3:29 pm, November 24, 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.

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.

Another Pakistan raid considered

The Osama Bin Laden raid may not have been the last. The Associated Press is reporting, U.S. military and intelligence officials are so frustrated with Pakistan's failure to stop local militant groups from attacking Americans in neighboring Afghanistan that they have considered launching secret joint U.S.-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt them down, officials told The Associated Press. But the idea, which U.S. officials say comes up every couple of months, has been consistently rejected because the White House believes the chance of successfully rooting out the deadly Haqqani network would not be worth the intense diplomatic blowback from Pakistan that inevitably would ensue.

Military officials meet to discuss the Osprey

U.S. military officials are meeting with Japanese government representatives to discuss the safety of Osprey helicopters after one of the tilt-rotor aircraft crashed last week. The Associated Press is reporting, "plans to base some of the Ospreys in the city of Iwakuni were put on hold last week, as Japanese officials said they need more assurances the aircraft is safe. Opposition has been rising to putting Ospreys in Japan ever since one crashed during a training exercise in Morocco, killing two Marines and injuring two others."

Pentagon investigation reveals anti-Islamic teaching

A Pentagon investigation indicates poor judgment led to the teaching of anti-Islamic material at a U.S military school. Materials in a course at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., portrayed the U.S. as being at war with Islam. U.S. officials say the war being fought by America is one against terrorists. The instructor, an Army officer, was relieved of teaching duties. Disciplinary action against two other officers is being considered. The course was suspended in April.

Miami burned again

The U.S.S. has been hit by another fire. The small fire was reported about 7 p.m. Saturday in the dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The shipyard is investigating what caused the fire. The Los Angeles Class nuclear-powered submarine was hit by a fire that caused $400 million dollars on May 23rd. It is believed that the first fire was started when a vacuum cleaner ingested a heat source that ignited debris inside the vacuum. No word on what caused the latest fire.

NewSyrian-bound, weapons-laden ship loses insurance

A tactical move to stop Russia from sending weapons to Syria played out yesterday when a ship thought to be loaded with weapons lost its insurance. The British company that insured the MV Alaed said they did it when they discovered the nature of the cargo. U.S. officials have claimed the ship is heading for Syria with attack helicopters and munitions. There are reports that Russian advisors are on the ground in Syria helping to train Syrian troops to use the weapons being sent there.

Pentagon to recognize gay service members

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is planning to thank gay and lesbian military members for their service, as the Pentagon prepares to mark June as gay pride month with an official salute. According to the Associated Press, "in a remarkable sign of a cultural change in the U.S. military, Panetta said that with the repeal last year of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military, gays and lesbians can now be proud to be in uniform."

Panetta orders review of mental health cases

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has ordered all branches of the military to review mental health diagnoses as far back as 2001. An Army review of behavior diagnoses connected to a U.S. soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians apparently triggered new interest in how war affects the military. Panetta told a Senate committee he's asked other services to conduct a review similar to the Army's.

Concerns about Russian arms arise

The United States is worried Russia may be sending Syria attack helicopters. Reuters reports it "views Russian claims that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict there as "patently untrue," U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton said. The comments came as the Pentagon found itself on the defensive for doing business with Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, given concerns in Congress about the firm's role in arming the Syrian regime."

Mystery Plane returning to earth is reporting that after more than a year orbiting the earth during a secret mission, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane is due to return...soon. The Air Force won't say when the unmanned vehicle will land. It was expected to land on May 30th, But the time frame has been changed to mid-June. The space plane is about 29 feet long by 15 feet wide with a payload bay the size of a pickup truck bed.

KSM confessed

According to a new book, Justice Department prosecutors were stunned to learn three years ago that the U.S. military had secretly tape recorded incriminating comments that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikhs Mohammed made to fellow detainees during daily prison yard conversations but was not planning to use them at military tribunals. In "Kill or Capture: The War On Terror And The Soul Of The Obama Presidency," journalist Daniel Klaidman says Mohammed was caught on tape boasting to other detainees about the 9/11 attacks.

Raptors to be retrofitted

The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday awarded Lockheed Martin Corp a contract to retrofit 40 F-22 fighter aircraft with an automatic backup oxygen supply after some pilots experienced oxygen deprivation when flying the supersonic plane. Reuters reports the contract is worth $19 million, runs through April 2013, and includes retrofitting 10 spare aircraft. Currently oxygen supply requires manual activation by the F-22 Raptor pilot.

U.S. General replaced after remarks

An American general has been replaced after reports quoted him as saying U.S. and South Korean special forces have been parachuting into North Korea on espionage missions. Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley was quoted as making the comments during a conference in Florida last month. Both he and the military later said that no special operation forces have been sent into North Korea. The U.S. military command in Seoul said Tuesday the departure of Tolley is a routine personnel change.

U.S. and Vietnam exchange artifacts

The United States and Vietnam have exchanged artifacts of war, including a U.S. soldier's written account of life under fire before his death and a Vietnam trooper's diary held for over 40 years by an American GI. At a ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnamese defense minister Phung Quang Thanh delivered the letters to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who in turn gave Thanh the small maroon diary taken from the body of the Vietnamese man by a U.S. service member who brought it home with him.

US military will not likely intervene in Syria

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he does not see the U.S. taking military action in Syria without the backing of a U.N. Security Council resolution. According to Reuters, Panetta says his greatest responsibility is to make sure that if U.S. troops are deployed in any military role, that America has the support it needs from the international community. His comments came after Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that some type of military intervention may be the only remaining option because diplomatic efforts so far have failed to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

U.S. troops go back to Pakistan

U.S. military officers are back on Pakistani soil. According to Reuters, this suggests the two sides may be working together more closely after a series of setbacks and the Pakistani government's insistence the U.S. apologize for the accidental killing of 24 Pakistan troops in a cross-border incident last year. Their jobs are to improve communications between ISAF personnel and Pakistani troops in Afghanistan. Yet to be resolved is the shutdown of the Pakistani border to shipments of supplies intended for NATO troops.

Northern Virginia Soldier Killed in helicopter crash in Afghanistan

A soldier from northern Virginia has been killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan. According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon says that 51-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 5 John C. Pratt of Springfield was one of two soldiers who died Saturday in Kabul from injuries sustained in the crash. Also killed was 26-year-old Capt. John "Jay" Brainard II, of Newport, Maine, who was a helicopter pilot. Officials said the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed while on patrol. Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, but initial reports indicated there was no enemy activity in the area at the time the helicopter went down. The soldiers were assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany.

The U.S. is returning to its maritime roots.

The U.S. is returning to its maritime roots. The words Secretary Defense Leon Panetta used at the Naval Academy graduation yesterday. He said "one of the key projects that your generation will have to face is sustaining and enhancing American strength across the great maritime region of the Pacific," There were a total of 1,099 graduates, including 877 men and 222 women. 810 were commissioned as naval officers. 267 commissioned as officers in the Marine Corps, and some as officers in the Air Force and Coast Guard.

Top defense officials push for Sea treaty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to make the case for the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United States is the only major nation yet to sign the 1982 treaty. It establishes a system for resolving disputes in international waters and recognizes sovereign rights over a country's continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles.

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