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8:33 pm, September 22, 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.

U.S. and Chinese defense officials agree

The Pacific Ocean is big enough for both the U.S. China. That's what the Chinese Secretary of Defense says. But posturing between the U.S. and China seems to suggest something different. During a joint news conference at the Pentagon Gen. Chang Wanquan agreed with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel t that there is room for greater U.S.-China military cooperation, including joint exercises and high-level visits.

Iraq asking US military to come back

US drones in Iraq. They've been there before. But could they be there again? Iraq's top diplomat wants them there to help fight Al Qaida. Iraqi's foreign minister is Hoshyar Zebari says Iraqi forces need U.S. help with surveillance and analyzing intelligence. He suggests that an unspecified but limited number of American counterterror advisers could be stationed in Iraq to help its military deter a recent spike in deadly attacks.

Afghanistan needs extended foreign assistance

A top U.S. military official says Afghanistan, even after foreign troops have left will remain dependent on international troops for security many years to come. U.S. General Joseph Dunford, the U.S. commander of the NATO-led force told Reuters, he argued for a significant presence after the U.S.-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is disbanded next year. Reuters reports, "the White House favors about 7,000 U.S. troops, but some in the U.S. military would prefer two or three times as many."

Tension growing in South Asia

When US forces leave Afghanistan next year, the absence of the counter-balance will be noticed. Pakistan-based militants say they will attack India once Western troops leave Afghanistan in 2014. That will likely increase tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons. The threats were made by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 2008 commando-style raid on Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Learning more about AQAP's Wahishi

The Associated Press is reporting that "a year before he was caught on an intercept discussing the terror plot that prompted this week's sweeping closure of United States embassies abroad, al-Qaida's top operative in Yemen laid out his blueprint for how to wage jihad in letters sent to a fellow terrorist. In what reads like a lesson plan, Nasser al-Wahishi provides a step-by-step assessment of what worked and what didn't in Yemen. But in the rare correspondence discovered by the Associated Press, the man at the center of the latest terror threat barely mentions the extremist methods that transformed his organization into al-Qaida's most dangerous branch."

Senators concerned about Egypt

Just back from a trip to Egypt, Sen. John McCain is expressing concern that Egypt may be headed toward a period of prolonged violence if the Arab country's military and the Muslim Brotherhood cannot start a political dialogue, according to the Associate Press. McCain and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham pressed their case over meetings this week with Egypt's top army brass, interim political leaders, youth groups and allies of Egypt's ousted and now imprisoned president, Mohammed Morsi. The AP says McCain acknowledged that top Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was unhappy with some of the "straightforward" suggestions they offered.

U.S.S Miami to be scrapped

The U.S. Navy is going to deactivate a nuclear-powered submarine damaged by an arsonist last year rather than repair it, saying the $700 million repair cost could not be justified in a time of tight budgets.

The decision to scrap the USS Miami nuclear attack submarine, which had been scheduled for another decade of service, is another example of the choices facing the Pentagon as it attempts to deal with large huge across-the-board budget cuts.

Who are AQAP?

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian is a militant Islamist organization, primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. AQAP was formed in January 2009 from a merger of al Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi branches. It's widely believed to be the most dangerous of all Al Qaida branches. It's leadership has been responsible for several high profile bomb attempts against the U.S. It has also has been a frequent target.

Pentagon asked to stop Russian helicopter deal

A dozen Republican and Democratic senators are calling on the Pentagon to cancel all contracts to buy helicopters for Afghan security forces from a state-run Russian arms exporter that is a top weapons supplier to the Syrian government. Led by Republican Sen. John Cornyn (KOHR'-nihn) of Texas, they sent a letter on Monday to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the Mi-17 Helicopters.

Davis considered for top DHS post

Boston police commissioner Edward F. Davis has been mentioned as a candidate to be the next secretary of Homeland Security. The Boston Globe reports he may be in the mix for the job being vacated by Janet Napolitano. According to the Globe, some Senators, think President Obama will announce his nomination within the next few weeks. They also report the White House is vetting "a handful of people" for the position.

Hagel discusses Review

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has revealed the results a four-month Strategic Choices and Management Review, He said the Pentagon would cut overhead by almost $40 billion more over the next decade, and was looking at $50 billion in savings from compensation. He said the review also pointed to possible reductions of up to 70,000 troops from the U.S. Army's active force, and up to 65,000 from the Army reserves.

Prisoners Escape

Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail after comrades launched a military-style assault, authorities said on Monday. Reuters reports ten policemen and four militants were killed in the clashes. Suicide bombers reportedly drove cars packed with explosives to the gates of the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night and blasted their way into the compound, while gunmen attacked guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Surveillance no surprise to Germany

Germany was one of several European countries expressing outrage over the NSA surveillance of their diplomats under certain circumstances. Now it turns out according to German newspaper Bild, the government has known about the capability for years and has actually used the apparatus to collect information about German citizens. Apparently, according to the newspaper the BND, Germany's intelligence agency asked NSA for email and telephone records of German citizens kidnapped in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Failed missile test has consequences

Reuters is reporting that "four U.S. Republican lawmakers on Friday urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to conduct another test of the missile defense system this year after last week's test failure, and to make development of a next-generation interceptor a top priority." The lawmakers seemed to indirectly failed July 5 missile defense test was not yet clear, but they argued that President Barack Obama's cuts in spending on missile defense had reduced funding for needed tests and maintenance of the system."

Hacker conference tells feds to stay away

The U.S, government has been disinvited from a key hacking convention. "It would be best for everyone involved if the Feds call a 'time-out' and not attend Def Con this year," conference founder Jeff Moss said in a statement on the convention's website. It looks as though Edward Snowden's revelations in the NSA leaks have made some in the hacking community uncomfortable about the U.S. government's presence.

JPAC investigation underway

There are more than 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, according to US estimates. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters at a Tuesday afternoon briefing, "We're going to review the concerns raised about how the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command or JPAC is or isn't functioning well,". The Associated Press reported recently the command suffers from waste, mismanagement and ineptitude.

Judge rejects hunger-striker's motion

A U.S. federal judge said Monday she lacks the authority to stop the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba. But, District Judge Gladys Kessler pointed out the practice may violate international law. She said previous rulings have established that the court lacks jurisdiction to stop the force-feeding of prisoners, but she added, President Barack Obama can resolve the issue quoting from a recent speech where he "criticized" the practice.

North Korea extends offer to South

South Korea said Wednesday that it is considering an offer by North Korea to allow South Korean businessmen to visit a shuttered joint industrial complex in the North and hold talks on possibly removing some of their equipment. The two nations are on very tense footing as North Korea has threatened to attack the South and U.S forces stationed there. The North is also pursuing a new round talk over its nuclear weapons program.

Remains of heroes buried at Arlington

A soldier who went missing after his helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam War...was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. The remains of Army Specialist John L. Burgess of Sutton Bay, Mich., were buried today in a single casket with the remains of two members of his crew who had been previously identified. They were among five soldiers aboard a helicopter that crashed near the Cambodian border in 1970. Only one survived.

U.S. Navy sending vessels to Persian Gulf

The U.S Navy says three coastal patrol boats have arrived at 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain to boost its fleet of the rapid-response craft in the Persian Gulf, where U.S. and Iranian forces often operate within close range. The Navy says the new vessels Wednesday bring the total to eight patrol boats as part of plans to have 10 stationed in Bahrain by early next year.

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