19 American posts remain closed; Lawmakers praise the WH; Dempsey: “a significant threat stream,” Could ASB trigger a war with China?; The Navy gets a new personnel chief; Yochi Dreazen to FP; and a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold "An abundance of caution:" the threat against Western interests is keeping 19 posts closed this week. State issued a statement yesterday saying that it would extend the closure of several embassies and consulates and additional posts out of "an abundance of caution." Although the threat was vague, it was also more ...
By Gordon Lubold
By Gordon Lubold
"An abundance of caution:" the threat against Western interests is keeping 19 posts closed this week. State issued a statement yesterday saying that it would extend the closure of several embassies and consulates and additional posts out of "an abundance of caution." Although the threat was vague, it was also more certain than others and appeared to come from the al-Qaida franchise in Yemen. With the memory of Benghazi not far off, and in an apparent show of solidarity, lawmakers praised the administration’s move.
Republican Rep. Peter King, on "This Week," on the administration’s closing the posts: "What they are doing now is what has to be done… we can’t criticize them for being too little in Benghazi, and now criticize them for doing too much… I’m giving them credit for learning from Benghazi… as far as this world wide alert, I think it’s absolutely warranted in this situation."
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, on MTP: "What we have heard is some specifics on what’s intended to be done and some individuals who are making plans, such as we saw before 9/11. Whether they are going to be suicide vests that are used, or whether they’re planning on vehicle-borne bombs being carried into an area, we don’t know. But we’re hearing some kind of that same chatter that we heard pre-9/11."
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat from Maryland, on "This Week": "We received information that high level people from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack," Ruppersberger said. "And these are people at a high level… It’s a very credible threat and it’s based on intelligence…What we have to do now is the most important issue, is protect Americans throughout the world."
Gen. Marty Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on "This Week," on how the threat is "more specific" than previous ones: "There is a significant threat stream and we’re reacting to it… The intent is to attack Western, not just U.S. interests."
Benghazi on the mind. Rep. Ted Poe, the Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House’s Terrorism and Nonproliferation Panel, to The Cable’s John Hudson: "I do think it appears that the State Department doesn’t want to get in a situation like it did in Benghazi where the consulate was not secure despite requests for more security months in advance… Part of the problem though is a public notice like this … The public knows so the bad guys know too." Read the rest here.
RAND’s Seth Jones, to the NYT’s Mark Mazzetti, on how diffuse the terrorist threat has become: "The U.S. has to deal with a number of terror groups across multiple continents who are generally not coordinating with each other… "This is the new Al Qaeda. It is better understood as a loose movement, rather than a single organization."
Closed posts through Aug. 10: Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antananarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis. Re-opening today: Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil.
Welcome to Monday’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.
New this morning: The Institute for Economic Stability. Former members of a DOD economic development group that was first led by Paul Brinkley and focused on economic stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, are out today with a new research organization – and a new paper, provided to Situation Report. The paper is based on an analysis of 120 companies that explored investment opportunities in either Iraq or Afghanistan between 2006 and 2001. The study, write one member of the group, Gerry Brown, shows that about a third of the population sampled conducted business in both war-torn nations during that period. One of the group’s co-founders, Gerry Brown, executive director to Situation Report: "Contrary to the prevailing view of business tolerance of risk in conflict-affected environments, the paper identified significant interest by corporations, ranging from large multinationals such as Daimler, GE, and ArcelorMittal to smaller firms and investment groups, in doing business in conflict-affected nations. The paper posits that this is an untapped resource in promoting stability in fragile states, poorly understood and underutilized in conflict affected nations by the U.S. government, multilateral agencies and NGOs." More on the group and the paper, here.
Could the Pentagon’s Air Sea Battle strategy actually trigger a war with China? Writing on FP, David Gompert and Terrence Kelly ask the question: "As the threat to forward-deployed U.S. forces grows, particularly in East Asia, the Pentagon has been pursuing a strategy known as Air-Sea Battle. As Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Greenert and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Welsh have outlined here in FP, the goal is to neutralize the ability of enemies to keep U.S. forces at bay with so-called anti-access and area-denial defenses. But while the proponents of Air-Sea Battle are careful to say that the strategy isn’t focused on one specific adversary, we shouldn’t kid ourselves: The Chinese see it as aimed at them. Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said as much in the 2012 defense strategic guidance: ‘States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities…. Accordingly, the U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments.’
"To do that, according to Air-Sea Battle, U.S. forces would launch physical attacks and cyberattacks against the enemy’s "kill-chain" of sensors and weaponry in order to disrupt its command-and-control systems, wreck its launch platforms (including aircraft, ships, and missile sites), and finally defeat the weapons they actually fire. The sooner the kill-chain is broken, the less damage U.S. forces will suffer — and the more damage they will be able to inflict on the enemy. Therein lies both the military attractiveness and the strategic risk of Air-Sea Battle."
Second question: is China’s space program catching up with the U.S.’s? An FP slide show, here.
Yochi Dreazen is joining FP. Dreazen, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and now a contributing editor for The Atlantic, will join FP in the next few weeks as a foreign affairs reporter covering the State Department. Dreazen is also the writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security, where he has been writing a book about military suicide that will be published by Random House’s Crown division next year. Dreazen has spent a number of years covering the military, arriving in Iraq in April 2003 with the 4th Infantry Division and then spent the next two years living in Baghdad for the WSJ. He’s since made 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has reported from 30 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. FP’s Executive Editor for News Noah Shachtman, to staff last night: "Yochi has a well-earned rep for being a hard-nosed, whip-smart writer and reporter. We are damn lucky to have him."
Yochi, in an exclusive interview to Situation Report (we kid, but still): "I’m thrilled to be joining an organization dedicated to pulling back the curtain on how decisions are made here in Washington, who really makes them, and what they mean for both the U.S and the world," Dreazen said. "Foreign Policy has an incredibly talented team, and I’m glad to be part of it."
Also: FP’s David Kenner has been promoted from Associate Editor to Middle East editor. Kenner has led FP’s coverage on Egypt with on-the-ground reporting from Cairo, where he has spent more than a year, breaking the news on the latest developments there. Bravo Zulu to David and Yochi.
The Navy has a new personnel chief. Like the other services facing fundamental, budgetary challenges the Navy will likely be forced to downsize in ways that will be unsettling for sailors. That means managing the force is Job One for Vice Admiral Bill Moran, who became the Navy’s top personnel bubba on Friday. His memo, released Friday, tells how he’ll approach the job. It reads in part: "My first several weeks will be focused on listening to your ideas, concerns and recommendations – please engage with me on important issues facing your departments, commands and goals. In the meantime, there are currently three major ‘buckets’ where I sense we will spend time initially: 1. Managing a downsizing force under sequester (not limited to AC/RC, but also Civilian, retired… etc) 2. Force readiness/distribution/manning (fit/fill) – training and education included (current and future) 3. Promoting "resilience" of the total force and an environment that all members of the Navy feel they can thrive in.
And: "Central to managing and leading inside these buckets will be our ability to ensure we get facts right, timely and accurate data and working with the fleet off the same facts and data. This must be an organizational priority."
His themes: Trust, balance and stability. His promises: to provide clarity of purpose from the top; to focus on desired outcomes and use verifiable metrics to have a ‘fact based discussion’ about performance and politically sensitive issues; to communicate values and goals and the behaviors that support them; to ensure the Navy is linked to the strategic plan and vision; ensure that there are metrics in place to track, monitor and provide Navy leadership with the facts they need to make decisions and to drive the urgent, coach the critical and team build the important – to ensure teamwork and ownership at multiple levels." Navy Times’ Mark Faram’s piece on Moran, here.
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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