Libyan militant at site of attack
A peek into Gen. Odierno’s thinking before AUSA, How a Pakistani cab driver sees things, Are the U.S. and Russian militaries buds? And more.
The founder of Libya's Islamist militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, was at the site of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi during the attack that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans, reports the WSJ's Margaret Coker. Ahmed Abu Khattalah's presence there is the strongest link between the militant group and the attack, and it underscores the terrorist nature of the assault on the compound. http://on.wsj.com/V5RI4v
The founder of Libya’s Islamist militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, was at the site of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi during the attack that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans, reports the WSJ’s Margaret Coker. Ahmed Abu Khattalah’s presence there is the strongest link between the militant group and the attack, and it underscores the terrorist nature of the assault on the compound. http://on.wsj.com/V5RI4v
Has the White House dropped the "al Qaeda is on its heels" line? The Cable’s Josh Rogin points out a conspicuous omission in the way President Obama described his national security checklist at last night’s debate: it didn’t include the line, used as recently as last week, that the terrorist group is "on its heels." Rogin: "This month, the White House has been slowly but surely adding qualifications to its claims of progress in destroying al Qaeda, which has seen its ranks in North Africa increase recently." http://bit.ly/Tt7Xau
Obama took responsibility for the attack in Libya and angrily defended himself to Mitt Romney in Tuesday night’s debate on Long Island: Obama: "And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as commander in chief."
At the same time, the president never answered a participant’s question: "Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?"
Debate transcript: http://wapo.st/RDMPle
Choice headline this morning: "Millions Head to the Internet to Figure Out Their Own Opinions About Debate."
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of Situation Report, where we’ll be waiting with bated breath for the bad lip reading of last night’s performance. 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 us an e-mail and we’ll put you on the list.
It’s happening: flight operations have begun aboard China’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and Killer Apps’ John Reed has the pics to prove it. http://bit.ly/Tb8KSQ
A week before AUSA, we know a little bit about what Gen. O is thinking. As the land wars wind down, the Army is at a crossroads and next week’s AUSA conference, the annual convention for the Army in DC, will shed some light about where its chief of staff thinks the service should head. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, we’re told by an officer with knowledge of the preparations, will focus on four themes and initiatives, including his new doctrine, the nascent Strategic Landpower initiative (covered in Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/PG1xpm), as well as the Army’s need for cyber-weapons for Joe.
Also, during the series of panel discussions, events, and speeches, including "the Eisenhower Luncheon," Odierno will touch on what’s known as the "Ready and Resilient Campaign," a new initiative designed to integrate more than 100 programs – from ones for substance abuse to sexual harassment to soldier fitness – to strengthen the Army and its soldiers, whether they have returned from war with injuries or simply would benefit from increased resilience to stay healthy.
"So what the chief is trying to do is to take all of these programs and reorient them so the entire force benefits from them prior to adversity rather than having the bulk of their energy focused on the small sub-set of folks who may have gone through something negative and need help," the officer told Situation Report.
For all the focus about cyber-security and the military, there isn’t a lot of talk about what the rank-and-file needs. So during the convention, Odierno and others will talk about the need to develop a "resident capability" at that level, Situation Report is told. The best example to illustrate the need is how brigade commanders are given the tools they need to blow up a building, but they don’t have the capacity to turn all the lights out of that building to force its evacuation. "There is a lot of [discussion of] strategic cyber, but there aren’t a lot of folks looking at the impact to the guy on the ground." But there is a line Odierno won’t cross. "We’re not talking about tactical cyber-weapons, that would be a bridge too far," the officer told Situation Report.
During the Eisenhower speech, Odierno is going to talk about the role of today’s Army and its place in the joint world. But he also wants to articulate his vision for the service’s future, including the need to make major investments in developing its leaders by enhancing their critical thinking skills and broadening their experience — "He really wants captains and majors to do interagency jobs, to go to grad school. He doesn’t want tactical assignment after tactical assignment."
But also expect Odierno to talk about the need for the Army to position itself — market itself really — as a more adaptable tool in the Pentagon’s tool shed. "The perception is that if you call us, you get a brigade," said the officer. Odierno wants to "re-shape" the way you think about the Army. Odierno wants to make people in the national security establishment understand that the Army can be scaled from the largest to the smallest, depending on what they need.
"Then folks might be more prone to call the Army," he said.
Overlooked! The Army spent nearly $11 million in 2010 to put on AUSA, its annual convention, and about the same last year, according to Bloomberg’s Brendan McGarry. But this year, don’t look for big swag bags: it aims to cut costs a whopping 88 percent this year.
Odierno participates in the annual conference put on by MRE (Military Reporters and Editors) that runs Thursday and Friday. Odierno will deliver the keynote during the awards lunch on Friday. But Thursday night two Pentagon policy chiefs debate each other, Eric Edelman (Bush 43) and Michele Flournoy (Obama). The conference includes other notables, panel discussions and events. #MRE2012. http://bit.ly/QGwk7w
Ask a Pakistani cab driver what he thinks about Malala, the girl peace activist, and if the Taliban is overplaying its hand or creating a chilling effect across Pakistan and he’ll be more than happy to tell you what he thinks. Khalid Iqbal, "a proud, flag-waving American" who has lived here 22 years told us this: "If we go back in the history, no war ever was fought for the religion, but religion was the easy available tool to justify the wars and to cover the brutality," he said. "Taliban are creating harassment and terror and under the shadow of implications of rule of Sharia laws definitely giving this message to the Pakistani nation not to mess with them." But, he says, "Now it depends on Pakistani nation what they decide, whether they wanna live with it or retaliate and live freely."
Malala is an army of one, doing what so far the U.S. has been unable to do. Such is the argument of FP’s David Rothkopf, who says the ways in which the young activist has galvanized public opinion in Pakistan has achieved something the U.S. has not done there. It points up American failures in the region. "From Tunisia to Pakistan, this a region in the midst of the most profound kind of upheaval, and yet we have no new thinking, no coherent policy that can be communicated to the American people or the world." http://bit.ly/OD94Hy
Debate prep for next Monday’s match-up: Is Russia still America’s "number one geo-political foe"? Romney has said Russia is still a big foe, and while that will be debatable, literally, on Oct. 22, the E-Ring’s Kevin Baron asked around to see how the relationship stands from a military-to-military standpoint. Based on his conversation with Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, deputy director for plans, policy, and strategy at EUCOM, Kevin reports it’s a pretty robust relationship. He told Kevin the American and Russian militaries have nearly daily interaction. Baron: "According to Montgomery, things have never been better between the old Cold War foes." Montgomery might know: his father was a military attaché to Moscow and he himself lived there in the 1980s as a child. http://bit.ly/PWNCgx
The Libya Card
- ABC (blog) Biden says Romney playing politics on Benghazi. http://abcn.ws/OHw9c0
- Inquirer: Learning nothing from Libya. http://bit.ly/WyMeCO
- WaPo (blog) Romney’s missed opportunity on Libya. http://wapo.st/RAqMsH
- Jerusalem Post: Syria envoy Brahimi says conflict could consume ME. http://bit.ly/WmHrpm
- AFP: PKK vows reprisals if Turkey attacks Syrian Kurds.
- New WaPo: UN envoy to Syria calls on government to initiate a cease-fire for holiday. http://wapo.st/V6i7PC
- VOA: Syria peace envoy Brahimi visits Lebanon. http://bit.ly/U34zsa
- AP: Syrian conflict deepens sectarian rifts in Lebanon. http://on.freep.com/PBMRv0
Your Opinion Counts
- The Telegraph: Romney had it coming on Libya. http://bit.ly/QURZqi
- USAT: Debate opinion roundup. http://usat.ly/OGBOiI
- WSJ (Wisse): Obama, Romney and the Jews. http://on.wsj.com/RAhUDc
Post debate: Just the Facts
- AP: http://trib.in/Xn8I9o
- Factcheck: http://bit.ly/REzYzp
- Factcheck: (on Romney spending $2 trillion on defense) http://bit.ly/WiDv9a
- WaPo: http://wapo.st/T0750w
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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