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The U.S. and Niger in recent days signed a "status of forces agreement" spelling out legal protections and obligations of U.S. forces that might operate in Niger in the future. According to the Associated Press Pentagon spokesman George Little acknowledged the agreement, but declined Tuesday to discuss U.S. plans for a military presence in Niger. "They expressed a willingness to engage more closely with us, and we are happy to engage with them," Little said, adding that the legal agreement was months in the making and is unrelated to the recent fighting in Mali.
The Pentagon says that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told France the United States will aid the French military with aerial refueling missions. U.S. aerial refueling planes would be a boost to air support for French ground forces as they enter vast areas of northern Mali, which is the size of Texas, that are controlled by al-Qaida-linked extremists.
Some of the 46,000 temporary and contract workers at the Pentagon are being laid off says, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. According to Reuters, he says they're also delaying maintenance on aircraft and ships to slow spending due to fears about budget cuts. The Pentagon also plans to formally notify Congress in the next few weeks that it will furlough most of its 800,000 full-time civilian employees, if further budget cuts take place on March 1.
How will the Military decide what the standard for physical fitness will be? Well the Marine Corps this summer will round up 800 Marines - -400 male and 400 females. They will run, jump, climb, do push-ups and pull ups and other exercises. The Marines will look at the outcomes and decide what kind of expectations they should have for women and men to qualify for combat roles. The Army has its own different process for deciding
A Coast Guardsman who disappeared more than three months ago and showed up at his home over the weekend is in military custody at Pearl Harbor after being released from the hospital. According to the Associated Press, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Gene Maestas said Wednesday that Tripler Army Medical Center medically cleared and released Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Matthews on Tuesday night. Maestas says Matthews was in the process of being discharged from the Coast Guard for illegally using marijuana when his wife reported him missing in October.
So guess what the Pentagon's research arm is up to? Recycling in space. They are planning to go into space, grab a dead satellite and stripping it of all it's useful parts and using them to either build a new one or revitalize the old one. DARPA's Phoenix program, which hopes to repurpose retired satellites while they remain in orbit, seeks to fundamentally change how space systems could be designed here on earth and then sustained once in space.
General William Shelton, who heads Air Force Space Command and oversees the Air Force's cyber operations, says Iran responded to a 2010 cyber-attack on its nuclear facilities by beefing up its own cyber capabilities, and will be a "force to be reckoned with" in the future. He declined to comment about Iran's ability to disrupt U.S. government computer networks, but said Tehran had clearly increased its efforts in that arena after the 2010 incident.
There are reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has recently been living on board a warship in the middle of the Mediterranean under Russian protection, along with his family members and close aides. According to the Saudi-backed Al-Watan online publication that "Al-Asad is being transported from the ship to Syria using a helicopter when he had official appointments. " nternational aid organizations say more than 60,000 people have died in the 22 month old crisis.
Mali's president has declared a state of emergency on national television a day after Islamists pushed the closest ever from the north toward government-held territory. President Dioncounda Traore said late Friday that the declaration would remain in effect for 10 days and could be renewed. The president called on mining companies and non-government organizations to give up their pickups and other trucks to the Malian military, raising questions about the capacity of the army. The U.S. is concerned about Mali because of Al Qaida's strong base there.
The chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military tribunals says he will seek to dismiss one of the eight charges against five prisoners accused of planning and aiding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins has asked a Pentagon official to strike the charge of conspiracy. The prisoners would still face charges that include nearly 3,000 counts of murder and could still get the death penalty. Their trial at the U.S. base in Cuba is likely at least a year away.