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10:34 am, September 2, 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.

U.S. pays for shooting

The U.S. Embassy in India says the U.S. is compensating the family of a dead Indian fisherman and is giving assistance to three survivors of a U.S. Navy ship's firing on their small boat near Dubai last month. The embassy did not disclose the payment amounts. The U.S. Navy said the fishermen's boat rapidly approached the refueling ship USNS Rappahannock near Dubai's Jebel Ali port and that the boat disregarded warnings before the Navy vessel's gunners opened fire. One of the Indian survivors has said they received no warning.

Ivory Coast militia crackdown coming

Military officials in the Ivory Coast are cracking down on militias in the country's volatile western region. Army spokesman Cherif Moussa said an operation to disarm them will start soon and involve 800 soldiers. Amade Oueremi, head of a militia group implicated March 2011 massacre is the primary target. More than 3,000 people were killed in Ivory Coast during post-election violence involving militias.

Sequestration views as non-starter

Less training and less tools. That's one of the major concerns for DoD if lawmakers are not successful in the next few months developing a substitute to a deficit-reduction plan that calls for across the board Pentagon cuts. White House's acting budget chief, Jeff Zients told the House Armed Services Committee, "Sequestration" is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction." A politically polarizing issue, a compromise doesn't seem likely before the election.

Israel downplays Iranian sanctions

Solidarity is not enough. That was the message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint appearance with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Jerusalem. He seemingly brushed aside Panetta's guarantees that the two countries share the same goal of a non-nuclear Iran. Netanyahu said, the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. He suggested an attack is the only way to do that. He said international economic sanctions have had no effect on Iran's nuclear program.

DARPA to scrutinize internet

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise. So what they are planning to do now to meet that mandate is promoting research to study chatter certain groups of Internet users. They want to track how online groups evolve on certain social media sites and learn how criminal organizations and hacker collectives evolve.

Russia sends warning to U.S.

Are we looking at a new Cold War in the Arctic? Russian President Vladimir Putin as he launched the construction of Russia's latest generation of submarines vowed to boost nuclear naval forces to safeguard the country's position as a leading sea power and he warned that the Navy will protect Russia's interests in the oil-rich Arctic. Putin also sent a message to the U.S. directly saying they're aiming for naval nuclear parity.

Army exercise gets underway

Vibrant Response 13, a major field exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by Army North got underway late last week. It tested the fictitious detonation of a 10-kiloton nuclear device in a major Midwestern city. It's a national catastrophic incident exercise designed to test more than 9,000 service members and civilians in 11 training locations and airfields spread across 5,000 square miles in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.

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.

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