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5 NatSec Things - 06 Apr 2018

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Today's things: USAF cool w/gay shunning; Iraqis lose some tanks; CIA nominee to tell(ish) tales; Tru
 
April 6 · Issue #43 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: USAF cool w/gay shunning; Iraqis lose some tanks; CIA nominee to tell(ish) tales; Trump wants DoD to pay for the wall; Serb CO for KFOR.

Quote of the Day
“I think KFOR has stood for everyone. One of the main principles of KFOR is its impartiality. I’m the first American officer of Serbian origin to command Multinational Battle Group-East.“ – U.S. Army Col. Nick Ducich, taking command in Kosovo
1. A religious thing
It's still not the wild rainbow yonder
We don’t hate you ‘cuz you’re gay - God does
“The director concluded that Colonel Bohannon had the right to exercise his sincerely held religious beliefs and did not unlawfully discriminate when he declined to sign the certificate of appreciation for the same-sex spouse of an airman in his command.“ – Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, on when it’s cool to not be cool with the gays
It’s 2018 and the straights are still flush
USAF Col. Bohannon, while serving as commander of the Air Force Inspection agency, refused to sign a certificate of appreciation. Said certificate was slated for the same-sex spouse of a retiring master sergeant in the colonel’s command. 
Since Col. Bohannon believes that only the heteros get to love who they want, he refused. Because Jesus told him to. 
The Air Force decided that was a dick move, relieved him of his command, and the lawsuits ensued. 
Now the Air Force has reversed that ruling, stating that the colonel was exercising his religious beliefs, and since the certificate was signed by a higher ranking officer, everything’s cool.
Because freedom’s only for not gays
A lot of the arguments on this issue revolve around whether what the colonel did constituted establishing a state-sponsored view of religion. 
And by refusing to sign on religious grounds, he violated the separation of church from state.
Love is love, so stop being an asshole
I get that we live in a world where we’re all ready to be outraged over bullshit. That a lot of what’s got us up in arms isn’t worth getting upset over. 
This? 
This is not one of those things. 
Sure, the certificate’s stupid. It’s a pointless acknowledgement that the spouse serves, too. 
But by not signing it Col. Bohannon turned this into something hateful, and the air force is on the wrong side of history in reversing its decision.
2. A property accountability thing
Where in the world is that Iraqi Abrams? Where in the world is that Iraqi Abrams?
Seriously, guys, keep track of your tanks
“We continue to stress to the Government of Iraq, as we do to all allies and partners, their obligation to maintain U.S.-origin equipment under the operational control of the designated end-user.“ – Eric Pahon, Pentagon spox, on how M1s ended up in Iranian militia control
They’ll bring it right back, insha'Allah
At some point while the Iraqi Army, its American allies, and other folks were taking on the Islamic State in Iraq, the Iraqis lost track of some of their equipment.
I get it: in the heat of battle, sometimes you drop stuff, like rifles, night vision goggles, tanks.
Because several of the M1 Abrams main battle tanks that belonged to the Iraqi Army ended up being driven around by an Iranian-backed militia, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). 
That’s a militia group backed by Tehran, sanctioned by Baghdad, and they ended up with nine M1s at some point. 
Reportedly, all of those tanks have been returned. 
This is why you can’t have nice things
It’s one thing to lose track of personnel gear. It’s a whole other level of oopsie when you let nine tanks get into the wrong hands. 
What’s still not clear is how that happened, although chances are pretty good that it was done with the blessings of some fairly senior people in the Iraqi military.
Remind me again why we give them tanks?
The tanks were sold to Iraq through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The thinking is twofold: not only do your allies get better gear, you as the sales rep get to tack on a lot of logistics support, which is where the real money is for these contracts.
The dilemma is always whether you want to run the risk of things like this happening. 
Long run? Probably acceptable. 
Provided they give ‘em back.
3. A human thing
CIA nominee and her tale of the (erased) tapes
I’m not sure you know what that word means
“Gina plans to be totally transparent in regards to this issue, I have looked deeply into this and she will be making that fully available to the relevant (congressional) committees.” – Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Gina Haspel’s torture resume
First woman to run the CIA
Deputy Director Gina Haspel is about to make history if she’s approved to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 
She’s already made history by being in charge of one of the worst periods in recent American history: the “enhanced interrogation” programs that sprung up after 9/11. 
Congress wants to know more about that.
This isn’t Lost - did you tape over that?
Besides being good at the waterboarding, Haspel also drafted the memo that ordered the destruction of 92 interrogation tapes. 
Sure, that destruction was ordered by someone higher up, but in a time when accountability’s still a word, Haspel needs to answer questions about those kinds of techniques and what that could mean about how she would run the CIA.
No matter what? She’s a boss
Most of Haspel’s career has been covert. In a community that’s still just good ol’ boy enough for the Air Force, she’s managed to get to the point where she gets a shot at running things. 
The US has overlooked worse, and putting a woman in charge of the Agency would be a win. 
It’s 2018: we could use some of those.
4. A wall thing
Trump abandons plans to turn wall into hotel
At least he’s got the cardinal direction down
“Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!” – President Trump in his native tongue: ALL CAPS
I said no: go ask your mom
Now that the Pentagon has gone full Publisher’s Clearing House, Trump thinks some of that big ol’ check should get carved off for the border wall. 
Which, like a lot of Trump’s ideas, has little basis in reality. But since he’s not getting what he wants from Congress, he’s going to ask the DoD to pay for it, instead. 
He’s like that kid who just figured out how his parents’ divorce might work in his favor, only that kid’s more mature.
He can’t, though, right?
It’s not impossible, but to do it would require jumping through more hoops than a man whose most strenuous daily activity is starting trade wars with this thumbs would be willing to do. 
Trump’s MO is to work on a thing until he finishes his 2nd Egg McMuffin, then move on to the next thing. And if the first thing isn’t done, it’s someone else’s fault.
This is actually Plan C for the wall: Plan A was to have Mexico build it, and Plan B was to ask Congress for the money. 
To get the funds he’s looking for from the DoD would need Congressional approval, and that’s just not in the cards.
Mr. Trump, let go of this wall
Either this is still another in the never ending list of ways that Trump is trying to keep us all distracted from the real problems he’s causing, or he’s just so fixated on this one issue that he keeps trying to make it happen.
It’s not going to, or if it does, it’s not going to be anywhere near what he envisioned. 
It’s time to move on to something else. 
Like how things are going in Russia.
5. A tone deaf thing
Folks be objecting to Serb commander in Kosovo
But that was a long time ago
“I am privileged to be serving here and devote my utmost commitment for a safe and secure environment for all people of Kosovo.” – Serbian-American Col. Nick Ducich, speaking about a country that’s worried about Serbian nationalism
It’s not like he’s really a Serb, though
With a name like Ducich, even though your grandparents emigrated to the US more than 100 years ago, there will be people in Kosovo who take exception to you commanding the NATO brigade in the country. 
Because that’s a Serbian name, and Serbian nationalists in the nation think that’s just dandy.
Kosovo’s in the Bahamas, right?
The country that sounds like Kokomo used to be more of a thing for NATO, but the mission has been reduced in recent years, to the point that the command Col. Ducich is assuming has been called the “Forgotten Brigade.” 
I’d laugh at that, but the Iraqis “lost” nine tanks. Not much of a stretch from that to forgetting en entire brigade.
So no one else could take the job?
Granted, you go with who’s qualified. Or available. 
Or has a measurable pulse. 
But given the sensitivities to Serbian nationalism in the country, you’d think the US and NATO would have put someone else in charge.
6. An awesome thing
Nothing says I love you like grand theft Hercules
He didn’t survive crashing the transport plane into the English channel, and now some divers want to go recover the aircraft. 
I don’t have anything to add. 
I just think that’s a badass way to go.
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