3:52 pm, May 25, 2015

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.

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.

Power vacuum threatens Afghanistan

The assassinations in Afghanistan are not a surprise. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen says U.S. officials had long predicted the kind of attacks that have shaken southern Afghanistan and Kandahar province in recent weeks. He said, We thought that's where they'd try to go. That's where they're going and we've got to work hard to prevent that." The killing of the Mayor of Kandahar has raised fears that a power vacuum could be developing.

Solider arrested near Ft Hood

Who was the man planning to attack Ft. Hood? PFC Naser J. Abdo, age 21, was assigned to and was AWOL from E Co, 1st Brigade Combat Team (Rear Provisional), 101st Airborne Division, Ft Campbell, KY. He entered service in March 2009 and is from Garland, Texas. His Military Occupational Specialty is 11B, Infantryman. He ran into trouble at Ft. Campbell because of child pornography charges.

State Department Issues Worldwide Caution alert

The Department of State has renewed Worldwide Caution alert. The communiqué issued yesterday says it was done to update Americans on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The previous alert was issued January 31st.

CERT Director resigns

Randy Vickers has stepped down as director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. An email, obtained by Reuters did not disclose any reason for the resignation, Reuters writes, "a Homeland Security official would only say: 'we aren't commenting on personnel matters.' Vickers' resignation follows several high-profile hacker attacks against the Pentagon and public websites of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Senate."

DoD keeps up the pressure

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is pledging to keep up the pressure on al-Qaida. At his formal swearing-in ceremony, the former CIA director said that if the U.S. remains committed to that fight, and it ultimately will succeed in denying safe havens for the organization. In the meantime, authorities in Oslo are digging into whether al-Qaida's ideology played any role in the deadly blast and shooting rampage last week.

Panetta sworn in

Leon Panetta is the 23rd Secretary of Defense today. The first was James Vincent Forrestal. He served from September of 1947 until March of 1949 at the pleasure of President Dwight Eisenhower. Panetta begins his tour at the Pentagon after finishing a two year stint as director of the CIA. Many experts expect that his ground work to improve relations between the intelligence community with the Congress may produce dividends for the Pentagon as well.

Marine to receive Medal of Honor

President Barack Obama is going the present the Medal of Honor to a Marine who took on enemy fire in Afghanistan to find and bring back three missing Marines and a Navy corpsman. Dakota Meyer, who left active duty in June 2010, will be the first living Marine in 41 years to receive the nation's highest award for valor. Only two living recipients - Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry - have received the award for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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