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Weekly Update 16-22 Aug 21

Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.

At Provision Advisors, we prepare your team for the challenges, and 'what-ifs' you never thought you'd encounter--specializing in strategic communication planning, crisis communication, and media coaching for senior-level leaders and communicators. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Top Clips

Opinion: The Best and Brightest never recovered from Vietnam. Will Biden’s team fare better?

By David Ignatius, for The Washington Post

The Afghanistan disaster has rocked the Biden administration’s foreign policy team, which may need months to regain its sense of balance and momentum. Senior officials don’t have time or emotional bandwidth now for broad questions about what’s next for U.S. foreign policy. In the sleepless days and nights of the past week, the White House has been focused — and sometimes shaken — by the chaos of the Taliban takeover in Kabul.

Three People I Would Interview About Afghanistan

By Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

As I watch events in Afghanistan unfold, I find myself trying to ignore all the commentary and longing instead to interview three people: President Lyndon Johnson, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan.

This Is Not the Taliban 2.0

The group’s claims of having changed are probably more reassuring to those unfamiliar with its history.

By Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

When the Taliban first sacked Kabul 25 years ago, the group declared that it was not out for revenge, instead offering amnesty to anyone who had worked for the former government. “Taliban will not take revenge,” a Taliban commander said then. “We have no personal rancor.” At the time of that promise, the ousted president, Mohammad Najibullah, was unavailable for comment. The Taliban had castrated him and, according to some reports, stuffed his severed genitals in his mouth, and soon after, he was strung up from a lamppost.

Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold

Why America Failed in Afghanistan

By Christina Lamb, Foreign Affairs In 2008, I interviewed the United Kingdom’s then outgoing military commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, in a dusty firebase in Helmand Province, where international troops had been battling the Taliban on a daily basis for territory that kept slipping away. The war in Afghanistan could not be won militarily, Carleton-Smith told me. He was the first senior coalition military officer to say so publicly, and the story made the front page of the British Sunday Times. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates promptly denounced Carleton-Smith to the news media as “defeatist.”

Opinion: Here’s why the U.S. national security apparatus keeps producing failures

By Fareed Zakaria, for The Washington Post

If you want one statistic to explain the failure of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan it is this: The National Security Council met 36 times since April to discuss it. Even more remarkable, this number was shared with the media to illustrate how well the administration had handled things. The U.S. foreign policymaking apparatus has transformed itself into a dinosaur, with a huge body and little brain, a bureaucracy where process has become policy.

Podcast: Defense & Aerospace Podcast Washington Roundtable

By Defense and Aerospace Report

On this Washington Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast, sponsored by Bell, we take a deep dive into the events in and around the US withdrawal from Afghanistan– our guests are Chris Jackson, a senior vice president at Ipsos Public Affairs, Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jim Townsend, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO who is now with the Center for a New American Security, Dr. Patrick Cronin of the Hudson Institute and Chris Servello, a founder of Provision Advisors public relations firm.

What Joe Biden Is Betting On

When it comes to Afghanistan, those close to the president are relying on Americans’ notoriously short-term memory.

By Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic

Call it the white house’s dream scenario: In the end, the voters don’t blame Joe Biden. The president’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan simply aligns him with everyone else who has given up on the notion that the military could mold a fractious country into a stable democratic ally. The administration is hoping that grisly images of desperate Afghans clinging to a C-17 fade, replaced by collective relief that no more Americans will die in a murky, brutal war that spanned two decades and four presidencies.

Did Defense (mis)management of contractors contribute to the Afghan debacle?

By Dov Zakheim, for The Hill The rapid collapse of the Afghan army and police, collectively known as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), clearly caught the Biden administration by surprise and has prompted numerous post-mortems. Critics of the president’s decision to hold fast to his Aug. 31 deadline for pullout of all U.S. troops argue that he should have heeded the warnings of his senior intelligence and military officials that such a pullout would be premature.

How Biden Broke NATO

The chaotic Afghan withdrawal has shocked and angered U.S. allies.

By The Editorial Board Remember when candidate Joe Biden said America “needs a leader the world respects”? Apparently President Biden forgot. Of the many consequences of his misbegotten Afghanistan withdrawal, one of the more serious is the way it has damaged America’s relationships with its allies, especially in Europe. Afghanistan was an operation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and America’s NATO allies have invested significant blood and treasure in the conflict. That includes tens of thousands of troops over 20 years, more than 1,100 of whom were killed, and billions of dollars spent on the military operation and reconstruction effort.

Executive Positioning Takeaways From New NY Governor Kathy Hochul’s Press Debut

By Sophie Maerowitz, PR News

“Can you hear me now? …Can you hear me now? Sounds like a commercial.” As she tested the mic, Kathy Hochul, current Lieutenant Governor and incoming Governor of New York, flashed a little of her trademark charm at a press conference at the State Capitol on Aug. 11, her first of several press appearances since Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation a day earlier. Gov. Cuomo, who will retain his title until his resignation becomes effective Aug. 24, has been at the center of the news cycle on the national, and even global, stage as a New York Attorney General investigation uncovered years of Cuomo’s sexual harassment of women staffers, many of whom came forward in recent months.

Can Gov. Newsom Keep His Job? A Recall Effort in California Shows a Dead Heat.

By Shawn Hubler and Jill Cowan, The New York Times

President Biden sent an urgent message last week to the most populous state in the nation: Keep Gov. Gavin Newsom “on the job.” On the airwaves, Senator Elizabeth Warren, the prominent progressive from Massachusetts, has been repeatedly warning that “Trump Republicans” are “coming to grab power in California.” Text messages — a half-million a day — are spreading the word on cellphones. Canvassers are making their case at suburban front doors. As some 22 million ballots land in the mailboxes of active registered voters this week in anticipation of the Sept. 14 recall election, Mr. Newsom — a Democrat elected in a 2018 landslide — has been pulling out all the stops just to hold on to his post.

CAVASSHIPS Podcast - What Does the End of Afghanistan Mean for the Navy…If Anything?

By Defense and Aerospace Report

This week…US forces again are headed to Haiti to try and help in the aftermath of another devastating earthquake. We talk with a veteran of several humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions to try and get a handle on what’s involved. And with the US withdrawal from most combat missions in the mideast what might that mean for the huge naval presence that’s been maintained for over 40 years? We’ll take a look.

About 200 US Marines head to Haiti in wake of devastating earthquake

By Philip Athey, Marine Corps Times

The Corps is sending roughly 200 Marines from the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, based 1st Battalion, 6th Marines to Haiti in support of the military’s effort to help the nation after it was struck by a devastating earthquake. Haiti was struck by a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Saturday, which quickly was followed by a tropical depression on Monday. So far the disasters have resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 people, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Russia’s Battle for the Black Sea

Why Moscow’s Moves Could Determine the Future of Navigation

By Angela Stent, for Foreign Affairs On July 25, President Vladimir Putin gave a rousing speech in St. Petersburg to mark the 325th anniversary of the founding of Russia’s navy. Speaking in front of a statue of the fleet’s founder (and Putin’s favorite tsar), Peter the Great, he declared, “Today, the Russian Navy has everything it needs to secure the defense of our native country and our national interests. We are capable of detecting any submarine, surface or airborne adversary and dealing them an imminent strike if necessary.”

New Naval Academy commandant plans to bring in-person conversations back

By Heather Mongilio, The Capital

The mission of the Naval Academy has not changed since Col. James P. McDonough graduated 27 years ago. McDonough, who goes by J.P., is now one of the people in charge of fulfilling it as the 89th commandant of the Brigade of Midshipmen. Already, McDonough has worked with the plebes and the midshipmen who were at the academy over the summer. The class of 2025 is excited and physically ready for the academy's challenges, and he's enjoyed working with them so far.

Naval Academy expels 18 midshipmen after finding they cheated on physics exam

By Heather Mongilio, Capital Gazette

Nearly 20 midshipmen were separated after a Naval Academy investigation found they cheated on a December 2020 physics exam. Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck initiated an investigation into the General Physics I final after being made aware that midshipmen possibly used outside sources, including visiting websites, during their online exam, according to a press release from the academy. Midshipmen also used an anonymous chat platform to discuss the exam after.The academy announced the investigation in December.

In Florida, Texas And Arizona, Defiant School Leaders Are Sticking With Mask Mandates

By Clare Lombardo, NPR

Across the country, as students and teachers head back into school buildings in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, school superintendents in Florida, Texas and Arizona are standing firm against state leaders who say masks shouldn't be mandated in classrooms. On Wednesday, the Biden administration reinforced its support for those school leaders. "I'm directing the secretary of education, an educator himself, to take additional steps to protect our children," President Biden said at a White House press conference Wednesday.

Vaccine resistance in the military remains strong, a dilemma for Pentagon as mandate looms

By Max Hauptman, The Washington Post

The Pentagon’s effort to mandate coronavirus vaccination for all 1.3 million active-duty service members will continue to face resistance from a segment of the force, troops and observers say, until military leaders devise an effective strategy for countering pervasive doubt about the pandemic’s seriousness and widespread misinformation about the shots designed to bring it under control. When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier this month that he would seek to require inoculation no later than mid-September, Pentagon data showed that thousands of personnel — about one-third of the force — remained unvaccinated. President Biden quickly endorsed the move.

Congress Can Help The Pentagon Secure Vulnerable Software “Supply Chains”

By Craig Hooper, Forbes

Ten years ago, after the Senate Armed Services Committee warned that military supply chains were deluged with counterfeit parts, the Pentagon began to force contractors to account for the source of all the various widgets and chips they used to build military equipment. That burst of Congressional interest led, in time, to improvements. Although the system in place today is far from perfect, contractors are beginning to use a range of sophisticated incentives, protocols and databases, all to validate the integrity of their supply chains.

Trump Ally Ken Kurson Charged With Cybercrimes in New York

By Corinne Ramey, The Wall Street Journal

The Manhattan district attorney’s office charged former Trump ally Ken Kurson with cybercrimes on Wednesday, making him at least the third person pardoned by former President Donald Trump to face scrutiny from New York state prosecutors. Mr. Kurson, a 52-year-old New Jersey resident, is a former editor in chief of the New York Observer, the newspaper that was published by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law. Mr. Kurson served as an adviser to Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign and, during Mr. Trump’s first presidential bid, advised the then-candidate on a speech to the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee, drawing criticism because he was also working at the Observer.

Facebook Reveals Most Viewed Posts To Rebut Claims It's Rife With Disinformation

By Shannon Bond, NPR

What do people see most on Facebook? Recipes, cute cat GIFs or highly charged political partisanship? That question has been hard to answer, because the social network keeps a tight lid on so much of its data. Now, Facebook is for the first time making public some information on what content gets the most views every quarter as the company pushes back against claims its platform is dominated by inflammatory, highly partisan and even misleading posts.

Facebook shared data about what’s popular on its platform. The answers are deeply weird.

By Will Oremus, The Washington Post

We all know what kinds of posts we see when we open Facebook. But what is everyone else seeing in their personalized feeds? And just how much of it is divisive, misleading, or outright false? Those questions have never had a definitive answer, partly because Facebook keeps secret much of the relevant data. Analytics tools such as Newswhip, which is independent, and CrowdTangle, which Facebook owns, provided windows into what’s trending on the social network.

Podcast: Sing Second Sports - “We Are Back!”

By Sing Second Sports

On this episode we are joined by Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital to discuss the latest with Cameron Kinley being cut by Tampa Bay and what his future looks like now. NFL or the Fleet? We also talk about the release of the Air Force game uniforms for Navy Football. Marine Corps theme...yut! We are also joined by special guest Carin Gabarra to talk about the upcoming season, which kicks off 19 August vs Loyola Marymount University at Glenn Warner. She talks about the recent Olympic performance for the U.S. Women's Soccer team, and she breaks down her own Olympic Gold Medal experience in 1996. Sing Second Sports is Provision Advisors Production sponsored by Naptown Scoop and Dry 85.

Jeopardy! host Mike Richards quits after sexist comments surface


TV presenter Mike Richards has stepped down as the new co-host of the US quiz show Jeopardy! after sexist comments that he made on a podcast resurfaced. His exit comes just nine days after his new role was announced. Pressure grew after a report by The Ringer dug up disparaging comments he made on his podcast The Randumb Show in 2013 and 2014. Mr Richards, who is also the executive producer of the show, said he would be stepping down "effective immediately".

Managing the hybrid workforce: What will employees want–and need?

Communicators must master the three C’s of the new workplace reality.

By Zach Crescenzo, PR Daily

A company is only as good as its culture. When a company lacks an inclusive, connected culture, productivity can suffer. Or as Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Which is a big problem these days. A survey of 127 company leaders by Gartner in June 2020 revealed that 82% of respondents will let employees work remotely for some of the time as employees return to the workplace. But because of that, 30% of business leaders are most concerned with maintaining the corporate culture.

Two-Thirds of Americans Say They're Experiencing 'Joy of Missing Out' Despite Reopening

By Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek

Americans this summer are spending much more money while saving much less compared with 2020, but two-thirds of U.S. adults say they are enjoying not feeling obligated to attend or put money toward social gatherings. As much of the country continues to ease back into pre-pandemic dining, teaching and traveling norms, 66 percent of Americans say they are currently experiencing the "joy of missing out," or JOMO, on such activities. A new MassMutual survey asked 1,000 Americans and 250 U.S. office workers about their July 2021 personal finance habits compared with one year ago as well as their feelings about returning to pre-COVID-19 routines.

Internal Communication is Key to Keeping Employees Motivated During Uncertainty

By Dustin York, PR News

Due to the Delta variant, companies are cancelling or delaying return-to-office plans. Managers are scrambling to revise schedules. Employees are disappointed, confused and frustrated. Many were looking forward to in-person interactions with colleagues. In the face of lingering uncertainty and frustration, human resources and internal communication teams will have their work cut out for them. How and what they communicate will play a key role in motivating employees. It’s especially important for leaders and organizations to prioritize communication now.

The Biggest Mistakes Bosses Will Make With Workers Returning After Covid-19

No. 1: treating their employees like children. They’ve grown accustomed to independence. Get used to it.

By Tsedal Neeley, WSJ

There’s little doubt that how we work changed dramatically during the sudden, unexpected and extensive experiment in remote work brought on by the pandemic. Many employees, working at home, became more efficient, productive and happier; others struggled and desperately missed office life. Now, as returning to the office becomes more feasible, the temptation for many managers is to consider the past year and a half as an aberration—a period that’s best left behind and forgotten. Or they will take some of the emergency pandemic practices and consider them a permanent fixture of the workplace.

The Evolving Communication Function (PDF)

The Institute for Public Relations and PRNEWS conducted a study of 318 public relations professionals to find out how companies organize and evolve their communication function, including headcounts, reporting lines, strategic choices around structure and function, and areas of improvement. This study also assessed the efficacy and challenges of the structure of the communication function.

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