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Early Bird

Syria Possibly Hiding Weapons, Hagel Urges Sequestration Cooperation, CIA Controlling Drones

November 6, 2013

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense and foreign-policy coverage from around the web. Get this by forward? Click here to sign up directly.

U.S. INTELLIGENCE SUGGESTS SYRIA MAY HIDE SOME CHEMICAL WEAPONS
(CNN; Barbara Starr)
The United States is looking at new classified intelligence indicating the Syrian government may not fully declare its chemical weapons stockpile.

ASSAD ASKS THE U.N. TO EQUIP HIS TROOPS, GIVE HIM ARMORED TRUCKS
(Foreign Policy; Colum Lynch)
President Bashar al-Assad's detailed plan for the transfer of chemical materials abroad for destruction includes 120 Syrian security forces, dozens of heavy, armored trucks, and an advanced communications network linking Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea.

HAGEL: PENTAGON, CONGRESS MUST BE 'PARTNERS' IN SEQUESTRATION FIGHT
(The Hill, Carlo Munoz)
Hagel's comments represent a new tact by the Pentagon to persuade lawmakers to work with the department to cope with the effects of sequestration, rather than force Congress to come up with a viable alternative to the budget cuts.

THE CIA, NOT THE PENTAGON, WILL CONTROL DRONE WARS
(Foreign Policy; Gordon Lubold, Shane Harris)
It is now clear the complexity of the issue, the distinct operational and cultural differences between the Pentagon and CIA and the bureaucratic politics of it all has forced officials on all sides to recognize transferring drone operations is an unattainable goal.

KERRY MAKES MIDEAST TRIP TO REIGNITE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE TALKS
(Associated Press; Josef Federman)
Ahead of his arrival, John Kerry tried to dispel speculation and said the U.S. remained focused on the pursuit of a final peace deal negotiated directly by the parties.

INHOFE SAYS NDAA WORK STARTS NOV. 18
(Defense News; John Bennett)
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., expects the Senate will take up its version of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act the week of Nov. 18.

MIDDLE EAST

SYRIA WANTS ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTROYED ELSEWHERE
(Associated Press)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says its director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu, told a meeting Tuesday about details of a confidential plan Syria has submitted for destruction of its chemical arsenal.

US ENVOY: NO DEAL ON SYRIAN PEACE TALKS DATE
(Associated Press; John Heilprin)
After a rocky day of U.N.-brokered talks, the United States and Russia failed to agree on a date to bring Syria's warring sides back to the negotiating table.

ISRAEL, IRAN, ARABS ATTENDED SAME MEETING ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
(The Wall Street Journal)
Iran, Israel and Arab states took part in a recent meeting about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East, diplomats said Tuesday.

EGYPT'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LOSES APPEAL ON GROUP BAN
(Reuters; Hadeel al-Shalchi) 
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood lost an appeal on Wednesday against a court decision to ban the group and seize its funds, court sources said.

EGYPT'S OUSTED PRESIDENT IN PRISON HOSPITAL
(Associated Press; Sarah El Deeb)
Security officials say Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi spent his first night in a civilian penitentiary in a hospital room after he complained he wasn't feeling well.

KERRY TRIP

FACTION SAYS NO TO TWO-STATE SOLUTION, YES TO ANNEXING PALESTINIAN AREAS
(The Washington Post; William Booth, Ruth Eglash)
As Kerry resumes talks in Jerusalem Wednesday in the quest to create "two states for two people," a vocal faction in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government is, more openly than ever, opposing the very idea of a Palestinian state-- and putting forward its own plans to take, rather than give away, territory.

KERRY: IRAN TALKS WON'T CHANGE U.S. MISSILE PLANS IN EUROPE
(The Wall Street Journal; Patryk Wasilewski)
In Warsaw, Kerry said the U.S. was going ahead with its missile defense plans for Europe, despite improving relations with Iran.

IRAN

IRAN INVITES U.N. NUCLEAR CHIEF, HOPES FOR DEAL
(Reuters; Yeganeh Torbati, Fredrik Dahl)
Iranian state television said International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano was expected in Tehran Nov. 11, but the IAEA said only that an invitation was "being considered."

IRAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS NUCLEAR DEAL POSSIBLE THIS WEEK
(Al Jazeera)
"I believe it is even possible to reach that agreement this week but I can only talk for our side, I cannot talk for the other side," Mohammad Javad Zarif told France 24 television ahead of talks in Paris with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

U.N. APPROVES IRANIAN RESOLUTION ON NUKE DISARMAMENT
(Washington Free Beacon; Adam Kredo)
The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved an Iranian-authored resolution advocating global nuclear disarmament, according to a U.N. official.

IRAN SANCTIONS FIGHT COULD MOVE TO DEFENSE BILL
(The Hill; Jeremy Herb)
The Senate Banking Committee has indicated it will likely wait to move legislation for new sanctions against Iran to see whether diplomatic negotiations on Iran's nuclear program move forward.

CONGRESS

BOXER, GRAHAM PUSH MILITARY JUSTICE REFORM
(Politico; Darren Samuelsohn)
A bipartisan Senate coalition opened up a new front in the military sexual assault debate on Tuesday, rolling out a fast-moving proposal that lines up a key part of the military criminal justice system with its civilian counterpart.

WHY UPCOMING DEFENSE BILL IS A MAGNET FOR CONTROVERSY
(National Journal; Stacy Kaper)
National Security Agency spying, military sexual assaults, Guantánamo Bay detainees, and Iran sanctions are just some of the major fights that lawmakers are pushing to take up in the debate.

MIKULSKI URGES PENTAGON SPENDING AGREEMENT BY THANKSGIVING
(Army Times; Rick Maze)
The powerful lawmaker renewed a call Tuesday for a two-year budget deal that avoids a government shutdown and sequestration, expressing specific concerns about the Pentagon budget.

HAGEL SPEECH

HAGEL RAISES PROSPECT OF 'TIERED READINESS'
(The Wall Street Journal; Julian Barnes)
Hagel's remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies reflected his belief in the limits of military power and the need to balance diplomacy with combat might.

HAGEL: COMBATING TERRORISM, WMDs TO FIGURE INTO COMING MILITARY STRATEGY
(Global Security Newswire; Elaine Grossman)
Hagel on Tuesday signaled that the U.S. military in coming years will likely act more to discourage the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, but could itself undergo a rebalancing between its conventional and unconventional arsenals.

HAGEL'S PLAN FOR THE MILITARY IN THE POST-WAR ERA
(Defense One; Kevin Baron)
Hagel gave a lengthy address warning that while the U.S. has yet to determine the limits of its security responsibilities the application of military force must be "used wisely, precisely and judiciously."

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

KEY PENTAGON MANAGEMENT OFFICIAL TO RETIRE
(Government Executive; Charles Clark)
Beth McGrath, who has served as the Defense Department's first deputy chief management officer for the past three years, announced her retirement on Monday effective at the end of the month.

COMPENSATION EXPERTS: GIVE TROOPS MORE CASH, REDUCE IN-KIND BENEFITS
(Army Times; Andrew Tilghman)
Experts told a new commission studying potential changes to the military compensation and retirement system that a top priority should be shifting some long-term and non-cash benefits into more simple and immediate cash payments for troops.

INTELLIGENCE

BRAZIL'S LAWMAKERS TO PROBE SPY ALLEGATION
(The Wall Street Journal; John Lyons)
Brazilian lawmakers are set to call the head of the country's intelligence agency to Congress to explain allegations that a Brazilian spy was quietly transferred after being discovered improperly passing intelligence information to a U.S. official.

GERMANY CALLS ON U.K. AMBASSADOR TO EXPLAIN SPYING REPORTS
(The Wall Street Journal; Stefan Lange)
The German Foreign Ministry invited the U.K. ambassador in Berlin to a meeting Tuesday to discuss fresh media reports that the U.K. had been spying on the German government.

PANEL: U.S. SPY AGENCIES HAMPERED BY POOR COLLABORATION
(The Washington Post; Greg Miller)
One of the panel's central conclusions was that U.S. spy agencies pursue often-competing research agendas, with no overarching strategy to make sure that spending and resources are being aimed at the most critical U.S. intelligence needs.

U.S. IS LOSING ADVANTAGE IN SPYING, REPORT SAYS
(The New York Times; David Sanger) 
An unclassified version of the report concludes that the United States is losing its technological superiority over its rivals, which are gaining "asymmetric advantages" by making their own investments in such efforts and, in some cases, stealing American inventions.

HOLDER QUESTIONS NSA PHONE DATA COLLECTION
(The Hill; Brendan Sasso)
Holder claimed during a CNN interview that members of the Obama administration had concerns about the extent of the NSA's surveillance operations before Edward Snowden leaked details to the press.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

AFGHAN MILITANT GROUP FACES UNUSUAL DISCONTENT
(The New York Times; Azam Ahmed) 
Jalaluddin Haqqani could always count on manpower and support in a campaign to bloody Western military forces after they drove his allies, the Taliban, from power in 2001. But murmurs of discontent have broken out on the Haqqanis' home turf.

PAKISTANI OFFICIALS VOTE TO CLOSE AFGHAN SUPPLY LINES
(The Hill; Carlo Munoz)
Local leaders in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which abuts the Afghan-Pakistan border, voted to cut off the supply lines by Nov. 20 unless Islamabad and the United States can reach a deal to end armed American drone operations.

INDUSTRY

RADAR DEAL TOPS $17 BILLION IN OCTOBER CONTRACTS
(DoD Buzz; Brendan McGarry)
Raytheon Co., the world's largest missile maker, won the U.S. Defense Department's biggest contract last month, a potential $1.6 billion deal to build advanced radar for new naval destroyers.

NAVY

U.S.S. NORTH DAKOTA: HERE'S WHY THIS IS THE MOST ADVANCED SUBMARINE IN THE WORLD
(Business Insider; Brian Jones)
The North Dakota is the newest Virginia-class submarine and the first of the Block III submarines, which is the most recent upgrade.

NEW RULE PUTS SAILORS AT RISK OF LOSING THEIR LOGINS
(Navy Times; Mark Faram)
Last week, Navy officials said many of the service's personnel-related websites would be down over the next few months as work is done behind-the-scenes to beef up security.

KEELS LAID FOR SHIPS HONORING SEA-SERVICE LEGENDS
(Navy Times; Kevin Lilley)
Ceremonies over two days at two shipyards marked the beginning of construction for ships that will pay tribute to two legends: The most decorated Marine in history and the first World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

ARMY

PLANS CONTINUE FOR FORT HOOD SHOOTING MEMORIAL
(Associated Press)
Funding issues have delayed a Central Texas memorial to victims of the Fort Hood shooting rampage that left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded.

AIR FORCE

MAJORS BOARD PUSHED BACK TO DEC. 2014
(Air Force Times; Stephen Losey)
Captains hoping to be promoted will have been waiting two years for a shot at an oak leaf.

ACC: LANDING GEAR FAILURE CAUSED F-16 CRASH IN SOUTH KOREA
(Air Force Times; Brian Everstine)
A landing gear failure caused an F-16C to skid off the runway July 16 at Osan Air Base, South Korea, destroying the jet and causing minor injuries to the pilot.

MARINE CORPS

MEET THE MARINES' NEW PIRATE-HUNTING TEAM
(Foreign Policy; Dan Lamothe)
The U.S. Marine Corps is exploring expanding its presence in the region to fight off piracy and other threats.

ASIA/PACIFIC

NORTH KOREA SEEN TO BE IMPROVING NEW ICBM MOCKUPS
(Global Security Newswire; Rachel Oswald)
While some weapons experts agree North Korea appears to have improved designs for it newest intercontinental-ballistic missile, they are not in agreement over just how much headway the secretive nation has made.

JAPAN CONSIDERS BOOSTING AEGIS DESTROYER FLEET
(Agence France-Presse)
Japan is considering boosting its fleet of Aegis-equipped destroyers from six to eight to counter threats from North Korean missile development and tensions with China over territory.

AFRICA

MODEST MISSION? THE U.S. PLAN TO BUILD A LIBYAN ARMY
(Foreign Affairs; Frederic Wehrey)
The force's composition, the details of its training, the extent to which Libyan civilians will oversee it, and its ability to deal with the range of threats that the country faces are all unclear. But the stakes are enormous.

CONGOLESE REBEL GROUP SAYS IT IS LAYING DOWN ARMS
(The New York Times; Nicholas Kulish)
Following a string of recent victories on the battlefield by the Congolese Army operating with United Nations support, the group, known as M23, said that it was ending the 20-month rebellion.

DETAINEES

CONVICTED GUANTANAMO PRISONER FILES APPEAL
(Reuters)
Lawyers for David Hicks, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner from Australia, filed an appeal on Tuesday with the United States Court of Military Commission Review, saying his conviction should be thrown out because his confession was coerced.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

SEQUESTRATION IS A DISASTER; HERE'S A SMARTER WAY TO SAVE MONEY
(Forbes; Loren Thompson)
The House-Senate budget conference committee that began meeting last week is also an opportunity to escape the fiscal strait-jacket called sequestration that is doing huge damage to defense and domestic programs.

HOW EGYPT'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CAN BOUNCE BACK
(The Atlantic; Eric Trager)
Mohammed Morsi's trial might seem like the death knell for the group. But the Brothers have rebounded before—and they can do so again.

HOW THE GOVERNMENT SPIED ON ME
(The Wall Street Journal; Jill Kelley)
Federal agents snooped through the private emails of my husband and me, setting in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the resignations of Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

MILITARY RAPE FIX IS NO FIX AT ALL
(USA Today; John Altenberg, Lisa Schenck)
A group of senators seeks to remove responsibility from senior commanders and place that power with military prosecutors. As intuitively attractive as the idea sounds to civilian ears, the reform has been tried in other countries, and it hasn't resulted in the vast increase in prosecutions that reformers are after.

DIPLOMACY REDUX: KERRY'S OPPORTUNITY, OBAMA'S TEST
(National Interest; Lincoln Bloomfield)
Kerry's legacy as Secretary of State is already sure to be defined by the success or failure of U.S. diplomatic initiatives to secure compromises in the Middle East.


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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.

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