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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.”


The Afghan Mini-Surge Has a Strategy Deficit

After prolonged internal debate, the Donald Trump administration seems to be nearing a decision on how to proceed in America’s long war in Afghanistan. Trump’s military advisers -- along with his national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster -- are said to be pushing a plan to send several thousand additional troops into that conflict. Can this “mini-surge” succeed? It all depends on how success is defined. If the goal is to decisively turn the tide of the war and force the Taliban to make peace, then the answer will almost certainly be "no." Yet if the administration seeks more modest but still meaningful goals in Afghanistan, a mini-surge may do the trick.

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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.

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‘Rebuild’ or Hype?

When they do, they will force even harder choices in a budget that will almost surely be smaller than Trump wants. Since military pay and benfits are not likely to be reduced, appropriators will have to once again offload onto war accounts programs unrelated to war and, secondly, tap accounts slated for operations and maintenance of equipment and facilities — the crux of readiness. “At some point, it’s a zero-sum game,” says Katherine Blakeley, a defense budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.