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A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86)

April 24, 2015 Comments off

A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Background
Individuals vetted by the government for initial or continuing eligibility to access classified information must fill out a personnel security questionnaire as part of a screening process designed to identify those who are not likely to be trustworthy, reliable , or loyal to the United States. Question 21 in the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF – 86) asks applicants if they have consulted with a mental health professional in the last 7 years , with certain groups exempted . This approach identifies too many individuals for investigative follow – up who do not have a mental health condition that pose s an unacceptable risk , and likely misses other at – risk individuals . Disagreements over the goal, effectiveness , and adverse consequences ( e.g., stigmatizing the use of mental health services ) associated with this question have resulted in previous Question 21 wording changes but have not significantly resolved concerns.

Highlights
A proposed “r elevant r isk ” approach to Question 21 — focusing only on standardized clinical conditions that could pose a security risk as well as mental health related hospitalizations — would not represent an obstacle to mental health care for the vast majority of personnel and would be consistent with Department of Defense ( DoD ) policy to foster a culture of support with respect to mental he alth. This approach would reduce the costs associated with unnecessary Q uestion 21 follow – up investigative work, as well as much of the stigma – related adverse consequences associated with the current Q uestion 21. At the same time , the “relevant risk” appro ach would identify more effectively the small number of individuals with mental health conditions that may pose security risks. In addition, t his report evaluates the benefits for both security and clinical care for having separate professionals conduct se curity fitness evaluations vice individuals’ mental health treatment.

Carter Unveils New DoD Cyber Strategy in Silicon Valley

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Carter Unveils New DoD Cyber Strategy in Silicon Valley
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Defense Secretary Ash Carter today unveiled the Defense Department’s second cyber strategy to guide the development of DoD’s cyber forces and to strengthen its cyber defenses and its posture on cyber deterrence.

Carter discussed the new strategy — an update to the original strategy released in 2011 — before an audience at Stanford University on the first day of a two-day trip to Silicon Valley in California.

Deterrence is a key part of the new cyber strategy, which describes the department’s contributions to a broader national set of capabilities to deter adversaries from conducting cyberattacks, according to a fact sheet about the strategy.

The department assumes that the totality of U.S. actions — including declaratory policy, substantial indications and warning capabilities, defensive posture, response procedures and resilient U.S. networks and systems –- will deter cyberattacks on U.S. interests, the fact sheet added.

DARPA Shares Its Vision for the Future

April 1, 2015 Comments off

DARPA Shares Its Vision for the Future (PDF)
Source: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

DARPA today released Breakthrough Technologies for National Security, a biennial report summarizing the Agency’s historical mission, current and evolving focus areas and recent transitions of DARPA-developed technologies to the military Services and other sectors. The report’s release coincided with testimony by DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar before the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, at a hearing entitled “Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Science and Technology Programs: Laying the Groundwork to Maintain Technological Superiority.” The full report is available at http://go.usa.gov/3rut4.

Breakthrough Technologies for National Security affirms that America is in a strong strategic position today, in large part because of its longstanding technological dominance. But it also notes that a number of challenges threaten that status, including the global spread of ever more powerful and less expensive technologies and the emergence of disruptive non-nation-state actors in addition to ongoing threats from peer adversaries.

Getting to the Left of SHARP: Lessons Learned from West Point’s Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment and Assault

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Getting to the Left of SHARP: Lessons Learned from West Point’s Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment and Assault
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending the practice of segregating the military services by race. That same year, the Army allowed women to join the services on an equal basis with men. Both of these steps preceded the larger societal changes that allowed fully equal treatment of all types of American citizens in military service. Just over 2 years ago, Congress repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, allowing for gays and lesbians to openly take their place in the military. Our procedures and policies for successful gender integration have grown and evolved. The authors share five principles for leaders and commanders on the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, as well as associated “Tips” for implementation: (1) Leaders identify and break chains of circumstance; (2) Education is preferable to litigation; (3) What’s electronic is public; (4) Don’t ignore pornography; and, (5) Unit climate is the commander’s responsibility. These principles and their associated tips are not panaceas, and these recommendations are submitted for discussion and feedback.

Department of Defense Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) (As of December 31, 2014)

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Department of Defense Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) (As of December 31, 2014)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) has released details on major defense acquisition program cost, schedule, and performance changes since the December 2013 reporting period. This information is based on the Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) submitted to the Congress for the December 2014 reporting period.

SARs summarize the latest estimates of cost, schedule, and performance status. These reports are prepared annually in conjunction with submission of the President’s Budget. Subsequent quarterly exception reports are required only for those programs experiencing unit cost increases of at least 15 percent or schedule delays of at least six months. Quarterly SARs are also submitted for initial reports, final reports, and for programs that are rebaselined at major milestone decisions.

The total program cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operations and maintenance. Total program costs reflect actual costs to date as well as future anticipated costs. All estimates are shown in fully inflated then-year dollars.

Plan to Establish Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research

March 19, 2015 Comments off

Plan to Establish Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

This document describes the DoD proposed draft plan that provides an approach to support increased public access to peer reviewed scholarly publications and digitally formatted scientific data arising from unclassified publicly releasable research and programs funded wholly or in part by the DoD, as directed by OSTP Memorandum: “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research”, dated 22 February 2013 and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) Memorandum: “Public Access to the Results of Department of Defense-Funded Research,” dated 9 July 2014. A primary mission of Defense research is to safeguard national security and maintain technological superiority of the U. S. military through advances in science, technology and engineering. By providing greater public access to DoD funded research, the Department seeks to encourage and accelerate scientific breakthroughs and innovation of potential interest to DoD in carrying out its mission. A robust industrial base and commercialization of DoD technologies will also benefit entrepreneurship, and enhance economic growth and job creation.

SIGAR — Final Assessment: What We Have Learned From Our Inspections of Incinerators and Use of Burn Pits in Afghanistan

February 19, 2015 Comments off

Final Assessment: What We Have Learned From Our Inspections of Incinerators and Use of Burn Pits in Afghanistan
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

This report presents SIGAR’s final assessment of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) use of incinera – tors and open-air burn pits to dispose of solid waste in Afghanistan. The facts and concluding observations contained in this report are based on inspections conducted by SIGAR between October 2012 and June 2014 at Camp Leatherneck, Forward Operating Base Salerno, Forward Operating Base Sha – rana, and Shindand Airbase. By addressing at a systemic level the common problems identified in this report, DOD could improve management of solid waste disposal in future contingency operations.

This report highlights the ways in which incinerator operations in Afghanistan were not conducted in a manner that resulted in the most efficient use of U.S. taxpayer funds. Unfortunately, in many instances DOD officials did not take sufficient steps to ensure the proper management of contracts for the construction of the incinerators to address the problems identified during our inspections of particular incinerator facilities. Given the fact that DOD has been aware for many years of the significant health risks associated with open-air burn pits, it is indefensible that U.S. military personnel, who are already at risk of serious injury and death when fighting the enemy, were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits.

Because SIGAR’s prior inspection reports on incinerators contained numerous recommenda- tions to improve the planning and management of incinerator facilities, this report contains no new recommendations. We provided a draft of this report to U.S. Central Command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and U.S. Forces–Afghanistan (USFOR-A) for review and comment. USACE and USFOR-A provided us with written comments, which are reproduced in appendices IV and V, respectively. Technical comments were incorporated into this report, as appropriate.

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