Tuesday, March 21, 2006

US STRATEGIC STRIKE SKILLS ARE FADING....how comforting

US STRATEGIC STRIKE SKILLS ARE FADING, DSB WARNS

The U.S. military faces an erosion of the skills that it needs to
develop and maintain strategic nuclear and non-nuclear strike forces,
according to a new study by the Defense Science Board (DSB).

"It appears that a serious loss of certain critical strategic strike
skills may occur within the next decade" as senior design and
operations personnel retire, the DSB study said.

"The strategic strike area most at risk today is ballistic missiles:
Current skills may not be able to cope with unanticipated failures
requiring analysis, testing, and redesign."

"Design skills are rapidly disappearing, both for major redesigns of
current systems and for the design of new strategic systems."

"DoD and industry have difficulty attracting and retaining the best
and brightest students to the science and engineering disciplines
relevant to maintaining current and future strategic strike
capabilities," according to the DSB.

These findings are elaborated in the 89 page report with respect to
ballistic missiles, bombers and other strategic strike platforms and
systems.

See "Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Future
Strategic Strike Skills," March 2006 (1.9 MB PDF):

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/dsb/skills.pdf

This document was password-protected by DSB so as to prevent
copying or printing of the report.


IN CONGRESS

A House resolution to investigate the so-called Downing Street memo on
pre-war intelligence on Iraq was considered and rejected, along with
two other resolutions on Iraq and the Valerie Plame case, in a
September 14, 2005 markup by the House Committee on International
Relations. A report of that Committee markup has now been published
and is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2005_rpt/downing091405.pdf

Sen. Arlen Specter introduced his "National Security Surveillance
Act" last week that would subject the Bush Administration's
warrantless surveillance program to the adjudication of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court. See his March 16 statement of
introduction here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2006_cr/s2453.html

Also on March 16, Senator Dewine and three Republican colleagues
introduced their "Terrorist Surveillance Act" which would nullify the
requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and
authorize warrantless surveillance for up to 45 days without any
judicial authorization. See:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2006_cr/s2455.html


IN THE NEWS


The Department of Defense withdrew from its web site a DoD inspector
general report that was critical of information security in the
Missile Defense Agency's ground-based missile defense system.
Federal Computer Week reported on the removal of the document and
posted the missing document on its own web site. See "DOD removes
missile defense system report from Web site" by Bob Brewin, Federal
Computer Week, March 20:

http://www.fcw.com/article92668-03-20-06-Web

Several critical assessments of the "sensitive but unclassified"
information control marking were discussed in "New Reports Raise
Questions About Secrecy Stamps" by Rebecca Carr, Cox News Service,
March 19:

http://tinyurl.com/q4tnz

The consequences of applying espionage statutes not only to leakers
but also to unauthorized recipients of classified information were
considered by Fred Kaplan in "Spies Like Us: Listening to leakers
could land you in jail," Slate, March 17:

http://www.slate.com/id/2138277/


SELECTED CRS REPORTS ON FOREIGN POLICY

Some notable new reports from the Congressional Research Service
include the following.

"The Middle East Peace Talks," updated March 16, 2006:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/IB91137.pdf

"Terrorism and National Security: Issues and Trends," updated March 9,
2006:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/IB10119.pdf

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program," updated February 21, 2006:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/IB91141.pdf

"Nepal: Background and U.S. Relations," updated February 2, 2006:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL31599.pdf

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