Hump Day Highlights


Fast jobs. Contributor Ron Kness writes, “Don’t want to spend the next four years in school getting a bachelor’s degree? You don’t have to. If interested in healthcare, there are some great careers to choose from that only require a certificate up to a two-year associate’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these five career fields have great job potential through 2024 . . . .”

High adventure. Contributor David Brown writes, “If you hold a security clearance, there’s a good chance you’ve heard rumors that the world is an unstable place, and that terrible things are happening everywhere. Where American forces operate, however, American contractors operate, and that means jobs.”


ISIS troubles. The Telegraph’s Richard Spencer reports, “[T]he declining reach of Isil, especially in northern Syria, where they have been pushed back from Kurdish areas, and in western Iraq is clear to see. The group has not had a major advance since May last year, when it took Ramadi and Palmyra in Syria. Since then it has suffered losses to territory, its financing and its manpower due largely to air strikes.” See also, “Killed in U.S. air strike,” “Islamic State’s ‘minister for war’ is likely to have been killed,” “Senior ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Shishani killed in U.S. strike,” and “US targeted senior Islamic State military commander.”

Iran rising. Reuters’ Sam Wilkin and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin report, “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday morning that it said were designed to be able to hit Israel, defying a threat of new sanctions from the United States. The launches followed the test-firing of several missiles on Tuesday as part of a major military exercise that the IRGC says is intended to ‘show Iran’s deterrent power and . . . ability to confront any threat’.” See also, “Defensive strength, national security,” “Iran Threatens to Walk Away From Nuke Deal After New Missile Test,” and “Ballistic Missiles from Underground Silos.”

Pyongyang’s mini-nukes. Stars & Stripes’ Paul Alexander reports, “Experts immediately cast doubt on North Korea’s claim Wednesday that it has developed a nuclear bomb small enough to fit into a warhead while adding that even if the boast is true, the belligerent country probably still has a lot of work ahead to be able to deliver it effectively.” See also, “Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warheads” and “Poses beside possible nuclear warhead mock-up.”

Middle East review. The European Leadership Network offers, “The current instability in the Middle East presents a severe security challenge for the world as a whole, but acutely so for those states bordering the region. The following papers . . . aim to present their national or regional perspective on the challenges Middle Eastern turmoil poses.”


IT contract watch. Nextgov’s Frank Konkel reports, “This year is a big one for federal IT contracts. The top two contract vehicles to be awarded within the next year, the General Services Administration’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (now out for bid) and Alliant 2, have a collective ceiling value of $100 billion. Toss in close to a dozen more contracts with potential multibillion-dollar ceilings, and you’ve got a particularly active – and exceedingly important – year ahead for federal agencies, contracting officials and competing contractors.”

Contract vehicle strategies. Federal Times contributor George Meyers writes, “Utilizing small business set-asides when procuring an opportunity through a contract vehicle is a simple way to ensure small firms still play a role. While small businesses are represented on contract vehicles, even accounting for 80 percent of contractors with GSA schedules, many of the vehicles used for large complex opportunities limit the number of primes to a handful of big companies.”

Army searching for nav-tech.  Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “Army vetronics experts are approaching industry for ways to develop vehicle navigation systems (VNS) using existing products and services for Army combat vehicles such as main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and armored utility vehicles. Officials of the Army Contracting Command in Warren, Mich., issued a request for information (W56HZV-RFI-VNS) on Friday for the Vehicle Navigation System for Army Platforms project.”


The Strategic Capabilities Office. Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe reports, “The story of SCO — pronounced ‘Skoh’ — is one that underscores the Pentagon’s efforts to move beyond more than a decade of counterterrorism operations and combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to prepare for new strategic threats. The office initially called the Pentagon home, but was later moved a few miles away to a larger space . . . .”

Valerie Plame says . . . The Press Democrat’s Julie Johnson reports, “Former CIA officer Valerie Plame might be one of America’s most famous spies. She has inspired a Hollywood depiction of her life, pop music songs and a question on the game show Jeopardy. Plame says that her public role today is another world compared to the 20-year career working covertly overseas for the Central Intelligence Agency, chasing down nuclear threats and lying about her true job even to her closest college friends.”

Section 702: FBI’s new rules. The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reports, “The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency . . . . The classified revisions were accepted by the secret US court that governs surveillance, during its annual recertification of the agencies’ broad surveillance powers. The new rules affect a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702 . . . .”

OPM’s data drive. FedScoop’s Billy Mitchell reports, “OPM has brought together researchers and policymakers from private, public and academic organizations to explore how data can better drive its federal HR policies.”


Say it isn’t so, Joe! “This year’s crop of Republican candidates love to align themselves with Ronald Reagan, but Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t seem to think that’s a good thing. ‘If Ronald Reagan were alive today seeking nomination, he could no more get the nomination of the Republican Party than I could get the nomination,’ Biden said during an hourlong talk in Dubai, according to a pool report. ‘I’m not joking’ . . . .”

McCain bombs. “Sen. John McCain is taking a new tack in his crusade against the Air Force’s B-21, slamming the service’s decision to keep the new bomber’s cost under wraps. . . . McCain hammered Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, on the secrecy surrounding the B-21, which is expected to cost $100 billion over the life of the program. The American people have a right to know precisely how many of their dollars will go toward the bomber, McCain argued.”


Military Aid Should Do No Harm.” US News contributor William Hartung argues, “The urge to ‘do something’ in a crisis is not an adequate reason to provide U.S. arms and training. The Congress and the president need to take a closer look at the Pentagon’s assistance programs to make sure that at the very least, they do no harm.”

For Syrian refugees, a legal – and safe – route to Europe.” The Christian Science Monitor Editorial Board argues, “Providing legal avenues for people to escape a dangerous situation can prevent the kind of mass migration that breaks a nation’s sovereignty and rule of law.” See also, “Amnesty slams EU Turkey refugee deal.”

Habits Of The Most Productive People.” Fast Company’s Gwen Moran writes, “Some people just get stuff done. By the time most are pouring their second cup of joe, these super-achievers have been to Crossfit, hit inbox zero, and nailed the rough draft of that report due next week. How do they do it? Actually, you can, too . . . .”


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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.