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2:25 am, April 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.

Singapore Air Show Means Money

There's a big air show this week in Singapore and aerospace firms will finalize numerous billion dollar deal during the show. The firms goals are simple and the same --survive a dry spell in emerging markets. Those markets are vital to their plans to plans to keep producing large numbers of jets. The biggest aerospace gathering in Asia is usually a "show and tell" where executives come to mingle with some of the world's biggest long-haul carriers and the region's busy military buyers.

Polish investigate CIA secret prisons

Polish prosecutors may seek access to terror suspects detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for direct questioning as part of an investigation into whether a secret CIA prison operated here in 2002-2003, an official said Thursday. The prosecutors would need U.S. permission to question prisoners held at Guantanamo and are weighing whether to make a request. Washington has provided little help to Poland's investigation, which was launched in 2008, and has already denied an appeal from Warsaw for assistance in gathering evidence.

Pentagon places emphasis on morality

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told military leaders to put a renewed emphasis on moral behavior across the force following a series of ethical lapses that have included cheating scandals among the Navy and Air Force's nuclear missions. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel told the military and civilian leaders of the services in a meeting on Wednesday that he wants the issue dealt with more urgently and wants updates on a regular basis.

Ukranian protesters push for change

The leaders of Ukraine's protest movement that's all but shut-down the government for more than two months say they will seek constitutional changes to weaken the president's powers. The changes are expected to be discussed in parliament as the country wades through a stalemate. Protesters are refusing to leave their encampment in downtown Kiev or vacate buildings they occupy, but they say they will abide by a truce they agreed to.

CBP Drone shot down

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine, flight crew put down a CBP unmanned aircraft system in the Pacific Ocean 20 miles southwest of San Diego, at about 1:15 a.m. PST Monday. While on patrol off the Southern California coast, the unmanned aircraft, a maritime variant of the Predator B, experienced a mechanical failure. The crew determined that the UAS would be unable to return to where it originated in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and put the aircraft down in the water. The cause of the failure is unknown. There were no injuries as a result of this emergency landing.

CAPE RAY gets underway

Department of Defense announced the deployment of M/V Cape Ray from Portsmouth, Va. M/V Cape Ray is the primary contribution of the Department of Defense toward international efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons material program. Over the last several months, hundreds of government and contract personnel have worked tirelessly to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using proven hydrolysis technology. This achievement could not have been possible without these remarkable contributions.

US weapons headed to Iraq

The Pentagon says it's sending Iraq another installment of small arms and ammunition requested by Baghdad as it battles al-Qaida militants for control of Fallujah and other key cities in Anbar province. A Pentagon spokesman said Friday that Iraq will be receiving the extra arms and ammunition "very shortly." Army Col. Steve Warren declined to say whether Washington is considering using U.S. troops to train Iraqi forces.

EU sending troops to the Central African Republic

The European Union is expected soon send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilize Central African Republic. It would be the EU's first major army operation in six years. Reuters says, "the intervention by the 28-nation bloc comes after a senior U.N. official warned on Thursday of the risk of genocide in Central African Republic without a more robust international response to communal bloodshed."

Another Air Force Scandal

34 Air Force nuclear missile launch officers have been implicated in a cheating scandal and have been stripped of their certification in what is believed to be the largest such breach of integrity in the nuclear force. The Associated Press reports, some of the officers shared answers to a monthly test on their knowledge of how to operate the missiles via text message. Others may have known about it but did not report it. The cheating was discovered during a drug investigation that involves 11 Air Force officers at several bases in the U.S. and the U.K.

Obama speaks out on Gates' book

President Barack Obama says former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is a good friend and he did an outstanding job while at the Pentagon. He's was responding to questions about Gates' book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War," saying that his administration's policy in Afghanistan was the right one. In his book, Gates questions Obama's commitment to his war policy and talks about discontent among the team that made key decisions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama says that part of his job as commander in chief is to, quote, "sweat the details" on policies that send men and women into harms' way.

ODNI responds to criticism of surveillance programs

Responding to criticism of NSA surveillance by the New America Foundation, ODNI spokesman Mike Birmingham says "As intelligence officials and congressional intelligence overseers have said, the bulk metadata program is a valuable tool for discovering potential links between terrorists abroad and those in the U.S. with whom they collaborate." But Birmingham says, "it's important to keep the program in perspective. This is one of many programs the Intelligence Community uses to identify, track, and disrupt the activities of our adversaries, including terrorists."

Drug probe widens

An Air Force investigation into illicit drug use has expanded to include 10 officers at six bases in the U.S. and Britain. The Associated Press reports, "Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth says nine lieutenants and one captain are being investigated for illegal possession of recreational drugs. He said the case began with the investigation of two officers at Edwards Air Force Base in California and expanded based on their contacts with others."

Wounded Warrior Care Changing

The U.S. Army announced Thursday a restructuring of its Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) as the service prepares for a scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and a continued decline in the number of combat wounded. According to Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander, Warrior Transition Command and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Transition, "These changes will improve the care and transition of soldiers through increased standardization, increased cadre to soldier ratios, improved access to resources on installations, and reduced delays in care. They are not related to budget cuts, sequestration or furloughs." As part of the restructuring, the Army will inactivate five WTUs and establish more than a dozen community care units (CCUs) across 11 installations by September 30, 2014.

Troops headed to South Korea

The United States is going to send 800 more soldiers and about 40 Abrams main battle tanks and other armored vehicles to South Korea next month as part of a military rebalance to East Asia after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The battalion of troops and M1A2 tanks and about 40 Bradley fighting vehicles are from the 1st U.S. Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas. They begin a nine-month deployment in South Korea on Feb. 1.

Moran never met Clapper

Last year we reported that a longtime adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence had resigned after the government learned he had worked since 2010 as a paid consultant for a Chinese technology. That company Huawei Technologies Ltd.is viewed by some as an espionage threat to the U.S. After inquiring with U.S. intelligence officials, it turns out that Theodore H. Moran, a respected expert on China's international investment and professor at Georgetown University, while listed as an advisor, has never even met DNI James Clapper."

Pentagon offers Olympics security help to Russia

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has spoken to Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu to discuss recent events in Russia. He offered his condolences for the recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd, saying the United States stands with the Russian people against terrorism. He also assured Minister Shoygu that the United States stands ready to provide security assistance to Russia for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, if requested.

Hazardous duty pay trimmed

If you serve the US military in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, you'll get imminent danger pay. But Bahrain, which is headquarters to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have been removed from that list. Lt. Col Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman said the decision to drop more than 20 locales from the list followed a regular review and was not budget-driven.

China criticizes the U.S.

China's says the U.S. should not have sent the last three Uighur Chinese inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Slovakia. The Chinese government claims they are terrorists. A spokesman says they are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which Beijing labels a terrorist group and not only threaten China's security, but other countries as well.

DoD releases names of casualties

The Department of Defense has released the names of those who died when their Black Hawk UH-60 went down Tuesday during a mission. Five U.S. soldiers based at Fort Riley, Kan., and one based in Europe were killed in a helicopter crash this week in southern Afghanistan, Army officials said Thursday. The five Fort Riley soldiers were identified as Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.; Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga.; and Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss. A sixth soldier, based in Vilseck, Germany, was identified as Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind. One soldier survived the crash.

Russia working on new weapons

Russia is developing a new intercontinental ballistic missile mounted on a railway car. Government officials say their stated goal is to counterbalance U.S. weapons in the pipeline. Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev, the chief of the military's Strategic Missile Forces, told Russian news agencies that the new weapon will be much easier to camouflage than its predecessor. The Soviet-designed railway missiles were dismantled in 2005. So what does this mean for the Cold War? Many say it never ended.

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