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Dec 20, 2013

U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

That is nearly $150 billion more than administration’s $208.5 billion estimate in a report to Congress last year, an analyst at an arms control group said, and since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023.

Dec 20, 2013

Top U.S. Navy official knew of probe months before bribery scandal broke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Friday he knew about a Navy contracting investigation for months before it erupted into a major bribery scandal and that Navy investigators planted false information that helped lead to the first arrests in the case.

In his first public comments on the scandal involving maritime services firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its colorful chief executive Leonard Glenn Francis, Mabus said there would be “more disclosures” in the case, which has so far led to action against six senior Navy officers and an investigator.

Dec 20, 2013

U.S. Senate OKs defense policy bill with sex crime reforms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate approved its annual defense policy bill late Thursday despite partisan rancor, agreeing to reform the way the military justice system responds to sexual assaults and boosting the Pentagon’s ability to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

The Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act on an 84-15 vote, sending the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature after 30 hours of deliberation that involved very little debate and much expression of anger by lawmakers barred from offering amendments.

Dec 20, 2013

Rape case removed from U.S. Air Force general who made controversial ruling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Air Force general who provoked outrage early this year by overturning a fighter pilot’s sexual assault conviction has been removed as the officer in a rape case after dismissing the charges, military officials said on Thursday.

Lieutenant General Craig Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force, was removed in September as the officer responsible for the case against Airman First Class Brandon Wright, who was accused of raping a female sergeant at Aviano Air Base in Italy, an Air Force spokeswoman said.

Dec 18, 2013

Senate debates U.S. defense policy bill amid rift over amendments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers accused the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leaders of stifling debate on everything from Iran sanctions to terrorist detention policy on Wednesday as they began considering the annual defense policy bill under rules barring amendments.

The measure would authorize a Pentagon base budget of $526.8 billion in 2014, plus $17.6 billion for nuclear weapons programs in the Energy Department and $7.7 billion in mandatory defense spending. It also calls for $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations.

Dec 16, 2013

U.S. paid $5.4 million for unusable incinerators at Afghan base: inspector

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military paid a contractor $5.4 million for an incinerator facility at a base in Afghanistan, even though it was finished 30 months behind schedule and had so many wiring issues it was never used, federal investigators said on Monday.

The firm that was due to operate the two incinerators at Forward Operating Base Sharana in Paktika province estimated the electrical problems would cost $1 million to fix, leading camp officials to decide not to use them, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report.

Dec 16, 2013

Head of Pentagon’s effort to curb sexual assault retires

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the Defense Department’s effort to curb sexual assault in the military, Major General Gary Patton, has decided to retire and will step down in mid-January, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

Patton, who heads the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, will be replaced on January 15 by Major General Jeffrey Snow, Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren said. Snow previously worked as director of strategy and plans in the office of the deputy chief of staff of the Army.

Dec 14, 2013

Asian nations call for freedom of air, seas as US-China maritime near-collision revealed

TOKYO/WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Japan and Southeast
Asian countries called for freedom of the air and sea on
Saturday, as China’s military assertiveness raises regional
tensions and after U.S. and Chinese warships narrowly avoided
collision in the disputed South China Sea.

China’s recent announcement of an air defence zone covering
disputed islands in the East China Sea and its territorial
claims in the South China Sea have raised concerns that a minor
incident in the disputed seas could quickly escalate.

Dec 14, 2013

Japan, ASEAN call for free air, seas; US-China ships narrowly avoid collision

TOKYO/WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Japan and Southeast
Asian countries called for freedom of the air and sea on
Saturday, as China’s military assertiveness raises regional
tensions and after U.S. and Chinese warships narrowly avoided
collision in the disputed South China Sea.

China’s recent announcement of an air defence zone covering
disputed islands in the East China Sea and its territorial
claims in the South China Sea have raised concerns that a minor
incident in the disputed seas could quickly escalate.

Dec 14, 2013

U.S., Chinese warships narrowly avoid collision in South China Sea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. guided missile cruiser operating in international waters in the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action last week to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship maneuvering nearby, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement on Friday.

The incident came as the USS Cowpens was operating in the vicinity of China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, at a time of heightened tensions in the region following Beijing’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone farther north in the East China Sea, a U.S. defense official said.

    • 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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