The D Brief: What’s the best way to hire vets?; A debate on China; The obstacles to fighting an air war; Happy 239th; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold with Ben Watson

A new report from RAND this morning explores the effectiveness of the “100,000 Jobs Mission” that was begun in 2011 to promote veteran employment. The coalition, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co., has now grown to 175 companies and is responsible for hiring as many as 175,000 veterans. The JPMC announced this morning that it has as of today hired more than 190,046 veterans and is on track to top 200,000 by the end of the year.

JPMC asked RAND to “capture the lessons and experiences from the 100,000 Jobs Mission to identify further improvements to veteran employment opportunities” under the program. So RAND researchers conducted interviews with companies, “delving into the ways they recruit and hire veterans, help veterans transition into their new jobs, and manage and develop veteran employees and the value veterans bring as employees” and completed a report, out this morning, on how the private sector, the Pentagon and others can help get more veterans into jobs.

According to an abstract for the new RAND report out now and provided to The D Brief: “Interviewees pointed out that veterans are most noted for their leadership skills and teamwork; for their flexibility and ability to work in a fast-paced, changing environment without undue stress; for their dependability, integrity, and loyalty; and for their experience working in a culturally diverse or global environment.”

Some data points: Veterans have experience working in and leading teams; They are flexible and able to work in a stressful, fast-paced, dynamic environment; They are dependable, demonstrate a strong work ethic, and have the tenacity to consistently complete the work; Veterans display integrity and loyalty, and veterans are experienced with culturally diverse and global working environments.

But some recruitment methods are successful and some aren’t. And making the connection between specific skills and particular jobs can be a challenge, RAND found: “Some military skill sets, such as information technology and maintenance, have obvious application in the private sector, while military-specific skills can be more difficult for employers to understand and appreciate… Within companies, veterans and other individuals with training in military occupations and culture are most successful recruiting veterans.”

Also, the report found, veteran employment programs in companies tend to focus on recruitment but lack “broader metrics of success.” So RAND suggests that companies better educate their managers, that the Pentagon should work harder to facilitate “on-base” recruitment events with the private sector, and that the Transition Assistance program for military personnel, or TAPS, needs freshening up.

Read the new report and the other recommendations, here.

You going to the Concert for Valor in DC tomorrow? It’s free and live and on the National Mall. The headliners: The Boss, Carrie Underwood, The Black Keys, Eminem, Jennifer Hudson, Zac Brown Band, Rhianna, Dave Grohl, Mettalica and Jesse J, Jamie Foxx, John Oliver and special appearances by Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and more. More deets here. NOT going? Watch it live on HBO.

Road closures in DC starting tomorrow, here, from Channel 9. 

Veterans book launch at CNAS: Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will be joined by Bob Gates, Pete Chiarelli and Center for a New American Security CEO Michèle Flournoy and Wes Moore tonight at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Hilton for the book launch of Rajiv and Howard’s “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice.” Deets for the event here but you should probably RSVP to CNAS.

Little Sparta: Read Chandrasekaran’s Page Oner on Sunday about the little-discussed (and hugely-important) U.S. military positioned at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAEan ally U.S. generals call “Little Sparta,” here.

Happy 239th Birthday, Marines. You don’t look a day over 238. Joe Dunford’s birthday message to his Marines, here.

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Chuck Hagel’s approval ratings among DoD civilians and some in uniform are at a low 26 percent, according to a new poll conducted for Defense One. Read that bit here.

President Obama is in Beijing this week hoping to shore up support for the economic heart of the U.S. pivot to Asia. Adam Behsudi for Politico: “For the administration, the Asia-Pacific trade deal is the economic centerpiece of its strategic 'pivot' to Asia, which aims to rebalance America’s interests from the Middle East and Europe and counter China’s growing influence. The pact would dwarf the North American Free Trade Agreement, covering an estimated 40 percent of global gross domestic product.” More here.

And Defense One launched its newest debate series last night, on China: The Lineup:

  • Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, on Congressional direction vis-à-vis Beijing, here.
  • U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Robert Thomas on Washington’s mil-to-mil outreach with China, here.
  • And Center for American Progress’s Vikram Singh along with CNAS’s Ely Ratner deliver some straight talk on South China Sea tensions, here.

Russian Internet traffic has taken “extremely roundabout routes” through China. Ars Technica’s Dan Goodwin helping explain the Thursday reveal from Internet monitoring blog Renesys, here.

It’s like the Cold War all over again: A new report this morning chronicles nearly 40 incidents with Russian forces since Russia annexed Crimea that show how tense things are with Russian aggression. The NYT’s Alan Cowell: “The episodes were chronicled on Monday in a report by a British nonprofit research organization, the European Leadership Network, which recorded almost 40 incidents in the past eight months involving Russian forces in a ‘volatile standoff’ with the West that ‘could prove catastrophic at worst.’ The incidents were all said to have taken place since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March.”

According to the report: “These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided midair collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area.” The report here. The Times story, here.

In eastern Ukraine, the worst shelling in a month. Reuters, here.

Intrigue and shelling continue to plague Ukraine’s hope for stability in the east. Andrew E. Kramer for NYT: “The O.S.C.E. reported that its observers had driven on Saturday past a column of more than 40 trucks on a highway outside Donetsk. The trucks were covered with tarpaulins and ‘without markings or number plates—each towing a 122 mm howitzer and containing personnel in dark green uniforms without insignia,’ the O.S.C.E. statement said.” More here.

After the gamble that was sending Jim Clapper to North Korea to rescue two Americans worked, the U.S. is giving North Korea the silent treatment. Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, flew to North Korea and returned with two U.S. citizens who were in captivity by the North Koreans and had been sentenced to years of hard labor. The gamble paid off, but it’s not clear Clapper’s other mission did: to tell the North that they had to dismantle their nuclear program. The NYT’s David Sanger: “It is extraordinarily rare for a president to send one of his most senior intelligence officials into the capital of a declared American adversary, so the choice of Mr. Clapper, probably the most hardened veteran of the Cold War now serving in Mr. Obama’s inner circle, was a surprise. It may have also been welcome.” More here.

Why DNI James Clapper got the call to go to North Korea, according to AP’s Ken Dilanian and Josh Lederman: “The U.S. had considered sending someone from outside government for the secret mission, the official said, but suggested Clapper after the North Koreans indicated in recent weeks that they would release the Americans if Obama dispatched a high-level official.” More here.

INSA has four new board members. The Intelligence and National Security Alliance brought on four new board members: John Hynes of TASC, Roger Mason of Noblis, Larry Prior of CSC and Peter Seegers of Pricewaterhouse Coopers. More here.

Meantime, when it gets down to it, the air war against the Islamic State poses myriad problems. The NYT’s Eric Schmitt on Page One: “…In Iraq, the air war is tethered to the slow pace of operations by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish forces. With relatively few Iraqi offensives to flush out militants, many Islamic State fighters have dug in to shield themselves from attack.

“The vast majority of bombing runs, including the weekend strike near Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, are now searching for targets of opportunity, such as checkpoints, artillery pieces and combat vehicles in the open. But only one of every four strike missions—some 800 of 3,200—dropped its weapons, according to the military’s Central Command.

“Airstrikes have also been constrained by a serious concern about civilian casualties, particularly in western Iraq…“President Obama’s decision last week to double the number of American trainers and advisers in Iraq, to about 3,000, and request more than $5 billion from Congress for military operations against the Islamic State was viewed as clear acknowledgment of the challenges in fighting a limited war. They are especially acute when Washington’s allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria need far more training to battle a formidable adversary that offers little in the way of clear targeting.” Read the rest here.

The Iraqi counteroffensive to ISIS is ready for [Iraqi] ground troops, Obama says. The president sat down with CBS’ Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation to discuss the ISIS strategy—and a host of other issues (a resurgent GOP, Iran, Syria, Ebola). POTUS: “What we knew was that phase one was getting an Iraqi government. That was inclusive and credible. And we now have done that. And so now what we've done is rather than just try to halt ISIL's momentum. We're now in a position to start going on some offense.... Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops that can start pushing them back.” More from the transcript, here.

Syrian Kurds “snub” ISIS by granting women greater rights in Hasakah province. AFP from Beirut, here.

Sunnis and Shiites join together to fight the Islamic State in a rare form of unity but in a potentially positive development. Jonathan Landay and Hussein Kadhim, for McClatchy in Baghdad, here.

Jordan joins the fight against the Islamic State by telling clerics to preach moderate Islamor else. The WaPo’s William Booth and Taylor Luck reporting from Zarqa: “…Stunned by the rapid advance of the Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan has fortified its borders and put its air force and intelligence service to work in the U.S.-led alliance against the self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq. To counter the low thrum of support for extremist movements on the home front, the kingdom is not only prosecuting Islamic State recruiters and cracking down on anyone waving an Islamic State banner, but it has turned its attention to the nation’s 7,000 mosques.” More here.

Al-Baghdadi down in Anbar? U.S. officials so far remain tight-lipped about Iraqi defense and interior ministries’ weekend claims that an Iraqi airstrike in Anbar province is believed to have injured ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. AP from Baghdad, here.

The Navy’s war games in the Pacific Ocean won’t harm any humans. “…The same cannot be said for marine mammals that gather there. Dozens of blue whales, bottlenose dolphins and seals are almost certain to die, and tens of thousands more could be permanently injured by explosives and underwater sonar,” writes Darryl Fears in the WaPo, here.

The More You Know: Robert O’Neill is the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden. But did you know that his father, Thomas, was a stockbroker who spent two years in prison for securities fraud in Montana? Apparently, according to Vocativ, the elder O’Neill liquidated his client’ accounts and put their money into tech stocks and it cost them more than $300,000. The story by Vocativ’s Eric Markowitz and Ryan Walsh, here.

ICYMI: WaPo’s visual journo Richard Johnson has turned in some stunning sketches of the Afghan drawdown that posted late last week. You can catch those, here.

Afghan war veteran Francisco “Frankie” Garcia was shot dead in California shortly after redeploying to the states. Tony Barboza for the LA Times, here.

Taliban claim responsibility for a suicide attack in Logar province killing 7 and wounding 4 others. That attack comes a day after a separate suicide attack (Reuters) in Kabul that killed one and wounded 6. Afghan news agency Khaama Press on Logar, here.

A Yemeni militant in the jihadi-held city of Darna wants to extend the ISIS caliphate to Africa. AP’s Maggie Michael from Cairo: “The militants dragged Darna into becoming the first city outside of Iraq and Syria to join the ‘caliphate’ announced by the extremist group. Already, the city has seen religious courts ordering killings in public floggings of residents accused of violating Shariah law, as well as enforced segregation of male and female students. Opponents of the militants have gone into hiding or fled, terrorized by a string of slayings aimed at silencing them… A new Islamic State ‘emir’ now leads the city, identified as Mohammed Abdullah, a little-known Yemeni militant sent from Syria known by his nom de guerre Abu al-Baraa el-Azdi, according to several local activists and a former militant from Darna.” More here.

MARSOC is launching from the “head-turning” Joint High Speed Vessel Choctaw County during exercise Bold Alligator in the Atlantic. Lance M. Bacon for Military Times: “Roughly 56 operators and officers from 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, launched from JHSV in the exercise’s opening hours. Heavy seas threatened the MARSOC missions, but the ship’s shallow draft allowed it to push further into calmer littoral waters.” More here.

A bomb ripped through a school in northeast Nigeria today, killing at least 35, many of them students, Reuters says this morning, here.

Al-Shabab fighters reportedly caused close to 100 casualties during fighting Saturday in southern Somalia, near the Kenyan border. Xinhua from Mogadishu, here.