10:24 pm, November 22, 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.

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.

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.

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