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Jul 18, 2014

Malaysian airliner downing puts spotlight on Buk missile system

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) – As Russia and Ukraine trade
blame over the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian airliner,
they appear to agree on one thing: the type of Soviet-era
missile that brought it down.

But if an SA-11 Buk missile, known as “Gadfly” in NATO,
struck the aircraft and killed all 298 on board, that won’t
solve the mystery of who did it: Russia, Ukraine and
Russian-speaking rebels have all claimed the missile in their

Jul 17, 2014

Proposed ban on Russian arms firm would hurt U.S. troops: general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A day after President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on several Russian arms firms over the Ukraine conflict, a top U.S. general warned that a congressional bid to bar dealings with Moscow’s main weapons exporter could be “catastrophic” for U.S. forces.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said 88 Russian helicopters the Pentagon is buying for Afghan security forces were critical for protecting U.S. troops that remain in the country after the end of this year.

Jul 16, 2014

Pentagon defends war-funding request amid ‘slush fund’ complaints

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Pentagon officials on Wednesday defended their 2015 war-spending request before skeptical lawmakers, some of whom called the $58.6 billion plan a “slush fund” to offset defense cuts at home and others who worried the funding-level was too small.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon’s 2015 spending plans for the Afghanistan war were a third less than this year’s and $100 million less than four years ago.

Jul 15, 2014

US Senate defense funding bill rejects some Pentagon cost-cutting

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) – U.S. senators gave initial
approval on Tuesday to a bill that would provide $549.3 billion
in defense spending next year but reject many Pentagon
cost-cutting plans, such as retiring a fleet of planes and
delaying modernization of a nuclear aircraft carrier.

The defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations
Committee approved legislation that would provide the Pentagon
with a $489.6 billion base budget in the 2015 fiscal year
beginning in October, plus $59.7 billion for conflicts abroad.

Jul 3, 2014

Can Iraqi forces recapture lost ground alone? U.S. says ‘probably not’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraqi security forces will probably not be able to recapture ground they have lost to Islamist militants without assistance, the top U.S. military officer said on Thursday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. advisers now conducting an assessment of Iraqi forces were reporting the military was “capable of defending Baghdad” but it “would be challenged to go on the offence, mostly logistically challenged.”

Jun 26, 2014

White House sends $60 billion war-funding request to Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House sent Congress a 2015 war-funding request on Thursday of nearly $60 billion, a drop of $20 billion from the current fiscal year after President Barack Obama decided to withdraw all but 9,800 troops from Afghanistan by Dec. 31.

Obama, in a letter to the House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, asked for $58.6 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas military activity, the smallest Pentagon war-funding request in a decade.

Jun 26, 2014

China looks to gain by joining big U.S.-led Pacific naval drills

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) – A giant U.S.-led naval
exercise began off Hawaii on Thursday with China joining its
Asia-Pacific rivals for the first time, but analysts doubted the
drills will ease tensions over Chinese maritime claims and some
said Beijing could use them to strengthen its navy.

Washington and its allies hope China’s participation in the
five-week Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, involving 55
vessels, more than 200 aircraft and some 25,000 personnel from
22 countries, will build trust and help avert misunderstandings
on the high seas that could escalate into crisis.

Jun 25, 2014

U.S. 2015 war-funding request due to go to Congress soon: official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon’s top financial officer said on Tuesday the Obama administration would “quite soon” send Congress its 2015 funding request for Afghanistan and other overseas conflicts, but he added it was unlikely to include money for operations in Iraq.

Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, who will step down in the coming days after more than five years in office, said until President Barack Obama decides whether to take additional steps in Iraq, it is premature to try to present Congress with a funding request.

Jun 24, 2014

U.S. begins deploying military assessment teams in Iraq: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military began deploying assessment teams in Baghdad on Tuesday to evaluate the state of Iraqi security forces and decide how to help them counter an Islamist insurgency that has overrun part of the country, the Pentagon said.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said about 40 special operations personnel already in the country and assigned to the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation had been deployed as part of the first two assessment teams.

Jun 18, 2014

Defense officials press Congress to back Pentagon spending plans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior defense officials urged lawmakers on Wednesday to accept Pentagon plans to cut troop levels and weapons systems to meet tight federal budgets, saying excessive tinkering could increase risk to the military and leave it poorly prepared for war.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate panel that budget caps requiring nearly a trillion dollars in Pentagon spending cuts over a decade made it impossible to keep the current military force “adequately ready and modernized.”

    • 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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