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1:52 pm, April 20, 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.

Job Cuts Looming

Civilian employees in the Defense Department could receive notices of potential layoffs four days before the election if automatic military cuts aren't averted. The Associated Press reports, "Congress would be notified in mid-September and employees told of the possibility of job losses 60 days before the cuts. The Defense Department has about 800,000 civilian employees, heavily concentrated in the presidential battleground state of Virginia."

Medal of Honor

Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a law that made it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other military decorations. So in response, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says a new Pentagon website will list the names of those Americans who have earned the Medal of Honor since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He made the announcement Wednesday at a House hearing. The justices ruled that the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 infringed upon free speech.

Air Force concludes F-22 study

The Air Force has concluded that insufficient oxygen supply caused some F-22 fighter pilots to get dizzy and disoriented when flying it. Pentagon spokesman George Little said an Air Force analysis had concluded that symptoms of oxygen deprivation among some pilots of the F-22, were caused by problems with the oxygen supply delivered to pilots, not oxygen contamination. Restrictions placed on F-22 flights would gradually be lifted.

Controversy lands in Japan

Several U.S. Osprey military transport aircraft were slated to arrive in Japan today despite opposition from residents over safety issues following two recent crashes. 12 of the tilt-rotor aircraft will be assembled at a Marine base in Iwakuni in western Japan before being deployed to the southern island of Okinawa for use by U.S. forces there. Last month, a U.S. Air Force Osprey crashed in Florida, injuring all five airmen aboard. Another crash in Morocco in April left two Marines dead.

Top intelligence officials set to meet

United States and Pakistan intelligence officials are resetting high-level counterterrorism duscussions later this month. Pakistan's spy chief set to visit Washington. The talks and the relationship broke down over a deadly border incident last year. Among the issues to be discussed --CIA drone strikes. Pakistani officials want to replace the CIA drones with Pakistani F-16 strikes, and eventually its own armed drone fleet - something U.S. officials are not keen on.

Did the Navy have a run in with Iran?

U.S. Navy gunners aboard a refueling ship opened fire on a small boat racing toward them in broad daylight Monday near the Gulf city of Dubai, killing one person and injuring three. The Associated Press reports, "the rare shooting not far from approaches to the Strait of Hormuz comes at a period of heightened tensions between the United States and nearby Iran."

Uzbek sentenced for plot to kill President Obama

A federal judge sentenced an Uzbek man living illegally in the United States to nearly 16 years in prison on Friday on terrorism and weapons charges stemming from his plot to kill President Barack Obama. Reuters reports, Ulugbek Kodirov, who arrived in the United States in 2009 to attend medical school but never enrolled, had plotted to shoot Obama while the President campaigned for re-election this year, according to federal authorities in Alabama.

Ex-Marine changes story about military facility shootings

Lawyers for an ex-Marine from Virginia facing 25 years in prison for firing shots at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps museum in Quantico and other targets in 2010 now say their client is mentally ill. According to the Associated Press, the Associated Press is reporting Yonathan Melaku (meh-LAH-koo) of Alexandria pleaded guilty earlier this year to a series of overnight shootings at various military buildings in northern Virginia. No one was injured. In the plea deal, he agreed to a 25-year sentence. In court papers filed Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Melaku's new lawyers ask for a court-ordered mental examination.

Medals database coming

The Pentagon says it plans to establish a searchable database of military valor awards and medals. According to the Associated Press, the decision announced Tuesday by Pentagon press secretary George Little stems from a June 28 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other prized military awards. The idea of establishing a database is to make it easier to check on award claims, and perhaps to deter those who would make false claims. Little said details of how the database would be established have yet to be worked out. He said the hope is to include valor awards and medals going as far back in history as possible.

Putin jabs at the U.S.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday the West's influence was waning as its economy declines but warned Russian diplomats to be on their guard against a backlash from Moscow's former Cold War enemies. Reuters reports, that Putin, in a biennial speech to Russian ambassadors, also poked at the West by condemning any unilateral actions to solve international disputes and underlined the importance of resolving such conflicts through the United Nations.

Soldier arrested after shooting

Authorities at Ft. Bragg arrested a soldier from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade on Thursday after he shot another member of the unit, then shot and wounded himself. A third soldier also was wounded. Sources say the soldier had been accused of stealing a tool box and was facing the possibility of a court martial. Ft. Bragg has been the scene of almost a have dozen suicides, and violent domestic disputes in recent years.

Air Force sex scandal grows

31 female victims have been identified so far. A senior Air Force commander says a sex scandal that has rocked the service's training command at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas appears to be localized. Gen. Edward Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that a dozen male instructors are under investigation. Nine of them are from the same unit - the 331st Training Squadron.

Syrian military loyalty

U.S. officials say Syria's military remains loyal despite recent high-profile defections, while the opposition remains fragmented and unable to attack as a unified force, indicating a long, protracted conflict to come. The Associated Press reports, the Syrian regime is maintaining troop loyalty by keeping paychecks coming even as food and fuel run out for the rest of the country, according to U.S. intelligence officials who briefed reporters on the Syrian conflict Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide the sensitive information.

Another Pakistan raid considered

The Osama Bin Laden raid may not have been the last. The Associated Press is reporting, U.S. military and intelligence officials are so frustrated with Pakistan's failure to stop local militant groups from attacking Americans in neighboring Afghanistan that they have considered launching secret joint U.S.-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt them down, officials told The Associated Press. But the idea, which U.S. officials say comes up every couple of months, has been consistently rejected because the White House believes the chance of successfully rooting out the deadly Haqqani network would not be worth the intense diplomatic blowback from Pakistan that inevitably would ensue.

Military officials meet to discuss the Osprey

U.S. military officials are meeting with Japanese government representatives to discuss the safety of Osprey helicopters after one of the tilt-rotor aircraft crashed last week. The Associated Press is reporting, "plans to base some of the Ospreys in the city of Iwakuni were put on hold last week, as Japanese officials said they need more assurances the aircraft is safe. Opposition has been rising to putting Ospreys in Japan ever since one crashed during a training exercise in Morocco, killing two Marines and injuring two others."

Pentagon investigation reveals anti-Islamic teaching

A Pentagon investigation indicates poor judgment led to the teaching of anti-Islamic material at a U.S military school. Materials in a course at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., portrayed the U.S. as being at war with Islam. U.S. officials say the war being fought by America is one against terrorists. The instructor, an Army officer, was relieved of teaching duties. Disciplinary action against two other officers is being considered. The course was suspended in April.

Miami burned again

The U.S.S. has been hit by another fire. The small fire was reported about 7 p.m. Saturday in the dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The shipyard is investigating what caused the fire. The Los Angeles Class nuclear-powered submarine was hit by a fire that caused $400 million dollars on May 23rd. It is believed that the first fire was started when a vacuum cleaner ingested a heat source that ignited debris inside the vacuum. No word on what caused the latest fire.

NewSyrian-bound, weapons-laden ship loses insurance

A tactical move to stop Russia from sending weapons to Syria played out yesterday when a ship thought to be loaded with weapons lost its insurance. The British company that insured the MV Alaed said they did it when they discovered the nature of the cargo. U.S. officials have claimed the ship is heading for Syria with attack helicopters and munitions. There are reports that Russian advisors are on the ground in Syria helping to train Syrian troops to use the weapons being sent there.

Pentagon to recognize gay service members

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is planning to thank gay and lesbian military members for their service, as the Pentagon prepares to mark June as gay pride month with an official salute. According to the Associated Press, "in a remarkable sign of a cultural change in the U.S. military, Panetta said that with the repeal last year of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military, gays and lesbians can now be proud to be in uniform."

Panetta orders review of mental health cases

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has ordered all branches of the military to review mental health diagnoses as far back as 2001. An Army review of behavior diagnoses connected to a U.S. soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians apparently triggered new interest in how war affects the military. Panetta told a Senate committee he's asked other services to conduct a review similar to the Army's.

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