Metro-East News

Roger That: Pentagon to send special ops teams to Syria

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

As part of a major overhaul of the U.S. government’s strategy against the Islamic State, President Barack Obama last week authorized the deployment of “fewer than 50” U.S. special operations troops to northern Syria, where they will work with local forces in the fight against the militants, according to Military Times.

The deployment is one part of a five-part plan aimed at changing the direction of operations in Iraq and Syria, as the war against the Islamic State, often known as ISIL or ISIS, enters its second year. It will be accompanied by an increase in the number of airstrikes from both U.S. and coalition allies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the special operations troops being sent to Syria will only fight Islamic State militants and won’t become involved in the long-running civil war, according to the Associated Press.

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The Air Force Times is reporting that fewer women are becoming interested in cyber careers, a new study found, posing a challenge not only to businesses, but also to the military, at a time when the Pentagon is trying to open more roles to women.

In the United States, 40 percent of young men between the ages of 18 and 26 would consider a career in a cyber-related field. But only 23 percent of young women would consider the same job path, according to a survey released by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

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The watchdog charged with overseeing U.S. spending in Afghanistan says the Pentagon is dodging his inquiries about an $800 million program that was supposed to energize the Afghan economy, according to Pro Publica.

John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said the military is restricting access to some documents in violation of law and has claimed there are no Defense Department personnel who can answer questions about the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, or TFBSO, which operated for five years.

“Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago,” Sopko wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter released last week.

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Navy Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and U.S. cyber commander, doesn’t think that the United States will ever suffer the digital equivalent of Pearl Harbor, according to Business Insider.

Speaking on stage at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD live conference, Rogers dismissed that analogy because he doesn’t think that a massive cyber attack could ever be as surprising today as the attack on Pearl Harbor was in 1941.

But Rogers has some big concerns over the nation’s level of cyber-security.

The three biggest concerns?

Cyber attacks that inflict infrastructure damage “It is only a matter of ‘when’ that someone users cyber as a tool to do damage to the critical infrastructure of our nation,” Rogers said.

Data manipulation “Historically, we’ve largely been focused on stopping the extraction of data and insights, whether for intellectual property for commercial or criminal advantage,” Rogers said. “But what happens when suddenly our data is manipulated and you no longer can believe what you’re physically seeing?”

The actions of non-state actors, such as the Islamic State What happens when a non-state actor, who literally has no interest in the status quo, “starts viewing the web as...a weapon system?” the admiral asked hypothetically on stage.

Rogers says that he believes that all these concerns will actually play out during his tenure as NSA director. “And the nation is fully counting on us to be ready,” he said.

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