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Search Tags: Pentagon & Beyond
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How will the U.S withdrawal from Iraq next year affect security there? Colin Kahl, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee security remains strong and the pullout at the end of 2011 will not ignite a dramatic increase in violence. Al Qaida, while successful in pulling of several high profile attacks in recent weeks, killing hundreds has not succeeded in ingniting widespread sectarian violence.