Tuesday’s Top Ten


Compelling cover letters. Contributor Ron Kness writes, “The cover letter is a sales page. Make the reader want to learn more about what’s for sale — you. With only eight to 15 seconds to grab the reader’s attention, you need to set yourself apart from the other applicants right away. If the cover letter doesn’t create that interest, then all the work that went into your resume will be for naught.”

National Background Investigations Bureau. Editor Lindy Kyzer asks, “Will the National Background Investigation Bureau have the gravitas necessary to improve both the quality – and credibility – of security clearance background investigations? And what effect will continuous monitoring and enhanced polygraph screenings have on government recruitment and retention? We unpack these questions and more in a recent interview with Charles Sowell, senior vice president at Salient CRGT and a former senior adviser to the Director of National Intelligence.”


DoD on North Korea. Defense Talk reports, “The Defense Department sent Congress its 2015 report on North Korea’s military power . . . . The report, ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,’ was originally mandated in 2012 to inform Congress and the public of DoD’s analytical assessment of North Korea’s activities based on continuous U.S. monitoring, according to DoD officials.” Read the report.

Colombian challenges continue. Vice News’ Joe Parkin Daniels reports, “Colombia’s second largest rebel group is making a bid to remind the world that it remains active in a presumed attempt to influence potential peace talks. Beginning at the weekend, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, imposed a 72-hour economic shutdown on areas where it has influence, and carried out a wave of small-scale attacks against military, police, and infrastructure targets across the country.”

War crimes in Syria. AP’s Bassem Mroue and Lynn Berry report, “Russia on Tuesday rebuffed claims that its warplanes struck a hospital in northern Syria in airstrikes the previous day that killed at least nine people as Syrian government forces and a predominantly Kurdish coalition are making against rival groups in the country’s north.” See also, “Russia rejects Syria war crimes claim” and “Tide turns Assad’s way amid ceasefire push.”

Recruiting in Iran. Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson reports, “Key players in Iran’s ruling system, from the Revolutionary Guard to pro-revolution filmmakers, have emphasized appealing to youths for at least 15 years, and the move toward greater nationalism goes back a decade. But internal and external forces have accelerated the trend, say analysts, who point to the fight against the Islamic State group, last summer’s landmark nuclear deal, and the desire by authorities to remedy the distrust – especially among young Iranians – that remains from violent protests over the disputed election in 2009.”

Gitmo alum vocal in AQAP. The Long War Journal’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “Ex-Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim al Qosi has become a prominent fixture in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) propaganda since early December, when he first revealed that he is a senior leader in the group. Qosi most recently delivered a two-part critique of the Saudi monarchy, entitled ‘A Message to Our People in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.’”


JLTVs back in production. Army Technology reports, “The US Court of Federal Claims has instructed Oshkosh to resume work on its recent $6.75bn contract to manufacture joint light tactical vehicles (JLTV) for the US Army. The court denied Lockheed Martin‘s request for a preliminary injunction against Oshkosh while hearing its formal protest. . . . The US Army told the company to stop work after Lockheed Martin lodged a formal protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), citing concerns regarding the evaluation of its proposal, as well as the source selection process.”

Chemical detection partners. Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “Sensors experts at Block Engineering, Inc. in Marlborough, Mass., are developing a lightweight battery-operated chemical-detection system that detects explosives, chemical weapons, poisonous chemicals, and narcotics using active infrared spectroscopy. Officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $9.4 million contract to Block Engineering on Wednesday Friday for the Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures (SILMARILS) project.”


SKYNET’s big data problems. Ars Technia’s Christian Grothoff & J.M. Porup report, “SKYNET engages in mass surveillance of Pakistan’s mobile phone network, and then uses a machine learning algorithm on the cellular network metadata of 55 million people to try and rate each person’s likelihood of being a terrorist. Patrick Ball—a data scientist and the executive director at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group—who has previously given expert testimony before war crimes tribunals, described the NSA’s methods as ‘ridiculously optimistic’ . . . .” See also, “Towards Autonomous Navigation of Miniature UAV.”

Fast Lightweight Autonomy: speedy drone. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, “It bobs and weaves with the dexterity of a bird. It is… the military’s newest experimental drone. The Defense Advanced Research Projects agency, or DARPA, on Friday released new footage from it’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy, or FLA, program and announced that the program had achieved a major milestone: a lightweight drone capable of flying 20 meters per second while carrying a high-resolution camera, LIDAR, sonar, and inertial measurement sensors.”

Threat assessment. Lawfare’s Alex R. McQuade reports, “Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee with DIA Director Vincent Stewart, and then later in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, NSA Director Michael Rogers, and DIA Director Stewart, Clapper outlined the top global threats the United States faces today. As Foreign Policy described the event: ‘U.S. spy chiefs think the world is pretty much going to hell.’ At least we were warned.” See also, Brennan on 60 Minutes.


McCaining. “Sen. John McCain blasted President Obama’s international leadership during the weekend, saying ‘we cannot change course soon enough.’ While addressing a security conference in Munich on Sunday, the Arizona senator who was beaten by Obama in the 2008 presidential election, did not refer to the president directly. But in a speech about the West’s failure to deal appropriately either with Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Middle East turmoil, McCain clearly denounced the direction coming from Washington.”

Recess. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to confirm a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but some Republicans worry that President Obama could install a replacement anyway. . . . Obama wouldn’t be the first president to use a recess appointment to place a justice on the high court. There are have been 12 justices appointed to the Supreme Court while the Senate was in recess. Dwight Eisenhower was the last president to use that power — he did so three times”


The Case for the Draft.” US News contributors Lawrence J. Korb and Eric Goepel argue, “To shy away from our collective obligation to national defense is to assure that we will have war without end, with nothing to show for it but crushing debt and wasted lives.”

A female Marine’s perspective on the military draft.” Washington Examiner contributor Kyleanne Hunter argues, “Including women in the selective service is not a subversive message to ‘draft our daughters.’ It is an essential policy change to do right by all citizens and ensure our nation’s security.”

New Islamic State franchise threatens Egypt.” Reuters contributors Daniel Nisman and Michael Horowitz argue, “Denying Islamic State a fertile recruiting ground requires the Sisi government to curb the country’s multiplying centers of corruption, reform security forces and seriously tackle poverty through investment and education. Cairo’s allies must demonstrate to all Egyptians that they stand firmly behind Egypt in this effort. Because ignoring Islamic State’s threat in the Middle East’s largest nation will prove as an unforgivable act.”

North Korea’s dangerous act.” Omaha World-Herald’s Editorial Board argues, “Leaders in North Korea and China need to understand that actions have consequences. It’s time for strong, effective action to counter the North Korean threat.”


Hiding places

Uber cops


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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.