Thursday’s Headlines


1.  The Buckeye State for the cleared professional. Contributor Tranette Ledford explains, “Location may be everything in real estate, but it’s equally true for cleared veterans looking for second careers.  Ohio is currently the ‘it’ state when it comes to job opportunities in defense and aerospace. Recognized internationally as the fuel cell corridor, Ohio is the nation’s industrial capital, a center of science and technology, and the only state to have two regions make the Intelligent Community Forum’s list of global smart communities . . . .”

2.  Navy’s radar replacement: all systems go. Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “A major U.S. Navy ship radar modernization program can proceed now that a protest of a key contract award has ended. Raytheon, which won a $386-million engineering and manufacturing development contract for the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) in October, announced Jan. 13 that the Navy has told it to resume work on the program because losing bidder Lockheed Martin has withdrawn its protest.”


1.  Air Force’s nuclear meltdown nets 34 officers. American Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone reports, “Thirty-four intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have been implicated in cheating on the ICBM launch officer proficiency test, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said today. The revelations emerged during an investigation into alleged illegal drug possession, James said. The officers range in rank from second lieutenants to captains, and the alleged cheating occurred in the August and September timeframe.” AP’s Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor report, “The cheating scandal is the latest in a series of Air Force nuclear stumbles documented in recent months by The Associated Press, including deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections, breakdowns in training, and evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout.”

2.  Littoral Combat Ship program: Navy’s future. DoDBuzz.Com’s Kris Osborn reports, “Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert cited the Littoral Combat Ship, Mobile Landing Platform and Joint High Speed Vessel as critical new ship programs essential to the service’s future surface warfare strategy. ‘We’ve got to integrate and embrace these new ships that are coming in and make them work and make them part of the scheme of the equation,’ he said . . . . The emerging Littoral Combat Ship program will increasingly become an integral part of the fleet, Greenert said.  He explained that the LCS would be key to naval operations and that ships would be in Bahrain, the South China Sea, Singapore and other strategically vital parts of the globe.

3.  Polls close in Egypt for constitutional referendum. Aljazeera.Com reports, “If the charter is approved, as it almost certainly will be, it will replace a 2012 constitution drafted during Morsi’s short-lived presidency. In interviews at polling stations across the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday and Wednesday, not a single person said they planned to vote against the document. Many Egyptians view the charter as a key step towards restoring political stability and fixing their country’s battered economy.”

4.  Civilian casualties and an apology in Afghanistan. Khaama.Com reports, “The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Wednesday confirmed the civilian casualties during a joint military operation in northern Afghanistan. ISAF following a statement said, ‘International Security Assistance Force regrets that civilians were killed Jan. 15 during a deliberately-planned, Afghan-led clearing operation to disrupt insurgent activity in Ghorband district, Parwan province.’ . . . According to the ISAF, the operation was conducted in a high threat area to target senior Taliban leaders, Qari Nzar Gul and Noorullah, who are involved in major attacks against the Afghan and coalition security forces.” On topic, Yemeni civilian killed in U.S. drone strike, LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports: “The US accidentally killed a civilian in the second drone strike that targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the eastern Yemeni province of Hadramout so far this year. . . . AQAP is known to operate openly in Hadramout province.”


1.  $53 billion loss to contractors in FY2013. FederalTimes.Com’s Andy Medici reports, “Government spending on contracts fell about $53 billion – 10 percent – to $460 billion in fiscal 2013, according to preliminary estimates from the Government Accountability Office. Spending has fallen three of the past four years, from a height of $550 billion in fiscal 2009. Spending fell from $537 billion in fiscal 2011 to $513 billion in 2012, according to the Office of Management and Budget. ‘For fiscal 2014, we expect agencies to continue these smarter buying practices to deliver even more value to the taxpayers,’ OMB spokesman Frank Benenati said.”

2.  Bill puts brakes on Chinese IT purchases. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “Legislation expected to pass both the House and Senate by late this week bars several departments from buying Chinese-manufactured computer equipment until federal authorities conduct special inspections. The stipulation faces opposition from some unlikely corners though: U.S. businesses allegedly hacked by China have said the move will probably slow acquisitions and hurt American multinational companies. The provision, included in a fiscal 2014 spending package up for a House vote today, is a reaction to China’s alleged gross theft of U.S. trade secrets and classified intelligence.”


1.  Interoperability – an eHealth Record requirement. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin reports, “Worried that the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments might continue to spend years and billions of dollars in a “futile exercise” to develop their own electronic health record systems “and lose sight of the end-goal of an interoperable record,” lawmakers included funding restrictions in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act the House passed Wednesday. . . . The two departments abandoned efforts to develop a single EHR in February 2013 when the estimated costs of a system reached $28 billion, four years after President Obama called for development of a joint record in April 2009.”

2. Cyber Command’s double-down budget marks growth. DefenseOne.Com contributor Aliya Sternstein reports, “The House approved a short-term federal spending bill on Tuesday to allow time for the expected passage of a fiscal 2014 spending package that includes $447 million for the Pentagon component that launches cyber weapons and deflects hacks against civilian and military networks. That’s more than a two-fold increase over Cyber Command’s fiscal 2013 budget of $191 million. . . . The funding jump is mostly attributed to the growth of cyber mission forces . . . . In March 2013, about 834 active duty military and civilian personnel were on staff, Cyber Command . . . . The goal is to grow cyber forces by 2,000 personnel annually, until 2016.”  

3.  Camera Ball: gotta get me one of them. VentureBeat.Com’s Tim Moynihan reports, “The last product I saw at CES 2014 was one of the coolest. . . . Panono is a ball that has 36 three-megapixel cameras built into it. The one Pfeil is holding in the picture is a working prototype version, and it’s about the size of a volleyball. The final shipping unit — Panono successfully raised $1.25 million on Indiegogo and will start shipping units in September — is more like the size of a softball. To operate Panono, you simply throw it in the air. The ball has a sensor inside that recognizes when it has reached the apex of its airborne journey. At this point, it automatically fires all the shutters at once, capturing a 108-megapixel, 360-degree panoramic photograph. . . . Pre-orders of the Panono will go for $500. When the ball comes out later this year, it’ll cost $600.”


1.  Bill ready for Obama: “Drained of much of its vitriol over the budget, Congress is poised to adopt a $1.1 trillion package financing federal agencies this year, a bipartisan compromise that all but banishes the specter of an election-year government shutdown. The Democratic-controlled Senate planned to give final congressional approval to the immense spending measure, possibly as early as Thursday. The Republican-run House passed the package Wednesday in a lopsided 359-67 vote that underscored how both parties could claim wins in the measure – and how both saw deep perils in fighting over it.”

2.  Twenty, Sixteen, Thirty-Two, Hike, Hike! “If you thought the 13-candidate clogged 2012 Republican presidential primaries were too crowded and confusing, then you might want to skip the 2016 process — because the Republican Party is suggesting that 32 might be interested in running. The Republican National Committee is operating a 2016 Presidential straw poll that lists all 32, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s all part of a fundraiser.”


1.  “Syria: What – and who – it will take to end the war.” Christian Science Monitor contributor David Cortright writes, “The Geneva II peace talks set to begin Jan. 22 provide a key diplomatic opportunity to begin finding that common ground. The goal of these talks should be the creation of a government in Damascus that is more representative of all Syrians – Sunnis as well as Alawites. This is an objective that the major supporters of the rebels (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey) may be willing to support. But it would require convincing Mr. Assad not to stand for reelection in 2014. And many other obstacles stand in the way.”

2.  “Newest victim of congressional wrecking ball: Iran policy.” Reuters contributor David Rhode argues, “By design or accident, it is increasingly clear that the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s second-term foreign policy is a nuclear agreement with Iran. Whether Obama can succeed, however, now depends on Congress staying out of the negotiations.”

3.  “What do Obama and Rouhani have in common?” Aljazeera.Com contributor Stephan Richter argues, “For all the official enmity, if not hatred, what is most puzzling is to observe the many ways in which the two countries resemble each other politically. This is especially true with regard to both countries’ domestic political challenges – and I don’t just mean the obstacles both President Barak Obama and President Hassan Rouhani face over implementing any kind of nuclear deal at home.”


1.  Just said Yes.

2.  Hopeless romantics.

3.  Plain politics.

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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.