Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.
Vice Admiral to Be Named NSA Director
(The New York Times: David Sanger, Thom Shanker)
Michael Rogers will become the public face of the National Security Agency at a moment that it is caught in the crosshairs.
Air Force: 92 Implicated in Nuke Cheating Scandal
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday the number of nuclear force officers implicated in a proficiency-test cheating scandal has grown to 92.
House Panel Opens Probe Into Navy Bribery and Fraud Scandal
(The Washington Post: Craig Whitlock)
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has opened an investigation into an unfolding Navy sex-and-bribery scandal and other allegations of contracting fraud.
Syria Peace Talks End First Round in Deadlock
(Reuters: Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Stephanie Nebehay)
After a week of talks at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, the opposing sides in Syria's civil war were still stuck on the question of how to proceed.
Pentagon to Finalize, Transmit FY15 Budget Request to OMB by Feb. 10
The White House Office of Management and Budget will have a few weeks to conduct a final review of the military's spending plans before forwarding the proposal to Congress on March 4.
Russia Says Iran Nuclear Talks Set for February 18 in New York
(Reuters: Steve Gutterman)
Six world powers, including the United States and Russia, have led years of negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to curb parts of its nuclear program.
Kerry to Hold Talks With Ukraine's Opposition in Germany
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
Secretary of State John Kerry will meet key Ukrainian opposition figures on Friday on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.
White House Soothes Brazil Over NSA
(The Hill: Julian Hattem)
The Obama administration is making an effort to quell foreign concerns about spying by the National Security Agency and other intelligence arms.
Snowden Revelations of NSA Spying on Copenhagen Climate Talks Spark Anger
(The Guardian: John Vidal, Suzanne Goldenberg)
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show NSA kept U.S. negotiators abreast of their rivals' positions at 2009 summit.
U.K.'s Cameron Unhappy Newspapers Still Printing Snowden Data Leaks
(Reuters: William James, Andrew Osborn)
Disclosures about the activities of Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency and its cooperation with America's NSA have embarrassed Britain's government.
Fact Check: NSA Leaks Worst Intelligence Breach?
(Associated Press: Stephen Braun)
The top U.S. intelligence chief, James Clapper, said this week that the loss of state secrets as a result of leaks by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden was the worst in American history.
One Map That Shows What America's Spies Are Worried About
(Defense One: Kedar Pavgi)
How dangerous is the world? Listen to what leaders in the intelligence community are saying and it's frightening.
Did an Angry Birds Leak Risk Spies' Lives?
(Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
The U.S. intelligence community says the leaks could have fatal consequences—especially the one about the U.S. spying on smartphone apps.
Military Yanks Leash of Critical Government Watchdog
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have launched an aggressive spin campaign to counter audits by the inspector general who has detailed repeated failures to deliver on billions of dollars worth of contracts there.
Panel: Commanders Should Retain Authority in Sex-Assault Cases
(Military Times: Patricia Kime)
Commanders should retain their authority to prosecute military sexual-assault cases, a key subcommittee of a congressionally mandated Pentagon panel has concluded.
One Year Later, Military Criticized for Progress on Women in Combat
(Stars and Stripes: C.J. Lin)
A year after the Pentagon opened combat jobs to female servicemembers, plans for integrating women into these jobs remain problematic, women's advocates said this week.
Poll: Grim Assessment of Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
(USA Today: Susan Page)
The assessments in a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll underscore the erosion in support for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the loss of faith in the outcome of the wars.
Republicans: U.S. Needs to Act on Russia Missile-Treaty Violations
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb, Julian Pecquet)
Republicans said Thursday the Obama administration should take action over an apparent Russian violation of the treaty banning testing of medium-range missiles.
Senators Vow COLA Cap Repeal, Commissary Grocery Price Hike Eyed
(Stars and Stripes: Tom Philpott)
The Defense Department is weighing a set of legislative proposals that would help to lower the $1.4 billion subsidy for base commissaries.
Bypassing Congress on Defense Cuts
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The Pentagon has learned that if it can't go through Congress to get what it wants, sometimes it's best to try going around.
Senator Threatens to Sue Nuclear Agency Over Withheld Documents
(Global Security Newswire: Douglas Guarino)
Sen. Barbara Boxer is threatening to sue the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for withholding information related to a now-defunct nuclear power plant.
Pro-Israel PACs Went All In for Senators Supporting Iran Sanctions, but They're Still Losing
(Huffington Post: Paul Blumenthal)
AIPAC has been joined by a network of lesser known pro-Israel PACs equipped with one persuasive tool that AIPAC lacks: campaign contributions.
Syria Talks May Yield Little, but Give Cover to Those Defying Hard-Liners
(The New York Times: Anne Barnard, Mohammad Ghannam)
Government supporters complained that the opposition delegation could not claim to represent all opponents, let alone all Syrians, while opposition activists said they would look weak if they failed to win concessions.
Assad Regime Dragging Its Feet on Removing Chemical Weapons, U.S. Says
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan, Craig Whitlock)
The Obama administration said Thursday that only 4 percent of Syria's most dangerous chemical weapons had been removed from the country.
Chemical-Weapons Watchdog Discusses Syria Mission
(Associated Press: Mike Corder)
The United States criticized Syria for its slow pace in moving chemical weapons out of the country for destruction, ratcheting up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate.
U.N. Gets Food Aid to Palestinian Refugees Dying of Starvation at Yarmouk Camp
The supplies for Yarmouk came a day after activists said at least 85 people had died in the camp since mid-2013.
U.S.-Built Afghan Roads Turn Into Death Traps
(The Washington Post: Kevin Sieff)
Key thoroughfares that cost billions of dollars to construct are becoming hazards as they crumble into disrepair from lack of maintenance.
Afghan Official Optimistic Karzai Will Sign U.S. Pact
(Associated Press: Kay Johnson)
Rangin Dadfar Spanta said there have been recent talks with the U.S. to try to resolve the issue.
U.S. Cancels Funds for Afghan Opinion Polls Ahead of Election
(Reuters: Jessica Donati)
A first poll in December triggered accusations of U.S. attempts to manipulate the outcome.
U.S. Ties With Pakistan Mending Ahead of Afghan Pullout
(USA Today: Ray Locker, Kendall Breitman)
Rifts in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, aggravated by the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden and other incidents, are gradually mending.
Grim Assessment of Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
(USA Today: Susan Page)
As two of the nation's longest wars finally end, most Americans have concluded that neither achieved its goals.
Suicide Bombers Called Biggest Sochi Olympics Risk
(Associated Press: Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva)
While Sochi's Olympic venues are now among the most tightly guarded facilities in the world, the rest of this sprawling Black Sea resort looks more vulnerable.
U.S. Intel Sees Uptick in Olympic Threat Reports
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
There has been an uptick in reports of security threats against next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
U.S. Envoy to Visit Sri Lanka as Pressure Builds for War-Crimes Inquiry
(The New York Times: Gardiner Harris)
A top State Department official is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka today.
Will American Troops Return to Philippine Bases?
(Foreign Policy: Catherine Traywick)
Officials from both nations quickly framed the typhoon catastrophe as a justification for a broader U.S. military presence in the Philippines.
Cavalry Battalion Arrives in Korea for Deployment
(Stars and Stripes: Ashley Rowland)
It's a nod to the sensitivities on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone to changes in the U.S. force posture.
Peace Plan Would Allow 75 Percent of Jewish Settlers to Remain in West Bank, Envoy Says
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
The settlement estimate was among details of a closely held plan to frame a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians this year.
Iran Dismisses Obama's Claim That Sanctions Prompted Nuclear Talks
The president's State of the Union assertion that U.S. pressure rolled back Tehran's nuclear program called "delusional."
John Kerry in Final Push to Disprove Cynics on Middle East Peace Deal
(The Guardian: Paul Lewis, Harriet Sherwood)
The secretary of State and elite team of U.S. diplomats return to Israel as goals shift for the U.S.'s once-ambitious peace plan.
'Framework' for Talks on Mideast in Progress
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
The Obama administration, seeking to jump-start negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, hopes to complete an accord that would set terms for final talks, an official said.
Egypt Rejects U.S. Criticism on Detained Journalists
Egypt's Foreign Ministry on Thursday rejected U.S. criticism of its top prosecutor's decision to refer 20 Al-Jazeera journalists to trial on terrorism-related charges.
Vets Get Online System to Report GI Bill Problems
(Military.com: Bryant Jordan)
The system will let the government know when veterans or their family members encounter problems with their education benefits.
Push for New National Cemeteries, as Veteran Deaths Bring Sites Near Capacity
(Fox News: Will Carr, Jennifer Girdon)
National cemeteries across the country are starting to reach capacity amid an increase in the number of veterans dying.
Plans Surface for a Memorial to Submarine Vets
(The Morning Call: Scott Kraus)
A small group of veterans are launching an effort to build a Pennsylvania Submarine Memorial Park.
Obama Trying Executive Action for Cyber Fixes
(Defense News: Zachary Fryer-Biggs)
The Defense Department and General Services Administration announced they were moving ahead with six "planned" reforms to improve cybersecurity in the federal acquisition system.
Boston Bombing Suspect Could Face Death Penalty
(USA Today: Kevin Johnson)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
Tests Find Cracks in F-35, Pentagon Says
(Bloomberg News: Tony Capaccio)
Lockheed Martin's F-35 jet developed cracks in testing of the fighter's durability and wasn't sufficiently reliable in training flights last year.
F-35 Faces Familiar Dogfight With Competing Facts
(Flight Global: Stephen Trimble)
A team of outside government evaluators predicts a major new delay for entry into operational service, while program insiders insist that no such thing will happen.
Navy, Electric Boat Test Tube-Launched Underwater Vehicle
(Military.com: Kris Osborn)
Called the Universal Launch and Recovery Module, the system houses, launches, and recovers an underwater vehicle from the submarine's missile tube.
Top Weapons Tester Finds More Navy LCS Problems
(Military.com: Kris Osborn)
The Director, Operational Test and Evaluation report claims problems with the platform's seaframes, mission packages, and weapons.
Panel Pushes for 'Part-Time'-Focused Air Force
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
The commission tasked with analyzing the Air Force recommends moving toward a more "part-time" force structure, with a heavier reliance on the Air Force Reserve and National Guard.
Commission: Cut Active-Duty Air Force, Boost Reserves
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
"The Air Force can, and should, entrust as many missions as possible to its Reserve Component forces," the commission said.
Nuke Scandal Puts Promotions for Air Force Brass on Ice
(Foreign Policy: Dan Lamothe)
The widening cheating scandal roiling the Air Force's nuclear force has put all of the promotions for its senior officers on hold.
Fort Carson Crash Injures 2 on Training Mission
Fort Carson spokeswoman Dani Johnson says the crewmembers were hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.
A Troubled Marine's Final Fight
(Time: Mark Thompson)
When his nation called, Marine Sergeant David Lindley answered. But when he came home hurting, his country let him down.
Marine Wants New Lawyers in Iraq Slaying Retrial
Camp Pendleton Marine whose Iraq War crime case is being retried after his conviction was overturned says he wants a new military defense lawyer.
Gunman's Doctor Before Rampage: 'No Problem There'
(Associated Press: Kevin Freking)
A doctor treating him for insomnia noted that the patient worked for the Defense Department but wrote hauntingly "no problem there."
Navy to Christen Second Mobile Landing Platform
The Navy will christen Mobile Landing Platform John Glenn on Feb. 1.
Proposed Army Plan Would Cut Florida Guard, Reserve by 10 Percent
(The Florida Times-Union: Clifford Davis)
The plan would cut the National Guard and Army Reserve force from 350,000 soldiers to 315,000, according to Lt. Col. James Evans, director of public affairs for the Florida National Guard.
U.S. Urges South Sudan to Free Last Detainees to Secure Peace
(Reuters: Aaron Maasho, Edmund Blair)
The senior political figures were arrested after clashes broke out between rival groups of soldiers in South Sudan's capital Juba in mid-December.
Cameron Says He Failed to Make Case for Mass Surveillance After Snowden Leaks
(The Guardian: Patrick Wintour)
Files from analyst showed need to update communication laws, says PM, also claiming civil liberties must be held "in proportion."
Assad's Chemical Charade
(The Wall Street Journal)
White House claims of victory are greatly exaggerated.
Obama Should Add Seoul to His Asia Itinerary
(The Washington Post: Richard Armitage, Victor Cha, Michael Green)
President Obama has promised to rebalance U.S. foreign policy to the Asia-Pacific region.
Bombing Iran: Tough Tasks for Israeli Intelligence
(National Interest: Thomas Saether)
They would be responsible for assessing the civil and political consequences of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities.
(Commentary: Evelyn Gordon)
If Iran stopped its weapons development effort seven years ago, how did it happen that since then, it has made precisely the kind of technical progress that now enables it to build a nuclear warhead whenever it chooses?
John Kerry Now Holds Obama's Legacy in His Hands
(National Journal: Michael Hirsh)
The secretary of State is a man on a mission. Best case, he makes history. Worst case, he leaves one hell of a mess.
How Kerry Put Netanyahu in a Bind
(Bloomberg: Jeffrey Goldberg)
Kerry is obviously getting somewhere in his attempt to achieve a framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, because all the right people—the far-right people—are going a little nuts.
Turns Out, Joe Biden Was Right About Dividing Iraq
(National Journal: James Kitfield)
The former senator took a lot of grief for saying the country should be partitioned. He's going to have the last laugh.
The Littlest Boy
(Foreign Policy: Adam Rawnsley, David Brown)
Twenty years after Hiroshima, elite American troops trained to stop a Soviet invasion—with nuclear weapons strapped to their backs.
Playing With Fire
Thanks to its bewildering president, Afghanistan has seen relations with the United States plunge to new lows just two months before a presidential election.
The $37 Billion Lesson DOD Could Learn From IBM
(The Fiscal Times: David Francis)
According to a group of business leaders who advise the Pentagon, today's Defense Department has many of the same problems as the IBM of yesterday.
The Moral Hazard of the All-Volunteer Army
(The New York Times: Uwe Reinhardt)
Discussion of the merits of all-volunteer armed forces is incomplete without an acknowledgment of how little risk is taken on by those who declare war, an economist writes.
National Journal's Early Bird is not produced by or officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was created to serve the defense community upon U.S. DoD's announcement, on Nov 1, 2013, of its decision to discontinue the much-beloved Early Bird news report.