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10:47 am, October 21, 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.

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.

Guinea-Bissau hit with travel ban

The U.N. Security Council on Friday imposed a travel ban on five leaders of an April 12 military coup in Guinea-Bissau and threatened an arms embargo and financial sanctions if the tiny West African coastal state does not return to civilian rule. The 15-member council "demands that the Military Command takes immediate steps to restore and respect constitutional order, including a democratic electoral process, by ensuring that all soldiers return to the barracks, and that members of the 'Military Command' relinquish their positions of authority."

Iron Dome gets infusion

The U.S. military is going to give Israel an additional $70 million in the coming months for its short-range rocket shield, known as the "Iron Dome." The news came after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with his Israeli Ehud Barak counterpart on Thursday. So far, the United States has provided $205 million to support the Iron Dome, manufactured by Israel's state-owned Raphael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up in midair Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of 5 km (3 miles) to 70 km (45 miles), as well as mortar bombs.

US to start Africa rotations for troops

Army leaders say a combat brigade will be assigned to the Pentagon's Africa Command next year in a pilot program that will send small teams of soldiers to countries around the continent to do training and participate in military exercises. The Associated Press reports, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, says the plan is part of a new effort to provide U.S. commanders around the globe with troops on a rotational basis to meet the military needs of their regions.

F-22 under review

New flight restrictions on the F-22 and summoned help from Navy and NASA experts. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is backing up Air Force efforts to figure out why some F-22 pilots have experienced dizziness and other symptoms of an oxygen shortage while flying. His personal intervention signaled a new urgency. A secretary of defense typically does not get involved in a service-specific safety issue unless it is of great concern.

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."

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