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9:03 am, August 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.

President Obama re-confirms drawdown

President Barack Obama met with troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to congratulate them on the success of special forces units based there that killed Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. While there, he reiterated his intention to start pulling back U.S. forces from Afghanistan this summer, and also indicated Bin Laden's demise shows the U.S. strategy is working. The President spoke to a general military audience and then met privately with the Navy Seals that carried out the Bin Laden mission.

President pays the Seals a visit

Fort Campbell is going to be the scene of a visit today by President Obama. He's expected to meet with some of those involved in the military assault that killed Osama bin Laden. Fort Campbell is home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which participated in the raid against bin Laden. A team of Navy SEALs raided a compound in Pakistan, killing the terrorist mastermind. Bin Laden was later buried at sea. Authorities are combing through effects he left behind.

Burials at sea are routine

The burial at sea of terrorist Osama bin Laden raised some eyebrows around the world, but According to the Associated Press, for the U.S. Navy, it's a routine exercise. The Navy says it commits to the sea an average of 20 deceased every month - veterans, retirees and other U.S. citizens. Pentagon officials said Monday that bin Laden's body was placed in a "weighted bag." An officer made some religious remarks and his body was placed on a flat board and tipped into the sea. The usual Navy burials at sea are similar, though include an honor guard that fires shots into the air and the playing of TAPS. For Americans who request such burials, U.S. vessels take the remains along with them and do the ceremony while the ships are on their scheduled deployments.

Panetta moves to DoD

A new Secretary of Defense. "I was proud to wear the uniform of our country. And my respect and admiration for our country's armed forces has only grown in the decade since," said Leon Panetta. Assuming he's confirmed, he will succeed Robert Gates as SECDEF in July. Panetta was among four nominated by President Barack Obama to fill key national security positions. "These are the leaders that I've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead, said Mr Obama.

National Security moves coming

Today is expected to be the day the White House announces that CIA director Leon Panetta will be nominated to become SECDEF. There is plenty of speculation about why Panetta, as opposed to the man expected to be nominated take his place, General David Petraeus. But the White House has not said anything. Members of Congress have been trying to persuade Panetta to stay in his current position, because of his history of working well with Congress. On the other hand, he may according to some experts bring that same spirit to the Pentagon.

Pressure on Gadhafi rises

Italy's air force, is planning to increase its role in operations in Libya. Italy's President decided on Monday that its air force will be allowed to bomb selected military targets in Libya. A statement from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office said he had informed U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation of the government's decision and that he would call other European leaders to tell them personally as well.

The CIA conserves

The Central Intelligence Agency says it's practice of shredding and burning classified papers-often referred to in movies and books as "burn after reading"-is one of several ways the CIA conserves energy, reduces its impact on the environment, and lowers costs through its sustainability efforts. But what about the Agency's carbon footprint? Exhaust from the Agency's on-site incinerator generates steam to heat water at CIA Headquarters. In addition to saving fuel, that process reduces the amount of waste-which would otherwise be destined for landfills-by nearly 1,000 tons per year. The CIA increases its recycling efforts each year, annually collecting over three tons of plastic, glass, cardboard, aluminum, construction debris, and other waste.

NATO will deploy ground troops to Libya

According to the Associated Press, "British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Thursday that NATO isn't edging toward the deployment of ground troops in Libya despite the decision by several European nations to send military staff to assist rebel forces." Britain, Italy and France are sending combat advisers to train Libya's opposition forces.

Manning now in Kansas

Wikileaks suspect PFC Bradley Manning has arrived at his new temporary home. The Leavenworth Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Kansas. It is there he will wait while the government decides whether to put him on trial. The first order of business is in-depth assessment by the medical staff there. The facility is a state-of-the-art, 464-bed, medium/minimum custody facility with a 48-bed special housing unit built to comply with American Correctional Association Standards. It officially opened last October.

Secret documents made public

World War One era documents have been declassified by the CIA. One document outlines the chemicals and techniques necessary for developing certain types of secret writing ink and a method for opening sealed letters without detection. One question that has come up since the declassification is, why now as opposed to a decade ago when, the case was litigated in court? The revelation at the time was deemed to be a hazard to U.S. national security.

Voluntary authorized departure ends

In the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan, the Defense Department says it concurs with the State Department's determination that the situation in Japan does not pose significant risk to U.S. citizens. As a result, last Friday, the Pentagon ended the voluntary authorized departure of DoD eligible family members from Honshu, Japan. So far approximately 20,000 personnel, approximately 140 aircraft, and more than 20 ships from the U.S. military have supported Operation Tomodachi.

National security leadership change coming

Changes may be coming at the top at the Pentagon and the CIA. If they are in the works, it's difficult to tell who will do what, but as far as CIA Director Leon Panetta is concerned, "I hope he stays there. I think we wants to stay there. I'm encouraging him to stay there, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. And he has some advice for the President. "You may need to find another Secretary of Defense. I think Secretary Gates deserves his time, but I would not make wholesale changes in all of the national security posts all at one time."

Russian authorities seeking to control email

Russia's FSB, the equivalent to the FBI is trying to get access to encrypted communication providers like Skype, Gmail and Hotmail. Reuters is reporting, "the agency says the uncontrolled use of such services could threaten national security." Alexander Andreyechkin, head of the FSB says, "the uncontrolled use of these services could lead to a large-scale threat to Russian security." Critics say what he really wants to do is limit access to the internet ahead of the 2012 elections.

Israelies show their cards

Israel has rolled out it secret weapon. In the face of renewed shelling from Gaza, The military unveiled something they call the Iron Dome yesterday. It's a missile shield. The device intercepted two rockets in its first deployment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement while visiting Prague. The Iron Dome fires radar-guided missiles from a truck-sized launcher and which tracks and blows up incoming rockets in mid-air.

The Associated Press reports

The Associated Press reports: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to smooth the worst rift in years with Arab ally and oil producer Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, reassuring the Saudi king that the U.S. remains a steady friend despite support for pro-democracy revolutions in the Middle East. The Saudi king, looking thin after months of medical treatment in the United States and elsewhere, welcomed Gates for what the Pentagon chief later said was a cordial and warm visit."

Would shutdown cut off military pay?

So if there were a government shutdown, how would me and women in uniform be paid? Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said late yesterday the leadership hadn't figured that out yet. There are 146,000 service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says the Pentagon would continue key national security responsibilities including fighting the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and continuing operations in Libya and earthquake assistance to Japan.

Intifada Report under investigation

Reports about a Third Intifada being organized against Israel apparently were bogus. "They investigated that Facebook page and they couldn't trace it back to any Palestinian individual or organization," says Maen Areikat, Representative for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. "It's really interesting to know who is behind it," says Areikat. As far as any future Palestinian protests go, he says any future protests, "continue to be peaceful and not resort to violence."

Emergency declared in Abidjan

Alassane Ouattara's, President in waiting in the Ivory Coast has declared an overnight curfew in the main city of Abidjan from now until Sunday. A Ouattara spokesman says the curfew was needed "for security reasons" and would run from nine o'clock in the evening through to six o'clock in the morning each day. Ouattara is locked in a bitter dispute over the Presidency in that war-torn country with incumbent Laurent Bagbo. Ouattara won the election but has not been able to assume the office.

NATO takes control on Libyan effort

NATO has taken over command of the No-Fly zone and other military efforts to stop Libyan leader Muamar Gadhafi's military and help the rebels gain steam. A U.s. intelligence source says the British and French have troops on the ground and supply guidance to the rebels while the a wealthy Middle Eastern government is bank rolling the effort to supply weapons to the rebels. As that effort continues, there are major concerns about possibly arming the rebels.

Gadhafi pushing back

Muammar Gaddafi's army hasn't thrown in the towel yet. They set back the momentum of the rebels troops who were headed toward Tripoli. In the meantime Admiral James Stravridis, the U.S. head of NATO said there "flickers" of Al Qaida in Libya, waiting to fill the void left behind by Gadhafi, if he's ousted. But Stavridis added the is no evidence of a significant presence. The NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libyan forces is expected to continue until Gaddafi gives up or is defeated.

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