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4:09 pm, December 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.

US to block Iran's UN ambassador

President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday to block Iran's chosen ambassador from coming into the country to work at the United Nations because of his ties to the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. But according to the Associate Press, the President says he's only treating the legislation as guidance. It bars anyone from entering the U.S. as a U.N. representative if they've engaged in espionage or terrorist activity and still pose a threat to U.S. security.

US to help Ukraine

The U.S. is planning to send medical supplies, helmets and other non-lethal aid to the Ukrainian military in response to Russia's aggressive activities, which the U.S. says are designed to destabilize that country. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said at a news conference that he spoke to Ukraine's acting defense minister to tell him that President Barack Obama had approved the assistance. But, he pointed out, the aid doesn't include any weapons.

Biden promotes GI Bill website

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is promoting a new website called the GI Bill Comparison Tool designed to make it easier for service members, veterans, their spouses and dependents to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at thousands of schools and job training programs. "In just a couple easy steps they can figure everything out," she told The Associated Press Wednesday. She said using the website, service members can estimate tuition and fees, housing allowances and book stipends for each school.

CIA clarifies Brennan's Ukraine visit

With all the misinformation flying around about what's happening in Ukraine, the CIA is disconnecting Director John Brennan's weekend visit to Kiev from the crackdown in eastern Ukraine. "The claim that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false. Like other senior U.S. officials, Director Brennan strongly believes that a diplomatic solution is the only way to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine," said a CIA spokesperson in a statement.

Massive explosion in Nigeria kills dozens

On Monday at 6:45 a.m. local time in Abuja, Nigeria, a large explosion rocked a crowded bus station in the Abuja suburb of Nyanya. Nigerian authorities say at least 71 people died in the blast and more than 150 were seriously injured. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but authorities believe terror group Boko-Haram placed a large vehicle-borne explosive device in the area.

Iranian envoy blocked

The United States has blocked Iran's controversial pick for envoy to the United Nations, just as the two countries have been seeking a thaw in relations. This could have implications on U.S./Iran relations down the road. The White House says it has informed Iran it will not grant a visa to Hamid Aboutalebi, a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Influential African-American women write to Hagel

Sixteen black female members of Congress are pushing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to change Army regulations that ban hairstyles frequently worn by minority women in the military. The Associated Press reports the members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed a letter Thursday to Hagel, stating that the changes are "discriminatory rules targeting soldiers who are women of color." They say that references in the rules calling hairstyles worn mostly by black women "unkempt" and "matted" are offensive and show a lack of "cultural sensitivity."

US jets going to Romania

The United States will deploy F-16 fighter jets to Romania this month as part of planned joint exercises in the wake of rising tensions in neighboring Ukraine after Russia's annexation of Crimea. President Barack Obama has said NATO needs to boost its presence in eastern European countries that feel vulnerable to Russia. The small Baltic states are particularly nervous about a more assertive Russia.

Surge comes to America

First there were surges to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, there's a surge coming to America. Tens of thousands of new veterans are expected to return to the workforce or to college in the next several years as the military downsizes after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The challenge now is to help them find jobs and make good on promises to pay for their education.

Senate declassifies report

The Senate Intelligence Committee decided Thursday to release parts of a heavily challenged, secret report that harshly criticizes CIA interrogation tactics after 9/11. This action sets up what could be the broadest public accounting of the Bush administration's record when it comes to waterboarding and other ``enhanced interrogation techniques.'' The panel voted 11-3 to order the declassification of almost 500 pages. The White House said it would instruct intelligence officials to cooperate fully.

US troops headed to Eastern Europe

175 Marines are headed to a Romanian base near the Black Sea bringing the number of troops in DoD's Europe-based Crisis Response Force to 675. This deployment in the region comes as the Ukrainian government frets about what Russia is going to do next after annexing the Crimean Peninsula. The team, headquartered in Moron, Spain, was set up principally to respond to crises in Africa.

US military reaches milestone

The Pentagon says there were no U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in March. The Associated Press is reporting that it was the first zero-fatality month there since January 2007. American casualties in Afghanistan have declined as the number of U.S. forces has grown smaller and their role has shifted away from combat. U.S. troops are focused on training and advising Afghan forces. The Pentagon says there are about 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a 2011 peak of about 100,000.

Naval Station Norfolk security increased

The Navy's Commander for the Mid-Atlantic region has ordered additional screening of all delivery drivers presenting the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), before an individual is granted access. Security personnel will now check the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) data for any criminal history or outstanding warrants that are grounds for denial in accordance with Navy Region Mid-Atlantic access standards. Those standards include felony convictions within the last ten years; misdemeanor convictions within the last five years for crimes of violence; larceny; drugs; habitual offenders; and conviction for sex offenses. The change was ordered following the March 24 shooting death of a Sailor by a civilian truck driver aboard the Navy destroyer, USS Mahan (DDG 72), moored at Naval Station Norfolk.

NCIS identified shooter

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has identified Jeffrey Tyrone Savage as the civilian truck driver who killed Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo Monday night onboard Naval Station Norfolk. Savage, 35, from Portsmouth, Va., drove his 2002 Freightliner through Gate 5 just after 11 p.m., proceeded to Pier 1, left his truck and attempted to board USS Mahan (DDG 72). He was confronted by ship security personnel who ordered him to stop. A struggle occurred and Savage was able to disarm the petty officer of the watch. Savage then used the weapon to fatally shoot Mayo and attempted to fire at other nearby security personnel. Mayo was serving as chief of the guard at Naval Station Norfolk and was in the vicinity of the Mahan. Mayo immediately came to render assistance to personnel on Mahan and engaged in gunfire with Savage. Other security forces shot and killed Savage. Savage, an employee of Majette Trucking, did have a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). A TWIC alone does not authorize base access, it must be used in conjunction with other documents to gain authorized entry. The NCIS investigation has confirmed that Savage had no reason or authorization to be on Naval Station Norfolk. The chain of events that allowed Savage entry to the installation and the ship are under investigation.

What's Russia up to?

British Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond was at the Pentagon yesterday. He was asked about the Russian Defense Minister's recent remark to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine. Hagel says the size of the Russian troop buildup makes him skeptical and Hammond says it's not at all certain the Russian Defense Secretary knows what Pres. Putin's intentions are.

Sailor Killed at Norfolk Naval Station

CAPT Robert Clark, Commanding Officer, Naval Station Norfolk said a suspect approached the USS Mahan's Quarterdeck at 11:20 pm Monday night and was confronted by ship security personnel. "A struggle ensued and the suspect was able to disarm the Petty Officer of the Watch. The suspect then used the weapon to fatally shoot our Sailor responding to render assistance. Naval security forces then killed the suspect. The suspect did not have his own weapon," said Clark. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating possible motives.

Rhodes: "Russia is alone"

What's different about the Cold War and now? While the G-7 meeting in The Hague, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the difference now is that Russia is finding itself totally alone. He added Russian does not have the security a block of nations standing with it in violating Ukraine's sovereignty. And he said, "As long as Russia is flagrantly violating international law ... there is no need for the G-7 to engage with Russia,''.

DoD discloses budget for missing plane search

The Pentagon budgeted 4 million dollars to help Malaysia authorities look for flight MH370 which went missing on March 8th. The USS Kidd, an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer and two Navy spy planes, the P-3 Orion and the more advanced P-8 have participated in the search. The Kidd has since returned to its normal assignments. Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren said on Friday, DoD had spent 2.5 million dollars at that point in the search.

DoD assisting in search for missing plane

What's the U.S. military doing to help in the search for a missing Malaysian plane? "We're putting as much effort into it across the scope of our capabilities as is needed. says Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary. "I wouldn't get into the specifics of each and every one of those tools , because some of those tools we don't talk about," said Kirby. But he assured reporters in the Pentagon briefing room, "When the Malaysians are asking for help, for information, or whatever data, if we can provide it, if we can help them, we are helping them."

DOD raising security levels

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says the DoD is going to have to raise the level of security from within because of threats coming from people who are trusted insiders. he made the statement during the release of a review into the Navy Yard shooting. It said Navy contractor Aaron Alexis could've been prevented from killing 12 people if the company that employed him had told the Navy Alexis was having problems in the months before.

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