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2:16 pm, September 30, 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.

US military advisors granted legal protection in Iraq

The Pentagon says Iraq has agreed to grant legal protection for the U.S. military advisors headed there to assess the state of Iraq's military and the threat from ISIL. That means they will be granted immunity from prosecution for any crimes they commit or legal trouble they might find themselves in during their deployment. Now that the agreement has been made, the first advisory teams will be established.

Marines to conduct scheduled sustainment training in Kuwait

U.S. Marines from the USS Gunston Hall will conduct previously scheduled sustainment training in Kuwait in the coming days. The Marine Corps has conducted sustainment training in Kuwait on a regular basis for two decades. The region is of specific concern because of the terror group ISIL's march toward Baghdad. The Gunston Hall is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. It departed Norfolk, Va. in February and is operating in the 5th fleet area of responsibility on a routine deployment to support maritime security operations. The deployment of U.S. Navy assets are regularly scheduled and are in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region.

Who are the Green Berets?

The Green Berets are an Army Special Operations Force tasked with five primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. Key components of their training are language and cultural skills to work with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue (CSAR), counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, hostage rescue, humanitarian assistance, and peacekeeping to name a few

Missing service members located

The Department of Defense announced today 17 service members have been recovered from a C-124 Globemaster aircraft that was lost on Nov. 22, 1952. On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster aircraft crashed while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord Air Force Base, Washington. There were 11 crewmen and 41 passengers on board. Adverse weather conditions precluded immediate recovery attempts. Attempts to locate the other crew and passengers continue.

Kattala captured

The alleged Benghazi ring leader Ahmed Kattala was captured on June 15th, but it wasn't announced until June 17th. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby explains the time lapse as, "This was very much an interagency effort. There is a legal component to this and we had to respect the integrity of that process." There is also the question of why it took almost two years to find him when journalists could get him. Experts say he simply made himself available to the journalists, while hiding very well from others.

Investigation begins into Bergdahl kidnapping

The Army has initiated its investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and capture of Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika Province, Afghanistan on or about June 30, 2009. The Army has appointed as the investigating officer Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, an Army officer with Afghanistan combat experience. The Army says the primary function of its investigation, as in any other investigation, is to ascertain the facts. With that being said, the Army's top priority remains Sgt. Bergdahl's health and reintegration.

Military planners prepare Iraq options

The Pentagon is preparing a range of options for President Obama, which include air strikes. They are designed to help Iraq deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. ISIL, which is outnumbered 100-1 by Iraqi forces, have marched unimpeded to Baghdad's doorstep. Obama described them as "vicious" and a "terrorist organization" that could eventually pose a threat to Americans.

Bergdahl arrives in the US

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl left Landstuhl Hospital in Ramstein, Germany late Thursday and he's being processed into Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. Brooke is the flagship of Army medicine and is a level one trauma center. It is comprised of ten separate organizations that provide both inpatient care outpatient care. The hospital is a 450-bed facility which is expandable to 653 beds in the event of a disaster. Bergdahl was held by the Taliban for 5 years.

How did the Blackwater shootings happen?

It was September 16, 2007. A Blackwater personal security detail was clearing the way for a convoy of State Department diplomats. The shootings supposedly started after the driver of a car kept driving toward the convoy ignoring orders to stop. When the shooting was over, 14 Iraqis were dead and 18 were wounded. A trial is underway in Washington for Blackwater security guards involved in the shooting.

CIA disciplines employees

The Associated Press reports it has obtained a document indicating 15 CIA employees were disciplined for committing sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year. That included a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in bullying and hostile behavior, as well as an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues. The agency says there is zero tolerance for that type of behavior in the agency's workforce.

Blackwater guards facing trial

After long delays, four former guards from the security firm Blackwater Worldwide are going to trial for the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others that fueled anti-American sentiment around the world. Associated Press reporter Pete Yost writes, "whether the shootings were self-defense or an unprovoked attack, the carnage of Sept. 16, 2007, was seen by critics of the George W. Bush administration as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong."

Clinton fires back

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her response to the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, writing in her new book that she will "not be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans." She continues, "Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country."

Hagel visits Singapore

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met in Singapore late last week with that nation's defense minister, Dr. Ng Eng Hen. The two met on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a major annual forum for key leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss security challenges and opportunities. Hagel thanked Ng for his strong support of the relationship the two militaries continue to enjoy. They also discussed a range of regional security issues, to include tensions in the South and East China seas, recent events in Thailand, defense reforms in Japan, and the need for a continued focus on dialogue, cooperation and the peaceful resolution of disputes in the region.

Boko Haram strikes again

The terror group that kidnapped 276 schoolgirls last month gunned down a traditional Muslim emir in an attack on a convoy in northeastern Nigeria on Friday, according to the government in Borno state. The Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrissa Timta, was travelling with the Emirs of Uba and Askira to a attend a funeral when the suspected Islamist gunmen opened fire on their car in Zhura, a remote community in Borno state.

The US worried about violence in Ukraine

The Obama administration is expressing new concerns about rising violence in eastern Ukraine, including the downing of a military helicopter by pro-Russian rebels battling the government. The White House on Thursday called on Russia to exert pressure on the separatists to get them to end the fighting and release international monitors detained in eastern Ukraine since earlier this week.

Obama unveils new counter-terrorism effort

Counter-terrorism is a key tenet of President Barack Obama's foreign policy plan going forward. He said in a speech at West Point on Wednesday, "the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable." His plan is to advise and assist countries facing significant terrorism threats and help build the capacity to deal with threats on their own.

Afghanistan drawdown announced

President Barack Obama has announced that 9800 troops will be left behind next year when all combat troops pull out of Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a statement, "I strongly support the president's decision to maintain a limited U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after our combat mission ends there later this year." Hagel said the move will do two things: "it will help ensure that al-Qaida cannot reconstitute itself in Afghanistan, and it will help us sustain the significant progress we have made in training and equipping the Afghan national security forces."

White House holds meeting on foreign policy

White House officials held private meetings last week aimed at soothing lawmakers' concerns over the U.S. posture in Syria, determining the future of the American military presence in Afghanistan, and defense spending. Based on anonymous reports from some in attendance, a May 20th meeting didn't turn out too well. At several points during the meeting with Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the participants began to leave one by one.

Hagel delivers commencement advice

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addressed Naval Academy graduates last week during their commencement ceremonies and he gave them three pieces of advice. One, "connect with people on a personal level", two, "try to understand perspectives that are different from yours" and three, "be humble". He also cautioned them about pressure saying, "Once you take up your duty stations and the responsibility of leadership, you will find yourselves under tremendous pressures you've never experienced."

Nuclear missile base flunked security drill

According to an internal Air Force review obtained by The Associated Press, armed security forces at a nuclear missile base failed a drill last summer that simulated the hostile takeover of a missile launch silo because they were unable to speedily regain control of the captured nuclear weapon. The AP's Robert Burns writes, "the previously unreported failure, which the Air Force called a `critical deficiency,' was the reason the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana flunked its broader safety and security inspection."

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