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.

Middies under investigation; SecDef in Singapore; Only broad outlines for migrating drone ops to DOD; No peace talks for the Taliban; The logjam for furlough appeals; Hagel: The dog ate it; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold NCIS is investigating three football players at the Naval Academy for allegedly raping a female midshipman. The alleged incident, still actively under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, has not resulted in any charges, and it’s still too soon to say if there will be any. Cmdr. John Schofield, a spokesman ...

By Gordon Lubold

By Gordon Lubold

NCIS is investigating three football players at the Naval Academy for allegedly raping a female midshipman. The alleged incident, still actively under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, has not resulted in any charges, and it’s still too soon to say if there will be any. Cmdr. John Schofield, a spokesman for the Academy, told Situation Report: "Naval Academy leadership is monitoring the progress of this investigation and evaluating the appropriate options for adjudication. It is completely inappropriate to make any other public comment on this investigation or any ongoing investigation as we risk compromising the military justice process."

Retaliation is common in the military, a rape victim says. AP’s Julie Watson: "Stacey Thompson had just been stationed at Marine base in Japan when she said her sergeant laced her drinks with drugs, raped her in his barracks and then dumped her onto a street outside a nightclub at 4 a.m. The 19-year-old lance corporal was not afraid to speak up. She reported it to her superiors but little happened. She said she discovered her perpetrator was allowed to leave the Marine Corps and she found herself, instead, at the center of a separate investigation for drug use stemming from that night. Six months later, she was kicked out with an other-than-honorable discharge – one step below honorable discharge – which means she lost her benefits. Now, 14 years later, she has decided to speak out again, emboldened by the mounting pressure on the Pentagon to resolve its growing sexual assault epidemic. She went public with her story Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press."

Wheels down: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Singapore last night after a 13-hour flight from Hawaii. Today he meets with the Indonesian Minister of Defense Purnomo Yusgiantoro, before attending the opening ceremony for the Shangri-La Dialogue that will feature a keynote from the Vietnamese prime minister. Hagel delivers his own address tomorrow morning. According to a readout of the meeting with Yusgiantoro, the two discussed Indonesia’s military modernization and the role U.S. foreign military sales could play in it. Hagel also "underscored the importance" of human rights accountability for "sustaining the momentum" in the U.S.-Indonesian defense relationship.

What Hagel will say in that speech. Aboard the Doomsday plane with reporters yesterday, Hagel was asked how budget cuts at home would affect the pivot to Asia. His answer, in part, is that it won’t, and he’ll seek to reassure allies that the operational and strategic pivot back to Asia is still very real. Hagel: "As you all know, soon after I got to the Pentagon, I directed a strategic choice management review. And I did that for many reasons. But one of the most essential reasons I asked for that review, exploring everything, was recognizing that we are going to be limited in our budgets and we know what the law is now… if you look at our repositioning, resetting, rebalancing of our assets so far to fulfill the president’s strategic defense guidance on the rebalance toward Asia Pacific. We’re on track."

Hagel’s examples of the pivot: "We have been undertaking more new bilateral initiatives with partners than we ever have. At the same time, we’re fulfilling all of the larger alliance responsibilities we have on all of our exercises. We move the first littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom, to Singapore. So every measurement of our commitment to that rebalance we’re carrying forward. You have to assess what are the priorities of your nation, what are the strategic interests of your nation. Now I’m going to also say in that speech tomorrow, as we carry forward and carry out this new rebalance, and implement the president’s strategic guidance, that doesn’t mean we’re retreating from the rest of the world. We’re not. But the adaptability and the adjustments and the flexibility that are in constant orbit in a very dynamic shifting world will continually demand the prioritization of our resources and our assets."

Hagel also spoke about his connection to the first Shangri-La Dialogue, why it’s important, and how he and his former aide, Andrew Parasiliti, now the editor at al-Monitor, made it happen. That’s below.

Speaking of the pivot: The Japanese military, "long constrained by the nation’s postwar pacifist constitution," as the WSJ put it this morning, is changing: "Tokyo is preparing a new basic defense policy framework under hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The step would allow the country’s Self-Defense Forces to launch a pre-emptive missile strike at an enemy target if an imminent attack on Japan from that site is confirmed," according to the paper. Read all about it, here.

Welcome to Friday’s edition of Situation Report, where at the very least we can say that our kids know how to mail a letter. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something — to Situation Report.

Hagel: The dog ate my socks. Hagel, speaking to reporters on the Doomsday plane en route to Singapore yesterday, said he tried to exhibit a bit of Nebraska pride by wearing his "best red socks" for Omaha World-Herald reporter Joe Morton, who is accompanying the secretary on his trip to Asia. "I wore my best red socks for Joe Morton. But I know that it might be interpreted, Joe, as a little Texas orange. But I did the best I could. Damn dog ate my real red socks, so don’t tell Ms. Hagel I said that as she’s very fond of that dog."

If DOD civilians begin to make legal claims about the Pentagon’s decision to furlough them, the federal agency that adjudicates those appeals will get busy very fast. DOD civilians began to receive their furlough notice proposals this week, and an estimated 650,000 DOD civilians could be forced on unpaid leave between July 8 and October. But employees can appeal the decision to be furloughed, a move labor unions have encouraged. Those appeals are examined by a little-known panel called the Merit Service Protection Board, considered an independent, bipartisan agency of the executive branch whose members are appointed by the president. In fiscal 2012, 1,587 cases were filed by Defense Department personnel to the board, Situation Report was told, and the MSPB looks at an average of about 6,000 cases each year from all government employees. But a defense official did the math. If just 1 percent of DOD civilians appealed their furloughs, that could mean 7,000 cases just from the DOD that would come before the board, which could be working these cases for years to come. Because the criteria for appeal is so narrow, as Situation Report was told by an labor attorney yesterday, it’s possible the board would begin to consolidate similar claims into smaller, more manageable groups. Either way, they’ll be busy: As the defense official told Situation Report: "They will have their work cut out for them."

After the drone strike in Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban says it won’t do peace talks. From the WaPo: "Confirming the death of Wali ur-Rehman, the second-ranking leader of the militant group, the Taliban’s chief spokesman blamed Pakistan’s government for not doing more to prevent CIA-launched drone strikes
on Pakistani soil. ‘The government has failed to stop drone strikes, so we decided to end any talks with the government,’ Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman, said in a phone interview. ‘Our attacks in Pakistan will continue. ‘U.S. officials had blamed Rehman, who was the chief deputy to Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, for a series of bloody cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO personnel in Afghanistan, including a 2009 assault that killed seven Americans at a CIA facility. In a move that appeared to test President Obama’s revised policy for the use of drones, two missiles were fired into a house Wednesday in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region. Rehman was killed along with at least three other militants." Read the whole story, here.

How will drone ops be migrated from CIA to DOD? Good question — for which there are no real answers. In his speech at NDU last week, President Barack Obama painted in broad brushstrokes the need to make this type of lethal warfare more transparent. That means, in effect, broader congressional oversight since such operations would fall under a larger number of members of Congress, in contrast to the smaller number now. Obama didn’t delineate how he would do that, but a senior administration official briefing reporters noted that the preference be that the U.S. military be the host for drone operations — not the CIA, thus opening up such operations to more public oversight. The official also said there is "an indication of a preference" for DOD to "engage in the use of force outside of warzones" — in places like Somalia or perhaps Mali or Pakistan. But Obama’s intent left more questions than answers. And a senior U.S. official told Situation Report that there is no timeline when it comes to migrating drone operations to the DOD. When the migration of operations does begin to take place, it’s likely to take a number of forms. CIA personnel now responsible for some operations might be detailed to the DOD, or some responsibilities could be divided between the two agencies. Or it could just be done very gradually. "You don’t move it overnight," said the former senior official.

One of the rubs is, despite the controversial aspects of the drone program, it’s seen as tactically effective. And that’s a capability the administration is eager to maintain even as it knows it must wean itself from using drones so actively. "The basic idea of migrating lethal capability away from the CIA is one that has a lot of merit so they can focus more on collection of intelligence and analysis of it," the former official said. And CIA Director John Brennan aggressively supports the move as he attempts to return the agency to its traditional role of intel collection and analysis.

The migration from CIA to DOD will inhibit the number of drone operations because the military doesn’t have the operational flexibility the CIA has. And indeed, that is the point, says Jim Lewis, director and senior fellow of CSIS’s Technology and Public Policy program. "It will go from a routine tool to something that is relatively unique," he told Situation Report. Lewis said there is already "anecdotal evidence" that more missions are being flown by the military but no such metrics are known publicly. But the transition should be relatively seamless since over the years, and in small part thanks to former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, a former director of the CIA, the military and intelligence communities have slowly fused. Now it’s just a question of who will be behind the operations. "It’s just who is in the driver’s seat now and that will be the military," Lewis said.

A new head of JIEDDO. The Pentagon announced yesterday that Army Lt. Gen. John Johnson, currently serving in a joint billet in Korea, will be the new head of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. Johnson will replace the retiring Mike Barbero, also a three-star, who has pushed to keep the doors open at JIEDDO even as the Pentagon’s budget problems and the beginning of the end of combat in Afghanistan threaten to scale back its budget and operations. Earlier this month, Barbero spoke to USAToday about how the Boston bombing was "not an anomaly" and that the IED threat will endure. Read that here.

A shout-out to Japanese-Americans who fought in DubyaDubya II. Today being the last day of Asian American Heritage Month, we thought we’d take a quick opportunity to highlight an organization called Japanese American Veterans Association, or JAVA, a group of about 600 vets from WWII, the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars. The group includes World War II veterans like Tech Sgt. Ben Kuroki, a decorated WWII vet and Japanese American who won three Distinguished Flying Crosses and fought in Europe and the Pacific as a crew member on B-2s and B-24s. We’re told he’s retired now and living in an assisted living facility on the West Coast. He was in the Ploesti raid against oil fields in Romania and in the Pacific, flew B-29s based in Tinian. All the while, he experienced the prejudice against Japanese-Americans during the war. "Our Goals and Objectives are providing assistance, as needed, to member veterans and their widows and dependents. Perpetuating the memory of deceased Japanese American veterans. Conducting educational programs to emphasize the contributions of Japanese American war veterans including speeches, and discussion panels for various civic, religious, political and educational groups.  Sponsoring social and recreational activities in keeping with the patriotic spirit of national holidays.  Promoting the spirit of patriotism and national pride among the younger generation, particularly those of Japanese ancestry," according to a write-up of the organization provided to us by a friend of Situation Report. More about the organization, here.

Hagel, on his connection to the Shangri-La Dialogue, to reporters on the plane, yesterday: "I think it was about 2000 when John Chipman, who was the real energy and intellect and force behind the idea of this Shangri-La Dialogue came to me — I think it was about 2000 — in the Senate and told me what he was thinking about doing. And he, as you may know, had the concept of Verkunde, the Munich Security Conference, which many of you have been to that is 50 years old. And it was put together, as you know, Verkunde, to bring the NATO Western Alliance defense ministers together once a year outside of NATO to address these big security issues. Chipman’s point was I think we need that for Asia, that Asia is emerging into this incredible power with the growth and emergence of China, India, Vietnam, other countries.

"And I was very enthusiastic about the concept and told him that I thought he was exactly right, that I would help him any way I could. And I was on the Foreign Relations Committee at the time. So we had a couple of more conversations about that. And at the time, my foreign relations counsel was Dr. Andrew Parasiliti, who later became affiliated with the IISS [International Institute for Strategic Studies]. In fact, he ran the IISS office in Washington for a few years, up until just recently and was a national — international director. And he’s very close to John Chipman. Well, Andrew was my foreign relations counsel at the time. So I went to the leadership in the Senate at the time and the House and I went to Lugar and Biden and the leadership on the Foreign Relations Committee and told them that I thought this was really a
n important concept and we should get behind it. And they all agreed.

"And that resulted, I think, in the first Shangri-La Dialogue 2002, I think, of me leading the congressional delegation, along with Jack Reed, Senator Jack Reed. And I thought that was important because Jack Reed was on the Armed Services Committee, as he still is. And Jack and I had gotten to the Senate the same year and actually he and traveled around the world a lot in the 12 years I was in the Senate. And so we took a delegation to Shangri-La. And I spoke at the first Shangri-La Dialogue. I led the next two. I guess we alternated, Jack and I, because there was a party change, if you remember in there. So Jack led one and I think I led two. But the first three Shangri-La Dialogues I attended. I either co-chaired the delegation or chaired it. And I spoke at all three. I have not been back since."



  • American Interest: (Zakheim) Strategic implications of sequester. 
  • U.S. News: Hagel could cut bennies for troops. 
  • Army: Army explores new futuristic design for SOCOM.
  • FBI: Former Navy engineer pleads guilty in multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

Syria, Year Two

  • CS Monitor:  Syrian peace conference: Prospects take a hit, but U.S. says it’s committed.
  • Reuters: Russian S-300 missiles unlikely to reach Syria for months.
  • BBC: Rebel reinforcements arrive in Qusair.
  • AP: Hezbollah attacks in Syria draw response.  

Department of Emerging Concerns

  • RT: Rebel rehab: former Gitmo detainees to be deprogrammed in Yemen.
  • The Jerusalem Post: Report: Yemeni Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria.
  • Yemen Post: Washington rumored to urge Yemeni jidhadists to Syria.


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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