon to help the Syrian Army to crush the rebels. Hezbollah officials say that they remain focused on Israel and are ready to confront any threat.
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Reuters.com April 22, 2013

Egypt Says Russia To Help Revive Nuclear Program

CAIRO (Reuters) – Russia will help Egypt develop its nuclear power program, Trade and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh said on Monday, signaling that the Islamist-led state will press ahead with its quest for atomic energy. Egypt froze its nuclear program after the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, but in 2006, the government of deposed President Hosni Mubarak announced it would revive the program. Five months before Mubarak was swept from power in February 2011, his administration announced plans for an international bidding process to build Egypt’s first nuclear power station at Dabaa near the Mediterranean coast. The agreement on Russian support was reached during a visit to Russia by President Mohamed Mursi last week. “We spoke on this issue and agreed that the Russians will help us in conducting studies at the Dabaa nuclear station and to develop the experimental reactor in Anshas,” Saleh said. “There will be a Russian delegation to lay out the details of these issues as soon as possible,” he added. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted by Russian news agencies on Friday as saying Egypt had proposed that Russia participate in construction of a nuclear power plant and in development of the country’s uranium deposits. Mursi met Russian President Vladimir Putin last week during an official visit to Russia. Saleh denied that Egypt had sought financial support from Russia to ease a severe economic crisis, which saw its foreign reserves drop to a critical low of $13.4 billion in March, less than three months’ worth of imports. Egypt has also been talking to the IMF about a $4.8 billion loan to prop up the economy, shattered by the turbulent transition from Mubarak’s rule that has driven away tourists and investors alike, as well as accepting help from Arab allies and emerging powers. Qatar and Libya have agreed to provide $5 billion in support. Turkish economic officials and banking sources have said Ankara will transfer within two months the remaining $1 billion of $2 billion it pledged last year. Russian officials said on Friday that Moscow would consider an Egyptian loan request – which one Moscow-based source had put at $2 billion – and that it might also increase grain supplies to Egypt if its harvest reached target level this year. However, in response to a question on the loan, Saleh said: “There was no request or plea for any assistance from the Russian side and what you heard in some of the media is news that does not deserve a response and is untrue.” When asked about the loan from Russia on Friday, Saleh said: “We have reached no conclusion on that loan.” He also said Egypt had not requested aid in the form of wheat. Typically the world’s biggest importer of wheat, Egypt has cut back on wheat imports this year and is hoping for a bumper crop that the agriculture minister said on Sunday could be close to 11.023 million metric tons.
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The E-Ring (e-ring.foreignpolicy.com) April 22, 2013

Pentagon Encouraged By Egyptian Military Continuity

By Kevin Baron
Although Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will make his first visit in office to Cairo this week to meet Egypt’s military chiefs, Pentagon officials working quietly for months to maintain historically close military-to-military relations say they haven’t missed a beat under the new civilian rule of President Mohammed Morsi. “We can pick up the phone, the secretary of defense, and have his counterpart who we can talk to at any time,” said a senior defense official. “Despite changes in the Egyptian military and political system, that’s been constant.” Hagel’s visit will mark the first meeting between U.S. and Egyptian defense leaders since former Defense Sec. Leon Panetta visited Cairo in August. Panetta met the newly installed Morsi at a time when observers wondered if the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood candidate truly would be able to take back civilian control of the country from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that ruled Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak’s fall in the Arab awakening. Morsi gained global notoriety under the permissive eye of Field Marshall Tantawi, who ran the military since 1991. “He’s his own man,” Panetta declared of Morsi, giving the elected civilian leader an American vote of confidence. Two weeks later, on August 12, Tantawi was force to resign and Washington lost one of its most important friends in the Middle East. In the months since Panetta’s 45-minute meeting with Morsi, U.S. military officials largely have stayed quiet, as Egypt’s transition endured additional violent protests in December and ongoing constitutional challenges to Morsi’s authority. This week, senior defense officials revealed the Pentagon has just been quiet, not idle. “We have very regular interaction with the Egyptian military. I just had a phone call yesterday with the deputy defense minister,” said a senior U.S. defense official, who briefed reporters ahead of Hagel’s departure for the region, on Friday. The official, and two additional senior defense officials in the briefing, said they are encouraged at the Egyptian military’s willingness to keep close counsel with Washington. In November, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet and Lt. Gen. Terry Wolff, the J5 at Joint Staff, or director of strategic plans and policy, attended the Military Coordinating Committee (MCC) meeting in Cairo. The U.S. side asked Gen. Sedky Sobhy, chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, about security on the Sinai Peninsula, where security has broken down during Egypt’s transition and armed forces have cracked down on militants for attacking security officials in the region. ?According to published reports, Chollet, in addition to a member of Congress and U.S. Central Command deputy commander visited U.S. troops stationed in northern Sinai. Showing Egypt’s continued importance to U.S. strategic interests, Hagel, in his first week in office, had a get-acquainted phone conversation with Tantawi’s successor, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. “It’s been a very regular interaction, seamless interaction,” said the senior defense official. “We were the main interlocutor,” between the U.S. and Egypt during the SCAF’s temporary rule, said the defense official. “Now some of our civilian counterparts in [the Department of] State and otherwise are also dealing with the Egyptians quite intensively.” “A year ago, it was the SCAF, and it was running Egypt. Now it’s proverbially gone back into the barracks. And they’re very focused on supporting the civilian leadership in Egypt and not having to come into run the country again.” The official also said they are encouraged the militaries have maintained a “very open” relationship about shared security concerns — top of which is the Sinai Peninsula’s use as a base for terrorism. “Egyptians and the Israelis have maintained close interaction in relations. Egypt played a very critical role in helping bring about the Gaza cease-fire last November. …we still have a very open interaction with the Egyptian military on a whole wide range of issues, so there’s not an issue we can’t — we feel like we can’t bring up.” When Hagel visits this week, Egyptian officials will have to weigh American domestic politics, as well, which have not stopped at the proverbial water’s edge. In February, the newly designated top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, called Morsi an “enemy.” Not long after the Obama administration announced it would proceed with the sale of F-15 fighters to Cairo despite ongoing protests to Morsi’s rule, Inhofe suggested withholding U.S. arms sales as to sway Egypt’s military into ousting Mubarak’s elected successor. “Morsi has already distanced himself from the military,” Inhofe said, at the time. “To me that’s a first good step. And I would like to think that we could reinstate a friend – a friend in that area.”
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 8

Iranian Dismisses Effect Of Sanctions

Official: Tehran Firm On Nuclear Policy; He extols ‘power of our resistance’ to West’s curbs

By Joby Warrick
Iran’s economy is clawing its way back to health after nearly a year of harsh Western sanctions, the country’s top financial official said in an interview in which he insisted that no amount of outside pressure would force Tehran to change its nuclear policies. Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini, minister of economic affairs and finance, said his government was finding new ways to soften the impact of tough sanctions imposed last summer, despite a steep loss in oil revenue that has driven up prices and battered the Iranian currency, the rial. Hosseini said structural changes implemented by Tehran since last year would improve the country’s ability to withstand Western pressure. He predicted that sanctions would strengthen the economy in the long run by forcing Iranians to diversify and become more selfreliant. “At first we witnessed inflationary shocks, but then we saw that we could use our domestic capacity to increase our competitiveness,” Hosseini told The Washington Post during a weekend visit to attend an international financial conference. The United States and its allies have imposed tough sanctions on Iran in an attempt to persuade it to accept restrictions on its nuclear program and allow fuller international inspections of its atomic facilities. Negotiations between the two sides have made little progress. Hosseini said Western experts who predicted an economic disaster in Iran are “now obliged to reconsider” as the country marks its 10th month under unprecedented banking restrictions and an embargo on oil exports to Europe. “They did not understand the power of our resistance,” Hosseini said. “They thought that by a small change in the foreign exchange rate, Iran’s economy would collapse. But as time goes on, they realize that Iran is adapting and we are changing threats into opportunities.” Although he acknowledged painful cuts in oil revenue, Hosseini asserted that other sectors of Iran’s economy had benefitted from the drop in the value of the rial. Agricultural and mining exports have increased, he said, and more Iranians are buying domestic products — including automobiles and electronics — rather than spending money on expensive imports. In any event, Hosseini said, Iran would not be dissuaded by outside pressure from seeking “modern technologies” that will enable the country to reach its economic potential. “The Iranian people are determined to follow the nuclear route,” he said. Independent experts have generally described the effect of Western sanctions in starker terms, noting Iran’s inability to make up for revenue losses amounting to tens of billions of dollars. At the same time, economists and Iran experts have expressed surprise at the country’s ability to contain popular unrest as millions of Iranians suffer economic privations caused by the steep drop in the value of the rial. The unprecedented economic pressure has had little appreciable effect on Iran’s nuclear program, which has continued to expand in the months since the toughest sanctions took effect. Two rounds of international negotiations this year failed to yield nuclear concessions from Tehran. The Obama administration has urged patience, saying that the economic toll on Iran from sanctions will increase in the months to come. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said sanctions “are hurting Iran significantly.” “I don’t know of an international regime of sanctions that have been more effective, have been more unified and tougher than what’s being applied to Iran,” Hagel told reporters while en route to Israel. On Monday, a group of former military and intelligence officers and senior policymakers urged the Obama administration to increase direct diplomat ic efforts with Iran to solve the nuclear crisis, arguing that economic sanctions alone would not change the behavior of the country’s ruling clerics. “We must break the decadeslong cycle of mistrust,” said Thomas Pickering, a career diplomat and former undersecretary of state for political affairs, one of the 30 former officials signing a statement calling for direct diplomacy. “After 30 years of sanctioning and trying to isolate Iran, it is doubtful that pressure alone will change the decisions of Iran’s leaders or get a desired outcome now.”
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New York Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 9

U.S. And China Put Focus On Cybersecurity

By Jane Perlez
BEIJING — The United States and China held their highest-level military talks in nearly two years on Monday, with a senior Chinese general pledging to work with the United States on cybersecurity because the consequences of a major cyberattack “may be as serious as a nuclear bomb.” Cybersecurity has become a sudden source of tension between the two countries. China has bristled over the growing body of evidence that its military has been involved in cyberattacks on American corporations and some government agencies. Last month, the Obama administration demanded that the Chinese government stop the theft of data from American computer networks and help create global standards for cybersecurity. At a news conference on Monday after talks with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Chinese general, Fang Fenghui, said he would be willing to set up a cybersecurity “mechanism,” but warned that progress might not be swift. “I know how difficult it is,” General Fang said. “Anyone can launch the attacks — from the place where he lives, from his own country or from another country.” General Dempsey arrived in Beijing on Sunday for his first visit to China. His predecessor, Adm. Mike Mullen, held talks in Beijing in July 2011. General Dempsey’s three-day visit comes as mistrust has mounted between Beijing and Washington over a host of issues, including differences over North Korea, Washington’s strengthened military posture in the Asia Pacific region, China’s assertiveness in the South and East China Seas and basic problems of how the two militaries should communicate in a crisis. China invited General Dempsey for the talks after the lengthy transition process to a new Chinese government was completed in March. His arrival followed the first visit by Secretary of State John Kerry more than a week ago, and Obama administration officials say they hope the almost back-to-back talks will yield a starting point for better relations after a rocky period of drift. At the news conference, General Fang, who is the chief of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff and a member of the powerful Central Military Commission, also talked of wanting a “new kind of military relationship that is consistent with the state-to-state relationship.” He spoke with a confidence that reflected the growing strength of China’s military, including expanding its naval presence. “The Pacific Ocean is wide enough to accommodate us both,” General Fang said, a suggestion that it was time for the United States to understand the American military would not be able to dominate forever. President Xi Jinping used the same phrase on the eve of his visit to Washington as vice president in February 2012. General Dempsey did not allow the remark to go unnoticed. The United States, he said, is looking for a “better, deeper and more enduring relationship” with the Chinese military — but in the context of “other historic and enduring alliances.” “We do have treaty obligations,” he said, a reference to the American alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia. “We will build and recognize the historic alliances, and there will be points when that creates friction.” Defending the Obama administration’s decision to “pivot” toward Asia — a policy widely interpreted as a response to China’s expanding influence — General Dempsey said it was not as though “we’ve disappeared and are about to reappear.” He said he had told General Fang in their private conversation before the news conference that the United States sought to be a “stabilizing” factor and that the absence of the United States in the Asia Pacific region would be “destabilizing.” After a decade of concentrating on Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will now carry out an Asia Pacific policy of “three mores,” General Dempsey said, bringing more interest, more engagement and more quality assets to the region. General Fang raised the issue of North Korea’s latest nuclear test, a detonation in February just 100 miles from China’s northeast border. “North Korea has already concluded a third nuclear test, and it could conduct a fourth nuclear test,” he said. China is North Korea’s main ally and economic patron, and the United States has urged the Chinese to use their influence to halt the North’s bombast and threats of nuclear attacks on American targets. General Fang reiterated that China was opposed to North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons, and asked for a reopening of the so-called six-party talks that aimed to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The talks collapsed several years ago.
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Reuters.com April 22, 2013

In China, U.S. Top Military Officer Defends U.S. Pivot To Asia

By Terril Yue Jones, Reuters
BEIJING–The United States’ top military officer on Monday defended the re-orientation of U.S. foreign policy towards Asia in front of his Chinese counterpart, a week after Beijing criticized Washington for ramping up its military presence in the region. China is uneasy with what the United States has called the “rebalancing” of forces as Washington winds down the war in Afghanistan and renews its attention further east. China says the policy has emboldened Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in longstanding territorial disputes with Beijing. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the United States “has been and will continue to be a Pacific power. “We seek to be a stabilizing influence in the region,” Dempsey said at a news conference at China’s Ministry of National Defense. “In fact, we believe it would be our absence that would be destabilizing in the region, not our presence.” Dempsey was speaking at a joint press conference with Chinese Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Fang Fenghui after both sides held talks earlier in the day. China’s defense ministry made a thinly veiled criticism of the United States last week for increasing tensions in the Asia-Pacific, saying China faces “multiple and complicated security threats” due to the U.S. strategy. Fang said there is a possibility that North Korea could launch a fourth nuclear test. “We ask all sides to work on the North Koreans to stop the nuclear tests, and stop producing nuclear weapons,” he said. Fang reiterated China’s stance that it is firmly opposed to nuclear tests by North Korea. China is North Korea’s main diplomatic and financial backer, but in recent months it has begun to express impatience with Pyongyang. After weeks of threats of war by North Korea, Pyongyang said last week it would return to negotiations subject to a list of conditions, including the lifting of U.N. sanctions. The United States said it was seeking “clear signals” that the North would halt its nuclear weapons activities. North Korea has moved two short-range missile launchers to its east coast, apparently indicating it is pushing ahead with preparations for a test launch, a South Korean news agency reported on Sunday. When asked whether China was willing to delegate staff to set rules for global cybersecurity, Fang said that the Internet, “if it is not managed well, it may bring damaging consequences”. “If security cannot be guaranteed, it is not an exaggeration to say that the damage of consequences could be as serious as a nuclear bomb,” he said. Beijing and Washington have traded accusations in recent months of massive cyber intrusions. The United States says hacking attacks emanating from China have targeted U.S. government and corporate computer networks among others, stealing government and commercial data. A U.S. computer security firm released a report in February saying a secretive Chinese military unit is believed to be behind a wave of hacking attacks against the United States.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 12

Report: China Is Top Source Of Cyber-Spying

96 percent of government espionage in 2012 tied to nation

By Craig Timberg
Analyses of hundreds of documented data breaches found that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government were by far the most energetic and successful cyberspies in the world last year, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by government and industry investigators. Although hackers with financial motives are the most common source of data breaches worldwide, China dominated the category of state-affiliated cyber-espionage of intellectual property, said the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report. The report was issued by Verizon’s RISK Team and 18 partners, including officials from the United States and several foreign governments. Of 120 incidents of government cyber-espionage detailed in the report, 96 percent came from China; the source of the other 4 percent was unknown, it said. “This is a pretty shocking statistic,” said Wade Baker, the managing principal for the RISK Team, which provides security consulting. The report, issued by Verizon every year since 2008, was the first to break out government-affiliated cyber-espionage as its own category, reflecting the rising numbers of such intrusions and the increasingly sophisticated efforts to determine their origins. “We don’t think there was a super spike in that kind of [cyber-espionage] activity,” Baker said. “It’s more about our ability to find them.” Chinese officials have consistently denied allegations that their government is a leading source of cyber-espionage and have said that intrusions that appear to emanate from Internet addresses there actually originate elsewhere. Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a query about the report on Monday. The conclusions of the Verizon report track closely with the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus document of U.S. intelligence agencies, and build on numerous other reports singling out China as uncommonly aggressive in cyberspace. Government officials and outside experts say that several other governments, including those of Russia, Israel and France, also conduct cyber-espionage but not at the scale attempted by China. “It’s not China alone. Dozens of other countries are involved,” said Shawn Henry, former head of cybersecurity investigations for the FBI who is president of Crowd Strike Services, a cybersecurity company. The volume of Chinese cyber-intrusions has made identifying them easier because tactics tend to be similar among certain hacking crews, with telltale sections of code sometimes appearing across different pieces of malicious software. The Verizon report identified 44 million compromised records from 621 confirmed data breaches in 2012, of which 19 percent were the results of government-affiliated espionage. Retail institutions were the most common victims of data breaches, with profit-minded hackers most often based in Romania, the United States, Bulgaria or Russia. For the cyber-espionage cases, Verizon officials said they named a country only when they could definitively trace the malicious code or tactics of the attack to its origin. Having the intrusion emanate from an Internet address in China, for example, was not sufficient for an attack to be labeled as Chinese, officials said. Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.
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Reuters.com April 23, 2013

North Korea Demands Recognition As Nuclear Arms State

By Robert Birsel, Reuters
SEOUL — North Korea demanded on Tuesday that it be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, rejecting a U.S. condition that it agree to give up its nuclear arms program before talks can begin. After weeks of tension on the Korean peninsula, including North Korean threats of nuclear war, the North has in recent days begun to at least talk about dialogue in response to calls for talks from both the United States and South Korea. The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as groundless and unacceptable the U.S. and South Korean condition that it agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons and suspend missile launches. “If the DPRK sits at a table with the U.S., it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons,” the newspaper said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. A White House spokesman said this month North Korea would need to show it was serious about abandoning its nuclear ambitions for talks to be meaningful. North Korea signed a denuclearization-for-aid deal in 2005 but later backed out of that pact. It now says its nuclear arms are a “treasured sword” that it will never give up. It conducted its third nuclear test in February. That triggered new U.N. sanctions which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korea’s threats of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States. But in a sign the hostility was easing, North Korea last Thursday offered the United States and South Korea a list of conditions for talks, including the lifting of U.N. sanctions. The United States responded by saying it awaited “clear signals” that North Korea would halt its nuclear weapons activities. North Korea has a long record of making threats to secure concessions from the United States and South Korea, only to repeat the process later. Both the United States and the South have said in recent days that the cycle must cease.
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Stars and Stripes (Pacific Edition) April 23, 2013 Pg. 1

Pacific-Based Pilots Could Be Combat-Ready At Moment’s Notice

By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Even though the Air Force has grounded a third of its fighter squadrons due to sequestration, Pacific-based pilots and planes could be ready for combat at a moment’s notice, officials said Monday. Earlier this month, the Air Force announced that it would reduce flying hours of all aircraft by 18 percent and stand down a third of its fighter squadrons in an effort to save money in the wake of the ongoing Defense Department budget cuts. Pacific-based units have not been spared the axe, despite the constant threat of North Korean provocation and a U.S. commitment to focus military efforts on the region. Still, experts say there’s no reason to worry because pilots could get the required rating quickly in an emergency. At Misawa Air Base, F-16s from the 13th Fighter Squadron will remain combat-mission ready, but aircraft from the 14th Fighter Squadron will only be “basic mission capable through September,” according to Capt. Cody Chiles, director of 5th Air Force public affairs. Capt. Korry Leverett, the 35th Fighter Wing’s public affairs chief at Misawa, said combat-ready pilots have completed enough training to be proficient in all aspects of their mission. Pilots who are “basic mission capable” have done the minimum level of training for some aspects of their mission. However, they only need a little extra training to become combat ready, he said. “The number and duration of training activities necessary to be rated CMR (combat mission ready) varies depending on each pilot’s currency in different aspects of the mission,” Leverett said. Aircraft mechanics at the wing will clear a backlog of scheduled inspections and maintenance to the extent possible, given budget impacts on things like spare parts, he said. “Sequestration and flying hour reductions are having an impact on 35 Fighter Wing readiness, and the wing is working to mitigate the short- and long-term impacts,” he said, adding that no Misawa units have been directed to stand down. Leverett declined to elaborate further on the squadron’s readiness due to security concerns. At Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, the F-15 Eagles of the 67th Fighter Squadron won’t be combat mission ready this fiscal year while those of the 44th Fighter Squadron won’t be combat mission ready until August, Chiles said. “However, we continue to ensure our servicemembers have the training and equipment required to conduct our mission,” said Maj. Christopher Anderson of the 18th Wing. “Due to operational security, we will not discuss readiness levels, but we are fully capable of conducting our mission and fulfilling our mutual security obligations.” At Yokota Air Base, the 374th Air Wing’s C-130 Hercules transports also will spend less time in the air, Chiles said. “The 374th Air Wing’s C-130’s did not participate in Exercise COPE Tiger (alongside forces from Thailand and Singapore) this year due to sequestration,” he said. Capt. Ray Geoffroy, 374th spokesman, said the base’s budget for flying — both operations and maintenance — was cut by 25 percent for all of 2013. “These cuts are felt more dramatically because they come halfway through the year, so our flying must be curtailed to compensate for the cut, as well as the time spent flying at our normal tempo earlier in the year,” he said. Geoffroy declined to discuss specific operational readiness requirements or elaborate on aircraft and aircrew readiness for security reasons. However, he said: “The 374th Airlift Wing has made preserving combat capability its top priority.” The wing is allocating remaining flying hours this fiscal year — and managing operations and maintenance funds — in a way that will preserve the wing’s ability to meet mission requirements, he said. “This is a challenging task requiring careful coordination between wing leadership, our operations group and the maintenance group,” he said. “Through these efforts, Yokota will remain ready to answer the call with rapid tactical airlift capabilities.” Ralph Cossa, a retired Air Force colonel who is president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Pacific Forum in Hawaii, said the cuts are not as bad as they sound. “At any given time you may have a number of squadrons that are not combat mission ready for training reasons or because aircraft are grounded or airmen are deployed,” he said. In a crisis, the squadrons could quickly be brought up to speed or training standards could simply be lowered, he said. “It is not like suddenly we would be vulnerable to attack or these guys couldn’t defend Japan,” he said, citing the recent deployment of B-2 and B-52 bombers to Korea as evidence of the U.S. military’s capabilities and commitments in the region. Cossa said the Air Force and other service branches are trying to pressure lawmakers to stop sequestration. The problem is that the negative message they are sending to Washington is also being picked up by the public in allied nations in the Pacific where there is concern about America’s ability to live up to its promises, he said. The Air Force also is trimming 1,000 jobs from its civilian workforce, though officials said the impact will be limited. Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Capt. Rebecca Heyse said 62 positions will be eliminated at PACAF’s headquarters, and others will be trimmed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Osan Air Base and Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and Yokota Air Base, Japan. “The majority of the positions are entry to mid-level employees in administrative support positions,” Heyse said. The Air Force can move employees who are cut into vacant positions at their installations to minimize job losses, she said.
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Yahoo.com April 23, 2013

Congress Slows Military Efforts To Save

By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Parked around the airstrip at Lackland Air Force Base are more than a dozen massive C-5A Galaxy transport planes. There is no money to fly them, repair them or put pilots in the cockpits, but Congress rejected the Air Force’s bid to retire them. So every now and then, crews will tow the planes around the Texas tarmac a bit to make sure the tires don’t rot, then send them back into exile until they can finally get permission to commit the aging aircraft to the boneyard. It’s not an unfamiliar story. Idle aircraft and pricey ship deployments underscore the contradictions and conflicts as Congress orders the Pentagon to slash $487 billion in spending over the next 10 years and another $41 billion in the next six months. Yet, at the same time, lawmakers are forcing the services to keep ships, aircraft, military bases, retiree benefits and other programs that defense leaders insist they don’t want, can’t afford or simply won’t be able to use. The Associated Press interviewed senior military leaders involved in the ongoing analysis of the budget and its impact on the services and compiled data on the costs and programs from Defense Department documents. The Pentagon long has battled with Congress over politically sensitive spending cuts. But this year, military officials say Congress’ refusal to retire ships and aircraft means the Navy and Air Force are spending roughly $5 billion more than they would if they were allowed to make the cuts. In some cases Congress restored funds to compensate for the changes, but the result overall was lost savings. In other cases, frustrated military leaders quietly complained that they were being forced to furlough civilians, ground Air Force training flights and delay or cancel ship deployments to the Middle East and South America, while Congress refuses to accept savings in other places that could ease those pains. Along the eastern seaboard, two Navy cruisers — the USS Anzio in Norfolk, Va., and the USS Vicksburg in Mayport, Fla. — were scheduled for retirement this year but both are now sitting pierside. Navy leaders will soon schedule the ships for significant repairs and begin readying their crews so they can go back into service. Altogether, Congress is requiring the Navy to keep seven cruisers and two amphibious warships in service, eliminating the $4.3 billion the retirements would have saved over the next two years. “A lot of it comes down to parochial political interests,” said Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “No member of Congress wants to have a base closed in their district or to have a fighter squadron relocated out of their district.” Members of Congress argue that they believe the Pentagon sometimes makes bad decisions and other times may purposely target programs that have broad support. “Certainly that has been a pattern, they’ve cut Guard and Reserves in areas where it’s clearly unwise and Congress steps in to put the money in,” said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee. While the Navy sought to retire the seven ships, the Air Force wanted to save more than $600 million by retiring C-130 and C-5A cargo aircraft, three B-1 bombers and 18 high-altitude Global Hawk surveillance drones. Congress disagreed, adding various requirements that the Navy and Air Force maintain the ships and aircraft, and in some cases added money to the budget to cover them. Fifteen of the C-5A Galaxy aircraft no longer set to retire are at Lackland, while 11 are at Martinsburg, W.Va., and are flown by the Air National Guard there. A senior Air Force official said the service determined that it didn’t need all of the aging aircraft. And it pushed to cut the Global Hawks because defense officials determined that the U-2 spy plane, first produced more than 50 years ago, was better suited for the high-altitude surveillance job and would cost less money. The official also noted that while lawmakers rejected plans to retire the Galaxy aircraft, congressional appropriators did not add back money to pay for the fuel or the manpower to fly them. Similarly, the three B-1 bombers will move into backup status and likely will be used infrequently. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the budget, so requested anonymity. The decision to block retirement of some C-130s, however, reveals how narrow, yet critical, the political interests can be. Pennsylvania lawmakers declared victory last month when they reversed the decision to retire eight C-130s and shut down the 911th Airlift Wing near Pittsburgh. Local officials and business owners argued that the base, which uses space at Pittsburgh International Airport, provides an economic boost to the entire community. Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, lobbied Pentagon leaders and fellow lawmakers to keep the wing. They argued in a letter to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that “the 911th is a very efficient and cost effective installation” and that closing it could be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Pentagon officials have also been thwarted in their broader efforts to shut down costly and underused military facilities around the country. Congress rejected the department’s request last year for two more rounds of base closings, as lawmakers objected not only to the prospect of taking jobs and dollars out of a region’s economy, but also questioned whether closing the facilities actually achieves the promised savings. Pentagon budget chief Robert Hale acknowledged earlier this month that the department spent $35 billion on the base closure round in 2005, and while it saves $4 billion a year, officials won’t break even until 2018. The expense is largely because a number of new facilities were built even as some were merged and closed. “Would a (base closings) round be effective in providing rapid savings? Unfortunately, history has emphatically told us, no,” Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said during a recent hearing on the Base Realignment and Closures program. “I believe that aggressively moving forward with the BRAC round could significantly harm our military power and their ability to project power.” Currently, the department saves about $8 billion a year on the four rounds that were carried out before 2005. The Pentagon has proposed another round in 2014 that Hale said would save $1 billion to $2 billion a year. Pentagon leaders insist that the military still has nearly 20 percent too many bases and facilities. “There is still excess infrastructure,” Assistant Army Secretary Katherine Hammack told the House Armed Services Committee last month. “I was just on one (base) that had 800 buildings and we were utilizing 300 of them.” Perhaps the most significant cost savings historically opposed by Congress are Pentagon efforts to scale back military retirement benefits, including proposals to increase premiums or co-pays for retirees. “I think there’s a misunderstanding in Congress about what it is that would change,” Harrison said. “They tend to associate changes in retirement benefits with changes to veterans benefits.” But changes to retiree health care would only affect the approximately 17 percent of the service members who stay in the military long enough to qualify for retirement, and those are usually more senior officers who already have a higher income. Veterans’ benefits more often help those with lower incomes, and they are included in the Veterans Affairs Department budget, not the Pentagon’s. Turner faulted department leaders for some of the problems with those broader issues. “I think on policy shifts you need a more holistic approach, and the Pentagon usually doesn’t engage Congress in discussions of finding cuts or program changes. They send them up as missiles for Congress to deal with, instead of using a deliberative approach.” Harrison said the Pentagon needs to do a better job explaining and selling its arguments for such politically unpalatable spending cuts. “If you actually try to do smart targeted reductions, like closing bases, like actually reducing the size of the workforce, targeted cuts have winners and losers,” Harrison said. “And Congress has not been willing to make those tough decisions.” As a result, he said, lawmakers resort to broader, across-the-board cuts, such as the furloughs. “It spreads pain across evenly,” he said. “So everyone can wash their hands of it.”
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USA Today April 23, 2013 Pg. 3

Survey: More Women In Military Report Sex Abuse

By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Roughly one out of five military women say they were victims of unwanted sexual contact by another servicemember since joining the military, according to a Pentagon health survey conducted in 2011 and released Monday. The highest rate of sexual abuse was in the Marine Corps: Nearly 30% of women said they suffered unwanted sexual contact by another military member. Close behind were the Army and Navy, each with about 24% of women raising the issue. The rates of sexual abuse appear to be significantly higher than similar survey findings from 2008, although the Pentagon changed the way it conducted the 2011 survey of 34,000 servicemembers, so comparisons are difficult. However, questions about unwanted sexual contact were virtually identical in both surveys. In 2008, 11% to 12% of female soldiers and sailors said they were victims of unwanted touching, along with 17% of women who were Marines. About 29,000 troops were surveyed in 2008. The survey results, combined with other recent research, “shows sexual assault is a persistent problem in the military,” said Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office. “We realize we have more to do.” The results surface at a time when a growing number in Congress are concerned about sexual assault and harassment in the military, and the low rate of criminal complaints vs. a high rate of sexual assaults recorded in surveys such as the one released Monday. “Obviously, this report is very alarming,” says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the personnel subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. She is working on legislation that would remove from the chain-of-command the decision to file charges in a felony case, including rape or other sexual assault. Military leaders oppose the changes she is seeking. The Pentagon has launched several initiatives in the last several months aimed at assisting sexual assault victims, including expanding reporting options and prevention and response support services, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith says. The Pentagon surveys tens of thousands of servicemembers every three years on dozens of health-related issues. The 2011 survey came at the 10-year anniversary of the nation going to war in the wake of 9/11, offering a means to track the impact of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with results from surveys conducted in 2005 and 2008. However, the Pentagon elected to change how the 2011 survey was conducted, said Mark Mattiko, a Coast Guard official discussing the survey Monday. As a result, some questions were worded differently and some problems were defined differently. In addition, the 2011 survey was conducted online, not in person. A higher rate of troops declined to participate, increasing from 28% for the in-person surveys of 2008 to 78% in 2011 survey. The Pentagon stands by the validity of the 2011 results.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 15

In The Loop

The Foreign Policy Shuffle

By Al Kamen
Still looking for a senior post in the second Obama term? There are many possibilities at the Commerce and State departments, we’ve noted, but get those résumés in quick. We reported in 2009 that Mark Lippert, who had been Obama’s top foreign policy aide in the Senate and briefly White House deputy national security adviser, was returning to military service. (Our colleague Bob Woodward reported that Lippert’s departure owed to friction between him and Gen. James Jones, the former national security adviser.) Obama said then that Lippert was “a close friend” who “will always have a senior foreign policy position in this White House when he chooses to return to civilian life.” Two years later, Obama named Lippert assistant secretary of defense for Asia. On Friday, after only a year in that job, Lippert was tapped by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to be his chief of staff. (Coordination with White House policy should be quite seamless.) While Lippert’s top deputy, Peter Lavoy, may move up, the promotion opens that job for now. Other senior posts involving East Asia and trade matters are open, observes our pal Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report. The National Security Council’s senior director for Asia, Danny Russel, is in line to be assistant secretary of state for East Asia, and Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman may be back in the mix for U.S. trade rep, Nelson notes.
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Reuters.com April 22, 2013

U.S. Sending More Medics To Guantanamo As Hunger Strike Grows

By Jane Sutton, Reuters
MIAMI–The U.S. military is sending additional medical personnel to the Guantanamo prison camp, where more than half the captives have joined a hunger strike to protest their open-ended detention, a camp spokesman said on Monday. Reinforcements numbering fewer than 40 will arrive by the end of April, said Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a spokesman for the detention operation at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in southeastern Cuba. House said the new arrivals would include a doctor, nurses, corpsmen and medics, who will supplement the 100 medical personnel already on duty. Navy hospital corpsmen and Army medics are trained to provide emergency care and basic medical services. “There was no specific trigger, other than the growing number of detainees that have chosen to hunger strike,” House said. The U.S. military counted 84 of the 166 prisoners as hunger strikers on Monday and was force-feeding 16 of them liquid meals through tubes inserted in their noses and down into their stomachs. Six were hospitalized for observation, House said. Hunger strikes have occurred at Guantanamo since shortly after the United States began detaining suspected al Qaeda and Taliban captives there in January 2002. The current hunger strike began in early February, after guards seized photos and other belongings during a cell search. Prisoners said the guards had also mistreated their Korans during the search, which the U.S. military denies. The military has declined to say what prompted the cell searches but similar searches have been conducted in the past. Though the cell search was the immediate trigger, military officials and lawyers for the prisoners have said the protest generally reflects frustration with the failure to resolve the prisoners’ fate. Most have been held for more than a decade without charge or trial and Congress has blocked Obama administration efforts to close the camp. “It’s escalated because the men are desperate and they’ve hit a breaking point,” said Carlos Warner, a federal public defender from Ohio who is part of a team representing 11 Guantanamo prisoners. “Really what is behind all this is the president abandoned his promise to close Guantanamo. The men know that, they’re desperate.” Forty-three prisoners had joined the hunger strike by April 13, when guards in riot gear swept through a communal prison and forced the detainees into one-man cells where they could be better monitored. Camp officials said the detainees had covered the security cameras and windows, blocking guards’ view. The number refusing meals has grown steadily since then, and two prisoners tried to kill themselves by making nooses with their clothing, House said. Lawyers for the prisoners have said the hunger strike is more widespread than the military acknowledges, with between 100 and 130 detainees taking part. More than half of Guantanamo’s prisoners have been cleared for release but Congress has put stringent restrictions on transfers. About two-thirds of those cleared for release are Yemenis and the Obama administration has halted repatriations to their homeland because of instability there.
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Los Angeles Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 6

Soldier: ‘I Just Did It Out Of Rage’

A U.S. Army sergeant pleads guilty in the shooting deaths of five fellow service members in Iraq.

By Kim Murphy
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. — U.S. Army Sgt. John Russell pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of five fellow service members and the attempted murder of another in Iraq in 2009 after the government agreed not to seek the death penalty. Russell, 48, was dispassionate and matter-of-fact as he gave his first public account of his methodical march with an M-16 rifle through the Camp Liberty combat stress center — the only mass killing of Americans by a U.S. serviceman during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just did it out of rage, sir,” he told the judge, Col. David Conn, as he described walking from room to room, firing at mental health workers and patients. “What I remember most was I just wanted to kill myself. One hundred percent, I had decided to kill myself.” Family members of two of the victims listened in the courtroom. The mother of Pfc. Michael Yates Jr. broke down and had to leave as Russell calmly described chasing her son to the mental health clinic’s front door and fatally shooting him in the chin after Yates grabbed a gun to try to stop him and found it unloaded. The burly sergeant, wearing a green dress uniform, detailed what was going through his mind as he fired his rifle, and his attempts in the days before that to get help. Russell said he was convinced his uncontrollable anger — resulting from an otherwise routine work dispute — stemmed from mental problems he had long been battling. With a family history of depression, Russell’s case was severe, doctors said, tinged with “psychotic features” and post-traumatic stress disorder. A recent scan found that, possibly due to previous injuries, the areas of Russell’s brain that govern impulse control and fear were not functioning properly. After a confrontation with his commanding lieutenant over the workplace issue, Russell said, “I personally cannot remember being more angry at any point in my life.” Russell said he was unable to sleep and became convinced that members of his unit were out to ruin him. He saw at least two mental health providers who treated him harshly instead of helping him, Russell said, and gradually “realized I didn’t want to be alive anymore.” He went to his last appointment, with Army Lt. Col. Michael Jones, a psychiatrist at the Camp Liberty combat stress clinic. “I said he needed to either legitimately help me or send me back to my unit so I could kill myself,” he recounted. Jones, he said, “leaned over very close to me” and put his hands on both sides of Russell’s face. “He said, ‘You’re fixed.’ ” Russell said he walked out with Jones following him, and in the parking lot “he was yelling at me, and I was yelling back.” “I looked up and said, ‘It’s all right, sir. You made your choice.’… He had made the decision not to help me, which means it was all right for me to kill myself…. He replied, ‘No soldier, you made your decision.’ ” Back at his unit, Russell said, he seized a fellow serviceman’s weapon and vehicle with the intent of killing himself. “I wanted the pain to stop,” he said. “I was crying and saying goodbye to my wife and my dogs.” But as he drove through traffic looking for a place to do it, he found himself growing increasingly angry at Jones for supposedly wanting him to commit suicide. He found himself driving back to the clinic. He parked in front and walked around to the back of the building, and through an open window he saw Army Maj. Matthew Houseal, the lead psychiatrist, whom he didn’t know. “He was facing the window, reading a piece of paper,” Russell said. “He didn’t see you?” the judge asked. “No, sir.” “And you took an aimed shot, and hit him in the head?” “Yes, sir.” “Why did you do that?” “I don’t know, sir…. I just did it out of rage, sir.” Russell claimed he couldn’t remember many of the killings. He did remember killing Yates, who had tried unsuccessfully to defend himself. “He was running away from me at the time I shot him, sir…. I chased after him and shot him,” Russell said. Prosecutors have scheduled a May 6 hearing to present evidence that the killings were premeditated — a step up from Russell’s second-degree plea. Such a finding would carry a minimum sentence of life in prison. The defense will present evidence that although Russell was sane enough to be held responsible for the crimes, he suffered from a substantial degree of mental impairment that couldn’t have allowed him to plan them. The outcome could determine whether Russell is ever eligible for parole. Thomas Springle, whose brother, Navy Cmdr. Keith Springle, was one of the five slain, said he was relieved that Russell pleaded guilty to the killings but frustrated that the Army had waited four years to bring the case to a court-martial. “One of the benefits of how long this has drug out and how poorly the Army’s handled it is we’re to the point of having no expectations,” he said. “I won’t be shocked with any outcome.”
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Reuters.com April 23, 2013

In New Mexico Desert, Drone Pilots Learn The New Art Of War

By Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico — The tide of war may be receding, as President Barack Obama is fond of saying, but U.S. military demand for unmanned drones and their remote pilots is growing. Here in the New Mexico desert, the U.S. Air Force has ramped up training of drone operators – even as the nation increasingly debates their use and U.S. forces prepare to leave Afghanistan. “Every combatant commander in the world is asking for these things. Down in Southcom, Africom, Pacom, they’re all asking for these assets, so it is in very high demand,” said Lt. Col. Mike Weaver, 16th Training Squadron commander at Holloman Air Force Base, referring to the military’s Southern, Africa and Pacific commands. Weaver is an example of a fighter jet pilot turned pilot of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or RPA, as the Air Force insists on calling drones. He flew F-15 fighter jets over Iraq and, after those squadrons were drawn down, trained on drones and flew them over Afghanistan. “With the growth of the RPAs being what it is, a fast-growing industry in the Air Force really, you’ve got pilots coming from all different walks of life to fill the shoes,” Weaver, clad in a green flight suit, said in his office here. The use of drones to target and kill individuals has become increasingly controversial, and lawmakers have questioned Obama’s legal justifications for using them to kill militants overseas who are U.S. citizens. Obama has promised more transparency and, officials say, he and CIA Director John Brennan are deciding whether to remove the spy agency from the drone business and leave it to the Pentagon. “Things are moving in that direction – moving more of these (CIA) operations to the military,” a U.S. official told Reuters. On Tuesday, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee will hold a rare public hearing on the administration’s drone policy. The Holloman base is a 90-minute drive from El Paso, Texas, through desert and low-lying scrub, on a road where a handful of vehicles would be considered rush hour. In this sparsely populated expanse near Alamogordo and the dunes of the White Sands Missile Range, the military has expanded training over the last four years on the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft made by General Atomics. At the Holloman “schoolhouse,” there will be 678 pilot and sensor operator students for fiscal year 2013 that started in October, up from 136 in 2009, when training was done solely on the Reaper. About two years ago, the Air Force established a special category, 18x, for drone pilots who came into training having never flown a manned military aircraft. Right up front, Weaver explains why pilots bristle at the use of the word drone, which in the Air Force refers to targets that pilots practice shooting down. “We do not like the name ‘drones’ because it has the connotation that it is this autonomous machine out there operating.” Drone pilots make up less than 10 percent of Air Force pilots, but the service says in recent years it has trained more pilots to fly drones than fighters and bombers combined – 350 drone pilots in fiscal year 2011 compared with a total of 250 fighter and bomber pilots. RPA pilots have similar physical requirements as military pilots of manned aircraft and go through an initial flight training course on small civilian aircraft in Pueblo, Colorado, a Holloman spokeswoman said. At the end of 2012 there were 1,280 active duty Air Force pilots flying drones, compared with 300 in December 2007. Other military services also fly a variety of unmanned aircraft. Previously, “the top dogs went to F-15s, and that has since changed because there is no air war,” Weaver said. “The fighter track is just not as popular as it used to be.” An 18x student gets over a year of training before flying a mission overseas, compared to two years training to become a fighter pilot. For already established military pilots the drone training is about 6 months, but it is not necessarily easier for them. “We’ve had guys with pilot wings wash out of this,” Weaver said. The Pentagon earlier this month scrapped a proposed new medal to honor drone pilots and cyber warriors after an uproar over a decision to rank it above some medals given to service members wounded or killed in battle. Personnel who remotely fly the CIA’s drones and press the trigger on the weapons also come from the military, but they operate under the authorities that govern the spy agency’s covert operations, sources said on condition of anonymity. Supporters of moving the program to the military say the CIA would then fully focus on intelligence gathering and analysis. Any shift would occur gradually, to iron out issues such as whether the CIA should continue conducting drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, which is not a declared war zone. The military uses drones for missions such as providing air cover for ground troops, striking enemy snipers, or detecting homemade bombs. Fresh footprints or other disturbances in remote areas can be detected by comparing images captured by drones. Until 2009 all U.S. military drone operations were conducted from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, but now they have spread to Cannon, Ellsworth, and Whiteman Air Force bases, located in New Mexico, South Dakota and Missouri, respectively. The aircraft take off from bases in the regions where they operate. Training at Holloman started in 2009. Italian and British militaries send students to the training center, and the French and Germans have also shown an interest. It takes a two-member crew to operate a drone: a pilot, who is an officer, flies the plane and launches the missile, and a sensor operator, who is enlisted, directs the camera equipment. Crews work in shifts because the drones can fly for 14-24 hours. The lethally named Predator and Reaper aircraft look like silver-hooded flying reptiles with a sensor sphere under the “head” that operates as the eyes. The “cockpit” from which the aircraft is flown is in a tan trailer with no windows and two giant air-conditioning hoses pumping air to cool the computers. On the Holloman base, the trailers are behind their own fenced area with razor wire and access restricted by a combination lock. Inside the trailer, two chairs face about a dozen screens in total, including some that can tap into top information classified as secret and top secret. The feel is of an isolation chamber, with no outside distractions. “This is a sterile cockpit environment,” Weaver says. There is even a special knock if someone wants to enter. A pilot who previously flew manned jets said she wished the drones offered a broader view, like the cockpit of a manned plane so the surrounding area could be seen. “Now I look at the ground all the time,” she said, requesting her name not be used. Weaver said the job is definitely not like playing video games. “You see (targets) running and you can hear them sometimes, the fear in their voice. It’s not a video game.”
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New York Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 7

Kerry To Host Afghans And Pakistanis

By Michael R. Gordon
BRUSSELS — Secretary of State John Kerry will host a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday with top Afghan and Pakistani leaders to try to foster cooperation over the stalled reconciliation process with the Taliban and other thorny issues, American and Afghan officials said Monday. The meeting will be held the day after NATO foreign ministers gather to discuss the alliance’s role in Afghanistan after 2014, among other issues. President Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi will represent the Afghan side. Pakistan will be represented by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief, and Jalil Abbas Jilani, Pakistan’s foreign secretary. “This is the year of transition,” Mr. Kerry told a gathering of American diplomats here, referring to NATO’s plans to progressively hand over the responsibility for security by the end of 2014. “This is the critical year in Afghanistan.” He added, “We are going to have a trilateral and try to talk about how we can advance this process in the simplest, most cooperative, most cogent way so that we wind up with both Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s interests being satisfied — but most importantly with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.” Mr. Karzai has complained that Pakistan is not helping to bring the Taliban into the political reconciliation process, a charge Pakistan denies. The notably tense relationship between Mr. Karzai and General Kayani has been seen as an obstacle in efforts to ensure Afghan stability ahead of national elections next year. Pakistan’s cooperation is also critical as the United States seeks to negotiate an agreement with the Afghan government that would allow some American forces to operate in the country after 2014. Mr. Kerry has considerable experience with each side. During a recent trip to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, he met with Mr. Karzai and helped smooth American-Afghan relations after a rocky period in which the Afghan president made a series of harsh comments about American policy. Mr. Kerry also knows General Kayani well and recently met with him in Jordan. Several diplomats said that while they did not expect reconciliation with the Taliban to happen over the next year, the Afghans hoped to get “some reconciliation” in advance of the elections so that people would be able to vote safely in some of the historically insecure areas of the country. “We’re now less than a year from the elections, and we all want to see some movement,” a Western official said in Kabul. Alissa J. Rubin contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.
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Agence France-Presse April 23, 2013

Afghan Taliban Say Foreign Captives Are Well

By Agence France-Presse
A group of foreigners abducted by Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan are well and have been moved to a “safe area” inside the country, a spokesman for the militants said Tuesday. The Taliban leadership will decide what to do with the group, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. Eight Turks, a Russian, a Kyrgyz man and an Afghan were seized after their helicopter made a forced landing on Sunday. “They have been moved to a safe area, they have no health problem and they are fine. They are inside Afghanistan,” Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location. The Mi-8 helicopter carrying Turkish road engineers landed in Azra district of Logar province south of Kabul, a hotbed of Taliban activity. The Taliban on Monday claimed that nine of the group were Americans and two were Afghan interpreters, but appeared Tuesday to back away from that assertion. “We are still receiving information but initial information obtained from our mujahedeen (holy warriors) said that they were American,” the spokesman said. “We will have to wait for more information.” Asked what would happen to the group, he said: “The Taliban leadership will decide.”
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New York Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 3

Shrinking Europe Military Spending Stirs Concern

By Steven Erlanger
BRUSSELS — Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany’s entire military budget, endangering the alliance’s viability, its mission and its relationship with the United States. That was two years ago. Since then, with the Afghan war winding down and pressure from the European Union to limit budget deficits, Europe has only cut deeper. Now, as President Obama wrestles with his own huge budget deficit and military costs, the responsibility for keeping NATO afloat has fallen disproportionately onto the United States, an especially untenable situation as priorities shift to Asia. The United States finances nearly three-quarters of NATO’s military spending, up from 63 percent in 2001. And yet among the alliance’s 28 nations, experts note, only the United States, Britain and Greece are meeting NATO’s own spending guidelines of 2 percent of gross domestic product. Even Britain and France — the two leading European nations willing to project military might — are slipping further. France says that by 2014 it may cut deeper still — to just 1.3 percent of G.D.P., down from 1.9 percent this year. By comparison, the United States spent 4.8 percent of its G.D.P. on the military in 2011. In 2012, for the first time, military spending among Asian nations, in particular China, exceeded that of the Europeans. “We are moving toward a Europe that is a combination of the unable and the unwilling,” said Camille Grand, a French military expert who directs the Foundation for Strategic Research. “European countries are continuing to be free riders, instead of working seriously to see how to act together.” Increasingly, without United States assistance, military experts said, Europe’s armed forces have trouble carrying out basic operations as its dwindling financial and political commitment has derailed multiple initiatives intended to make the continent more self-reliant. NATO’s deputy secretary general, Alexander R. Vershbow, a former senior Defense Department official, said that “the financial crisis has been corrosive to the alliance” and that relations between the European Union and NATO remained “dysfunctional.” Even as Britain and France have boasted of operations in Libya and Mali, those interventions have revealed Europe’s weakness more than its strength. In Libya, the United States supplied intelligence, drones, fighter and refueling aircraft, ammunition stocks and missiles to destroy air defenses, and in Mali the French required American intelligence, drones, and refueling and transport aircraft. Senior American officials have warned that unless European countries spend more on defense, they risk “collective military irrelevance.” A senior American official said that Washington was eager for partnership in the Middle East and Asia, but that “Europe’s decision to abdicate on defense spending increasingly means it can’t take care of itself, and it can’t be a valuable partner to us.” While the United States would like to be able to rely more on its European allies, many experts doubt that even the strongest among them, Britain and France, could carry out their part of another Libya operation now, and certainly not in a few years. Both are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent. “Either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner,” a senior American official said. The challenge is particularly acute as NATO pulls its forces out of Afghanistan after a long, wearying and unsatisfying war, with results widely seen as fragile, even unsustainable. After Afghanistan, with Europeans looking inward and the Russian threat considered more rhetorical than real, some wonder once more about the real utility of NATO. James M. Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, thinks that NATO has some considerable soul-searching ahead if its European members become increasingly unwilling to operate abroad. “If NATO isn’t outward looking, it’s got nothing to do,” he said. “It can’t go back to managing a threat from Russia, because it’s not a real threat.” A decade of halting European efforts to create a Common Security and Defense Policy has yielded little. A NATO Response Force, agreed to in 2002, was supposed to be an all-terrain rapid reaction force, with rotating membership for land, air, naval and special forces, ready to go anywhere and do most anything with at least 13,000 troops. But it has never been used, except in part to add security to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2004 Afghan elections and to provide disaster relief. The European Union had a 1999 goal of 60,000 troops available for battle in a “Eurocorps.” That has been quietly abandoned, replaced by battle groups of 1,500 to 2,500 troops, also on a rotating basis among the many and differently equipped member states. The “lead” country is supposed to take the political risk and provide most of the troops and most of the money. “Not every battle group has been what it’s made out to be,” said Tomas Valasek, a defense expert and president of the Central European Policy Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, with diplomatic understatement. “Some are more ready than others.” But the will to participate has also declined. While the intent was to have two battle groups, a shortage of countries willing to participate has meant a quiet halving of ready forces to one battle group. There is also a French-German brigade, formed in 1987, of some 5,000 men, which proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day. But it, too, has remained unused. When the French wanted to use it for Mali, the Germans objected. “It’s given military cooperation a bad name,” Mr. Valasek said. The brigade was supposed to be the foundation for the Eurocorps, the abandoned goal of 60,000 troops ready to deploy for two months, but the reality has been embarrassing. The Germans also objected to fighting in Libya, and even the European Union’s effort to come up with 550 military trainers to help reconstruct the Malian Army became a slow slog of negotiations and preparations; the first of those trainers has only now arrived. There have been many discussions of how smaller European countries can share capabilities, the way the Baltic States do, and the Dutch and Belgians do for naval training and ship purchasing. There is an old debate about whether some countries will give up their own capabilities — air forces or navies, for example — so long as partners agree to protect them. “The way forward is to permanently pool training, procurement, logistics and maintenance,” Mr. Valasek said. “We won’t find any more money any time soon.” In the meantime, a lack of procurement means a steady decline as older weapons systems become obsolete. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of NATO member Estonia, said that “it’s time for a serious rethink about security policy.” The United States “has made it clear that it won’t continue to pay what is now 75 percent of all NATO military spending,” he said. “That should be sufficient for the European members of NATO to understand that this can’t work as now,” especially with the rise of China. A Western European ambassador to NATO said that “we need to think more about how to share the burden and rebalance it, both in decision-making and responsibility,” especially with the pivot to Asia. France, he said, sees the pivot “as an opportunity, while the East Europeans see it as a threat.” After Afghanistan, he said, “we need an adult conversation about rebalancing.” James B. Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser, now dean of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, said that Washington could cope. “There’s less strategic focus on the remaining security problems in Europe itself,” which he described as mostly residual, including the Balkans and a post-Soviet equilibrium. That means Washington will not put more resources into Europe, especially as it concentrates on China. But on broader strategic challenges, including China, Washington “likes the partnership with Europe for political legitimacy, which is not a function of its military capacity,” he said. European political support allows the United States to take a broader position in East Asia that is not simply bilateral. No one knows where the next crisis will emerge, Mr. Steinberg said, but it is useful to have NATO there, even acting as a limited coalition, as in Libya. If the United States represents 75 percent of NATO spending, “that’s a modest price to pay when the next crisis comes along.” Whatever NATO’s weaknesses, “if it were gone, it would be very, very hard to recreate.”
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. C1

At Arlington, Keeping Faith With A Hero Of A Long-Ago War

By Greg Jaffe
The three battalion commanders have come to see the fourth. His remains are laid out inside a flag-draped casket, loaded on a caisson and pulled by four black horses. As the commanders start their walk through Arlington National Cemetery, the day couldn’t be more beautiful. A warm spring breeze rustles the trees. The sky is blue. The steady rhythm of the horses’ hooves sets the pace. Sometimes war can seem elegiac. Even poetic. The three commanders have never met the soldier in the casket, but they know of him: Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., who led the same battalion that they commanded in Afghanistan through one of the most disastrous battles of the Korean War and whose war ended in an unmarked grave near North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir. They had shared the story of Faith’s brave and hopeless fight with their own men as they prepared to go to Afghanistan. He was their ideal, more myth than man. Sixty-two years ago, he had been them. So when the Pentagon announced this month that it had identified Faith’s remains and that he would receive a hero’s burial at Arlington, the three quickly decided to attend. The pace slows as the funeral cortege climbs a steep hill. Col. Chris Cavoli looks to his left, down the long, grassy rise toward Section 60, where the Afghanistan and Iraq war dead are buried. “Do you have any here?” he asks. Cavoli lost 20 soldiers during the battalion’s first Afghanistan tour in 2006 and 2007. “All mine went home,” says Lt. Col. Kenny Mintz, who suffered 14 dead in 2011. “Same with me,” says Col. Mark O’Donnell, who lost six in 2009. Five of the 20 soldiers killed under Cavoli’s command are buried at Arlington, including one who was killed by mortar fire in 2006. On Sundays, when Cavoli stops by the cemetery, he almost always sees that soldier’s mother, sitting on a blanket near the headstone and sharing a picnic lunch with her deceased son. A few rows away is the grave of another. “My boys can pick out Joe Fenty’s gravestone faster than I can,” Cavoli says. Fenty had been his best friend. When his body was loaded onto a Chinook helicopter, Cavoli tucked a rosary into the plastic body bag. The funeral procession stops near a small, gnarled tree. Thirty-nine members of Faith’s family cluster around the grave site as the Old Guard soldiers slide the casket off the caisson and carry it toward the grave. It is a strange kind of funeral. There are no tears, no grieving widows and no anguished children. There are no family members still alive who really knew Faith well. The battle at Chosin Reservoir was a disaster for U.S. Army troops and Marines. Temperatures plunged to 35 degrees below zero. Faith’s men were poorly trained, ill-equipped and largely abandoned by their higher headquarters. Icicles of blood hung off the bodies of dead and wounded American soldiers. For four days, they fought to stay alive. On the fifth day, Faith led his men on a desperate retreat. Enemy troops pounded their fleeing column. U.S. warplanes mistakenly hit them with napalm. Faith charged a Chinese roadblock armed with only a pistol and hand grenades. Shrapnel tore through his chest. He died alone. War at its least poetic — surely that’s what that day was. Now, on this day, soldiers wear neatly pressed wool uniforms with brass buttons that sparkle in the sun. The sound of a lone Army bugler playing taps vibrates through the air. An Army chaplain says a prayer before Faith’s remains are lowered into the ground. A two-star general kneels at the feet of Faith’s daughter, who was 4 when her father died, and hands her an American flag from his casket, tightly folded into a triangle. Barbara Broyles is a grandmother now, in a black dress and pearls, and she smiles and poses for pictures with the three commanders. Cavoli isn’t sure what to say to her. “God bless,” he says, “and congratulations.” There is a moment of awkward silence before she thanks him. A few Korean War veterans mix with the mourners at the grave site. One old soldier sits on a white marble headstone. Another clutches a typed account of the Chosin battle that he wants to share with Faith’s family. “Did you ever serve with Colonel Faith?” O’Donnell asks another of them, hoping for some special, on-the-ground insight into the legend of Don Faith. “Fortunately, I got there about three months after he was killed,” the old man says. “They got their asses kicked.” The burial is over, and the mourners climb into Army vans that have assembled to carry them out of the cemetery. The three commanders decide to walk. A few hundred yards from Faith’s grave, they pause to talk to Col. James Gray, an 88-year-old veteran of Chosin. Gray’s uniform hangs loose on his bony frame. A spider’s web of broken red veins spreads across his pale cheeks. Sweat drips from his white hair. “I was with Task Force Faith,” he says. “I served with him for the duration.” His deep, insistent baritone booms through the now-empty cemetery. “It was five days of hell,” he says. The three commanders keep walking until Gray is a small dot in the distance. Five days of hell. They got their asses kicked. A gentle breeze. A warming sun. As the three commanders shake hands and say goodbye, they wonder: How long will it be before their war becomes something that is celebrated by strangers in a cemetery on a beautiful spring day?
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Wall Street Journal April 23, 2013 Pg. B1

Cut Defense? A Fight Begins

By Dion Nissenbaum
WASHINGTON—One of the Pentagon’s biggest contractors is launching a lobbying campaign this week to rescue a venerable Army vehicle line from shrinking spending and shifting military priorities. Executives from BAE Systems PLC and dozens of its suppliers are heading to Washington, D.C., where they will exhort lawmakers to divert millions of dollars to a York, Penn., plant to continue work on the Army’s fleet of Bradley fighting vehicles. The U.K.-based company’s campaign will be one of the first by defense contractors that are expected to turn to supporters in Congress this spring to undo military spending decisions. Lawmakers from both major parties are motivated to protect local jobs, even if it means forcing the Pentagon to keep military programs it wants to eliminate because of spending cuts or troop reductions. “Every single piece of equipment affected by the drawdown will see some sort of street fight to keep the production lines open,” said Gordon Adams, a former White House budget official who now is an international relations professor at American University here. “This is a classic service-contractor duel.” Faced with a glut of gear, budget cuts and plans to trim the size of the Army, the military effectively wants to enact a three-year suspension in work on the Bradley vehicles. The armored vehicles cost about $3.1 million apiece and have fallen out of favor as tougher alternatives have arisen. BAE worries that the decision could mean the death knell for the Bradley line and force the company to lay off more than 250 of its York plant’s 1,250 workers. The company estimates it would cost up to $700 million to restart the Bradley production lines if the work is halted for three years and all the suppliers find other work. “If we don’t find a way to mitigate the shutdown between now and midsummer, we are reaching…the-line-of-no return,” said Mark Signorelli, BAE’s vice president of vehicle systems. This week’s push won’t be the first such campaign by the defense contractor. In past efforts, BAE succeeded in convincing Congress to override Army requests to limit spending and nearly double the amount of money for the Bradley line, to more than $280 million now. The company wants to keep the Bradley production line in York running long enough to give them time to find other buyers for its transports around the world. Sen. Bob Corker, (R., Tenn.) is among those supporting the drive to protect the defense industry jobs. BAE Systems operates an ammunition plant in Kingsport, Tenn. “I realize that we have to come up with savings and make difficult decisions about defense, but I think, in this case, there are other places to find savings,” said Mr. Corker. The battle comes as the U.S. military shifts its focus more toward Asia and as the Afghanistan war near an end, prompting the Army to reinvent itself. The battle over the Bradley is part of a larger conflict over the future of the Army. That branch of the military is currently planning to cut its force size to 490,000 personnel from 562,000 over the next seven years. And that number could drop even further. As the number of soldiers drops, so does the need for armored vehicles to protect them. Ashley Givens, an Army spokeswoman declined to discuss the Bradley, but said in an email that the “industrial base is critical to the Army’s success” and that the military is engaged with contractors to maintain “a robust and healthy combat vehicle industrial base.” At its peak, BAE had 3,000 workers producing Bradley fighting vehicles at the York facility. That number has fallen to the current 1,250. The impact will hit hundreds of smaller companies that provide BAE with support for the Bradley line. BAE estimates that nearly 600 companies with upward of 7,000 workers in 44 states support the Bradley. Among those suppliers is AMZ Corp., a small business in York that does finishing work on Bradley vehicle parts. If the Army plan goes ahead, the company could be forced to quickly lay off a third of its 63 workers, said AMZ owner Jeff Adams. “We’ll be able to survive in some form, but you’ve got little businesses like us that don’t have a lot of financial depth or stability,” he said. While the Bradley was hailed as a lifesaver during the first Gulf War in Iraq, the military gradually reduced their combat role as hidden bombs took an increasing toll on the armored vehicles across that nation. BAE is currently competing with General Dynamics Corp.’s Land Systems unit for a contract to produce the Bradley replacement vehicle. But that project is already facing delays, and the replacement program is facing increased scrutiny in Congress, where lawmakers are questioning spending on the program. –Bob Tita contributed to this article.
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Bloomberg.com April 22, 2013

Pentagon Withholding From Lockheed Grows Over Management

By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News
The Pentagon’s withholding of payments from Lockheed Martin Corp. over flaws in a business system used to track costs and schedules for its F-35 fighter has increased to $130 million. The amount held back, equal to 5 percent of periodic billings by the Bethesda, Maryland-based company, has climbed from $47 million in October. The Defense Contract Management Agency first raised concerns in 2007 about internal company data generated for Lockheed’s fighter programs — the F-35, F-22 and F-16 jets. The agency decertified the Pentagon-mandated Earned Value Management System for the contractor’s aircraft operations in October 2010. Withholding will continue until the agency determines Lockheed’s aeronautics unit “has made significant progress to successfully completing” a corrective action plan that the agency approved on March 20, agency spokeswoman Jacqueline Noble said today in an e-mailed statement. Investors and analysts who follow the company have asked Lockheed officials about the status of the Earned Value Management System during quarterly conference calls on earnings. Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, is due to report first-quarter earnings tomorrow. The topic also may come up the next day, during an F-35 hearing by a Senate Armed Services Committee panel convened by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The F-35’s estimated cost for a fleet of 2,443 aircraft has soared to $395.7 billion, up 70 percent from $233 billion in 2001 in current dollars, according to the Pentagon. It’s the most expensive U.S. weapons system. Continued withholding The withholding will continue until at least December, when the company anticipates completing all its corrective actions, Noble said. The agency will conduct a formal review after Lockheed validates that its corrections have worked, she said. Once the Pentagon approves the changes, the money that’s been held back will be paid. Lockheed Martin spokesman Ken Ross said in an e-mailed statement today that the corrective action plan “details the solutions and success criteria for remedying DCMA concerns.” The agency’s acceptance of the plan “means we reached agreement with our customer on a defined path to recertification and sustainable earned value management practices,” Ross said. A Pentagon rule that took effect in August 2011 requires all new contracts to include language spelling out the potential for withholding payments if deficiencies persist with five primary business systems. The requirement, intended to protect taxpayers from overbilling, focuses on systems that companies use to estimate costs for bids, purchase goods from subcontractors, manage government property and materials and track costs and schedule progress. The maximum the Pentagon can withhold from the billings under the regulation is 5 percent, the amount being applied to Lockheed.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 15

Fine Print

Costly Overlap In The Military

By Walter Pincus
Like young schoolchildren wildly chasing a soccer ball, each military service pursues its own intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collection platforms and the analytical systems required to understand the information they’ve gathered. Forget jointness among the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, which all see their futures in their own systems. “In practice, the four services have been intent on acquiring different UAS [unmanned aerial systems] that meet their perceived unique requirements,” said a Congressional Research Service report released last Tuesday. “The result has been excessive costs required for different systems with duplicative or overlapping capabilities.” While some efforts at centralization have been made, the CRS found “there is a strong likelihood that separate needs and concerns that affect the current systems will not disappear even if one official has a new and expansive charter.” These new systems provide U.S. policymakers with endless information about foreign countries, from their military capabilities to their political leadership. They also give the U.S. military, from regional commanders to squad leaders on the ground, tactical data about enemies across the seas or around the corner. As demonstrated last week in Boston, ISR can be adapted to provide information that aids counterterrorism operations at home and abroad. But as the CRS report notes, “the difficulties involved in linking disparate systems together to serve a variety of consumers require different acquisition approaches.” Sampling the ISR-related contract proposals and awards by the Army, Navy and Air Force so far this month gives you a sense of the problem. On April 2, the Army announced it was seeking contractors to develop concept papers for technologies that “support the development of a mobile soldier sensor.” It was to be “cargo pocket sized” and support “both indoor and outdoor ISR missions.” On April 4, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency required a contractor to supply Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft in garrison and at deployed locations with “all personnel, supervision, and related items” for threat warning, communications surveillance and situation awareness. On April 4, the Air Force was forced to extend contracted services supporting South Korea-and California-based, unmanned Global Hawk and manned T-38 and U-2 aircraft carrying out reconnaissance and intelligence missions. One reason for the contract extension, through the end of fiscal 2013, was because of the Air Force-wide civilian hiring freeze cause by the sequester of funds. On April 11, the Naval Special Warfare Group’s training detachment was seeking a contractor who would provide 20 hours of ISR aircraft that would supply full-motion video, close air support and call-for-fire training, plus intelligence and fire support officers on the ground. On April 15, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command sought potential contractors who could provide ground support elements for preflight, in-flight and post-flight data for the unmanned Navy version of the long-range Global Hawk, as well as the manned P-3C and P-8 aircraft, all used in antisubmarine warfare and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions. You see the problem, and it will only continue. With another $2.5 billion in the fiscal 2014 Pentagon budget for purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles, they will become “even more vital to the mission,” according to the Defense Department comptroller’s backup material. That request is below the $4.1 billion in the fiscal 2011 budget, but a look at what is being sought continues to depend on the military service purchasing it and increased complexity of each aircraft and analytic system. The Army next year is continuing development and integration of a universal ground control station and ground-based sense-and-avoid system for its Grey Eagle, a more modern Predator. It is also giving the aircraft a signals intelligence intercept capability. The Air Force wants to procure 12 more of its new Reaper unmanned aircraft (which already has signals intelligence capability) and 12 more ground stations. It also seeks $134 million to develop new radar technology and a new ground station for its Global Hawk. Meanwhile, the Navy wants $375 million for engineering and development of a future version of its Global Hawk. The Marines are looking for $66.7 million to purchase 25 RQ-21, a small tactical unmanned air vehicle developed with the Navy but now considered a Marine program that flies off Navy ships. The Marines also are seeking additional funds for “contractor logistics support for the RQ-21.” Returning to the schoolyard soccer game: As those children grow older, they begin to work together, each knowing his or her role in a joint team effort. When it comes to the U.S. military, what happens may be described as a joint team effort, but each service comes to the field with its own uniform and primarily with its own weapons.
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Bloomberg.com April 22, 2013

Israel Welcomes Hagel, A Friend Bearing Gifts

By Jeffrey Goldberg
A few days ago, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Benny Gantz, pushed back against the idea — which has recently gained much currency among Iran- watchers — that it was too late for his country to act alone against Iran’s nuclear facilities, should sanctions, subterfuge and diplomacy fail. “The IDF has the capability of attacking the nuclear installations by itself,” Gantz said. The general isn’t given to bluster, so this was a noteworthy statement. He felt comfortable making it because he knew that in a few days he would be welcoming to Israel a friend bearing some useful gifts. The friend is the new American secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel. And the gifts? Well, they are gifts the Iranian regime would prefer Israel didn’t possess: advanced radar packages that extend Israel’s ability to see east (and west, north and south, but east is what matters most at the moment), KC-135 refueling tankers, and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft. The tankers will extend the range of Israel’s bombers, and the Ospreys are particularly useful for inserting commandos into enemy territory. The sale of Ospreys (these gifts come with a price tag, but the generous U.S. aid package means they’re subsidized) is particularly notable, because Israel will be the first American ally allowed to buy them. Hagel’s role What is also notable is Hagel’s role in the sale. You remember Hagel, yes? The former senator from Nebraska accused of being an anti-Semite by a columnist in the Wall Street Journal? The foreign policy “realist” who was said to coddle Israel’s terrorist enemies? The appeaser whose appointment, according to Alan Dershowitz, would encourage Iran “to proceed with their development of nuclear weapons without fear of an attack from the United States?” Hagel is now exhibiting his anti-Zionist animus in an unusual way, by spending two days in Israel as the guest of its new hardline defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon (and the reports I’ve received from Israel suggest the two are getting along well). Hagel chose to make Israel his first overseas stop to counter the stream of accusations leveled against him by his opponents. Or, more to the point, by the opponents of his new boss, President Barack Obama, who has also been the target of partisan attacks accusing him of loathing Israel. Obama managed to mostly shut down that line of invective by visiting Israel himself last month, to the general acclaim of Israel’s citizens and leaders. By all accounts — including Israeli accounts — Hagel, like Obama, is deeply interested in enhancing Israel’s military edge in the region, affirming the ironclad alliance between the two nations and bluntly asserting the U.S. position on Iran’s nuclear program. According to Bloomberg News’s Gopal Ratnam, Hagel was asked whether the U.S. was using this weapons sale to signal to Iran that a military strike was on the table. Hagel’s response: “I don’t think there’s any question that it’s another very clear signal to Iran.” In the past, Hagel has made statements on Iran that were substantially more equivocal. So the question is this: Is Hagel just toeing the line of the administration that now employs him? Or is there something else at work? One senior Defense Department official, who requested anonymity to speak freely, suggested to me that Hagel’s now- daily exposure to intelligence concerning Iran’s nefarious activities around the globe has awakened him to the depth of the threat. This seems plausible. When he was outside the administration, Hagel was known for bluntly challenging conventional wisdom (including Israel’s conventional wisdom). Now that he’s inside, he understands — as Obama long ago came to understand — that it isn’t so easy to simply will the Iranian regime to cooperate. Projecting peace The Obama administration is touting the new weapons package as proof of its anti-Iran bona fides. (The Arab allies of the U.S., who fear Iran as much as the Israelis do, will be getting visits by Hagel later this week, and they, too, will be the recipients of expensive weapons-systems upgrades.) But Hagel’s visit to Israel has another purpose, one that serves the interest of peace. Israeli leaders who think the U.S. is hostile to their concerns are more likely to take dangerous action against Iran. Hagel, by visiting, by spending time with military leaders, by expressing an understanding of Israel’s history and its anxieties, will, with any luck, convince his counterparts that he understands why they are so worried, even if he doesn’t agree with them on every aspect of the Iranian threat. It’s one of the oddities of the American-Israeli relationship: A few kind words can have a greater impact than a host of expensive weapons systems. Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 17

The High Price Of A Peace Offering

By Jim Hoagland
Dubai–President Obama has used military muscle and veiled threats to counter North Korea’s rattling of nuclear rockets and Iran’s drive to enrich more uranium faster at the outset of his second term. His lofty ambition of four years ago to curb proliferation through diplomatic engagement lies in ruins. That does not mean that Obama’s nonproliferation ambitions were unworthy or that diplomacy should be abandoned. It does mean that the president must pay more attention to creating the conditions for diplomacy’s effective use. The president appears to have assumed that engineering U.S. retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan would immediately strengthen his hand in dealing with other foreign crises. How else to explain his unshakable confidence in his ability to accomplish his early far-reaching global agenda? The American experience in the wake of Vietnam argues otherwise: The savings and respites brought by strategic retreats come slowly. The crippling doubts they spread among allies manifest themselves immediately and get resolved in the heat of crisis management. So the president had to dispatch B-2 stealth bombers to fly over Seoul to reassure Japan and South Korea that the United States would be there to protect them in case Kim Jong Un went beyond his unexpected verbal tantrums. And after the latest round of international talks with Iran produced only new stalemate, Obama gave final approval last week to a $10 billion arms sales package for Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), each of which opposes Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel termed the arms package a “clear signal” to Iran. But the message was intended more for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — who has made no secret of his disenchantment with Obama’s leadership — than for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian media have derisively dismissed the announcement of the sales as “an incitement to regional conflict.” Hagel is due here in the Emirates on Wednesday to arrange the final details of the complicated arms deal, whose negotiations have not been friction-free and which may wind up reducing Obama’s room to use diplomacy for nonproliferation. This is an unwieldy, lopsided package that will be difficult to manage coherently. The individual pieces make sense of a sort for each of the three nations. But cobbling them together as a political package to defuse opposition from Israel and on Capitol Hill to the Arab states’ purchases is about tactics — and fairly cynical ones at that. The Pentagon will provide Israel with V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor troop transport aircraft, KC-135 refueling planes and surface-to-air missiles. These are weapons that each increase Israel’s ability to mount a raid on Iran — even though Obama has leaned heavily on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid that. Such supplies now inadvertently weaken the only containment strategy that Obama has consistently practiced in the Middle East — the containment of Israel. The administration will also have to manage the strategic slight it has inflicted by having declined, for now, to provide the Saudis and the Emirates with stealthy attack missiles, while calling on them to develop “the capabilities” needed “to address the Iranian threat,” in the words of an administration official speaking anonymously to the New York Times. The UAE, in particular, deserves better treatment than that. It has supported U.S. foreign policy from Afghanistan to North Africa with troops, money, aircraft and the sober responsibility of an ally that can be trusted. But under the Pentagon’s “single-release” policy, any weapon sold to the Emirates must be made available to Saudi Arabia and the four other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, not all of whom clear the same threshold of trust. Saudi Arabia and the UAE had asked for the latest and most powerful stealthy precision-guided air-to-surface AGM-158 missile. But they are being told they will have to settle for a less sophisticated “stand-off ” missile, probably the AGM-88, according to U.S. sources. The AGM-158 missile would be particularly effective in knocking out Iran’s air defense and hitting deeply buried, heavily reinforced nuclear installations if war came. But it has been sold abroad only to Australia and Finland. Israel reportedly has developed its own stealthy missile. This is what what happens when policy has to be made on the run in response to cascading crises. Messages about intentions get blurred to allies and adversaries alike, and uncertainty about U.S. leadership grows. It is a lesson worth absorbing. The writer is a contributing editor to The Post.
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Reuters.com April 22, 2013

Insight

China Consolidates Sea Claims As Asian Diplomacy Struggles

By Manuel Mogato, Reuters
MASINLOC, Philippines–For decades, fishermen along the northwestern Philippine coast treated the teeming fishing grounds of the Scarborough Shoal as their backyard, less than a day’s boat ride away. Now, they see it as a foreign country. “I lost my livelihood when we lost the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese,” said Mario Forones, a 53-year-old who owns three fishing boats that worked the reef for about a dozen years before armed Chinese vessels arrived in force last April. Reuters interviews with fishermen in two coastal Philippine towns – some of whom tried to fish the shoal as recently as this month – show how the Philippines has effectively ceded sovereignty of the reef about 124 nautical miles off its coast after a naval stand-off last year. China’s consolidation and expansion of its grip on the disputed South China Sea looms over a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders in the tiny kingdom of Brunei this week as they try to kickstart stalled efforts to ease one of Asia’s biggest security flashpoints. Beijing claims almost the entire sea as its territory based on historical records, setting it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts. Except for China and Taiwan, all the claimants are members of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Diplomats hope leaders at the two-day ASEAN summit starting on Wednesday can put aside bitter differences that emerged last year and pave the way for China to join a proposed dispute-management mechanism. But the fishermen’s accounts vividly show how China’s expanding, assertive naval reach could be overtaking diplomatic efforts to ease a crisis whose stakes have risen with the U.S. military’s “pivot” to refocus its forces on Asia. In rare first-hand descriptions of the situation at the remote outcrop claimed by both China and the Philippines, the men described being chased off aggressively by large, fast-moving, white Chinese ships armed with guns and rockets. In recent months, they said the Chinese vessels had laid down thick undersea ropes to keep fishing boats out. “I don’t know the specifics of the situation,” said Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked by Reuters to comment on the fishermen’s accounts. “But as you know, the Scarborough Shoal is indisputably part of China’s territory, and China will ensure that its sovereignty over this area is not being violated.” The 10-member ASEAN aims to agree a legally binding Code of Conduct to manage maritime conduct in disputed areas, but prospects for quick progress appear dim. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Reuters in an interview that the summit would mostly be about “making sure that things do not regress”. Even if they agree, China has said it will only join talks when the time is “ripe” and that countries should first build trust by observing a weaker Declaration of Conduct (DOC) signed in 2002, which has so far failed to dampen tensions. Natalegawa accused China of “flouting” the commitment in that agreement to exercise “maximum restraint”. “You are seeing a number of unilateral steps that China has taken that is clearly not in line with the spirit of the DOC,” he said in Jakarta. China says diplomatic efforts were set back by U.S. ally the Philippines’ request in January for a United Nations tribunal to order a halt to Beijing’s activities, such as those at Scarborough Shoal, that it said violated its sovereignty. “Nothing has changed from the Chinese perspective,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “The fact that the Philippines has submitted its claims to the U.N. gives China another pretext not to discuss the Code of Conduct.” Tensions in bathtub As monsoon weather eases and China imposes a unilateral annual fishing ban that has stoked tensions with Vietnam and the Philippines, tensions are likely to grow in coming months. China, which has said it will hold 40 naval exercises in the South China Sea this year, further antagonized Vietnam this month by saying it would allow Chinese tourists to visit the disputed Paracel islands for “sightseeing” trips. Two weeks earlier Hanoi accused Chinese ships of opening fire on a Vietnamese fishing boat, a charge that Beijing denied. China stirred alarm in the region last month by sending four warships to land troops on its southernmost claim — the James Shoal, just 80 km (50 miles) off the Malaysian coast and close to Brunei. The crew of the ships held a ceremony on the shoal, swearing an oath to defend and “build up” the South China Sea and protect China’s sovereignty, state media reported. The show of strength likely ruffled Malaysia, which has taken a more low-key approach than Vietnam and the Philippines over its claims. Regional navies are no match for China, but the United States, which has said it has a national interest in maritime freedom of passage, is beefing up its forces in the region, especially after recent tensions with North Korea. U.S. B-52 and B-2 bombers flew sorties over South Korea in recent weeks and Washington is moving the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system to its Pacific base in Guam. Last week, the United States sent the first of its Littoral Combat Ships, a new class of a coastal warship, on an eight-month deployment to Singapore. “It’s a bathtub and more and more countries are pouring ships into the bathtub,” said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy. “It’s just a matter of time before they bump into one another.” Cat and mouse Tensions over the dispute first peaked last year in the two-month stand-off between China and the Philippines at the Scarborough Shoal. Forones, the fisherman in the coastal town of Masinloc, says he was working at the shoal when the confrontation started. “That was the first time we saw large ships from the two countries appearing at the shoal at the same time. Then our coastguard came and told us to leave because there might be a war … That was the last time we had a bountiful harvest.” Since then, his catch has shrank so much that his wife has switched from selling fish at the local market to selling pork. He said he was considering selling one of his three boats and his delivery truck. The Scarborough shoal is famed among fisherman for its rich waters, packed with turtles and squid as well as fish such as grouper and mackerel. The long monsoon season means it is only accessible by small boats from January to May, giving fish stocks plenty of time to recover each year. Forones and other fishermen still try to fish at the shoal, face a tense cat-and-mouse game with the Chinese ships. “It’s really scary now,” said Miguel Betana, a 45-year-old boat captain, who has fished at the shoal for 15 years. “I have had worse experiences at sea, but being chased by a very fast Chinese ship I was thinking what if the ship rams our boat or if they shoot us. No one will ever find out.” When he was last there in late March, he saw five Chinese ships, four of them sitting at the shoal’s mouth. After being chased off by one armed ship, he said he returned under cover of darkness to resume fishing. Zaldy Godores, a 34-year-old from the town of Santa Cruz, said his boats could no longer fish far from shore because they had lost the protection from storms provided by the shoal. Forones said three of his ships were chased as far as 24 km (15 miles) from the shoal in January. That was when he noticed that the Chinese had submerged an arm-thick rope stretching across the shoal’s mouth to snag boat propellers. “We are like thieves, stealing what really should be our riches,” Forones said. –Additional reporting by Stuart Grudgings in Kuala Lumpur, Randy Fabi and Jonathan Thatcher in Jakarta and Ben Blanchard and Megha Rajagopalan in Beijing
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ForeignPolicy.com April 22, 2013

How About We Take Their Word For It

Do we really want the North Koreans to prove they can launch a nuke with a missile?

By Jeffrey Lewis
“DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low.” Well, it’s not quite 16 words, but this sure created a ruckus. During an April 11 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, quoted this mistakenly unclassified passage from a March 2013 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency entitled Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program. “Dynamic Threat Assessment” is a silly name for an intelligence product. (Can you imagine a “static” threat assessment?) Essentially, the Defense Department has a number of contingency plans — the DIA generates these threat assessments to support the planning process. In theory, these assessments are coordinated through the intelligence community, but DIA is the author. As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has pointed out, others do not agree with what the DIA wrote. Let me walk you through the language and explain what I think this argument is about. (I’ve also posted a Guide for the Perplexed at ArmsControlWonk.com.) Let’s start with the term “moderate confidence.” Moderate confidence, according to a handy chart published with the 2007 National Intelligence Assessment on Iran, “generally means that the information is credibly sourced and plausible but not of sufficient quality or corroborated to warrant a higher level of confidence.” In other words, if the North Koreans, and perhaps a defector or two, say so, and it is not impossible, that’s moderate confidence. The two important phrases are “capable of delivery by ballistic missiles” and “reliability will be low.” “Capable of delivery” refers to size — the mass and dimensions of the warhead. I presume this means the DIA believes North Korea’s warheads are small enough, which is not a surprise. In 1999, the DIA believed that North Korea could manufacture a warhead as light as 750 kilograms. That’s about the weight that a Nodong missile could carry, although it’s still pretty heavy for an ICBM, especially given the need for a couple hundred kilograms of heat shielding. Still, it’s far below the 6,000-kilogram device we dropped on Nagasaki. The issue of reliability refers to whether the warhead will work, particularly after being subjected to the very bumpy ride of missile delivery. In other words, the warheads are small enough, but they may not be tough enough to survive the trip. It seems that this is where the disagreement lies. General Clapper explained that difference in confidence concerns “the actual ability of the North Koreans to make a weapon that will work in a missile…[N]either we nor the North Koreans know whether they have such capability. D.I.A. has a higher confidence level than the rest of the community on that capability. That’s the difference.” At issue seems to be a view that unless the North Koreans prove it to us, we aren’t buying it. Statements by both the Pentagon and DNI emphasize that North Korea has not “fully” demonstrated a nuclear-armed ICBM: Pentagon: “[I]t would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.” Director of National Intelligence: “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile.” It is worth noting that at least one other country has never fully tested its ICBM capabilities: the United States. Yep, that’s right, we’ve never put a nuclear warhead on an ICBM and fired it the full distance. In the 1960s, we had a big debate about this in the United States. Here is how a 1961 Senate Armed Services Committee report explained the situation: Who knows whether an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead will actually work? Each of the constituent elements has been tested, it is true. Each of them, however, has not been tested under circumstances which would be attendant upon the firing of such a missile in anger. By this the committee means an intercontinental ballistic missile will carry its nuclear warhead to great heights subjecting it to intense cold. It will then arch down and upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere subject the nuclear warhead to intense heat. Who knows what will happen to the many delicate mechanisms involved in the nuclear warhead as it is subjected to these two extremes of temperature? (I am indebted to Donald Mackenzie for digging up this gem and publishing it in Inventing Accuracy.) Ultimately, the United States conducted a partial demonstration — something called Operation Frigate Bird. Frigate Bird was the only time the United States fired a live nuclear warhead on a ballistic trajectory. (There was also a series of high-altitude nuclear explosions where the warheads only went up.) This didn’t settle the issue. Barry Goldwater actually campaigned in 1964 warning that absent a full test “we are building a Maginot line of missiles.” He explained in Where I Stand: “The fact is that not one of our advanced ICBMs has ever been subjected to a full test (of all component systems, including warheads) under simulated battle conditions.” At some point, everyone realized that this was an insane conversation to be having and it just sort of went away. The Chinese had the same concern about their nuclear program in the 1960s. Initially they tried driving their warheads over bumpy roads in trucks, trying to simulate the shock and vibrations of flight on a missile. (How would you like to be a Chinese teamster?) Ultimately, the Chinese decided to conduct an operationally realistic test. They put a live nuclear weapon on a DF-2 ballistic missile and fired it across China. What could possibly have gone wrong? Which brings me back to North Korea. Why are we demanding that they show us each and every little increment of progress? Do we really want them to put a live nuclear warhead on a Musudan and fire it over Japan just to shut us up? The North Koreans have preferred to test underground — whether to deny the United States intelligence about their weapons program or out of some heretofore undetected concern for the environment. One of the reasons Clapper was reluctant to share more information about North Korea’s miniaturization program was that he wanted to avoid “further enhancement of Kim Jong Un’s narrative” — something that strikes me as a pretty lousy reason. Let’s not fool ourselves. The North Koreans have said they have miniaturized a warhead, which is certainly plausible given that they’ve taken three shots at it. For what it is worth, I believe the takeaway ought to be not that the harmless North Koreans can never do these things, but that they can and will continue to build a larger, more sophisticated arsenal until we make it worth their while to do something else with their limited resources. Double-dog daring them to prove it, on the other hand, is not helpful. Jeffrey Lewis is director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
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New York Times April 23, 2013 Pg. 22

More Help For Syrian Rebels

There was more horror in Syria over the weekend, where scores of bodies, most of them civilians, were discovered in a Damascus suburb. The victims are believed to have died in a weeklong offensive by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who seems to have no misgivings whatever about a slaughter, including the use of airstrikes and missiles, that has claimed more than 70,000 lives so far during two-and-a-half years of war. Long after Western governments predicted he would be gone, Mr. Assad is hanging on even as his country unravels, deepening sectarian divisions, expanding the fighting across borders and forcing an estimated one million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries. There are increasing fears about whether the country can hold together, whether the fighting will destabilize its neighbors and whether, when all is said and done, extremist groups with connections to Al Qaeda who have been among the best anti-Assad fighters will emerge on top. Eager to find ways to speed Mr. Assad’s fall, or at least change his calculations, President Obama is edging, cautiously but appropriately, toward greater support for the rebels. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Washington would double aid to the opposition’s military wing by providing an additional $123 million in “nonlethal” assistance like body armor and night-vision goggles. Some $385 million in humanitarian aid had already been committed. The president has wisely resisted calls to supply American weapons and to intervene directly. He should continue to do so. Nevertheless, in recent months, the C.I.A. has helped Arab governments and Turkey airlift arms and equipment to the rebels and provided training. The agency also vetted rebel groups to ensure that only moderates receive those supplies. Such caution makes sense, not least because the administration itself is not unanimous on whether more aid is a good thing. Mr. Kerry sees opportunities in the opposition, while Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned of the risks of deeper involvement with opposition groups whose loyalties to the West, and a moderate course, are suspect. A weekend meeting in Istanbul of 11 countries committed to aiding the opposition sought to address some of those problems. Mr. Kerry said donor nations agreed to funnel all aid through the rebel military council to prevent it from falling into the hands of extremist groups. The rebels also renewed their promises to embrace minorities who have backed Mr. Assad, build a pluralistic government and forgo postwar reprisals. Meanwhile, the European Union on Monday eased sanctions to allow European importers to buy oil from the Syrian opposition, which controls some territory with oil deposits. This may have little practical effect given the country’s battered infrastructure, but it could boost the opposition’s credibility and finances. The European Union should think twice about letting its arms embargo expire because that could open the door to Britain and France providing the rebels with lethal aid. Assisting the rebels is not the whole answer. Mr. Obama and Europe should keep trying to persuade Russia to abandon its unconscionable support for Mr. Assad and to work cooperatively to stabilize the region.
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Wall Street Journal April 23, 2013 Pg. 22

A Combatant Education

Jay Carney confuses the issue on interrogating terrorist suspects.

Congratulations to our Canadian friends for foiling another terror plot to bomb civilians, this one an attack on a passenger train. On Monday the Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged two non-citizens with plotting to attack train service in the greater Toronto area under what the RCMP called the “guidance” and “direction” of “al-Qaeda-supported” elements in Iran. The good news is that the plot was exposed before anyone was hurt, unlike in Boston the previous Monday. The plot is nonetheless another reminder that terrorists are increasingly looking to attack soft targets across the Western world that are hard to defend in a free society. The Iran-al Qaeda link is also worth more public attention. It follows the Iranian plot that the Obama Administration exposed in October 2011 to blow up a Saudi diplomat in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. While the RCMP released few details, surveillance and intelligence were probably crucial to pre-empting this attack. Back in Boston, meanwhile, the Justice Department filed a criminal complaint in civilian court Monday against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the marathon bombing. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” explained White House spokesman Jay Carney, rather than declare him an enemy combatant as some (including us) have urged. “Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions.” That point about military commissions is true, but beside the point. No one doubts that Mr. Tsarnaev can be successfully prosecuted in a civilian court. Given the amount of video and other evidence already listed in the criminal complaint, even O.J. Simpson’s prosecutors could win a conviction in this case. Mr. Carney is trying to obfuscate the real issue over enemy combatant status. The point is not to use that status to win a criminal conviction. It is to ensure that the suspect can be interrogated at enough length and with enough thoroughness to prevent a future terror attack and break up any terror networks that he or his brother may have been associated with. One question for Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama is whether they decided against enemy combatant status based on the evidence or their ideology. If they based it on the evidence, that must have been some crack investigation to have determined in three days that the Tsarnaev brothers had no ties to a terror network. Our guess is that investigators still don’t know—which is precisely why interrogation without a lawyer over time might be fruitful. The Administration says young Dzhokhar is cooperating today, but he might not continue to do so once his lawyer gets to him. If we learn there are no terror-network ties, the combatant designation could later be dropped. The likelihood is the Administration never considered enemy combatant status because it opposes the law-of-war paradigm in handling terrorism cases. The necessity of self-defense has caused the President to adopt much of George W. Bush’s antiterror legal architecture, even if he won’t admit it. But whenever he can politically avoid it, Mr. Obama will still opt to treat terrorists like common criminals. They aren’t, as the last week has reminded us.
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Washington Post April 23, 2013 Pg. 16

The Proper Venue

Keeping the Boston Marathon suspect in the criminal justice system makes sense.

THE CHARGING OF BOSTON bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Monday put to an end, as a practical matter, an incipient debate about whether he should be held and questioned as an “enemy combatant.” That’s just as well, because it wasn’t a very intelligent discussion. Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) began calling for Mr. Tsarnaev’s transfer to military detention on Friday night, saying, “It is absolutely vital the suspect be questioned for intelligence-gathering purposes” and that “the least of our worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now.” The first statement reflects a reasonable concern but can be managed by other legal means. The second is breathtakingly shortsighted. It will, in fact, matter greatly whether Mr. Tsarnaev, if he survives his injuries, is held accountable for his alleged crimes — and that the United States is seen by the world as capable of responding to a serious terrorist attack under the rule of law. The Bush administration’s failure to respect the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention against Torture following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, not only gravely damaged U.S. prestige but also gave autocrats around the world an excuse to flout human rights standards in their own pursuit of “terrorism,” real or concocted. We have supported the use of military detention for foreign terrorism suspects captured abroad. But in Mr. Tsarnaev’s case, such a transfer would have been illegal. As Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution has pointed out, Congress has authorized military detention only for militants who are “part of ” or “substantially” supporting al-Qaeda or the Taliban. No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Tsarnaev had such connections; even if he did, his status as a U.S. citizen arrested in the United States means that his detention by the military would be subject to challenge on constitutional grounds. And even if military detention were legal, there is no practical reason to remove Mr. Tsarnaev from the criminal justice system. The evidence against him appears overwhelming, and the federal charges lodged against him Monday, which include using a weapon of mass destruction, could lead to a death sentence. By contrast, the military tribunal system created to try alQaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay has bogged down, with the shameful result that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other architects of the 9/11 attacks have yet to be found guilty or held accountable. On Friday evening, there was legitimate reason for concern that Mr. Tsarnaev might have information about further attacks or accomplices still at large. However, it would not have been necessary to transfer him to military custody to question him about such matters without advising him of his Miranda rights and providing him with legal representation. Supreme Court case law provides a “public safety” exception to normal interrogation rules, and the FBI has interpreted this as giving it relatively broad authority to question terrorism suspects before they are informed of their Miranda rights. In Mr. Tsarnaev’s case, it is not clear that meaningful questioning was possible before his arraignment Monday. But if he recovers from his wounds, U.S. authorities should have sufficient leverage to obtain Mr. Tsarnaev’s cooperation by conventional — and legal — means.
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Fayetteville (NC) Observer April 23, 2013

Bragg, Community Synergy Are In The Spotlight

Army officials came to Fayetteville on Monday to listen to civilians. They heard a strong message: The life of this city and region, including our economy, is thoroughly intertwined with Fort Bragg. Because of budget reductions, the Army must get smaller. Between now and 2017, it will pare away 80,000 soldiers. It will lose eight brigade combat teams. Since the 82nd Airborne gained one of those brigades during the Iraq war, it’s possible that some force reductions will occur here. Our hope, though, is that any cuts in conventional forces will be offset by strong gains in special operations troops, whose skills will be in big demand after everyone else has come home from Afghanistan. About 200 people attended the Army’s listening session in Fayetteville Monday morning. It was one of about 30 such meetings being held across the country, in communities that host Army posts. We doubt that any of those cities and towns want to lose the troops, and the business that they pump into the local economy. But those 80,000 cuts must be found. On Monday, mayors, politicians, business leaders and others made this area’s case. It’s a strong one. Fayetteville and the surrounding region give a lot to the Army, from family support to education to a host of training opportunities outside the bounds of Fort Bragg. And to a great extent, Fort Bragg makes its own case as well. It’s easily the most important Army post in the country, the home of the airborne and special operations troops who are our first responders to trouble spots and disasters around the world. If there is any post that must be kept strong, this is it. Fort Bragg generates almost $11 billion a year in the local economy. It’s impossible to understate how important that is to the region’s economic wellbeing. We’re pleased that so many key members of the business and education communities recognize that and contributed their comments to the meeting. Final decisions on troop cutbacks will be made this summer and put in place over the next four years. We hope the Army will continue to recognize Fort Bragg’s importance to national defense and this community’s value to Fort Bragg.
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