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2:31 am, November 28, 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.

General facing disciplinary action

The Associated Press says "that a four-star Army general who was the first head of the new U.S. Africa Command is under investigation and facing demotion for possibly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on lavish travel, hotels and other items. Several defense officials said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected soon to decide the fate of Gen. William "Kip" Ward.

Morsi Questioned

A new question is being floated in Egypt. Is their new President another Mubarak? The Associated is reporting Egypt's Islamist president has given himself the right to legislate and control over the drafting of a new constitution. He has installed at the top of the powerful military a defense minister likely to be beholden to him. Under Mohammed Morsi's authority, officials have moved to silence influential critics in the media. And though a civilian, he declared himself in charge of military operations against militants in the Sinai peninsula.

US Destroyer Collides in the Persian Gulf

The USS Porter is being evaluated after it collided with an oil tanker on Sunday morning. The guided missile destroyer has a 10 foot by 10 foot hole on one side after banging into a Japanese owned tanker about 1:00AM local time. The USS Porter is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain. The vessel is there as a part of buildup in the Persian Gulf to pressure Iran and reassure U.S. allies concerned about Iran's influence and power.

Commander relieved of duties over sex scandal

More than a dozen military instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Austin, Texas have been investigated or charged with sexually assaulting recruits. The scandal has reached all the way to the top, claiming the job of Colonel Glen Palmer, who oversaw basic training. Investigators say more than three dozen female trainees were victimized. Lackland is home to more than 475 military training instructors --the equivalent of Army drill sergeants.

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.

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