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12:21 pm, November 28, 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.

Cyber thieves swipe Pentagon plans

Hackers stealing sensitive design data from programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could limit the advantage the plane gives the U.S. Defense acquisitions chief Frank Kendall told a Senate hearing he was reasonably confident that classified information related to the development of the F-35 was well-protected. "But I'm not at all confident that our unclassified information is as well-protected," he said.

Talks with the Taliban set to begin

The U.S. is going to meet with the Taliban this week, but is managing its expectations. The talks are designed to achieve peace in Afghanistan. The Taliban opened an office in Doha, the Qatari capital, on Tuesday. U.S. officials say the talks will start in Doha on Thursday, but President Barack Obama says don't expect any quick progress, because the process won't be easy.

Details on women in combat expected

Later today, the military is going to add some clarity on its plan to start moving women into thousands of combat jobs, including those in special operations forces. The Army is expected to develop standards within the next two years to let women train and possibly serve as Rangers. By March of 2016, women could begin training as Navy SEALS. U.S. Special Operations Command is working on deciding what commando jobs could be opened to women, and when the transition would take place.

Trouble looming for West Point head

The Superintendent at West Point West Point is in hot water. Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, according to the Department of Defense Inspector, improperly allowed subordinates to give driving lessons, didn't properly compensate those who worked at a charity dinner and accepted gifts of services from subordinates. The report was released to The Associated Press on Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Punishment for sexual assault formalized

The House of Representatives has endorsed a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a member of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court. The Associated Press reports, "by voice vote, the House approved the additional punishment as part of a series of steps lawmakers have taken to tackle the growing problem of sexual assault. The provisions are contained in a sweeping defense policy bill for the 2014 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1."

Benghazi story disputed

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that four members of Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to stand down after last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, disputing a former top diplomat's claim that the unit might have helped Americans under siege. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said timing and the need for the unit to help with casualties from Benghazi resulted in orders for the special forces to remain in Tripoli.

Al Qaida has missiles

The Associated Press says it's recovered a 26 page document in Arabic from a building that was occupied by Al Qaida in Timbuktu Mali that strongly suggest they have acquired surface-to-air missiles. The recovery also seems to confirm that the al-Qaida cell is actively training its fighters to use the weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS. It's believed they came from the arms depots of ex-Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

AUMF repeal-attempt looming

Should the President and Congress take a second look at using the military in the war against terrorism? Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence committee, plans to introduce legislation today to repeal Authorization for the Use of Military Force. He's suggesting the law is outdated. He says, "A lot of troops that we have on the battlefield now were on playgrounds" when the law was passed. He linked the timing to when U.S. combat forces will be out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Chinese cyber army holding exercises

China's rolling out its digital army. Xinhua, the official state news agency says next month they're going to conduct their first "digital" technology military exercise. It'll take place in north China's remote Inner Mongolia region. They're going to focus on digitalized combat, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces.

DoD responds to claims that weapons systems were compromised

The Pentagon is responding to a Washington Post article claiming key weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese espionage. Spokesman George Little says, "We maintain full confidence in our weapons platforms." Little also says, "The Department of Defense takes the threat of cyber espionage and cyber security very seriously, which is why we have taken a number of steps to increase funding to strengthen our capabilities, harden our networks, and work with the defense industrial base to achieve greater visibility into the threats our industrial partners are facing." He says, "suggestions that cyber intrusions have somehow led to the erosion of our capabilities or technological edge are incorrect."

The IC responds to President's "drone" speech

After the President's major speech on drones and GITMO, the intelligence community responded. DNI James Clapper welcomed "the effort to strengthen the process for reviewing and approving counterterrorism operations." He said "a consistent and regularized interagency coordination process that involves policymakers, intelligence professionals and the legal community is essential to preventing and responding to terrorism while ensuring the freedoms that are the bedrock of our democracy."

VA Disability claims fast tracked?

The Pentagon is buying a new computerized health records system to be able to better share and merge its data with the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the Associated Press is reporting, "officials cautioned that it was part of a "long-term modernization" effort and would not help ease the current backlog in VA disability claims." Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering DoD to seek bids for development of the new system.

Commanding General at Fort Jackson Suspended

Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, Commanding General, U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, in Fort Jackson, S.C. has been suspended. The Pentagon says the suspension is due to allegations that include adultery and a physical altercation. Military authorities say the charges are being thoroughly investigated. While the investigation is ongoing, Brig. Gen. Peggy C. Combs, Commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., will serve as the interim commander until the investigation is complete and the issue resolved.

U.S. criticizes Russian arms shipment to Syria

The Obama administration is denouncing Russia's decision to equip the Syrian government military with anti-ship missiles, saying the weapons would only worsen a war that Washington and Moscow have been promising to work together on stopping. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized what he called an "unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering."

Pentagon expects long war with terrorists

Another decade or two, that at least how long Senior Pentagon officials say the U.S. war against Al Qaida and its affiliates will last. Acting General Counsel Robert Taylor and Michael Sheehan, an assistant secretary of defense for special operations, made the point before the Senate Armed Services Committee, while arguing to prevent changes to a law that allows for the broad use of military force in the war against terrorism.

China tests a missile killer

Reuters is reporting, "the U.S. government believes a Chinese missile launch this week was the first test of a new interceptor that could be used to destroy a satellite in orbit." They launched a missile on Monday that reached 6,000 miles above the earth, making it the highest suborbital launch seen worldwide since 1976.

Drone launches from carrier

The U.S. Navy made aviation history on Tuesday by launching an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time. Reuters reports, "the bat-winged X-47B stealth drone roared off the USS George H.W. Bush near the coast of Virginia and flew a series of pre-programmed maneuvers around the ship before veering away toward a Naval air station in Maryland where it was scheduled to land."

Pakistan's presumptive leader criticizes U.S.

Was Nawaz Sharif just campaigning or was he serious? Pakistan's next Prime Minister, who has held the post twice before and soundly defeated current Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari in recent elections. criticized the U.S. strongly yesterday, for drone strike against militants, saying it violates Pakistan's sovereignty. But some experts think, now that the election is over, his tone will moderate.

Has Syria crossed the "red Line"?

Syrian casualties treated in Turkey show signs of being victims of chemical weapons, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday. Reuters reports, the U.S., "Wary of the false intelligence used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq", wants proof that chemical weapons have been used before taking any action in Syria.

China accused of espionage --again

A new Pentagon reports says China state-sponsored industrial espionage to acquire the technology it needs for the foundation of its fast-paced military modernization program. The report says, "China continues to leverage foreign investments, commercial joint ventures, academic exchanges, the experience of repatriated Chinese students and researchers, to build that program. The Intelligence community recently accused China of industrial espionage.

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