Situation Report

The spying data came from the Europeans; A dereliction of duty?; Petraeus on FP: how not to lose Iraq; Did the Army spend $93 million it shouldn’t have?; Gates on Skelton: a “great oak has fallen.”

By Gordon Lubold This is how we won in Iraq (and how we might lose): David Petraeus, writing on FP:  As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visits Washington this week and President Barack Obama is getting a bunch of advice, including from this former general. Petraeus’ BLUF: "The ideas that enabled progress during the surge ...

By Gordon Lubold

This is how we won in Iraq (and how we might lose): David Petraeus, writing on FP:  As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visits Washington this week and President Barack Obama is getting a bunch of advice, including from this former general. Petraeus’ BLUF: "The ideas that enabled progress during the surge are, in many respects, the very ideas that could help Iraq’s leaders reverse the tragic downward spiral that we have seen in recent months. As we discovered in the run-up to the surge of 2007, a singular focus on counterterrorist operations will most likely fail to stem the violence gripping Iraq… It is heartening, thus, to know that some of the veterans of the surge, American as well as Iraqi, are engaged in the effort to help Iraq determine and then pursue the initiatives needed to address the terrible increase in violence in that country. This is a time for them to work together to help Iraqi leaders take the initiative, especially in terms of reaching across the sectarian and ethnic divides that have widened in such a worrisome manner.  It is not too late for such action, but time is running short." Read the rest here.

The Blame Game Begins: McCain, Levin, Inhofe, Menendez, Corker and Graham to Obama: Maliki is mismanaging Iraqi politics and Iraq is descending into crisis. The bi-partisan group of senators told President Barack Obama they are "deeply concerned" about the security situation in Iraq as Maliki arrives later this week and want Obama to lean on Maliki to come up with a plan. The group of senators, on Maliki: "By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country. This failure of governance is driving many Sunni Iraqis into the arms of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and fueling the rise of violence, which in turn is radicalizing Shia Iraqi communities and leading many Shia militant groups to remobilize."

On the growing violence in Iraq, they cite the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which found: "In 2010, the low point for the al-Qaeda effort in Iraq, car bombings declined to an average of 10 a month and multiple location attacks occurred only two or three times a year. In 2013, so far there has been an average of 68 car bombings a month and a multiple-location strike every 10 days." Read the letter and the rest of their advice to Obama here.

Check here on FP later today for a piece on Iraq by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. 

What we can learn from Iraq in Afghanistan: a cautionary tale. FP’s Yochi Dreazen: "…Maliki is desperately trying to turn back the clock and get Washington to increase its security cooperation with his government. Afghanistan is not Iraq, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai is facing a similar dilemma when it comes to the future U.S. military presence in his country. Washington is demanding that Afghanistan give its troops the kind of immunity it wanted in Iraq, and Karzai — like Maliki — is publicly opposed to providing it. The impasse has led the Obama administration to consider something that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago: a complete withdrawal of all American combat troops from Afghanistan, the original battlefield of the war on terror." Read the rest of that piece here.

AP’s Big Story: Sunni Attacks Spark Shiite Call to Arms in Iraq. Read it here.

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Think again: On spying, "U.S. behavior didn’t fall outside the norm, it is the norm." It turns out millions of phone records at the center of the controversy across Europe about the National Security Agency spying were actually provided by European intelligence services – not the NSA, according to U.S. officials. The WSJ’s Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman: "…The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA’s spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans. The phone records collected by the Europeans-in war zones and other areas outside their borders-were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians, U.S. officials said. European leaders remain chagrined over revelations that the U.S. was spying on dozens of world leaders, including close allies in Europe. The new disclosures were separate from those programs."

James Lewis, a former State Department official, now a technology-policy specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to the WSJ: "That the evil NSA and the wicked U.S. were the only ones engaged in this gross violation of international norms-that was the fairy tale… It was never true. The U.S’s behavior wasn’t outside the norm. It is the norm." More here.

Clapper defends his turf against the White House. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told a House panel yesterday that the NSA had kept senior officials at the National Security Council informed of surveillance that it conducted in foreign countries. Clapper didn’t say whether President Barack Obama was specifically told about it, but, as the NYT’s Mark Landler and Michael Schmidt write, "he appeared to challenge assertions in recent days that the White House had been in the dark about some of the agency’s practices. Mr. Clapper and the agency’s director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, vigorously rejected suggestions that the agency was a rogue institution, trawling for information on ordinary citizens and leaders of America’s closest allies, without the knowledge of its Washington overseers." Their story here.

"It’s almost a dereliction not to tell him." As the cleanup continues after revelations that the U.S. was spying on world leaders that are its allies, and questions remain about what the President knew or didn’t know, a former administration official tells FP that it would be impossible for the President not to know that the intelligence he would routinely receive on world leaders wasn’t from signals intelligence. And if someone did not inform him, that’s a firing offense. A former official to FP: "If you saw it, you’d know that it came out of somebody’s mouth… I cannot believe that [Obama’s national security staff] didn’t brief the president on foreign leaders when he was going in to visit with them… It’s almost a dereliction not to tell him." Read the rest of that piece here.

Did the Army spend $94 million it wasn’t supposed to? The Army has apparently discovered that it spent as much as $93.5 million on its controversial Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS-A by spending out of the wrong pot of money, potentially constituting an illegal use of those funds. In effect, the Army discovered, that it spent money meant for operations and maintenance instead of using new money it wasn’t allowed to spend. Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who has pointedly criticized the service on the intel platform, discovered the Army’s own investigation and sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh yesterday. It reads, in part: "…Since Congress has received communication indicating that funds may have been used inappropriately as it relates to this program of record, it is my understanding that the Army is looking into this matter… With the current strain on the budget environment, it is vitally important that the services be able to account for all of their expenditures to ensure the funding Congress has appropriated is being executed appropriately and transparently."

Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper to Situation Report this morning: "In developing the DCGS cloud, which is still not functional, the Army appears to have used money it shouldn’t have to recreate technology that already exists. The problem too is that the Army is no closer today than it was years ago, and there are companies out there that have done laps around the Army and its attempt at development.  More time and money wasted." Read the letter Hunter sent to HcHugh here.

The Syrian regime fired an official who was its most outspoken voice on peace. The NYT’s Anne Barnard in Beirut: "…The official, Qadri Jamil, was dismissed for spending too much time outside Syria, neglecting his duties and holding meetings "without coordinating with the government," state television said. Mr. Jamil was fired shortly after he told the Russian news media that he had met with United States officials. Meetings between Syrian and American officials have been rare since the Syrian uprising began in 2011." More here.

The Walayatti Medical Clinic in Afghanistan wasn’t built properly – and it was never used, according to SIGAR in a new report this morning. As a result, says SIGAR, $200,000 worth of taxpayer funds spent on the facility built that "appears to have been wasted." There is a laundry list of issues SIGAR found with the facility, built in Kabul Province. Read SIGAR’s new report, out this morning at 9am, here.

The U.S. can no longer afford to be an actor and a director, Gordon Adams argues on FP. "There’s a well-known movement exercise for actors in the theater designed to allow actors to "feel" the balance among the players on the stage. Imagine a platform poised and level on top of a single pointed pyramid. At a signal from the director, each actor on stage moves on his or her own to a new position and it is the duty of each to react to the movement of the others by moving in such a way that the platform remains level, overall. The surface "rebalances" in the mind of each actor as they move in response to the movements of the others. None of them know what the others will do, so they must adjust as the movement takes place. A new ensemble emerges." Read the rest here.

Bob Gates on Ike Skelton’s passing: "…He always put our national security before politics and was a patriot before all else. I respected Ike, treasured his friendship and mourn his passing. A great oak of the Congress has fallen."

Marine Corps Times’ Gina Harkins does a Q&A with one of the scout snipers in the urination video, who fires back at critics, here.

China is pivoting to Asia – is the U.S. paying attention? Alexandros Petersen, in The Atlantic, here.

Wanna see a B-2 with it’s "Massive Ordnance Penetrator?" Read the article by David Cenciotti on The Aviationist, here.

ICYMI: CNAS’ study on How to Build a Better General, worth the read. Click for that here.

"War is hell, brah." Doctrine Man on a VA claim for a desk jockey, here.

 Twitter: @glubold
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