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• An unprecedented requirement that military service chiefs and other senior officials sign nondisclosure statements prohibiting discussion of the military’s budget.

• Sharply restricting the issuance of Pentagon building passes to news reporters, making it more difficult for reporters to gain access to the building and thus Pentagon officials.

McMaster to Afghanistan

Army Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, one of the military’s key out-the-box strategic thinkers, is going to Afghanistan as an aide to new Afghan commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Gen. McMaster is director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center’s (ARCIC) Concepts Development and Experimentation Directorate, part of the Army Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia. He was picked up by Gen. Petraeus for duty in Afghanistan two weeks ago.

“It’s true. He’s coming,” Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, told Inside the Ring.

Col. Sholtis said Gen. McMaster’s arrival date and position under Gen. Petraeus have not been nailed down, “so it would be premature for me to provide additional details at this point.”

The military blog Danger Room reported June 29 that Gen. McMaster, who also fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, will be deputy J5 in Kabul, the officer in charge of military plans.

Gen. McMaster, whose regiment defeated al Qaeda at the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, is considered a high-profile specialist in counterinsurgency warfare. He told the Public Broadcasting Service in 2008 that his successes in Iraq were based on applying “the right level of resources to secure the population,” as the first step in defeating insurgents. The comments echo the current strategy in Afghanistan.

Russia’s illusions

The Russian military responded to comments in this space last week by Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, who stated that increases of Russian strategic bomber flights near the U.S. and Canada airspace over the past several years were an attempt by Moscow to maintain the “illusion of power.”

A high-ranking but unidentified senior Russian military officer told the state-run Interfax-AVN news agency Monday that “the main reason for the flights is not to create the illusion of power, &##8230; but to improve flying skills of strategic bombers’ crews, which has continued for a long time, on a planned and systemic basis.”

“As for the American admiral’s words that they supposedly do not react to our flights, this is surely their right and business,” he said.

Adm. Winnefeld stated that U.S. F-15 and F-22 jet interceptors and Canadian CF-18 do not shadow all Tu-95 Bear bombers that run up against North American airspace. Doing so would fuel Russian propaganda, he said.

The Russian military official, responding to the admiral’s comments, said that unlike the U.S. air defense system, “the Russian air defense system is built in such a way that it reacts to any aircraft approaching the border.”

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