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.

Sheehan, leaving the Pentagon; U.S. to send assistance to Lebanon?; Did Snowden want to shoot leakers in their [private parts]?; Duckworth, fired up; SecDef is wheels up; Hagel has Rice for dinner; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold The Pentagon’s top shadow warrior is leaving. At a town hall-style meeting recently, Pentagon Policy Chief Jim Miller announced that Mike Sheehan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict, is leaving the job at the end of next month. Sheehan, who began in that high-profile role in December ...

By Gordon Lubold

The Pentagon’s top shadow warrior is leaving. At a town hall-style meeting recently, Pentagon Policy Chief Jim Miller announced that Mike Sheehan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict, is leaving the job at the end of next month. Sheehan, who began in that high-profile role in December 2011, replaced Michael Lumpkin, who replaced national security policy celebrity Mike Vickers. No solid word on Sheehan’s replacement yet, and it’s not clear why he’s leaving. SOLIC, which provides policy oversight over U.S. Special Operations Command has become a major player inside the military and on Capitol Hill as Special Operations becomes the force du-jour for an administration reluctant to send boots-on-the-ground to anywhere. This is the office that helps guide America’s clandestine conflicts around the globe. But the office has its enemies, on the Hill and inside the building, and some new initiatives have not been sold to the Hill well, Situation Report is told this morning.

What’s Sheehan’s next move? Well, he’s an aggressive, well-regarded, media-friendly, high-profile former head of counterterrorism for the NYPD, where he was credited with creating innovative programs and partnerships. That makes him a possible contender to replace Ray Kelly as the commissioner of America’s largest metropolitan police force.

Syria shockwaves: The Pentagon is considering more weapons, trainers for Lebanon and Iraq due to contain civil war spillover. Gen. Marty Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he recommended in recent weeks that the U.S. help "build additional capability" among the Lebanese armed forces and the Iraqi security forces. In response to a question about the possibility of helping Lebanese forces at a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Dempsey replied: "When you say would we send the United States Army or the United States military into Lebanon, I’m talking about teams of trainers, and I’m talking about accelerating foreign military sales for equipment for them.  This is — this is about building their capability, not ours." AP’s Lita Baldor reported that Dempsey’s new spokesman, Col. Ed Thomas, said that his boss made the recommendation to U.S. Central Command in recent weeks. Dempsey: "Militarily, what we’re doing is assisting our partners in the region, the neighbors of Syria, to ensure that they’re prepared to account for the potential spillover effects," Dempsey said during a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. "As you know, we’ve just taken a decision to leave some Patriot missile batteries and some F-16s in Jordan as part of the defense of Jordan. We’re working with our Iraqi counterparts, the Lebanese Armed Forces and Turkey through NATO."

Gates, weighing in on Syria. In an interview with CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. often overestimates its ability to shape events, but he said he thinks the White House’s approach on Syria is probably about right.

Gates: "But under the circumstances, I believe that if we are going to assist segments of the Syrian opposition that the way the president has decided to do it is the way to do it… Which is through Turkey and Jordan; basic military equipment, I would be willing to give them more anti-armor, I would not give them surface to air missiles." Gates also said, though, that he does not think it will be enough to tip the balance of power on the ground and force the Assad regime into a negotiated settlement. Watch the Gates interview, in which he also talks about DOMA and Snowden, here.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of Situation Report. 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.

Five years ago, Edward Snowden may have berated leakers, saying they should be shot. Ars Technica, a news site for nerds, broke the story about how a man who appeared to be Edward Snowden wrote in a chat room about how leakers should be "shot in the balls." Then, of course, he became one. Ars Technica’s Joe Mullin: "Snowden may have leaned libertarian on some issues, but he also exhibited strong support for America’s security state apparatus. He didn’t just work for it as a quiet dissident. Four years before he would leak the country’s secrets, Snowden was cheering its actions and insisting that it needed healthy funding. To anyone who questioned US actions in his favored online hangout, he could be derisive. Livid about the across-the-board defense cuts that were planned under Obama, Snowden acidly joked that ‘[m]aybe we could just outsource our defense needs to india.’ Worse yet, during a remarkable January 2009 chat, Snowden wrote that Obama had "appointed a fucking politician to run the CIA." In that same conversation, he vented his rage over reading a New York Times article about US actions in Iran, which was based on confidential leaks." Going by the name TheTrueHOOHA, apparently Snowden commented in the chat room about the story in the NYT. TheTrueHooha: "Moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?… those people should be shot in the balls." Read the full exchange on page 3 of the Ars Technica piece, here. Main page of the article, here. 

The sexual assault crisis has created a "white hot" atmosphere and thus Jeffrey can’t get a fair trial. So argues the defense attorney for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, accused of forcing an Army captain, with whom he’s already admitted to having an adulterous affair, to twice perform oral sex on him, as well other charges. He also faces accusations of misconduct with other women. But Sinclair’s attorney is going for it. He is arguing that President Barack Obama, Congress and military leaders – who have spoken out about the sexual assault crisis – have exhibited command influence on the jury and now his client won’t get a fair trial. Fayettville Observer: "The ongoing ‘white-hot’ political climate surrounding sexual misconduct in the military will put intense pressure on Sinclair’s jury to find him guilty, defense lawyer Richard Scheff said during a pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg. The jury will consist entirely of generals whose jobs and career advancement are in the hands of the president and others who have been vocal on the subject, Scheff said." Sinclair’s court-martial is scheduled for July 16.

His Left Foot: Tammy Duckworth becomes incredulous. At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) freaked out on an IRS contractor yesterday The contractor, Braulio Castillo, made a disability claim last year for an ankle injury he suffered at a military prep school in 1984, thus entitling him to a lucrative contract with the IRS worth as much as a half-billion dollars. Duckworth, who lost both legs in 2004 in Iraq, to Castillo, snarkily: "I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way, if also opportune for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts…Your foot hurt – your left foot?"

Castillo: "Yes ma’am."

Duckworth: "Yeah, my feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously and I feel like there is a nail being hammered into my right heel right now." Read the rest, here. Federal Times’ story this week on the claim, here.

Is the demise of the fighter jock premature? Killer Apps’ John Reed reports that the Air Force, once "shoveling its fighter jocks out of their

ejection seats and into leather-chaired drone cockpits in the Nevada desert," are now offering fighter pilots up to $225,000 in cash money to stay in the service for nine years. "Maybe the much-hyped end of the American fighter pilot isn’t quite here," Reed writes. "This news comes as the military puts an increasing premium on fighter high-end wars, with a particular focus on the Pacific, against adversaries equipped with weapons designed to keep American forces far from their borders. Such conflicts would involve high-tech aircraft, ships, missiles and cyber weapons instead of huge masses of tanks and infantry."

Dinner for two: Hagel and Rice. Hagel had soon-to-be National Security Adviser Susan Rice over for dinner at the Pentagon last night. After learning that President Barack Obama would install her as National Security Adviser, Hagel, on a big trip around the world, called her from the Doomsday plane and asked her for last night’s dinner.

Hagel is wheels up this morning. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flies to Colorado Springs tomorrow, where he’ll spend the next two days meeting with members of the NORAD and NORTHCOM staffs talking homeland and missile defense, we’re told. Hagel will also visit with firefighters who have played a big role in putting out wildfires in the region. Then on Friday, he gets to get all Cold War and play War Games, when he visits NORAD’s  Cheyenne Mountain combat operations center. Later Friday, he’ll visit the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson to meet with soldiers and then hold an open press town hall meeting.

Staffers on a plane: Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, Pentagon Press Secretary (and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs) George Little, and Acting ASD for Homeland Defense Todd Rosenblum.

Dempsey, Winnefeld, get their re-ups. Hagel announced yesterday that Dempsey and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Sandy Winnefeld would be re-nominated by President Barack Obama to their jobs. The two-year re-nomination for the nation’s two military officers is typically a formality, but not always – just ask Pete Pace and "Adm. G." For those who are really in the weeds, the re-noms for Dempsey and Winnefeld did come slightly late. As we noted last week, the previous duo, Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. Hoss Cartwright were re-nom’ed for a second stint sooner, some three months sooner, during their half-way point.

Couple of top officials leaving State, too. Our own John Hudson of The Cable reports on a few personnel changes in Foggy Bottom. Robert Hormats, the Under Secretary of Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats’s last day is July 31, he reports. And "Assistant Secretary of Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez is also leaving in the near future, according to two sources, which follows The Cable’s report that Chief Economist Heidi Crebo-Rediker will be leaving her position by the end of July." Read more of Hudson’s report, here.

From the Department of Normalcy, Afghanistan, comes this report: With the help of some irrepressible rowers comes the miraculous birth of a rowing program in Afghanistan. Matt Trevithick, a sometimes FP contributor, helped to get a rowing program together in Afghanistan and Iraq.  BU magazine piece starts by explaining the June 2012 attack at Lake Qargha, in which the Taliban, apparently incenses by rumors of drinking, dancing and prostitution at the resort, shot diners at their tables and created bedlam, leaving 25 people dead. "Not the best place to introduce a sport favored by America’s privileged class, but it’s on these waters, not far from the bullet-scarred Spozhmai Hotel, that a strapping blond American named Matt Trevithick wants to launch a national rowing program. In a mountainous, war-torn country with no history of open-water sports and a simmering hostility with the West, the 6-foot-4 oarsman would seem to have his work cut out for him. But Trevithick doesn’t worry about things the way most people do." Read the rest, here.

Worth the click: 1960s Afghanistan, in pictures, by photographer Bill Podlich, here.

Meanwhile, Bob Gilka, the guy who oversaw photography at Nat-Geo for two decades, and helped make Steve McCurry’s photo of "Afghan Girl" an iconic image, for the magazine and the world, has died at age 96. WaPo, here.

 

Noting

  • USAT: Words of a general (John Kelly) who lost a son in combat resonate.
  • U.S. News: Sequestration will force Naval Academy to cancel some classes.
  • Jacksonville Daily News: Two Marines become first Osprey pilots to get Distinguished Flying Cross.

You’re Kidding

  • Youtube: Indian TV reporter keeps his pants dry. 

Thinking

 

By Gordon Lubold

The Pentagon’s top shadow warrior is leaving. At a town hall-style meeting recently, Pentagon Policy Chief Jim Miller announced that Mike Sheehan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict, is leaving the job at the end of next month. Sheehan, who began in that high-profile role in December 2011, replaced Michael Lumpkin, who replaced national security policy celebrity Mike Vickers. No solid word on Sheehan’s replacement yet, and it’s not clear why he’s leaving. SOLIC, which provides policy oversight over U.S. Special Operations Command has become a major player inside the military and on Capitol Hill as Special Operations becomes the force du-jour for an administration reluctant to send boots-on-the-ground to anywhere. This is the office that helps guide America’s clandestine conflicts around the globe. But the office has its enemies, on the Hill and inside the building, and some new initiatives have not been sold to the Hill well, Situation Report is told this morning.

What’s Sheehan’s next move? Well, he’s an aggressive, well-regarded, media-friendly, high-profile former head of counterterrorism for the NYPD, where he was credited with creating innovative programs and partnerships. That makes him a possible contender to replace Ray Kelly as the commissioner of America’s largest metropolitan police force.

Syria shockwaves: The Pentagon is considering more weapons, trainers for Lebanon and Iraq due to contain civil war spillover. Gen. Marty Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he recommended in recent weeks that the U.S. help "build additional capability" among the Lebanese armed forces and the Iraqi security forces. In response to a question about the possibility of helping Lebanese forces at a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Dempsey replied: "When you say would we send the United States Army or the United States military into Lebanon, I’m talking about teams of trainers, and I’m talking about accelerating foreign military sales for equipment for them.  This is — this is about building their capability, not ours." AP’s Lita Baldor reported that Dempsey’s new spokesman, Col. Ed Thomas, said that his boss made the recommendation to U.S. Central Command in recent weeks. Dempsey: "Militarily, what we’re doing is assisting our partners in the region, the neighbors of Syria, to ensure that they’re prepared to account for the potential spillover effects," Dempsey said during a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. "As you know, we’ve just taken a decision to leave some Patriot missile batteries and some F-16s in Jordan as part of the defense of Jordan. We’re working with our Iraqi counterparts, the Lebanese Armed Forces and Turkey through NATO."

Gates, weighing in on Syria. In an interview with CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. often overestimates its ability to shape events, but he said he thinks the White House’s approach on Syria is probably about right.

Gates: "But under the circumstances, I believe that if we are going to assist segments of the Syrian opposition that the way the president has decided to do it is the way to do it… Which is through Turkey and Jordan; basic military equipment, I would be willing to give them more anti-armor, I would not give them surface to air missiles." Gates also said, though, that he does not think it will be enough to tip the balance of power on the ground and force the Assad regime into a negotiated settlement. Watch the Gates interview, in which he also talks about DOMA and Snowden, here.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of Situation Report. 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.

Five years ago, Edward Snowden may have berated leakers, saying they should be shot. Ars Technica, a news site for nerds, broke the story about how a man who appeared to be Edward Snowden wrote in a chat room about how leakers should be "shot in the balls." Then, of course, he became one. Ars Technica’s Joe Mullin: "Snowden may have leaned libertarian on some issues, but he also exhibited strong support for America’s security state apparatus. He didn’t just work for it as a quiet dissident. Four years before he would leak the country’s secrets, Snowden was cheering its actions and insisting that it needed healthy funding. To anyone who questioned US actions in his favored online hangout, he could be derisive. Livid about the across-the-board defense cuts that were planned under Obama, Snowden acidly joked that ‘[m]aybe we could just outsource our defense needs to india.’ Worse yet, during a remarkable January 2009 chat, Snowden wrote that Obama had "appointed a fucking politician to run the CIA." In that same conversation, he vented his rage over reading a New York Times article about US actions in Iran, which was based on confidential leaks." Going by the name TheTrueHOOHA, apparently Snowden commented in the chat room about the story in the NYT. TheTrueHooha: "Moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?… those people should be shot in the balls." Read the full exchange on page 3 of the Ars Technica piece, here. Main page of the article, here. 

The sexual assault crisis has created a "white hot" atmosphere and thus Jeffrey can’t get a fair trial. So argues the defense attorney for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, accused of forcing an Army captain, with whom he’s already admitted to having an adulterous affair, to twice perform oral sex on him, as well other charges. He also faces accusations of misconduct with other women. But Sinclair’s attorney is going for it. He is arguing that President Barack Obama, Congress and military leaders – who have spoken out about the sexual assault crisis – have exhibited command influence on the jury and now his client won’t get a fair trial. Fayettville Observer: "The ongoing ‘white-hot’ political climate surrounding sexual misconduct in the military will put intense pressure on Sinclair’s jury to find him guilty, defense lawyer Richard Scheff said during a pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg. The jury will consist entirely of generals whose jobs and career advancement are in the hands of the president and others who have been vocal on the subject, Scheff said." Sinclair’s court-martial is scheduled for July 16.

His Left Foot: Tammy Duckworth becomes incredulous. At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) freaked out on an IRS contractor yesterday The contractor, Braulio Castillo, made a disability claim last year for an ankle injury he suffered at a military prep school in 1984, thus entitling him to a lucrative contract with the IRS worth as much as a half-billion dollars. Duckworth, who lost both legs in 2004 in Iraq, to Castillo, snarkily: "I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way, if also opportune for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts…Your foot hurt – your left foot?"

Castillo: "Yes ma’am."

Duckworth: "Yeah, my feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously and I feel like there is a nail being hammered into my right heel right now." Read the rest, here. Federal Times’ story this week on the claim, here.

Is the demise of the fighter jock premature? Killer Apps’ John Reed reports that the Air Force, once "shoveling its fighter jocks out of their

ejection seats and into leather-chaired drone cockpits in the Nevada desert," are now offering fighter pilots up to $225,000 in cash money to stay in the service for nine years. "Maybe the much-hyped end of the American fighter pilot isn’t quite here," Reed writes. "This news comes as the military puts an increasing premium on fighter high-end wars, with a particular focus on the Pacific, against adversaries equipped with weapons designed to keep American forces far from their borders. Such conflicts would involve high-tech aircraft, ships, missiles and cyber weapons instead of huge masses of tanks and infantry."

Dinner for two: Hagel and Rice. Hagel had soon-to-be National Security Adviser Susan Rice over for dinner at the Pentagon last night. After learning that President Barack Obama would install her as National Security Adviser, Hagel, on a big trip around the world, called her from the Doomsday plane and asked her for last night’s dinner.

Hagel is wheels up this morning. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flies to Colorado Springs tomorrow, where he’ll spend the next two days meeting with members of the NORAD and NORTHCOM staffs talking homeland and missile defense, we’re told. Hagel will also visit with firefighters who have played a big role in putting out wildfires in the region. Then on Friday, he gets to get all Cold War and play War Games, when he visits NORAD’s  Cheyenne Mountain combat operations center. Later Friday, he’ll visit the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson to meet with soldiers and then hold an open press town hall meeting.

Staffers on a plane: Senior Military Assistant Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, Pentagon Press Secretary (and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs) George Little, and Acting ASD for Homeland Defense Todd Rosenblum.

Dempsey, Winnefeld, get their re-ups. Hagel announced yesterday that Dempsey and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Sandy Winnefeld would be re-nominated by President Barack Obama to their jobs. The two-year re-nomination for the nation’s two military officers is typically a formality, but not always – just ask Pete Pace and "Adm. G." For those who are really in the weeds, the re-noms for Dempsey and Winnefeld did come slightly late. As we noted last week, the previous duo, Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. Hoss Cartwright were re-nom’ed for a second stint sooner, some three months sooner, during their half-way point.

Couple of top officials leaving State, too. Our own John Hudson of The Cable reports on a few personnel changes in Foggy Bottom. Robert Hormats, the Under Secretary of Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats’s last day is July 31, he reports. And "Assistant Secretary of Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez is also leaving in the near future, according to two sources, which follows The Cable’s report that Chief Economist Heidi Crebo-Rediker will be leaving her position by the end of July." Read more of Hudson’s report, here.

From the Department of Normalcy, Afghanistan, comes this report: With the help of some irrepressible rowers comes the miraculous birth of a rowing program in Afghanistan. Matt Trevithick, a sometimes FP contributor, helped to get a rowing program together in Afghanistan and Iraq.  BU magazine piece starts by explaining the June 2012 attack at Lake Qargha, in which the Taliban, apparently incenses by rumors of drinking, dancing and prostitution at the resort, shot diners at their tables and created bedlam, leaving 25 people dead. "Not the best place to introduce a sport favored by America’s privileged class, but it’s on these waters, not far from the bullet-scarred Spozhmai Hotel, that a strapping blond American named Matt Trevithick wants to launch a national rowing program. In a mountainous, war-torn country with no history of open-water sports and a simmering hostility with the West, the 6-foot-4 oarsman would seem to have his work cut out for him. But Trevithick doesn’t worry about things the way most people do." Read the rest, here.

Worth the click: 1960s Afghanistan, in pictures, by photographer Bill Podlich, here.

Meanwhile, Bob Gilka, the guy who oversaw photography at Nat-Geo for two decades, and helped make Steve McCurry’s photo of "Afghan Girl" an iconic image, for the magazine and the world, has died at age 96. WaPo, here.

 

Noting

  • USAT: Words of a general (John Kelly) who lost a son in combat resonate.
  • U.S. News: Sequestration will force Naval Academy to cancel some classes.
  • Jacksonville Daily News: Two Marines become first Osprey pilots to get Distinguished Flying Cross.

You’re Kidding

  • Youtube: Indian TV reporter keeps his pants dry. 

Thinking

 

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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