Tag Archives: military

PLAYLIST: Highlights from chief of naval operations nominee Admiral John M. Richardson’s Senate confirmation hearing

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

WASHINGTON — Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Director Adm. John M. Richardson about sexual assault in the Navy, combat integration for Navy SEALs, acquisitions, modernization and more at a Thursday hearing to consider his nomination as chief of naval operations.

If confirmed, Richardson will succeed current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

Check out our playlist for soundbites from the hearing, and feel free to download, repost or embed them to help you with your own national-security coverage, whether you’re reporting on the current batch of DoD leadership nominations, more specific issues discussed in the clips or a more general Navy beat.


Air Force Chief of Staff: Cyber involvement can boost mission precision

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

WASHINGTON – The cyber domain can give the Air Force unprecedented control over the way it carries out its missions, United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said at an event Wednesday.

Speaking to a group of active-duty military personnel, civilian defense insiders and journalists, Welsh likened the Air Force’s expansion into the cyber realm to its prior addition of space to its command repertoire, saying its cyber involvement is meant to complement – rather than replace – its primary-domain activities.

But despite the shift, Welsh said the cyber playing field gives the Air Force a two-fold precision advantage in mission execution by improving the reach of the missions and the control over the scope of attacks.

“We have access through the cyber domain to targets that we couldn’t get to before,” he said.

Cyber gives the Air Force the option to deactivate sections of networks or communication chains compared with wiping them out completely, he said.

He also noted that cyber attacks are easier and more precise than dropping “a very precise weapon that has 500 pounds of TNT in it.”

“There’s nothing precise about that,” Welsh said.

Welsh acknowledged that government cyber professionals are wary of Defense Department involvement in the cyber sector “because DoD brings blunt-force trauma to everything” by virtue of its size and “heavy footprint.”

The forum was sponsored by Defense One and Northrop Grumman.

Listen to Gen. Welsh in conversation with DefenseOne reporter Marcus Weisgerber on cyber and the Air Force here:

Making the grade: Expert tips for covering veteran education

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

WASHINGTON — Veteran education is a perennially urgent issue for members of the United States military.

In order to raise awareness about barriers to veteran education and initiatives being undertaken to improve it, National Louis University and Student Veterans of America joined forces to host March 26’s “Improving Veteran Education Symposium” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

There, the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative spoke with two expert panelists (who also happen to be veterans themselves) to get the inside scoop on how the media can do a better job of covering veteran education.

Advice from Megan Everett, Northwestern University alum, Program Officer of the Veterans Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and United States Navy veteran:

  • Put higher education institutions who are dropping the ball when it comes to serving veterans on blast in order to pressure them to step their games up.
    • Indicators to watch:
      • Does the school have staff members explicitly dedicated to serving veterans?
        • “We have certifying officials that work to certify the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and do some financial aid work, but there’s no person who has ‘veteran’ in their title,” Everett said of Northwestern University, where she is currently working to improve the state of veterans’ resources on campus.
      • Do veterans have dedicated physical spaces on campus?
      • Does the school have a functional veteran service group?
      • Other data points and factors to keep an eye on
        • Veteran student recruiting
        • Veteran student retention
        • Utilization of veteran student skill sets

Advice from David Goldich, Senior Consultant at Gallup and United States Marine Corps veteran:

  • Don’t assume that very veteran’s experience is identical or make instant extrapolations about the entire military community based on a single person’s story.
    • “Realize that it’s not a monolith; it’s a mosaic, when you’re talking about veterans or the military,” he explained during the post-panel Q&A. He advised reporters to recognize how differences in areas such as military branch, employment status, gender, levels of physical ability and more impact individual experience.
  • “Connect the dots” and move from merely looking at veteran graduation rates to an analysis of “what works for who [sic] and why.”
    • “No one’s talking to each other,” he explained. “Everyone’s measuring their little own slice of the block—pie. They’ve got blinders.”
  • Questions to ask:
    • Does education lead to an improved quality of life
    • Does education lead to better employment?
    • What identifiable indicators led people to pursue higher education after their military service?
    • Find “thematic connections” between different stages of a veteran student’s life to better understand the stories behind different veteran outcomes.

The Veteran Student Continuum

#NatSecSoundoff: Sen. Kelly Ayotte demands service-by-service update on the war against military sexual assault

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory
U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn, U.S. Navy Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer and U.S. Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness and Management  Support on March 25, 2015. (Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory/MEDILL NSJI)

U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn, U.S. Navy Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer and U.S. Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support on March 25, 2015. (Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory/MEDILL NSJI)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked top U.S. military brass for an update on the current status of military sexual assault cases within the armed forces in a Senate hearing Wednesday.

The hearing, hosted by the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, focused on the current state of U.S. military readiness, especially under the influence of sequestration.

Those who gave testimony included U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn, U.S. Navy Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer and U.S. Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton.

Ayotte, chairwoman of the subcommittee, said that she would be remiss if she didn’t take time during the hearing’s question and answer period to ask for such a status report from the senior leaders of the four military branches.

The four witnesses each gave a description of how their respective service was working to combat the problem of sexual assault in the military.

Listen to each of their responses:

United States Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn:

United States Navy Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard:

United States Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton:

United States Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer:

What do you think of the officers’ responses? Are they consistent with your own research and reporting on sexual assault in the military? Sound off on Twitter by tweeting to @NatSecZone with the hashtag #NatSecSoundoff.

SOCOM Commander: Serving Special Ops members and families, readiness among most important storylines for coming year

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

WASHINGTON – U.S. Special Operations Command’s dedication to providing resources to its members and their families is “perhaps the most important” story that needs to be told by military journalists writing about Special Operations forces, said Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of SOCOM, in an interview Wednesday.

After testifying before the House Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee about the SOF’s posture ahead of the creation of his command’s FY16 budget, Votel underscored this loyalty as a vital thread in SOF’s current story.

“Combat deployments come along with a lot of stress and a lot of invisible challenges,” he said in an interview. “We are very attuned to those and we are focused on those to make sure that we are doing the very best things we can for our people and their families to have those things offered.”

Votel’s testimony highlighted the burden that repeated deployments since 2001 has taken on SOCCOM’s uniformed and civilian ranks, as well as their families.

Other SOCOM storylines he said he’d like to see explored by the press are special operations’ contributions to supporting America’s objectives in areas where it is currently engaged, its future-minded approach to readiness and its capability to handle “very, very complex missions.”

“We want people to understand that SOF is ready to do the missions the nation requires,” he said in the interview. According to Votel’s testimony, special operations forces capabilities are uniquely tailored for gray-zone operations, which he described as existing “between normal international competition and open conflict.”

When asked what forms of nonmonetary support he felt SOCOM might need – since talk of the sequester’s impact on the military was a primary theme of his testimony – Votel stressed the importance of government funding of other service branches to SOCOM’s success.

“If there was one more dollar, we should give it to the services,” he said in the interview. “We are dependent upon the services to help us accomplish our mission, and, so, I would like to… make sure they’re taken care of, because I’m very dependent on them.”

In his testimony, Votel said SOCOM is “absolutely dependent upon” the other services for “mission support.”

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) Michael D. Lumpkin echoed this concept in his congressional testimony, telling the subcommittee that “the changing nature of the threats we face today demands SOF attention and engagement through agile authorities that enable us to remain ahead of our adversaries.” Increased authorities, Lumpkin testified, result in increased capabilities.

Votel also told the subcommittee that he is concerned about international cyber and social-media-based threats to U.S. national security during his Congressional testimony, a point which could also be a compelling angle from which to report on SOF.

Watch the full hearing here:

To help you glean even more story ideas, check out Votel’s and Lumpkin’s submitted written testimonies from the hearing below.

Gen. Votel’s testimony:

ASD SO/LIC Michael D. Lumpkin’s testimony:

Military gear caches at the local level

By SB Anderson

New York Times today published a great interactive resource for finding out how militarized your local police departments have become, courtesy of Washington. http://nyti.ms/1t2BM79

NYT military gear interactive map

Click for interactive map showing surplus military gear local departments have gotten from Washington.

UPDATED 8/18 MuckRock.com has handy links to state totals for 1033 distribution, by item type, from 2011 thorough March 2013. While the data doesn’t break down by department level, that MuckRock post has a link to a spreadsheet that shows agencies in your state (although not what they received). MuckRock said it has filed a FOIA request for expanded data.

And the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has some interesting tables, including state breakdowns on value of the surplus property by sworn officer. Alabama is No. 1, at $10,000 per officer, compared to Hawaii, in last place, at $161.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Homeland security grants at work protecting pumpkin festivals, Easter egg hunts and spring training games.

And finally, John Oliver’s take last night on police militarization.