TOPIC: Meeting with Vietnamese President at Department of State
On Wednesday, staff attended a luncheon at the department of state held in honor of visiting Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. Secretary of State Kerry and President Sang both spoke of the tremendous progress the two countries have made toward normalization since the end of the Vietnam War. Cooperation on Key issues such as trade, security issues -- particularly with regard to China, MIA recovery, and human rights will likely guide the US-Vietnam relationship in the coming years.
The event was followed by a meeting at the White House with President Obama to discuss a range of issues from trade and commerce to military-to-military cooperation, to multilateral work on issues like disaster relief, to scientific and educational exchanges. They also discussed the ways in which through the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- or TPP -- both the United States and Vietnam are participating in what will be an extraordinarily ambitious effort to increase trade, commerce and transparency in terms of commercial relationships throughout the Asia Pacific region.
They discussed the challenges regarding human rights, and emphasized how the United States continues to believe that all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. They also had a candid conversation about both the progress that Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain.
The meeting culminated with a discussion of the issue of the East Sea. President Sang appreciates and welcomes the U.S. support for our stance in this matter, as well as the stance of ASEAN related to this particular matter, and expressed appreciation for the U.S. support to solving the matter by peaceful means in accordance with international law, DOC, and moving toward COC. He welcomed the United States’ support as well as other countries’ support in the matter in order to ensure peace, stability, prosperity not only in the East Sea but also in the Asia Pacific and the world at large.
President Sang, on behalf of the Vietnamese government extended to President Obama an invitation to visit Vietnam. President Obama accepted the invitation and stated he would try his best to pay a visit to Vietnam during his term.
Related Resolution: No. 79: Vietnam Human Rights
TOPIC: Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice
Staff attended a special Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington DC on Thursday night. The event was held in honor of Korean War veterans. Preceding the parade was a VIP reception held in The Home of the Commandants. It was part of several events being held this week to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
TOPIC: House Appropriations Panel Passes Defense Bill
The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee approved the defense spending bill on a voice vote Tuesday, moving forward the $608 billion legislation.
The bill was quickly approved in a closed-door session Tuesday morning, which is a near opposite to Wednesday’s markup of the defense authorization bill in the House Armed Services Committee, where a marathon session is expected with hordes of amendments.
The House appropriations bill budgets $519.2 billion for the base Pentagon budget and $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding.
The bill restores several weapons programs the Pentagon sought to cut in its budget request, including $278 million to keep the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones and cuts to $850 million to “pause” retirements and reassignments of National Guard and Reserve aircraft.
The bill’s funding is $3.5 billion higher than the top-line number approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning the two will likely need to reconcile the difference in conference committee.
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TOPIC: Services Continue Efforts to Open Combat Jobs for Women
The Defense Department continues working toward its goal of ensuring the mission is met with fully qualified and capable personnel, regardless of gender. DoD is proceeding in a measured, deliberate and responsible manner to implement changes that enable service members to serve in any capacity based on their ability and qualifications. Each service is conducting thorough doctrine, training, education, facilities and policy analyses to ensure deliberate and responsible implementation.
The goal is to integrate women leaders and soldiers into recently opened positions and units as expeditiously as possible. The first step is to validate the physical and mental performance standards for every military occupation. From there, a battery of tests will be developed to assess whether recruits are capable of achieving the standards of their potential occupation. Standards ultimately will become gender-neutral, though training for those standards may be different for men and women. Occupational training in the Marine Corps is gender-mixed, but in recognition of the need to train men and women differently, the transformation from recruit to Marine is gender-segregated.
The Air Force already has more than 99 percent of its positions open to both men and women. The Navy expects to have no closed occupations, a very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunity for females in every officer designator and enlisted rating by 2016, exceptions must be personally approved by both the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Army will select the best-qualified soldiers, regardless of gender, for each job within the Army profession, ensuring our future force capability and readiness.
DoD recognizes that there will be challenges along the way. Therefore, by addressing issues head-on, capitalizing on lessons learned and through open communication with Congress, they will institutionalize these important changes integrating women into occupations and units in a climate where they can succeed and flourish.
Related Resolution: No. 139: Military Occupational Specialty Standards:
TOPIC: American Troops involved in Syrian Civil Conflict
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey today called Syria “a human tragedy,” and said any military effort there must be tied together with diplomatic and economic instruments of power.
In his first public comment by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Syria since release of a letter detailing five military options in the civil war there, the chairman spoke to reporters covering his visit to a Polish air base hosting an American aviation detachment.
Responding to reporters’ questions, the general prefaced his remarks on Syria by saying it is one of the most complex issues he has studied in his 39 years of military service. “My job as a military leader is to provide options and then to make sure that the men and women whom we may ask to do it are ready to do what we ask them to do,” Dempsey said. “That’s my focus at this point.”
It is not just Americans who are concerned about the war in Syria, he noted. “The most convincing argument for everyone to be concerned about Syria is the tragedy that’s unfolding,” the general said.
More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the on-going conflict, according to the United Nations. U.N. officials said the Syrian civil war has led to the world’s worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees said that more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country and millions more have fled their homes, but are still in the nation.
“There is a compelling argument for the international community to sit up, take notice and try to contribute,” the general said.
The chairman said many people look to the military instrument as the first choice in an international crisis. This may be because “we are so well-organized, we are so agile and we are so well-trained,” he said.
“But before I would recommend a military solution to this issue, because of the complexity and the myriad actors that are involved, I would have to be convinced that the aftermath of military action would not lead to a failed state in which the suffering would be worse,” he said.
Dempsey emphasized he is not suggesting the international community do nothing about Syria. “I’m suggesting that we need a strategy to tie military options together with the other instruments of power to include the diplomatic and economic,” he said. Dempsey repeatedly has stated that ultimately, the decision to intervene militarily is one for elected leaders.
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1. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
This week the staff of the national security and foreign relations division attended a hearing by the House Subcommittee on Asia regarding the emerging cyber security war. Speakers included Phyllis Schneck, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Global Public Sector McAfee, Inc.; Mr. James Lewis, Director and Senior Fellow, Technology and Public Policy Program, Center for Strategic International Studies; and Mr. Karl Frederick Rauscher, Chief Technology Officer and Distinguished Fellow, EastWest Institute.
The discussion covered the threat landscape in Asia Pacific, attacks against South Korea, as demonstrated by Operation Troy, and recommended security solutions. From both a U.S. and world perspective, policy breakthroughs with Asia are essential for the safety, stability and security of cyberspace. Economic growth for both developed and developing countries is highly correlated with the use of information and communications technology. The United States is the leading innovator in cyberspace while China is the largest manufacturer of hardware systems, and India is a leading supplier of both software and networked services. Our mutual interdependence in cyberspace is profound. Cyberspace has inherent vulnerabilities - susceptibilities that are intrinsic to the ingredients that make it up. These intrinsic vulnerabilities cannot be removed. So the first order problem we face is our reliance on imperfect technology platforms. Society, businesses and governments have enthusiastically embraced the efficiencies of the applications we enjoy, and have been slow to accept the trade-offs. We are now facing the music.
The systems we use get their ‘power’ so to speak from their connectivity. Security is a secondary consideration. In other words, our systems, devices and applications are first networked to provide their value, and then “un-networked” to shield them from those we don’t want to access our information.
Just as hardware, software and networks are essential technology ingredients of cyberspace, so too is policy an essential ingredient. Policy, or more completely, Agreements, Standards, Policies and Regulations (ASPR), are vital for the reliable and secure operation of cyberspace. When so intimately and pervasively connected, as in cyberspace, entities, whether they be machines, individuals, companies or governments, need to be able to anticipate the behavior of other entities. When this anticipation is not tightly coordinated, unintentional or intentional harm can result. In cyberspace, malicious agents exploit, in particular, the lack of international coordination of behaviors -– more specifically, they exploit policies that should be there but are lacking, out-of-date, misinterpreted, unimplemented, mis-implemented, or otherwise failed. Thus, this is the situation for why, in my opinion, the policy category has risen to be the major cause behind unacceptable safety, stability and security in cyberspace
China’s primary concern with hacking, unlike that of the U.S., is internal. Thus any growth in hacking activity in the region first presents a concern for China’s government around insider attacks on its stability. However there has been a marked increase in attention dealing with the international concerns, and China is showing a heightened interest in cooperating internationally on the hacking issue. For example, China has new interest to cooperate on fighting crime in cyberspace. Thus the conditions are much improved for the newly commenced U.S.-China Security and Economic Dialogue.
2. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
This week the staff of the national security and foreign relations division attended a hearing by the House Subcommittee regarding the emerging resource war. Speakers included Mr. Edward C. Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Jeffrey Mankoff, Ph.D., Deputy Director and Fellow, Russia & Eurasian Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Brigadier General John Adams, USA, Retired, President, Guardian Six Consulting, LLC; and Mr. Neil Brown, Non-Resident Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States.
It is currently estimated that an average U.S. consumer’s lifestyle requires roughly 25,000 pounds of non-fuel minerals per year, requiring massive efforts to either extract or import these materials. Each year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquires nearly 750,000 tons of minerals for an array of defense and military functions. For example, tungsten, which is almost as hard as diamond, has the highest melting point of all non-alloyed metals, and is commonly used in turbine blades, missile nose cones, and other applications requiring exceptional heat resistance. Other minerals acquired are Rare earth elements (REEs) (some of which are used to fabricate permanent magnets), which maintain their magnetic fields even at high temperatures and are used in missile guidance and nearly every other small motor. Yet another example is palladium, which is part of the platinum metals group (PGMs), and is used in catalytic converters.
Despite possessing an estimated $6.2 trillion worth of key minerals reserves, the United States recently recorded a small surplus on the trade balance of raw mineral materials: it exported $9 billion and imported $8 billion of unprocessed minerals in 2012. However, the United States runs a de!cit of $27 billion on the balance of processed mineral materials because it exported $120 billion and imported $147 billion in 2012.3 In short, although the U.S. is self-sufficient in many minerals and has the chemical engineering know-how to process them, to some extent, it has chosen to rely on imports.
Access to many natural resources is largely a function of geography. Although different types of specialty metals face different levels of risk (as described below), PGMs are consistently classified as facing the highest risks. Global reserves are situated almost exclusively in South Africa, which is the only country possessing significant long-term production capability. Limited global production capacity is coupled with high and increasing demand for PGMs, leading to high, unstable prices. Any number of events could create temporary or protracted shortages of PGMs, the most likely of which being internal political and economic instabilities associated with the South African government. The geographic concentration of PGM reserves, the high potential for disruption to the primary global provider, and the scarcity imposed by heightened demand indicate an extreme risk of these metals becoming unavailable.
Many minerals already were labeled as critical and strategic in the early 1980s. Advanced technologies upon which our economy and national security depend are themselves heavily dependent on specialty metals and minerals. Nevertheless, over time the United States has become more dependent on imports of key minerals from countries with unstable political systems, corrupt leadership, or opaque business environments. Moreover, the countries themselves (notably, China) have taken a more aggressive posture towards mineral resources and now compete with Western mining operators for extraction control. The United States is not the only Western country that has increasingly ignored the economics of mineral extraction. Many electronic devices, green technology, and advanced weapon systems rely on a host of exotic chemical elements. An overarching strategy linking DoD with other government and industry stakeholders is imperative to address potential shortages before they impact U.S. national security.
Director, National Security / Foreign Relations Division