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6:32 am, October 20, 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.

Ghadafi ideals live on

Muamar Ghadafi has been dead for more than 3 months, but forces loyal to him continue to fight and they've taken control, of Bani Walid, a town south-east of the capital. They've been flying their green flags in defiance of the country's new, weak government. This is just the latest problem facing the government which has yet to rise to its feet since the NATO led operation ousted Gadhafi and his government. There are also concerns that terrorist factions are spiriting weapons out of the country

F-35 moves to next level

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. military is moving ahead with developing the Marine Corps version of the next-generation strike fighter jet, but warns the program is "not out of the woods yet." Those remarks came as the F-35B Lightning II was removed from "probation" and granted full status along the other two variants of the Joint Strike Fighter. He said the F-35, the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, is "absolutely vital to maintaining America's air superiority".

Pentagon pays heavy price

Since Pakistan shut down U.S. supply lines in late 2011, the Pentagon has been spending more than six times what it normally does to get supplies to troops in Afghanistan. According to information obtained by the Associated Press, it now costs about $104 million per month to move the supplies through a longer northern route, $87 million more a month than when the cargo moved through Pakistan.

The Pentagon cracks down on sexual assault

The Pentagon is preparing a series of new initiatives to try to curb sexual assaults in the military. "Sexual assault has no place in this department. It's is an affront to the basic American values we defend," said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as laid out the first in a series of proposal. According to Panetta, the steps include extending victim services to military spouses as well as Pentagon civilians and contractors working abroad and more money to prosecute perpetrators.

Gitmo mail to be scrutinized

A review of legally oriented mail to prisoners facing charges for war crimes at Guantanamo Bay prison has been ordered. Rear Adm. David Woods says it balances the need for defense attorneys to communicate with their clients with demands for security and safety on the base. Woods made the statement at a pre-trial hearing in a case against a Saudi man charged with orchestrating the deadly attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is considered one of al-Qaida's most senior leaders.

Myanmar frees prisoners

More than 200 political prisoners were freed in Myanmar last week. As a result, the U.S. upgraded diplomatic relations. It might also embolden the opposition and that might lead to pressure on the West to lift sanctions. It's one of the most reclusive countries in the world. It's opened up after 50 years of hard-line rule. Myanmar a neighbor of China represents a potential, key ally for the US in a troubled region.

Marine sniper probe advances

Three star Marine Corps. General Thomas Waldhauser has been appointed to oversee the case an Internet video allegedly showing Marine snipers urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan. He has named another officer to do an internal Marine Corps investigation, in addition to a criminal probe under way by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Waldhauser will decide what to do as a result of the investigations. No one has been charged.

Marines launch inquiry

Afghanistan's government and the Taliban are both denouncing the video that has surfaced on the Internet, allegedly showing four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Marine Corps. Commandant General James Amos has assigned a Marine General Officer and senior attorney, both with extensive combat experience, to head up an internal Preliminary Inquiry into the matter. Once the investigation and Preliminary Inquiry are complete and the facts have been determined, then the says the Marine Corps will take the appropriate next steps. He says in a statement, "Rest assured that the institution of the Marine Corps will not rest until the allegations and the events surrounding them have been resolved."

US ship rescues Iranians -again

For the second time in less than a week -- an American ship has rescued Iranian mariners in distress. The Pentagon says a Coast Guard cutter picked up six Iranians from a cargo boat in the northern Persian Gulf. One of the Iranian crew members had suffered burns after the boat had some kind of engine trouble. Last Thursday, a Navy ship rescued 13 Iranian fishermen from pirates holding them hostage aboard their ship.

U.S. presence grows in Persian Gulf

One aircraft carrier strike group is in the Arabian Sea and another is on its way to the region. Is there any connection to increasing tensions with Iran? The Pentagon says no. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is the world's most productive oil shipping lane because of sanctions over its nuclear program. The USS Carl Vinson arrived in the Arabian Sea on Monday. A second carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is on its way.

Maryland man arrested on terrorism charges

24 year old Craig Benedict Baxam who was born in Takoma Park, Md. And attended Laurel High School, was charged with attempting to provide material support to African based terror org Al-Shabaab. Baxam was arrested December 23, 2011 by police in Kenya allegedly trying to join the terror group. He joined the U.S. Army in 2007 and served four years including tours in Iraq and Korea. Before his separation from the military last year, he secretly converted to Islam and authorities say he was radicalized via the internet.

Gitmo mail to be scrutinized

A review of legally oriented mail to prisoners facing charges for war crimes at Guantanamo Bay prison has been ordered. Rear Adm. David Woods says it balances the need for defense attorneys to communicate with their clients with demands for security and safety on the base. Woods made the statement at a pre-trial hearing in a case against a Saudi man charged with orchestrating the deadly attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is considered one of al-Qaida's most senior leaders.

Algeria under the gun

Libyan officials, who are cooperating with the United States as part of the fight against terrorism, says Algeria has been targeted for destabilization. They also tell US officials that several weeks ago Ayman Al-Zawahiri the leader of Al-Qa'ida, sent military emissaries to train Libyan rebels. Among those sent was one military leader with 20 years of Al Qaida experience.

President announces new vision for military

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will hold a news conference today to unveil a new "more realistic" vision for the U.S. military, including cuts to ground force numbers as a result of budget strains. And they're going to have a special guest --President Barack Obama. This event will also discuss the growing strategic importance of Asia as well as maritime and air power as the military reshapes itself for the coming years.

The U.S. targeting Iran

The U.S. has sold a $3.5 billion antimissile interception system to the United Arab Emirates. It's part of an growing military build-up directed at Iran. The deal, signed on Dec. 25 and announced on Friday night by the U.S. Defense Department, "is an important step in improving the region's security through a regional missile defense architecture," Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

Report of sexual harrassment released

The Defense Department on Tuesday released its annual report on sexual harassment for the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy for the 2010-2011 academic year. The number rose from 65 last year compared to 41 last year. MIlitary officials say they're not sure why the increase occured. But it has been encouraging victims to report. Pentagon officials belive that could be the reason.

Pentagon orders change

U.S. Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, is ordering better coordination with the Pakistani military, and he says that all border stations must be known and mapped.This after the Pentagon has identified mistakes in a border incident that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. The report says the deaths were due to a persistent lack of trust between the U.S. and Pakistan. Pakistani officials say the U.S. has still not apologized.

Navy makes "first kiss" history

The Navy's "first kiss" has made history. The first gay kiss took place in Virginian Beach this week, when Marissa Gaeta of Pacerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill as it arrived in port in Va. Beach and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Citlalic (SEET-lah-leek) Snell of Los Angeles. The crowd screamed and waved Navy flags around them. Both women are fire controlmen in the Navy. They met at training school and have been dating for two years.

Soldiers Charged

Pvt. Danny Chen, apparently took his own life in October in Afghanistan. Now eight fellow soldiers are facing charges. The soldiers remain in Afghanistan but have been removed from their duty positions and sent to a different base. They are under increased supervision. They're facing charges ranging from dereliction of duty, assault, negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter. The 19-year-old was assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

The F-35 chosen

Japan has chosen F-35 stealth fighter to replace aging jets in its air force and bolster its defense capability. The selection comes at a time of high instability. The death of Kim Jong il, skirmishes between neighboring countries and China's pursuit of dominance in the region are all factors in the decision. Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa says, "Our decision on the next-generation fighters was an extremely important one for our national security, and we wanted to acquire fighters with solid capability.

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