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4:35 am, September 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.

Guatemalan military leader dies in crash

The head of the Guatemalan military's Joint Chiefs of Staff died in a helicopter crash Wednesday near the border with Mexico. The Associated Press reports that Interior Secretary Mauricio Lopez said Gen. Rudy Ortiz was killed along with four other military officers when the helicopter went down in a mountainous area of the western province of Huehuetenango. Lopez also said Gen. Braulio Mayen, commander of the Army's 5th Brigade, was among the victims.

Military sales under review

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked for a review of the program under which surplus military equipment is made available to local police departments. The program has come under scrutiny after scenes of heavy military equipment being used to break up protests in Ferguson were broadcast around the world.

Hagel congratulates MV Cape Ray

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the crew aboard the U.S. ship MV Cape Ray Monday to congratulate the ship's crew on finishing their unprecedented work of neutralizing the most dangerous chemicals in Syria's declared stockpile at sea. The secretary said that by ridding the world of these materials, they - as part of an ongoing international effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal - have helped make an important and enduring contribution to global security.

Attorney for 9/11 mastermind may quit

The number one attorney for the man who calls himself mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks said Thursday he might drop the case unless the judge orders the government to divulge details about FBI investigations of defense team members. The Associated Press reports that civilian defense attorney David Nevin said during a pretrial hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the possibility that defense team members are working with the FBI has strained his relationship with client Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of Kuwait.

Asia-Pacific is on the Pentagon's Agenda

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work will travel to the Asia-Pacific region Aug. 17-23 to strengthen multilateral security cooperation in the region, build more robust partnerships, and discuss ongoing efforts and regional security matters. During the week-long trip, the Pentagon says Work will visit Guam, Hawaii, Japan and Republic of Korea. At each location, he will visit U.S. military bases and installations, speak with service members and civilian employees, and meet with allies and partners.

The UK is helping out in Iraq

Britain's Royal Air Force has sent Tornado aircraft from RAF Marham to support humanitarian operations in Iraq. In a statement, the government says a small number of planes equipped with Litening III reconnaissance pods are being deployed. Litening III is an infrared targeting, navigation and reconnaissance pod. The system can capture advanced still images as well as video. The planes will be based in Cyprus and will be used notice to provide vital intelligence to assist the delivery of the U.K. aid.

ISIL down, but not out

The US has been pounding ISIL in Iraq with 500 lb. bombs and drone strikes. "What I expect ISIL to do is look for other things to do, to pick up and move elsewhere," says Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, he told reporters at the Pentagon that ISIL is still a problem. "I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained or are somehow breaking the momentum of ISIL," said Mayville.

What is a 500lb bomb?

Navy jets have been dropping 500 lb. bombs in Iraq on ISIL positions in northern Iraq. The 500 lb. bomb is one of the smallest and one of the most common air-dropped weapons in the world. Although the nominal weight is 500 lbs., its actual weight varies considerably depending on its configuration, from 510 lbs. to 570 lbs. It comes with a streamlined steel casing containing 192 lbs. of Tritonal high explosive. The bombs being used in Iraq are laser-guided for precision.

Potential consequences of US airstrikes in Iraq

U.S. strikes in Iraq could lead to retaliation from the Islamic State. Their primary weapon could be the Mosul dam, which sits on the Tigris River and is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Mosul. It provides electricity to Mosul and controls the water supply for a large amount of territory. A 2007 report by the U.S. government, which was involved with the construction, is warning that if it should fail, a 65-foot wave of water would be unleashed across large areas of northern Iraq.

Fallen General returning home

As the body of an American General arrives back in the U.S. after being killed in Afghanistan. Afghan officials say that the soldier who killed General Harold Green came from a part of Afghanistan with a long history of Haqqani network fighters living there. The Haqqani network has strong links to the Taliban and has carried out significant attacks against U.S. forces.

Army general officer killed in Afghanistan

The reality of losing an American general in Afghanistan is setting in. "Even our generals are out there, many of whom have served many tours of duty both in Afghanistan and Iraq, leading America's sons and daughters, and that's something we should all think about from time to time," says RET. Army LT. General Harold Swan. Army MAJ. Harold Greene was killed in an insider attack yesterday in Kabul City, Afghanistan.

ISIL acquires another tool of terror

Fighters from the Islamic State seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, an oilfield and three more towns over the weekend. This puts a major terror tool under their control. Water is essential for life and it being withheld could be used against the residents of the towns that were captured. On the other hand, worse control of the damn could be used to unleash flooding.

Obama says Putin is ignoring the long-term interests

President Barack Obama says the U.S. is limited in what it can do to deter Russia's actions in Ukraine because Russia and President Vladimir Putin are ignoring their long-term interests. He says, "people don't always act rationally," and he also says that people don't act based on their own interests.

Kuentai-Japan racing against time

Trying to beat the clock, a Japanese nonprofit organization is scouring a New York military museum's World War II records for information they hope will lead to the graves of American servicemen still listed as missing in action on Saipan. The reason for the hurry is that a developer plans to begin construction in the fall on a condominium complex near the beach where scores of Americans were killed on July 7, 1944, during Japan's largest mass suicide attack of the war.

Last Enola Gay crew member dies

The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima has died. Theodore VanKirk, 93, passed away Monday in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The B-29 Superfortress aircraft dropped "Little Boy," the world's first atomic bomb, over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima. Three days later, 80,000 died in Nagasaki in a second bombing.

Is American sleeping on North Korea's missile tests?

North Korea's frequent testing of ballistic missiles is of great concern to the Pentagon. The testing of ballistic missiles and other weapons is up sharply compared to last year. Adm. Samuel Locklear, who heads the U.S. Pacific Command, is concerned that the regular testing may lull some into thinking it's not such a big deal. But frequent threats to attack the U.S. may prevent that from happening.

The US at risk of coercion

How will the Budget Control Act impact national security? "We will no longer be immune from coercion," said Joint Chief's Chairman General Martin Dempsey, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum. Dempsey borrowed the original quote by Creighton Edwards in 1974 to illustrate concerns about how budget cuts will affect the U.S. Moving forward, Dempsey said, "if we stay on this path, we will no longer be as immune as you think we should be."

Military suicides rise

Suicides among active-duty military rose this year compared with the same period last year, but Pentagon officials indicate more service members are seeking help through hotlines and other aid programs. Pentagon documents obtained by The Associated Press show there were 161 confirmed or suspected suicides as of July 14, compared with 154 during the same time frame in 2013. The increase was among the Air Force and Navy, while soldiers and Marine suicides went down.

Why is Russian President Putin at odds with the rest of the world?

"The President of Russia now has a view of history since 1945 that is completely at odds with how the rest of the world looks at history," says Former National Security Advisor James Jones. The real issue, which many view as a festering problem, is Putin's alleged grudge about the way the Cold War turned out. "He believes and he has said that worst thing that has happened in the last century is the dissolution of the Soviet Empire," says Jones.

Russian sanction could be "catastrophic"

A day after the U.S. hit several Russian arms companies with sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, a top U.S. general is warning that congressional efforts to cut off dealings with Moscow's main weapons exporter could be "catastrophic" for U.S. forces. Marine General Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said 88 Russian helicopters the Pentagon is buying for Afghan security forces were critical for protecting U.S.troops that remain in the country after the end of this year.

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