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Navy identifies aircraft carrier midlife refueling as LCS budget offset

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told ITN June 8 the Navy could send Congress a letter describing the budget offset but, because Congress has its own appropriation and authorization processes, it does not need an amended budget. "Congress gets to decide what to buy and how," he continued. "In effect, the budget is just a recommendation to Congress, so they could add a LCS using [Overseas Contingency Operations] funds or another offset."

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How to Fast-Track to an Improved Navy

“This was a very focused excursion into how we could do better with what we already have with modest adjustments in the next few years,” said Bryan McGrath, one of the co-authors of a recent fleet architecture study conducted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “I was grateful to see that group of smart people had looked very hard at the near-term horizon. There are a world of things we can do in the next few years that are interesting and can have impact.”  But McGrath noted that “there’s a considerable amount of diplomacy to be done to make those things happen,” referring to the multiple forward-basing proposals. He also brought up another issue.  “There has to be a reason why, a sense of urgency, compelling reasons to force the Navy and Congress to make these adjustments,” McGrath observed. “But that compelling narrative has not been created, and no one is out preaching it. I know in my heart there is one.  “I think Admiral MIller’s team makes a very useful contribution that when a compelling narrative arrives that makes these things important, they will be useful first steps, and relatively straightforward to implement. But without that narrative it’s going to be difficult to pull off.”

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Bad Vetting

The government has taken some new steps to combat the problem of leaking since Snowden. Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and the think tank’s security officer, noted that the Defense Department had implemented a new “Insider Threat” program over the last year, “partly because most of the major releases of classified material in the past few years were from insiders who were careless or who sought political or monetary gains." Organizations such as the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, which receive security clearances from the government, have their own program run by an Insider Threat Program Senior Official that provides training for all personnel who are given clearances on indicators to watch for and how to report concerns, Clark said. “The rationale behind this new approach is just doing clearance investigations every five to ten years may not be enough to identify changes that make someone vulnerable to espionage, or make them more likely to illegally or accidentally release classified information,” Clark said in an email. “We now train everyone in the organization [since 2016] to be on the lookout for things like significant indebtedness, major life changes, recent financial windfalls, foreign contacts, etc. that could indicate someone is at risk.” “We also train folks to watch out for actions like excessive printing of classified documents, accessing secured containers and vaults outside of normal working hours, etc. that could suggest someone is accessing or creating materials for unauthorized purposes,” he added. “If someone may be a security risk, the security manager or officer could restrict their access until their situation is reviewed. 

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Trump-Comey Feud Eclipses a Warning on Russia: ‘They Will Be Back’

Eric S. Edelman, who was an under secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, said Russian information warfare capabilities were highly developed. “In the Cold War, the Soviet efforts in this regard were ham-handed and could be countered with relative ease,” he said. “Today, the Russians are much more sophisticated, and they see things like disinformation, propaganda and what we used to call ‘active measures’ as part of a suite of capabilities.”

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NAVSEA Boss: Mothballed Ships Not a Major Factor in Fleet Buildup

Bringing back inactive ships is an incredibly expensive process and wouldn't give the Navy a lot of utility in return, said Bryan Clark, a retired Navy officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.  "You could do that but what you'd get is essentially a frigate, capable of low-end missions. What you're not getting is a lot of capability — it's not going to be a ballistic missile defense shooter on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean."

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US Likely to Keep Thousands of Troops in Post-ISIS Iraq

In addition, some US think-tanks have backed a continued US troop presence in Iraq. A report by the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments called for the presence of 5,000-20,000 US troops in Post-ISIS Iraq to ensure that another ISIS-like insurgency does not emerge.