Karzai mixes it up in Kabul for Hagel; Another insider attack; What Harman thinks it all means; How the CR affects cyber; and just a little more.
By Gordon Lubold New this hour: An insider attack in Wardak province in Afghanistan killed two Americans. AP reports that the attack happened when the Americans visited a police station in Wardak and someone wearing an Afghan police uniform opened fire. The resulting firefight was reportedly some 20 minutes long and left two Americans and ...
By Gordon Lubold
By Gordon Lubold
New this hour: An insider attack in Wardak province in Afghanistan killed two Americans. AP reports that the attack happened when the Americans visited a police station in Wardak and someone wearing an Afghan police uniform opened fire. The resulting firefight was reportedly some 20 minutes long and left two Americans and three Afghans dead. ISAF made a public release of the deaths at 8:30 this morning, EST. President Hamid Karzai recently directed that all U.S. Special Operations Forces to leave the province. Situation Report was told last week the two governments were in negotiation to work it out, but that remains unclear today.
Karzai put some bumps in the road for Hagel’s first trip to Afghanistan as SecDef. In remarks at an event celebrating women, Karzai likened the U.S. to the Taliban, saying both colluded to keep Afghanistan unstable, but for different reasons, and the Taliban were killing Afghan civilians "in service to America." It’s all to justify a continued U.S. presence, he said. Even for Karzai, whose tendency to criticize the U.S. at inopportune — or for him, perhaps, opportune — moments, the comments were particularly harsh and showed that the U.S.-Afghan relationship is in disarray at a critical time. In the wake of his remarks, a joint Karzai-Hagel press conference at the presidential palace was cancelled. Pentagon press secretary George Little cited security concerns, even though the security-heavy palace is where such press conferences are almost always held. Earlier, Karzai had refused U.S. conditions for the Afghan takeover of the American detention center in Afghanistan, resulting in a last-minute cancelation of the transfer ceremony that was to take place while Hagel was in town.
For his part, Hagel later said that he and Karzai privately had "a very direct conversation," and Hagel charitably acknowledged the position in which Karzai finds himself: "I know these are difficult issues for President Karzai and the Afghan people…and I was once a politician, so I can understand the kind of pressures especially leaders of countries are always under."
New ISAF commander Gen. Joe Dunford on Karzai’s comments: "President Karzai has never said to me that the United States was colluding with the Taliban. So I don’t know what caused him to say that today. All I can do is speak for the coalition to tell you that it’s categorically false, that we have no reason to be colluding with the Taliban. We have no reason to be supporting instability in Afghanistan. And all that we have been about over the past 12 years is to bring peace and stability to the Afghan people so that they can take advantage of the decade of opportunity that will follow 2014. That’s what we’re all about."
And: "We have fought too hard over the past 12 years. We have shed too much blood over the past 12 years. We have done too much to help the Afghan Security Forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage. That’s clearly not where we are right now. And I would say that emphatically."
USIP’s Scott Smith, on what Karzai said, to Situation Report: "I think it’s a sign that he’s afraid of his growing irrelevance. It looks like he’ll be outlasted by both the US and the Taliban, so he suggests they’re in cahoots with each other. It’s hard to find any other way in which these comments could possibly make sense."
Hagel is headed home. He experienced the usual security challenges, curve balls from Karzai and an explosion near where he was staying during his three-day visit. He also sat with Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and two other congressmen, Situation Report was told.
Welcome to Monday’s edition of Situation Report. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at email@example.com. Sign up for Situation Report here or just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll put you on the list. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. If we can get it in, we will. And help us fill our candy dish: news of the military weird, strange trends, personnel comings-and-goings and whatnot.
Hey, isn’t that… J. P. McGee, the former deputy executive assistant of former CJCS Adm. Mike Mullen, and now a brigade commander in Afghanistan, in this picture on CNN’s "Security Clearance" with Hagel in Afghanistan over the weekend? Yup, it is.
Afghanistan? Well, it’s complicated. Reporters traveling with Hagel noted his frequent use of the word "complicated" when describing country and the mission.
The chatter, post-Karzai. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, guest Donny Deutsch: "Imagine you’re a family that has made the ultimate sacrifice and you lost one of the 5,000 [sic], a son or a daughter or a brother, a father, and you’re watching Karzai this weekend, what you must be thinking." Michael Steele: "You’re going through the television set at that point. All that loss of life and treasure, and for what, to have this guy sort of throw it back in your face, as our troops are doing what they need to do to keep it clean getting out, and he should be doing everything possible to make that happen."
Former Congresswoman Jane Harman, on "Morning Joe": "Joe Biden was right in hindsight, that a counter-terrorism approach would have been more successful and there would have been a smaller loss of life, and going forward I think that that needs to be our approach as we try to prevent harm on our soil from al Qaeda and al Qaeda-like organizations. We can’t do everything for everyone, and nation building, I know it’s a stained word, just is not going to work in areas like Afghanistan."
And: "My speculation is that Karzai knows that we really are going, and once you have someone to blame if the country tanks as we go, it’s going to be our fault…. I think he’s making it harder for himself. He’s had a lot of years to get the training wheels off."
The CENTCOM change of command will be March 22. Gen. Lloyd Austin will take over for Gen. Jim Mattis at a ceremony in Tampa.
Back by popular demand: Military recruiting posters, over the last 150 years, as brought to you by FP. We had a lot of e-mails on this one, and apparently the link was broken, so here we go again. U.S. Transportation Command hit with 180,000 cyber attacks, version 2.0. Killer Apps’ John Reed got an update to his piece Friday about how U.S. Transportation Command receives as many as 180,000 cyber attacks each year, from a TRANSCOM spokeswoman:
"The overwhelming number of events involving USTRANSCOM are low-severity, nuisance scanning and probing activities, but there have been events involving advanced persistent attempts to access USTRANSCOM systems," said Cynthia Bauer in an email. "The command follows the DOD Cyber Incident Handling Program, which defines a computer network event as malicious or suspicious cyber activity against DOD reported in nine categories."
Also, ICYMI (we did): The continuing resolution slows growth of Cyber Command. In an e-mail interview with John last week, STRATCOM boss Gen. Robert Kehler said, among other things that the continuing resolution would in fact undermine the growth at Cyber Command: Kehler: "The continuing resolution will have the largest impact to US Cyber Command in the areas of workforce growth and cyber situational awareness. The Department was primed to begin an aggressive increase in the size and training of the workforce to provide full spectrum cyber capability. The CR impacts this effort. Compounding this effect, sequestration will result in the furlough of more than 400 civilian workers at US Cyber Command. One of the key capabilities required to defend our networks is timely and comprehensive cyber situational awareness. The FY13 budget provided funds to begin development of a common operational picture to support cyber situational awareness for all the Services and Combatant Commands. This effort will also be delayed."
WSJ full pager this morning: "Military and national defense leaders agree: the government should not discriminate against legally married same-sex couples" from the Respect for Marriage Coalition. Signers include: Doug Wilson, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Lt. Gen. James Thompson, Col. Larry Wilkerson, Vice Adm. John Shanahan, Jr., Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, Vice Adm. Joe Sestak, Chuck Robb, Bill Perry, Joe Reeder, Lt. Gen. Charles Otstott, Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich, Larry Korb, Patrick Murphy, Rear Adm. John Hutson, Brig Gen. David Irvine, Lt. Gen. Arlen Jameson, Brig. Gen. John Johns, Russ Feingold, Brig. Gen Evelyn Foote, Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Jr. Bill Cohen, Coit Blacker, Gen. Wesley Clark, Richard Clark, Rear Adm. Thomas Atkin, Brig. Gen. Barfield.
AP: Video shows bodies of foreign hostages.
Reuters: French see Mali secure by end of March.
Guardian: Tributes paid to British hostage believed killed in Nigeria.
Horseed Media: Egypt to re-open embassy in Somalia.
Al-Jazeera: Afghanistan: A Russian diplomat’s fears.
NBC: Possible green-on-blue attack in Wardak.
The New Yorker (blog): Welcome to Afghanistan, Mr. Hagel.
Global Post: North Korea cuts hotline with South as wargames begin.
The Hankyoreh: Korean peninsula bracing for war amid tension.
CNN: North Korea declares 1953 armistice invalid.
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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