11:58 pm, May 26, 2015

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.

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.

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.

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