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5:39 am, September 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.

U.S. urges China to split with Russia over Ukraine

The Associated Press says President Barack Obama is pressing China's to support the U.S. plan to isolate Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine. The AP reports, "With official comments from China appearing studiously neutral since the Ukraine crisis began, President Barack Obama spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping late Sunday in a bid to get Beijing off the fence."

The Pentagon engages Ukraine's military

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had his first conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby says Hagel reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.. He said the goal was to keep dialogue between to two militaries as strong as possible well into the future.

The U.S. steps up joint training in eastern Europe

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. was stepping up joint aviation training with Polish forces. The Pentagon also is increasing American participation in NATO's air policing mission in its Baltic countries, he said. This and U.S. diplomatic efforts have come about since Russia's incursion into Ukraine

Russian missile launch was "routine"

As if what's going on in Ukraine weren't enough, the Russian military on Tuesday test-fired a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile, fired from a launch pad in southern Russia, hit a designated target on a range leased by Russia from Kazakhstan. The National Security Council says, "This was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM. As required under the New START Treaty, Russia provided advance notification of this launch to the United States. Such advance notifications are intended to provide transparency, confidence, and predictability and to help both sides avoid misunderstandings. Russia and the United States routinely flight test their ICBMs and SLBMs."

North Korea steps over the line, again

North Korea launched several Scud missiles on Monday. The United States says they are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the North launched two such short-range ballistic missiles from its southeast coast Monday morning that landed in the sea. It is the second reported launch of short-range missiles by North Korea in less than a week.

"Cuban Five" member released

A second member of the ``Cuban Five'' has returned to the Caribbean island and a hero's welcome after leaving a prison in the United States. 50 year old Fernando Gonzalez and four others were arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. Gonzalez spent 15 years in prison.

NATO planning pull to out of Afghanistan

NATO says it's going to plan for all options for its future presence in Afghanistan, including a possible pullout of all its troops this year. NATO Head Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO was planning to keep a slimmed-down force in Afghanistan after 2014, but President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year.

Aghanistan conflict could worsen

Portraying a difficult future for Afghanistan without U.S. help, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says that Afghanistan's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could make the war more difficult and inspire the enemy and encourage some Afghan security forces to cooperate with the Taliban to as he put it, ``hedge their bets.'' Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a SOFA with the U.S.

Afghanistan needs a bigger security force

A review of Afghanistan's future indicates the country could revert to a terrorist hideout unless U.S. and international partners put in place a larger Afghan security force than what's planned for 2014.The study released Thursday by federally funded CNA Strategic Studies also concludes that this larger force and the government ministries to support it will require international trainers and advisers at least through 2018.

Manhunt underway for al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of Al Qaida's most brutal terrorists is reportedly the target of one of the biggest manhunts in modern Middle Eastern history. A British newspaper is reporting he has a 6 million pound bounty on his head because he allegedly has 25 British extremists among his loyalists . The Mirror says he was sacked by al-Qaida for disobeying orders and beheading people in public.

Is Iran selling weapons to Iraq?

There are some strange bedfellows in the Middle East sometimes. Reuters is reporting, based on documents it has obtained that Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million. That would be a direct violation of a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran. The agreement was supposedly reached at the end of November, weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.

The U.S. warns the Ukrainian military

Reviving images of the Cold War, the Ukrainian violence has again pitted the U.S. against Russia with militaristic overtones. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren warned the Ukrainian armed forces to stay out of the conflict, as "participation would have consequences in our defense relationship". Russia has accused the U.S. of meddling and says it will stay out of the situation.

The US is grappling for solutions in Syria

Syrian peace talks are not making much progress. There are reports the Assad regime is stepping up attacks on rebels and anecdotal evidence that Al Qaida trained militants are leaving Syria and heading back to their home countries. Amid all this, the US and its allies are stepping up their search a solution to the brutal civil war. One of the elements being discussed is a more active role for the US military.

Medical professionals call for deeper study on roadside bombs

Roadside bombs have killed nearly 3,600 military service members and wounded 34,000 more in Iraq and Afghanistan, but many of the long-term health effects are unknown for those who seemingly walked away without serious injury. For that reason, the Institute of Medicine is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a registry of service members exposed to such bombs so the long-term consequences can be better tracked.

US may go after Afghan militants

A Pentagon spokesman says that if any of the 65 Afghan militants who were released from a former U.S. prison return to the battlefield, U.S. forces might hunt them down. The Pentagon's press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Friday that the 65 are not considered targets at the moment.

Drawdown progressing

U.S. military officials said the number of American troops in Afghanistan could drop to as low as 20,000 by mid-summer, giving commanders the ability to pull them all out by the end of the year if no agreement is reached. It generally takes about 10 months to shut down a massive military base, but officials said the Pentagon is prepared to do it in a much shorter - although far more expensive - timeline.

Guatemalan solider sent to U.S. prison

A former Guatemalan special forces soldier was sentenced Monday to 10 years in a US prison for lying on his citizenship application. He lied about his participation in massacre that wiped out a village 30 years ago. Jorge Sosa, 55, was stripped of his American citizenship after being convicted of failing to disclose his alleged participation in the killing of at least 160 people in the village of Dos Erres.

Singapore Air Show Means Money

There's a big air show this week in Singapore and aerospace firms will finalize numerous billion dollar deal during the show. The firms goals are simple and the same --survive a dry spell in emerging markets. Those markets are vital to their plans to plans to keep producing large numbers of jets. The biggest aerospace gathering in Asia is usually a "show and tell" where executives come to mingle with some of the world's biggest long-haul carriers and the region's busy military buyers.

Polish investigate CIA secret prisons

Polish prosecutors may seek access to terror suspects detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for direct questioning as part of an investigation into whether a secret CIA prison operated here in 2002-2003, an official said Thursday. The prosecutors would need U.S. permission to question prisoners held at Guantanamo and are weighing whether to make a request. Washington has provided little help to Poland's investigation, which was launched in 2008, and has already denied an appeal from Warsaw for assistance in gathering evidence.

Pentagon places emphasis on morality

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told military leaders to put a renewed emphasis on moral behavior across the force following a series of ethical lapses that have included cheating scandals among the Navy and Air Force's nuclear missions. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel told the military and civilian leaders of the services in a meeting on Wednesday that he wants the issue dealt with more urgently and wants updates on a regular basis.

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