When I was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, every time we tried to do something – like develop cyber security capabilities – we were accused of cravenly seeking new budget allocations. Yet, the only reason I have been, am now, and will continue to push cyber as a key issue is that I believe it is one. In a recent Foreign Policy article, Thomas Rid argues the cyber threat is not real. I sincerely wish he were correct. He is sincerely wrong. Denying threats does not make them go away.
Military and Homeland Defense
Last week, I testified before the House Homeland Security Committee about Hezbollah capability to attack within the United States, should the group decide to do so. I explained that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that Hezbollah would attack America in the event of an attack on Iran, but also laid out four different scenarios of how they could carry out such an operation.
I worry that we are sliding toward a “Guns of August” scenario over Tehran’s nuclear program. I worry that rhetoric and potential policy choices may bring about the very outcome we seek to avoid and unleash unforeseen and uncontrollable forces. Stoking this concern is the fact that despite a lack of intelligence suggesting Iran is moving toward weaponization, the chorus of those calling for direct military strikes to interdict such is sounding off with increasing frequency and volume. With this comes the risk that ex ante policy objectives may be getting ahead of both intelligence and strategy.
February 23rd, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
In a recent New York Times article, Admiral William McRaven, Cdr, U.S. Special Operations Command, asked for more freedom in pursuing America’s self professed enemies. McRaven is the architect of both the Usama bin Laden (UBL) takedown in Pakistan and more recent rescue of the Somali pirate hostages. This is not the first time the idea of allowing SOCOM to be the head of the spear has come up. I, for one, think it is an idea whose time has come.
The past couple of days have been bloody as Iran and its surrogates and Israel fight a dirty war of retribution using the streets of innocent countries as fields of battle. Additionally, the Iranian Navy continues to threaten the world’s oil shipping lanes with rhetoric and by making furtive moves against the U.S. Navy. I think we are very close to the tipping point of war with Iran, and in my opinion, the more time we wait, the more dangerous they become.
February 14th, 2012 - by Nadav Morag
White House press secretary Jay Carney noted yesterday that the Administration is mulling over its options with respect to the nature of American involvement in such a potential force. It is well and proper for the Administration, at least in the discovery phase of policymaking, to entertain a broad range of policy options. Nevertheless, it needs to be evident to the President and his policy planners that any direct U.S. military involvement in a peacekeeping mission in Syria would be a major mistake.
February 6th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
I spoke to students at the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. The school helps military officers get their master’s degrees, but mine was not a military audience at all – many were homeland leaders from throughout the public and private sectors. To be sure, America has gained a lot since the 9/11 attacks, part of which is a brotherhood shared by all homeland professionals..
President Obama’s critics (of which I have been one) have tried to infer he is many things. He’s been called a socialist, a far-left liberal and other names. People will use all sorts of facts and inferences to back their words up but one word and invective that will never stick is “wimp.” Through the use of drones, Special Forces, Navy SEALS and all of the other military resources at his disposal, the President has scored a kill sheet that no one could have imagined. The inspirational orator that many thought was weak-kneed has become remarkably effective and efficient at getting rid of some of the world’s most pungent trash.
I was attending my church’s Kids’ Christmas program, and the depiction of the three wise men brought back some memories for me of a Christmas I spent far from home a few years ago. It was Christmas 2003, and I was in Baghdad, Iraq. I had been sent there by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, leading a team of 20 senior field grade officers. No service member likes to be away during the holidays, but serving one’s country gives you a treasure trove of memories that cannot be replaced.
December 8th, 2011 - by Steven Bucci
Senator Susan Collins ripped in to representatives of the Department of Defense this week. The issue was one so absurd that I could not believe it at first. The Department has categorized the Fort Hood Shootings where Major Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people as an example of “workplace violence.” The Senator responded rightly; she was not incredulous, she was livid. Calling this incident of terrorism workplace violence equates it with the proverbial postal employee gone wild. This was an act of Islamic terrorism.
I’m mad. In fact, I’m furious. I just read the Washington Post’s latest story on the treatment of the remains of U.S. military service members that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force dumped their incinerated remains in a landfill. What was originally thought to be a few dozen is now up to 274 people. The truth is, the full number of desecrated remains may never be known given the reckless and absolute abhorrent conduct of the people at Dover Air Force Base who engaged in these actions.
December 7th, 2011 - by Chris Battle
The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security held a joint hearing today with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs entitled “Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States.” According to the Department of Defense, American soil is the most dangerous place for our service men and women outside of actual war zones due to radicalism and homegrown terrorism.
I am always a few days late on blogs related to big days. I guess it takes the day itself to jog my thoughts sufficiently to write something. Bottom line today: We have a lot to be thankful for here in America. Are we a perfect society? No. Do I wish we were better at meeting the needs of everyone in our country? Absolutely. Is any other place in the world better at that pursuit? An emphatic “NO.” Thank you Lord for allowing me to be born in America.
November 18th, 2011 - by David Olive
The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing on how DHS and law enforcement agencies could take advantage of technology used by the Department of Defense. Many DoD systems have a significantly higher cost for civilian agencies than other technologies due to operational complexity and crew requirements. What better example do we have than the CBP’s use of the Predator UAV, which some estimates say costs $32,000 per illegal alien apprehended.
November 17th, 2011 - by Rich Cooper
American citizens love their soldiers, a phenomenon that sometimes mystifies people from other countries. For those who offer their service and their life to defend and advance our interests, Americans are quick to offer thanks and praise, as they should. Our veterans and active duty troops deserve it. Yet, for a country that so clearly respects and appreciates its military, we sometimes forget that after the service is done, our veterans must have access to the opportunities, jobs and rewards they fought to protect. This, unfortunately, is not always the case.
Richard Clarke is at it again. In a conference this week, he stridently appealed to the audience. He warned that the President aught not consider going to war any time in the near future. This because our cyber capabilities are so weak and America’s enemies are sure to use cyber attacks against us. Dick Clarke is a competent and farsighted man who has served this Nation long and well. Why does he seem to relish wallowing in hyperbole? We are NOT boxed in by our cyber insecurities to the point of having no options.
November 4th, 2011 - by Nadav Morag
Recent press reports suggest the world is closer to seeing a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Whether these particular reports are the result of credible leaks, disinformation campaigns, and/or journalistic speculation, it seems clear that there is a military option with respect to Iran’s nuclear sites and infrastructure. The United States Government will be doing it and its citizens a serious disservice if it does not put in place contingency plans for the “day after” a strike on Iran. Unfortunately, Iran has a menu of options with respect to striking back at the United States and larger Western interests.
I do a lot of public speaking. Most of my speaking gigs are in the DC area, or perhaps other military or government connected locations. Every once in a while, however, I get invited to do something that is both exciting and frankly humbling. I get to speak to the real American Public. Next week, I will travel to Emporia, Kansas, to speak to several groups on the occasion of Veteran’s Day and will call for our citizens to honor all those who have served and assist them in being a part of the solution to our national challenges.
September 19th, 2011 - by L. Vance Taylor
With cameras rolling, lights blaring and an intent audience before me, I took to the stage at FEMA’s National Recovery and Resiliency Exercise Conference last Wednesday, ready to rock that crowd. That is until an ordinary-looking 23-year-old guy named Dakota Meyer grabbed the microphone and shook me (and everyone else in the room) to my core. This Mr. “Ordinary” is a decent-looking blond dude, but like each of us, it’s what he’s got on the inside that makes his story exceptional. He drove into battle to save his fellow soldiers, saving lives and winning the Medal of Honor in the process.
By Frank J. Cilluffo & Sharon L. Cardash
Given the flurry of recent cyber attacks and the significant attention these issues have generated of late, we had high expectations for a forward-leaning DoD Cyber Strategy. Unfortunately we were underwhelmed.