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11:53 pm, July 31, 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. forces on the move in North Africa

The Pentagon has moved some of its forces in the region near Libya into position, but won't say for what. Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan says Pentagon planners are working on various options and contingency plans as the violence aimed at overthrowing the government continues. As a part of that planning, the Pentagon is repositioning some naval and air forces. The U.S. has a regular military presence in the Mediterranean Sea and farther to the south has two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area.

Get ready Army

The Army has to get ready for the future, which includes complex threats from terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction, hostile nation-states capable of nuclear warfare and the modern militaries being assembled in Russia and China. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets on Friday, they are joining a force that has been under pressure, but even though they've been stressed, they've been resilient. This is likely Gates last address to West Point. He's expected to leave the post this year.

Psy-Ops Unit allegedly targeted U.S. officials

Did a U.S. military psychological operations unit in Afghanistan try to persuade visiting U.S. senators to increase war funding? A Rolling Stone magazine article quotes the leader of the Army unit, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Holmes, who seems to substantiate it. According to the article Homes says he objected to what he saw as an illegal use of his team's skills on American citizens. The article said the unit was ordered by Lieutenant General William Caldwell, a three-star commander in charge of training Afghan troops, to target visiting dignitaries.

Is Kuwait next?

Kuwait's Ambassador to the U.S. says Kuwait is safe from the kinds of protests that have toppled the governments in Egypt and Tunisia. His Excellency Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah says the protests that have taken place there are a group of people who came there from Iraq, Syria and other places and destroyed their identification papers hoping to convince the government they are Bedouins and be granted citizenship. Why? In Kuwait, Housing is free for all, so is education and there are no taxes.

Ukranian pilots allegedly attacked Libyan protesters

Stratfor Global Intelligence is reporting Ukrainian pilots were involved in the strafing of Libyan protestors. An Arab diplomat close to the Libyan government told them the MiG pilots were Ukrainian. The Ukrainian military says none of its pilots were involved in the activity. Stratfor also reported on February 21, boats operated by Italians attacked demonstrators in Benghazi and Tripoli. The source's information also indicated that the Egyptian army prevented a convoy of trucks carrying aid to Libya from crossing the border.

U.S. forces stand ready in Mediterranean

Is the U.S. considering movement of forces in the Middle East to respond to Iran's plans to send two warship through the Suez Canal? A spokesman for Secretary Defense Robert Gates says, "we do not discuss the future movement of forces. We do have numerous assets in the region that are prepared to respond to contingencies if necessary." An Israeli official described the Iranian announcement as a public relations stunt.

Where will Bin Laden go?

CIA Director Leon Panetta told senators yesterday if the U.S. captures top al-Qaida leaders Osama Bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, they would likely be sent to the Guantanamo Bay military prison. What does that say about President Obama's plan to close Gitmo? White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Carney would not speculate on what would happen in the unlikely event Osama Bin Laden were captured alive.

Suicide bomb trainer released

It may comes as a surprise to some, but the man who helped train the London suicide bomber whose attacks killed 52 people in 2007 has been free for two years. According to court documents Mohammed Junaid Babar, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, faced a 70-year prison sentence, but he cooperated with British and U.S. authorities and was released after five years. Some experts say his level of cooperation since his agreement has been extraordinary.

Questions rise about Egypt's future

What kind of military relationship will the U.S. have with Egypt now that Hosni Mubarak is gone? President Barack Obama says the Egyptian military has served patriotically and responsibly and now must ensure a transition of power that is credible to the Egyptian people. For the next seven months the military will essentially be a caretaker of the Egyptian government. The ruling council has been charged with preparing the country for elections in September.

North Korea can produce nukes...but

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee, the United States believes North Korea has the capability to produce nuclear weapons, but is unlikely to use them unless the Pyongyang government is on the close to defeat.

He said the Obama administration regards North Korea as a "serious threat" to security in East Asia, and believes it may well have built other uranium enrichment facilities beyond the known Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Joint Forces Command will cut positions

It's going to happen. The head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command says that 2,300 people in Virginia will lose their jobs as part of the Pentagon's plan to cut costs. Another 36 positions in Nevada will be cut while an in Tampa, Fla., are going to be eliminated. Gen. Ray Odierno says the cuts are expected to save about $400 million a year. The command employs nearly 6,000 military and civilian personnel.

Pentagon urged to pay for traffic improvements

Fort Meade, the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, Virginia's Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, Florida's Eglin Air Force Base and Fort Bliss, Texas all need traffic management makeovers. That's what a new congressionally mandated traffic study says. It also says the Pentagon needs to pay for those traffic improvements. Traffic around those six locations are absorbing large numbers of personnel as a result of the Base Re-alignment Commission recommendations.

Asian countries edge toward war

Cambodian and Thai troops are engaging in some of the fiercest fighting in years over a disputed part of their shared border. Tensions between the neighbors have been exacerbated in recent days by pressure from powerful Thai nationalist groups, which have been staging protests in Bangkok urging the government to reclaim the land.

FBI scolded about Ft. Hood Shooter

A report from the Senate Homeland Security committee said the Defense Department did not inform or train commanders about how to recognize a radicalized Islamic extremist or how to see the difference between that and the peaceful practice of Islam. In addition, the FBI was harshly criticized for not totally sharing information with the military about Major Nidal Hasan and his views and beliefs. the FBI did not pass on some of the initial information up the chain about Hasan's connections because they said it wasn't clear he was connected to terrorists.

U.S. weapons sales may slow

Billions of dollars in weapons deals with Egypt are probably going to be put on hold until the situation clears up there. No one from the Pentagon has said things have been shutdown, but one thing is clear, U.S. arms firms may notice a downturn in the near term. Egypt is due to get $1.3 billion in military aid from the U.S this year. Experts say while the deals may not be on the fast track, they won't disappear, because regardless of who comes to power in North African and Middle Eastern countries facing crises, there will be a demand for U.S. weapons

Yemen joins the fray

The Arab world is consumed by protests demanding democracy and justice. Yemen's president, is hoping to shut-down unrest by offering concessions. But will they be enough? The changes sweeping the region may mean upheaval is not far away. Sporadic demonstrations have already struck the poor Arabian Peninsula state. And the protests are taking place with the understanding that Al Qaida sympathizer Anwar Al Awlaki has urged attacks there to deal with their discontent.

Tunisia showing signs of trouble

Carrying with knives and sticks gangs roam and rule the streets of the Tunisian town of Gessrine. Yesterday those gangs attacked government buildings and they threatened residents. The gangs burnt a youth center and attacked a number of other buildings in. Police were largely absent on the streets on Monday and the Army has had trouble restoring order in Gessrine. The uprising in Tunisia that led to the sacking of former President Ben Ali, is largely responsible for the revolution unfolding in Egypt.

Egyptian military cuts short Washington talks

Egypt's military chief of staff cut short a visit to the Pentagon because of anti-government. U.S. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright said that Egypt's Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan flew home, just two days into a planned week of meetings in Washington. Anan was in the U.S. for the highest level strategic talks each year between Washington and Cairo. Repeating the Obama administration's position on upheaval in Egypt, Cartwright urged the Egyptian government to show restraint in how it deals with protesters.

New terror alert system has arrived

So what will the new terror alert system look like? The National Terrorism Advisory System will be implemented over the next 90 days. Under the new system, DHS and other federal entities to issue formal, detailed alerts when the federal government receives information about a specific or credible terrorist threat. They'll provide a concise summary of the potential threat and actionable information.

Roadside bomb numbers are high

268 American troops were killed last year by roadside bombs in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says since the U.S. invasion in October 2001, 619 U.S. troops have been killed and another 5,764 have been wounded in improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Overall, at least 1,370 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began. Last year was, by far, the deadliest for all foreign troops, including Americans, with 702 killed, eclipsing the 2009 record of 504. While the number is high, it's about a third of what the number was in Iraq.

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