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7:39 pm, November 27, 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.

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.

Computer worms evolving

About 4 years ago, computer worms began nibbling at the Pentagon's sensitive computer based information networks. One in particular managed to infiltrate computers linked to U.S. Central Command. Now it appears that original version of the worm has been improved several times over and attempting even more damaging attacks of Pentagon systems. The Chinese are commonly accused of the attack, but experts who've studied the constant assaults, they say it bears the hallmarks of Russian Intelligence.

DoD to continue with drone program

Department of Defense Undersecretary Ashton Carter has told Congress that it would keep working on Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk reconnaissance drone even though it's way over budget. He notified Congress on Tuesday that the program was essential to national security and that there were no alternatives that would meet the department's requirements for less money.

Pakistan disappoints the U.S. again

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Associated Press that the Obama administration tried to improve relations with Pakistan recently by sharing intelligence about on the locations where insurgents were suspected of making bombs, but it turned out to be a big disappointment. The two locations are in the tribal territories in northwestern Pakistan. But by the time authorities reached the facilities, the suspects had been tipped off and were gone.

"No one would shed a tear"

The United States and NATO are stepping up military operations against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, hoping to push him out of power to drive him from power -- or Reuters says a senior U.S. official is hoping they can kill him. The comments came after some of the heaviest bombing in Tripoli since the campaign to oust Gadhafi began. According to the Reuters report, the official said, "no one would shed a tear" if Gaddafi were to die in one of the many attacks."

U.S. troops may stay in Iraq

CIA director Leon Panetta, expected to be the next Secretary of Defense told the Senate during his confirmation hearing he thinks Iraq will ask the U.S. to maintain a military present beyond the end of this year, when American troops are currently scheduled to leave. Panetta said Iraqi leaders will have to decide support they need, and for how long, in order to make sure security gains there are not lost. He said there are still about 1,000 al-Qaida insurgents in Iraq and keeping some troops in Iraq to support security forces there is a good idea.

The U.S. must stay the course

The U/S has to continue its financial investment in Afghanistan. That's what the nominee to be the next Ambassador says. Ryan Crocker, who did some tough duty in Iraq said during his confirmation hearing that the multi-billion dollar commitment that now totals close to $20 billion dollars, is necessary to prevent the government there from slipping back into the state that it was when Al Qaida used it as a launching ground for terror attacks.

The U.S.S. Carl Vinson makes a stop

The U.S.S. Carl Vinson is arriving in Hawaii. This is it's first port of call since it ferried Osama Bin Laden's body out to sea to be buried. The ship arrived in Pearl Harbor for a a short visit before heading home to San Diego. The aircraft carrier was deployed in the Arabian Sea last month with the Navy SEAL team carrying the body of the man who spearheaded the Sept. 11th terror attacks was brought aboard. Bin Laden's body was reportedly put in a weighted bag on the carrier, an officer made religious remarks and his remains eased into the sea.

Training on law admitting gays moving smoothly

A non-event is how Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Charelli describes the training that U.S. troops are getting on a new law allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Most of the problems and trouble that had been predicted appears not to have materialized. The Pentagon has avoiding giving up details on the training because of concern that too much attention could enflame the issue. All of the training should be complete by mid august. Two point two million people need to be trained on the new regulation.

Pentagon surveys employers

The Pentagon wants to better understand how military service affects those who employ members of the Guard and Reserves. The Department of Defense is surveying about 80,000 employers of all sizes across the nation. Guard and Reserve members currently comprise about 50 percent of the military's total strength, according to the Pentagon. Defense officials say they generally receive strong support from companies who employ Guard and Reserve members, who sometimes must be away from their families and their jobs for extended periods of time.

It's Free but it ain't cheap

The white head stones and Arlington and Punchbowl and at many other cemeteries just sit there today, silent but proud monuments to the sacrifice that this country was built upon. Originally called Decoration Day, this is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Several cities lay claim to observing the first memorial day but on this day, from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters every town village and hamlet honor those who proved Freedom is free but it ain't cheap.

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