* The US military cancelled so many billion dollar programs during the past decade that they developed the Smart Shutdown [PDF] guidance and online portal to try and salvage useful bits. However the GAO reckons in a new report that this resource may not be well known by program managers, limiting opportunities to learn from past closures or reuse useful bits from them.
Pentagon to Get New Top Staffers
* The latest batch of officials nominated by the Administration for executive positions at the Pentagon – including Bob Work as Secretary Hagel’s deputy – has been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and now just requires the perfunctory executive confirmation.
Watching Russia’s Border Buildup
* Ukrainians fear a push by Russia, which has been conveniently prepositioning troops near the border, into the country’s southeast that would reach as far as Moldova and secure Russian land access to Crimea. Though head faking an invasion also gives Russia something to “deescalate” with and help Western politicians save face. In the meantime, it seems that “if you like your Crimea, you can keep it.”
* Tim Ripley from IHS Jane’s notes the increasing sophistication of Russia’s military resurgence:
“Once Russian troops had moved to blockade Ukrainian military personnel in their bases, psychological warfare, internet/media propaganda, intimidation, and bribery were their main weapons to undermine their opponents’ will to resist, rather than overwhelming firepower. Russian troops also displayed considerably discipline and patience during this phase. In addition, they appeared well equipped, boasting new personnel equipment, body armour, and light wheeled armoured vehicles.”
Syrian Foot Dragging
* The US State Department posted an update on the protracted effort to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons:
“While we have made progress, the task before us remains considerable. After months of Syrian foot dragging, we have made clear to the Asad regime that the internationally agreed upon schedule for chemical weapons destruction is simply not up for negotiation; the regime has all the equipment that it needs and has run out of excuses. […] Syria has missed several intermediate target dates, including most recently the target date for the destruction of chemical weapons production facilities.”
* A meeting hosted by the London-based IISS think tank: Syria after Geneva II: Escalation and Fragmentation .
* Murad Bayar, the official heading Turkey’s SSM defense procurement body since 2004, was moved to another job following a leak allegedly revealing high level Turkish discussions about Syria.
3D Printing a Human Skull
* Today’s video [in Dutch, comes with English caption] shows how surgeons at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands successfully replaced most of a woman’s skull with a 3-D printed plastic implant. Bone growth was slowly driving her blind, but victims of traumatic accidents such as wounded veterans will no doubt also benefit from such advances. See press release [in Dutch], NBC article.