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4:43 pm, April 18, 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.

Lawmakers try to stop JFCOM shutdown

A week from today --the Senate Armed Services Committee is going to have a hearing about Pentagon's plans to close the Joint Forces Command headquarters in Norfolk to save money. Va. Sen. Jim Webb, who is a former Navy Secretary has pushed to get the hearing because they are concerned that the JFCOM closure will hit Virginia and the Tidewater region hard from an economic perspective. Webb and the rest of the Va. Congressional delegations are said to be exploring options to stop the shutdown.

Russia Buzzes Navy

If you think things between the U.S. and Russia are cozy, think again. Pentagon officials say two Russian aircraft buzzed a U.S. Navy warship in the Arctic's Barents Sea last week, each coming within about 50 yards of the frigate. Flying by Navy ships in international waters is not unheard of. But this Cold War-style incident was enough to stir some concern. Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Navy personnel aboard the ship did not believe the actions were hostile. He told reporters on Friday that the U.S. was still trying to determine whether either side broke protocol.

Manning supporters to rally

Rallies are scheduled in 18 cities across the U.S., Australia and Canada this weekend to decry the arrest of Army Private Bradley Manning. The protests were organized by supporters of Manning, who is accused of leaking classified military documents. The documents were posted on the Wikileaks web site and reveal what military officials say is very damaging information about U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Manning is also charged with leaking a video that shows the killing of a U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 2 journalists.

Protests against Koran burning continue

The uproar over a Florida pastor's threat to burn the Koran is not going away. Sixty people were injured in Kabul, Afghanistan during a rally against the idea Wednesday. The crowd in the western part of the city shot at police and threw stones --35 of those injured were police. The Koran has been at the heart of a number of violent struggles in Europe, Central Asia and the middle east in recent days. The concern is not just for locations outside of the U.S.. Authorities here are on alert for violence that may grow out of similar protests.

Canadian troops under investigation in Afghanistan

An elite Canadian military unit is under investigation. The Canadian Defense Department has launched two probes into possible misconduct by its elite commando force, officials said Tuesday. Reuters reports the investigations began after a member of the commando group, Joint Task Force 2, raised serious allegations against another member of the force, as well as against JTF2 in general, a Defense Department spokesman said. Captain David Scanlon, who declined to give precise details, said the affair could concern Afghan prisoners taken by Canadian troops.

Pentagon pushing to send weapons to Middle East

As a plan to offset Iran's alleged nuclear program, the Pentagon is pressing ahead with a plan to send 60 billion dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia. The Associated Press says the plan has been in the works for months and the U.S. is actually shifting it defense policies in the region to send a message to Iran. U.S. and foreign sources say Iran could soon have enough enriched uranium to build at least one nuclear weapon. Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Defense industry growing leaner

A new generation of defense industry leaders is using social media tools, leaner management structures and even shared sports activities to create a more collaborative and efficient workplace. Reuters reports, facing a downturn in defense spending and the Pentagon's aggressive cost-cutting drives, the industry is in a period of intense change. Companies are shifting gears to focus on new technologies like cybersecurity and unmanned planes as they try to become more efficient and in synch with rapidly evolving threats. Many companies have appointed new leaders who are changing the culture of an industry once dominated by strong personalities like Harry Stonecipher at Boeing Co and Tom Jones, the maverick who piloted Northrop Co's rise to become one of the hottest defense contractors of the 1980s.

Renegade Drone Poses a Problem

The U.S. military almost launched fighter jets and discussed a possible shoot-down when an errant Navy drone briefly veered into restricted airspace near the nation's capital last month, a senior military official said Thursday. The Associate Press reports the incident underscores safety concerns with unmanned aircraft as defense officials campaign to use them more often during natural disasters and for homeland security. Navy Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., head of Northern Command, said Thursday that the August mishap could hamper the Pentagon's push to have the Federal Aviation Administration ease procedures for drone use by the military in domestic skies.

Military Testing A New Track

The Army has a new track in Maryland to test safety for war-fighting vehicles. The Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore is the Pentagon's first contiguous, flat track for sustained high-speed vehicle testing. Convoys in warzones have to travel long distances at over 60 mph to counter enemy threats. But until now, the military has had no way to test all its vehicles at high speeds for extended periods.

Taliban have money problems

A Marine two-star general says the Taliban is experiencing a serious cash flow problem after losing an estimated half of its annual revenue from the drug trade in southern Afghanistan. The Associated Press reported Maj. Gen. Richard Mills says intelligence reports suggest that last year's poppy blight and government eradication efforts are keeping the Taliban from buying weapons and other supplies. Mills said at a news conference at the Pentagon U.S. troops still have a tough fight on their hands in Marjah.

Officials are still suspicious

A U.S. official said yesterday, they notified the Dutch authorities early on that they had no derogatory information on two men, both of Yemeni origin, who had suspicious items in their luggage. Still the Dutch were not satisfied. A major concern was the fact that one of the men and his luggage with contained suspicious items were headed to separate locations. Analyst say that is a classic sign of either a system test or compartmentalized attempt to slip prohibited items aboard an airplane.

Transformers headed to the Pentagon

You may have seen or heard about the movie Transformers and the military theme in the movie. It may soon be more than a movie. For several years now the Pentagon has been looking into flying cars. Now they're working on a flying humvee. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has chosen two companies to participate in project Transformer. It's a fully automated four-person vehicle that can drive like a car and then take off and fly like an aircraft to avoid roadside bombs. Lockheed Martin and AAI Corp., a unit of Textron Systems are moving to the next stage.

Warner Tries to Convince Pentagon

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner says Virginia officials should keep up the fight against the closing of a defense command in Norfolk. According to the Associated Press, the Virginia Democrat also suggested a different tack during a stop in Portsmouth on Thursday. He said Virginia officials should convince the Pentagon that it makes military and economic sense to keep the Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roads. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced this month he wants to close the command, which employs some 6,000 military and civilian workers.

Iran uranium is a "threat"

The former chief of U.N. nuclear inspections worldwide, told Le Monde newspaper that Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for 1-2 nuclear weapons. But Olli Heinonen, said it would not make sense for it to "cross the bomb-making threshold with such a small amount". He also said Iran's uranium reserve still represented a "threat." Pentagon officials told Congress last spring Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a one nuclear weapon in as little as a year.

Al Qaida Plot foiled in Canada

Canadian authorities say they've broken up an al Qaida terror plot. Two residents from Ottawa have been arrested after one of them was preparing to leave the country. Authorities are tight-lipped about the investigation, but they say the plot involved at least one suspect who had traveled to the tribal territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also indicated the plot involved explosives. Canada is the only one of the major countries on Al Qaida's list that they have yet to successfully attack.

Navy Blamed for Fatal Midair Crash

A failure by Navy air traffic controllers to follow standard procedures contributed to a midair collision that killed seven Coast Guard members and two Marines off Southern California last year, according to a Coast Guard report released Tuesday. The Associated Press says controllers at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, near San Diego, failed to notify the pilot of a Coast Guard C-130 plane that four Marine helicopters were in the area. The Marine flyers were also unaware of the Coast Guard plane's presence. The report said there is no single reason or person to blame for the crash on the night of Oct. 29, 2009. It made a series of recommendations to improve safety in the largely unregulated airspace.

Former Marine Gets Life

You may remember the story of a pregnant Marine who was murdered at Camp Lejune in December of 2007. A jury on Monday convicted a former Marine of first-degree murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, of Vandalia, Ohio, in December 2007. Cesar Laurean, 23, of Las Vegas faces life in prison without parole. He was also convicted of theft and fraud charges.

DOD acknowledges China's a Cyber Threat

The Pentagon is warning for the first time about the Chinese military's use of civilian computer experts in clandestine cyber attacks aimed at American companies and government agencies. DoD has issued a report says the People's Liberation Army, is using "information warfare units" to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and those units include civilian computer professionals.

Wikileaks condemned again

The "height of irresponsibility". That what the Pentagon says about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's decision to release another 15-thousand documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says "there are very serious operational consequences. There are the names of a lot of Afghans who have worked with us and helped us in those documents." He added the documents contain a significant amount of information about U.S. tactics, techniques and procedures, including places where they are vulnerable.

Break in Hamas Leader's Killing

Polish authorities have extradited a man believed to be a Mossad agent to Germany, where he faces charges over a passport that was used in the slaying of a Hamas leader in Dubai earlier this year. The suspect, known as Uri Brodsky was handed over to German police at Warsaw's international airport. German prosecutors accuse him of illegally helping to procure a passport used in connection with the Jan. 19th slaying of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a hotel in Dubai.

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