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Early Bird

Military Sex-Assault Reform Bill Passes, Senators Draft Ukraine Aid Package, Snowden Has No Regrets

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.

 

Want your defense news even faster? The Early Bird joined Twitter. Follow @NJEarlyBird.

Tell your networks to sign up directly here. To contact us, email earlybird@nationaljournal.com.

Senators Rally Behind Military Sexual Assault Bill
(Associated Press: Donna Cassata)
Lawmakers voted 97-0 Monday for legislation that would force a half-dozen major changes on a military struggling with a pervasive problem

 

Senate Ukraine Draft Measure Said to Include IMF Change
(Bloomberg: James Rowley, Kathleen Hunter)
Senate Democrats may boost International Monetary Fund resources in an aid package they're preparing for Ukraine, potentially setting up a dispute with the U.S. House.

U.S., Russia Far Apart on Ukraine as Kerry-Putin Meeting Postponed
(The Wall Street Journal: Lukas Alpert)
Russia said Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss an American proposal on settling the dispute over Crimea.

Edward Snowden: 'Would I Do It Again? Absolutely Yes'
(The Verge: Adi Robertson)
Snowden talks encryption, privacy, and the NSA at SXSW.

Chinese Raw Materials Also Found on U.S. B-1 Bomber, F-16 Jets
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
Titanium mined in China may also have been used to build part of a new Standard Missile-3 IIA being developed jointly by Raytheon Co and Japan, said a senior U.S. defense official.

 

Navy Admiral Nominated to Head NSA Relays Concerns About Data Collection, Cyber Threat
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
Rogers provided the first glimpse into his views of the nation's troubled surveillance programs in answers to a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee .

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Does Ukraine's Crisis Override Pentagon's Defense Strategy?
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
A "wholesale redo" of the review, which broadly outlines the Defense Department's strategy every four years, isn't necessary—despite the crisis in Ukraine, Christine Wormuth, deputy undersecretary of Defense for strategy, plans, and force development, said Monday.

Readiness Challenges Would Remain if Sequester Cuts Return
(Seapower Magazine: John Marcario)
Should sequestration cuts return in fiscal 2016, the Defense Department would be strained to protect the homeland if the United States also was engaged in a conflict overseas, said Christine Wormuth.

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Interview: Robert Hale
(Defense News)
Soon to retire, Hale leaves behind what he calls "uncertainty" with further across-the-board cuts pending via sequestration.

Military Retiree Tapped as New DoDEA Director
(Navy Times: Karen Jowers)
A retired Army colonel with 12 years of experience in education administration in public schools has been named the new director of the Department of Defense Education Activity.

CONGRESS

Foreign Service Leaders Ask Senate to Reject Obama Nominees
(The Washington Post: Al Kamen)
Fifteen former presidents of the State Department employees union called on the Senate to reject the nominations of three Obama mega-bundlers for ambassadorships.

GOP Senators: Obama Nominee Words on Alleged Russian Treaty Breach 'Misleading'
(Global Security Newswire: Sebastian Sprenger)
Two Republican senators charge they were misled by a senior Pentagon nominee over the handling of a reported arms-treaty breach by Russia.

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Pentagon to Allow Sikhs Leeway in Military Attire
(Reuters: David Alexander)
The letter comes six weeks after the Pentagon adopted a new policy aimed at giving individual troops greater latitude to groom or dress according to their religious beliefs.

RUSSIA/UKRAINE

Ex-Ukraine Leader: U.S. Giving Aid to 'Bandits'
(USA Today: Kim Hjelmgaard)
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych appeared in public for a news conference Tuesday, the second time he has done so since being pushed from power last month.

Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon, Lukas Alpert)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently rejected a U.S. proposal to resolve the dispute over Ukraine that had been put forward by Secretary of State John Kerry over the past week.

Kerry-Lavrov Meeting Depends on Moscow's Stance -U.S
(Reuters: Arshad Mohammed, Steve Holland)
The United States held out the possibility on Monday that the U.S. and Russian foreign ministers could meet this week about Ukraine but said it needed to know Moscow would engage seriously on a diplomatic solution.

Confrontation in Ukraine as Diplomacy Stalls
(Reuters: Andrew Osborn, Natalia Zinets)
A pro-Russian force opened fire in seizing a Ukrainian military base in Crimea.

U.S. Starts Military Drills on Russia's Doorstep
(Reuters: Marcin Goettig)
The United States will signal its resolve to protect its NATO allies near Russia's borders with the start of the first joint military training exercises in the region since the Kremlin intervened in Ukraine.

Details of Sanctions Against Russia to Be Finalised in London
(The Guardian: Paul Lewis, Patrick Wintour)
And the White House gave its strongest indication yet that Russia is effectively being thrown out of the G-8 group.

59 Percent Approve of Sanctions Against Russia
(CNN)
The CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that economic sanctions against Russia appears to be the only option that a majority of Americans support that's available to the U.S.

U.S. Envoy: Crimea Crisis Solution Needs to Address Russian Concerns
(Los Angeles Times: Henry Chu)
The United States continues to rule out military action to eject Russian troops from Crimea and acknowledges that a diplomatic settlement needs to address Moscow's interests in the strategically important peninsula.

White House: U.S., China agree on Ukraine Sovereignty
(Associated Press)
Their conversation is the first known since Russian forces took control of Crimea. 

Clapper: Ukraine Was Not an Intelligence Failure
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was disputing contentions by Sen. John McCain and others that the U.S. was taken by surprise when Russia invaded Ukraine to take control of Crimea.

Russia Says It's Preparing Counterproposals for Crimea as Russian Forces Strengthen Grip There
(The New York Times: Steven Erlanger)
Russia said that it cannot accept the "fait accompli" of the new Western-backed government in Ukraine.

Russia Warns Ukraine Over 'Lawlessness' in East
(Associated Press: Maria Danilova, Jim Heintz)
The statement by Russia's Foreign Ministry is likely to trigger alarms in Ukraine about possible Russian intervention there.

INTELLIGENCE

Daunting Tests Await Incoming N.S.A. Chief
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who currently runs the Navy's Fleet Cyber Command, has been appointed to navigate a bureaucratic, political and public relations disaster

Rock Bottom
(Foreign Policy: Shane Harris, John Hudson)
The relationship between the CIA and its Senate overseers has never been worse.

SXSW 2014: Edward Snowden Says Hill, FISA Need Watchdog
(Politico: Tal Kopan)
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden called out the existing systems of oversight in the U.S., saying the Senate Intelligence Committee and the FISA Court are not doing their jobs.

Snowden to SXSW: NSA Leaders Have Harmed Our National Security 'More Than Anything' Else
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
The fugitive leaker, appearing by video conference, attacked virtually every corner of the national security apparatus during a Q&A session at the festival.

Germany Rejects Snowden Claim It Bowed to NSA
(Associated Press: Frank Jordans)
Snowden told the European Parliament that Germany was pressured to modify its legislation on wiretapping and other forms of lawful telecoms surveillance.

ARMY

Fox: Army Must Remain Ready to Shrink if Sequestration Stands
(Inside Defense)
Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno has said an Army of 420,000 active-duty soldiers will be incapable of properly executing America's national security strategy, but a top Pentagon official told the service last week that it should be prepared to shrink to that size.

Defense Faces Deadline in Army General Sex Case
(Associated Press: Michael Biesecker)
Attorneys for an Army general charged with sexual assault have a deadline on Tuesday to decide on a judge's offer to plea-bargain the case with a new set of military officials.

Judge Won't Dismiss General's Sex-Assault Charges
(Associated Press: Michael Biesecker)
The sexual-assault case against an Army general was thrown into jeopardy Monday when the judge said the military may have improperly pressed ahead with a trial to send a message about its determination to curb rape and other widespread misconduct.

U.S. Army Gets Big-Ass Old-School Gun
(War Is Boring: Joe Trevithick)
Powerful recoilless rifle to become standard issue … again.

AIR FORCE

Air Force to Redirect Future U-2 Mods Funding to Global Hawk Upgrades
(Inside Defense)
More than $182 million in funds appropriated in fiscal 2012, 2013, and 2014 for U-2 spy plane modification and development remains unspent.

ASIA/PACIFIC

North Korea Using Sophisticated Means to Avoid U.N. Sanctions - U.N. Report
(Reuters: James Pearson)
It said North Korea was also making use of more complicated financial countermeasures that made the isolated country's purchase of prohibited goods more difficult to track.

U.S. Lasers? PLA Preparing to Raise Its Deflector Shields
(South China Morning Post: Stephen Chen)
Chinese scientists say they have developed protective coatings that would render weapons like the U.S.'s ship-mounted laser useless in battle.

IRAN

Minister Says Iran Will Address Military Nuclear Questions
(The Wall Street Journal: Laurence Norman)
But Iran's deputy foreign minister said it will not be rushed into tackling those concerns. 

New Iran Oil Deals Won't Allow Reserves Booking
(The Wall Street Journal: Benoit Faucon)
Foreign oil companies hoping to invest in Iran as sanctions are relaxed won't be able to count Iranian reserves among their assets under the draft terms of new contracts, a senior Iranian oil and gas industry official said.

Iran Warns Austrian Embassy Over Ashton Meeting With Rights Activists: IRNA
(Reuters: Michelle Moghtader)
Catherine Ashton met several human-rights activists including the mother of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti at the embassy.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

Afghan Taliban Threaten to Attack 'Sham' Poll 'Manipulated by U.S.'
(Reuters: Hamid Shalizi)
The Afghan Taliban said next month's presidential election was being manipulated by the United States and threatened to use "full force" in attacking anyone taking part.

INDUSTRY

Fiscal 2014 Littoral Combat Ship Contract Awards Announced
(Seapower Magazine)
Contract modifications were issued to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA under their respective Littoral Combat Ship block-buy contracts.

SYRIA

Key Syria Coordinator, White House Confer on Chem Removal Timeline
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
Destroying Syria's chemical weapons by a June deadline was the focus of a White House meeting with the disarmament effort's international overseer.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Troops Training Iraqis in Jordan
(Marine Corps Times: Jeff Schogol)
A small number of U.S. special operations forces are in Jordan training Iraqi troops to fight al-Qaida. 

NATIONAL GUARD

Guard Units to Get New Aircraft to Replace A-10s
(Air Force Times: Brian Everstine)
The Air Force plans to replace all National Guard A-10 units with new flying missions to make sure their states and bases will not lose positions. 

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Strengthen the IMF
(The New York Times)
Lawmakers should ratify much-delayed reforms that would strengthen the International Monetary Fund and give it more resources to lend to troubled nations like Ukraine.

U-2 Has the Edge Over Global Hawk
(Aviation Week & Space Technology)
With money as tight as it is, everyone knew it was becoming too expensive to have both options for high-altitude intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions.

The U.S. Needs to Get More Aggressive on Syria
(The Washington Post)
Washington's seeming inability to focus on more than one international crisis at a time has been a boon to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Must Take Strong Action Against Putin's Aggression
(Time: Sen. Rand Paul)
If I were President, I wouldn't let Vladimir Putin get away with it.

Cut the Baloney on Ukraine
(The Daily Beast: Leslie Gelb)
All countries must stop their lies and self-destructive posturing or pay costs they're loath to admit.

Marco Rubio's Warped Worldview
(The Atlantic: Peter Beinart)
Is he really the GOP's foremost foreign policy thinker?

Obama's All Eisenhower on Russia
(The Daily Beast: Robert Shrum)
Like Ike before him, Obama's non-moves against Russia are the right moves.

When Does Cyberspying Become a Cyberattack?
(The Atlantic: Bruce Schneier)
It's no longer just espionage, it's a cyberattack.

America Doesn't Need a Big Army Anymore
(The Daily Beast: Bill Sweetman)
The crisis in Crimea shows that even the strongest U.S. land forces wouldn't provide a military option for the president. It's time to shrink the Army.

Why Singapore Wants the F-35
(The Diplomat: Carl Thayer)
Singapore is studying the F-35B Lightning as part of its larger effort to gain air dominance in its neighborhood.

America's Navy Needs 12 Carriers & Three Hubs
(Real Clear Defense: Mackenzie Eaglen, Bryan McGrath)
President Obama's latest defense budget would shrink the US Navy's fleet from 11 aircraft carriers to ten absent additional funding. But the truth is that America is currently a nine-carrier nation.

A Visual Look Inside DoD's 2015 Budget Proposal
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
Deciphering the Pentagon's 2015 spending proposal has been difficult, but Defense News has some charts the could serve as a decoder ring.

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Senior Military Officer

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