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10:16 am, September 1, 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. military trainers headed to Yemen

The Pentagon is sending military trainers back into Yemen for what it calls "routine" cooperation with Yemeni security forces. Yemen is a key battleground in the conflict with al-Qaida...A U-S military training program in Yemen was suspended last year -- after then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh was badly injured in a militant attack. The new president has requested increased U-S counter-terrorist cooperation.

Money restored to Pentagon budget

A House panel has unveiled a $608 billion defense spending bill that restores some of the programs the Pentagon wanted to cut next year and provides nearly $1 billion for Israeli missile defense programs. The House Appropriations Committee released the bill on Monday that includes $519.2 billion for the fiscal 2013 base budget and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other counterterrorism activities. That's $1.1 billion more than the current level and $3.1 billion more than President Barack Obama requested.

Soldier dies during Skype call

The Pentagon is investigating the death of an Army officer while he was chatting with his wife via Skype recently. DoD says Capt. Bruce K. Clark, 43, Spencerport, N.Y., died May 1, in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. The military says the circumstances of his death are not immediately available. Clark was assigned to A Company, Troop Command, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas. Clark was a nurse who grew up in Michigan. Clark's body was returned Thursday to Dover Air Force Base.

U.S. Jet Crashes

A U.S. fighter jet crashed on Thursday during a training mission in the United Arab Emirates,. The F-15E Strike Eagle crashed on Thursday morning, both pilots ejected from the plane safely, and the cause of the crash is being investigated. The Pentagon said the location of the crash could not formally be released because the host government preferred not to do so. The Pentagon says the deployment is routine. The country is in close proximity to Iran.

Pentagon prepares to exit Afghanistan

President Barack Obama said in his speech in Afghanistan he recognizes American are tired of war. The Pentagon says more than 1,800 American troops have been killed in more than a decade of war in Afghanistan. 88,000 are still stationed there. After spending 1.3 trillion dollars there and in Iraq the stage may be set for the U.S. to exit war footing in two years. The President said the U.S. has removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan so far and another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer.

Iran threatens U.S. fleet

"Sinking an aircraft carrier is not a very difficult task" --the words of IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. He made the comments during an interview with the Iranian gov'ts FARS news agency and was clearly referring to the U.S. Navy carrier groups operating in the region. DoD spokesman Captain John Kirby responded in his own words, "we are very comfortable with our force posture in the region and the defensive capabilities those forces possess."

Iran enters Koran episode

Iran has issued a statement condemning the Koran burning incident in Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic of Iran's Foreign Ministry says it strongly condemned this "absurd, insulting and provocative". The statement appears to be aimed at the global religious community and it suggests that they should be upset with the U.S. military and it's imploring Christian scholars around the globe to speak out and increase the pressure on the U.S. military.

Iran's oil woes grow

Russia is resisting new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. It warning the European Union that the ban on purchasing Iranian oil will end up hurting the bloc itself. In the meantime, no one has claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack on Iran's oil facilities. A virus hit the internet and communications systems of the oil ministry and national oil company forcing Iran to disconnect the control systems of Kharg Island, which handles the vast majority of Iran's crude exports.

American service member killed

Another Green on Blue incident in Afghanistan. A man wearing an Afghan army uniform fatally shot an American service member in southern Afghanistan yesterday. This is the latest in a string of attacks against American and other foreign forces by their Afghan partners or insurgents in disguise. Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 16 attacks against American and other foreign troops by Afghan security forces or militants dressed as Afghan troops.

Trouble brewing in Haiti

A rag tag group of men pushing for the re-instatement of Haiti's now defunct military are refusing to disband and clear out of old military bases in spite of repeated orders from the government. In a news conference at an army barracks just outside Haiti's capital, several veterans of the defunct army said Haitian officials broke a promise by failing to appoint them to the helm of an interim force until the military is officially reinstated.

Panetta dismisses Iranian claims

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has brushed aside Iranian government claims that it has recovered data from a U.S. spy drone that it captured last year. Panetta says he would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done. Iranian officials claimed Sunday that they were building a copy of the drone and that they had recovered information that the aircraft was used to spy on Osama bin Laden weeks before he was killed.

The military releases details about Colombia scandal

The U.S. military says 11 service members are being investigated for alleged misconduct in Colombia. That's up from the 10 personnel the military last believed to be involved. The military says six are from the Army, two each are from the Marines and Navy and one is from the Air Force. The Marine and Navy personnel are from San Diego and the Air Force member is from Charleston, S.C. The Army personnel are from the 7th Special Forces Group.

U.S. sets high bar for Syrian involvement

Will the U.S. get involved in Syria? "I think it's clear that the only way that the United States would get involved militarily is if there's a consensus in the international community to try to do something along those lines," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the House Armed Services Committee. He added, "At this point in time ...a decision is that we will not have any boots on the ground and that we will not act unilaterally in that part of the world."

USAF keeping an eye on cyber space adversaries

Reuters is reporting the Pentagon says it is making progress in developing weapons for its newest battleground - cyberspace - but still faces funding, technology and policy challenges. U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Basla, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, told industry officials on Monday the service was approaching its work on cyber capability as it would any other major weapons system.

Panetta searching for savings

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he regrets the cost to taxpayers of his weekend trips to his California home, which cost about $32,000.00. The Associated Press reports, Panetta says he is looking for ways to find savings, but also says it is healthy to get out of Washington to get some perspective at his Monterey farm. Panetta is required to travel on military aircraft so he can remain in constant, secure contact with the White House.

Drone strikes in Pakistan to continue

The White House has no intentions of ending CIA drone strikes against militant targets on Pakistani soil, U.S. officials say. The Associated Press says this could possibly set up the two countries up for diplomatic tensions after Pakistan's parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the country's troubled relationship with the United States. U.S. officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but if a suspected terrorist target comes into the laser sights of a CIA drone's hellfire missiles, they will take the shot.

Congressman concerned about night raids agreement

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is raising concerns about the U.S. deal with Afghanistan giving Afghans authority over raids of Afghan homes. The Associated Press reports, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday questioning the decision to grant authority to a panel of Afghan security officials to decide what raids will take place. The U.S. and Afghanistan reached a deal Sunday on the raids. A majority of these raids occur at night and involve U.S. and Afghan troops.

Philadelphia man wins top Air Force Award

A Pennsylvania man is being awarded the Air Force's highest honor. Capt. Barry Crawford, Jr. will receive the Air Force Cross today at a Pentagon ceremony "extraordinary heroism". I happened 2010 during a fight with the Taliban. Crawford from Philadelphia, is a combat controller who calls in air strikes. During a14-hour operation, the Air Force says he fought insurgent, left his cover to save two wounded Afghans, all while controlling nearly three dozen aircraft and calling in more than 40 strikes.

U.S. forces back in Pakistan

The status of U.S. Pakistani military relations is still tied up in the Pakistani Parliament. Cooperation was suspended after a November incident during which 24 Pakistani troops were killed. Three weeks ago a preliminary review was approved by a Pakistani Parliamentary Committee, but the full Parliament rejected it and it was sent back to committee. In the meantime --U.S. troops are back in Pakistan at the Saichen Glacier to help out with rescue efforts, but Pakistani diplomatic sources say that won't affect the review.

North Korea is digging again

Recent satellite images show North Korea is digging a new underground tunnel in what appears to be preparation for a third nuclear test. The Associated Press reports South Korean intelligence officials say the excavation at North Korea's northeast Punggye-ri site, where nuclear tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009, is in its final stages. This new development comes as North Korea prepares to launch a long-range rocket that Washington and others say is a cover for testing missile technology that could be used to fire on the United States.

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