Tenuous Afghanistan, NSA McMansion, and Commercial UAS -Daily Intelligence

Intelligence Afghanistan

Planning for COIN in Afghanistan, via EdLedford.com

 Water-cooler smarts & Sunday News Talk


1.  Collection Target – U.S. Companies.  Contributor William Loveridge reviews the Defense Security Service’s Targeting U.S. Technologies, A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry, for Fiscal Year 2012, an “analysis of foreign collection efforts and espionage that targets U.S. technology, intellectual property, trade secrets and proprietary information.”  In short, writes Loveridge, “The bulk of the report analyzes each of the 5 regions and identifies which collection affiliations are most active, which methods of operation are most used and which technologies are targeted most often.  The report also provides a comparative analysis of FY11 and FY12 data, an outlook on future efforts, and case studies. . . . no country or area of the world is above collecting or attempting to collect important information from U.S. companies.”  For context, take a look back at Loveridge’s review from last year.

2.  Still job hunting? Reconsider, with confidence, ways to flip dime on your own.  Contributor Tranette Ledford writes, “When it comes to business ownership, veterans are standouts.  They’re good at it and as their military service demonstrates, they don’t cede defeat easily.  According to the Small Business Administration, one in seven veterans is now self-employed.  That’s the highest percentage of any demographic.  Not only that, close to 70 percent of veteran entrepreneurs are still up and running a decade later.”  So, let’s get on with it!


1.  For Afghanistan, war spending, and anti-terrorism programs, the guff may be emptyDefenseNews.Com’s John T. Bennett reports, “Time and again, the US House last week considered amendments to a Pentagon spending bill. And each time, unlikely coalitions of Republicans and Democrats voted to divert funds from Afghanistan projects, slash war spending — and nearly kill a controversial anti-terrorism program. . . . Time and again, once pro-defense members joined other Republicans and Democrats to form a deficit-slashing voting bloc that reflects the priorities of many Americans and an increasing number of their representatives.”

2.  In Afghanistan, long-term success is unlikelyDefenseOne.Com  contributor Carmen Gentile’s “Dispatch From Afghanistan” tells a worrisome story: “The seeming inability to maintain both its equipment and ranks – the attrition rate from desertion and those that don’t re-enlist is estimated to be about one third a year – will make standing on their own exceedingly difficult for Afghan forces following a U.S. drawdown.  Concerns persist that with less U.S. oversight of Afghan forces and the Ministry of Defense, the entire rank and file of ANSF will break down:  Soldiers will increasingly desert their posts if their paychecks stop coming (and increasingly join the ranks of the Taliban).  Even now, those that remain already appear to sometimes lack motivation . . . when American soldiers questioned their commitment to victory.”  See also, Khaama.Com’s “Talking to Taliban – A Road Ahead” and “U.S. needs to clear its vision on Afghanistan.”

3.  U.S. assistance to Syrian rebels may be too little, too lateAP’s Albert Aji and Zeina Karam report from Damascus, “Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants forged ahead with their assault on a key rebel district in the central city of Homs Sunday . . . as President Bashar Assad’s forces try to crush resistance in the few remaining opposition-held neighborhoods in the city known as the ‘capital of the revolution.’ . . . government troops are backed by members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside regime forces in their assault on rebel-held territory in the central region.” For the one-over-the-world understanding of Syria, read the European Council on Foreign Relations’  “Syria Crisis: View from the Region.

4.  Morsi backers give Egyptian’s interim government the California HelloAP’s Hamza Hendawi and Maggie Michael explain, “Islamists led by the Brotherhood staunchly reject the new post-Morsi leadership and insist the only possible solution to the crisis is to reinstate him. Meanwhile, the interim leadership is pushing ahead with a fast-track transition plan to return to a democratically elected government by early next year. The Brotherhood, accused by critics of trying to monopolize power during Morsi’s year in office, routinely claims its supporters are killed in cold blood by army troops, police or thugs sponsored by the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police.”  See related, “Kerry urges Egypt to ‘step back from the brink’

5.  Sectarian violence in Iraq on the rise – 60 deadReuters’s  Kareem Raheem reports from Baghdad, “Car bombs ripped through busy streets and markets in Iraq on Monday, killing at least 60 people in predominantly Shi’ite areas in some of the deadliest violence since Sunni insurgents stepped up attacks this year.  The 17 blasts, which appeared to be coordinated, were concentrated on towns and cities in Iraq’s mainly Shi’ite south, and districts of the capital where Shi’ites live.”

6.  AFRICOM teaches Kenyan photojournalists.  Petty Officer 1st Class Rafael Martie CJTF-HOA Public Affairs reports, “Eight soldiers and airmen from Kenya Defense Forces partnered with two Airman from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs Office for a two-day, military-to military photojournalism workshop at the International Peace Support Training Center, Nairobi, Kenya . . . . Culminating the workshop, photographers participated in a field training exercise requiring them to create a photo essay on deadline telling a story that sparked positive emotions and imagery with subject matter found only within the Center’s grounds.”


1.  Contractors – a generational phenomenon that rejects blind faith in government judgment.  In GovExec.Com’s exceptionally insightful and thoughtful piece, Charles S. Clark gets well below the tip of the Snowden iceberg:  as Clark reports, former NSA executive Thomas Drake said, “’I stand with Snowden without equivocation,’ Drake said. He blasted what he called NSA’s ‘meme’ that argues that because a domestic surveillance program is legal means it’s constitutional.  ‘That’s only a veneer of legality, a legal term of art to keep programs away from the prying eyes of the public.’  William Binney, a former NSA mathematician whose home was raided by gun-toting FBI agents after he made disclosures and left the agency, said NSA ‘has broken many laws, and there are many lawsuits now. Internally, a lot of people were upset’ about new surveillance software embraced by then-director Michael Hayden, he said. ‘It’s an introverted society,’ and his highly conservative colleagues knew that if they talked ‘they would be targeted and probably fired.’”  Yikes.

2.  Outsource our military into irrelevance.  When the Air Force starts ceding ground, you’d better take notice. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com evaluates two NATO initiatives – SALIS and HAW:  “In this age of coalition warfare and continuous global deployments, nearly every nation’s military regularly needs at least some strategic airlift capability. The problem, of course, is that buying heavy airlifters like the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is an expensive proposition and usually ranks behind other acquisitions priorities. The obvious answer is outsourcing: Acquiring airlift capability without having to acquire the aircraft.”

3.  NSA employees some 6.5k contractors in its larger-than-Pentagon new spy-centralDefenseOne.Com contributor Aliya Sternstein reports, “About 6,500 contractors, along with more than 150 Army Corps of Engineers and NSA workers, including some with special needs, are assigned to the project.  Davis perks up when he talks about the hundreds of individuals with disabilities he has steered into NSA.  But ask him why the facility is so big and what’s inside, and he is less forthcoming. ‘I think we’re crossing into content.  It’s big because it’s required to be big,’ says Davis, a 30-year veteran of the spy agency.”


1.  Wireless flash drives are so chicTechland.Time.Com describes, “SanDisk Connect, a new line of products from solid-state storage purveyor SanDisk.  The ‘Connect’ indicates that they use built-in Wi-Fi to talk to iPhones, iPads and Android devices, letting you stream videos, juggle files such as photos and generally offload some of the media which would otherwise reside on your gadget — assuming that you had space for it. . . . SanDisk’s twist on the idea is smaller in size, capacity and price. The Wireless Flash Drive, in fact, looks and behaves like a slightly portly thumb drive: You can stick it in your computer’s USB port as you would any other thumb drive and copy files back and forth. But it’s also a tiny Wi-Fi hotspot.”

2.  FAA approves first commercial Unmanned Aerial Surveillance vehicleAviationWeek.Com contributor Graham Warwick reports, “Insitu is planning to launch the first U.S. commercial unmanned aircraft system operation following receipt of FAA type certification for its ScanEagle UAS on July 19.  No details are available yet, but the operation is expected to be in the Arctic.  Restricted-category type certifications for the 44-lb., gasoline-powered ScanEagle and the 13.4-lb., battery-powered AeroVironment Puma AE are the first to be issued by FAA under Part 21.25 of the federal aviation regulations.  ‘Type certification allows us to go beyond the norm, which is a UAS operating under a certificate of authorization as a public aircraft, and is the basis for commercial operations,’ says Paul McDuffee, vice president of government relations and strategy for Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary.”  Yipee!

3.  Stop staring at me!  According to McClatchyDC.Com, the public has had enough of NSA’s voyeurism: “Americans are fed up with the federal government collecting information on their phone calls, emails and Internet use, and they want curbs on what can be monitored, majorities say in a new McClatchy-Marist poll. . . . There was little support, though, for Edward Snowden, the national security contractor who triggered the secret surveillance program uproar with his leaks to the media last month. Fifty-five percent said they had an unfavorable impression of the Snowden, who remains a man without a country, apart from the U.S., which wants him back.”


1.  How the GoP can learn to dance from and like the PopeTheDailyBeast.Com contributor John Avlon explains, “The new pope hasn’t been afraid to challenge the entrenched interests that have sullied his church’s perception. His style of reaching out is just what might save the Republican Party.”

2.  Syrian Half-StepReuter’s Matt Spetalnick and Warren Strobel report, “After nearly two years of hesitancy in Washington, Assad now has regained the upper hand in the conflict, and the White House last month finally approved providing limited arms for Syrian rebels, a step Obama had long resisted. . . . Some former officials and many Syria specialists . . . say the fighting – which has killed an estimated 100,000 people, created 1.8 million refugees and deepened sectarian rifts in Syria and beyond – now threatens wider U.S. interests in the Middle East.”

3.  Dance.  Walk.  Run.  Do something!  McClatchyDC.Com reports, “Americans are eager for Washington to act on a host of issues they care deeply about, but instead they’ve just witnessed another week of sharp rhetoric and political finger-pointing. . . . Pick a big issue, and the progress report ends with little, if any, progress.”


1.  By the numbers – “Weighing Cuts vs. Risks.”  DefenseNews.Com’s staff examines the Pentagon’s Strategic Choices and Management Review and argues, “Regardless of which path Congress and President Barack Obama ultimately choose, however, cutting $37 billion this fiscal year and another $52 billion in 2014 — and for the eight years thereafter — means disproportionate cuts to readiness, acquisition, and research and development accounts in the early years, because personnel cuts are initially exempt from sequestration and, once implemented, take longer to yield needed savings.”

2.  Boots on the ground outsourced to eyes in the skiesUPI contributor Whitney Grespin argues, “As the contingency contracting and broader U.S. government contracting industry shifts from supporting physical interventions and embraces the “light footprint” approach that international state actors will primarily apply in the years ahead, there will be a definitive shift in the nature of services that the industry will provide in complex and transitional environments. One of the fastest growing services is, and will continue to be, those offered by unmanned aircraft systems.”  O.k., but as a wise man once said, you cannot win until you eat in their restaurants and flush their toilets.

3.  In Egypt, someone needs to make up their mindAljazeera.Com contributor Marwan Bishara argues, “Egypt needs to restore stability and security by starting with a de-escalation of the mass demonstrations, which importantly, must not be accomplished by force. Today’s unravelling violence might seem to provide for a short term solution, yet, entangling, intractable problems will arise.”


1.  NSA goes Weiner.

2.  She loves me. She loves me not.

3.  Won’t get fooled again. Yes, we will.

Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.

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