Situation Report

FP’s Situation Report: Hagel: the U.S. must stay engaged; Did Kerry fumble in Egypt?; Dorothy Rowe served 70 years as a civil servant; Morsi’s day in court; Did the Pentagon’s police force chief play golf on company time?; and a bit more.

FP’s Situation Report: Hagel: the U.S. must stay engaged; Did Kerry fumble in Egypt?; Dorothy Rowe served 70 years as a civil servant; Morsi’s day in court; Did the Pentagon’s police force chief play golf on company time?; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Chuck Hagel is coming out. The Defense Secretary is making a round of appearances and interviews, including a lengthy Q&A in The Atlantic recently, a sit-down with a columnist from Bloomberg yesterday, and likely others. Hagel, who is about nine months in office, is also appearing this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington for the second in a speech a senior defense official characterized as an attempt to explain how the Defense Department "must adapt to a changing strategic and fiscal landscape" which picks up where his National Defense University speech in April left off. This morning’s speech, which was expected to begin at 8:15 a.m. ticks off six priorities "informed by lessons learned" from the top-to-bottom review Hagel ordered of Department spending and resources called the Strategic Choices Management Review. "The speech also conveys Secretary Hagel’s perspective on emerging national security challenges and the role DoD should play in supporting America’s foreign policy goals as the United States comes off a perpetual war footing," a senior defense official said in a statement. Excerpts of Hagel’s speech, provided by the Pentagon: "With the end of the Iraq war and the winding down of the combat mission in Afghanistan, President Obama has been moving the nation off a perpetual war footing – one in which America’s priorities, policies, and relationships around the world were dominated by the response to 9/11."

And: "No other nation has the will, the power, the capacity, and the network of alliances to lead the international community. However, sustaining our leadership will increasingly depend not only on the extent of our great power, but an appreciation of its limits and a wise deployment of our influence."

And: "More Americans, including elected officials, are growing skeptical about our country’s foreign engagements and responsibilities. But only looking inward is just as deadly a trap as hubris, and we must avoid both in pursuing a successful foreign policy in the 21st century."

Hagel’s NDU speech April 3, here. Briefing of Hagel rolling out the SCMR at the Pentagon on July 31, here.  

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This morning at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. a woman who has worked for the federal government, amazingly, for 70 years, retires. She’s 88-year-old Dorothy Rowe, a financial analysis flight chief who is the longest-serving civil servant in the Air Force – and the second longest-serving across the Defense Department. She went to work in 1943 in Ohio and one of her first assignments was to learn the Dewey Decimal System. Her starting salary was $1,440 – per year. Today, Eric Fanning, the dual-hatted Undersecretary of the Air Force who is also the Acting Secretary, is travelling to Luke this morning to retire Rowe, who said she knew it was time to retire. "I had started working for the government when I was 17. I know the time has come now because I don’t want to die sitting at my desk," she told a base paper reporter. Fanning will visit a number of operational units at Luke, to include the 309 Fighter Squadron and host an all-call with personnel from the base before presiding over Rowe’s retirement.

Air Force Times’ Kristin Davis’ lede to her story about Rowe: "Payday went like this when Dorothy Rowe first went to work in Air Force finance: She’d drive to the bank and pick up enough cash to cover the base payroll – hundreds of thousands of dollars stacked inside big bags. Back at the office, Rowe would count it to make sure all of the money was there. Then she’d divide it up by base section. Finally, she’d count out the pay for every person on base." More here.

The Pentagon’s Steven Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, or "Piff-Pa" was either the best boss ever – or the worst: an IG investigation. The WaPo’s Craig Whitlock: "If you like playing golf on government time, [Calvery] might be just the boss for you. Then again, if the idea of fetching lunch and coffee for your supervisor every day doesn’t appeal, you might want to work elsewhere… In a 40-page report released Monday, the inspector general also said that Calvery improperly allowed an unnamed relative to blast away at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency firing range, while using a PFPA weapon and ammunition." Calvery disputes the findings. The DOD IG report here. The WaPo piece here.

Behind the Music of a FOIA request, via Whitlock: "The inspector general began its misconduct investigation into Calvery after it received a couple of anonymous complaints in March 2011, as well as a letter from an unidentified U.S. senator. The inspector general labored on the inquiry for nearly two years, wrapping things up on Feb. 20, but then it kept the findings quiet. On April 2, The Post filed a request for the Calvery investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. On Monday, seven months later, the inspector general finally coughed up the report."

Morsi’s day in court includes shoe-throwing, tirades and general chaos and claimed he’s still the boss. Writing on FP, Bel Trew, in Cairo: "The moment Egypt’s deposed Islamist president first opened his lips from a courtroom cage today, his defiant proclamation that he was still the country’s ‘legitimate’ leader was drowned out by the chants of lawyers and journalists calling for his blood." More here. Did Kerry fumble in Egypt? The NYT’s editorial board says an "ill-advised visit undecuts earlier efforts to rebuke generals and promote democracy." Read it here.

Supply lines into and out of Afghanistan could get tricky. Again. A Pakistani opposition party says it will block NATO supply lines into (or out of) Afghanistan unless the U.S. stops drone strikes in that tribal area. UPI: "The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is led by the country’s former cricket captain Imran Khan and is the ruling party in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa prov
ince, voted Monday to block the supply lines beginning Nov. 20 if the drone strikes in nearby tribal areas do not stop. The PTI is one of the parties which had campaigned strongly against the drone program during general elections last May and its latest resolution comes in the wake of last week’s killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistan Taliban, in a drone strike. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is the main route for transporting supplies to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan." More here.

But the WSJ’s Saeed Shah: "…However, it remains unclear whether Mr. Khan’s government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has the legal power to block the roads without the consent of the federal government." More on that here.

Read Shahan Mufti’s piece today in the NYT, "Our Two-Faced Alliance with Pakistan," here.

The story of the drone strike in Yemen Aug. 8 on FP in which the U.S. says it was carrying out an operation against militants – but the dead boy’s brother has a different story. That story here.

Did Israel push Iran to the negotiating table? Chuck Hagel told Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg he thinks so: "In this latest phase of the Iran drama, the differences between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama (which I wrote about here) are mainly concealed from view, but we’re now seeing some small fissures. I’ve been curious to know what others in the Obama administration think about Netanyahu’s current stance (a stance he shares with many in the U.S. Senate, by the way), so on a visit to the Pentagon late last week, one of the first questions I put to the secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, was this: Is Netanyahu, in fact, using scare tactics in order to torpedo Iran negotiations?"

Hagel to Goldberg: "I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is legitimately concerned, as any prime minister of Israel has been, about the future security needs of their country… [and Netanyahu] "has got a history of being very clear on where he is on this."

"Hagel, now in his ninth month leading the Pentagon, argued that Netanyahu’s threats of military action against Iranian nuclear sites, combined with the pressure of sanctions, may have actually encouraged Iran to take negotiations seriously." More here.

Random goodness apropos of nothing: The viral video of a man in the U.K. reacting after his son showed him his report card. "Is that real? Is that REAL?" Watch it here.

Watching The Back Door: The Mexican military takes over a town besieged by organized crime. GlobalPost: "The Mexican military was put in charge of security and operations Monday at a major Pacific port in Michoacan, a western state plagued by drug cartel violence. Government security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said high-ranking navy officers were taking over the administration and captaincy at the port of Lazaro Cardenas, which has the country’s largest general cargo volume." More here.

On the Korean peninsula, news of the weird. The NYT’s Choe Sang-Hun: "A North Korean naval vessel sank last month, killing an unspecified number of sailors, according to North and South Korean news media. The news first appeared on Saturday when the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had visited a newly built cemetery for the sailors ‘sacrificed’ on board the vessel, a submarine chaser, during ‘combat duties’ last month. The news agency gave no further details about what happened but quoted Mr. Kim as instructing his navy to "find all the bodies," hinting at a sizable death toll. Photos of Mr. Kim visiting the cemetery with flowers showed a large mass tomb encircled by what looked like at least a score of headstones bearing the names and photographs of the sailors who had died.

But: "South Korean military officials said there was no military clash between the two Koreas last month." Read the rest here.