Tuesday’s Top Ten


STEM shortfalls. Contributor Charles Simmins writes, “The number of open positions in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics continue to grow every year. Yet, despite years of efforts to increase interest in these fields, the diversity of the STEM workforce appears little changed. . . . Existing barriers, no matter how created, are preventing diversity in the STEM fields.”

CIA Goes Cyber. Contributor Peter Suciu reports, “Earlier this year the Central Intelligence Agency made a leap into the 21st century after it launched the first new directorate in more than 50 years. Dubbed the Directorate of Digital Innovation it was designed to expand the spy agency’s cyber-espionage efforts and to further increase the agency’s role in fighting hackers.”


Making a difference: Spec Ops in Syria. Christian Science Monitor’s Anna Mulrine writes, “The announcement that President Obama has authorized a busload-sized contingent of United States Special Operations Forces to deploy to Syria to ‘advise and assist’ rebel forces has raised questions about what difference 50 people can really make in the Syrian war. After all, they are essentially arrayed against the Syrian government, with its own army and Russian troops in direct support, not to mention Iran-backed Hezbollah militants. The Islamic State, meanwhile, has thousands of soldiers and a basic government infrastructure at its disposal.” See also, “Syrian Train-and-Equip Effort Could Learn from US Ops in Africa.”

Maritime rights and the South China Sea. Bloomberg Business’ Ting Shi reports, “The U.S.’s Pacific Fleet commander vowed in a Beijing speech to continue patrols in waters claimed by China in the South China Sea while emphasizing common ground with the country. The U.S. Navy’s freedom-of-navigation patrols were intended to prevent the erosion of international law and shouldn’t be construed as a threat to any country, Admiral Harry Harris told a Peking University crowd . . . .” See also, “U.S. Navy plans two or more patrols in South China Sea per quarter,” “US navy warns it will repeat South China Sea operations.” “Sailing past Chinese isles not a threat” and “Anchors for rule of law on the high seas.”

Iran rebuffs Saudi Arabia in Syria talks. New York Times’ Rick Gladstone and David Sanger report, “Iran suggested on Monday that it might withdraw from the new peace talks on Syria because of what Iranian officials described as the unconstructive role of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival for dominance in the Middle East. . . . Iran and Russia support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, while the United States and Saudi Arabia support an array of Mr. Assad’s opponents who want him to relinquish power as part of any settlement. The Saudis are especially insistent that Mr. Assad should have no role in Syria’s future.” See also, “Iran says may quit Syria talks.”


Czechs up-arming. Defense News’ Jaroslaw Adamowski reports, “Czech Minister of Defense Martin Stropnicky announced the ministry will urgently purchase new weapons and modernize its existing gear . . . . The procurements are intended to increase the Czech armed forces’ capabilities to secure the country’s border against the inflow of migrants from the Middle East, and ensure the Czech military is prepared to participate in joint NATO activities . . . .”

Encore III failure. Government Executive’s Stan Soloway reports, “[E]ere months after Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s high profile visit to Silicon Valley and the opening of DOD’s new innovation center there, DISA is conducting a massive IT acquisition that will exclude virtually all of the nontraditional, innovative companies and ideas DOD says it wants to attract.”

For want of Crusaders. Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “The U.S. Army is buying 30 upgraded and fast-moving 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzer artillery vehicles with digital vetronics and modern power systems, as well as 30 companion carrier ammunition tracked armored combat vehicles. Officials of the Army Contracting Command-Tank and Automotive in Warren, Mich., announced a $235.3 million contract modification Friday to the BAE Systems Platforms & Services segment in York, Pa., for 30 M109A7 self-propelled howitzers and 30 M992A3 carrier, ammunition, tracked vehicles.”


OMB’s cyber-rush. FierceGovernmentIT’s Molly Bernhart Walker reports, “The Office of Management and Budget dropped several new cybersecurity mandates for federal agencies and departments as part of guidance issued late Friday. With a focus on identifying and protecting sensitive information, rapid response to intrusions, improved recovery, and workforce and acquisition policies that support cybersecurity, chief information officers will have to move quickly to meet OMB deadlines.”

Cyber Support to Corps and Below. Also from Moly Bernhart Walker, “An Army pilot program called the Cyber Support to Corps and Below will take an important step forward in demonstrating cyber effects at corps and echelons below. The vision of now-retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno was to use cyber techniques to accomplish missions through unit training at combat training centers.”

Cyber job shortfalls. Venture Beat’s Ken Xie reports, “The cybersecurity industry in particular is feeling the effects of an inadequate talent pipeline, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that 209,000 cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled in 2015 alone.”


Everything in moderation. “President Barack Obama lampooned the GOP’s presidential candidates Monday, saying that their grumbling about last week’s debate signaled their likely ineffectiveness on the world stage. ‘Every one of these candidates says, ‘Obama’s weak, Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out,’ Obama said during a democratic fundraiser in New York City. ‘And then it turns out, they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators,’ he said.”

Insanity defined. “Senate Republicans are plunging into a difficult debate over ­ObamaCare as they seek to take up legislation before the Thanksgiving holiday that would repeal most of President Obama’s ­signature law. The fight puts Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a difficult spot, between conservatives who are eager to send the repeal bill to the White House and centrists — including a senator vulnerable in 2016 — who are ready to defect over language in the House-approved bill.”


The Perils of Obama’s Latest Undeclared War.” The Atlantic contributor Conor Friedersdorf argues, “What George Will observed last autumn, long before recent escalations in Iraq and Syria, still goes. ‘Regarding war with the Islamic State,’ he wrote, ‘the Constitution requires what prudence strongly recommends—congressional authorization.’” See also, “Obama says Syria deployment doesn’t break no ‘boots on ground’ pledge.”

NATO must adapt to address Russia’s nuclear brinkmanship.” European Leadership Network contributor Jacek Durkalec argues, “Moscow is willing to use its nuclear arsenal not only as a deterrent but also as a tool of coercion, supporting a change of the status quo. Russia’s nuclear brinkmanship has strengthened the presumption that any hypothetical conflict between NATO and Russia would involve Russian nuclear threats, implicit or explicit.”

 “14 things successful people do before breakfast.” The Telegraph contributor Helena Horton offers, “Many people think that squeezing in breakfast before work is a feat in itself. However, research from the World Economic Forum states that successful people make the most of their mornings.”

Gain anyone’s trust.” Fast Company contributor Lisa Evans offers, “Trust is the cornerstone of every successful relationship. But for many of us, gaining the trust of colleagues, clients, or employees doesn’t come easy.”



Bad sheep.

Boots in the ground.

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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.