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Oct 2, 2013

S.Korea, U.S. sign new pact to deter N.Korea nuclear threat

SEOUL, Oct 2 (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea
signed a new pact to deter North Korea’s potential use of
nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction amid growing
threats from Pyongyang, their defense chiefs said on Wednesday.

The defense ministers also agreed to review the timing of
the transfer of war-time command control of their combined
forces on the Korean peninsula from the U.S. military to South
Korea, a joint statement issued after their meeting said.

Oct 1, 2013

Pentagon chief says shutdown hurts U.S. credibility with allies

SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. government shutdown will undermine American credibility abroad and lead allies to question its commitment to treaty obligations, the U.S. defense chief warned on Tuesday as he prepared to put 400,000 civilian workers on unpaid leave.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was visiting South Korea to celebrate the two nations’ 60-year-old mutual defense treaty, said Pentagon lawyers were analyzing a new law passed by Congress to see if additional civilian workers could be spared unpaid leave.

Sep 30, 2013

Pentagon chief, at Korean DMZ, says U.S. will not cut force in Korea

PANMUNJOM, Korean Demilitarized Zone (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured the Korean DMZ on Monday, at times under the watchful eye of North Korean soldiers, and said the Pentagon had no plan to reduce its 28,500-member force in the South despite budget constraints.

“This is probably the only place in the world where we have always a risk of confrontation,” Hagel said after touring a single-story building with a corrugated metal roof where talks are held with North Koreans on Conference Row in the truce village of Panmunjom.

Sep 29, 2013

Pentagon chief urges lawmakers to avert government shutdown

MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appealed on Saturday for lawmakers to take action to avert a government shutdown next week, saying it was “astoundingly irresponsible” to try to influence policymaking by triggering a funding crisis.

Hagel, speaking to reporters en route to Seoul to mark the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korea defense alliance, said he had spent much of the week working on future spending cuts while planning for a shutdown next week that could force 400,000 civilian defense workers to take unpaid leave.

Sep 27, 2013

Government shutdown would hit Pentagon civilians – again

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department will put half its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave next week and halt military activity not critical to national security if Congress fails to resolve a looming funding crisis, Pentagon officials said on Friday.

The U.S. military’s 1.4 million uniformed personnel would continue fighting the Afghanistan war, patrolling the Mediterranean off Syria and conducting other operations considered necessary for security, but they wouldn’t get paid until Congress resolves the spending dilemma, officials said.

Sep 27, 2013

U.S. government shutdown would hit Pentagon civilians – again

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department
will put half of its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave
and halt military activity not viewed as vital to national
security in the event of a
government shutdown next week, a senior Pentagon official said
on Friday.

The department’s 1.4 million military personnel would keep
working even if Congress fails to reach a deal to fund
government operations after the start of the 2014 fiscal year on
Oct. 1, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters.

Sep 23, 2013

Security check of Navy Yard attacker did not mention 2004 shooting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy said on Monday it did not know Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis had once shot out the tires of a car in Seattle before it let him into the service in 2007 and granted him a security clearance, only that he “deflated the tires” on a car.

The disclosure raises new questions about screening investigations conducted by the Office of Personnel Management using the company USIS, which carried out the checks on both Alexis and former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is accused of disclosing top secret documents.

Sep 19, 2013

Budget uncertainty crippling military, Pentagon officials say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With lawmakers spoiling for another fight over federal spending ahead of the new fiscal year next month, senior Pentagon officials are trekking to Congress with a sobering message: budget uncertainty is wreaking havoc with the armed forces.

The top U.S. military officers and senior defense officials warned in separate hearings this week that annual budget gimmickry plus across-the-board spending reductions of $50 billion are forcing them to cut back in ways that leave much of the military poorly trained and unready to respond in a crisis.

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.

    • 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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