7:21 am, November 24, 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.

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.

Militaries embracing "Social Media"

It's primarily viewed as a tool to promote their activities, but it appears now there are substantive discussions in the U.S. about how to use certain platforms as secure communications tools. During a recent two-day exchange between U.S. and Bahamian military officials, Stacey Knott, NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs Social Media specialist said the goal was to help Bahamian Defense force learn from U.S. mistakes and successes.

Syria facing more sanctions

The European Union has imposed asset freezes and visa bans on 15 Syrians, including senior military intelligence and police officials. Five institutions, including military and air force intelligence agencies, were added to a list of entities that EU companies are banned from doing business with. An oil embargo is expected as well. Syria produces 400,000 barrels a day.

North Korea looking proposes nuclear moratorium

Russian officials say North Korea is ready to impose a moratorium on tests of weapons of mass destruction and resume talks on ending its nuclear weapons programs. The announcement took place during talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, his son Kim Chong 'Il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a military base on the outskirts of the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude. This latest effort is designed to bring in financial aid for North Korea, which continues to struggle economically.

Russian troops killed

Six Russian soldiers were killed and twelve wounded after an explosion at a military base in the southern part of Russia. A spokesman said the blast happened as the soldiers were trying to dispose of old munitions on the base in the Astrakhan region. This mishap came after two major fires at ammunition depots in other parts of Russia this summer. The fires caused extensive damage and numerous injuries. The incidents raise questions about the soldier's training to facilitate explosive ordinance removal.

Russia and North Korea resume military relations

Political relations between Russia and North Korea broke down after the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s and so did military relations. But now the two are discussing resumption on direct military ties. Russian military officers flew North Korea to talk about it even as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il rides an armored train on a secretive journey to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev. The two are scheduled to meet in Siberia. North Korea may be preparing to resume six-party disarmament talks.

What will happen next?

Muamar Gadhafi wherever he is, has left a lot of worry in his wake. Has he set up plans for retaliation? Are there loyalists that will follow his commands to the death? These are all questions U.S. military and intelligence officials seem to be pondering. Gadhafi, the Godfather of the modern day terrorist is well known for brutal attacks on airplanes back in the 1970s and 80s and some experts say there is no reason to believe he won't try it again.

U.S. pressured to leave Iraq

Radical Cleric Muqtada el-Sadr want the U.S. out of Iraq. He restated that demand again yesterday, but General David Petraeus said on the Pentagon Channel yesterday, "we've got to work with our Iraqi partners to insure that we can continue to provide for them assistance, capabilities that have proven to be very important for them even as we obviously continue to reduce our forces." Al-Sadr wants the "army, the bases, the trainers, the embassy, the militias, the companies, the US aid, and anything that is American," out.

Military exercises cancelled

Egypt and the United States are scrapping this year's "Bright Star" military drills, the largest exercises in the region. A Pentagon official said "ongoing transition events" in Egypt's move toward democracy is the main reason. Egypt's leadership vacuum is also another key issue. The "Bright Star" drill dates back to 1981. It's one of the longest running drills for the U.S. and partner countries.

Panetta: Budget cuts could be "devastating"

The pentagon can handle big budget cuts, but only up to a point. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said big cuts would "terribly weaken" U.S. national security. He said the Pentagon is prepared to make $350 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, but larger cuts, he said, would be "devastating." During an appearance at the National Defense University Panetta said progress by American-led forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan and by NATO forces in support of anti-government rebels in Libya might suffer from cuts.

Al Qaida in Iraq making a comeback

Has al Qaida in Iraq rebounded? Simultaneous attacks targeting Shiite civilians and Iraqi security forces by suicide bombers carries the al-Qaida in Iraq signature. The scope and sophistication suggests the terror group may be back to full strength. The violence comes less than two weeks after Iraqi officials said they would discuss with the U.S. whether to have some American forces stay in the country past their Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.

Chinese begin sea trials

There's been a lot of talk about China's first Aircraft carrier and whether it's a threat. It's headed out for sea trials that will last 15 days. The carrier, coming on the heels of China's rollout of a stealth fighter last year has raised concerns for some who carefully follow Sino-US relations. Some say the carrier is driven in part by China's desire for international prestige. Others say it's because China's more plugged into the international economy.

Experimental plane making history

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says an unmanned experimental aircraft lost contact with ground control on its second test flight. The Falcon HTV-2, designed to glide down from the upper atmosphere at 20 times the speed of sound, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first part of the launch did go well. DARPA said they managed to collect some valuable information. This plane is able to fly anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes.

Officer gets life in prison

An Army sergeant based at Fort Stewart was sentenced Wednesday to life in a military prison without parole for shooting and killing his infantry squad leader and another U.S. soldier in Iraq after they criticized him for poor performance. According to the associated Press the military jury's sentence also calls for Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, 41, of Minneapolis to be demoted in rank to private and to receive a dishonorable discharge. The same court-martial convicted him of premeditated murder May 25 in the slayings of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley Durbin of Dallas at a small patrol base outside Baghdad on Sept. 14, 2008.

Charges filed in Ft Hood plot

A federal grand jury indicted an AWOL soldier Tuesday on three charges in connection with a plot to bomb Fort Hood soldiers in Texas. According to the Associated Press, Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, 21, was indicted in Waco on charges of possession of an unregistered destructive device, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition by a fugitive from justice, according to federal prosecutors. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each charge if convicted.

Lawsuit moves forward

A court says two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm can move forward with a lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of being responsible for U.S. forces allegedly torturing them. The ruling Monday from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago a rejects arguments that Rumsfeld should be immune from such lawsuits for work performed as a Cabinet secretary.

Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel claim they were tortured in 2006 after blowing the whistle on alleged illegal activities by a contracting company. They say they were subjected to sleep deprivation, blasting music, hunger and various threats.

Budget cuts concern DOD leaders

The U.S. doesn't have to chose between fiscal discipline and national security. The words of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. In his first news conference since taking office looming budget cuts were his focus. He was joined by outgoing chairman of the joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen. Mullen warned that programs that can't meet costs or target dates are in jeopardy of being cut. Both assured military personnel they have their best interest at heart.

Panetta promises responsible defense cuts

Billions of dollars in defense cuts are coming, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a message to the work force this week said, "I am determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past." Without saying what those mistakes were, he quoted President Barack Obama's plan "to conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world." He added, he will make sure that defense cuts are "not pursued in a hasty, ill-conceived way that would undermine the military ability to protect America and its vital interests around the globe".

DARPA creates new battlefield solutions

On the battlefield information from video sensors is important, but there aren't enough time or people to review it for potentially sensitive information. But DARPA may have come up with 2 solution. The Video and Image Retrieval and Analysis Tool (VIRAT) and Persistent Stare Exploitation and Analysis System (PerSEAS) programs may soon enable better war fighter analysis of huge amounts of data generated from multiple types of sensors.

U.S. dialogue in Iraq working

It appears that attacks by Iranian backed militia on U.S. forces in Iraq are decreasing. A combination of diplomatic engagement and military operations get the credit. It was just a few weeks ago that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned if the attacks didn't stop, the U.S. would take some action. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen who stopped into Iraq on an unannounced visit said he still in a wait and see mode as to where the trend can be continued. 14 U.S. service members were killed in hostile action in June.

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