Monday Mourning


1. Don’t worry. Be happy. Contributor John Holst advises, “You have a clearance that should make you desirable to many companies. You’ve even snagged a few interviews, but for some reason you just haven’t been picked up. You’re desperate, and in that state, you might not want to make any life-changing decisions.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to sit back and breathe.”

2. Whistleblower limits. Contributor Chandler Harris reports, “The newest addition to intelligence whistleblower protections, Title VI of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2015, only protects intelligence employees from retaliation when they disclose government waste, fraud, abuse, gross mismanagement or a violation of law. They are protected from retaliation from the Director of National Intelligence, the Inspector General of the IC, the head of the employing agency and others. Yet none these protections extend to intelligence contractors.”


1. Years more war with ISIS. Aljazeera.Com reports, “The United States’ top military officer has told American troops on a surprise visit to Baghdad that the momentum in the battle with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was ‘starting to turn’, but predicted a drawn-out campaign lasting several years. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was on Saturday visiting Iraq for the first time since President Barack Obama responded to ISIL advances this summer by ordering troops back into a country they left in 2011.”

2. Lebanon sucked into Syria’s war. Christian Science Monitor’s Nicholas Blanford reports, “Deadly clashes pitting Syrian Sunni jihadis against Druze militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have exposed divisions within this small esoteric community that spans the Syria-Lebanon border. The bloody wars roiling the Middle East from Lebanon to Iraq’s border with Iran are essentially political struggles for power and control. But the two main protagonists are adherents of the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.”

3. China reaches Down Under. Reuters’ Matt Siegel reports from Canberra, “China and Australia on Monday sealed a landmark free trade agreement more than a decade in the making, significantly expanding ties between the world’s second largest economy and one of Washington’s closest allies in Asia. The deal, which Australia called the best ever between Beijing and a Western country, will open up Chinese markets to Australian farm exporters and the services sector while easing curbs on Chinese investment in resource-rich Australia.”

4. Defense budget busting banks, by $60 billion. DefenseNews.Com’s Paul McLeary reports, “As the White House and Pentagon pass drafts of the fiscal 2016 defense budget back and forth before submitting it to Congress early next year, the base budget request possibly could exceed congressionally mandated spending caps by as much as $60 billion, according to a former defense official with knowledge of the discussions.”


1. Hot items: electro-optical and infrared. MilitaryAerospace.Com Editor John Keller reports, “Global demand for military electro-optical and infrared sensors is expected to reach $16.35 billion by 2020, rising at a combined annual growth rate of 7.71 percent, predict analysts at market research MarketsandMarkets in Dallas. Electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) systems are seen as critical force multipliers for military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) forces . . . .”

2. $28 million award for Army tech integration. GovConWire.Com reports, “Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) and a subsidiary of DRS Technologies will support the U.S. Army‘s Horizontal Technology Integration Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared program under a $28 million contract. . . . Raytheon and DRS Network and Imaging Systems will provide manufacturing, program and configuration management, test and logistics, quality assurance and other support services for the program.”


1. Hagel’s Defense Innovation Initiative. Defense Media Activity’s Cheryl Pellerin reports, “In a keynote speech . . . at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to change the way the Department of Defense innovates and operates. . . . The innovation initiative, he said, will ensure that U.S. power-projection capabilities continue to sustain a competitive advantage over the coming decades. . . .” See also, “Hagel announces push to boost U.S. military’s technological edge” and “Hagel Announces New Technology Initiative to Stay Ahead of China, Russia.” Read Hagel’s speech at the Defense Forum.

2. Simu-hack gets State and White House. DefenseOne.Com contributor Aliya Sternstein reports, “The State Department’s unclassified email system was compromised in recent weeks, at the same time as a White House network, and officials took the State system offline Friday, according to department officials. . . . It is believed hackers backed by a nation state, likely Russia or China, infiltrated the White House system in September or October. Officials were still working to suppress abnormal behavior on that network as recently as late October. It is unclear why officials waited until this weekend to disconnect potentially infected systems at State.”

3. Navy’s drone-zapping Laser Weapons System. QZ.Com’s Matt Phillips reports, “Jane’s International Defense Review noted that the Laser Weapons System has been especially tested on counter-drone warfare. It destroyed ‘threat-representative’ unmanned aerial vehicles first in testing at the naval weapons station in China Lake, California in 2009. A later test at San Nicholas Island, California in 2010 saw the laser system ‘successfully engage four threat-representative [unmanned aerial vehicles] in four attempts in ‘combat-representative’ scenarios at a range of about one nautical mile.’ And in July 2012, after being temporarily installed on the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey, it ‘successfully shot down three threat-representative UAV targets.’”


1. Friends of Bill: “Former President Bill Clinton said he was surprised by the Democrats’ lopsided losses in Senate races in this year’s midterm elections, and he suggested that President Barack Obama’s decision not to sign an executive order on immigration may have played a role in keeping some Hispanic voters at home. He also said Obama should maximize his pulpit and not give in to being a ‘lame duck,’ setting a high bar by saying he should turn to the budget process to try to push through his agenda in his final two years in the White House and that the president should also try to pass immigration reform. Above all, he said, Obama should try to have ‘fun’ in the job.”

2. Shut it down! (I could use a break): “Asked by ‘Fox News Sunday’ host Chris Wallace if Republicans would ‘take the bait’ and shut down the government, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said ‘it doesn’t solve the problem, Chris, but look, we’re having those discussions.’ Thune noted that House and Senate leaders ‘are having discussions’ on how to react if Obama takes action on the lightning-rod issue as soon as this week. But the Senate Republican Conference chairman charged that Obama would be ‘choosing friction and partisanship … instead of cooperation (which) would make it difficult’ for a GOP-controlled Congress to do immigration reform ‘or anything’ over the next two years.”


1. “Crimea, Chechnya and Putin’s Double Standards.” TheMoscowTimes.Com contributor Andrew Foxall argues, “If Putin were serious about the protecting the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers, he would reform Russia. After all, it is in Russia where Russians are exposed to a grotesquely corrupt, illiberal system that constrains democracy, curtails media freedoms, reins in the judiciary, restricts civil liberties, and treads on human rights.”

2. “Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell.” Reuters contributor Elisa Massimino argues, “To reclaim moral standing, Obama needs to show the world—and Americans—that the U.S. government is unconditionally opposed to torture in all contexts, and that it is prepared to face up to what it did in the years after 9-11, to ensure that it never makes the same mistake again.”

3. “An Ally Like No Other.” USNews.Com contributor Lamont Colucci argues, “There must be a permanent and continuous policy for the support of Israel. Terrorists groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and states like Iran and Syria must be put on notice that an attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on American interests.”


1. Thar she blows!

2. Seeing red.

3. Lame duck.

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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.