Archive for the 'intelligence' Tag

CompanyWe are a Navy at war. The war we are in is not a conventional war, but it is one nonetheless. It is a war that relies heavily on intelligence.

Irrespective who or where you wish to place the blame, can anyone be even remotely comfortable with this timeline?

After Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) expressed her displeasure of the ongoing situation during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Mabus explained that when Branch’s name came up in 2013 in connection to the Glenn Defense Marine Asia bribery case, he chose to pull Branch’s clearance out of an abundance of caution with the understanding that Branch would either be cleared or charged within the coming weeks.

“So by the early fall, September 2014, I decided that we had to nominate a successor, which we did, but because of intervening events that nomination did not appear until last fall,” Mabus continued. In September 2015, Rear Adm. Elizabeth Train was nominated as Branch’s replacement.

Let’ review the timeline:

NOV 2013: Clearance of VADM Branch pulled.

SEP 2014: 10 months – Decision to replace VADM Branch.

SEP 2015: 22 months – Relief identified by name.

MAR 2016: 28 months – Still no action.

Has there been a sense of urgency from the very top? Ownership of the problem? Priority rack-n-stack?

“At the same time the nomination appeared, we had a new chief of naval operations who rightfully wanted to make sure that flag officers were in positions of the best skill sets and the best qualifications,” he continued.

Since Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson took command in September 2015, there has been no further word on Branch’s future in the Navy or his potential replacements.

“I’ve been checking with Gen. (James) Clapper, the head of national intelligence, to ask him if there was any degradation of naval intelligence, any concern about how we’re operating or the quality of information that we are gathering or how we are processing that. And I have been assured that there’s not,” Mabus said.

His two deputies, each of whom has more than 30 years of experience, have handled the classified information, Mabus said.

So, SECNAV’s implication is that he has punted the question of if a VADM with no security clearance can run and serve as the leader of the world’s largest naval intelligence organization to a subordinate – and being that there has been no action in half a year – he thinks that all is fine? That the SECNAV has no opinion if this is having any impact? That, in 28 months, the organization is doing just fine with a leader who cannot attend meetings, read message traffic, attend briefings, or evaluate projects in work or in development?

Does that not beg the question – then why on Earth do we need to fill that billet in the first place?

28 months.

“When I was informed in late 2013 that Adm. Branch was possibly connected to the GDMA case, I thought because of his position I should remove his clearance in an excess of caution. I was also told — assured — at that time that a decision would be made in a very short time – in a matter of weeks, I was told – as to whether he was involved and what would be the disposition of the case,” Mabus explained.

“We continued to check on that over and over and over again and got nothing.”

The so-called Fat Leonard investigation is still ongoing today, two and a half years later.

OK. So we are, the entire organization, content being subject to the IG’s sloth-like progress?

What else has been done on the same timeline?


DEC 1941: Pearl Harbor
10 Month Mark: OPERATION TORCH Invasion force underway
22 Month Mark: Forces reach Voturno River in the invasion of Italy
28 Month Mark: D-Day invasion 2 months away

Development of the atomic bomb from US entry in to WWII:

10 Month Mark: Manhattan project 2 months old
22 Month Mark: Oppenheimer appointed head of Manhattan Project
28 Month Mark: First Plutonium sample produced.

What harm is the delay? There is the harm to our nation and its navy. There is harm to the SECNAV who is forced to seem hapless to his own organization’s Ottoman level of bureaucratic inadequacies. There is harm to a US Navy Vice Admiral who for 2.5 years has been denied justice – forced to live under a cloud that has brought in to question his decades of service, and unquestionably has not only permanently degraded his professional life, but his personal life as well.

Who will be held to account if the assumption of innocence is validated? If charged, at what price?

Either way, if there is no action taken from the Navy Yard to The Hill to address this blot of a process, no one will be in a position to wonder why subordinates hold orders and our legal/IG/NJP system in contempt.

To shrug your shoulders and say, “That’s just how it is.”, is to be part of the problems, not the solution.

602The modern age has not just made the world flat, it has made it transparent. Just as the internet lowered the barriers to entry in the areas of reporting and commentary from everything from pet cats to grand strategy, so too has it changed the ability of military forces to move with any degree of confidence that they can control who knows where they are when.

A great example of this real-time OSNIT has been around for centuries, but what has changed is the timeline has moved from weeks to instantaneous. If there is an IP connection, you are being watched in real time. No way to block it – you just have to live with it.

For Mr Guvenc, 51, and a group of four friends, the parade of military hardware through their city is irresistible. Sipping coffee from a stunning balcony with a panoramic view of the channel, they explain that the photographs they share online are pored over by military strategists and analysts around the world.

“Usually these ships are out of sight. We don’t know what they are doing,” explains Devrim Yaylali, 45, an economist who has been spotting ships for nearly 30 years. “The Bosphorus or the port is the only place you can see them.”

His friend Yoruk Isik, 45, an international affairs consultant, chips in: “Here, you can be in Starbucks with an espresso and a ship is literally 250 metres away.” The sharp bends and strong currents in the channel means that the boats must slow right down to manoeuvre, making them easy to photograph. “There’s no other place on earth where you can capture them so well.”

That is the easiest way to do, but it applies world wide. Sure, you can sneak B-2 in to Diego Garcia, if you wanted to. Are you going to be able to hide a large scale movement anywhere else?

Real time video is no longer a competitive advantage that we have. It is quickly becoming a global commodity.

Smartphones, drones, commercial imaging satellites, and just the byproduct of a much more populated, connected, and vigilant world; we are all under the all-seeing eye. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

There are some positives to this. You have more effect with well positioned presence ops, feints, or for the highly sophisticated – “gaslighting” the enemy so their OODA loop becomes a mobius strip.

That last bit. That is the fun part. What isn’t fun is knowing that you have to assume that wherever you are, if you can see something besides water, even a small terrorist cell may know right where you are real time. Regardless of what you may or may not see, you may be seen anyway.

With Somali pirates attacking civilian shipping so far off the coast, is it any surprise they have an intelligence network? They certainly are making enough money to pay for valuable shipping information.

Fox News reported earlier today that Somali pirates are using “consultants” to help pick their targets. I guess consultants is the new term for someone more interested in personal financial gain than protecting the information entrusted to them and other people’s safety.

So, that’s one more area to defend, but also another avenue for attack. Identifying and incarcerating those responsible for leaking this vital information, thereby enabling the pirates, might be another step in reducing the pirates’ ability to locate potential targets.

Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence

Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence

Today, Dennis Blair had two responses to the Department of Justice release of Office of Legal Counsel records related to CIA interrogation techniques. The first response was directed to the press; the second was to the Intelligence Community workforce, and is available here: 2009-04-16-dni-memo-to-workforce-sl_004151.

There are more comments in the second piece, but the items missing from the press release are equally important, if not more so, for that audience as they are the IC workforce.

Three of the most significant omissions from the press release were:

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country.”

“…the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities to Executive Branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques.”


“Even in 2009 there are organizations plotting to kill Americans using terror tactics, and although the memories of 9/11 are becoming more distant, we in the intelligence service must stop them.”

Those are three significant facts/statements that were excluded from Blair’s press release. If they are the facts, the press (and U.S. citizens) needs to hear them…even if they don’t report them.