Top 5 clearance questions. “Getting a security clearance isn’t as easy as simply filling out a bunch of forms and waiting. It can be a nerve wracking experience for individuals who are excited to pursue a government or military career – but nervous about specific issues or past mistakes. One of the many security clearance resources at is our repository of articles addressing security clearance issues. In the comments threads of those articles, a few common questions frequently pop up. Here are the top five frequently asked . . . .”

Clearance complications. “Whether you’re trying to get a new candidate cleared or putting an employee up for a periodic reinvestigation, processing times are slow. It all began with the Office of Personnel Management hack and the 60-day shutdown of the eQIP system. Processing times never recovered, and now the DoD Central Adjudication Facility is also blaming budget cuts for exceptionally slow processing times. Initial Secret clearances are now taking 116 days, Top Secret clearances are taking 203 days, and Periodic Reinvestigations are taking 227 days.”


Taking back Fallujah. “Iraqi forces have begun their assault on Islamic State in Fallujah, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said late Sunday, an operation that aims to evict the extremists from one of their last major territorial holdings in Iraq. . . . The operation follows months of planning and preparation in coordination with a U.S.-led military coalition that is backing Iraqi forces with airstrikes. Iraqi forces have long had the city surrounded, but a major buildup of forces became evident in recent days as Shiite militias working alongside the Iraqi army moved military equipment to the area and officials suggested an operation was imminent.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Killed: Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour. “President Barack Obama said Monday that the violent death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour by a U.S. airstrike should send a ‘clear signal’ to anti-American extremists that ‘we’re going to protect our people.’ Obama also said Mansour’s death was an ‘important milestone’ in the yearslong effort to bring peace to Afghanistan.” (AP)

Votel goes to Syria. “Over the past two days, during Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel’s latest trip to the Middle East, the U.S. Central Command chief met in Iraq and Syria with coalition members, other partners, senior commanders and military leaders to discuss operations and continued collaboration there. Votel’s first stop was in Kuwait on Wednesday to meet with Kuwaiti Defense Minister Khaled Al Jarrah Al Sabah and other military leaders before traveling to Baghdad Thursday.” (Defense Media Activity)


Sikorsky building 8 more Mike Model Black Hawks. “The U.S. Army awarded Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a recent contract worth $88,117,272 to build eight UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. This is a modification to an existing contract and the work will be formed at Stratford, Connecticut . . . . The eight UH-60Ms are scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2017.” (Defense Tech)

Better buying in acquisition. “For the past four years, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has updated Congress on the Better Buying Power (BBP) initiative and the need to firmly embed tools such as should-cost analysis into DoD acquisition culture. Three key areas can help drive adoption should-cost analysis into the DoD acquisition culture: people and training, tools and processes, and leadership and should-cost pilot programs.” (Federal Times)


NSA whistleblowers not Snowden. “Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance programme were largely ignored.” (The Guardian)

CIA’s Brennan-plan reorganization. “A significant but largely unnoticed transformation has been percolating for the past year — CIA Director John Brennan’s restructuring of the agency. The Brennan plan is the most far-reaching organizational shake up since the CIA’s creation in 1947. If fully implemented, this restructuring will drastically change the way espiocrats perform their duties.” (The Tribune Review)


Draft dodging. “The Senate is heading for a showdown over women registering for the draft. Supporters of requiring women to sign up for Selective Service see the upper chamber as their last best hope for getting legislation to President Obama’s desk. . . . The battle will come to a head on the Senate floor, where conservative opponents are expected to make a last stand to remove the provision. . . .  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he supports the change, while noting he doesn’t expect the United States to return to the draft.” (The Hill)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “The way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tells it in a new book, his Democratic counterpart has a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.’ ‘Harry is rhetorically challenged. If a scalpel will work, he picks up a meat ax,’ McConnell wrote of Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in his forthcoming book, ‘The Long Game: A Memoir,’ due for release May 31 . . . .” (Politico)


A counterinsurgency that works. “These forces appear capable of planning operations, developing intelligence, training and directing proxy forces effectively, leading them into battle, and undertaking the range of military-technical tasks needed, up to and including joint terminal attack controller functions. . . . AQAP is used to being the smartest player around with the deepest local ties, but a partnership between the Gulf coalition, Yemen, and the United States could present Al-Qaeda and the emergent Islamic State in Yemen with a much tougher set of opponents.” (War on the Rocks)

Election-year NATO Summit. “A few months before the US presidential election, no such far-reaching decisions can be expected in Warsaw, but there can be a general course of action agreed. In short, it can consist of the following formula: the implementation in full of the Readiness Action Plan and maintaining dialogue with Russia.” (European Leadership Network)

Diplomacy and the war in Syria. “Too often, in discussing Syria, we posit a choice between working with the central government and working with unsavory non-state actors. There is an obvious additional option, already in play, that deserves greater emphasis: empowering and engaging local municipalities, local business sectors, local civil society, and other actors who exist in territory not under extremist or regime control and who have an obvious stake in the success of their own communities and their defense against coercion either from ISIS or from the Assad government.” (Lawfare)

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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.