The Intersect
June. 21, 2011

Obama to announce plans for Afghan surge pullout
The New York Times
President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in an upcoming speech, an administration official said. As he closes in on a decision, another official said, Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.More

Gates confirms talks with Taliban
The Washington Times
Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates confirmed that the U.S. State Department is talking directly with the Taliban, but he poured cold water on the possibility that the talks would lead to a quick end to the war in Afghanistan. The talks - described by Mr. Gates on CNN's "State of the Union" program as "very preliminary" - were first made public by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. They come at a time of rising calls among Republicans for a speedier U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, calls that prompted further political debate on the weekend's U.S. political talk shows.More

Is cyber crisis the new normal?
DoD Buzz
America's public and private institutions are effectively in a state of cyber-siege, or, if you prefer, cyber-chaos, enduring attacks from spies who want to vacuum up secrets, enemies who want to bring sites down or vandals who just want to deface as much as they can. As you've read here before, there's no telling how much classified information has already been lost to hacking, nor is there any guarantee DoD's new cyber-strategy will afford any immediate help, beyond its hazy threat of real-world retaliation for cyber attacks.More

Senate committee cuts $6 billion from DoD budget
Military Times
The Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to cut $6 billion from the 2012 defense budget and could have cut more if it had received guidance from the White House or Pentagon, panel chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said.More

Senate bill requires fixed-price JSF contract
Defense News
The defense authorization bill passed by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on June 16 requires a fixed-price contract for the next F-35 Joint Strike Fighter buy, forcing the contractors to absorb any cost overruns. The Pentagon plans to buy 32 JSF aircraft in 2012: 19 for the Air Force, seven for the Navy and six for the Marine Corps.More

Obama's veterans jobs effort has modest success
Military Times
The Obama administration's big push to find jobs for veterans in the federal government has had modest success, a report from the Office of Personnel Management shows. In fiscal year 2010, the federal government hired 72,133 veterans, a significant number at a time when the unemployment rate for veterans of all generations hovered around 8.7 percent, 11.7 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.More

Many recent veterans unable to find work
USA Today
Unemployment payments to servicemembers fresh out of the military have doubled since 2008, a sign that veterans are returning from war to an increasingly tough job market.The military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits last year, up from $450 million in fiscal 2008. The 2011 figures are trending even higher.More

Army suicides at highest level in a year
May was the worst month in a year for suicides and potential suicides in the active-duty Army, the Pentagon announced. The Army reported 21 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers in May. One of them has been confirmed; the other 20 are under investigation. In the past, most of the cases investigated were confirmed to be suicides.More

Policy changes consider troops, families, official says
Reserve Affairs
The Pentagon office for personnel and readiness and the programs it oversees will not be immune from Defense Department efficiency initiatives, but will keep troops and their families at the forefront in the consideration of changes, the office's top civilian leader said. "I joined with an efficiency mindset," Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said during an interview with American Forces Press Service of his recent return to the Pentagon.More

National Guard (In federal status) and Reserve activated as of June 14
U.S. Department of Defense
This week the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Coast Guard announced an increase. The net collective result is 1,151 fewer reservists activated than last week. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease.More