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Because when you think "peace," think "Pence"

Today's things: Navy murder; Olive Branching the Kurds; Pentagon's 1 man show; Pence makes "peace"; S
January 23 · Issue #18 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Navy murder; Olive Branching the Kurds; Pentagon’s 1 man show; Pence makes “peace”; SF tries to tear down that wall.

How do you get away with murder? Don't ask these guys
This is not how these events  play out: two ship’s commanders, who had crew die due to collisions over the last year, now face manslaughter charges. Which is not the way things go, or they haven’t until now. And that could be a very good or a very bad thing.
This is a solid bit of reporting on command responsibility in the modern age, and worth a read.
One of the hopes of people interviewed in the article is that the seriousness of the charges being faced by the two commanders will give others pause in the future when being asked to put to see with crews that aren’t prepared enough. 
Because until now the attitude has to be get underway and figure out as you go along. 
Which is how people get killed.
The operational tempo of the modern US Navy, along with all the other services, means that people are being put into harm’s way who need more time to be prepared. And it’s a harsh lesson in that when you’re in command, you get none of the credit and all of the blame when things go wrong. 
If this brings about a change in how the Navy operates, then it’s all to the good. Or Big Navy gets to pillory a couple of officers and the rest end up too afraid to challenge their orders ever again. 
Kurds getting curdled by Turkey in Afrin
If you ever think, “Hey, I’ve got this international relations/national security” thing figured out, take a look at the US relationship with the Kurds. It’s a long(ish) history of the Americans leaving their pseudo allies out to dry, and it’s happening again, only this time it’s thanks to the Islamic State. 
Let me explain. 
Because the enemy of my enemy is whoever I figure can use the extra guns, the Americans welcomed Kurdish help in dealing with the Islamic State in Syria. Now various Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorists are parked in Afrin, on the border between Syria and Turkey. And Turkey considers that a security problem. 
War Editor
At least you're not the @BayerUS social media manager today. #Afrin
4:05 PM - 20 Jan 2018
So now the Turks are executing Operation Olive Branch (no, not kidding) to root out the various Kurdish groups. And they’re warning the Americans to stay out of it. And the Americans probably will, since that’s how the White House does with the Kurdish people.
A convenient ally today has once again become inconvenient in the seemingly endless cycle of US interventions abroad. Because once the simplistic aims of “get rid of those guys” are achieved, we don’t need the help anymore. And now we’ve got a bunch of dudes with guns and their own agenda pissing off yet another problematic partner in Ankara. 
Pentagon knows Big Brother, Little Hands, is always listening
Joe Plenzler spent a few minutes working as a Marine Corps spox, so knows whereof he speaks. The bona fides are important because this is someone who’s walked the E Ring halls, and isn’t an armchair general spouting out an op-ed on Pentagon/White House/press relationships who’s going to follow that up with what asking the city council plans to do about the raccoons in his trash cans. 
Plenzler’s point is one I’ve made here and elsewhere: we’re losing transparency and accountability as this administration rumbles along, and things weren’t too clear under the last guy, either. 
Except that now senior defense leadership is talking less for fear of pissing off their boss, the (alleged) Tinkler In Chief. 
Because Trump’s foreign policies are driven by whatever made him mad enough to get on the Twitters (seriously, his Secretary of State has staff print them out so he knows what the president’s thinking), his defense department worries that any statements they make might contradict whatever the man in nominal charge of it all is thinking this morning. 
That means they’re talking to the press less. Less press access means less time for leaders to use the media to get the word out about what’s really on their mind. Not that they’re too terribly forthcoming in the best of times, but the silence here is damaging, and it means people like General Dunford are resorting to putting a lot more on background than they did before. 
When you think "peace in the Middle East," think "Pence"
Mr. Vice President: you agree to disagree on whether deep dish pizza is  pizza (it’s not), or if Tom Brady is the GOAT (he is), or if Disney’s going to make us all hate the Star Wars franchise a little bit (they will). 
You don’t agree to disagree on whether the US embassy in Israel should be in Jerusalem. 
Which is where it’s going to be headed in 2019, and it was a point of contention in Pence’s discussion with the Jordanian leader. And will be the central point of discussion with every other leader in the Middle East that doesn’t celebrate the Sabbath. 
For those of you just joining us at home, that’s pretty much all of them. 
It’s a play to the pro-Israel lobby, and a pointless one: the US already has Israeli support, mainly because the Americans keep supplying them with weapons. Which keeps them happy that they can more than adequately defend themselves against any regional threats that might arise. 
This does nothing except make a lot of other countries angry. 
Countries the Americans need in order to operate successfully in the region. Countries that the Trump administration want to dismiss because they’re not Israel. It’s a narrow foreign policy view that is hurtling the region toward even more unrest, since there’s no way terrorist groups won’t respond to this move in the only way they know how. 
SF stymied by border wall in San Diego
War Editor
"Green Berets: tear down that wall." Trump, presumably, to SF out of Florida who tried to breach & scale 8 prototypes of the border wall.
4:04 PM - 22 Jan 2018
Yeah, see, the president’s got special forces and customs folks trying to break the prototypes of the wall currently set up in San Diego. Because when you think, “Liberate the oppressed” (the Special Forces motto), you think, “Let’s make a better border wall.”
It’s kind of hilarious that SF’s been roped into this, because they do a lot of things well. Breaching obstacles is just one of the many things in their toolkit. Sure, some of them started life as combat engineers (who do breach obstacles for a living), but bringing Special Forces into the mix reeks of another moment of Trump. 
“See? This wall is so good, even the Special Forces couldn’t break it. And those guys are very good. The best. Believe me. I’ve seen what they can do in Tears of the Sun. Really, really impressive.”
No, that’s not an actual quote. 
But dragging the Green Berets into this seems like par for the game of putt putt that is the Trump administration’s stomping across the civil rights landscape. Because if he’s going to make a point about a huge wall, better bring the most special troops of all. 

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