The US Army Is Struggling to Staff Its Cyber Units: GAO | Defense One

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The U.S. Army is struggling to staff, train, and equip its new cyber and electronic warfare units, and officials haven’t assessed how those challenges will affect the Pentagon’s digital capabilities, according to a congressional watchdog.

In recent years, the Army has been rapidly expanding its cyber capabilities to stay ahead of the growing digital threats posed by adversaries like Russia and China, but the Government Accountability Office found the service is having a tough time keeping up with its ambitious plans.

The Army activated two digital warfare units last year despite personnel shortages, auditors said, and officials are struggling to update the equipment and doctrine used to train soldiers.

Source: The US Army Is Struggling to Staff Its Cyber Units: GAO – Defense One

The US Just Launched a Long-Outlawed Missile. Welcome to the Post-INF World | Defense One


With the test-launch of a ground-based missile that flew more than 500 kilometers, the United States strode boldly into a future that past leaders had tried to avoid.

The missile was a “variant of the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile,” Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a DoD spokesman, told Military.com, launched by the U.S. Navy and DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office.

Source: The US Just Launched a Long-Outlawed Missile. Welcome to the Post-INF World – Defense One

Is the Afghanistan deal a good one?


I have been highly skeptical of this year’s peace talks, even though they have been led by the wily and wise Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (an Afghan-born American who was President George W. Bush’s envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations).

The Taliban’s abject unwillingness to meet with representatives of the elected and constitutionally-legitimated government of President Ashraf Ghani, together with the belief of the Taliban leadership that America wants out and will use the peace talks as a fig leaf to cover a retreat from the country, provided grounds for extreme caution.

President Trump’s announcement last December that he would soon cut the U.S. troop presence in the country in half, unconditionally and abruptly, was one of the two issues that apparently sparked the resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis — and revealed the president’s apparent true intentions about a mission he never really supported in the first place.

Source: Is the Afghanistan deal a good one?

Watchdog Group Tallies 2,310 Conflicts of Interest Associated With President Trump’s Businesses | Government Executive


A nonprofit group tallied 2,310 conflicts of interest stemming from President Trump’s unprecedented decision to retain a stake in his business properties since he took office in 2017.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a report Thursday that calculated the number of times the president visited his properties at taxpayers’ expense (362), the number of foreign government officials (110) and U.S. officials (250) who have visited Trump properties and the number of political events (63) held at his properties.

Source: Watchdog Group Tallies 2,310 Conflicts of Interest Associated With President Trump’s Businesses – Government Executive

Can EIS stay on schedule? | FCW


The General Services Administration and the White House have promoted the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions telecommunications contract as a key part of the IT modernization effort, but as the Sept. 30 deadline for agencies to issue solicitations looms, only a handful have cut large contracts and none have incorporated robust plans for larger-scale IT modernization, according to observers.

So far, just three task orders have been awarded. NASA signed an $11 million EIS contract with CenturyLink in April, while the Department of Justice signed a contract with AT&T in June for almost $1 billion. The Railroad Retirement Board also contracted with AT&T — a 13-year agreement worth up to $10 million — a few weeks before DoJ.

Source: Can EIS stay on schedule? — FCW

Omar: Go to Israel, See ‘Cruel Reality of the Occupation’ | Time


Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel on Monday for denying them entry to the Jewish state and called on fellow members of Congress to visit while they cannot.

Omar, of Minnesota, suggested President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were suppressing the lawmakers’ ability to carry out their oversight role.

“I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear,” Omar said at a news conference. “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us.”

Source: Omar: Go to Israel, See ‘Cruel Reality of the Occupation’ | Time

Government Experts Tell Congress that FedRAMP Needs Some Work | SIGNAL Magazine


Officials from several federal agencies testified on Wednesday as to the effectiveness of the government’s cloud accreditation process, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, with mixed reviews. Most witnesses before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing, entitled To the Cloud! The Cloudy Role of FedRAMP in IT Modernization, confirmed the positive benefits of the program.

FedRAMP, as it is known, provides a vehicle under which companies with commercial cloud products and services can apply to sell to the government and military.

Witnesses told lawmakers that while FedRAMP has eliminated redundancies and reduced costs as part of its cloud security authorization process, challenges remain.

Jack Wilmer, DOD’s deputy CIO for cybersecurity, testified that FedRAMP has been a “major benefit” to the department, although the military still has to meet the Committee for National Security Systems (CNSS) cybersecurity requirements for National Security Systems, which go beyond the authorizations of FedRAMP.

Source: Government Experts Tell Congress that FedRAMP Needs Some Work | SIGNAL Magazine

Tilting at More than Windmills in South Asia | Council on Foreign Relations


“Tilt” is a word with a history in South Asia. Nearly a half-century ago, Pakistan’s government brutally repressed its citizens in the eastern part of the country. Millions of refugees streamed into India, which mobilized its armed forces. Pakistan attacked, and India responded. Full-scale war ensued. When the dust settled, Pakistan had been dismembered, with its eastern part becoming the independent country of Bangladesh.

The US government watched these events unfold with concern. India’s claim to be non-aligned was not taken seriously, and President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger judged victory for India to be a gain for the Soviet Union.

The US dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal, ostensibly to deter further Indian military action, but in fact more as a signal of American support for Pakistan. The show of force did not change the trajectory of the crisis, but the US decision to tilt toward Pakistan (a phrase that made its way into newspapers) was infamous in India for decades to come.

Source: Tilting at More than Windmills in South Asia | Council on Foreign Relations

How Big Tech Can Fight White-Supremacist Terrorism


The summit will likely be remembered as yet another missed opportunity. Trump’s administration may be more willing than Obama’s to challenge the technology sector, but it has opted to fight the wrong battle, and its efforts risk making the problem worse.

Consider the administration’s reported plan to grant the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broad new authority to regulate social media companies.

The authority would not help the FCC force technology companies to more aggressively police their platforms for extremist accounts and content. Rather, the FCC, by virtue of an executive order called Protecting Americans from Online Censorship, would seek to ensure that social media companies aren’t “biased” against conservatives.

With Trump’s rhetoric and language often indistinguishable from that of avowed white nationalists, such a measure would make it more difficult for technology companies to counter extremism online.

As the Trump administration dithers, the threat only continues to grow.

Balancing the right to free expression online with the need to monitor and disrupt extremist use of the Internet is by no means a uniquely American problem.

From a technical and moral point of view, however, white supremacist content is no different from jihadi content—if social media companies can block one, they can block the other.

We can’t know if technology companies are getting the balance right if we don’t know what they’re doing, so improving transparency and publicizing metrics for content regulation is another important step.

Source: How Big Tech Can Fight White-Supremacist Terrorism

Analysis: Obama Warned Trump—But He Didn’t Listen | Government Executive


As policies, both of these ideas are dubious. As politics, however, they represent notable wins for an administration that has often failed to put its policy priorities into action. Yet, like many of Trump’s biggest accomplishments, they are built on shaky foundations.

Because they rely on executive action, they are likely to be overturned within the first 100 days of the next Democratic—or even Republican—presidency.

Having spent much of the 2016 presidential campaign railing against Barack Obama’s executive orders, Trump seems to be making the same mistake that Obama did in relying on unilateral actions.

Source: Analysis: Obama Warned Trump—But He Didn’t Listen – Government Executive