Situation Report

A weekly digest of national security, defense, and cybersecurity news from Foreign Policy reporters Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, formerly Security Brief. Delivered Thursday.

Work Begins on a U.S.-Afghan Security Agreement

Why Obama shouldn't stop at the Haqqanis, moving on from "never again," cyber insecurities, and more.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Foreign Policy's Situation Report.

Follow me @glubold or e-mail me at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com.

Sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN

Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of Foreign Policy‘s Situation Report.

Follow me @glubold or e-mail me at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com.

Sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN

The U.S.-Afghan security relationship: the process begins. Nearly eleven years after the first American forces arrived in southern Afghanistan in those indelible early days after 9/11, a bilateral commission will begin work to build a long-term security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The group will start preliminary work this month to lay the groundwork for the more substantive discussions that will soon follow in which the two countries will determine things like the number of American forces that will remain in the country after 2014 and the way any crimes they commit will be adjudicated.  

"We are moving forward," a State Department official familiar with the initiative told Situation Report. "We are already talking about what the process is going to look like."

The Security Partnership Agreement signed in Kabul this spring by Karzai and President Barack Obama laid out only broad principles of agreement between the two countries but said nothing specific about how many forces the U.S. would keep there, what would happen if they committed any crimes or other issues. State officials insist that the U.S. will not maintain any bases in Afghanistan; any American forces that remain there will be presumably assigned to Afghan bases.

The State official said it is not yet clear just when those more substantive talks will begin, late this year or early next. But once those talks begin, in Kabul, the two countries will have a year to negotiate a deal.

"Many Afghans have publicly expressed the desire for assistance from the U.S. on training, special forces and other things, and I think there is a willingness on both sides that we conclude this agreement," the State official said.

President Barack Obama has talked frequently about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But it’s also clear that the two countries hope a security relationship will allow a force of as many as 25,000 to remain in the country for some years, albeit at Afghanistan’s invitation. Issues over troop immunity – which contributed to the ruined agreement between the U.S. and Iraq – will resurface. "I think the process will be very difficult," said Ahmad Majidyar, a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He said the rise of "insider attacks," the issue of Afghan detainees and other issues may make the negotiations to come a challenge. "But I think the Afghan government will be flexible," he said.

But where negotiations failed in Iraq, they may succeed in Afghanistan, which is in far different circumstances, and will require billions of dollars in U.S. aid over the next many years.

"We know that Afghanistan, being a much poorer country, will not be able to foot its bills for at least the next decade or so," said Omar Samad, a senior Afghan expert at the United States Institute of Peace.

Juliette Kayyem: Forget "never again." Shit happens, we need to deal with it. A former homeland security advisor argues in FP that, when it comes to thinking about 9/11, we need to accept that attacks may happen and focus on resiliency. DHS is already starting to do this: at its peak, DHS considered nearly 100 cities — from New York City to Bakersfield, California — as high-threat areas that would be granted additional funding. This year, the number is a much more realistic 31 high-density areas. "By this year, the department had so modified what it was willing to fund that it explicitly focused its guidance on ‘mitigating and responding to the evolving threats,’ without a mention of preventing terrorism," Kayyem writes. http://bit.ly/QAYIqQ

Why stop at the Haqqanis? The U.S. should blacklist Pakistan, says Christine Fair. In it, she laments various approaches taken to fight insurgents in Afghanistan, taking aim at a German PRT she visited in which all the development seemed to be focused on their own quality of life inside the walls of the PRT — with LED-lit sidewalks and matching duvet covers in the rooms. "But nothing prepared me for the sight of a scantily clad German rollerblading about the perfectly groomed pavement of the PRT," she writes. In the end, her argument is that Pakistan hasn’t helped in Afghanistan and that the U.S. should be "clear-eyed" about the sources of the failure. http://bit.ly/QIsTZG

Long before the first World Trade Center attacks, Reagan got spooked about terrorism and did something about it. His first "signal success," writes John Arquilla, came in a campaign against the Abu Nidal Organization — "the al-Qaeda of the 80s." The group was doing freelance terrorist work for Iraq, Libya and Syria. National Security Decision Directive 138 allowed secret FBI and CIA paramilitary squads and Pentagon military units to conduct guerrilla war against the guerillas — and helped detect ANO’s funds. They moved them around in a way that convinced Abu Nidal that his own people were embezzling from him. "Soon the organization was all but defunct." http://bit.ly/RxMjpL

The Pentagon is a glorified office building, even as it remembers 9/11. Kevin Baron from E-Ring: "There’s never been much flash to the stoic Pentagon — really just a glorified office building far from Washington’s grand monuments, where civilians and military officers do their jobs and head for home." Today, in Arlington Cemetery, a private ceremony just for families of the victims will be held with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. http://bit.ly/OX1zJd

The Pentagon has reached an agreement with key allies to share important information about cyberattacks, reports Killer Apps main man John Reed. The agreement includes the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group — United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with the U.S. The agreement, which among other things allows for speedy sharing of information, will help determine the source of attacks. "Not all countries have the ability to detect cyber threats and attacks quickly. This means that a country whose servers are hijacked may not even know that it is hosting an attack," John writes. http://bit.ly/O9THS1

Eleven Years Ago Today

Budgets Matter

The Iraq Factor

Conflicts on Simmer

 

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. Twitter: @glubold

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