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12:07 pm, July 23, 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.

Services looking at future

What's going to happen next in Afghanistan? After U.S. forces draw completely down, what will the services force structure look like? Where will they be deployed and how many will be on the books. These are all issues the service branches, particularly the Marine Corps are looking at. With budget cuts coming, but still faced with the need to remain nimble and effective reviews are underway in a number of disciplines to determine how they can be most effective.

Minnesota man pleads guilty to terrorism charges

More than 20 young men left their homes in Minnesota and traveled to Somalia to fight with the terror group Al Shabab. A number of them were teenagers who slipped out of their parents homes only to realize they'd made a mistake, but were prevented from returning home and were killing in Somalia. Now a Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to a terror-related charge for helping recruit them. Twenty-six-year-old Omer Abdi Mohamed faces up to 15 years in prison.

Will Allen make changes in Afghanistan

Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan met up with his successor Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan late last week. Should we expect changes? For the time being as always after a change a change of command , I don't expect a change in direction. German Army Major General Richard Rossmanith, deputy chief of staff for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. But that doesn't mean change won't happen. "Over the time with changing conditions, there may be the necessity to adapt," said Rossmanith.

Pentagon Cyber strategy released

The Department of Defense has released its Strategy for operating in Cyberspace. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn said during a speech at the National Defense University, DOD recently suffered one of its worst data losses ever during a cyber attack in the spring. 24,000 files were stolen from a defense industry computer network in a single intrusion. The strategy indicates that information flow was given priority information security and close attention is being paid to that problem.

Who are the Indian Mujahideen?

U.S. intelligence is looking very carefully at the Indian Mujahideen. They are the group that some say is behind yesterday's attacks in Mumbai. 21 people were killed and dozens injured in three separate, but synchronized blasts during rush hour there. The last time a major terror attack happened in Mumbai, there were elements in the U.S. that were connected, but there is no obvious connection to this latest attack. Global intelligence firm Stratfor wrote the attacks were relatively unsophisticated.

U.S. accused of breaking U.N. rules

The UN is crying foul, claiming the U.S. violated international rules by refusing to let a torture investigator speak alone to Army Private Bradley Manning. He's the soldier accused of leaking classified information to Wikileaks. Reuters is reporting that Juan Mendez, U.N. special envoy on torture, said that "unmonitored one-on-one meetings with detainees in custody worldwide were the only way he could conduct credible enquiries into allegations of mistreatment."

They're at it again

The Lulzsec hacker collected shutdown its operations a couple of weeks ago after hacking and releasing a massive amount of classified data from the Arizona Police, the FBI and DHS. But they allegedly have teamed up with another group called Anonymous and reportedly hacked into Cyber Defense giant Booz Allen Hamilton. They've reportedly leaked 10s of thousands of military emails online. BAH did not respond to questions saying it's not their policy to comment on specific threats or actions.

Mullen goes to China

Joint Chiefs Chair Mullen headed to China. It's an interesting time because Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces are planning exercises during the visit. Experts say the exercises' will send a very clear message to Chinese about the strong U.S. Japanese relationship. U.S. officials are wondering how that will impact Mullen's visit with the Chinese. Mullen's trip is reciprocation for Chinese Gen. Chen Bingde's trip to the United States in May.

Libya funding continues

The house has rejected a move to block money for the U.S. military operation in Libya. The vote was 229-199 on Thursday. Both Republicans and Democrats had complained that the conflict was illegal because President Barack Obama had never sought congressional approval for the operation. But legislators kicked out an amendment that would have barred the use of taxpayer dollars to continue U.S. participation in the NATO-led mission.

Congress is warned

The head of the Aerospace Industries Association is warning Congress, about cutting the defense budget. Marion Blakey said in a letter to house speaker John Boehner, any cuts to defense should be done in a "careful and thoughtful manner guided by our military leaders" and carried out only after the Pentagon completes its review of military force structure and capabilities, said Blakey, whose group represents hundreds of defense and aerospace companies.

U.S. war death rate remains the same

The Associated Press has run the numbers and reports despite U.S. reports of progress on the battlefield, American troops were killed in the first half of this year at the same pace as in 2010. That suggests that the war's toll on U.S. forces has not changed as Afghanistan prepares to take control of it's own security. The number of Americans who died remained virtually unchanged. 197 have died so far this year compared to 195 in the first six months of last year.

Pentagon leadership changes today

The changing of the guard happens today that the Pentagon. SECDEF Robert Gates leaves. At his farewell speech he invoked the words of legendary General George C. Marshall --the great musts of a generation. They were he said, "the development of a sense of responsibility for world order and security. the development of a sense of the overwhelming importance of the countries acts and failures to act," He's replaced by now former CIA director Leon Panetta.

Marines separate from suspect

The Marines Corps has officially dismissed 22-year-old Yonathan Melaku, a reservist after he was charged with several shootings at the Pentagon and other military buildings. The separation process actually started earlier this month after he was charged in an unrelated matter with grand larceny. Melaku was arrested after he was caught trespassing inside Arlington National Cemetery after dark. Police say he had with him bomb-making materials.

Taliban Attacks Hotel in Kabul

The increase in violence comes as NATO-led forces prepare to hand security responsibility to Afghans in seven areas. This was to be the start of a gradual transition process that will end with all foreign troops leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014. A two-day conference to discuss the transition process was due to begin in a government building in the center of the city today. Violence across Afghanistan in 2010 was already at its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Airstrike target terrorists in Somalia

An airstrike from a military aircraft hit a convoy carrying Al Qaida linked militants in southern Somalia, last week. A U.S. defense official says foreign fighters were among those killed in an attack carried out by a "partner country". The convoy was hit as it drove along the coastline in the southern port city of Kismayo. Al Shabaab confirmed the strike saying, however only two of its fighters were injured.

ICBM tested in California

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off early Wednesday on a test flight from California to a target in the Pacific Ocean, but according to the Associated Press, a communications problem forced the launch command to be issued by ground control rather than an airborne launch control system, the Air Force said. The ICBM roared out of a silo at 6:35 a.m. PDT and its re-entry vehicle reached a target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands after an approximately 30-minute flight over 4,200 miles of ocean, a base statement said.

U.S. North Korea relations may improve

The State department says it's willing to engage North Korea, but only if it improves relations with South Korea. North Korea has taunted the world with its nuclear program for several years, threatening to launch missiles. U.S. allies are considering sending food to North Korea. The U.N. say 23 million people are in need of it in the North. South Korea says it's skeptical about that.

Pakistan has been warned again

Pakistan has been warned again it could lose the military aid money the U.S. is providing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the Pakistani government about rising U.S. doubts over its commitment to fighting Islamist militants. At the same time, Clinton told a Senate panel that the Obama administration viewed Pakistan as a crucial partner as it seeks to wind down the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Changes coming to Afghanistan

As the President begins the drawdown process in Afghanistan, some other things will have to change as well. There will be a shift from rapid impact stability programs run by international agencies to infrastructure and economic growth projects that can be run by Afghans. Hydroelectric dams, roads, gas fields, mines, and increased agricultural production will be the center of attention as the 2014 drawdown deadline approaches.

U.S. and China urged to discuss cyber espionage

China hits the U.S., then the Pentagon fires back. The stakes in the shadowy cyber war are growing more and more costly. So former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is urging the two countries to set some limits. Kissinger told Reuters in his own words, if it's viewed case by case it will lead to accusations and counter-accusations." The Chinese government is suspected of cyber attacks ranging from rudimentary small scale hacking to broad disruptive assaults on major corporations.

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