RealClearDefense Morning Recon - 6/28/2013

By RealClearDefense

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Good Friday morning! Yesterday, Chairman Dempsey delivered an important address on cybersecurity at the Brookings Institution. The cyber “playbook” and Chinese cyber theft were important topics, but RCD agrees with our colleagues at Breaking Defense on Dempsey’s best line from the presentation: “By this time next year I’m quite sure my toaster will be connected to the Internet and will tweet.”


From NBC News’ Michael Isikoff: “According to legal sources, retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been notified that he’s under investigation for allegedly leaking information about a massive attack using a computer virus named Stuxnet on Iran’s nuclear facilities…Last year, the New York Times reported that Cartwright, a four-star general who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, conceived and ran the cyber operation, called Olympic Games, under President Bush…The story described meetings in the White House Situation Room and was based on 18 months of interviews with ‘current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program.’ It credited Gen. Cartwright with presenting the original idea for Stuxnet to President Bush, said the NSA had developed the Stuxnet worm in tandem with the Israelis, and said thumb drives were first used to introduce the virus into the Natanz plant in 2008…President Obama said in June 2012 that his attitude toward ‘these kinds of leaks’ was ‘zero tolerance,’ and that they were ‘criminal acts.’”


Let DOD Reprogam. Sean O’Keefe of the National Defense Industrial Association and EADS North America tells Congress to give the Pentagon the same flexibility they gave air traffic controllers:

“Congress permits federal agencies to reprogram barely one percent of their affected budget functions. This inability to shift resources to higher priorities at the Defense Department will create a crisis akin to the air traffic controller shortfall that recently prompted the President and Congress to take swift action to avert chaos in the skies. But the inability to reprogram, when applied to defense spending, creates an even larger national security risk to Americans at home and abroad. My suggestion is straight forward. While both sides continue this budgetary test of wills, it is prudent for the President and Congress to give the Defense Department the same level of flexibility they have provided to avoid the risk of laying off air traffic controllers. Common sense, reason and good judgment are necessary to protect the nation's security. The Pentagon is the most complex entity to manage in the world. It requires sanity and sober judgment to make life or death decisions. Today those attributes are illegal to apply. All cuts now must be across the board regardless of mission criticality. In essence, we have told our military leaders you are prohibited from being effective. This is madness and irresponsible.”

How the Air Force Is Combatting Space Junk. Col. Gerald May writes about the Air Force’s Space Fence program:

“Conceived in 2005, the “Space Fence” system would employ a large radar based on a Pacific island to track and monitor space debris as well as inventory satellites with space sensors. The system would zero in on low Earth orbits, where the majority of space missions operate...[Despite] the lofty appraisals, delays in awarding the Space Fence contract continue, and sequestration looms like an ominous storm cloud…A decision to delay or turn our backs on Space Fence is dangerous for Americans -- civilians and soldiers. Though the cost of the program will surely draw criticism, the investment is well justified by the risk to lives and the billions of dollars that a catastrophic collision would cause.”


10:00AM The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities (IETC) will hold a hearing to hear private sector perspectives on irregular warfare challenges.

10:45AM Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Commander Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., will make brief statements during their visit to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo.

12:30PM The Washington Institute for Near East Policy will hold a hearing on arming the Syrian rebels.

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Dempsey Outlines Cyber “Playbook.” From the New York Times: “In his first major address on the new, virtual domain of computer warfare, General Dempsey gave an outline of what a significant attack might look like, and how the United States might respond. If the nation’s critical infrastructure came under attack from poisonous code over a computer network from overseas, the first effort would be gathering information on the malware and the systems under attack. Network defenses would be in place, as ‘our first instinct will be to pull up the drawbridge and prevent the attack, that is to say, block or defend,’ he said. If the attack could not be repulsed, the new playbook calls for ‘active defense,’ which General Dempsey defined as a ‘proportional’ effort ‘to go out and disable the particular botnet that was attacking us.’ It is notable that, in this situation, the line between active defense and offense might be blurry. ‘If it became something more widespread and we needed to do something beyond that, it would require interagency consultation and authorities at a higher level in order to do it,’ he said. Although these plans are classified, his statement indicated that the rules for responding in an escalated manner in cyberspace, or with a conventional retaliation, would require decisions by the civilian leadership.”

China Says Cyber Theft Isn’t Wrong. From Defense News: “The Chinese government feels that it’s in the clear when it comes to stealing data from US companies using cyber tools, an issue leaders of the two countries will address next month as part of dialogues on cybersecurity, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday… ‘China’s particular niche in cyber has been theft of intellectual property and I’ve had some conversations about that with them, and the conversations generally, we tend to agree to disagree,’ Dempsey said. ‘Their view is that there are no rules of the road in cyber, there are no laws that they’re breaking. There are no standards of behavior, and so we have asked them to meet with us in order to establish some rules of the road so that we don’t have these friction points in our relationship.’”


From Defense News: “[Inhofe and McCain] don’t always agree on Pentagon policy and spending matters. Add to that list the question of whether Dempsey deserves a second term as the US military’s top officer. ‘I don’t have any concerns at this time,’ Inhofe told Defense News on Thursday afternoon. The SASC’s top Republican added it’s too soon to know whether Dempsey’s July 18 confirmation hearing before the panel will be tense or a cakewalk. But, moments later, Defense News spoke to the feisty McCain, one of Dempsey’s biggest congressional critics. ‘Oh yes. I have significant concerns,’ McCain said in a brief interview, citing ‘Syria and other aspects of his leadership.’ McCain said there are a number of issues on which he has ‘significant questions about.’ When pressed by reporters to explain which parts of the chairman’s leadership he finds troubling, McCain responded: ‘Too many to note.’”


From The Guardian: “[Secret] documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata ‘every 90 days.’ A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011. The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind. According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general – published for the first time today by the Guardian – the agency began ‘collection of bulk internet metadata’ involving ‘communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States.’ Eventually, the NSA gained authority to ‘analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States,’ according to a 2007 Justice Department memo, which is marked secret.”


From USA Today: “The United States plans to give Israel weapons that would enable it to send ground forces against Iranian nuclear facilities that it can't penetrate from the air. The deal includes air-refueling aircraft, advanced radars for F-15 fighter jets, and up to eight V-22 Ospreys, an aircraft that can land like a helicopter and carry two dozen special operations forces with their gear over long distances at aircraft speeds. The Osprey ‘is the ideal platform for sending Israeli special forces into Iran,’ says Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy… Other parts of the arms package include Boeing's KC-135 ‘Stratotanker,’ which can refuel Ospreys and other aircraft while airborne and extend the tilt-rotor aircraft's 426-mile range almost indefinitely… The refueling equipment would extend the reach of Israeli special forces, which could be used against Iran as they were in Israel's attack on a Syrian nuclear facility under construction in 2007, Karmon said. In the 2007 attack, at least one Israeli team was on the ground to provide laser targeting of sophisticated air munitions.”


From Bloomberg: “The U.S. Navy should delay the award of a multibillion-dollar contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. (HII) to build the second aircraft carrier in a new class as the first one faces failings from its radar to the gear that launches planes, congressional investigators said. ‘Technical, design and construction challenges’ with the first carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, have caused ‘significant cost increases and reduce the likelihood that a fully functional ship will be delivered on time,’ the Government Accountability Office said in a draft report obtained by Bloomberg News. The Ford, already the most expensive warship ever built, is projected to cost $12.8 billion, 22 percent more than estimated five years ago… Delays and ‘reliability deficiencies’ with the flattop’s new dual-mission radar, electromagnetic launch system and arresting gear for aircraft mean that the Ford ‘will likely face operational limitations that extend past commissioning’ in March 2016 and ‘into initial deployments,’ the agency said.”


Reps. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) in Breaking Defense: “We think one hindrance to good strategy is clear – the Pentagon’s long-standing practice of building budgets that, regardless of our strategy, give relatively equal shares to each of the services… The “fair-share” approach is antithetical to good strategic planning and the Pentagon, whatever the size of its budget, cannot afford to continue on this course…The landmark 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act has demonstrably strengthened our fighting forces by promoting jointness. No other nation on earth can synchronize as many disparate military activities to achieve such overwhelming effects. That said, at the same time Goldwater-Nichols has enshrined the achievement of consensus among the Armed Services as the highest bureaucratic good. This ‘least common denominator’ approach means that all benefit in flush times and all share pain equally in times of scarcity, irrespective of the overarching national strategy and emerging threats. The Department of Defense and Congress should reject this approach. Real strategic choices should not be built on fair budget percentages but on hard calculations about the types of capabilities the Combatant Commanders need to meet the missions we ask them to execute.”


Husain Haqqani, New York Times: “Don’t Talk with the Taliban.” “The planned talks have been arranged through the good offices of Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. At the urging of Pakistan’s military, the United States agreed to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar…There is no reason to believe — and no evidence — that the Taliban are now ready for political accommodation. Pakistan’s rationale for the talks differs little from the last two times it tried to save the Taliban from America’s wrath, after the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and immediately after 9/11. Pakistan’s goal has always been to arrange American talks with the Taliban without being responsible for the outcome.”

Vance Serchuk, Washington Post: “Syria Won’t Be Iran’s Quaqmire.” “Lately, however, another argument has crept into the debate: the idea that, while unquestionably tragic, Syria’s slow-motion unraveling might not be an unmitigated calamity for the United States. Rather, it could carry a Machiavellian upside by embroiling Iran, our foremost enemy in the region, in a costly, protracted struggle with al-Qaeda. Syria, the theory holds, could be for Iran what the Iraq war was for the United States…But there’s good reason — beyond its ugly moral calculus — that this argument is mostly whispered on the margins. Under scrutiny, it withers. For starters, the argument presumes that the Syrian conflict is bogging down the Iranians, sapping their strength and distracting them from more vital interests. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that as Tehran has been riding to the rescue of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it has made disturbing inroads elsewhere, including Yemen and Iraq. That’s because the instability the Syrian conflict is fueling across the Middle East is largely good for Iran: Sectarian polarization is driving anxious Shiite populations closer to Tehran, while refugee flows are weakening key U.S. allies such as Jordan and Turkey.”

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