7:39 pm, November 26, 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.

Intercept test successful

The U.S. military has conducted its first operational test of the THAAD missile defense system and the ship-based Aegis system aimed at intercepting two medium-range ballistic missiles fired almost simultaneously. The test was conducted early Tuesday in the western Pacific. Officials say the test was important because it demonstrated the ability of the U.S. military to defend against possible regional ballistic missile threats from countries like Iran or North Korea or even accidental releases.

How much would a strike on Syria cost?

Tens of millions of dollars. That's what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tells lawmakers a limited military strike in Syria would cost. It opens a window into how far or not the U.S. government could go in launching a strike. Tomahawk missiles are quite often the leading edge of military strikes in situations like these. Tomahawk cost more than $1 million apiece and radar-evading B-2 bombers which might another component cost approximately $60,000 an hour to operate.

Asian defense leaders weigh in on U.S. rebalance

So how do Asian military leaders feel about the U.S. rebalance to Asia? American Forces Press Service reports, they welcomed it. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spent nine days in the region recently and visited Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines during that time. He also participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministers conference in Brunei. Acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs Peter R. Lavoy.

Syria not the only chemical weapons concern

The US military is focused on Syria right now, but there are other areas where chemical weapons are of great concern. "I've just returned from Asia, where I had a very serious and long conversation with South Korea's defense minister about the threat that North Korea's stockpile of chemical weapons presents to them," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Referring to Syria's situation, he said the US must demonstrate through its actions that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.

Senate debating Syria decision

What's the U.S. going to do about the use of chemical weapons in Syria? Our military objective in Syria would be to hold the Assad regime accountable, degrade its ability to carry out these kinds of attacks, and deter the regime from further use of chemical weapons," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday," the Department of Defense has developed military options to achieve these objectives, and we have positioned U.S. assets throughout the region to successfully execute this mission."

Iraqis support Syrians

Followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held rallies in Baghdad and the southern Iraqi city of Basra to denounce any Western strikes against Syria. In the capital, about 2,000 Sadrists demonstrated while chanting anti-American slogans after Friday prayers. About 3,000 Sadrists rallied in Basra, some carrying banners reading "No to America."

U.S. attack strategy emerges

What happens the day after a US attack on Syria for using chemical weapons. A senior US defense officials says the U.S. will still be in the same military posture and will still have the same capabilities, but that official says Syria will have a degraded capability to launch another attack and will be deterred from launching another attack.

Turkey watches for Syrian aggression

Turkey is keeping a wary eye out for Syrian attacks. "We are now at a more alert position", Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday. Reuters is reporting as well, Davutoglu says, "Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests". He said, Turkey has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria as Western allies weigh possible military action against President Bashar al-Assad.

Pentagon review coming next month

Reuters is reporting that "former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley will lead a major review of the Pentagon's organizational structure aimed at cutting headquarters costs by almost $40 billion through fiscal year 2023." According to the report, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says "he had asked Donley and his team to submit findings and recommendations for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's consideration by the end of September."

Indonesia gets U.S. Helicopters

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Pentagon will sell eight Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia for $500 million. The Associated Press reports the deal includes high-tech Longbow radars. Hagel also said Indonesia has agreed to discuss allowing U.S. recovery teams to search for the remains of U.S. troops lost on Indonesian soil or in its territorial waters during World War II. The work will be done by the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command.

Obama administration mulling Syria solution

U.S. and allied intelligence agencies say chemical weapons were likely used by Syrian forces in an attack near Damascus. Reuters reports they think it happened "with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to American and European security sources." Reuters also says, "the early intelligence finding could increase pressure for action by President Barack Obama, who has made clear that he plans to tread cautiously even as his aides air their differences in a debate over possible military responses to the Syrian government."

Was Al Qaida's latest plot successful?

Al Qaida latest terror plot has a huge impact without them even launching an attack. That according to intelligence and law enforcement officials all over the world is one of the big pay-offs for Al Qaida and other terrorist groups involved in the recent Embassy plots overseas. Authorities say the main goal of these groups is to frighten people, force governments to spend money and resources to react to the plots, and to achieve publicity for themselves.

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.

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