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Jan 10, 2014

Hagel praises U.S. nuclear forces, gets reminder of morale issues

CHEYENNE, Wyoming, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel praised troops in the U.S. nuclear missile force on
Thursday for their professionalism in executing a difficult job,
only to be reminded of morale issues facing the unit when two
launch officers were suspended in a drug probe.

As Hagel visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base and toured a
missile site in nearby Nebraska, two Air Force officers
belonging to a missile launch crew at Malmstrom Air Force Base
in Montana had their security clearances suspended after they
were implicated in an illegal narcotics operation.

Jan 9, 2014

U.S. needs modern nuclear deterrent despite high price tag -Hagel

, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel said on Wednesday the United States had always supported a
strong nuclear deterrent and would continue to do so, even as it
braces for a nuclear forces overhaul that analysts say could
cost $1 trillion over 30 years.

“To modernize your nuclear weapons stockpile and assure that
they continue to stay secure and safe, it takes money, it takes
resources,” Hagel said after touring Sandia National
Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base, two facilities
involved in maintaining the weapons.

Jan 2, 2014

U.S. ship to depart soon on chemical weapons mission to Mediterranean

PORTSMOUTH, Virginia (Reuters) – The U.S.-owned cargo ship with the capability to destroy the nastiest of Syria’s chemical weapons will depart for the Mediterranean in about two weeks, officials said on Thursday as shipyard workers readied the vessel for new sea trials.

Forklifts moved equipment and sparks flew as workers welded containers and other gear on the deck of the MV Cape Ray, which is being outfitted with modular housing to accommodate three times its normal complement of personnel, plus two hydrolysis units for destroying Syrian chemicals used in mustard and nerve gas weapons.

Dec 20, 2013

U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

That is nearly $150 billion more than administration’s $208.5 billion estimate in a report to Congress last year, an analyst at an arms control group said, and since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023.

Dec 20, 2013

Top U.S. Navy official knew of probe months before bribery scandal broke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Friday he knew about a Navy contracting investigation for months before it erupted into a major bribery scandal and that Navy investigators planted false information that helped lead to the first arrests in the case.

In his first public comments on the scandal involving maritime services firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its colorful chief executive Leonard Glenn Francis, Mabus said there would be “more disclosures” in the case, which has so far led to action against six senior Navy officers and an investigator.

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.

    • 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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