11:18 am, November 23, 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.

Women want combat rules changed

Four servicewomen and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued the U.S. Defense Department hoping to end a ban on women in combat. They claim it's discriminitory and modern warfare has already put women in combat. The ACLU argued in federal court in Northern California Tuesday that the military policy barring women from combat just because of their gender was unconstitutional. The Pentagon says it's examining the expansion of roles for women in the U.S. military.

DOJ sues KBR

The U.S. Justice Department says it's sued KBR Inc, accusing the company and a Kuwaiti subcontractor of improperly charging the federal government for the costs of delivering and installing trailers for troops in Iraq. The lawsuit came days after the Justice Department dropped a similar but unrelated case over KBR's costs for private armed security in Iraq. The latest lawsuit alleged that KBR-hired subcontractor First Kuwaiti Trading Company inflated its crane, truck and driver costs and misrepresented delays on the installation of more than 2,250 trailers.

It was murder; not suicide

In a powerful reminder of the brutality of the Pinochet military regime in Chile, an official autopsy of the remains of Salvador Allende's vice president, Jose Toha, have determined that he was murdered and did not commit suicide. Almost 40 years ago, Pinochet's government claimed he hung himself in his hospital room from a closet railing, but his family never bought it because he was taller that the railing. His body was re-interred yesterday.

F-22 crashes in Florida

The military says it doesn't appear a failure of an F-22 fighter's oxygen system caused the $190 million jet to crash in Florida. The Associated Press is reporting, that Air Force Col. David Graff said in a statement Friday that an initial review of Thursday afternoon's crash found the life system did not play a role. The pilot ejected safely before the stealth fighter jet went down in a wooded area of Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle near Panama City. No one on the ground was injured. In 2008, F-22 pilots began reporting high altitude-like problems, forcing the Air Force to acknowledge concerns about the jet's oxygen supply system.

Dunford testifies at confirmation

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, President Barack Obama's choice to be the top commander in Afghanistan said he envisions a U.S. presence in the country after American combat forces leave at the end of 2014. The Associated Press reports, "He also said the two main missions would be counterterrorism and assisting and advising Afghan security forces. Pressed on the size of the residual force, Dunford declined to provide specifics but did say 1,000 troops would be insufficient."

Pentagon tracking space junk

The U.S. military says it will station an advanced radar in Australia to help track space junk threatening satellites and is working toward placement of a new, state-of-the-art deep-space telescope developed by the Pentagon's advanced research arm DARPA.

Reuters is reporting, "The positioning of the advanced military equipment is another sign of deepening U.S. military ties with Australia and America's widely touted "pivot" to Asia. It follows an agreement last year for a rotating training presence of up to 2,500 Marines in Australia's northern tropical city of Darwin."

Is the CIA working in Benghazi?

Has the CIA been using Benghazi as a base to detain Libyans? An allegation that came to light during a speech by Paul Broadwell, who had an affair with now former CIA director David Petraeus. A CIA spokesperson says, "The CIA has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the Agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless."

Panetta Pivoting Toward Asia

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is setting off on a three-nation tour of Asian nations. He will visit Austrailia, Thailand and Cambodia, the goal is to strengthen alliances with partners in the Asia-Pacific region in order to further advance the U.S. long-term strategy of rebalancing with the Asia-Pacific. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III will join Panetta for a portion of the trip.

Libya starting an Army

Libya's preparing to stand up an Army. U.S. officials in Libya have begun to look for recruits whom they plan to train to form Libya's new army, according to a former commander of Libyan rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi. Reuters is reporting a team of about 10 Americans from the embassy in Tripoli visited a paramilitary base in the eastern city of Benghazi 10 days ago to interview and get to know potential recruits,. A wave of anti-American violence in the Arab world in September during which the U.S. ambassador to Libya died in a militant attack, President Barack Obama took measures to improve the security of U.S. diplomatic installations in the region.

Commandant sends shout out

The Marine Corps birthday is coming up and Commandant General Jim Amos gave a shout out and a big thank you yesterday. He said, "you got a lot of listeners out there, some of them will have loaned their sons and daughters and husbands and wives to the Marines and to me and I take that very seriously and I want to thank them. I want to thank America for loaning us her children. I'm really proud of the men and women that wear our cloth today. The Marine Corp with be 237 years old on Saturday.

DLA responds to Sandy

In response to the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy, the Defense Logistics Agency has supplied 253,000 gallons of gasoline and 157,000 gallons of diesel fuel to FEMA distribution centers within New York and New Jersey. Also DLA is executing the purchase of 12 million gallons of gasoline, 12 million gallons of diesel. 260 fuel trucks are on contract to support of fuel distribution. In total, more than two million meals have been delivered to FEMA facilities in West Virginia, New York and New Jersey. Another five million are in production.

Pentagon assisting disaster response

Three Navy vessels are in or headed to New York City. The USS Wasp amphibious assault ship, the USS San Antonio and the USS Carter Hall, both Landing dock vessels have been deployed to provide refueling and command and control of DoD helicopter support missions in the area. Four MH-60S choppers with rescue swimmers are onboard the USS San Antonio and Four MH-53E helicopters are flying onto the USS Wasp, joining two MH-60S with rescue swimmers already aboard.

New Cyber Force Coming

DHS is thinking about setting up a "Cyber Reserve" of computer security experts who could be called upon in the event of a crippling cyber-attack. Reuters is reporting that the idea came from a task force the agency set up to address one of the government's major vulnerabilities. DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute told Reuters they hope to have a working model for a Cyber Reserve within a year. The first members are expected to be drawn from retired government employees now working for private companies.

Homeland Security Council established

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order establishing the Homeland Security Partnership Council. The goal is to foster local partnerships between the Federal Government and the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, community-based organizations, and State, local, tribal, and territorial government and law enforcement. They also want to address homeland security challenges. Their mission is to promote homeland security priorities.

More military documents exposed

The WikiLeaks website has begun publishing more than 100 U.S. Defense Department files detailing military detention policies in camps in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. In a statement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said, "It shows the excesses of the early days of war against an unknown 'enemy' and how these policies matured and evolved." Wikileaks says the documents have to do with the interrogation of detainees.

Do Syrian rebels have U.S. stingers

Russia's top military officer, general staff chief Nikolai Makarov, said Russia's military had learned that rebel forces "have portable missile launchers of various states, including American-made Stingers." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he had no knowledge of the United States supplying Stinger missiles to Syrian rebel forces, after Moscow said the rebels had acquired the U.S.-made surface-to-air missiles.

Late checks anger Vets

Upset veterans who work part-time for the Veterans Administration while attending college say their paychecks are sometimes weeks late, leaving them in trouble with bill collectors or having to borrow money to avoid eviction. The two-week paycheck is typically about $360, and can be vital to veterans raising families and juggling expenses. The VA says it's looking into it.

DoD debates punishment for former AFRICOM Head

Gen. Ray Odierno says demoting a four-star general for spending misconduct could be harsh and would force the officer to $1 million in retirement pay. The Army's Chief of Staff indicated that a lower level officer would never be asked to pay such a high price. Pentagon leaders are deciding how to punish former Africa Command head Gen. William "Kip" Ward. According to an inspector general's report, Ward spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses.

Private Sector to get intel

A new White House executive order is being prepared that would direct U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about cyber threats with companies operating electric grids, water plants, railroads and other vital industries to help protect them from electronic attacks. The Associated Press says this comes amid growing concern that Iran could be the first country to use cyber terrorism against the United States. The military is ready to retaliate if the U.S. is hit by cyber weapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

Alleged Rape being investigated

DoD spokesman George Little says the Pentagon is "working closely with the Government of Japan and relevant local authorities in their investigation of an alleged assault of a female Japanese citizen in Okinawa Oct. 16 by two U.S. service members." Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, of Joint Naval Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas, were in OKinawa on a brief stop-over when the alleged rape occurred. Little says, "We deeply regret any grief and trauma the victim may have endured.

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