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2:55 pm, September 2, 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.

Rate for retirees to rise

Military health care premiums for retirees will be raised slightly starting Saturday and that more cost increases are on the way. According to the Associated Press, premiums haven't been raised since 1994 and still will be just a fraction of what civilians pay. Officials said Thursday that individual retirees will pay $260 annually, up from $230; and it will be $520 annually for a family, up from $460. Yearly hikes are expected in the future.

Man plots to attack Capitol and Pentagon

A 26-year-old Massachusetts man has been arrested and charged in connection with a plot to damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. Rezwan Ferdaus, of Ashland, Mass. and a U.S. citizen, also was charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization -- specifically to al-Qaida -- in order to carry out attacks on U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.

Iraq buys F-16s

Iraq is going to buy 18 F-16 warplanes from the U.S. This is a step forward in a still unclear discussion about what the U.S. role will be in Iraq after the U.S military drawdown is complete. U.S. military officials say Iraq is spending three billion dollars on the fighters. Iraqi and U.S. military officials contend that a more capable Air Force is a major priority. It's unclear yet whether the Lockheed Martin F-16s they are buying would be the standard A/B model or the more advanced C/D variant.

Alleged shooter tried to escape

A former Marine accused of firing shots at the Pentagon, Marine Corps museum and other military buildings has been charged with damaging his jail cell in an apparent escape attempt. The Associated Press reports, Loudoun County sheriff's office says officials noticed damage Friday to a cinder block wall of Yonathan Melaku's holding cell. Officials say the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center is constructed as a maximum security facility.

Terror cell broken up

The Moroccan government says an al-Qaida-linked cell planning attacks inside that country has been dismantled. Morocco has been has been left alone in recent years by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch of the terror network, but the latest arrests suggest the group is trying to work its way into the country of 32 million. A three-man group with connections to Al Qaida were arrested.

Nuclear sub collides with boat

A fishing boat and a Russian nuclear-powered submarine collided off the country's Pacific coast, damaging the outer shell of the naval vessel but causing no radiation leak, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday. According to Reuters, "the nuclear reactor of the submarine St George the Conqueror was unaffected and radiation levels after Wednesday's incident in Avachin Bay off Kamchatka Peninsula were normal."

Chinese military upset with U.S.

China has condemned the United States for its latest arms sales offer to Taiwan, calling the decision "grave interference" in Chinese internal affairs and warning it will damage U.S. military and security ties with Beijing. On the other side of the matter, Taiwan is upset the U.S. won't sell them the advanced F-16 C and D version of the fighters they want. Instead the U.S. says it will only sell upgrades to the current A and B models.

Assassination triggers adjustments

There will be fallout from the killing of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen says it seems the Taliban is shifting tactics to more spectacular, high-profile attacks and assassinations. He said this also means that U.S. and Afghan forces will have to adjust to it. Mullen said at a news conference commanders are working with the Afghans to shore up their personal security.

Ban on Gays over

An historic day for the Pentagon. Gays can officially be accepted at recruiting stations. The legal ban on openly gay service is a thing of the past as of today. The Pentagon says almost 100% of all military personnel have now undergone training about the new regulation. In preparation for questions about the new rule, the Pentagon says existing standards of personal conduct, such as those prohibiting public displays of affection, regardless of sexual orientation, will not change.

Pentagon asked to delay DADT

The Department of Defense has been asked to delay Don't Ask Don't Tell. California Congressman Buck McKeon and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to delay because certain regulations regarding benefits to same sex couples have not been revised. The Pentagon is planning to repeal the ban on September 20th and it doesn't look like the Congressmen will get their wish. Pentagon officials indicate all is in order and a delay is not neccessary.

Militant groups pooling resources

Terrorist groups maybe merging their efforts in Africa. Top generals at the Pentagon say they fear terrorists are looking for ways to train together and work together in other ways to attack the U.S. General Carter Ham, the commander of the U.S. Africa Command said al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, Somalia-based al-Shabaab and Boko Haram - pose a "significant threat". U.S. counterterrorism officials have already turned up evidence of cooperation between Al Qaida, drug traffickers and weapons dealers in West Africa.

Military cost-cutting reviewed

Budget reductions continue for the Pentagon. The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, approved a 2012 budget of $513 billion, but cut $1.6 billion from the Pentagon's previous $12.8 billion request for the Afghan training mission. It also cut another $5 billion for other Afghan war line items. Pentagon spokesman George Little said no decisions about future spending on Afghan training have been made, but he said that the expectation is that spending could be reduced.

Pentagon

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the truck bombing that killed four Afghan civilians and wounded 77 U.S. troops on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Pentagon says they had help from the powerful Haqqani network. Pentagon spokesman George Little said it was deplorable and called on the attacks to stop. The network rose to prominence during the 1980s Afghan-Soviet war with the help of the CIA.

Missiles are Missing

Libyan officials with the assistance of US government and private weapons disposal experts are searching for mobile anti-aircraft systems in that country after news reports of looting of large arms caches in Tripoli. The Associated Press and other news media reported Thursday that crates of Russian-built anti-aircraft missiles and other munitions were systematically looted. Emptied crates found in several Tripoli caches by reporters and officials of Human Rights Watch appeared to have contained scores of Russian-built Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS.

Force Protection Levels Raised

The Pentagon has raised its alert levels at U.S. military bases, until after the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Sunday. But the decision had nothing to do with any specific information about a credible terrorism threat. "This is not in response to any particular threat but is a prudent and precautionary measure," said Pentagon spokesman George Little. The Pentagon said the move takes effect on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

Panetta pays respects

After 10 years of war with al-Qaida, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday it's not over and even though Osama BIn Laden has been take out of the picture. He says, the potential for another devastating terrorist assault "remains very real," Those comments came after a visit to ground zero at the World Trade Center. Panetta also visited the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, after passengers revolted and stormed the cockpit thwarting the hijackers plot to crash the 757 in Washington.

Leaked documents exposed

The Wikileaks problem is still --a problem. The anti-secrecy group is blaming the Guardian newspaper for exposing a massive archive of un-redacted State Department documents. Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the reality is "once WikiLeaks has these documents in its possession, it loses control and information gets out whether they intend (it) to or not." WikiLeaks claimed that it had tried to warn the State Department about what was about to happen.

Security ramping up

If you haven't noticed it already, you're getting a closer look from police and you enter and move through the subway system and the streets of Washington. Law enforcement have been preparing for the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks by increasing their security profiles. That includes airports, train stations, nuclear plants and major sporting arenas. Counterterrorism officials have not indicated there is any credible threat, but they recognize the event is a big target date for terrorists.

Top General leaves military

General David Petraeus is separating from the military today. He graduated from West Point in 1974 and embarked on a career that made him famous in 2007 as the architect of the U.S. Iraq war strategy. He stressed the importance of increasing Iraqi governmental capacity, development of employment programs, and improving daily life for its citizens. This in turned many Iraqis against Al Qaida in Iraq. Petraeus's next move is to the CIA, where he'll be the director.

Virginia native killed in Afghanistan

A soldier from Loudoun County, Va., has been killed in Afghanistan. Twenty-three-year-old Specialist Douglas J. Green of Sterling, Va., died Sunday in Kandahar province in Afghanistan, of injuries he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. Green was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

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