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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.
Terrorist groups maybe merging their efforts in Africa. Top generals at the Pentagon say they fear terrorists are looking for ways to train together and work together in other ways to attack the U.S. General Carter Ham, the commander of the U.S. Africa Command said al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, Somalia-based al-Shabaab and Boko Haram - pose a "significant threat". U.S. counterterrorism officials have already turned up evidence of cooperation between Al Qaida, drug traffickers and weapons dealers in West Africa.
Budget reductions continue for the Pentagon. The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, approved a 2012 budget of $513 billion, but cut $1.6 billion from the Pentagon's previous $12.8 billion request for the Afghan training mission. It also cut another $5 billion for other Afghan war line items. Pentagon spokesman George Little said no decisions about future spending on Afghan training have been made, but he said that the expectation is that spending could be reduced.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the truck bombing that killed four Afghan civilians and wounded 77 U.S. troops on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Pentagon says they had help from the powerful Haqqani network. Pentagon spokesman George Little said it was deplorable and called on the attacks to stop. The network rose to prominence during the 1980s Afghan-Soviet war with the help of the CIA.
Libyan officials with the assistance of US government and private weapons disposal experts are searching for mobile anti-aircraft systems in that country after news reports of looting of large arms caches in Tripoli. The Associated Press and other news media reported Thursday that crates of Russian-built anti-aircraft missiles and other munitions were systematically looted. Emptied crates found in several Tripoli caches by reporters and officials of Human Rights Watch appeared to have contained scores of Russian-built Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS.
The Pentagon has raised its alert levels at U.S. military bases, until after the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Sunday. But the decision had nothing to do with any specific information about a credible terrorism threat. "This is not in response to any particular threat but is a prudent and precautionary measure," said Pentagon spokesman George Little. The Pentagon said the move takes effect on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.
After 10 years of war with al-Qaida, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday it's not over and even though Osama BIn Laden has been take out of the picture. He says, the potential for another devastating terrorist assault "remains very real," Those comments came after a visit to ground zero at the World Trade Center. Panetta also visited the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, after passengers revolted and stormed the cockpit thwarting the hijackers plot to crash the 757 in Washington.
The Wikileaks problem is still --a problem. The anti-secrecy group is blaming the Guardian newspaper for exposing a massive archive of un-redacted State Department documents. Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the reality is "once WikiLeaks has these documents in its possession, it loses control and information gets out whether they intend (it) to or not." WikiLeaks claimed that it had tried to warn the State Department about what was about to happen.
If you haven't noticed it already, you're getting a closer look from police and you enter and move through the subway system and the streets of Washington. Law enforcement have been preparing for the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks by increasing their security profiles. That includes airports, train stations, nuclear plants and major sporting arenas. Counterterrorism officials have not indicated there is any credible threat, but they recognize the event is a big target date for terrorists.
General David Petraeus is separating from the military today. He graduated from West Point in 1974 and embarked on a career that made him famous in 2007 as the architect of the U.S. Iraq war strategy. He stressed the importance of increasing Iraqi governmental capacity, development of employment programs, and improving daily life for its citizens. This in turned many Iraqis against Al Qaida in Iraq. Petraeus's next move is to the CIA, where he'll be the director.
A soldier from Loudoun County, Va., has been killed in Afghanistan. Twenty-three-year-old Specialist Douglas J. Green of Sterling, Va., died Sunday in Kandahar province in Afghanistan, of injuries he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. Green was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
It's primarily viewed as a tool to promote their activities, but it appears now there are substantive discussions in the U.S. about how to use certain platforms as secure communications tools. During a recent two-day exchange between U.S. and Bahamian military officials, Stacey Knott, NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs Social Media specialist said the goal was to help Bahamian Defense force learn from U.S. mistakes and successes.
The European Union has imposed asset freezes and visa bans on 15 Syrians, including senior military intelligence and police officials. Five institutions, including military and air force intelligence agencies, were added to a list of entities that EU companies are banned from doing business with. An oil embargo is expected as well. Syria produces 400,000 barrels a day.
Russian officials say North Korea is ready to impose a moratorium on tests of weapons of mass destruction and resume talks on ending its nuclear weapons programs. The announcement took place during talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, his son Kim Chong 'Il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a military base on the outskirts of the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude. This latest effort is designed to bring in financial aid for North Korea, which continues to struggle economically.
Six Russian soldiers were killed and twelve wounded after an explosion at a military base in the southern part of Russia. A spokesman said the blast happened as the soldiers were trying to dispose of old munitions on the base in the Astrakhan region. This mishap came after two major fires at ammunition depots in other parts of Russia this summer. The fires caused extensive damage and numerous injuries. The incidents raise questions about the soldier's training to facilitate explosive ordinance removal.
Political relations between Russia and North Korea broke down after the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s and so did military relations. But now the two are discussing resumption on direct military ties. Russian military officers flew North Korea to talk about it even as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il rides an armored train on a secretive journey to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev. The two are scheduled to meet in Siberia. North Korea may be preparing to resume six-party disarmament talks.
Muamar Gadhafi wherever he is, has left a lot of worry in his wake. Has he set up plans for retaliation? Are there loyalists that will follow his commands to the death? These are all questions U.S. military and intelligence officials seem to be pondering. Gadhafi, the Godfather of the modern day terrorist is well known for brutal attacks on airplanes back in the 1970s and 80s and some experts say there is no reason to believe he won't try it again.
Radical Cleric Muqtada el-Sadr want the U.S. out of Iraq. He restated that demand again yesterday, but General David Petraeus said on the Pentagon Channel yesterday, "we've got to work with our Iraqi partners to insure that we can continue to provide for them assistance, capabilities that have proven to be very important for them even as we obviously continue to reduce our forces." Al-Sadr wants the "army, the bases, the trainers, the embassy, the militias, the companies, the US aid, and anything that is American," out.
Egypt and the United States are scrapping this year's "Bright Star" military drills, the largest exercises in the region. A Pentagon official said "ongoing transition events" in Egypt's move toward democracy is the main reason. Egypt's leadership vacuum is also another key issue. The "Bright Star" drill dates back to 1981. It's one of the longest running drills for the U.S. and partner countries.
The pentagon can handle big budget cuts, but only up to a point. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said big cuts would "terribly weaken" U.S. national security. He said the Pentagon is prepared to make $350 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, but larger cuts, he said, would be "devastating." During an appearance at the National Defense University Panetta said progress by American-led forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan and by NATO forces in support of anti-government rebels in Libya might suffer from cuts.
Has al Qaida in Iraq rebounded? Simultaneous attacks targeting Shiite civilians and Iraqi security forces by suicide bombers carries the al-Qaida in Iraq signature. The scope and sophistication suggests the terror group may be back to full strength. The violence comes less than two weeks after Iraqi officials said they would discuss with the U.S. whether to have some American forces stay in the country past their Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.