After knife attack, Lippert will “sailor on”; Carter: Everybody STFU?; The betrayal of an elite Marine commando unit; Different spanks for different ranks?; And a bit more.
Former Pentagon chief of staff Mark Lippert, now the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, was knifed in a bizarre attack yesterday before he was supposed to give a speech. Initial reports said that the attacker, a 55-year-old man named Kim Ki-jong, had attacked Lippert with a razor. But by this morning, those reports were replaced with references to a knife - that caused, among other wounds, a 4” gash on Lippert’s face requiring 80 stitches.
Reuters this morning: “…Lippert underwent two-and-a-half hours of surgery after he was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist in an attack at a breakfast forum in Seoul on Thursday to discuss Korean reunification. Lippert, 42, was bleeding from deep wounds to his face and wrist but was able to walk after the attack. Doctors said later his condition was stable after ‘very successful’ surgery… The assailant was caught and identified by police….”
John Kerry, after talking to Lippert, per the WaPo: “He’s as good as can be expected, his sprit is strong… He tends to soldier on, or as he said to me, sailor on.”
Also from the WaPo, which noted that Lippert is seen as a down to earth ambassador who walks to work with his basset hound Grigsby (@grigsbybasset): “…Lippert and his wife, Robyn, had their first baby in Seoul earlier this year and gave the boy a Korean middle name — he’s called James William Sejun Lippert — which was widely reported in Korean news media.”
Who is this attacker? The WaPo’s Terrence McCoy: Kim “leads a leftist political organization called ‘Urimadang’ — ‘Our Square’ — that both protests Japan’s territorial claims over some South Korean eastern islands and opposes military exercises conducted by foreign forces in South Korea.”
John Park, an expert on the peninsula and now of MIT’s Security Studies Program, on what’s going on here, to The D Brief last night: “Many in the South Korean public are deeply suspicious of the intentions of the great powers. Some of them directly hold these powers responsible for the continued division of the Korean Peninsula. While such convictions may run deep, it's rare to see them acted upon in such a violent manner against foreign officials in contemporary South Korea. Rather than a group of folks, this incident centers on an individual attacker who had previously thrown concrete at the Japanese ambassador in Seoul in 2010.”
North Korea hails the attack on Lippert as “righteous punishment.” ABC here.
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Noting: the air in D.C. this morning is pregnant with the promise of 6-9” of snow. Naturally, federal offices, including the Pentagon, are closed. And naturally, there’s diddly snow on the ground as we write, but the drizzle of course can be treacherous, so be careful out there.
The return of the mini-budget deal? A scenario where full-blown sequestration guts the Pentagon’s FY16 budget isn’t likely—but neither is one where lawmakers give DOD the full $535 billion the White House is requesting, former Pentagon comptroller Bob Hale told Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber: “If there is a so-called mini-deal akin to the one reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in December 2013, one lasting two years would be most beneficial and give DOD the most stability, Hale said... [A] more likely scenario is Congress failing to strike a deal, but appropriating funds at the $500 billion budget cap put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. That means instead of across-the-board cuts, lawmakers would decide themselves where the cuts would be made. Several members of Congress have already asked the military services to advise them where lawmakers could cut, if the services had their budgets reduced.” Read the rest, here.
More than half of the Pentagon’s top weapons programs increased by a total of $27 billion, though there were savings in places like the littoral combat ship and General Dynamics’ Win-T network. Catch the full tally from a draft of the GAO’s annual report on weapons costs, via Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio, here.
Rival airstrikes are knocking out targets around rival airports in Libya, Reuters reports here. Meantime, Libya is asking the U.N. to lift its arms embargo and finally clear the sale of jets, tanks and light weapons so the country’s military can take on an increasingly antagonistic pseudo-ISIS presence. That one, here.
Iranian special operators reportedly freed a Tehran diplomat captured and held for nearly two years in what an Iran spokesman called “a very special area in Yemen.” AP here.
Get smarter on the operation to retake Tikirt, by the Institute for the Study of War’s Sinan Adnan, Jessica Lewis McFate and team, here.
Carter is perhaps unwittingly (or wittingly?) messaging the press and the Pentagon’s massive public affairs apparatus to “STFU.”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, just slightly more than two weeks in office, criticized his own military’s efforts to be transparent about a planned operation in Mosul, Iraq a couple weeks ago. During a hearing this week, he made a point of saying a Pentagon-sanctioned briefing just days after he arrived at the Pentagon was inappropriate.
In so doing, Carter may have been too quick to side with Obama critics who have lambasted the White House and the Pentagon for holding the briefing when he himself seems to believe in transparency. Critics have said the briefing revealed “military secrets,” such as the timing and size and scope of the operation, which had been tentatively scheduled for this spring but has now been pushed to fall. We note that the briefer was not the only one to talk about the Mosul operation; and, that other operations – we remember Marjah in Afghanistan a few years ago – were discussed in some detail prior to it kicking off.
The Daily Beast’s Nancy Youssef in “Pentagon Chief: Everybody STFU”: “…Carter’s not off-base; the briefing was overly optimistic, maybe even foolhardy. But Carter did not give a full accounting of the facts, either. The briefing he criticized wasn’t a one-time slip-up; U.S. officials had been suggesting a spring attack on Mosul for months. Moreover, the Pentagon-sanctioned official who briefed reporters left open the possibility of moving that timeline ‘to the right’ if the Iraqis were not ready. In other words, the April-May timeline was hardly set in stone. Yet Carter accused the briefers of revealing ‘military secrets.’ There was nothing even remotely classified in the presentation.
“…Regardless, Carter’s public admonition, along with his repeated assertions that the Pentagon must protect the civilian-led chain of command, has had a chilling effect on those in uniform who said they have heard one message from the newly-minted Defense Secretary.
One defense official told Youssef of how Carter’s comments are being interpreted: “Don’t talk to the media.” Read the rest here.
The AP’s Bob Burns, dean of the Pentagon press corps, on the whole thing: “…The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets. Asked about it by reporters twice last weekend, Carter was more circumspect.” Read his piece here.
In fairness, Carter also said that he thinks it’s important to be open. During a Senate hearing this week, Carter said: “Even as we make sure that this particular incident doesn't happen again, I think that it's important that we be open as a department, not with military secrets and not with war plans, which is the mistake here -- made in this case.
“But we do try to keep the country informed of what we're doing. It's about protecting them. It is a democracy and so openness is important. But it has to have limits when it comes to security matters and those limits obviously weren't respected in this case.”
Folks have turned a mountain out of a Mosul. The Mosul briefing has become disproportionately important and in the end, it is what it is. Carter has said he wants to be available to reporters, and that hints that he may have far more regular Pentagon briefings and other events to be that kind of secretary. And, in removing Rear Adm. John Kirby, the highly visible and considered highly effective Pentagon Press Secretary, who is leaving this week, Carter seems to be creating the space to become the Pentagon’s face. But Carter’s public messaging on the Mosul incident and the awkward handling of Kirby’s departure rightly raise questions about how he’ll handle communicating with the press – and thusly the taxpayers to whom he is ultimately responsible.
Military Times has launched the first of a new, five-part series re-examining the 2006-2008 case against Marine Special Operations Company Foxtrot. These are the MARSOC Marines whose infamous Afghanistan deployment was cut short after a month, the Marines were branded as war criminals and ordered out of the war zone, and the Marines’ initial foray into being more spec-ops-ish stumbled. Celebrate long-form journalism by clicking on the first installment of this series, by Military Times’ Andy deGrandpre, here.
Members take notice: Since it’s hearing season for the brass, and members of Congress insist on saying “thank you for your service” every time generals or admirals testify, we thought this popular piece in the NYT a couple weeks back was apt to include again today: “Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service,” by Matt Richtel, here.
Break, break new subject: Pentagon public affairs promoted Carl Woog and hired Steph Dreyer. Per Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Brent Colburn: “Carl Woog has been promoted to Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Communications. Woog, who served in a variety of Public Affairs roles under previous Defense Secretaries Gates, Panetta and Hagel, will take responsibility for communications planning for Secretary Carter, bringing creativity to major policy announcements and improving the integration of traditional and new media efforts for the Department.
“Stephanie Dreyer has joined the DoD public affairs team as the Department's first Director for Digital Media and Strategy. In this role Stephanie will oversee the management and execution of the DoD social media program and develop new ways to communicate Secretary Carter's priorities to the force and the American people. Previously she was the Communications Director for the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy. She launched her career in communications working as Deputy Press Secretary for her home state Senator Chuck Schumer.”
Different spanks for different ranks? In the wake of the plea deal for David Petraeus, some folks think so. The Chelsea Manning Support Network’s Jeff Patterson issued this statement (and we urge him to check the spelling of Petraeus’ name): “General Patraeus leaked classified information to his mistress, who was writing his biography, for personal gain. PFC Chelsea Manning leaked classified information to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks for the public good, and to increase informed debate on US wars abroad – neither of which harmed anyone. The general accepted a mere fine and probation, while the private is doing 35 years in Leavenworth military prison. That is not justice."
Thanks to HRC’s use of gmail, Benghazi’s back. Yesterday, a Congressional committee issued subpoenas seeking more information about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account for official business while she was at State, thus creating new fodder for her critics who will now use her obviously legally questionable use of gmail to reignite questions about Benghazi. The WaPo’s Rosalind Helderman, Carol Leonnig and Anne Gearen: “…The move followed the revelation that Clinton had installed a private server at her New York home that allowed her, and not the State Department, to store her e-mail correspondence and later decide which ones to turn over as public records.
“The subpoenas, sent by the special House committee probing the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, reflected the angry response more broadly from Republican lawmakers and conservative watchdogs who said Clinton’s private e-mail system allowed her to evade scrutiny from investigations and legal proceedings.” More here.
Last night at 11:35 p.m. @HillaryClinton tweeted: “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”
The timing yesterday was perfect, per Al Kamen: “House Oversight and Government Reform Committee members, at a hearing Wednesday, railed against the head of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), who had used personal e-mails to evade public records disclosure rules, and called for him to resign immediately.” More here.
Attributing a cyber attack is among the first steps to deterring future instances—the problem is nowadays “we can’t easily tell the difference between a couple of guys in a basement apartment and the North Korean government with an estimated $10 billion military budget,” Bruce Schneier writes over at the Christian Science Monitor’s new Passcode site, here.
Cyberimprecision? Are we all just overdoing it a little when we use the prefix cyber? It’s an increasingly relevant question, and WSJ’s Danny Yadron and Jennifer Valentino-Devries tackle it with a funny one, well, here.
Are you smarter than a Fox News viewer? Or a CNN watcher? If you think so, take The Christian Science Monitor’s little quiz to find out for sure, here. Always worth the click.
Frank Underwood style: The VA used illegal funds to buy an IT system in life imitating art. The WaPo’s Josh Hicks, and a House of Cards spoiler alert, here.
A federal jury found a Pakistani man detained in 2009 guilty of conspiring with al-Qaeda to bomb a shopping mall in England as part of a broader plan to also attack Denmark and New York City. WSJ’s Thomas MacMillan, here.
A Northern Virginia teen who allegedly helped a man travel to Syria to fight with ISIS was arrested in Woodbridge last Friday, WaPo’s Matt Zapotosky reports, here.
The good people at War on the Rocks have a stunning video you can’t miss in an effort to do some “crowdfunding.” Filmed at various unsavory sites in the National Capital Region, WOTR’s Ryan Evans and John Amble dive straight into expansion plans for the work they do every day in strategy, defense and foreign policy—while also dangling a few rewards in front of the camera as some extra motivation.
WOTR’s plea, to the tune of $100k-150k: “War on the Rocks has come all this way on the back of our original $5K Kickstarter 19 months ago. No one has ever collected a salary, to include Ryan Evans and John Amble - both of whom work full-time on War on the Rocks. As rewarding as these 19 months have been, in order to sustain War on the Rocks, we need more resources.”
Most of the town’s closed this morning, so why not check out the video – which includes a friendly dig at Defense One, once you finish reading The D Brief, right here.
Also from WOTR: What bees, ants and termites can teach us about war, via Paul Scharre of the Center for a New American Security. It’s the third in a six-part series in conjunction with CNAS concerning robotics and automation. Scharre’s latest in the series, here. The previous two, here and here.
The Army’s updated and still-controversial tattoo policy is getting a second look from the new top enlisted man, Dan Dailey. Army Times’ Michelle Tan, here.
Are Moneyball-style individual assessments coming to the Army? The Army’s David Vergun on Gen. Ray Odierno’s visit last week to Kansas’ Fort Leavenworth to hear a new plan to assess soldiers in a far more comprehensive manner: “[Capt. Sean Clement] suggested scoring Soldiers on three aspects: human, cognitive and physical. The human aspect would include such conceptual things as will-to-win, motivation and perseverance. Each of the three aspects would then be broken down to three to five subcategories. Weightings would be given to each subcategory, based on its importance to branch, position and rank.
Said Odierno of the plan: “It will take some time to do, but it's worth it.”
Army aviator and blogger Crispin Burke: “You know that scene in military-themed movies where a new soldier comes in and the commander's looking at his evaluations, fitness reports (which always carry a glimpse into the character's soul)? It doesn't happen!” Read Vergun’s piece in full, here.
Tracking coalition airstrikes in Iraq/Syria via a message entitled “Daily Strike” is about as official of a military policy as playing “Bubbles” at your work computer. Air Force Times’ Flightlines blog, here.