Clearance Jobs – by Ed Ledford / Jan 25, 2016

Coolest new jobs. Contributor David Brown reports, “Flying machines. People jumping from flying machines. Pilotless flying machines. Each advance in the defense industry, just before its time, would have been considered a ridiculous idea in bad science fiction, and yet here we are, working as pilots, paratroopers, and drone operators. . . . Here are the six hottest defense jobs this year that didn’t exist last year . . . .”

Jobs aplenty at DHS. Contributor Ashley LaGanga reports, “DHS is actively recruiting full-time employees, and funding isn’t the problem: Congress has already appropriated money to pay for positions. Many positions remain open, and according to DHS, the department expected to end September 2015 with 6,000 fewer full-time employees than it had funds to pay for. Many cleared professionals find work as civilians in DHS departments of U.S. Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, in particular.”


OPERATION TIMBER SYCAMORE: CIA arming Syria.  The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo report, “When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since then, the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore.”

Call for jihadists. Vice News’ Sam Heller reports, “Facing an overwhelming Russian assault from the air and an offensive on multiple fronts by the Syrian military and its allied foreign militia, some rebels have decided they urgently need more men — Syrian or not. As a consequence, the most powerful rebel coalition in northern Syria and an association of mostly jihadist religious scholars have both issued calls to arms not just to able-bodied Syrians, but to the entire Muslim world.” See also, “Syria opposition to meet Tuesday,” “Saudi-Iranian proxy war over Syria spreads to Davos” and “Posturing ahead of peace talks.”

Navy’s new subs. Scout’s Kris Osborn reports, “The Navy has begun early construction and prototyping on a new class of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines designed to help ensure global piece by deploying massive destructive power under the sea. . . . Designed to be 560-feet– long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, [the Ohio Replacement Program] will be engineered as a stealthy, high-tech nuclear deterrent able to quietly patrol the global undersea domain.”

New kind of valor. The Atlantic’s Scott Beauchamp reports, “Drone pilots face no such existential tension or mutual risk. Simply put: It’s extraordinarily unlikely that any enemy targets could kill or maim drone operators. Physically, drone pilots are so safe, in fact, that descriptions of drone piloting at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, the heart of the Air Force’s drone operations, sound downright monotonous. . . . But what if ‘psychological pain’ is included in the definition of the drone pilots as victims? After all, for the majority of humans, killing another person is a traumatizing event. “


Turkey seeks new coast guard aircraft. Defense News’ Burak Ege Bekdil reports, “A total of 15 contenders have responded to a Turkish competition for the acquisition of a coast guard aircraft . . . . The contract concerns the integration of subsystems into a coast guard aircraft for maritime surveillance operations.”

Textron’s Shadows.  Military & Aerospace Electronics Editor John Keller reports, “Textron Systems Corp. will provide new RQ-7B Shadow tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground-control systems under terms of a $97.1 million contract modification announced Friday. Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., awarded the contract modification to the Textron Systems Unmanned Systems segment (formerly AAI Corp.) in Hunt Valley, Md., for fiscal 2014 Shadow drone full rate production VII in support of the Army and U.S. Marine Corps.”

New FBI HQ. Federal Times’ Carten Cordell reports, “The Obama administration is keen on making sure the FBI gets construction of its new headquarters underway in fiscal 2017, committing $1.4 billion for construction in the 2017 budget, which will be released on Feb. 9. The General Services Administration issued Phase II of the RFPs for the new facility on Jan. 22, highlighting the funding commitment as a big step forward.”


DoD shouldering security clearances. Defense One contributor Jack Moore reports, “In the future, files containing personal information on security clearance seekers—the same type of information netted last summer by purported Chinese hackers—will be stored and secured on Pentagon systems . . . . OPM is turning over its responsibilities for conducting background investigations to a newly created National Background Investigations Bureau.” See also, “Federal government to overhaul background investigation system.”

New drone dreams. Nextgov’s Mike Murphy contributor reports, “At CES, there were drones that aimed to take the difficulty out of flying. Hexo+ billed itself as ‘your self-flying camera.’ It has sensors that allow it to track and follow you around as you perform whatever extreme sport suits you. The companion app lets you set how it tracks you, and allows the drone to follow you even if you’re biking through the Nevadan desert. Soon you’ll be able to control it by waving your phone around—a feature The Verge’s Ben Popper said made him feel like a Jedi.” See also, “Will 2016 be the Year of the Portable Lethal Drone?

FBI’s Next Generation Cyber Initiative. FierceGovernmentIT’s Molly Bernhart Walker reports, “A handful of recommendations the Justice Department Inspector General offered to bolster cybersecurity at the FBI remained open about two months following a report on the FBI’s Next Generation Cyber Initiative. Eight recommendations from a July 2015 report were listed as ‘resolved’ but ‘not closed’ at the end of the fiscal year, according to a list (pdf) of some 700 open IG recommendations released by the watchdog.”


Blessings. “Barack Obama, that prematurely gray elder statesman, is laboring mightily to remain neutral during Hillary Clinton’s battle with Bernie Sanders in Iowa, the state that cemented his political legend and secured his path to the presidency. But in a candid 40-minute interview . . . he couldn’t hide his obvious affection for Clinton or his implicit feeling that she, not Sanders, best understands the unpalatably pragmatic demands of a presidency he likens to the world’s most challenging walk-and-chew-gum exercise.”

Congress closed: how can you tell? “Federal government offices in the Washington, D.C. area will be closed Monday due to the winter storm that hit the East Coast over the weekend. The Office of Personnel Management announced the closure Sunday evening, adding that emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency’s policies. House lawmakers decided earlier Sunday to cancel votes this week due to ‘the severity of the winter storm.’ The Senate has postponed votes until Wednesday evening.”



One thought on “Flashback: OPERATION TIMBER SYCAMORE: CIA arming Syria.

  1. Who’s fighting whom? Did the attack really happen? Who armed them, and who are they really fighting for? What country did the dead soldiers come from, and what country’s uniforms were they wearing?

    You’ll get a different answer to all the above questions depending on who you ask, and it could be years before we can know with certainty what’s happening in Syria today. I don’t have time to dig through all of the facts and lies, so I’m ignoring the whole conflict until it comes here.

    “Truth is the first casualty of war” — (someone famous said that)

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