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10:22 am, August 22, 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.

Budget angst rises

The "super committee" failed to find a way to reduce the deficit, what will the impact at Pentagon? Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he's "terribly disappointed." Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney. He said the automatic cuts that would fall on the Pentagon are "deeper than we think is wise. Failure of a special U.S. congressional committee to strike a deficit-reduction deal is expected to unleash desperate lobbying by U.S. arms makers to get lawmakers to block $600 billion in automatic cuts.

Afghan leaders remarks spark concern

The Afghan paradox continues, while the U.S. and other countries are pouring billions into the war effort the oust the Taliban, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Zafar Khan, told The Age newspaper that Australian troops should be withdrawn immediately. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says that the Australian military training mission in Afghanistan could be completed before the 2014 target date.

Kenya seeking help with terrorists

Kenya is asking the international community for help. That country's prime minister is seeking Israel's support in stopping reprisal terror attacks by al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shababb. The Pentagon says it has not been directly asked for help. There is Kenya last month sent hundreds of troops into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab, whom it blames for attacks and kidnappings in Kenya. In response, al-Shabab has threatened to carry out terror attacks in Kenya's capital.

Budget angst rises

If the so called "super committee" fails to find a way to reduce the deficit, what will the impact at Pentagon? Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he's "terribly disappointed." Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney. He said the automatic cuts that would fall on the Pentagon are "deeper than we think is wise. Failure of a special U.S. congressional committee to strike a deficit-reduction deal is expected to unleash desperate lobbying by U.S. arms makers to get lawmakers to block $600 billion in automatic cuts.

New weapon tested

The Army on Thursday conducted its first flight test of a new weapon capable of traveling five times the speed of sound and hitting targets around the world in a short period of time. The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was launched from the military's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai on Thursday. The weapon's "glide vehicle" traveled 2,300 miles in less than half an hour. The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon is part of the military's program to develop weapons with global strike capability in as little as an hour.

Warship donated to the Philippines

The U.S. is donating second warship to Philippine military as it faces down the Chinese in the South China Sea over a territorial dispute. The face-offs are becoming much more tense. The State Department says the U.S. will give the Philippine military a second Coast Guard cutter for free sometime next year. This takes place against a back drop of U.S. calling out Chinese industrial espionage efforts for the first time, beefing up troop presence in Australia, and selling sophisticated fighter jets to Taiwan.

Commission suspects Chinese military build-up

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is pushing the government to look more closely at China's massive military build-up and its overall aggressiveness. The group also pressed for a tougher U.S. stance against what it called anti-competitive Chinese trade policies. President Barack Obama announced a new security agreement with Australia aimed at China's growing military presence in Asia, The commission said Beijing's buildup is aimed squarely at countering America's defenses and exploiting weaknesses.

Panetta explains Iraq pull-out

"The bottom line is that this is not about us." Those were Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's words to the Senate Armed Services Committee as he explained the reasoning behind pulling completely out of Iraq by year's end. Panetta said, "It's about what the Iraqis want to do and the decisions that they want to make." In spite of the pull-out, the U.S. military will continue limited counterterrorism training with Iraqi forces beyond the end of the year. More than 4,400 Americans military personnel have died and more than 32,000 have been wounded in Iraq.

Pentagon warning Congress

The Associated press is reporting that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is telling Congress that deeper defense cuts would force the Pentagon to cut back ship and construction projects, furlough civilian workers and leave the military with the smallest force since 1940. Panetta described the implications if a special congressional super-committee fails to come up with a deficit-cutting plan by Nov. 23. On top of some $450 billion in defense cuts already under way, the Pentagon would face another $500 billion in reductions.

IAEA presents proof of Iranian nuclear activity

In a show-and-tell based on secret intelligence, The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has shared secret satellite images, letters and diagrams with 35 countries as it tries to shore up its case that Iran apparently worked secretly on developing a nuclear weapon. Iran's chief envoy to the IAEA rejected the presentation as based on material fabricated by the United States and its allies.

Microsoft reaches out to veterans

Microsoft's Elevate America Veterans Initiative has announced a new effort to help veterans and their spouses get the technology skills and certifications they need to get work. An October unemployment report shows the unemployment rate rose to 12.1 percent among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Microsoft is distributing vouchers that will enable veterans to obtain training at no cost. Vouchers will be available in five regions including Northern Virginia at the Workforce Investment Board.

Air Force Chief addresses mishandling of remains

Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz testified on Capitol Hill about the fact that the military had put remains of military war dead in a landfill. Schwartz told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the problem had been corrected and he defended a decision not to fire anyone who worked at the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. One military officer and two civilians received disciplinary action, steps that investigators at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said in a letter to President Barack Obama did not go far enough.

Military remains mishandled

A year-long Air Force investigation reviewed 14 sets of allegations of improper handling of war remains as reported by three whistleblower workers at Dover Air Force Base, Del. That is where all war dead are received from foreign battlefields to be identified, autopsied and prepared for transfer to their families. The Air Force inspector general concluded that no laws or regulations had been violated, as alleged, but an independent agency that reviewed the probe said the Air Force failed to accept accountability for its mistakes.

US intelligence officials naming names

U/S intelligence officials called out China and Russia in a new report on industrial espionage and somewhat surprising element emerged."We often speak of China s the aggressor, but after the United States they're the largest victim of cyber space exploits", said John McClurg, Chief Security officer at Dell. The report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage indicates that the U.S. going to take a much more active approach to fighting cyber crime.

Congress warned about Pentagon budget cuts

Military leaders warned Congress on Wednesday that steeper cuts in defense spending, as either a policy choice or a consequence of political gridlock, will gut the armed forces and sap U.S. global influence. The AP reports, "Their predictions of doom, while disputed by some private defense and foreign policy analysts, reflect a consensus Pentagon view that even as the U.S. winds down its military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan it would be highly risky to national security to make large, across-the-board cuts in spending."

Money matters move military

What are the biggest threats to the U/S? Cyber terrorists and transnational threats are leading the list at this point. Also on the list is money. Slashing the Pentagon budget is forcing top military officials to think about what they can do without. But that's not all bad, some say they've been able to focus more carefully on what their true mission is and their personnel have a more clear understanding of what matters most.

Military Transit Safety Studied

NATO military convoys in Kabul. How safe are they? Is there anything that can be done to make them safer? Americans living and working in Afghanistan's capitol say it's not unusual to see the convoys mixed in with regular civilian traffic as they move from place to place. One of the questions being examined is, whether there are are other options for troop and contractor movement around the city. The suicide attack over the weekend, that killed 17 including, 13 Americans has been claimed by the Taliban, with help from the Haqqani network.

Stanley Resigns

Dr. Clifford Stanley, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, a retired Marine Major General has submitted his resignation. His job was to find new talent with expertise in innovation, energy and competence. Stanley, who took office in February 2010, will leave in the next two weeks. Dr. JoAnn Rooney, currently Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, will serve as Acting Undersecretary until a successor is named.

US sets up virtual embassy in Iran

The Obama administration is setting up an Internet-based embassy to reach out to Iranians hoping to broaden their understanding of the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the "virtual embassy in Tehran" will be online by the end of the year. She told the BBC's Persian-language service Wednesday the site will aim to answer questions on traveling and studying in the U.S.

DOD worried about Thailand

The Pentagon has issued a statement about the flooding in Thailand. It reads, "The Secretary has expressed serious concern about the flooding in Thailand on several occasions during his current visit to the Asia-Pacific region. He offers his deepest condolences to all those who have suffered as a result. The Secretary is closely monitoring the situation and applauds the Thai government's quick response to this major natural disaster."

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