From: defense...@gove-media.com
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Sent: 11/25/2014 8:36:06 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj:  The D Brief: An American released from Yemen; All the reasons why 
Hagel wasn’t  fired; WH Friendly Fire; Needing a journo on the Pentagon’s 
wall; Twitter  problems for the AF; And a bit more.

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(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7Eg^c7Bq^oDa)     November 
25,  2014         
By  Gordon Lubold with Ben Watson 
Overnight: A  person identified as a U.S. service member or  "military 
expert" was released along with other  hostages from Yemen this morning. A 
senior  defense official told The D Brief this morning it was  too soon to say 
anything about the individual released  being a uniformed service member or a 
contractor, but  that Pentagon officials were trying to gather more  facts. 
AP called the individual a "foreigner":  "…The committee did not identify 
the  foreigner's nationality, though a security official  told The Associated 
Press that the expatriate worked  as a military adviser at the al-Annad 
base, where  American and European officials help Yemen battle the  country's 
local al-Qaida local branch through drone  strikes and logistical support.    
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The official, speaking on condition of anonymity  because he was not 
authorized to brief journalists,  said the raid was carried out with U.S. 
logistical  support and that the militants have tried several  times to attack 
air base." More  _here._ 
BBC: "A group of seven  Yemenis and a US military expert who were taken  
hostage by a group linked to al-Qaeda have been freed  by Yemeni Special 
Forces, a local security source has  told the BBC. 
The eight were captured in Lahij province in  southern Yemen. 
Seven kidnappers were reported to have killed in  the overnight operation. 
Scores of people have been  kidnapped in Yemen in recent years, by tribesmen 
for  ransom, and more recently by Islamist militants as  part of their 
insurgency. More  _here._ 
>From Al Jazeera: "…The  Pentagon said in 2012 that the United States had  
resumed on-the-ground military training aimed at  bolstering Yemen's fight 
against al-Qaeda following a  suspension of such help during a period of 
intense  political upheaval." More _here._ 
Meantime, Hagel's perceived weakness served  as a fig leaf for a White 
House determined to show  that it was shaking up its national security 
 Just 21 months into his tenure, Defense  Secretary Chuck Hagel was 
unceremoniously fired at a  brief White House ceremony yesterday in what 
to a surprise move that in other ways wasn't a  surprise. 
The WaPo's David Ignatius had signaled  that Obama was looking to shake 
things up  on his national security staff more than  a month ago, but it was 
unclear if Hagel would become  the sacrificial lamb. Indeed, Hagel remained 
loyal  and, while not loudly distinguishing himself as  Secretary, had had no 
major stumbles, had tried to  assert himself on Middle East war policy and 
had just  hired a new chief of staff, Rexyon Ryu, in August.  Just last week, 
he unveiled a vision for the  Pentagon. 
But in many ways, it was not a surprise  at all that he was forced to 
resign. The  White House has been scrambling for solutions for  turmoil in the 
Middle East, trying to find a strategy  that at least appears to be addressing 
the problem  while maintaining President Obama's political pledge  at home 
to keep "combat boots" out of the fight. That  may become impossible, but 
Hagel was viewed by the  White House as unable to find those politically  
palatable solutions that in fact may not exist. 
Hagel initiated a conversation with  Obama before Halloween. In total, 
there  were three conversations with the President, all  one-on-one, we're told 
by a senior defense official,  but no conclusions were drawn until last 
week. On  Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough  came to the 
Pentagon – most uncommon for even  low-level White House staffers – and met 
with Hagel,  and the decision was finally made for Hagel to  "resign." For the 
small number of Pentagon officials  who knew it was coming, Friday and the 
weekend were  spent planning Monday's announcement, which was leaked  to the 
New York Times just in time for the 11:10 a.m.  ceremony with Obama, Hagel 
and Biden. 
Obama is often criticized for trying to  be president of a world he wants, 
not the world he  has, to bastardize a Rumsfeld line. And  he hired Hagel 
for that job – and to make the Pentagon  seen and not heard. But then the 
world changed, and  the former Army sergeant was in the White House's  
crosshairs. The WaPo's Greg Jaffe and  Rajiv Chandrasekaran: "President Obama  
Chuck Hagel as defense secretary because he  wanted someone who would 
quietly implement the  administration's policy, avoid controversy and promote  
big, sweeping ideas. Hagel was forced to resign  Monday for being exactly 
that defense secretary."  More _here._ 
"White House Friendly Fire:"  Many in Washington see Obama's firing of  
Hagel as a short-term solution that fixes nothing and,  over the long term, 
comes back to bite the White  House. Underscoring that narrative is the poor 
way the  firing was thought to have been handled, and the  optics of Obama 
praising Hagel publicly yesterday as  his aides privately bashed the Secretary 
and made  clear he had been sacked. "Part of what we're all  soaking in 
right now is the disingenuousness of this  whole thing, the giddiness of the 
back-stabbing," one  former government official and a Hagel supporter told  The 
D Brief. 
"To handle it this way is tawdry, it's  unseemly," said the individual. 
"That's  not to say the guy's perfect, because who could  be?" 
Joe Biden's face at the White House  ceremony yesterday seemed to say it 
all  – The Vice President appeared to take no  pleasure in Hagel's departure 
and indeed seemed  visibly upset. 
The reasons why Hagel was let go are  hard to square since there was no one 
 reason given and administration officials struggled to  put their finger 
on it. To most people inside and  outside the national security community 
there was  consensus that his departure, which won't occur for  another couple 
months at least, is a "head scratcher."  And unless National Security 
Adviser Susan Rice or  Chief of Staff McDonough also depart, singling out  
seemed to another former government official  like a "not very kind approach 
to dealing with  secretary that wasn't always up to snuff." 
The midterms didn't cause the  departure: The election wasn't about  
national security or foreign policy, so canning Hagel  addressed no political 
issue on Capitol Hill – indeed,  it's seen as making it worse, multiple 
officials  said. 
Hagel's perceived incompetence in the  end wasn't an issue, either. Hagel  
wasn't necessarily beloved, and he would never have  gone down in history as 
a strong Defense Secretary.  But he was also widely seen as an honest 
broker trying  to do the business of the Pentagon. And as he often  said, he 
wanted to leave the Department in better  shape than he found it. "I just don't 
buy the  competence stuff," said one government official. "I  don't buy that 
there was some problem." 
Strategy differences were not clearly a  problem: There were no substantive 
 strategy differences, necessarily, between the White  House and the 
Defense Secretary. But in sending a  pointed memo about Middle East policy to 
National  Security Advisor Susan Rice this fall – arguably  asserting himself 
a national security process that  was considered incoherent – Hagel may 
have pushed the  White House too far. 
Small 'p' politics: The  decision to let Hagel go is, to many, a reflection 
of  the broken process of the national security  infrastructure at the 
White House, characterized  widely as being indecisive and given to  
micromanagement. And Obama's close advisers saw Hagel  as an easy scapegoat. 
The crux 
of this issue is found  in the process at the "Principals Committee" where  
Hagel found top-level decision making to be lacking in  crispness. "The PC 
process is not as tight," as it has  been under previous chiefs of staff, said 
one  government official. 
Perhaps the real reason why he didn't  get to keep the job was because, as 
one  Pentagon observer noted wryly, he never got to sit at  the Kook Kids 
Table at the White House – they wouldn't  let him in – in a way that 
similarly felled another  military leader, James Jones, the retired four-star,  
he was National Security Advisor in the early  years of the Obama 
So who's replacing Hagel anyway as  Obama's fourth SecDef—Ash  Carter and 
Michele Flournoy, but we're tossing in a  few other names, including Air 
Force Secretary Debbie  James, Deputy SecDef Bob Work and Jack Reed even  
he's made it pretty clear he doesn't want it.  Defense One's own Ben Watson 
briefly profiled  those candidates said to be in the running, _here._ 
Our story in Foreign Policy about Chuck  Hagel and Ash Carter, last year: 
"Two's a Crowd at the  Pentagon," (behind an FP paywall) _here_ 
(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7Ehqc7Bq^oDa) .   
The Big Three's editorial pages took a dim  view of Obama's move.  
"Ground Up Chuck": The  WSJ Editorial Page: "Chuck Hagel wasn't our  
favorite to run the Pentagon, but it speaks volumes  about this 
national security  decision-making that even he turned out to be too  
independent for the job." Read the rest  _here._ 
"A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel":  "[Hagel] was not the core of the Obama  
administration's military problem. That lies with the  president and a national 
security policy that has too  often been incoherent and shifting at a time 
of  mounting international challenges, especially in Iraq,  Syria and 
"New face, fresh ideas:  The WaPo this morning: "If the  resignation of 
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel augurs a  move by President Obama to shake up his 
national  security team and reconsider his strategy in crisis  areas such 
as Syria and Ukraine, then it will be  welcomed. So far, there's not much 
sign of it." 
FYI-ing: The yays and nays of the roll  call for Hagel's confirmation, Feb. 
26, 2013,  _here._ 
In Defense One:  The resignation is about Obama,  not Hagel. Lawmakers 
wasted no time pinning  the Hagel resignation on the policies of a failing  
president in Barack Obama. Molly O'Toole writes in  Defense One: "Hagel, a 
former senator from  Nebraska, was the only Republican in Obama's  cabinet... 
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the expected  incoming Armed Services Committee 
chairman, said Hagel  was taking the fall for White House failures.  
'Ultimately, the president needs to  realize that the real source of his 
failures  on national security more often lie with  his administration's 
policies and the role  played by his White House in devising and 
implementing  them. That is the real change we need right now…'" 
Recurring theme:  Mac Thornberry, the incoming  chair of the House Armed 
Services, said he's worried  about the White House micro-managing: "…Just  a 
few days ago at the Reagan Defense Forum, former  Secretaries of Defense 
Robert Gates and Leon Panetta  were quite explicit in describing the 
micromanagement  of our military by White House staffers and the damage  it is 
doing to 
our security. Secretary Hagel's  successor must be a person who is strong 
enough to  stand up against such attempts, who is willing to  speak up for 
our men and women in uniform, and who is  prepared to advocate for what it 
takes for them to  succeed in the missions they are  assigned." 
Buck McKeon, the outgoing chairman of  the HASC: "The Obama administration 
is  now in the market for their fourth Secretary of  Defense," McKeon said. 
"When the president goes  through three secretaries, he should ask 'is it 
them,  or is it me?'" Read the rest of O'Toole's  story _here._ 
In Defense One:  While the defense community  catches its breath following 
the Hagel announcement  (more below), the larger, inevitable question  of 
how to defeat ISIS in Syria looms over an Obama  administration whose chorus 
of critics are increasing  impatient with the current strategy. Senior fellow 
 at the Council on Foreign Relations and _Defense  One contributor Gayle 
Tzemach Lemmon  writes_ 
(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7Eh6c7Bq^oDa) : "Several 
people inside and  outside the administration tell 
Defense One  that moderate Syrian rebel forces feel let down by the  West, 
which has yet to articulate a coherent strategy  or match resources to their 
rhetoric when it comes to  supporting Syrian moderates. That lack of  
resources, they say, has increased ISIS's appeal as  the blood-soaked Syrian 
war grinds on into a  stalemate…" Said retired Lt. Gen. David  Barno, now a 
senior fellow at the Center for a New  American Security: "This is much more 
of a long-term  management and containment problem then 'let's find  away 
to defeat and destroy ISIS.' I don't see that  happening—and I don't see that 
happening without a  long-term commitment of American military power…" 
ISIS may have pulled in as much as $45  million in ransom payments this 
past year, a UN expert  said yesterday. AP, _here._ 
Not so social media:  An administration official  trolled Sen. McCain 
yesterday, pointing out  numerous times the Arizona senator was none too  
with Hagel's SecDef nomination back in  February 2013. WaPo's Dan Lamothe 
with more from White  House spokesman Eric Schultz' Twitter  feed,_  here._ 
Welcome to Tuesday's edition of The D  Brief, Defense One's new, first-read 
national  security newsletter. If you like what you see and you  want us to 
subscribe a friend or colleague, we're very  happy to do that. Subscribe 
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(mailto:glub...@defenseone.com)   or just hit reply to this email and we'll put 
you on  the list. Please 
send us your tips, your tidbits, your  scoops and stories, your think tank 
reports and best  of all your candy, but send it to us early  for maximum 
tease. And  whatever you do, we hope you'll follow us @glubold and  
The D Brief is supposed to arrive in your  inbox around 8 a.m. If for some 
reason it  appears in your email much later than that, please let  us know. 
This from Defense One's Marcus  Weisgerber on the DoD budget and Hagel's 
departure:  Despite Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's  pending departure from 
the Pentagon, do not expect a  major shift in DOD funding priorities, analysts 
say.  "There isn't a lot of time for a new SecDef to  implement major new 
changes that are different than  current program priorities and policies," 
Byron Callan  with Capital Alpha Partners said in a note to  investors Monday 
morning. The Pentagon's 2016 budget  proposal -- the last spending plan the 
Obama  administration will build, submit to Congress and then  defend on 
Capitol Hill -- is largely complete and  planning for 2017 does not begin until 
next year. Work  is overseeing much of the Pentagon's long-term budget  and 
technology innovation initiatives. 
France suspends its Mistral warship deal  with the Kremlin, citing tensions 
in Ukraine,  but Paris still stopped short of canceling what would  be the 
largest arms deal with Russia by a NATO member.  AP, _here._ 
The Hagel news, which later became buried  by the grand jury decision in 
Ferguson, also muted any  impact of the weekend news that Obama had quietly  
expanded combat operations into 2015 in Afghanistan.  Mother Jones, _here._ 
The BBC got rare access to the U.S.  military's hunt for Joseph Kony in 
Uganda.  Watch that _here._ 
You want him on that wall, you need him on  that wall. On the Pentagon's 
E-Ring wall  hangs a set of portraits containing the  black-and-white images 
of the Pentagon press corps,  the reporters who regularly cover the building. 
But  the WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum's pic suddenly disappeared.  Why? Cuz 
Pentagon officials thought he was off the  beat, hadn't been around in awhile. 
True, but with  good reason. He's been traveling on book leave. When  this was 
pointed out, Pentagon officials put his  picture right back up on the wall. 
You can see  Nissenbaum's pic (so serious!) in a desk outbox  _here_ 
(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7E|^c7Bq^oDa)   and then 
in place on the wall, _here_ 
(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7E|yc7Bq^oDa) . 
Truman Project Executive Editor Mike  Breen on the Iran nuclear 
negotiations and the missed  deadline, in a statement: "Keeping Iran  from 
acquiring a 
nuclear weapon is of central  importance to American security. Achieving 
this goal  through tough diplomacy, while avoiding another war in  the Middle 
East, remains difficult but possible.  Today's extension shows that the U.S. 
and the  international community remain committed to these  goals." 
Twitter troubles:  In an issue that's quietly become a public matter for  
the Air Force, it's own public affairs director has  come under scrutiny for 
what's been described  as an errant retweet on Saturday. The "RT" at issue  
corralled Brig. Gen. Kathleen Cook into the  immigration debate in America 
at an inconvenient time  for an Air Force that's aiming to clean up it's 
image.  Stephen Losey for Air Force  Times: "On Friday evening, Cook's  
Twitter account retweeted Fox News anchor  Megyn Kelly. Kelly's tweet 
quoted Fox News digital  politics editor Chris Stirewalt as saying 'The  
president has decided that the last two years of his  term are going to be a 
disaster.' The tweet also  included the hashtags #ImmigrationAction and  
 In a Monday statement to Air  Force Times, Cook said that she was on  
leave Friday and not on Twitter… [Air Force spokesman  Lt. Col. Christopher 
Karns] said that Cook typically  tweets from a computer, not a phone, though he 
understands her phone has the capability to run  Twitter. Karns said Cook 
does not have a second  personal Twitter account." Read the rest _here._ 
The VA just fired its hospital chief in  charge of the troubled Phoenix 
system that blew the  lid off the wait list scandal in April. AP's  Matthew 
Daly, _here._ 
ICYMI: Senate  Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders,  I-Vt., 
announced Monday afternoon he wants  Congress to double the period during 
which the VA  provides unrestricted health care for veterans after  they leave 
the military, from 5 to 10 years. Defense  One's Molly O'Toole says Sanders 
will be using the  remaining few days of the session in Congress to pass  
legislation addressing military suicides—a topic  O'Toole _dove  into at length 
(http://gove-media.com/portal/wts/ugmcfObkk9ebbzjr2cr7E|-c7Bq^oDa) . "The 
suicide rate,  especially among young veterans, is tragically high 
 and we have to do everything we can to lower it,"  Sanders said Monday. 
Also on Monday:  Gen. Ray Odierno's regionally aligned forces concept  has 
brought the 1st Cav to Europe, where the top Army  general said he needs 
more tanks. U.S. Army  Europe's commander, Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges,  
said he wants two additional armored battalions to  help reinforce the 
Baltics. Jeff Schogol for Army  Times: "'Most common actually is that they 
be a mix, where you would have maybe eight tanks and  four or five Bradley 
vehicles in it,' Hodges said, 'In  terms of size, that's what I would be  
thinking about in Lithuania or Estonia or Latvia,  would be a company of those 
kind of  vehicles that would be here so a unit  could fall in on it. But it 
may turn out that we want  to have the whole battalion in one place centrally 
 located and it would then move around.'" More  _here._ 
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