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Sep 19, 2013

Military background checks not re-examined for a decade unless concerns raised

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – People who seek “secret” security clearances to work at U.S. military installations undergo background checks that are good for a decade and are not re-examined unless derogatory information is presented to authorities, defense officials said on Wednesday.

The department is working on a pilot program that would automatically send records of arrests or criminal charges to the appropriate defense officials. But the project is in the early stages and the Pentagon depends largely on individuals or their supervisors to report any misconduct, officials said.

Sep 18, 2013

Hagel says ‘red flags’ missed before Navy Yard shooting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the suspected Washington Navy Yard gunman’s background presented some “red flags” easy to spot in hindsight and ordered a broad review of security worldwide, including clearances.

Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old suspect who was killed by police during Monday’s shooting, received a security clearance more than five years ago when he was still in the Navy and kept it in his most recent job as a technology contractor at the Navy Yard.

Sep 16, 2013

Oldest Navy facility is site of U.S. shooting, despite security checks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Washington Navy Yard, where 13 people were killed in a shooting rampage on Monday, is a sprawling walled complex that covers about 16 city blocks in the rapidly developing southeast corner of the U.S. capital, not far from its new baseball stadium.

Officials have identified the suspected shooter as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis and said he previously served fulltime in the U.S. Navy Reserve. But they have not publicly released details about how the suspect, who was killed in the shooting, entered the complex, which has multiple security checks.

Sep 13, 2013

U.S. poised to ramp up withdrawal of gear from Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon is poised to ramp up its withdrawal of military equipment from Afghanistan in a massive logistics effort expected to cost up to $7 billion, a defense official said.

The U.S. military is planning to send home some 24,000 vehicles and 20,000 shipping containers of gear collected in Afghanistan during a dozen years of war, the official said.

Sep 12, 2013

China navy chief says operational aircraft carrier a few years away

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Chinese navy is using its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, for training and testing and will decide on an operational carrier for the fleet after a few years of evaluation, Admiral Wu Shengli said on Thursday.

The navy chief of the People’s Liberation Army, on a military-to-military visit with his U.S. counterpart, told reporters at the Washington Navy Yard that Chinese sailors would carry out “very heavy” training over the next two or three years as they assess the carrier.

Sep 12, 2013

After seeing Iraq up close, top U.S. general wary on Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America’s top military officer General Martin Dempsey has already seen one Middle Eastern civil war. He is much more cautious about involvement in another.

While Dempsey, 61, has argued in favor of the White House’s idea of limited military strikes against Syria and arming moderate rebels, he has made clear his lack of enthusiasm for widening America’s role in the conflict much beyond that.

Sep 5, 2013

Cost of a U.S. strike against Syria could top Hagel’s estimate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told lawmakers a limited military strike to deter Syria from using chemical weapons would likely cost tens of millions of dollars, but if past experience is a guide, the number could be substantially higher than that.

It is not uncommon for U.S. forces to open an assault by launching scores of Tomahawk missiles costing over $1 million apiece and dropping bombs from radar-evading B-2 planes that fly 18 hours each way from their base at a cost of $60,000 an hour.

Sep 4, 2013

Weapon of choice against al Qaeda, drones marginal in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prowling the skies of Pakistan and Yemen, armed drones are America’s weapon of choice in its war against al Qaeda, but they are unlikely to play a major role in any U.S. strike against Syria, underscoring the limitations of unmanned aircraft.

Drones do not have the capability for air-to-air combat and would be vulnerable to Syria’s defense system of surface-to-air missiles and radar which can track and shoot down warplanes, never mind slower-moving drones.

Sep 2, 2013

Potential action against Syria reignites U.S. budget concerns

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s decision
to move an aircraft carrier into the Red Sea to help out with
any “contingencies” underscores concerns a strike on Syria could
evolve into another costly war as U.S. defense spending faces
massive, mandatory cuts.

Current and former military officials say the cost of firing
cruise missiles at selected targets in Syria would be relatively
easily absorbed, and analysts say the effect on U.S. weapons
makers would be relatively minimal.

Aug 29, 2013

U.S. transfers two Guantanamo detainees to Algeria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday it had transferred two men from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the government of Algeria as part of its ongoing effort to close the controversial prison.

The Pentagon said Nabil Said Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab were transferred on Wednesday and arrived in Algeria the same day, leaving 164 detainees at Guantanamo, including 84 others cleared for release years ago.

    • 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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