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8:28 pm, September 19, 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.

Trouble in West Africa

The Ivory coast is in serious turmoil. Forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo began attacking and burning U.N. vehicles in yesterday as tensions rise between Gbagbo and those who say he lost the election to Alassane Ouattra. The United Nations says Ouattara won the vote, but Gbagbo, who came to power in 2000, has rejected the U.N.-certified tally. There are reports of atrocities. A U.N. human rights officials says there are reports of mass graves around the capital of Abidjan.

Pentagon involved in Giffords' treatment

The U.S military is playing a significant role in the treatment of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Dr. James Eklund, a retired Army Colonel who served in Iraq, one the most experienced with penetrating trauma in the U.S. Col. Geoffrey Ling, currently on active duty and acting chair of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, were sent the Tucson to help out. They have developed extraordinary expertise in treating some the most difficult and delicate trauma cases.

Troops kill sleeping man

Another potential flare-up has surfaced in Middle East. Palestinian and Israeli officials say Israeli troops mistakenly shot and killed a 65-year-old Palestinian man in his bed during a pre-dawn raid Friday in order to arrest a Hamas militant. Palestinian security and rescue officials in the West Bank city of Hebron said Israeli troops shot and killed the man who lived in the same building but on a different floor as the Hamas militant targeted in the early morning raid.

New Army chief coming

General George Casey will complete his tour as Army Chief of Staff later this spring. Gen. Martin Dempsey is expected to replace him. If President Barack Obama accepts and nominates Dempsey, he would have to be confirmed by the Senate. Dempsey is now commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command and previously was acting commander of Central Command. He also led the multi-national training effort in Iraq and commanded the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.

U.S. denies drones downed

No evidence that U.S drones were shot down in the Persian Gulf. That's the word from the Pentagon. But Iran is claiming that it took out two Western drones in the Gulf. Reuters reports, the last time a U.S. drone crashed in the Gulf was in 2009 after a mechanical failure. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan says there are "no recent reports that would corroborate what the Revolutionary Guard said about unmanned aerial vehicles."

Afghan government faces a tough fight

Pieces of the suicide bomber's car were strewn across the street. Three police cars and a handful of civilian cars and shops in the area were destroyed by the blast in Kabul Monday. In a statement, President Hamid Karzi condemned the midday attack. But the incident and others like it highlight the wobbly state of security in Afghanistan as that weak nation tries to build a security force and stomp out insurgents hiding in Afghanistan's rugged terrain and porous borders.

The last police woman goes down

The last policeman standing or in this case policewoman has gone down in a strip of border towns in the Juarez Valley of Mexico. Gunmen stormed into the home of Erika Gándara in the town of Guadalupe about 6 o'clock am. two days before Christmas and kidnapped her. The 28 year ood Gándara, was the only police officer in the municipality of Guadalupe which is about two miles from the Texas border. All the rest of the police, the men, had fled the town, giving in to the powerful drug cartels and their henchmen. No word on her condition.

Bombs explode at Embassies

Who's behind blasts at embassies across Europe. Package bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean Embassies and were found at others. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but authorities appeared to discount domestic anarchists or protesters. Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno "It's a wave of terrorism against embassies, something much more worrisome than a single attack," Last month, suspected Greek radical anarchists sent fourteen mail bombs to foreign embassies in Athens.

Terrorist strike Nairobi

A bomb exploded at a downtown bus station in Kenya's capital late yesterday as passengers boarded a bus, killing at least one person and wounding more than 39 others, Police say the person who was killed was carrying a piece of luggage that contained the bomb. Most of the wounded were Ugandans traveling home for Christmas, Al-Shabab, Somalia's most dangerous militant group, has threatened to carry out more attacks on Uganda and Burundi, the two nations that contribute troops to the 8,000-strong African Union force in Mogadishu.

Congress approves defense budget

Congress has authorized the Pentagon to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no major restrictions on the conduct of operations. This year's approved legislation includes $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat. Among its numerous provisions is a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops and a guarantee that children of service members can stay covered under the military's TRICARE health care program until they are 26 years of age.

The Air Force strikes back

There are consequences to posting those Wikileaks documents. The Air Force has blocked access on its network to more than two dozen media outlets who have posted them. The Pentagon has warned personnel not to go to the Wikileaks site, but this takes it a step further. Meaning, US Air Force personnel will not be able to get to those sites from their military networks. Among those blocked are the Guardian and the New York Times.

Gates expresses concerns in Kabul

Lingering concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and al-Qaida-linked terrorists plotting attacks against the West in Yemen are at the top of the list of concerns for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He expressed those concerns during remarks at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. He said that the U.S. must be willing to do more financially, diplomatically and economically for countries that have problems before they erupt and trigger military action.

Son of a spy gets probation

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the son of a convicted spy to five years of probation for helping his father contact his old Russian handlers. Nathan Nicholson, son of ex-CIA agent Harold "Jim" Nicholson, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. The son had been used as the middle man in an attempt to try to collect money from the Russians while behind bars. The younger Nicholson apologized to the court and said he was embarrassed by his actions. Harold Nicholson is one of the highest-ranking CIA officers ever convicted of espionage.

Wiki-leakes leave lasting damage

The long-term fallout of the Wikileaks disclosure is turning up already. Some foreign governments appear to be pulling back already. Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, says "We have gotten indications that there is at least some change in how individuals and governments cooperate with us, and share information," Lapan repeated the concern that would-be informants or established intelligence sources might not be coming forward out of fear they could be exposed, or that governments might become more "circumspect with the information they share."

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.

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