* Eric Shinseki resigned this morning as Veteran Affairs secretary. With tepid support from the White House after yesterday’s interim report from the VA’s Inspector General and bipartisan calls for his resignation, there was little else he could do. He made a final statement to apologize for the VA’s “systemic” problems (video) a couple of hours before resigning.
* The Army is seeking refunds from Northop Grumman for too high labor rates in an anti drug trafficking program subcontracted to DynCorp International, according to an Inspector General report seen by Bloomberg. As much as $123M are reportedly labeled as “questionable costs.”
* The withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border, promised several times by the Kremlin in the past couple of months without being corroborated by satellite pictures, is reportedly finally starting to happen. The situation in Eastern Ukraine is messy enough without the looming presence of official Russian troops nearby. Al Jazeera video.
India’s Part Time Defense Secretary
* The new Indian government has been appointed this week, with Arun Jaitley replacing AK Antony as defense minister. That’s on top of Jaitley being minister of finance and corporate affairs, surely one of the heaviest portfolios given Narendra Modi’s pro-growth agenda. This appears to be temporary until a full time defense minister is found, but this is a puzzling decision for the time being.
China’s Full Time Charm Offensive
* The latest niceties from China’s officials: China-Russia military cooperation shows high-level mutual trust; the United States is the world’s leading cyber thief; why is Japan provoking us all the time?; THAAD in South Korea is a bad idea. But as usual they’re playing the victim and would like others to be nice to them during IISS’ Shangri La Asia Security Summit. OK.
* Back in the real world: Oil Crisis in the South China Sea Prompts Vietnam to Consider Stronger Ties with the United States.
* Daily Beast: As Obama Draws Down, Al Qaeda Grows in Afghanistan.
* From Anthony H. Cordesman at the conservative CSIS think tank: “President Obama’s Announcement on Troop Levels in Afghanistan: No Plan, No Transparency, No Credibility, and No Leadership.”
A Life in a Day
* Today’s video won an award from the UK’s Royal Navy and goes through a day aboard HMS Montrose as she was deployed in the Middle East last year: