U.S. prepares to support French effort in Mali; Hagel wasn’t right 100 percent of the time, Panetta and crew are wheels up; Welsh cracks wise on sling, 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.
After months of international resistance to military action, France boldly pushed forward against extremist Islamists in Mali yesterday, and the U.S. may not be far behind. French fighter jets struck Islamist militants inside northern Mali on Sunday, targeting training camps and other positions in the northern region of the country, which has been under Islamic militant control. Meanwhile, the White House prepared to potentially deploy surveillance drones and other "air-intelligence assets" over Mali in coming days, the WSJ and others reported this morning. WSJ: "The limited American response to France’s request for military support reflects White House concerns about being drawn into a new conflict when it is focused on extricating itself from the 11-year-old war in Afghanistan. The White House also has balked at intervening militarily in Syria. Any deployment in support of France’s campaign in Mali would be the first U.S. involvement in a new military campaign since Libya in 2011."
NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, to the WSJ: "We noted that the government of Mali has asked for support, and we share the French goal of denying bterrorists a safe haven in the region. We will stay in close touch with the French and other international partners as the situation develops." http://on.wsj.com/W1Pmox
Also, U.S. forces helped in a failed rescue attempt of a French intelligence agent. The White House announced Sunday evening that the American military had provided "limited technical support" to a French military operation in Somalia, in which commandos attempted to rescue an intelligence agent who has been held by al-Shabaab for years. President Barack Obama authorized the use of American fighters to provide indirect support of the operation, but the fighters never dropped any munitions and left Somalian air space soon after. The French military operation was described as bloody and failed to rescue
Denis Allex, a French intelligence agent using a cover name, according to the WaPo, who is believed dead. One other French soldier was killed in the operation, which took place about 75 miles northwest of the capital Mogadishu, and another is missing; 17 Islamic soldiers were also killed.
Obama, in a letter to Congress - "I directed U.S. forces to support this
rescue operation in furtherance of U.S. national security interests, and
pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."
Welcome to Monday’s edition of Situation Report. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at email@example.com. 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. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.
Ask the Air Force’s Mark Welsh about why his arm is in a sling and you’ll get a few wise answers. Secretary of the Air Force Mike Donley and CoS Gen. Mark Welsh appeared in the Pentagon Friday to talk sequestration, budget issues, the JSF and other issues. The two announced ways in which they were cutting costs, from freezing civilian hires to curtailing non-essential travel to canceling furniture purchases. But Welsh, who appeared in the Pentagon briefing room with his arm in a sling, was also asked about what happened. First he jokingly blamed his injury on Donley. Then he fingered Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno as the culprit. Welsh: "We were struggling for resources between the service chiefs the other day, and I think it was the first time I realized just how big Ray Odierno really is. So I’m recovering slowly."
The real answer: Welsh is recovering from surgery after an injury suffered after about "10 face plants" in Florida about a year ago while he and his wife were wakeboarding. His wife, he said, is a much better wakeboarder than he is.
John Reed in E-Ring – http://atfp.co/UjuARU
CSPAN video of the briefing – http://cs.pn/WK5iKw
Briefing transcript – http://1.usa.gov/W3u2yk
Panetta left at 5 a.m. this morning for Lisbon. It’s the first stop on a five-day trip that will take Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, and London. Over the course of this week, Panetta is expected to meet with 12 national leaders, including heads of state, to "engage on bilateral defense issues" as well as those pertaining to NATO. In London on Friday, he’ll speak about the transatlantic alliance and the focus it should have. He’s expected to link the relationship to his key priorities as secretary, including the new emphasis on Asia, cyber-security, and counter-terrorism.
Staff on a plane - Chief of staff Jeremy Bash, senior military assistant Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for NATO/Europe Jim Townsend, special assistant to the defense secretary Shelly Stoneman, chief speechwriter Jacob Freedman, Pentagon press secretary George Little, assistant press secretary Carl Woog.
Reporters on a plane – AP’s Baldor and Martin, Reuters’ Alexander, Bloomberg’s Ratnam, NYT’s Bumiller, WaPo’s Whitlock, WSJ’s Barnes, BBC’s Soley, Stripes’ Hlad, Defense News’ Weisberger, CBS’s McCormick.
Hagel supporters released a Hagel fact sheet. The E-Ring’s Kevin Baron had the seven-point myth-versus-fact sheet on Friday. It has details on Hagel’s stance on Iran and Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas, nukes, gay rights, and his management experience. http://atfp.co/UFQ3mo
Friends of Chuck: Thomas Pickering and Colin Powell defended Hagel’s record. Hagel backers continue their campaign in support of his nomination as secretary of defense. Despite worries that a potential no-vote from people like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) could cripple his chances, Democrats tell Situation Report they believe he’ll ultimately get 65 or more Senate votes and be confirmed.
Amb. Thomas Pickering told Situation Report that he was confident Hagel would be confirmed and didn’t think the opposition or the political theater in recent weeks would impede Hagel’s ability, once in office, to get the job done.
"It is what it is. Even the most controversial nominations that have succeeded have allowed people to operate. They have a little cloud from time to time, but I don’t think it is a disadvantage. Even if his fellow Republicans vote against him, that is not going to impair his capacity to carry out the office," said Pickering, a trustee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
Pickering acknowledged that Hagel’s opposition to the surge in Iraq, which many think was effective, is a fair topic for questioning. Pickering said Hagel’s opposition to an openly gay ambassador was wrong — he has since apologized for it and his apology was accepted. "Nobody is guaranteed to be right 100 percent of the time, as Hagel showed us on the Hormel issue," Pickering said.
Much of the Sunday shows yesterday were used to either defend Hagel’s record or impugn it. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked on NBC whether Hagel thinks "the military option" against Tehran was "feasible," and he responded that any military option is feasible — but that it depends on what you want to accomplish. Overall, the military is happy with President Obama’s choice, if the wave of support from the retired community is any judge, he said.
Powell, to David Gregory on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’: "For the last three weeks, we have had dueling op-eds and dueling blogs and dueling different groups coming forward, but most of the national security community in retirement that I know and many of the secretaries of defense and state that I know, and national security advisers, and very distinguished ambassadors who served in the Middle East, think that Chuck Hagel is a solid guy who speaks his mind. He’s a good supporter of Israel. He has been there and the record will show that, but he is not reluctant to disagree when he thinks disagreement is appropriate."
John McCain was non-committal. Appearing on CBS’s "Face the Nation," McCain deferred judgment to the confirmation hearings, expected even by the end of this month. "My questions about him, and they will be raised in the [confirmation hearings], are, what his view of America’s role in the world?" McCain said. "Whether he really believes that the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War? That clearly — that’s not correct. In fact, it’s bizarre. Why would he oppose calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization?"
McCain also said this White House doesn’t check with Congress to see where members are on a particular nominee. Even some Democrats have told Situation Report they are not sure why the White House isn’t better at working with Senate leaders prior to a nomination. This one in particular, coming as it did weeks after Hagel’s name was first seriously floated by the White House, allowed opponents to mount a well-organized campaign. McCain: "Usually with previous presidents, both Republican and Democrat, when they’re considering nominations, they call in the other side and say — the key members on the other party — and say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about nominating Mr. X, what do you think about that? There’s been none of that with this administration." CBS’s Face the Nation: http://cbsn.ws/10sdg3n
Bob Corker raised the issue of Hagel’s temperament as a manager. On ABC’s "This Week," he suggested former staffers were coming out to raise questions about Hagel’s temperament, though he never explained what he meant and host George Stephanopoulos seemed puzzled but didn’t quiz him on it. "I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them. I have, certainly questions, about a lot of things," he said. ABC "This Week:" http://abcn.ws/ROtDCo
- National Journal: What Obama’s missing in Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/10tZP2Q
- Danger Room: France fights Mali shadow war from the sky. http://bit.ly/V79pUg
- The Guardian: Syrian women and girls allege sexual violence as weapon. http://bit.ly/WEzRll
- Small Wars: What lessons does the French defeat in 1871 have for the U.S. army today? http://bit.ly/ZO7MtU
- Al-Monitor: Iran not a priority for most Israeli voters. http://bit.ly/13mbFuI
- Reuters: Mali Islamists counter attack, promise France a long war. http://reut.rs/WVpAAP
- AP: Witnesses to failed rescue saw mayhem. http://bit.ly/V5Fm2e
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |
Yochi Dreazen is a Managing Editor for News at Foreign Policy. He is also writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. His book about military suicide was published by Random House's Crown division in 2014.
Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. He was born in Chicago, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he edited the award-winning daily campus newspaper and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1999 with degrees in History and English. He was hired by the Wall Street Journal immediately after graduation. Dreazen arrived in Iraq in April 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division, and spent the next two years living in Baghdad as the Wall Street Journal's main Iraq correspondent.
Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, Dreazen received the Military Reporters & Editors association’s top award for domestic military reporting in a large publication for a series of articles about military suicide and the psychological traumas impacting veterans of the two long wars. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Tablet and the New Republic and he appears regularly on TV and radio programs such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show and PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Dreazen gives frequent lectures about journalism, the wars and current events to both civilian and military audiences.
Dreazen lives in Washington with his wife, Annie Rosenzweig Dreazen, and their beloved Golden Retriever, Charlie.| Report |
U.S. watches French intervention in Mali warily; Hagel is no Luddite on cyber; Why the DOD IG feels ignored; Mil suicides exceed combat deaths; Wal-Mart to hire 100k veterans, and more.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.| Situation Report |