►The United States and Afghanistan have reached an agreement on the wording of a security pact that outlines America’s physical and financial presence in Afghanistan, reports The New York Times. The deal, which must be approved by an Afghan council, allows for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and billions of dollars in international assistance to be given to the Afghan government. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to President Hamid Karzai before announcing the agreement, according to the article. Kerry also made it clear that an apology was not a part of the pact—some Afghan officials had called for President Barack Obama to issue a letter acknowledging mistakes during the 12-year Afghan war. Under the pact, American soldiers will not face Afghan prosecution in the course of their duties, and U.S. special forces will be able to conduct antiterrorism raids on private Afghan homes.
►The Department of Defense (DoD) needs to improve its proposals for a complex catastrophe response plan, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday. In the face of a complicated and uncertain security environment, the DoD in 2012 began to plan for how it would provide federal military support during a complex catastrophe, such as a large earthquake that causes extraordinary levels of damage and cascading failures of critical infrastructure. The GAO analyzed the civil support plans, guidance, and other documents to determine whether the department’s plan would foster a quick response. They noted, among other things, that the agency should "identify an interim set of specific capabilities for a complex catastrophe— instead of waiting for FEMA to complete its five-year regional planning process...."
►In other news, Government Security News reports that the DHS is teaming up with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Sacramento Police Department, and Sacramento first responder community to test out the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Spatial Environment (EDGE) training platform. The system is designed to train first responders across multiple agencies, disciplines, and jurisdictions on complex emergency scenarios. ⇒ And The Guardian reports that a Massachusetts police department admitted to paying a bitcoin ransom after being hacked. A department computer was infected with the Cryptolocker ransomware, which encrypted the hard drive and displayed a countdown timer while demanding payment of two bitcoins—around $1338—to release the data. Bitcoins are an almost untraceable digital online currency. The department’s computers are now free of viruses, and the FBI is investigating the attack, according to a police spokesman.