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7:34 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.

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.

U.S. and Japanese military leaders discuss North Korea

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka to discuss developments related to North Korea's announcement that it plans to conduct a missile launch in mid-April. The Pentagon says both reiterated their view that such a missile launch would directly violate North Korea's international obligations and UN Security Council Resolutions. Both leaders agreed to continue close contact leading up to and following a potential missile launch.

Argentina asks for consideration for slain troops

Argentina's president has asked the International Red Cross to persuade Britain to let its DNA experts identify unknown soldiers buried in the Falkland Islands. Thirty years after Argentina and Britain went to war over the remote South Atlantic archipelago, Cristina Fernandez says universal human rights demand that both countries work together to give those remains back to their families. Her remarks came in a speech on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

Mali coup drags on

The U.S. military is watching Mali very carefully. Five African presidents seeking to restore Mali's elected government are now meeting in Ivory Coast, after the planes carrying the heads of state to Bamako were forced to turn around because demonstrators supporting the military junta took over the tarmac, officials said. The presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Liberia, Niger and Burkina Faso were due to arrive in Mali on Thursday to press for the departure of the junior officers that grabbed power in a coup last week, reversing over two decades of democratic rule.

Alleged videotape of French killer surfaces

Did the man killed in the Toulouse, France standoff have an accomplice when he killed seven people before his own demise? A video apparently showing a gunman's attacks on soldiers and a Jewish school was sent to the Al-Jazeera television network but not by him. Al-Jazeera decided not to air a video that allegedly was filmed from the killer's point of view and show his victims anguish before their deaths.

Afghan attacks on U.S. troops increasing

Sixteen NATO service members, including eight Americans, have been killed by Afghan security officials or militants disguised in their uniforms so far this year. That would raise to 80 the estimated number of NATO service members killed by Afghan security forces since 2007, according to an Associated Press tally based on Pentagon figures released in February. More than 75 percent of the attacks have occurred in the past two years.

France breaks off communications with Mali

France suspend all security involvement with Mali following a military coup and appealed for the restoration of the constitutional order in the poor West African country. Drunken soldiers have been looting the presidential palace since they declared a coup soldiers and suspended the constitutions in Mali, one of the few established democracies in that region of Africa. There's no firm word on the whereabouts of the country's president who had been just one month away from stepping down after a decade in office.

Another case of retaliation emerges

An Afghan soldier shot to death a 22-year-old Marine at an outpost in southwestern Afghanistan last month. This is a previously undisclosed case of an apparent Afghan turncoat. It's at least the seventh killing of an American military member by his supposed ally in the past six weeks according the Marines. Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus of Greenville, Miss., was shot in the back of the head on Feb. 1 while standing guard at an Afghan-U.S. base in the Marja district of Helmand province.

War effort suffers possible setback

The U.S. in Afghanistan suffered two misfortunes Thursday. The Taliban broke off talks with the U.S., and President Hamid Karzai said NATO should pull out of rural areas and speed up the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces nationwide in the wake of the killing of 16 civilians, by a U.S soldier. U.S. officials say there is no immediate plan to pull out of the villages.

The U.S. planning for Iran

In a possible conflict with Iran over its nuclear program, one piece of the puzzle is becoming clear. Reuters is reporting that an Air Force General says a 30,000-pound, bunker buster bomb designed to smash through some 200 feet of concrete before exploding would be a "great weapon". Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, says the military began receiving only last year.

Pre-screening approved for military

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces in good standing pose very little risk to aviation security. So as a part of its intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to security TSA will now offering expedited screening benefits to active duty service members at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Eligible service members include U.S. Armed Forces service members including reservist and National Guard members, who possess a valid Common Access Card (CAC) and are traveling out of DCA.

Russia accuses Libya of help Syrian rebels

Russia's accusing Libya of running a training center for Syrian rebels and arming the fighters in their battle to overthrow the country's President Bashar al-Assad. Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the U.N. Security Council, "We have received information that in Libya, with the support of the authorities, there is a special training center for the Syrian revolutionaries and people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government."

U.S. intel officer attacked in Yemen

Al Qaida is claiming it attacked a U.S. intelligence officer after U.S. soldiers were sent to the country. A statement posted on the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula website said the attack happened last week in the southern city of Aden. The Pentagon confirms the attack but is disputing the group's claim that the officer was killed. The identify of the person attacked has not been made public.

Limbaugh program to remain on Pentagon radio network

A Pentagon spokesman says the military's network will continue to air Rush Limbaugh's radio program. According to the Associate Press, George Little says the American Forces Network offers a wide range of programming to reflect listeners' interests and he is unaware of any plans to review that decision. Limbaugh has come under fire for an outburst on his radio program last week when he called a 30-year-old law student a "slut" after she testified before Congress about birth control policies. He has since apologized.

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