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History > 2009 > USA > War > Pentagon (II)

 

 

 

 

Paul Sahre and Sebastian Rether

April 23, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/l23airforce.html

Break Up the Air Force? A Fight Is On        NYT        23.4.2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/l23airforce.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complications Grow

for Muslims Serving Nation

 

November 9, 2009
The New York Times
By ANDREA ELLIOTT

 

Abdi Akgun joined the Marines in August of 2000, fresh out of high school and eager to serve his country. As a Muslim, the attacks of Sept. 11 only steeled his resolve to fight terrorism.

But two years later, when Mr. Akgun was deployed to Iraq with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the thought of confronting Muslims in battle gave him pause.

He was haunted by the possibility that he might end up killing innocent civilians.

“It’s kind of like the Civil War, where brothers fought each other across the Mason-Dixon line,” Mr. Akgun, 28, of Lindenhurst, N.Y., who returned from Iraq without ever pulling the trigger. “I don’t want to stain my faith, I don’t want to stain my fellow Muslims, and I also don’t want to stain my country’s flag.”

Thousands of Muslims have served in the United States military — a legacy that some trace to the First World War. But in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, as the United States has become mired in two wars on Muslim lands, the service of Muslim-Americans is more necessary and more complicated than ever before.

In the aftermath of the shootings at Fort Hood on Thursday by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan of the Army, a psychiatrist, many Muslim soldiers and their commanders say they fear that the relationship between the military and its Muslim service members will only grow more difficult.

On Sunday, the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., said he worried about a backlash against Muslims in the armed forces and emphasized the military’s reliance on those men and women.

“Our diversity, not only in our Army but in our country, is a strength,” General Casey said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

It is unclear what might have motivated Major Hasan, who is suspected of killing 13 people. Senior military and law enforcement officials said they had tentatively dismissed the possibility that he was carrying out a terrorist plot. He seems to have been influenced by a mixture of political, religious and psychological factors, the officials said.

Muslim leaders, advocates and military service members have taken pains to denounce the shooting and distance themselves from Major Hasan. They make the point that his violence is no more representative of them than it is of other groups to which he belongs, including Army psychiatrists.

“I don’t understand why the Muslim-American community has to take responsibility for him,” said Ingrid Mattson, the president of the Islamic Society of North America. “The Army has had at least as much time and opportunity to form and shape this person as the Muslim community.”

That sentiment was echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who told “Face the Nation” on CBS that the shooting was “not about his religion — the fact that this man was a Muslim.”

Yet also Sunday, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, announced he would hold hearings to explore whether Major Hasan’s actions constituted terrorism.

Whatever his possible motives, the emerging portrait of Major Hasan’s life in the military casts light on some of the struggles and frustrations felt by other Muslims in the services. He was disillusioned with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he perceived to be part of a war on Islam, according to interviews with friends and relatives.

He had been the subject of taunts and felt singled out by his fellow soldiers for being Muslim, friends and relatives said. His uncle in Ramallah, West Bank, Rafik Hamad, said Major Hasan’s fellow soldiers had once called him a “camel jockey.”

That term, like “haaji” and “raghead,” has become a more common part of the lexicon among soldiers on the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, several Muslim servicemen said in interviews. They spoke about the epithets philosophically, saying they understood using them was a survival tactic to dehumanize the enemy.

But for Muslim soldiers, particularly those who speak Arabic, the struggle to distance themselves from those they fight has often proved more difficult in these wars.

Amjad Khan, who served in the Army for eight years and was deployed to Iraq, said he had tried to get used to the way his fellow soldiers talked about Iraqis.

“It gets to you sometimes,” said Mr. Khan, 32, from Queens, who is of Pakistani descent. “But the more personally you take things, the more you’re going to have a hard time surviving.”

For Mr. Khan, the most difficult part of his wartime service came before he was deployed, when a senior officer found his Islamic faith cause for suspicion.

“He said, ‘I have to watch my back because you might go nuts,’ ” Mr. Khan recalled.

Since Sept. 11, the nation’s military has recruited Muslim-Americans, eager to have people with linguistic skills and a cultural understanding of the Middle East. Some 3,557 military personnel identify themselves as Muslim among 1.4 million people in the active-duty population, according to official figures. Muslim advocacy groups estimate the number to be far higher, as listing one’s religious preference is voluntary.

Many Muslims are drawn to the military for the same reasons as other recruits. In interviews, they cited patriotism, a search for discipline and their dreams of attending college. Some Muslims said they had also enlisted to win new respect in a country where people of their faith have struggled for acceptance.

But if military service has brought approval among non-Muslims, it has sometimes invited a markedly different response among Muslims.

In the South Asian and Arab immigrant communities where the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are deeply unpopular, Muslim military members have often felt criticized for their service, Muslim chaplains, military members, veterans advocates and others said in interviews.

Some return exhausted and traumatized from their tours, only to hear at their local mosques that they will go to hell for “killing Muslims,” said Qaseem A. Uqdah, the executive director of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council.

“Imagine you are 20 years old and you hear you’re going to purgatory,” Mr. Uqdah said. He argued that Muslim groups must work harder to help their veterans cope with coming home. “We are failing as a community here in America.”

During the first gulf war, Muslim scholars in the United States debated whether members of their faith could righteously engage in combat in a Muslim country on behalf of the United States military. The consensus was yes, provided the conflict met the Islamic standard of a “just war.”

“In the Koran it says that war is to end the state of oppression and to uplift the oppressed,” said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor at the law school at the University of California, Los Angeles.

But he and others interviewed said it has been increasingly difficult for Muslims to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as accounts have emerged of the killing of civilians, the corruption of American-backed local governments, and prisoner abuses like that of the Abu Ghraib scandal .

“Is it an army that defends the oppressed, or have you slipped into becoming the oppressor?” asked Mr. El Fadl, who has counseled Muslims conflicted about enlisting. “People from the military who contact me, that’s what I find they’re torn up about.”

And yet more than 3,500 Muslims have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department figures provided to The Times. As of 2006, some 212 Muslim-American soldiers had been awarded Combat Action Ribbons for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seven had been killed.

Too many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Muslims in uniform, said Capt. Eric Rahman, 35, an Army reservist who won the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq at the start of the war. He cited the example of Petty Officer Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal who won the Medal of Honor after pulling a team member to safety during firefight in 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq.

Petty Officer Monsoor died saving another American, yet he will never be remembered like Major Hasan, said Captain Rahman.

Regardless, he said, Muslim- and Arab-Americans are crucial to the military’s success in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Take a look at these conflicts,” he said. “We need those skill sets, we need those backgrounds, we need those perspectives.”

 

Eric Schmitt, Damien Cave and Catrina Stewart contributed reporting.

    Complications Grow for Muslims Serving Nation, NYT, 9.11.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/us/09muslim.html

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Expected to Request

More War Financing

 

November 5, 2009
The New York Times
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

 

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military officer said Wednesday that he expected the Pentagon to ask Congress in the next few months for emergency financing to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though President Obama has pledged to end the Bush administration practice of paying for the conflicts with so-called supplemental funds that are outside the normal Defense Department budget.

The financing would be on top of the $130 billion that Congress authorized for the wars just last month.

The military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not say how much additional money would be needed, but one figure in circulation within the Pentagon and among outside defense budget analysts is $50 billion.

Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who is chairman of the House appropriations defense subcommittee, cited $40 billion last week as a hypothetical amount for the supplemental financing request. The number represented a standard calculation of $1 billion for every 1,000 troops deployed.

Defense officials said the final request would depend on the number of additional troops Mr. Obama decided to send to Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, has asked for 40,000 more troops on top of the 68,000 American troops already there.

The request is likely to ignite objections from Democrats on Capitol Hill who are increasingly alarmed about the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan, and it could become a vehicle for a battle between Mr. Obama and his liberal Democratic base. Mr. Obama is already under pressure from both parties in Congress because of soaring deficits and the costs of his economic bailout and proposed health care program.

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Admiral Mullen said he anticipated the need for more money for the wars in the coming year beyond the $130 billion authorized for the 2010 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2009, until Sept. 30, 2010. He was responding to a questioner who asked, “Assuming that U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan increase, do you expect that the Defense Department will submit an emergency supplemental funding request during the coming months?”

Admiral Mullen replied: “From what I can see, I certainly think there will be some requirement. I just don’t know exactly what it will be yet.”

Admiral Mullen’s spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, said afterward that although the admiral wanted to move away from supplemental defense financing, there might be “a need for another supplemental on the unique and current demands of dynamic operations in two theaters of war.”

The White House had little comment on Admiral Mullen’s remarks. “The president’s budget provides a full-year funding for anticipated costs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has made clear his intent to fund these wars through the normal budgeting process,” Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said in an e-mail message. “No decisions have been made about additional costs related to new resource requests from the Department of Defense.”

Although the size of any request would depend on the number of extra forces sent, Defense Department officials say they are likely to need more money even without a buildup. Robert F. Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, recently told staff members of the House Appropriations Committee that it would be hard to get through September 2010 with $130 billion, regardless of a troop increase, said a Congressional staff member who did not want to be identified as discussing internal matters. Mr. Hale declined to comment.

In March, Mr. Hale told the House Budget Committee that $130 billion would be enough for the year and that he did not expect to ask for more. But he did caution that “there may be significant unforeseen developments or changes in wartime strategy or tactics that cannot be addressed with existing resources.”

Beyond the possibility of adding troops, Pentagon officials say extra money could be used, among other things, to repair equipment and transfer it from Iraq to Afghanistan and to help commanders pay for local improvements in Afghanistan like bridges and roads.

Mr. Obama did include the $130 billion for the wars as part of his regular $668 billion defense budget this year, the first time that has happened since 2001. President George W. Bush regularly financed the wars with emergency requests that usually came after the Pentagon budget was introduced.

The Bush White House said the practice was necessary because it was hard to project what the wars would actually cost, particularly early on. But as the years passed and the wars continued, critics said Mr. Bush was resorting to a budget gimmick intended to lessen the impact on the deficit, at least at that moment, and to restrain sticker shock.

Mr. Obama took office pledging more transparency and accountability in the defense budget.

In April, before the current Pentagon budget was passed, the Obama administration asked Congress for approval of an emergency $83.4 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30. The administration said the money was needed because legislation passed during the Bush administration provided only enough money to pay for the wars through midyear.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said at the time that the request was unavoidable and that it would be the last outside the normal budget process.

    U.S. Expected to Request More War Financing, NYT, 5.11.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/world/05military.html

 

 

 

 

 

Military Memo

Voice of Bush’s Pentagon

Becomes Harder to Hear

 

October 5, 2009
The New York Times
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

 

WASHINGTON — Gen. David H. Petraeus, the face of the Iraq troop surge and a favorite of former President George W. Bush, spoke up or was called upon by President Obama “several times” during the big Afghanistan strategy session in the Situation Room last week, one participant says, and will be back for two more meetings this week.

But the general’s closest associates say that underneath the surface of good relations, the celebrity commander faces a new reality in Mr. Obama’s White House: He is still at the table, but in a very different seat.

No longer does the man who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have one of the biggest voices at National Security Council meetings, as he did when Mr. Bush gave him 20 minutes during hourlong weekly sessions to present his views in live video feeds from Baghdad. No longer is the general, with the Capitol Hill contacts and web of e-mail relationships throughout Washington’s journalism establishment, testifying in media explosions before Congress, as he did in September 2007, when he gave 34 interviews in three days.

The change has fueled speculation in Washington about whether General Petraeus might seek the presidency in 2012. His advisers say that it is absurd — but in immediate policy terms, it means there is one less visible advocate for the military in the administration’s debate over whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.

The general’s aides requested anonymity to talk more candidly about his relationship with the White House.

“General Petraeus has not hinted to anyone that he is interested in political life, and in fact has said on many occasions that he’s not,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University who was the executive officer to General Petraeus when he was the top American commander in Iraq.

“It is other people who are looking at his popularity and saying that he would be a good presidential candidate, and I think rightly that makes the administration a little suspicious of him.”

General Petraeus’s advisers say he has stepped back in part because Mr. Obama has handpicked his own public face for the war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who last week gave an interview to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” met with Mr. Obama on Air Force One and used a speech in London to reject calls for scaling back the war effort.

If anything, General McChrystal’s public comments may prove that General Petraeus might be prudent to take a back seat during the debate. On Sunday, when CNN’s John King asked Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, if it was appropriate for a man in uniform to appear to campaign so openly for more troops, General Jones replied, “Ideally, it’s better for military advice to come up through the chain of command.”

How much General Petraeus’s muted voice will affect Mr. Obama’s decision on the war is unclear, but people close to him say that stifling himself in public could give him greater credibility to influence the debate from within. Others say that his biggest influence may simply be as part of a team of military advisers, including General McChrystal and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The men are united in what they see as the need to build up the American effort in Afghanistan, although General Petraeus, who works closely with General McChrystal, said last week that he had not yet endorsed General McChrystal’s request for more troops.

Together the three are likely to be aligned against Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as other administration officials who want to scale back the effort. In that situation, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has worried about a big American presence in Afghanistan but left the door open to more troops, could be the most influential vote.

What is clear is that General Petraeus’s relationship with Mr. Obama is nothing like his bond with Mr. Bush, who went mountain biking with the general in Washington last fall, or with Mr. Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose aides briefly floated the general’s name last year as a possible running mate.

By then the general had been talked about as a potential presidential candidate himself, which still worries some political aides at the White House.

But not Mr. Obama, at least according to one of his top advisers. “The president’s not thinking that way, and the vice president’s not thinking that way,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. “The president values his insights in helping to turn around an eight-year-old war that has been neglected.”

General Petraeus’s advisers say that to preserve a sense of military impartiality, he has not voted since at least 2003, and that he is not sure if he is still registered in New Hampshire, where he and his wife own property. The general has been described as a Republican, including in a lengthy profile in The New Yorker magazine last year. But a senior military official close to him said last week that he could not confirm the general’s political party.

In the meantime, General Petraeus travels frequently from his home in Tampa to Washington, where he met last week with the Afghan foreign minister. He also had dinner with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The general also makes calls on Capitol Hill.

“He understands the Congress better than any military commander I’ve ever met,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who said that General Petraeus had the nationwide influence to serve as a spokesman for the administration’s policy on the Afghan war.

But until the president makes a decision, and determines if he wants to deploy General Petraeus to help sell it, the commander is keeping his head down. “He knows how to make his way through minefields like this,” said Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.

 

Peter Baker contributed reporting.

    Voice of Bush’s Pentagon Becomes Harder to Hear, NYT, 5.10.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/world/05military.html

 

 

 

 

 

First Woman Ascends

to Top Drill Sergeant Spot

 

September 22, 2009
The New York Times
By JAMES DAO

 

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — It may come as no surprise that the Army’s new top drill sergeant idolizes Gen. George S. Patton Jr., has jumped out of planes 33 times, aces every physical training test and drives a black Corvette with “noslack” vanity plates.

But consider this: the sergeant is a woman.

On Tuesday, the Army will make Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King, 48, commandant of its drill sergeant school here. It is a first. No woman has run one of the Army’s rigorous schools for drill instructors.

Petite yet imposing, Sergeant Major King seems a drill sergeant at heart, ever vigilant for busted rules: soldiers nodding off in class, soldiers with hair a fraction too long, soldiers who run too slow.

“Are you crazy?” she shouts at one who is walking across a lawn. “Get off my grass!”

The eighth of 12 children, the sergeant major is the daughter of a sharecropper who grew cucumbers and tobacco near Fort Bragg, N.C. Her first job in the Army was as a postal clerk, a traditional position for women in those days.

She says she regrets not having been deployed to a war zone during her 29-year Army career, though she has trained many soldiers who were. And now, in her new job, she will have significant influence over the basic training of every enlisted soldier.

Last year the Army consolidated several drill schools into a single campus at this sprawling post, meaning Sergeant Major King, with her staff of 78 instructors, will oversee drill sergeant training for the entire Army.

Famous for their Smokey Bear hats, booming voices and no-nonsense demeanor, those sergeants transform tens of thousands of raw recruits into soldiers each year. It is one of the backbone jobs of the military, and having a woman in charge underscores the expanding role of women in the Army’s leadership.

But Sergeant Major King’s ascension is also a reminder of the limits of gender integration in the military. Just 8 percent of the active-duty Army’s highest-ranking enlisted soldiers — sergeants major and command sergeants major — are women, though more than 13 percent of Army personnel are female.

In particular, the Army has struggled to recruit women as drill sergeants, citing pregnancy, long hours and the prohibition against women serving in frontline combat positions as reasons. Sergeant Major King said one of her priorities would be to recruit more women into her school.

But she pushes back at the notion that she has risen because she is a woman. “When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female,” Sergeant Major King said. “I see a soldier.”

As a child, she refused her mother’s cooking lessons, insisting on driving her father’s tractor and playing basketball instead. When her siblings got in trouble, she volunteered to take their spankings.

It was the sight of a commanding-looking female soldier in a stylish red beret at the fort that inspired her to enlist while still in high school. Within three years, she was sent to drill sergeant school, graduating as one of five women in a class of 30.

Willie Shelley, a retired command sergeant major who supervised Sergeant Major King in three postings, said that he once promoted her over the objections of his commander into a position at Fort Bragg that had been held only by men.

“Turns out she was about the best first sergeant they ever had,” Mr. Shelley said. “It would not surprise me that she could become the first female sergeant major of the Army,” he added, referring to its top enlisted soldier.

In her clipped speaking style, acute command of regulations and visible disgust with slovenliness, Sergeant Major King prowls the grounds of Fort Jackson, where she was the top noncommissioned officer for a human resources battalion before being promoted to commandant.

“She can always find the cigarette butt under the mattress,” said Patrick J. Jones, a public affairs officer at Fort Jackson. Respect for rules and dedication to training is what keeps soldiers alive in combat, Sergeant Major King says, and she expects drill sergeants to embody that ethic 24 hours a day. “Most soldiers want to be like their drill sergeants,” she said. “They are the role models.”

Yet for all her gruffness, she can show surprising tenderness toward her charges. She describes her soldiers as “my children” and her approach to disciplining them as “tough love.” She wells up with emotion while describing how she once hugged a burly master sergeant whose wife had left him.

“She is confident, no nonsense, but compassionate about what’s right for the soldier,” said Col. John E. Bessler, her commander in a basic training battalion four years ago.

After a stint as a drill sergeant in her early 20s, Sergeant Major King went through a series of rapid promotions: aide to the secretary of defense, then Dick Cheney; senior enlisted positions near the demilitarized zone in Korea; with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg; and at NATO headquarters in Europe.

For a time in her 30s, she was married to another soldier. She got pregnant but lost the baby, and eventually divorced. The failure of her marriage, she said, brought on a period of soul-searching that led her to study the Bible. She was planning to retire and join the ministry when her appointment to the drill sergeant school was announced over the summer.

“On the other side, the military life, I was doing so good,” she said. “But my personal life just stunk.” Since her divorce, she added, “I just pour my heart into these soldiers.”

Looking back on her years in the Army, Sergeant Major King says she can think of few occasions where men challenged her authority because she was a woman. “And when they did,” she said, “I could handle it.”

Asked if women should be allowed into frontline combat units, she said yes, but only if they meet the same standards as men.

While she says most women cannot meet those standards, she believes she can. As if to prove her point, she scored a perfect 300 on her semiannual physical training test last week, doing 34 push-ups and 66 situps, each in under two minutes, then ran two miles in 16 minutes 10 seconds (well below the required 17:36 for her age group.)

But before she started her test, she characteristically noticed something amiss.

“Can you believe that?” the sergeant major asked no one in particular. “A bag of garbage outside my Dumpster.”

    First Woman Ascends to Top Drill Sergeant Spot, NYT, 22.9.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/us/22sergeant.html

 

 

 

 

 

White House to Scrap

Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield

 

September 18, 2009
The New York Times
By PETER BAKER and NICHOLAS KULISH

 

WASHINGTON —President Obama announced on Thursday that he would scrap former President George W. Bush’s planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic and instead deploy a reconfigured system aimed more at intercepting shorter-range Iranian missiles.

Mr. Obama decided not to deploy a sophisticated radar system in the Czech Republic or 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland, as Mr. Bush had planned. Instead, the new system his administration is developing would deploy smaller SM-3 missiles, at first aboard ships and later probably either in southern Europe or Turkey, officials said.

“President Bush was right that Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House. But he said new assessments of the nature of the Iranian threat required a different system that would use existing technology and different locations. “This new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 European missile defense program.”

The decision amounts to one of the biggest national security reversals by the new administration, one that has upset Czech and Polish allies and pleased Russia, which has adamantly objected to the Bush plan. But Obama administration officials stressed that they were not abandoning missile defense, only redesigning it to meet the more immediate Iranian threat.

“We value the U.S. president’s responsible approach towards implementing our agreements,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia said Thursday in an address on national television, news agencies reported. “I am ready to continue the dialogue,” he said.

Mr. Obama called the leaders of both Poland and the Czech Republic before making his announcement and said he “reaffirmed our deep and close ties.” In speaking with reporters, he also reiterated America’s commitment under Article V of the NATO charter that states that an attack on one member is an attack on the entire alliance.

But he also repeated that Russia’s concerns about the original missile defense plan were “entirely unfounded” because both then and now it is aimed only at Iran or other rogue states. He offered again to work with Russia on a joint missile defense program.

The decision drew immediate Republican criticism for weakening the missile defenses Mr. Bush envisioned.

“Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more then empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader. “It shows a willful determination to continue ignoring the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world, while taking one of the most important defenses against Iran off the table.”

Anticipating the criticism, Mr. Obama said the decision was based on the unanimous recommendation of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he sent Mr. Gates, a Republican first appointed by Mr. Bush, to discuss the decision with reporters.

Mr. Gates said the new system would actually put defenses in place sooner than the Bush plan and noted that land-based interceptor missiles would eventually be located in Europe, including possibly Poland or the Czech Republic.

To say that the Obama administration was scrapping missile defense, Mr. Gates said, is “misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing.” He added that the new configuration “provides a better missile defense capability” than the one he had recommended to Mr. Bush.

Administration officials said the Bush missile defense architecture was better designed to counter potential long-range missiles by Iran, but recent tests and intelligence have indicated that Tehran is moving more rapidly toward developing short- and medium-range missiles. Mr. Obama’s advisers said their reconfigured system would be more aimed at that threat by stationing interceptor missiles closer to Iran.

It was only clear late last month that the Obama administration was seriously considering alternative plans.

In arranging post-midnight calls by Mr. Obama to Czech and Polish leaders, and quickly sending a top State Department official to Europe, the administration was scrambling to notify and assure the European allies early Thursday morning as word of its decision was already leaking out in Washington. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the administration would jettison the Bush architecture.

But it made for unfortunate timing, as Thursday is the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, a date fraught with sensitivity for Poles who viewed the Bush missile defense system as a political security blanket against Russia. Poland and many other countries in the former Soviet sphere worry that Mr. Obama is less willing to stand up to Russia. Mr. Bush had developed a special relationship with Eastern Europe as relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorated. The proposal to deploy parts of the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic were justified on the grounds that they would protect Europe and the eastern coast of the United States against any possible missile attacks from Iran.

But the Polish and Czech governments also saw the presence of American military personnel based permanently in their countries as a protection against Russia. Moscow strongly opposed the shield and claimed it was aimed against Russia and undermined national security. The United States repeatedly denied such claims.

Mr. Obama’s advisers have said their changes to missile defense were motivated by the accelerating Iranian threat, not by Russian complaints. But the announcement comes just days before a private meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev that is schedule to take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly opening in New York.

The administration’s four-phase plan would deploy existing SM-3 interceptors using the sea-based Aegis system in 2011, then after more testing deploy in 2015 an improved version of the interceptors both on ships and on land along with advanced sensors. A still more advanced version of the interceptors would be deployed in 2018 and yet another generation in 2020, the latter with more capacity to counter possible future intercontinental missiles.

By doing so, officials said, they would be getting the first defenses actually in place seven years earlier than the Bush plan, which envisioned deploying in 2018 the bigger ground-based interceptors that are still being developed. The Obama review of missile defense was influenced in large part by evidence that Iran has made significant progress toward developing medium-range missiles that could threaten Europe, even as the prospects of an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States remain distant.

In May, Iran launched the Sejil-2, the first successful test of a solid-fuel missile. With an estimated range of around 1,200 miles, it could strike Israel or many parts of Europe. Unlike Iran’s liquid-fuel missiles, a solid-fuel missile can be stored, moved around and fired on shorter notice, and thus is considered by military experts to be a greater threat.

The Obama team relied heavily on research by a Stanford University physicist, Dean Wilkening, who presented the government with research this year arguing that Poland and the Czech Republic were not the most effective places to station a missile defense system against the most likely Iranian threat. Instead, he said, more optimal places to station missiles and radar systems would be in Turkey or the Balkans.

“If you move the system down closer to the Middle East,” it would “make more sense for the defense of Europe, Mr. Wilkening said in an interview.

Mr. Wilkening said the new administration did not want to simply abandon missile defense but orient it for a different threat than the Bush team saw. “The Obama administration is more interested in missile defense as a valuable instrument, a valuable aspect of our military posture than I would have thought,” he said.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia’s Parliament, said in an interview on Thursday that the decision would give a major boost to relations between the two countries. Mr. Margelov said it would in particular help negotiations when Mr. Obama meets with Mr. Medvedev at the United Nations next week.

“For Russia, it is a victory for common sense,” Mr. Margelov said. “It another positive signal that we have received from Washington that makes the general climate very positive.”

But Mr. Margelov expressed doubt that the decision would make Moscow more willing to support a push by the United States to increase sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities. The Kremlin said last week that it would essentially block new sanctions, playing down Western concerns that Iran had made progress in its bid for nuclear weapons.

 

Peter Baker reported from Washington and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin. Judy Dempsey contributed reporting from Berlin, and Clifford J. Levy from Moscow.

    White House to Scrap Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield, NYT, 17.9.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/world/europe/18shield.html

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Keeps Wary Watch

as Troops Blog

 

September 9, 2009
The New York Times
By JAMES DAO

 

Over the course of 10 months in eastern Afghanistan, an Army specialist nicknamed Mud Puppy maintained a blog irreverently chronicling life at the front, from the terror of roadside bombs to the tyrannies of master sergeants.

Often funny and always profane, the blog, Embrace the Suck (military slang for making the best of a bad situation), flies under the Army’s radar. Not officially approved, it is hidden behind a password-protected wall because the reservist does not want his superiors censoring it.

“Some officer would be reviewing all my writing,” the 31-year-old soldier, who insisted that his name not be used, said in an e-mail message. “And sooner or later he would find something to nail me with.”

There are two sides to the military’s foray into the freewheeling world of the interactive Web. At the highest echelons of the Pentagon, civilian officials and four-star generals are newly hailing the power of social networking to make members of the American military more empathetic, entice recruits and shape public opinion on the war.

Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of American forces in Iraq, is on Facebook. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has a YouTube channel and posts Twitter updates almost daily.

The Army is encouraging personnel of all ranks to go online and collaboratively rewrite seven of its field manuals. And on Aug. 17, the Department of Defense unveiled a Web site promoting links to its blogs and its Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites.

The Web, however, is a big place. And the many thousands of troops who use blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to communicate with the outside world are not always in tune with the Pentagon’s official voice. Policing their daily flood of posts, videos and photographs is virtually impossible — but that has not stopped some in the military from trying.

The Department of Defense, citing growing concerns about cybersecurity, plans to issue a new policy in the coming weeks that is widely expected to set departmentwide restrictions on access to social networking sites from military computers. People involved with the department’s review say the new policy may limit access to social media sites to those who can demonstrate a clear work need, like public information officers or family counselors.

If that is the case, many officials say, it will significantly set back efforts to expand and modernize the military’s use of the Web just as those efforts are gaining momentum. And while the new policy would not apply to troops who use private Internet providers, a large number of military personnel on bases and ships across the world depend on their work computers to gain access to the Internet.

To many analysts and officers, the debate reflects a broader clash of cultures: between the anarchic, unfiltered, bottom-up nature of the Web and the hierarchical, tightly controlled, top-down tradition of the military.

“We as an institution still haven’t come to grips with how we want to use blogging” and other social media, said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the commander of the Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

One of the Army’s leading advocates for more open access to the Web, General Caldwell argues that social networking allows interaction among enlisted soldiers, junior officers and generals in a way that was unthinkable a decade ago.

He requires students at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth to blog, and the college now sponsors 40 publicly available blogs, including his own, where policies are freely debated.

But getting approval for those blogs, as well as for YouTube and Facebook access at the college, was a struggle. “At every corner, someone cited a regulation,” General Caldwell said. In recent months, however, “the Army has made quantum leaps” in embracing the Web, he added.

Noah Shachtman, editor of Wired.com’s national security blog, Danger Room, which has reported extensively on the new policy review, said he recently asked students at West Point whether they would allow soldiers to blog. Almost every cadet said no.

“Then I asked, ‘How many of you think you can stop the flow of information from your soldiers?’ ” Mr. Shachtman recalled. “Everybody agreed there is no way to stop this information from going out anyway. So there is this sort of dual-headedness.”

Skeptics of the Pentagon review say it is motivated partly by a desire among certain officials to exert control over the voices of troops on the Web.

Since the advent of military blogging during the Iraq war, some commanders have remained uncomfortable with the art form, citing concerns about both security and decorum.

Over the years, blogs have been censored or shut down, and several years ago the Army instituted requirements that bloggers register with their commanding officers and submit posts for review. As a result, some bloggers say, blogs have become tamer — or, as in the case of Mud Puppy’s blog, gone underground.

Officials knowledgeable about the review say it is a result of growing concerns at the United States Strategic Command, which oversees the military’s use of the Internet, that social networking sites make military computers vulnerable to viruses, hackers, identity thieves, terrorists and even hostile governments. (Those concerns are not focused on the military’s secure system for classified material, which does not use the public Internet.)

The review may already be having a chilling effect. The Marine Corps recently restated a ban on using any social media on its network. And the Army, which in June gave some bases access to Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites, recently urged units to avoid creating new social media pages until the final department policy was issued.

Still, even as they consider restricting the troops’ access to social media, the most senior Pentagon officials have clearly come to view Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging as crucial elements of their public information operations.

“This department, I think, is way behind our curve” in using social media, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in July as he extolled the use of Twitter by Iranian dissidents.

To critics, the Pentagon’s social media sites are goofy at best, propagandistic at worst. “It’s like your parents’ using modern slang and failing miserably,” said Sgt. Selena Coppa, who writes a blog, Active Duty Patriot, which frequently criticizes the Iraq war and, she says, has gotten her into trouble with her superiors.

But to many troops, the deeper question is whether the military will allow personnel in the field to use the sites the Pentagon itself wants to exploit. For a generation raised on the Web, any restrictions will damage morale, those people say.

“What comes out of my blog is the experiences of a soldier right in the middle of all of this,” Mud Puppy (a nickname for military police), who recently returned home to Illinois, wrote in a recent e-mail message. “I think that people need to hear from us, more than they need to hear from the big whigs. War has a cost, and that cost is paid by soldiers.”

    Pentagon Keeps Wary Watch as Troops Blog, NYT, 9.9.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/us/09milblogs.html

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Shift

Gives Names of Detainees

to Red Cross

 

August 23, 2009
The New York Times
By ERIC SCHMITT

 

WASHINGTON — In a reversal of Pentagon policy, the military for the first time is notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross of the identities of militants who were being held in secret at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan run by United States Special Operations forces, according to three military officials.

The change begins to lift the veil from the American government’s most secretive remaining overseas prisons by allowing the Red Cross to track the custody of dozens of the most dangerous suspected terrorists and foreign fighters plucked off the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is a major advance for the organization in its long fight to gain more information about these detainees. The military had previously insisted that disclosing any details about detainees at the secretive camps could tip off other militants and jeopardize counterterrorism missions.

Detention practices will be in the spotlight this week. The Central Intelligence Agency on Monday is to release a highly critical 2004 report on the agency’s interrogation program by the C.I.A. inspector general. The long awaited report provides new details about abuses that took place inside the agency’s secret prisons, including C.I.A. officers carrying out mock executions and threatening at least one prisoner with a gun and a power drill. It is a violation of the federal torture statute to threaten a detainee with imminent death.

Also, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is expected to decide in the next several days whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the interrogations of terrorism suspects after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The new Pentagon policy on detainees took effect this month with no public announcement from the military or the Red Cross. It represents another shift in detention policy by the Obama administration, which has already vowed to close the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by next year and is conducting major reviews of the government’s procedures for interrogating and detaining militants.

A spokesman for the Red Cross in Washington, Bernard Barrett, declined to comment on the new notification policy, citing the organization’s longstanding practice of refusing to talk about its discussions with the Defense Department about detention issues.

Unlike the secret prisons run by the C.I.A. that President Obama ordered closed in January, the military continues to operate the Special Operations camps, which it calls temporary screening sites, in Balad, Iraq, and Bagram, Afghanistan.

As many as 30 to 40 foreign prisoners have been held at the camp in Iraq at any given time, military officials said; they did not provide an estimate for the Afghan camp but suggested that the number was smaller.

The Red Cross is allowed access to almost all American military prisons and battlefield detention sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Special Operations camps have been excluded.

The New York Times reported in 2006 that some soldiers at the temporary detention site in Iraq, then located at Baghdad International Airport and called Camp Nama, beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces, and used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball.

Military officials say conditions at the camps have improved significantly since then, but virtually all details of the sites remain shrouded in secrecy.

Under Pentagon rules, detainees at the Special Operations camps can be held for up to two weeks. Formerly, the military at that point had to release a detainee; transfer him to a long-term prison in Iraq or Afghanistan, to which the Red Cross has broad access; or seek one-week renewable extensions from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates or his representative.

Under the new policy, the military must notify the Red Cross of the detainees’ names and identification numbers within two weeks of capture, a notification that before happened only after a detainee was transferred to a long-term prison. The option to seek custody extensions has been eliminated, a senior Pentagon official said.

Pentagon officials sought to play down the significance of the shift, saying that most detainees at the camps had already been registered with the Red Cross within the initial two-week period.

“The department makes every effort to register detainees with the I.C.R.C. as soon as practicable after capture,” said Bryan G. Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, who declined to comment specifically on the Special Operations camps. “There are certain instances where, for reasons of military necessity, this cannot be accomplished.”

He added, “The department uses this two-week period to screen detainees for further detention, in accordance with U.S. and international law.”

But human rights advocates hailed the policy change, saying that Special Operations forces had often extended the custody of detainees, leaving them in a legal limbo for weeks on end.

“Any improvement in I.C.R.C. notification and access is a positive development because it not only accounts for the whereabouts of a person, but hopefully will expedite notification to the family who is left anxious wondering about the fate of his or her relative,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a senior associate for law and security at Human Rights First, an advocacy group. The change in notifying the Red Cross stemmed largely from a new climate that emerged after Mr. Obama’s election, military officials said. The new administration set out the larger goal to revamp detention and interrogation practices that had drawn international condemnation under the Bush administration.

Into this environment stepped Gen. David H. Petraeus, newly selected to lead the Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East. When he was the top commander in Iraq, General Petraeus supported ideas promoted by Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone to overhaul the detention system there, separating hard-core militants from petty criminals who could be easily radicalized, offering detainees vocational training and family visits. The United States is now adopting this same approach to revamp the prison system in Afghanistan.

This spring, based on a request by General Petraeus, Mr. Gates ordered a review of the Special Operations camps. Lt. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, an Air Force officer who had served on the military’s Joint Staff in Washington, spent several weeks in Afghanistan and Iraq examining the sites. At the request of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Breedlove also accompanied Special Operations teams on some of their missions to observe how they treated prisoners at the point of capture.

In July, Admiral Mullen sent a confidential message to all of the military service chiefs and senior field commanders asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly.

Admiral Mullen felt compelled to issue his message after viewing photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by American military personnel in the early years of the wars there, often at the point of capture, a senior military official said.

Mr. Obama decided in May not to make the photographs public, warning that the images could ignite attacks against American troops.

In a classified report dated June 17, General Breedlove generally praised the conditions at the Special Operations camps. He found only minor problems, including a failure to provide a Koran to each detainee, and no arrows or other symbols indicating which direction Muslim prisoners should face to pray toward Mecca.

Military officials acknowledged that the Special Operations forces might have improved conditions to impress the visiting investigator. But one of the general’s recommendations surprised officials: provide more information about detainees at the camps to the Red Cross earlier in the detention process.

The Red Cross has been lobbying the Pentagon for years for access to those held at the Special Operations camps, or least information about who is being detained in them. General Breedlove’s recommendation gave the group’s efforts a prominent military endorsement.

Meanwhile, details of the C.I.A.’s problems with abuses in detention have been emerging. According to the findings of the C.I.A. report to be issued Monday, C.I.A. jailers at different times held the handgun and the drill close to the body of the detainee, Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, threatening to use them if the prisoner was not cooperative with his interrogators, according to a government official familiar with the contents of the report.

Mr. Nashiri, believed to be the mastermind of the 2000 attack on the American destroyer Cole, was one of two C.I.A. detainees whose interrogation sessions were videotaped. The tapes that were destroyed by C.I.A. officers in 2005, and it is unclear whether the threats with the gun and the power drill were documented on the tapes.

In a separate episode detailed in the report, C.I.A. officers fired a gunshot in a room next to a detainee, making the prisoner believe a second detainee had been killed.

The C.I.A. declined to comment on specifics of the report, which were first reported Friday evening by Newsweek.

Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said: “The C.I.A. in no way endorsed behavior — no matter how infrequent — that went beyond the formal guidance. This has all been looked at; professionals in the Department of Justice decided if and when to pursue prosecution.”

 

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.

    Pentagon Shift Gives Names of Detainees to Red Cross, NYT, 23.8.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/world/middleeast/23detain.html

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon to Outline Shift

in War Planning Strategy

 

June 23, 2009
The New York Times
By THOM SHANKER

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will adopt a new strategy that for the first time orders the military to anticipate that future conflicts will include a complex mix of conventional, set-piece battles and campaigns against shadowy insurgents and terrorists, according to senior officials.

The shift is intended to assure that the military is prepared to deal with a spectrum of possible threats, including computer network attacks, attempts to blind satellite positioning systems, strikes by precision missiles and roadside bombs, and propaganda campaigns waged on television and the Internet. The new strategy has broad implications for training, troop deployment, weapons procurement and other aspects of military planning.

In officially embracing hybrid warfare, the Pentagon would be replacing a second pillar of long-term planning. Senior officials disclosed in March that the review was likely to reject a historic premise of American strategy — that the nation need only to prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

Driving both sets of developments are lessons learned from the past six years, when the United States has been fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet is stretched to be ready for potentially significant operations elsewhere, Pentagon officials say, such as against Iran, North Korea or even China and Russia. Conflicts with any of those countries would also be expected to present a hybrid range of challenges.

But powerful constituencies in the military and in Congress continue to argue that the next war will not look like Iraq or Afghanistan, and they say the military is focusing too much on counter-insurgency and losing its ability to defeat a traditional nation-state.

Even so, senior officials say hybrid warfare will be adopted as a central premise of military planning in the top-to-bottom review required every four years by Congress. When completed later this year, the assessment, officially called the Quadrennial Defense Review, will determine how billions of dollars are spent on weapons and influence how the military reshapes its training.

During a Pentagon news conference last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said of the new strategy, “It derives from my view that the old way of looking at irregular warfare as being one kind of conflict and conventional warfare as a discreet kind of warfare is an outdated concept. Conflict in the future will slide up and down a scale, both in scope or scale and in lethality.”

Even before the review is complete, the new thinking has claimed high-dollar victims.

Mr. Gates proposed ending production of the Air Force’s top-of-the-line F-22 fighter jets, arguing that money should be spent on warplanes that carry out a broader array of missions, from countering enemy air forces to evading surface-to-air missiles to bombing insurgent militias in hiding.

But supporters of the F-22 in Congress are pushing for financing to keep the production line open, potentially setting up a veto battle.

The defense secretary also put on hold a multibillion-dollar program for the Army’s next-generation armored vehicle, saying its proposed flat-bottom design ignored lessons that angular troop transports are safer from roadside bombs, which have been the biggest killer of troops in Iraq.

In preparing to adopt concepts of hybrid warfare, the Defense Department has closely studied Israel’s last war in Lebanon in 2006, when a terrorist group, Hezbollah, fielded high-tech weapons equal to any nation’s, including long-range missiles. Likewise, when a traditional military power like Russia went to war with the former Soviet republic of Georgia last August, its tanks, paratroopers and warships were preceded by crippling computer network attacks.

The previous Pentagon strategy review focused on a four-square chart that described security challenges to the nation as perceived then. It included traditional, conventional conflicts; irregular warfare, such as terrorism and insurgencies; catastrophic challenges from unconventional weapons used by terrorists or rogue states; and disruptive threats, in which new technologies could counter American advantages.

“The ‘quad chart’ was useful in its time,” said Michele A. Flournoy, the under secretary of defense for policy, who is leading the strategy review for Mr. Gates.

“But we aren’t using it as a point of reference or departure,” she said in an interview. “I think hybrid will be the defining character. The traditional, neat categories — those are types that really don’t match reality any more.”

The nation’s top military officers are reviewing their procurement programs and personnel policies to adapt to the new environment, focusing in particular on weapons systems that can perform multiple missions.

“When I send a carrier strike group forward, or when I send an amphibious ready group forward with a Marine Expeditionary Unit on board, I don’t know what they are going to end up doing,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations. “Therefore, the way that we view our training, the way that we view our capabilities, has to be packaged for this range of actions.”

He cited the experience of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which was steaming toward Iraq to carry out combat missions when it was diverted to become the American headquarters for tsunami relief in Indonesia. Both Admiral Roughead and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said in interviews that they had adopted goals of making certain each weapon system could “stretch” across a spectrum of operations, proving value in traditional and irregular warfare.

General Schwartz cited Air Force decisions to place surveillance systems on its long-range bombers and tactical warplanes to make each a provider of valuable battlefield intelligence, as well as maintaining strike capabilities.

“This is the kind of thing we are talking about, where we avoid point-mission platforms and look for versatility,” General Schwartz said. “Multipurpose platforms are inherently more affordable.”

For the ground forces, the goal is an ability to sustain 10 combat brigades abroad at all times, with 10 more in reserve and nearly ready to go as they complete training. This eventually would allow active duty troops to spend three years at home for every year deployed.

 

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, when asked to define the Army’s goals in the review, said: “The most significant thing I’d like to get is an acceptance of that rotational model.”

    Pentagon to Outline Shift in War Planning Strategy, NYT, 23.6.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world/americas/23military.html?hpw

 

 

 

 

 

Cyberwar

Privacy May Be a Victim

in Cyberdefense Plan

 

June 13, 2009
The New York Times
By THOM SHANKER
and DAVID E. SANGER

 

WASHINGTON — A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

President Obama has said that the new cyberdefense strategy he unveiled last month will provide protections for personal privacy and civil liberties. But senior Pentagon and military officials say that Mr. Obama’s assurances may be challenging to guarantee in practice, particularly in trying to monitor the thousands of daily attacks on security systems in the United States that have set off a race to develop better cyberweapons.

Much of the new military command’s work is expected to be carried out by the National Security Agency, whose role in intercepting the domestic end of international calls and e-mail messages after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, under secret orders issued by the Bush administration, has already generated intense controversy.

There is simply no way, the officials say, to effectively conduct computer operations without entering networks inside the United States, where the military is prohibited from operating, or traveling electronic paths through countries that are not themselves American targets.

The cybersecurity effort, Mr. Obama said at the White House last month, “will not — I repeat, will not — include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”

But foreign adversaries often mount their attacks through computer network hubs inside the United States, and military officials and outside experts say that threat confronts the Pentagon and the administration with difficult questions.

Military officials say there may be a need to intercept and examine some e-mail messages sent from other countries to guard against computer viruses or potential terrorist action. Advocates say the process could ultimately be accepted as the digital equivalent of customs inspections, in which passengers arriving from overseas consent to have their luggage opened for security, tax and health reasons.

“The government is in a quandary,” said Maren Leed, a defense expert at the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies who was a Pentagon special assistant on cyberoperations from 2005 to 2008.

Ms. Leed said a broad debate was needed “about what constitutes an intrusion that violates privacy and, at the other extreme, what is an intrusion that may be acceptable in the face of an act of war.”

In a recent speech, Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a chief architect of the new cyberstrategy, acknowledged that a major unresolved issue was how the military — which would include the National Security Agency, where much of the cyberwar expertise resides — could legally set up an early warning system.

Unlike a missile attack, which would show up on the Pentagon’s screens long before reaching American territory, a cyberattack may be visible only after it has been launched in the United States.

“How do you understand sovereignty in the cyberdomain?” General Cartwright asked. “It doesn’t tend to pay a lot of attention to geographic boundaries.”

For example, the daily attacks on the Pentagon’s own computer systems, or probes sent from Russia, China and Eastern Europe seeking chinks in the computer systems of corporations and financial institutions, are rarely seen before their effect is felt inside the United States.

Some administration officials have begun to discuss whether laws or regulations must be changed to allow law enforcement, the military or intelligence agencies greater access to networks or Internet providers when significant evidence of a national security threat was found.

Ms. Leed said that while the Defense Department and related intelligence agencies were the only organizations that had the ability to protect against such cyberattacks, “they are not the best suited, from a civil liberties perspective, to take on that responsibility.”

Under plans being completed at the Pentagon, the new cybercommand will be run by a four-star general, much the way Gen. David H. Petraeus runs the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from Central Command in Tampa, Fla. But the expectation is that whoever is in charge of the new command will also direct the National Security Agency, an effort to solve the turf war between the spy agency and the military over who is in charge of conducting offensive operations.

While the N.S.A.’s job is chiefly one of detection and monitoring, the agency also possesses what Michael D. McConnell, the former director of national intelligence, called “the critical skill set” to respond quickly to cyberattacks. Yet the Defense Department views cyberspace as its domain as well, a new battleground after land, sea, air and space.

The complications are not limited to privacy concerns. The Pentagon is increasingly worried about the diplomatic ramifications of being forced to use the computer networks of many other nations while carrying out digital missions — the computer equivalent of the Vietnam War’s spilling over the Cambodian border in the 1960s. To battle Russian hackers, for example, it might be necessary to act through the virtual cyberterritory of Britain or Germany or any country where the attack was routed.

General Cartwright said military planners were trying to write rules of engagement for scenarios in which a cyberattack was launched from a neutral country that might have no idea what was going on. But, with time of the essence, it may not be possible, the scenarios show, to ask other nations to act against an attack that is flowing through their computers in milliseconds.

“If I pass through your country, do I have to talk to the ambassador?” General Cartwright said. “It is very difficult. Those are the questions that are now really starting to emerge vis-à-vis cyber.”

Frida Berrigan, a longtime peace activist who is a senior program associate at the New America Foundation’s arms and security initiative, expressed concerns about whether the Obama administration would be able to balance its promise to respect privacy in cyberspace even as it appeared to be militarizing cybersecurity.

“Obama was very deliberate in saying that the U.S. military and the U.S. government would not be looking at our e-mail and not tracking what we do online,” Ms. Berrigan said. “This is not to say there is not a cyberthreat out there or that cyberterrorism is not a significant concern. We should be vigilant and creative. But once again we see the Pentagon being put at the heart of it and at front lines of offering a solution.”

Ms. Berrigan said that just as the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had proved that “there is no front line anymore, and no demilitarized zone anymore, then if the Pentagon and the military services see cyberspace as a battlefield domain, then the lines protecting privacy and our civil liberties get blurred very, very quickly.”

    Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan, NYT, 13.6.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/us/politics/13cyber.html?hp

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Cyber Command

to Create Force for Future

 

May 5, 2009
Filed at 4:08 a.m. ET
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New York Times

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military must reorganize its offensive and defensive cyber operations and will use a new command at a Maryland Army facility to create a digital warfare force for the future, the director of the National Security Agency says.

Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, also the Pentagon's leading cyber warfare commander, said the U.S. is determined to lead the global effort to use computer technology to deter or defeat enemies, while still protecting the public's constitutional rights.

In testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday to a House Armed Services subcommittee, Alexander and other military leaders in cyber matters outlined the challenges to keeping up with rapidly changing technologies and the need for more resources and training. In blunt comments, Alexander acknowledged that cyber training for the Pentagon's work force is inadequate and must be improved.

In separate prepared testimony, Lt. Gen. William Shelton, the Air Force's chief of warfighting integration, said the Pentagon relies heavily on industry efforts to respond to cyber threats. That approach, he said, does not keep pace with the threat.

The testimony comes as the Obama administration prepares to release its review of the nation's cybersecurity, and on the heels of a critical report by the National Research Council. The independent group's report concluded that the government's policies on how and when to wage cyber warfare are ill-formed, lack adequate oversight and require a broad public debate.

Alexander said the military's new cyber command at Fort Meade, Md., will be a sub-unit of U.S. Strategic Command, and would be designed to ''defend vital networks and project power in cyberspace.''

Defense Department networks are probed repeatedly every day and the number of intrusion attempts have more than doubled recently, officials have said.

Military leaders said earlier this month that the Pentagon spent more than $100 million in the past six months responding to and repairing damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems.

------

On the Net:

Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil

    Pentagon Cyber Command to Create Force for Future, NYT, 5.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/05/us/politics/AP-US-Cyber-Warfare.html

 

 

 

 

 

Letters

Break Up the Air Force?

A Fight Is On

 

April 23, 2009
The New York Times

 

To the Editor:

“Up, Up and Out,” by Paul Kane (Op-Ed, April 21), recommends disbanding the Air Force because of vague claims that ours is a redundant service and apparently not at war.

Mr. Kane’s conclusion dismisses more than 71 percent of the 330,000 active-duty airmen who, along with their Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve teammates, have deployed since 2001. These warriors directly execute and support combat operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In that period, 45 airmen have been killed in combat and more than 500 wounded. The Air Force routinely responds rapidly to urgent calls from ground forces in dire circumstances — with the unrivaled combat precision and reliability airmen routinely bring to bear.

Our airmen prove their worth and commitment in distinctive service that prevents war and reduces the cost of conflict in American blood and treasure. We have done so faithfully in every conflict since our inception.

Today’s Air Force brings specific capabilities to the joint fight to defend the homeland, deter aggression, help those in need and defend the freedoms we all enjoy. This resonates with the American people because they recognize the vital importance of Air Force global vigilance, reach and power.

We proudly secure our nation’s skies and our sister services from attack, any time and any place. Airmen will be there when America needs them, and every serving member of the Army, the Navy and the Marines knows it.

(Gen.) Norton A. Schwartz
Air Force Chief of Staff
Washington, April 21, 2009



To the Editor:

Paul Kane provides a provocative statement on issues that too long were ignored in our thinking: a military structure shaped by the cold war; a policy of retention that derogates the value of human resources; and an effort to mitigate the mind-set supporting a volunteer army.

A remarkable, out-of-the box effort, to say the least.

Ronald Busch
Willoughby Hills, Ohio, April 21, 2009



To the Editor:

The point that Paul Kane makes in advocating disbanding the Air Force and allocating the responsibility to the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps certainly makes sense in the world we live in at this minute.

Yet the missions of these three services in their air arms is totally tactical. If our only threat in the future is from enemies like the Taliban, all we need is a tactical air arm to deal with terrorists, basically in caves.

But China and Russia would be delighted to have us abandon our strategic air capacity in the form of the F-22 fighters and the aging B-52 strategic bomber force.

In World War II, we had the luxury of time to build the Eighth Air Force to deal with the strategic threat in Europe, and the 20th Air Force to deal with the threat in Japan.

It is unlikely that the luxury of this much time will ever be available again.

William Stephenson
Princeton, N.J., April 21, 2009



To the Editor:

I take strong issue with Paul Kane’s article advocating the end of the Air Force.

First, we fought this battle in the 1940s and learned that an independent Air Force was vital to national security. Ignoring the lessons of history about the need for air power would be a grave mistake. The world has not seen its last war, and the need for deterrence and air dominance is growing, not diminishing.

Second, the Air Force is in the fight. Airmen are fighting on the ground, from the skies and from space. The Air Force is enormously involved providing real-time intelligence to commanders, cover to troops, precision air-to-surface strikes, transport, medical evacuation, search and rescue, and much more.

If Mr. Kane is really concerned about too many “air forces,” perhaps a better solution is for the Marine Corps to fold its air assets into the Air Force.

Michael M. Dunn
President and Chief Executive
Air Force Association
Arlington, Va., April 21, 2009



To the Editor:

Paul Kane suggests the possibility of mandatory national service for all Americans at age 18, including compulsory military service. This is a dangerous proposition at a time when we should be redefining our national priorities and our international image.

To increase the size of our military — already the second largest in the world — would be perceived as a sign of aggression and a continuation of the militaristic policies that led to much of the hostility toward the United States.

In addition, this proposal would further handicap the United States in our production of educated workers. Delaying higher education can only make worse the dearth of Americans qualified for high-level positions, increasing the outsourcing of these jobs.

Our human capital would be better served by investing in education than by dedicating millions of youths to military service.

While a spirit of volunteerism and service to the community and nation should be fostered, a policy of mandatory service — military or otherwise — would only serve to weaken our country at home and abroad.

Daniel Getler
Brooklyn, April 21, 2009



To the Editor:

Paul Kane’s reasoned, intelligent article proposed a program I have long felt was essential, and that is to establish national service for all young people. I would suggest that it be mandatory either at 18 or upon college graduation, whichever comes first.

While I disagree that the “best qualified” should be assigned to the military, I do believe that a wide range of service should be offered and that we begin by taking into the military those who want to join. If there are not enough, then we can look at actually assigning them, allowing, of course, for those who are conscientious objectors.

And let’s provide them with credits for future education. This is not a draft but rather goes a long way toward what President Obama and others are talking about in terms of personal and collective responsibility and obligation.

I hope that Congress gets behind this; it is not a job for the Defense Department alone but for the entire government and all agencies.

Elaine Hirschl Ellis
New York, April 21, 2009

    Break Up the Air Force? A Fight Is On, NYT, 23.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/l23airforce.html

 

 

 

 

 

Op-Ed Contributor

Up, Up and Out

 

April 21, 2009
The New York Times
By PAUL KANE

 

Silver Spring, Md.

ROBERT GATES, the secretary of defense, has proposed a budget overhaul that will go a long way toward improving our national security, but more can be done to meet his long-term goal: creating the right military for the 21st century.

Not since Henry Stimson’s tenure from 1940 to ’45 has a defense secretary been faced to the same degree with simultaneously fighting a war and carrying out far-reaching reforms. Yet there are three major changes Mr. Gates should add to his agenda, and they deserve President Obama’s support.

First, the Air Force should be eliminated, and its personnel and equipment integrated into the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Second, the archaic “up or out” military promotion system should be scrapped in favor of a plan that treats service members as real assets. Third, the United States needs a national service program for all young men and women, without any deferments, to increase the quality and size of the pool from which troops are drawn.

At the moment, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps are at war, but the Air Force is not. This is not the fault of the Air Force: it is simply not structured to be in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Army, Marine and Navy personnel have borne the brunt of deployments, commonly serving multiple tours, the Air Force’s operational tempo remains comparatively comfortable. In 2007, only about 5 percent of the troops in Iraq were airmen.

Yes, air power is a critical component of America’s arsenal. But the Army, Navy and Marines already maintain air wings within their expeditionary units. The Air Force is increasingly a redundancy in structure and spending.

War is no longer made up of set-piece battles between huge armies confronting each other with tanks and airplanes. As we move toward a greater emphasis on rapid-response troops, the Army has tightened its physical fitness regime and the Marine Corps has introduced a physically grueling Combat Fitness Test for all members. Yet an Air Force study last year found that more than half of airmen and women were overweight and 12 percent were obese.

Next, the current military personnel system is a peacetime bureaucratic construct that serves neither national security nor those who wear the uniform. Congress sets the level of manpower for each military service. Within this constraint, military planners have to decide how many riflemen, mechanics, cooks, medics, pilots and such there should be within the military’s job types, known as Military Occupational Specialties. Then the Pentagon has to decide how many people will be retained in the ranks or promoted.

The result is an “up or out” system that demands service members move up the ladder simply to stay in the military. Any soldier passed over for promotion twice must leave or retire.

Treating service members like so many widgets — in particular, the enlisted men and women who make up 85 percent of the ranks — is arbitrary and bad management. I have seen many fit, experienced officers and enlisted Marines arbitrarily forced out because there were only so many slots into which they could be promoted.

The military should develop a new accounting and personnel system that tracks the cost of developing its human capital and tallies each service member as an investment with a fixed value based on his education, training, experience and performance. This would reflect the departure of a valued service member as an asset lost, not a cost cut. Why are fit men and women who have served in combat, a human experience that a million dollars can’t buy, being pushed out instead of retained for 15, 20, 30 years?

Last, Mr. Gates should urge President Obama to confer with Congress and introduce national service at age 18 for all Americans. Under such a system, young people from all classes and backgrounds would either serve in the military or do other essential work like intelligence assessment, conservation, antipoverty projects, educational tutoring, firefighting, policing, border security, disaster relief or care for the elderly. The best qualified would be assigned to the military.

The 1.6 million Americans who have served in the current wars represent less than one percent of all citizens. We need to spread the risk and burden of fighting our wars. If more of our national leaders had been in uniform, or knew they might have children at risk in war, their decisions during military confrontations might be better. And this is not just about the struggle against terrorism: would New Orleans reconstruction have lagged so long if we had had a national service program in natural-disaster recovery?

President Obama has the political capital to make these critical changes. Given the urgency of war and money available under the economic recovery plan, now may be our best chance for decades to truly modernize America’s defenses.

 

Paul Kane is a Marine veteran of Iraq and a former fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Up, Up and Out, NYT, 21.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/opinion/21kane.html