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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.

Feb 5, 2015

European defence ministers oppose sending weapons to Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European defence ministers spoke out on Thursday against sending weapons to the Ukrainian army, pointing to a potential transatlantic split if Washington decides to supply arms.

The United States is considering whether to provide weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists, although no decision has been made, senior administration officials said on Monday.

Feb 5, 2015

NATO strengthens forces in eastern Europe against Russia risk

BRUSSELS, Feb 5 (Reuters) – NATO defence ministers met on
Thursday to sign off on a network of command centres in eastern
Europe to rapidly reinforce the region in the event of any
threat from Russia, as well as a bigger rapid reaction force and
two new regional headquarters.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the measures,
part of the alliance’s response to Russia’s annexation of
Ukraine’s Crimea, amounted to “the biggest reinforcement of our
collective defence” since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago.

Feb 2, 2015

As U.S. faces new threats, Pentagon seeks bigger defense budget

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Facing new security challenges
in the Middle East and Ukraine, the Obama administration on
Monday proposed a $534 billion Pentagon base budget plus $51
billion in war funds as it urged Congress to end spending cuts
which it says erode U.S. military power.

In addition to the base budget and war funding requests, the
administration proposed some $27 billion in defense spending at
other agencies, primarily nuclear weapons work by the Department
of Energy.

Jan 30, 2015

Pentagon to use war budget to ease pain of defense cuts: analysts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The 2016 U.S. defense budget being released on Monday will continue a recent trend of shifting funds from the Pentagon base budget to its supplemental war-funding request, fuelling criticism of the account’s use to offset spending caps, defense analysts say.

The Obama administration is expected to seek $51 billion for so-called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), primarily the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, when it submits the president’s budget request for the 2016 fiscal year.

Jan 29, 2015

U.S. military pay reforms could save $12 billion yearly -panel

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A congressionally appointed
panel on U.S. military compensation recommended overhauling
retirement and healthcare benefits on Thursday to improve
services offered to troops and families while cutting costs by
up to $12.6 billion annually.

The nine-member panel, including former military leaders and
lawmakers, recommended the Pentagon broaden its retirement
benefits to provide 401(K)-style savings plans for most service
members while retaining a slimmed-down version of its current
20-year retirement plan.

Jan 23, 2015

Fort Hood shooter showed no clear warning signs: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The soldier who went on a deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, last year was under great personal stress because of family deaths, a career setback and financial woes, but showed no signs he was about to explode, investigators said on Friday.

Army Specialist Ivan Lopez-Lopez, 34, opened fire at several locations on the sprawling military post on April 2, 2014, with a .45 caliber pistol, killing three soldiers and wounding 12 before taking his own life when confronted by military police.

Jan 23, 2015

First U.S. troops head to Middle East to train Syrian opposition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the first group of about 100 U.S. troops to head to the Middle East in the next few days to establish training sites for Syrian opposition fighters battling Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the troops, mostly special operations forces, were authorized last week and would begin arriving in countries outside Syria in the coming days, with a subsequent wave of several hundred military trainers following in the weeks thereafter.

    • 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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