Stavridis cleared of any wrongdoing, Service associations to Congress: get off your bum, the Washington parlor game of Obama’s cabinet continues, and more.
- By Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.
Iranian fighters belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot at an American Predator drone flying near Iran last week. The administration just confirmed the incident Thursday, after CNN’s Barbara Starr first reported it yesterday. The Pentagon said the drone was in international airspace and that it was the first time they were aware that an unmanned aircraft had been shot at over international waters in the Arabian Gulf. But Pentagon press secretary George Little would not describe it as an act of war. "I’m not going to get into legal labels," he said at a Pentagon briefing yesterday. "The reality is that we have a wide range of options…to protect our assets and our forces in the region and we’ll do so when necessary."
The U.S. expressed its "strong concerns" about the incident to Tehran through the Swiss embassy.
Steve Hadley on Fox last night: "It’s a very dicey situation at this point."
A lack of "attention to detail": Adm. Jim Stavridis has been cleared of any wrongdoing after the Pentagon’s inspector general investigated Stavridis, the head of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, for travel and record-keeping issues. The DoD IG concluded that Stavridis had used military aircraft for unofficial travel without obtaining approval on one occasion and had claimed per diem expenses to which he was not entitled, among other findings. In one instance, he allowed an employee and a family member to accompany him on a military aircraft in connection to a trip to Dijon, France, but didn’t follow DoD directives on reimbursing the government.
However, the transgressions were not considered serious and seemed to amount to bad record keeping and poor administrative work on his staff’s part. The investigation was begun in February 2011. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus found that Stavridis did not misuse his office and found that most of the problems amounted to reporting and accounting missteps that the admiral corrected. The AP reported that Mabus concluded in a memo: "I have determined that Adm. Stavridis never attempted to use his public office for private gain nor did he commit personal misconduct," Mabus wrote. The problems "reflect poor attention to administrative detail by the office."
Mabus did discuss the issue of oversight with Stavridis, who is well-liked and respected by many and was expected to retire next year after three years in the job. Gen. John Allen has been nominated to replace him.
The investigation, which individuals close to Stavridis had long held would not turn up anything substantive, nonetheless may have contributed to his not getting the nod as the top naval officer, a job he was widely thought to have sought.
Redacted IG report: http://bitly.com/RMpqw9
The Pentagon will soon announce what will happen to Gen. Ward, the former AFRICOM commander whom the DoD IG was also investigating. George Little, yesterday: "The process is being finalized, and the Army is done what it needs to do in the process. So I think we’ll reach resolution relatively quickly."
Greetings from Milwaukee and welcome to the Friday edition of Situation Report, where we give a shout out to Bob Simi, the first Marine officer we ever met in the field — in Twentynine Palms, Calif. — in 1999, and thank him for allowing us to drone on at a Marine Corps Birthday event here. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. And sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN or just send me an e-mail and I’ll put you on the list.
Apologies for yesterday misstating that a single roadside bomb went off in Helmand Province in Afghanistan; there were multiple explosions in different locations, including in Zabol province.
Seven insiders engage in what George Little calls the "parlor game" of guessing who Obama’s new dream cabinet will be. Nonetheless, here goes, for national security positions, these insiders make these picks:
Leslie Gelb: Ash Carter for Sec-Def, Tom Donilon for NSA, David Petraeus for DNI, Joseph Nye for CIA;
Grover Norquist: Dov Zakheim for Sec-Def, a wounded warrior for NSA, David Norquist for DNI, Petraeus for CIA;
Dennis Ross: Carter for Sec-Def, Flournoy for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Donilon for NSA;
Danielle Pletka: Jack Keane for Sec-Def, "Nobody" for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Flournoy for NSA;
Andrew Bacevich: Gates for Sec-Def, "GOP Benghazi critic" for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Chas Freeman for NSA;
Rosa Brooks: Flournoy for Sec-Def, Harold Koh for DNI, John Brennan for CIA, Tony Blinken for NSA;
Mark Leonard: Kurt Campbell for Sec-Def, Anne-Marie Slaughter for DNI, Susan Rice for CIA, Denis McDonough for NSA. http://bit.ly/SxyNin
The service associations to Capitol Hill: get off your bum. Sequestration is bringing the services, which clearly work to protect only their own equities, together to tell Congress it must act. The heads of the Air Force Association, the Navy League, and the Association of the United States Army sent a letter yesterday to congressional leaders, urging them not to balance the budget on the "backs of our military." The military is already absorbing $487 billion in budget reductions and sequestration would in effect double that amount at a time when forces are balancing "a broad array of missions with aging equipment and failing personnel strength," according to the letter, obtained by Situation Report.
The Army and Marine Corps "are in desperate need of equipment reset, having been in combat for more than a decade";
The Air Force "has been at war continuously since Desert Storm in 1991, resulting in high-flying time inventory of aircraft that average 25 years in age";
The Navy "attempts to conduct its global missions with a fleet that is its smallest in almost 100 years";
The Coast Guard "is active in 11 mission areas with an aging fleet."
"Ending the specter of sequestration hovering over our defense industrial base and manufacturing sector must occur immediately, and the solution must be a balanced one that acknowledges that our nation faces a wide array of security threats," the letter states.
It was signed by Gordon Sullivan of AUSA, George Muellner of the AFA, and Dale Lumme of the Navy League.
Jim Amos would take a few more ships. Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos appeared at CSIS yesterday to say among other things that the small, flexible Marine Corps is a good return on investment, but that the Corps will have a hard time keeping up with global demands for amphibious forces in the coming years as its operations wind down in places like Afghanistan and wind up in the Pacific. As an example, if you listed the amphibious requirements of any regional combatant commander, he said, it would exceed by almost four times the amount of force the Corps can provide. "The requirements are real, we just can’t support it. We don’t have enough ships. We don’t have enough forward deployed forces to be able to satisfy the appetite of the combatant commanders," he said.
The E-Ring’s Kevin Baron listened in on the whole speech: http://bit.ly/RnLpJY
Vets: you get free admission all this weekend to all national parks for Veterans Day. http://bitly.com/TyQFKK
Twelve Years and Counting
- AP: Afghan victims to testify in Bales case. http://nydn.us/UdslMV
- LAT: As insider attacks grow, so does U.S.-Afghan divide. http://lat.ms/PJbGnK
- Rawa: Afghanistan bomb attacks kill 20. http://bit.ly/YVsPx7
- The Tribune: Pakistan, Afghanistan to revive talks with Taliban. http://bit.ly/Q0Wjsk
- Sydney Morning Herald: Obama surprises with Burma trip. http://bit.ly/Tf06iJ
- Stripes: Panetta headed to Asia-Pacific next week. http://bitly.com/UdrbAX
- China Daily: PLA backs Hu report on military oversight. http://bitly.com/PJdhds
- Daily Times: North Korea ready to conduct nuke, missile tests. http://bitly.com/QsMIdM
- AP: Japan, North Korea to hold talks next week. http://bitly.com/Q1fxhr
- Air Force Times: Air Force changes rules on information about airman crimes. http://bit.ly/SFpCwF
- VOA: Navy disciplines SEALS over info leak. http://bitly.com/XpmaMg
- Defense News: There are 70 votes in Senate for debt deal, Warner says. http://bitly.com/QrUmFf
- NYT: Missteps by rebels erode support among Syrians. http://nyti.ms/RncP2N