Tuesday’s Top Ten


GI Bill, interns, and apprentices. Contributor Ron Kness writes, “Some of the lesser known training programs tied to the GI Bill can be confusing in regard to how each one affects amount paid to the student each month from their GI Bill. Not knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of each program can end up costing the student a reduction in GI Bill benefits. Two programs discussed in today’s column are internships and apprenticeships. . . .”

Before you co-sign . . . Contributor, barrister, and counsel Sean Bigley advises, “You may have noticed that I often write on issues related to Guideline ‘F’ – the security clearance adjudicative criteria which aptly cover financial considerations. There is good reason for this: financial problems have consistently been, and remain today, the top reason for security clearance denials.”


Kurd deep dive. Council on Foreign Relations reports, “Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire dispersed Kurds into four nations nearly a century ago, they have pursued recognition, political rights, autonomy, or independence. Throughout this period, Kurds have been persecuted, Kurdish identity has been denied, and thousands of Kurds have been killed. In each of the four nations, Kurds have had uneasy relationships with authorities, rebelling at times and cutting deals with the governments at others. The destabilization of Iraq, civil war in Syria, and the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State present new challenges, but also opportunities, for the Kurds.”

ISIS commander killed in Cairo. The Long War Journal’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “The Egyptian interior ministry announced earlier today that a senior figure in the Islamic State’s so-called Sinai ‘province,’ Ashraf Ali Hassanein al Gharabli, was killed during a shootout with police in Cairo. The Egyptian government alleges that al Gharabli was involved in a string of attacks, including a car bombing outside the Italian consulate in Cairo in July, the beheading of a Croatian man in August, and the murder of an American named William Henderson in 2014. Al Gharabli was also allegedly responsible for a number of attacks on Egyptian officials, including an assassination attempt on former interior minister Mohammad Ibrahim in 2013.”

Dwekh Nawsha: onward, Christian soldiers. Christian Science Monitor’s Kristen Chick reports, “On the outside, the house is fortified with sandbags and machine guns. On the inside hang pictures of Jesus and Mary. The house, in the last village before the territory of the Islamic State (IS) begins here in northern Iraq, is a base for Dwekh Nawsha, one of the Assyrian Christian militias participating in the battle against IS. Last year, the jihadists’ lightning advance across northern Iraq captured part of the Nineveh Plain, historic homeland of Iraq’s Assyrian minority, forcing thousands of Christians to flee. Now some of them are on the front lines, fighting for their homeland.”

Closing Gitmo. Reuters’ Phil Stewart and Patricia Zengerle report, “The Pentagon is expected to unveil a long-awaited plan this week outlining how it would close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite fierce resistance in Congress to President Barack Obama’s push to shutter the facility . . . . The plan would have four sections, one detailing potential U.S. alternatives for detainees, including the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado, one of the more promising locations . . . .”


Tilt rotors: AgustaWestland beats Boeing. Defense News’ Awad Mustafa, Aaron Mehta and Lara Seligman report, “The United Arab Emirates has selected the AW609 design from AgustaWestland to fulfill its requirement for a tiltrotor search and rescue aircraft, the Armed Forces’ Joint Aviation Command announced Tuesday. The selection of the AW609, which was selected over the Bell Boeing’s V-22 design, gives a launch customer for the SAR design of the aircraft — and appeared to catch the Bell Boeing team by surprise, with a Bell executive expressing hope for a deal with the UAE to Defense News just fifteen minutes before the announcement.”

Lockheed’s sonar upgrades. Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “Sonar signal processing experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will upgrade digital signal processing in the sonar systems of the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet under terms of a $129.4 million contract modification announced Thursday. . . . [Acoustics-Rapid Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Insertion (A-RCI)] is a sonar system that integrates and improves towed array, hull array, sphere array, and other ship sensor processing, through rapid insertion of COTS-based hardware and software, such as commercial blade servers.”


Rocket Kitten: Republican Guards’ hackers. Homeland Security News Wire reports, “Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. on Monday published a 38-page report identifying specific details and broad analysis on cyber-espionage activity conducted by the group ‘Rocket Kitten,’ with possible ties to Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The new report also reveals details of the group’s global operations and insight into more than 1,600 of their targets.” Read the report: “Rocket Kitten: A Campaign with 9 Lives.”

Ransomware review. Krebs On Security’s Brian Krebs reports, “One of the more common and destructive computer crimes to emerge over the past few years involves ransomware — malicious code that quietly scrambles all of the infected user’s documents and files with very strong encryption.  A ransom, to be paid in Bitcoin, is demanded in exchange for a key to unlock the files. . . . This latest criminal innovation, innocuously dubbed ‘Linux.Encoder.1’ by Russian antivirus and security firm Dr.Web, targets sites powered by the Linux operating system. The file currently has almost zero detection when scrutinized by antivirus products at Virustotal.com, a free tool for scanning suspicious files against dozens of popular antivirus products.

Bulk collection: unconstitutional. The New York Times’ Charlie Savage reports, “A federal judge on Monday partly blocked the National Security Agency’s program that systematically collects Americans’ domestic phone records in bulk just weeks before the agency was scheduled to shut it down and replace it. The judge said the program was most likely unconstitutional. . . . Judge Richard J. Leon of United States District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that the constitutional issues were too important to leave unanswered in the history of the program, which traces back to after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and came to light in 2013 in leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor.” See also, “NSA Ordered to Stop Collecting, Querying Plaintiffs’ Phone Records” and “Classified Report on the C.I.A.’s Secret Prisons Is Caught in Limbo.”

OPM – vulnerable by design. Nextgov’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “A system separated from the Internet, like those that safeguard classified military data, is not practical for security clearance data . . . . a federal human resources department mandated to share information inside and outside government cannot isolate databases from the Internet . . . . [Jeff Wagner, OPM’s security operations director] said, ‘even clearance data’ must be online, because the only other option is to shuffle paper folders. That move could grind to a halt payroll, as well as a backlog of applicants for security clearances to handle classified material.”


Exactly right. “Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is urging his colleagues to pass legislation that would give homeless veterans more housing. According to Schumer, too many of New York state’s veterans do not have access to the support they need, especially those who are homeless. . . . ‘We owe it to our veterans to ensure they can find affordable, safe housing and stay off the streets after protecting the many freedoms we know and cherish,’ Schumer said.”

Space-time continuums. “In an interview this week, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush weighed in on one of the zeitgeist’s silliest questions: If you could go back in time, would you kill a baby Adolf Hitler? ‘Hell yeah, I would!’ Bush told the Huffington Post when queried on the subject in New Hampshire. ‘You gotta step up, man.’” See also, “Can he tone down his inner wonk?


Islamic State’s capital could be better off under Islamic State, unless . . .Reuters’ Aki Peritz argues, “Without a large stabilizing force and an effective system of government that restores some semblance of normal life, the coalition would likely fail to achieve its objectives of liberating Raqqa — or any major slice of Islamic State-held territory — for very long.”

P5+1 Diplomacy on Iran: Lessons for Syria.” European Leadership Network’s Tarja Cronberg argues, “Clearly the conditions that made the P5+1 formulation a winning strategy in the Iran nuclear negotiations cannot be easily replicated to solve the Syrian crisis. But understanding better what made the nuclear negotiations so successful can help us shape effective diplomatic approaches to the Syrian problem, and other crises in the future.”

Fit a 40-hour workweek into 16.7 hours.” Fast Company contributor Chris Winfield writes, “I realize I used my work to try and fill a void in myself. The problem was that this void was like a black hole. No matter how many hours I worked, it never seemed to fill it up. If anything, it made me feel worse. One day I’d had enough. Truth be told, I’d had way more than enough. I stopped and reevaluated my life, trying to figure out what was important to me, and what wasn’t.”


Aaugh in the night.

Steady as she goes.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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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.