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Archive for the ‘national security’ Category

Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations
Source: RAND Corporation

This report describes how the Army and other services can better measure and assess the progress and outcomes of locally focused stability operations (LFSO), which are defined as the missions, tasks, and activities that build security, governance, and development by, with, and through the directly affected community, in order to increase stability at the local level. A number of issues related to assessing LFSO are identified, along with foundational challenges that include an inherently complex operational environment, limited doctrinal guidance, competing visions of stability, untested assumptions, and redundant or excessive reporting requirements. The report offers solutions to these and other challenges, and provides concrete recommendations and implementation-related guidance for designing and conducting assessments of LFSO. The report concludes with an assessment plan for a notional African LFSO scenario that illustrates the practical application of those insights.

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CRS — The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (August 27, 2014)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recognizing the special burdens that members of the military may encounter trying to meet their financial obligations while serving their country, in 1940 Congress passed the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The law was amended from time to time, ordinarily in response to military operations that required the activation of the Reserves. P.L. 108-189, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), was enacted on December 19, 2003, as a modernization and restatement of the protections contained in the SSCRA. Much like with the SSCRA, the SCRA has been amended since its initial passage and proposed changes continue to be introduced in Congress. This report summarizes the rights granted to persons serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in some instances, to their dependents, under the SCRA.

An All-of-Government Approach to Increase Resilience for International Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Events

September 16, 2014 Comments off

An All-of-Government Approach to Increase Resilience for International Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Events
Source: National Research Council

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) events have the potential to destabilize governments, create conditions that exacerbate violence or promote terrorism. This can trigger global repercussions. These events can quickly overwhelm the infrastructure and capability of the responders, especially in countries that do not have the specialized resources for response like those available in the United States. When a CBRNE incident occurs in a partner nation or other foreign country, the U.S. is often called upon to provide assistance. Interoperability – the ability to work together – among U.S. agencies, foreign governments, and responders involved in the effort is key to an efficient response. The effectiveness of the U.S. response and approach to CBRNE events in partner nations depends on the capability of the U.S. government to provide timely and appropriate assistance and the resilience of the partner nation to a CBRNE event.

An All-of-Government Approach to Increase Resilience for International Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Events is the summary of a workshop convened in June 2013 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Research Council to discuss ways to strengthen the U.S. ability to prepare for and respond to CBRNE events that occur in U.S. partner nations. The workshop brought together diverse experts and stakeholders to identify capabilities that are necessary for responding to an international CBRNE event; discuss best practices and resources needed for improved interoperability of the U.S. and partner nation during response to a CBRNE event; and identify key questions that need to be addressed in follow up activities focused on improving U.S. CBRNE response in partner nations.

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program
Source: RAND Corporation

Programming Computation on Encrypted Data (PROCEED) is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program whose primary purpose is to improve the efficiency of algorithms that allow people to carry out computations on encrypted data — without having to decrypt the data itself. RAND was asked to evaluate whether PROCEED — which expands the knowledge base of the global cryptographic community — is likely to provide more benefits to the United States than it does to its global rivals. The research team’s assessment focused on the degree to which PROCEED technologies may be adopted, under what circumstances, and for what purpose. The team then used the analytic framework generated to understand technological uptake decisions as a way of ascertaining how such factors would work in Russia and China vis-à-vis the United States (and, by extension, countries similar to the United States).

Analysis of online searches for information about data encryption, information security, and data protection in Russia and China concluded that, given government approval of PROCEED technologies, their diffusion will be more rapid in China than in Russia. Whether PROCEED technologies will be adopted in the face of the processing penalties that will be associated with using them is difficult to determine at this time. If PROCEED is adopted, it is likely to be adopted more rapidly in the United States (and similar developed countries) than it is in Russia and China, in large part because PROCEED is compatible with the U.S. political culture, and in smaller part because it better accords to the U.S. business environment.

Medical Aspects of Transgender Military Service

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Medical Aspects of Transgender Military Service
Source: Armed Forces & Society

At least eighteen countries allow transgender personnel to serve openly, but the United States is not among them. In this article, we assess whether US military policies that ban transgender service members are based on medically sound rationales. To do so, we analyze Defense Department regulations and consider a wide range of medical data. Our conclusion is that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban on service by transgender personnel, that the ban is an unnecessary barrier to health care access for transgender personnel, and that medical care for transgender individuals should be managed using the same standards that apply to all others. Removal of the military’s ban on transgender service would improve health outcomes, enable commanders to better care for their troops, and reflect the military’s commitment to providing outstanding medical care for all military personnel.

New From the GAO

September 15, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Action Needed to Enhance Integration and Coordination of Vulnerability Assessment Efforts. GAO-14-507, September 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-507
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665787.pdf

2. EPA Regulations and Electricity: Update on Agencies’ Monitoring Efforts and Coal-Fueled Generating Unit Retirements. GAO-14-672, August 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-672
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665324.pdf

CRS — Latin America: Terrorism Issues (August 15, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Latin America: Terrorism Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S. attention to terrorism in Latin America intensified in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation. In its 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism (issued in April 2014), the State Department maintained that the majority of terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere were committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The State Department asserted in that Latin American governments made modest improvements in their counterterrorism capabilities and border security, but that for some countries, corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or nonexistent legislation, and a lack of resources impeded progress.

Over the past several years, policymakers have been concerned about Iran’s increasing activities in Latin America. Concerns center on Iran’s attempts to circumvent U.N. and U.S. sanctions, as well as on its ties to the radical Lebanon-based Islamic group Hezbollah. Both Iran and Hezbollah are reported to be linked to two bombings against Jewish targets in Argentina in the early 1990s. A June 2013 State Department report to Congress on Iran’s activities in Latin America asserted that Iran’s influence in the region is waning. Some critics maintain that the State Department is playing down the threat posed by Iran in the region, while others contend that while Iran’s involvement in the region is a concern, its level and significance are being exaggerated. As in past years, the State Department’s 2013 terrorism report maintained that “there were no known operational cells of either Al Qaeda or Hezbollah in the hemisphere,” but noted that “ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean continued to provide financial and ideological support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia.”

Cuba has remained on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1982 pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act. Both Cuba and Venezuela are on the State Department’s annual list of countries determined to be not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts pursuant to Section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act. U.S. officials have expressed concerns over the past several years about Venezuela’s lack of cooperation on antiterrorism efforts, its relations with Iran, and the involvement of senior Venezuelan officials in supporting the drug and weapons trafficking activities of the FARC. In recent years, however, improved Venezuelan-Colombian relations have resulted in closer cooperation on antiterrorism and counternarcotics efforts and border security.

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