Colleagues: The selection of the new British PM (2nd female!) and the failed coup in Turkey give added importance to this timely discussion!  Please join us!

This is the final announcement for the most timely presentation on….

BREXIT AND THE EU

So Just what is this “European Union” the Brits Decided to Leave?

with
 

COL. RALF VARGAS (USA, Ret.)

Former official in the NATO Diplomatic Headquarters

with a commentary by Dr. Jerry O’Driscoll

The Ramada, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) is already threatening to unravel a democratic bloc of nations that has coexisted peacefully and prosperously for decades. But now the post-1945 order imposed on the world by the U.S. and its allies is unraveling. Britain’s retreat into “Little England” is maybe just the first of many “exits” from the EU (and possibly NATO) by a number of European countries.

Slow economic growth and, especially, what some see as rampant immigration of peoples with very different religious, cultural and political orientations, drove the Brexit vote and could lead to similar exit decisions by other nations. Populism has replaced a shared, common identity; resentment against foreign ideologies and religions has grown while a commitment to a “common identity” is fading; decades of lowering of trade barriers is giving way to increased calls for protectionism; and the fragile entity known as the EU is in danger of collapsing.

Not surprisingly, many of us were/are unsure of just what the EU is, and how membership differs from, say, NATO, or the European Community. They are quite different, as Ralf Vargas will explain in his presentation. Vargas notes that right after the UK vote, the most “Googled” question in Britain was, “What is the EU?” Ralf will provide us with a brief history of the EU, its current organization and how it is governed, and potential future expansion—or shrinkage. Does the BREXIT portend a Grexit? A Frexit? A Nexit? Or, given that polls in the UK now indicate if the vote were taken today, “Remain” would win handily! So will the Brits in the two years that negotiations will take place before an exit can occur decide to reverse that decision?

Ralf Vargas retired as a U.S. Army Colonel after 30 years of service, with 16 years in overseas assignments, culminating in his appointment as Chief of the NATO Situation Center in Brussels. He lectures across the globe, focusing on topics related to the “Changing Face of Europe” and the EU.  Dr. Jerry O’Driscoll is a former senior official in the Federal Reserve and a Fellow at the CATO Foundation.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Please join us for this very timely program on….

BREXIT AND THE EU

So Just what is this “European Union” the Brits Decided to Leave?

with

COL. RALF VARGAS (USA, Ret)

Former official in the NATO Diplomatic Headquarters

The Ramada, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) is already threatening to unravel a democratic bloc of nations that has coexisted peacefully and prosperously for decades. But now the post-1945 order imposed on the world by the U.S. and its allies is unraveling. Britain’s retreat into “Little England” is maybe just the first of many “exits” from the EU (and possibly NATO) by a number of European countries.

Slow economic growth and, especially, what some see as rampant immigration of peoples with very different religious, cultural and political orientations, drove the Brexit vote and could lead to similar exit decisions by other nations. Populism has replaced a shared, common identity; resentment against foreign ideologies and religions has grown while a commitment to a “common identity” is fading; decades of lowering of trade barriers is giving way to increased calls for protectionism; and the fragile entity known as the EU is in danger of collapsing.

Not surprisingly, many of us were/are unsure of just what the EU is, and how membership differs from, say, NATO, or the European Community. They are quite different, as Ralf Vargas will explain in his presentation. Vargas notes that right after the UK vote, the most “Googled” question in Britain was, “What is the EU?” Ralf will provide us with a brief history of the EU, its current organization and how it is governed, and potential future expansion—or shrinkage. Does the BREXIT portend a Grexit? A Frexit? A Nexit? Or, given that polls in the UK now indicate if the vote were taken today, “Remain” would win handily! So will the Brits in the two years that negotiations will take place before an exit can take place decide to reverse that decision?

Ralf Vargas retired as a U.S. Army Colonel after 30 years of service, with 16 years in overseas assignments, culminating in his appointment as Chief of the NATO Situation Center in Brussels. He lectures across the globe, focusing on topics related to the “Changing Face of Europe” and the EU. We will ask other experts to join in with commentary on the economic and military implications of the Brexit decision, but will likely want to schedule specific programs on those topics later.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

The National Security Forum conducted its first annual meeting.  The purpose of the session was to outline our intentions with respect to future programs and commentaries, and provide highlights and issues regarding logistics, financials, membership, website and IT developments.  Here are some key highlights from that session:

Tyrus W. Cobb is the founder of the NSF and is the Director of overseeing our programs and commentary.  He traced the growth of the National Security Forum from the small group that gathered at the Gold & Silver to discuss current foreign policy and international economic topics to the vastly expanded organization it is today.

The NSF provides balanced commentary and programs on issues pertaining to U.S. and global national security topics.

  • The NSF recently has hosted key figures who play significant roles in these issues, including GEN John Abizaid, former CIA Director Rae Huffstutler, former Federal Reserve official, Dr. Gerald O’Driscoll, former U.S. Army Europe and Africa CG, General Carter Ham, and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Venezuela, Jeffrey Davidow.
  • Informed commentary is also provided from a wide variety of sources addressing key national security issues, including U.S. policy regarding recent Chinese and Russian aggression, American interests and strategies pertaining to the conflicts in the Middle East, on global financial concerns, and such controversial topics as gun control.
  • The NSF has a wide following not just here in northern Nevada, but in the Washington power corridors and internationally. It represents a unique contribution to what is described as a growing “creative class” of individuals here in this region.

Elaine Alexander is the Board Director overseeing financial affairs.  In her financial update she highlighted:

  • We have approximately $40,000 in the bank.
  • For year end 6/30/15, total receipts were $70,497 and expenses were $66,770.  For year to date 6/9/16 receipts are $71,825 and expenses are $57,767.
  • Revenues come from breakfasts, dues, donations, and spike June-August with the dues cycle.
  • Breakfast revenues cover breakfast expenses, but do not cover operational expenses.
  • WWII vets attend without charge; active military & students attend for only $10, which is below cost.
  • Without membership dues and donations, NSF could not continue.
  • Membership has grown over 10% in the last 2 years.
  • NSF has no employees – only 2-3 contractors that are paid by NSF every year.
  • Speakers, admin work, accounting, tax prep, legal services, website design/maintenance, front desk, and meeting logistics are all donated services for which NSF pays nothing.
  • Grants are being sought for the purpose to compensate Ty Cobb for work performed and to attract speakers who require payment.

Dr. Jim Megquier serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and also oversees our fundraising efforts.  He highlighted:

  • There are three grant requests now in progress.
  • One informational Executive Summary has been given to a representative of the Mallory Foundation at a meeting.
  • We are also nearly ready to meet with representatives of the NV Energy Foundation, sometime in July.

Dick Bartholet serves as Board Director overseeing memberships.  In his report he highlighted:

Membership has grown:

2013:           184 members

2014:           204 members+20 members 11%

2015:           233 members+29 members14%

  • Attendance at breakfast meetings has grown:
  • 2015 average attendance averages 145 people, of which about 2/3rds are members
  • 2016 year-to-date attendance averages 170 people, again with approximately 2/3rds members
  • Maximum attendance – 232 in December.  Over 200 attended in May 2016.  We are quickly approaching capacity, so it is important to RSVP.
  • At each meeting, we average around 6 WWII veterans; their breakfasts are complimentary.
  • Speakers and their guests also receive complimentary breakfast.
  • We also average around 6 students and active military in uniform, and they receive a discount for breakfast.
  • Your dues and donations help to offset these costs.

Ben Tedore is the Director overseeing our IT and website development, along with Major Jerry Morris.  Ben highlighted these points:

  • The website allows members to read the regularly updated news feed, signup for the newsletter, pay membership dues, RSVP for meetings, as well as pay for upcoming meetings, donate to the Forum, and contact our representatives.
  • The website has 11,263 annual visitors.  75% of visitors arrive from search results, and 75% of searches are from the U.S.
  • The newsletter has 1,217 subscribers, which is up from 600 in 2012. 53% of viewers read the newsletter on a desktop, while 47% of viewers use a mobile device.  97% of viewers are located in the U.S.

Skip Hansen is the Board Director handling NSF logistics.  In his report he made the following points:

  • The NSF has convened at a number of local establishments, from the Gold and Silver to the Prospectors Club to the Sienna, and now at the Ramada.
  • We are very pleased with the responsiveness and the flexibility shown by the staff at the Ramada.  They understand how difficult it is for us to provide with exact numbers, and have shown an unusual ability to adjust when 40 or more folks show up then have signed up.
  • Down the road we likely will experience a necessity of having to restrict attendance, as the most the Ramada can likely handle is in the range of 240 attendees.  That may mean allowing only actual members of the NSF to sign up prior to a certain date or other measures.

Dr. Carina Black is the Board Director overseeing all operations of the Forum.  As such, her responsibilities also involve meeting financials, organizational issues, insuring balanced commentary, and staff management.

Please join us for this timely presentation on….

Bioterrorism:

How the Revolution in Biotechnology

Has Changed the Threat

with

Colonel Randall Larsen, USAF (Ret)

The Ramada, Thursday, July 7, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

During the cold war the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and several other nations had large-scale offensive bioweapons programs.  By the late 1960s these programs were producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with capabilities that were only surpassed by thermonuclear devices. In November, 1969, President Nixon unilaterally terminated the U.S. program, and the U.S. led the international effort to eliminate all bioweapons through the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972. (However, after signing this treaty, the Soviet Union greatly expanded their bioweapons program. By the late 1980s, more than 30,000 scientists and engineers were working in the Soviet Union’s offensive bioweapons program.)

During the later half of the 20th century it required enormous capital investment–financial, engineering and scientific–to develop and produce sophisticated biological weapons. Today, the revolution in biotechnology has made it possible for small nation-states, and some non-state actors, to develop bioweapons with WMD capabilities. If the FBI is right about the anthrax letters of 2001, then a single individual, with no background in bioweapons production, used equipment that can be purchased on eBay to produce dry powdered anthrax of a quality equal to the best produced in the former U.S. program.

What has changed? What are the risks?  Why hasn’t it already happened? What can be done to prevent bioterrorist attacks on the U.S.? Are we prepared to respond?  These and other questions will be addressed. 

Randall Larsen is the national security advisor at the UPMC Center for Health Security and a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.

In 2009 he served as the executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and in 2010, along with former Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO), Larsen founded the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center where he served as the chief executive officer.

Larsen is the author of Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security to Protect You, Your Family, and America (Grand Central, 2007). His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week. He served as the co-host of public radio’s Homeland Security: Inside & Out and as the host of Science and National Security on WFED in Washington D.C.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing info@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Colleagues:

As you know, Randy Larsen will be our guest speaker for the NSF on “Bioterrorism” on July 7th.  Randy sent me this note this morning and an article which graphically portrays how the Bio Threat has morphed from one conducted by major states, such as the USSR, to something high school students can now produce.  Worth the read!

Ty

/////

Ty,
This is an issue we need to address on July 7th as a likely future threat. With the CRISPR-CAS 9 technology, high school biology students will soon have the capability to build designer bioweapons better than the top Soviet scientists were working on in the late 1980s.
Randy

Intelligence Agency Wants to Keep

‘Novel Organisms’ From Threatening Humans

By Mohana Ravindranath

Nextgov

June 14, 2016

The same technology that helps scientists sequence genes could also help them create “novel organisms” that could be used to attack humans and the environment, according to one intelligence agency.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the intelligence community’s R&D arm, wants businesses to showcase technology that could prevent new biotechnology, such as DNA synthesis, from being exploited. At the end of this month, IARPA is hosting a Proposers’ Day in advance of a new solicitation for its Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats, or “Fun GCAT” program. 

New biological research on gene sequencing, synthesis and analysis “are likely to enable revolutionary advances in medicine, agriculture and materials,” IARPA’s posting says — but they also “have intensified security concerns around the accidental or deliberate misuse of biotechnologies.”

The potential that researchers could synthesize “novel organisms” from genetic material is a “special concern,” the posting said. Today, researchers aren’t screening DNA synthesis for the risks it might pose to humans and the environment, according to IARPA. To remedy this, the Fun GCAT program aims to assess “the threat potential of unknown genes.”

The ultimate goal is to create screening systems that can “prevent accidental or deliberate health hazards to humans and agricultural assets.”

Eventually, the program aims to use computational systems that can “predict structure and functions of unknown genes,” or create models of the risk that certain gene functions might present.

Nextgov has requested comment from IARPA.