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4:06 pm, September 16, 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.

Sex Assault Training to be Improved

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force to improve the quality of sexual assault prevention training for their prospective commanders and senior enlisted leaders. DoD press secretary George Little said the goal is to make training better and more uniform among the services. The services also will review policies on all military training of enlisted personnel and commissioned officers.

Army-Pacific expecting more engagement

The Associated Press is reporting, the "leader of U.S. Army forces in Asia and the Pacific says his soldiers will be able to conduct more exercises with other nations in the region, as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and the military refocuses its attention." Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, wants U.S. soldiers to undertake more exercises with Indonesia, Malaysia and India. The Army will also be able to have more active duty soldiers, instead of reserves, participate in exercises with allies such as Japan.

Iran strikes back

Reuters is reporting, "Iranian hackers have repeatedly attacked Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc over the past year, as part of a broad cyber campaign targeting the United States." The attacks, started in late 2011 and escalated this year. The attacks disrupted the banks' websites and corporate networks by launching denial of service attacks. Iran's nuclear program has been attacked repeated by viruses that U.S. is believed to have authored.

New counter terrorism talks planned

High level three-way talks between the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan could be coming. The goal is to fix counterterrorism problems. Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's Foreign Minister told several media yesterday senior officials from the three countries have been instructed to come up with a strategy for repairing cooperation that has suffered since U.S.-Pakistani relations collapsed a year and half ago.

Attacks on American computer infrastructure

Reuters is reporting, "privately-owned U.S. computer networks remain vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and many U.S. companies are not doing enough to protect them, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Wednesday. "I hope this isn't one of those situations where we won't do what we need to do until we get slammed," Carter told the annual Air Force Association conference. Attacks on American computer infrastructure by other countries and criminal gangs have soared in recent years, according to U.S. government officials. Efforts to pass legislation to strengthen U.S. cyber security have met obstacles such as privacy issues."

Panetta pushes for improved relations with China

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is advising China to expand military relations with the United States to shrink the risk of a conflict. This as the two powers wrestle with a volatile territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo. Panetta, on his first trip to China as defense secretary, recognized differences between the two countries over maritime security in East Asia, but says better ties would help.

Boko Haram dealt a blow

Nigerian troops have killed Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa, the public messenger of an Islamic sect that has become the biggest threat to Nigeria's security. It happened in a gun battle in the northern city of Kano. Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people since 2009 in attacks on security forces, government offices and churches. The organization has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, which means it's subject to sanctions and possible military strikes.

F-22 still under the microscope

As an investigation continues into oxygen-deprivation issues involving the F-22 Raptor fighter, Air Force officials say they're optimistic about the program's future and the jet's ability to perform. Several F-22 pilots have complained about blackouts in the cockpit. Maj. Gen. Charles W. Lyon said previously unexplained F-22 physiological incidents, were a result of a combination of factors related to oxygen delivery system components," He says corrective action is under way."

Panetta Headed for Far East

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will soon be traveling to China and Japan, amid escalating tensions in the region including tussles over several disputed islands in the East China Sea. This will be Panetta's third trip to Asia in 11 months, reflecting the Pentagon's ongoing shift to putting more military focus on the Pacific region. The trip will also include a stop in New Zealand.
Panetta's stop in Japan is also likely to include discussions about the deployment of V-22 Ospreys there.

FAST Marine deployed to Libya

Marines have been sent to Libya to beef up security. Who are they? The Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) is capable of rapidly deploying to immediately improve security at United States Government installations worldwide. FAST Marines are deployed at the discretion of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps when the primary and auxiliary security forces of the Marines are unable to adequately respond to a security crisis.

Al Qaida leader eulogized

It's a long-time coming, but Al Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri has finally acknowledged the death of his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, in a drone strike in Pakistan's northwest territories in June 2012. He did it in In a video recording posted on Tuesday to jihadist websites. He managed to escape from US custody in Afghanistan in 2005 and was appointed Al-Zawahiri's deputy in 2011.

Al Qaida leader in Yemen killed

An airstrike killed al-Qaida's No. 2 in Yemen along with six others traveling with him in one car yesteday. Saeed al-Shihri, a Saudi national who fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, was killed by a missile after leaving a house in the southern province of Hadramawt. Yemeni officials say they believed to have been fired by a U.S.-operated, unmanned drone aircraft.

U.S. personnel headed to Syria

The Associated Press is reporting, the U.S. is ramping up its presence at Syria's Turkish border, sending more spies and diplomats to help advise the rebel forces in their mismatched fight against the better armed Syrian regime, and to watch for possible al-Qaida infiltration of rebel ranks. The AP says U.S. officials briefed on the plan said the modest surge in U.S. personnel in the past few weeks - estimated at fewer than a dozen people - has helped improve rebels' political organizing skills as well as their military organization. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

Afghan Soldiers kicked out

Afghan authorities have detained or removed hundreds of soldiers in an investigation into rising insider attacks against international service personnel. Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of the U.S.-led coalition's joint command in Afghanistan, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday that he had heard 200 to 300 soldiers were removed in the re-vetting process, but that he had not yet confirmed those numbers with the Afghan government. Some were removed because of concerns about drug abuse.

Bin Laden book draws rebukes

Pentagon, press secretary George Little said that an official review of the book, "No Easy Day," determined that it reveals what he called "sensitive and classified" information. He didn't go any further, but said the author was required to submit the book to the Pentagon before publication for a formal review of potential disclosures of such information. Meantime the Admiral who runs the Navy Seals command said details in the book provide the U.S.'s enemies with dangerous insight into special operations.

NorthCom directing hurricane resources

U.S. Northern Command is coordinating Department of Defense's support to FEMA and state and local response activities in response to Tropical Storm Isaac. Northcom has pre-staged four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Campbell, KY, and two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Norfolk Naval Air Station, VA, to Fort Rucker, AL, to assess and support potential search and rescue efforts. A SAR planner also has been activated and deployed to Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center, LA.

Local Female Soldier Dies in Kuwait

The Department of Defense has announced the death today of a local female soldier who was supporting the war in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sgt. Jessica M. Wing, 42, of Alexandria, Va., died Monday Aug. 27, in Kuwait City, Kuwait in a non-combat related incident. She was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Bangor, Maine. No other details on the cause of death are available at this time.

Marines expecting anxiety

The Marine Corps commandant says there may be some anxiety from male Marines as female officers work their way into infantry and other combat jobs that historically have been open only to men. The Associate Press reports Gen. James F. Amos told a National Press Club audience Tuesday that early steps have been successful, but some of the harder tests are yet to come. Two female Marine officers have volunteered to attend the grueling infantry officer school at the Marine Corps' Quantico, Va., base next month as military officials gauge whether women can handle the course's extreme physical and mental challenges.

US military denies concession claims

There are reports from Pakistan that the U.S. government is seeking some kind of truce with the Haqqani network. But the U.S. military denies there's any truth to it. Pakistan's Express tribune reports a "Senior American military official says the US would hand over the control of three Afghan provinces to the Haqqanis if they agreed to withdraw their support for the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan." This comes just days after the US allegedly killed Badruddin Haqanni in a drone strike. Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty, a spokesman for United States Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement, "Assertions made in an article today in The Express Tribune that the United States is willing to cede Afghan territory as part of a rapprochement with the Haqqani network and that the U.S. sees the Haqqani Network playing an '...important role in the future political dispensation of Afghanistan,' are categorically false."

African American Sailor Makes History

The Navy says a Virginia-based sailor has become the first black woman to earn a three-star-rank in the U.S. armed forces. Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard was promoted to deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces command in Norfolk on Friday. She's no stranger to making history. Howard was also the first black woman to command a U.S. Navy warship, the first female graduate of the Naval Academy to achieve the rank of rear admiral and the first black woman to command an expeditionary strike group at sea.

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