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6:22 am, November 23, 2014

Pentagon & Beyond

National Security Correspondent J.J. Green has traveled three continents covering intelligence, terrorism, and security issues. From Afghanistan to Africa, Iraq to Ireland, there isn't anywhere J.J. won't go, nor anyone he won't talk with, to get the stories affecting the defense and national security communities.

DoD lays out Arctic Strategy

The Department of Defense has come up with a strategy for the Arctic. Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel says U.S. Forces will continue to train and operate routinely in the region working on a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. It also wants to promote defense cooperation to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies-operating through cooperative means.

U.S. and Israelis meet

Defense Secretary Hagel met recently with Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada during the Halifax International Security Forum to discuss regional security issues. During the meeting, Hagel and Ya'alon reaffirmed the strength of the U.S. Israel defense relationship, and pledged to continue to consult closely on the multitude of challenges facing the two countries. Also discussed --Iran, Egypt, and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Wrinkle emerges in Afghan security negotiations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is urging tribal elders to approve a security agreement with the U.S. that could keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024. But in a controversial move, he want his successor sign the document after elections next April. Some question whether it's an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility for an agreement that many Afghans see as selling out to foreign interests. President Barack Obama wants quick passage of the agreement.

Code Talkers Honored

Congress is bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honor, on American Indians who used their native language to outwit enemies and protect American battlefield secrets during World Wars I and II. Dozens of members of Congress, the military and others gathered in the Capitol's Emancipation Hall on Wednesday to honor 33 tribes for the wartime contributions of so-called code talkers.

Military sexual assault proposal criticized

Stripping military commanders of the authority to prosecute serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault could make it worse for victims. That's the essence of a letter that 11 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee sent to colleagues Monday rejecting the solution offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. She has the public support of nearly half the Senate for removing commanders from deciding whether serious crimes go to trial and giving that authority to seasoned trial lawyers who have prosecutorial experience and hold the rank of colonel or higher.

Hagel Deliver Stern Message to STRATCOM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told members of STRATCOM there is "no room for error" by those responsible for America's nuclear forces. This was the first time he commented on what he called "troubling lapses" in professionalism within the nuclear ranks. Last month, two senior nuclear commanders were fired amid misconduct investigations, and in August, service members working at a nuclear-missile base in Montana failed a safety and security inspection.

Russian choppers cancelled

The Defense Department is canceling plans to buy additional cargo helicopters from a Russian arms export agency that has supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad's military forces with arms and ammunition. 15 Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters were to be purchased next year at a cost of $345 million and then delivered to Afghanistan's national security forces. DoD has paid Rosoboronexport more than $1 billion since 2011 for 63 Mi-17s that have been delivered to Afghanistan or are on order.

US veteran seeks redress

Arnold Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran who turned his life around after struggling with drug addiction is fighting his deportation. He says he should not have been expelled last year for a minor criminal record after honorably serving his country and living here legally for more than 50 years. He was deported to his native Italy over drug possession and larceny convictions, his attorneys said. The former Connecticut resident is seeking to reverse his deportation, arguing in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday that immigration authorities never acted on his citizenship application in 1982.

IAEA head may go to Iran

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is thinking about an invitation to visit Tehran for scheduled talks, a possible sign of progress in a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear arms research by Iran. After years of worsening confrontation with the West, Iran has become more conciliatory of late.

Israel launches strike

Israel said it would not allow advanced weapons to fall into the hands of Hezbollah, after a raid on Syria that opposition sources said had hit an air force garrison believed to be holding Russian-made missiles destined for the militant group. Israel has a clear policy on Syria and will continue to enforce it, officials said on Friday, after U.S. and European sources said Israel had launched a new attack on its warring neighbor.

Manning to take gender issue to court

The Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea, has written a letter to her lawyer saying she'll go to court if necessary to get treatment for gender identity disorder. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for sending more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Pentagon budget cuts hanging in the balance

The Associated Press is reporting negotiators from the House and Senate are promising to try to reach an agreement that would spare both the Pentagon and domestic agencies from automatic spending cuts, the result of Washington's failure to strike a budget deal. But taxes, again appear to be in the way -- with top GOP negotiator Paul Ryan taking a firm stance against using tax revenues to ease the automatic cuts.

HASC trying to reform Pentagon Spending

The House Armed Services Committee is going to try again to change the way the Pentagon buys weapons and services. The committee's chairman, California Representative Buck McKeon, said some successful efforts were already under way to institute meaningful reforms, but the U.S. military acquisition system faces significant challenges including cost overruns and schedule delays. He predicts the problems will get worse because of mounting pressure on U.S. budgets.

U.S. and New Zealand military heads meet

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and New Zealand Minister of Defense Jonathan Coleman met in Washington Monday to discuss expanding defense cooperation between two countries. During the gathering, both Hagel and Minister Coleman highlighted the decade long cooperation between the two during the war in Afghanistan. And they confirmed that cooperation on peacekeeping will be expanded into capacity building activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

India and China defuse border tension

India and China are close to an agreement to end their strife over their contested border while they try to figure out a way to break decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to long stretches of the Himalayas. A border defense cooperation pact could be finished before India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China this week. That is said to be a small step forward in a complicated relationship marked by booming economic ties and growing distrust.

Blackwater employees charged again

The Justice Department has filed new charges against four former Blackwater security contractors. This revives an internationally charged case over a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad. The men were hired to guard U.S. diplomats. They're accused of opening fire in busy Nisoor Square on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen Iraqi civilians died.

Did Al Libi talk?

What happened with the Abu Anas al Libi interrogation? There are reports that interrogators essentially gave up, because he stopped eating and drinking regularly, which caused his Hepatitis C problem to worsen. U.S. officials say he was taken to a hospital before being taken to a hospital in New York, before his appearance in court in New York. Al Libi, suspected of being a long time al Qaida operative, plead not guilty to terrorism charges yesterday in New York.

Hagel discusses Middle East Security

Secretary of Defense Hagel spoke with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan Monday to consult on regional issues. Hagel emphasized the U.S. commitment to regional security and noted that the strong U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship remains integral to regional stability. Hagel also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt, and discussed the recent decision about US security assistance to Egypt.

Admiral disciplined

The Navy says a three-star admiral was notified Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty as second-in-command at the military organization that oversees all U.S. nuclear forces. He is under investigation in a gambling matter. The Navy's top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said that Vice Adm. Tim Giardina will drop in rank to two-star admiral as a consequence of being removed from his position at U.S. Strategic Command.

Sailors facing Courts Martial

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James Reyher, 28, of Caldwell, Ohio, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Harris, 23, of Gladstone, Missouri, died on Feb. 26, when they ran out of air while trying to locate a sunken helicopter in 150 feet (46 meters) of water at the Super Pond training site at Aberdeen Proving Grounds near Baltimore. As a result four sailors have been charged with dereliction of duty resulting in the deaths of Reyher and Harris during a training exercise. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Bennett, the command diving officer for a salvage and diving unit, was charged with failing to ensure that safety procedures were followed and with failing to tell the commanding officer of a request to deviate from the training scenario. Senior Chief Navy Diver David Jones, Senior Chief Navy Diver James Burger and Chief Navy Diver Gary Ladd Jr also were accused of failure to follow safety procedures.

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