Humph Day Highlights


1. Cybersecurity laws. Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “Congress has passed four bills in recent days to shore up U.S. defenses against cyber attacks. . . . One bill, the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2014 (S. 2521), would establish real-time, automated monitoring of federal computer networks, lessen the amount of paperwork required in security review processes, and clarify the role of agencies charged with securing federal computer networks. . . .”

2. Cyberdemics: cybersecurity policy research. Also from Marc Selinger, “The Hewlett Foundation has awarded a total of $45 million in grants to three prestigious universities to launch ‘major new academic centers’ for cybersecurity policy research. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, will each receive $15 million to ‘jumpstart a new field of cyber policy analysis’ and help shape a ‘smart, sustainable public policy to deal with the growing cyber threats faced by governments, businesses and individuals’ . . .”


1. Ukraine vies for NATO membership. Janes.Com’s Brooks Tigner, Brussels and Nicholas de Larrinaga report, “Ukraine aims to get NATO membership ‘as quickly as conditions permit’, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. ‘And I would do that tomorrow if it was at all possible.’ Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on 15 December, Yatsenyuk said his country’s security strategy is crystal clear. ‘Nine months ago NATO membership was not on our radar. But what’s on our radar today? Russian tanks, Russian howitzers, and Russian soldiers and bullets on the ground. . . .’”

2. Pakistan plunged into mourning. Dawn.Com’s Zahir Shah Sherazi reports, “Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Peshawar has plunged Pakistan into deep mourning. Never has the country seen the kind of callous orchestration of an attack as witnessed yesterday—one whose target was defenceless children in a school. The government has announced a three-day mourning but the deadly siege at Army Public School that led to 141 deaths—out of which 132 were of children—and countless injuries almost immediately led to outpourings of condemnations and grief from across the country and internationally.” See also, “Devastation where 148 were slain” and “Afghan Taliban releases statement condemning attack on Pakistani school.” In “Pakistan army chief visits Kabul following deadly Peshawar attack,” Khaama.Com reports, “The Pakistani army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a day after Taliban militants launched a deadly attack on Peshawar school that left at least 141 people dead. . . . Gen. Sharif will meet with the Afghan military officials to discuss the possibility of a joint military operation by Afghan and Pakistan armed forces.”

3. Collapsing rubles. Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumbull reports, “A collapsing Russian ruble signals economic trouble for Russia and new uncertainty for the global economy. The Russian currency has been plunging in tandem with the price of oil—a commodity that plays a crucial role in that nation’s finances. And on Tuesday, even a big overnight boost in interest rates by the Central Bank of Russia didn’t stop the ruble’s fall. For Russia, the meaning seems clear: Forecasters see a recession there in 2015, with the main question being how deep and protracted.” Reuters’ predicts, “Ruble crisis could shake Putin’s grip on power.”

4. Cold drone wars. WashingtonTimes.Com’s Douglas Ernst reports, “The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command’s recent announcement that it has successfully completed tests on its GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle prompted an immediate rebuttal from Russia: They, too, are close to unmanned submarine drones. The U.S. Navy first trumpeted its successful test on Friday. ‘GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and sailors safe’ . . . .”


1. Military radar’s $8.5 billion market. MilitaryAerospace.Com Editor John Keller reports, “The worldwide market for military radar will reach $8.44 billion in 2019, which is up 22.3 percent from $6.9 billion in 2012, predict analysts at Transparence Market Research in Albany, N.Y. The market forecast entitled Military Radar Market-Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013-2019, pegs the anticipated military radar market increase at a 2.9 percent combined annual growth rate.”

2. $33 million for Navy’s Multi-Functional Information Distribution System. DefenseSystems.Com reports, “The Navy has awarded a $32.6 million contract for the latest iteration of a shipboard system designed to share information quickly and securely in a joint operating environment. Under the terms of the contract, Data Link Solutions will build, integrate, test and deliver up to 12 Lot Four production units of the Multi-Functional Information Distribution System on Ship, which in acronym terms works out to MIDS on Ship, or MOS. The contract, awarded by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, contains options that, if exercised, could raise the value of the deal to $38.6 million.”

3. SOCOM: cutting acquisition red tape. NationalDefenseMagazine.Org’s Yasmin Tadjdeh reports, “While many experts criticize the length of time traditional Defense Department acquisition programs take from start to finish, SOCOM has gained a reputation for speedy procurement. That continued ability to field equipment in weeks or months instead of years will be critical as U.S. military strategy shifts from Afghanistan and focuses on smaller, global missions led by special operations forces . . . .”


1. Beyond killing. BreakingDefense.Com’s Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. reports, “Even when unconditional surrender is the goal, victory always means convincing the enemy to stop fighting. The US gained a painful new appreciation of these factors in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both, we had the dominant military role, and in Iraq, we had the legal rights of an occupying power. Today, ‘the problem is where the military instrument is having to be used in places where we know we’re not going to invade,’ such as Yemen, [USASOC Commander Lt. Gen. Charles] Cleveland said. ‘That environment that is not war and it is certainly not peace.’”

2. Remember, remember 11 September. SecurityWeek.Com reports, “Hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks Tuesday in their most chilling threat yet against Sony Pictures, again warning the Hollywood studio not to release a film which has angered North Korea. . . . In a new statement cited by US media, the GOP (Guardians of Peace) hacking group announced the start of a threatened ‘Christmas gift,’ including leaked emails from Sony boss Michael Lynton. . . . ‘Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places [showing Sony’s The Interview] at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)’” See from AP, “NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly.”

3. Army’s lighter vehicle concepts. DefenseNews.Com’s Joe Gould reports, “The US Army is exploring concepts for future vehicles that would be lighter and faster, and still strong and lethal . . . Rather than making command headquarters more capable, the idea of late has been to give squads, ‘overmatch,’ in part with lighter armor, weapons, ammunition, electronics, and by giving them light vehicles. . . . The proliferation of state, non-state, hybrid and proxy foes . . . use dispersion, concealment and deception to keep the US off balance. To respond, the Army must be able breed, ‘a force where small units can hit harder, be more mobile and maintain mutual support’ . . . .”

4. GAO’s RFI: IT security assessment tools. FederalTimes.Com’s Aaron Boyd reports, “Federal agencies need a standardized way to talk with industry about the risk factors involved in IT projects, according to the General Services Administration. GSA asked companies to offer insight on the indicators that should be assessed when determining whether a vendor can supply secure products and services, issuing a request for information on Dec. 12. . . . Interested parties have until Feb. 16 to respond.”


1. Rubleboarding: “President Obama will sign by the end of the week legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, as lawmakers pressure the White House to intensify economic penalties against President Vladimir Putin in the face of economic turmoil for the nation. . . . The announcement comes as the ruble plunged to a record low in Russia on Tuesday, setting off widespread panic in Moscow about the country’s economy as the price of oil—key to Russia’s revenues—plummets. The legislation also provides additional aid to Ukraine.”

2. Bye-bye 113: “Just before 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid approached one of his fiercest Republican rivals on the Senate floor. The outgoing Democratic leader whispered a few words to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, then the two shook hands. The end of the year deal was on. Shortly after that shake the wheels of the Senate began churning intensely and an unanticipated roll call vote began to confirm a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The chamber never slowed down as it powered through the night with an intensity seen only on the last day of the year—which for the Senate, it was.”


1. “Taliban massacre of children: how Pakistan must now change.” Christian Science Monitor’s Editorial Board argues, “Pakistan needs to cement its identity as a democratic nation, rooted in elected leaders and rule of law, not rule by groups with guns or suicide belts. Only then can its children be safe.”

2. “Putin Meets the Ghosts of Christmas Past.” TheMoscowTimes.Com contributor Mark Galeotti argues, “As 2014 draws to an end, the ruble tumbles, and no end to the Ukraine adventures seems in sight, President Vladimir Putin seem to be in a bind and out of ideas. He looks to history for both inspiration and legitimacy, though, so raising the shades of three past Russian greats may help present him with options for the future—but also highlight the risks of the present.” See also, “In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell.”

3. “We’re All Dick Cheney.” USNews.Com contributor Nicole Hemmer argues, “That unwillingness to see ourselves as we are, that failure to recognize the American capacity not only for wrongdoing but for evil, prevents us from properly reckoning with the true costs of our wars, propelling us to go off in search of monsters to destroy without first confronting the monster within.”


1. Islamic acts.

2. Sisyphus.

3. Wall Street HQ.

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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.