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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.

Dec 10, 2013

In Qatar talks, U.S. underscores support for Syrian moderates

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, Dec 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel briefed Qatari leaders on Tuesday about
the effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, and he
underscored U.S. support for Syria’s moderate opposition.

Hagel met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and
Defence Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah on the last day of a
visit to the region to reassure Gulf Arab allies of continuing
U.S. support, despite disagreements over Washington’s policy
toward Syria and its diplomatic overtures to Iran.

Dec 9, 2013

U.S. to fly African troops to Central African Republic to ease violence

WASHINGTON/DOHA, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on
Monday that it will fly African forces into Central Africa
Republic, responding to a request by France to bolster
international efforts to halt the spread of violence between
Christians and Muslims.

Two U.S. military C-17 aircraft will fly about 850 troops
from Burundi into Central African Republic within the next 24
hours, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman,
said. It was unclear what U.S. support might follow, but Firman
said consultations were ongoing.

    • 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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