12:42 am, May 29, 2015

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.

Hagel discusses Mid-East security

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel participated in the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Cooperation Forum Thursday in New York along with Secretary of State John Kerry. During the meeting, Hagel reiterated the United States' commitment to the region and underscored how collaborative approaches toward regional defense made the Middle East more secure and stable. He also discussed recent progress on ballistic missile defense.

Pentagon Investigator Security Clearance Process

As investigators fill in the blanks regarding Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the department will complete three separate reviews in late December, including internal and independent assessments of base safety procedures as well as the security clearance process. Carter said during a Pentagon briefing the "Bottom line is, we need to know how an employee was able to bring a weapon and ammunition onto a DoD installation."

Sinclair's trial postponed -again

For the second time, the court-martial of a U.S. Army general facing sexual assault charges has been postponed. The trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair had been scheduled to begin at Fort Bragg next Monday. It was announced Tuesday that military Judge Col. James Pohl rescheduled the trial for Jan. 7 after a request from Sinclair's defense team. Unresolved issues are being worked out according to his civilian lawyer.

Gitmo getting fiber-optics

The U.S. military is laying fiber-optic cable under water to connect Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba with Florida, and the Associated Press reports it "could someday extend it to the rest of Cuba,." Ronald Bechtold, chief information officer at the Pentagon, said Friday at the war crimes tribunal, the project would be finished in about two years and vastly improve communications between the naval base and the United States."

Aegis System tested again

The Pentagon said Wednesday conducted the second test of the ship-based Aegis missile defense system in a week, firing two SM-3 missiles to intercept a single, complex separating target in space, the U.S. Defense Department said. According to DoD, the first SM-3 that was launched, successfully intercepted the target warhead. Raytheon said the second SM-3 was launched to test the system's ability to launch multiple missiles at one time against a threat. It was not intended to intercept the target.

Lawyers Sept. 11 suspects want trial halted

Lawyers in the case at Guantanamo Bay are pressing their effort to put proceedings on hold until security problems with a computer network are fixed. The chief defense counsel for military commissions spent Wednesday testifying about her April order forbidding use of a Pentagon computer network because of apparent security flaws. Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry told the court Wednesday that she lost confidence in the system after large amounts of data were lost and emails from defense lawyers disappeared.

Navy Security Scrutinized

The Washington Navy Yard shooting --the incident prompted immediate calls for reviews of base security procedures. Did it have anything to do with money? Congressman Michael Turner called for Defense Department officials to release information on an inspector general's audit of its system for controlling civilian workers' access to military bases. The Navy may have "implemented an unproven system in order to cut costs," Turner, an Ohio Republican, said in a letter dated Monday to Lynne Halbrooks, the Pentagon's acting inspector general.

DHS needs a centralized social media policy

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. He said in a statement, "In recent years, social media have become useful and efficient tools for the government to communicate both to its workers and the American people. Given DHS' size and makeup, social media are particularly helpful for DHS to improve its relationship with its employees and communicate with the public during both natural and man-made disasters."

Remains of U.S. military personnel identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has announced that two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Navy sex assault reports increase

The number of sexual assaults reported to the Navy has grown by approximately 50 percent in the last year. The Associated Press reports Navy officials said Wednesday that "is a sign that a growing number of sailors feel more comfortable reporting an assault and believe something will be done about it when they do. The Navy said it is on pace to end the 2013 fiscal year later this month with about 1,100 reports of sexual assault. That's up from the 726 sexual assaults reported in the previous fiscal year."

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.

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