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Feb 27, 2015

U.S. begins vetting Syrian rebels for military training: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has begun vetting a group of Syrian rebels eligible for training and assistance in the fight against Islamic State militants, a step that paves the way for training to begin in weeks, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said about 100 moderate Syrian rebels had been vetted to participate in the training and assistance effort, with no derogatory information uncovered to weigh against their involvement.

Feb 27, 2015

Stressed, shrinking Air Force needs more funding: U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force has a quarter of the number of fighter squadrons it did 25 years ago and two-thirds of the active duty airmen, a drop that threatens U.S. air superiority, defense officials told lawmakers on Friday.

“Enough is enough,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told lawmakers in the House of Representatives as she defended a Pentagon budget request that exceeds federal spending caps. “Given the state of the world … the number one thing we have to stop is this downsizing.”

Feb 26, 2015

Bid for more US defense funds gets chilly House reception

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military officials seeking a big boost in defense spending received little encouragement on Thursday from a House panel reviewing their bid for more funds, with one lawmaker saying the extra money would have to be cut “with you or … without you.”

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, chided President Barack Obama for proposing a $534 billion Pentagon base budget that “ignores the law” by exceeding federal spending caps by nearly $35 billion.

Feb 25, 2015

NATO commander says his advice on Ukraine crisis being reviewed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military commander in Europe said on Wednesday the situation in Ukraine was “getting worse every day” as government forces struggled against Russian-backed rebels, but he declined to say whether he favored supplying defensive weapons to Kiev.

Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the NATO supreme allied commander, said the U.S. military had a deep relationship with Ukraine even before the current conflict and had a good sense of what military assets it needed, including intelligence, communications and jamming and counter-battery.

Feb 24, 2015

U.S. arms flow to Iraq ahead of planned Mosul offensive

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Some 10,000 U.S. M-16 rifles
and other military supplies worth about $17.9 million arrived in
Iraq this week as U.S. troops pushed ahead with training and
supplying Iraqi security forces battling Islamic State fighters,
the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The update on U.S. efforts to arm Iraqi troops followed an
unusual, detailed briefing last week on preparations for an
operation this spring to retake Iraq’s second biggest city,
Mosul, from Islamic State militants.

Feb 20, 2015

Lockheed testing nanotech filters for U.S. oil industry wastewater

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Defense contractor Lockheed
Martin Corp is developing filters using nanotechnology
to help solve a problem facing the booming U.S. oil and gas
industry: 18 billion gallons of wastewater each year.

Lockheed’s patented Perforene is a one-atom thick membrane
of graphene, made of pure carbon. The sheets can be produced
with precisely sized holes as small as 1 nanometer, or a
billionth of a meter, and the company’s goal is to eventually
use it for desalination.

Feb 19, 2015

Turkey, U.S. sign deal to train, equip Syrian opposition, official says

ANKARA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Turkey signed an agreement on Thursday to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition fighters, and Ankara will provide an equal number of trainers to work alongside their American military counterparts, a U.S. official said.

The deal with Turkey formalised plans for one of four known sites to be used in a broader program to train Syrian rebels opposed to Islamic State militants. A deal for a facility in Jordan is imminent and locations in Saudi Arabia and Qatar could be ready in a few months, the U.S. official said.

Feb 19, 2015

U.S. sees Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul in April-May time frame

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An Iraqi and Kurdish military force of some 20,000 to 25,000 troops is being prepared to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State fighters, probably in the April-May time frame, an official at the U.S. Central Command said on Thursday.

The official said Mosul was currently being held by 1,000 to 2,000 Islamic State fighters. No decision has been made on whether small numbers of U.S. military advisers might need to be on the ground close to Mosul to direct close air support, the official told a group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

Feb 13, 2015

Seeking bigger budget, Pentagon keeps wary eye on risk of cuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon decision to seek a 2016 budget that far exceeds federal spending caps poses the risk of a big across-the-board funding cut like the one that forced the department to put civilian workers on unpaid leave two years ago.

But defense officials say the department will not repeat some of the decisions it made in 2013 that exacerbated the problem once the automatic cuts, known as “sequestration,” went into effect nearly halfway through the fiscal year.

Feb 12, 2015

After neglect, U.S. nuclear force seeing improvement: official

By David Alexander

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (Reuters) – Renewed focus on the U.S. nuclear force after several scandals last year is improving conditions for airmen, but more work must be done, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Wednesday after an icy tour of the only U.S. missile and bomber base.

Work said missile launch officers and maintenance workers he met at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota were seeing the result of improvement efforts, including a deep cleaning of underground missile launch capsules and the purchase of new equipment.

    • About David

      "David has been a journalist for 30 years, based in Washington, London, New Delhi, Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He covered the first Gulf war, the Palestinian intifada and the conflict in Kashmir. Since 1998 he has been an editor and reporter in Washington, covering politics, the White House and other stories."
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