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3:17 pm, September 1, 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.

Iran says no way

Iran says nuclear issues are not even up for discussion when it meets major powers in Geneva on Today. So it's not clear how productive the first the first talks in a year will be. But even if Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany do agree to meet again, the process is expected to be long in terms of pomp and circumstance, but may be short on productivity. The United States is urging Iran to enter the talks in good faith and warned of more pressure and isolation if Tehran doesn't.

Pentagon budget to decline

The defense budget for the U.S. is going to recede, but it's not clear exactly when or by how much. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants the military to find $100 billion in savings in overhead over the next five years to put back into troop costs and weapons programs and he wants to do it while keeping the overall Pentagon budget growing at about 1 percent a year. Marine Corps General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday other parts of the government might have a problem with that.

Obama seeking help on START

President Barack Obama is looking for help from former Secretary of State Colin Powell to jump start the short-circuited nuclear treaty with the Russians. Powell, a retired four-star Army general and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said, "We're not exactly sure what's going on in the Russian Federation, and they're not exactly sure what's going on in the United States." The START treaty would reduce how many strategic warheads the United States and Russia could hold and set up a system so each could inspect and verify the other's arsenal.

Showdown plays out in Brazil

Brazilian police showed off piles of drugs and weapons seized during an aggressive takeover of two of this city's most dangerous slums, even as the search continued Tuesday in homes and even sewers for their real target: the drug gang leaders themselves. According to the Associated Press, police conceded that many of the up to 600 drug gang members believed to have been hiding in Vila Cruzeiro and the neighboring Alemao complex of slums may have escaped. The hunt for those that got away extended Tuesday into Rio's maze of storm sewers. The tally for a week of gang attacks and police raids included 124 arrested, 148 detained and 51 dead, authorities said in a statement released Tuesday.

Iranian Paranoia

The Wikileaks documents presents more evidence that Iran is becoming increasingly more isolated not just because of the sanctions aimed strangling it's nuclear pursuits, but diplomatically too. The crown prince of the United Arab Emirates said in one of the cables, "Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon unless the regime could be 'split from inside' before nuclear capability was achieved." That same documented pointed out as well that Iran has a major fear of improving relations with the U.S. because it would threaten the government's control over the country.

NATO preparing to hand over security in Afghanistan

Even though senior NATO and Pentagon officials have expressed doubt that Afghan forces will be ready to take over security for the country in 2014, NATO leaders say thery will move ahead with step one of the plan to do just that. Britan, Canada and other allied countries say they do not want to be in a combat role in 2014 and are beginning to phase out their troops. The U.S. says it will begin it's withdrawal from Afghanistan next year.

Is Iraq on the brink?

How will the U.S withdrawal from Iraq next year affect security there? Colin Kahl, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee security remains strong and the pullout at the end of 2011 will not ignite a dramatic increase in violence. Al Qaida, while successful in pulling of several high profile attacks in recent weeks, killing hundreds has not succeeded in ingniting widespread sectarian violence.

Bolivia Flexes at U.S.

A very curt message for Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday. Bolivian President Evo Morales said Latin American nations will pick their own friends and business partners, including Iran, regardless of U.S. opinion. The remarks came during a welcome ceremony for delegates at a regional defense conference Morales never mentioned Gates. But observers say most of the speech, and all of the applause lines, obviously aimed at Gates.

Commission seeks assesment of Chinese military capabilities

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional advisory commission says in its annual report that lawmakers should require a Pentagon assessment of the military's capacity to withstand a Chinese air and missile assault on American regional bases and the implications of a similar assault on Taiwan's air defenses. The commission was set up by Congress in 2000 to advise, investigate and report on U.S.-China affairs.

Canada to stay in Afghanistan until 2014

Canada confirmed Tuesday that 950 soldiers and support staff will remain in Afghanistan in a training role after Canada's combat mission ends in 2011. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said they will be stationed in the Kabul area and will stay until 2014. The pledge of support may help plug a critical shortage of trainers for NATO's year-old mission to bolster Afghan security forces. The training mission would be confined to military bases.

Drug traffickers buy long range planes

It's the latest innovation by international drug traffickers. U.S. prosecutors say South American gangs are buying old jets and other planes, filling them with cocaine and flying them more than 3,000 miles across the ocean to Africa. At least three gangs have struck deals to fly drugs to West Africa and from there to Europe, according to U.S. indictments. Most of the cocaine flown to Africa is bound for Europe, where demand has been rising over the last decade.

Honor finally restored

Almost 100 years after his death, a black Union Civil War vet from South Carolina finally has a veterans marker on his grave. The Associated Press reports, the white gravestone for Henry Benjamin Noisette was dedicated Thursday during a Veterans Day ceremony at a small black cemetery near an interstate. Noisette's military past was not discovered until recently by a researcher with the African American Historical Alliance, a nonprofit working to increase awareness of the role of blacks in the war and Reconstruction in South Carolina. Noisette escaped slavery and joined the U.S. Navy in 1862.

Germany deploys cautiously

More than 60 years after world war two, Germany is still very sensitve how it deploys it's troops in foreign countries. The government has announced it will extend three military deployments including its contribution to an EU naval force tracking pirates off Somalia. Germany has more than 300 troops participating in the anti-piracy force. There are 120 soldiers to Bosnia, and it's considering sending a ship with 220 soldiers to take part in NATO's Active Endeavour operation patrolling in the Mediterranean. Germany also has 4,900 troops in Afghanistan.

What was that?

Missile launches off the coast of California are commonplace --but this one was a mystery. Military officials said early on it didn't represent a threat to the United States. They also said it was not a launch by a foreign power. The video captured by a news helicopter showed an object shooting across the sky and leaving a large vapor trail. DoD said it wasn't involved, and that it might have been created by something flown by a private company. Which could lead to big trouble for that company.

Enriched uranium moved

The U.S. government says it has removed nearly 132 pounds of spent nuclear fuel from a shuttered San Diego-area reactor that conducted research for nearly 40 years. The National Nuclear Security Administration disclosed the removal Monday in a press release without revealing the name of the research facility. The agency says nearly 60 kilograms of enriched uranium was moved during three weeks in August and September in three convoys to an unspecified secure federal facility nearly 1,000 miles from San Diego.

What will the next fighter jet look like?

The new fighter jet. What will it look like? Experts say it's going to have to deal with enemies equipped for electronic attack and with sophisticated air defenses, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons and cyber attack capabilities. The Air Force Materiel Command said in a notice to the Defense industry, the new aircraft must be able to operate in the "anti-access/area-denial environment that will exist in the 2030-2050 timeframe."

More Drones are coming

The Air Force is planning to develop more high-tech drones that can collect intelligence and better maneuver in the combat airspace. According to the Associated Press, the Air Force has already dramatically increased the number of armed and unarmed drones over Afghanistan and Iraq. But Air Force Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove says there are growing worries that the U.S. needs better aircraft to gather information and conduct electronic attacks in airspace.

Al Qaida's promising another attack

Al Qaida's affiliate in Iraq is promising more attacks after 58 people were killed in an attck on a church this week. The Islamic State of Iraq launched an attack on a Catholic church during Mass in downtown Baghdad last Sunday said its deadline for Egypt's Coptic chruch, which allegedly is holding women hostage for converting to Islam must be released before the attacks stop. This attack was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq's Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003.

Yemen is still a problem

Yemen has been a trouble spot for more than a decade and explosives have always been the problem and they've always been relatively small. It was in 1998 that the U.S.S. Cole, a Navy Destroyer was attack while in Yemen. 17 sailors were killed and 39 were injured. A small craft approached the port side of the destroyer, and an explosion occurred, leaving a 40-by-40-foot gash in the ship's port side. The toner cartridges with the explosive PETN in them that were discovered aboard planes in the UK and Dubai last week contained only a small amount, but had they gone off, they would've inflicted maximum damage.

British send message to U.S. Government

Take down the websites used by extremists. British Minister of Security Pauline Neville-Jones called on the the U.S. to do that during a speech at the Brookings Institution. She also urged the U.S. to do more to stop militant threats without going to war. Neville-Jones pointed about Al Qaeda's leaders in Pakistan have shown "startling resilience" and their affiliates have both the intent and the capability to strike the West.

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