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Jan 23, 2014
via FaithWorld

U.S. military giving troops more leeway for religious clothing and beards


(Indian Sikh soldiers listens to their commander in Nowgam sector, 100 kms (62 miles)
north of Srinagar, September 1, 2003. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli)

The Pentagon took steps on Wednesday to give individual troops greater latitude to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms, but advocacy groups said the new policy fell short of what they were seeking.

Jan 17, 2014

U.S. budget watchdog eyes steps to control military health costs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The most effective way to control the rising expense of the military healthcare system is to boost cost-sharing among retirees, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday, endorsing an unpopular step Congress has repeatedly rejected.

The non-partisan CBO said the Defense Department spent some $52 billion in 2012 for its TRICARE healthcare program, which covers about 1.8 million troops and their 2.6 million family members, plus 5.2 million military retirees and their families.

Jan 16, 2014

Chinese inexperience a factor in warships’ near-miss : U.S. admiral

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese operational inexperience and communications difficulties on both sides contributed to a near-collision between the USS Cowpens and a Chinese warship in the South China Sea last month, the head of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific said on Wednesday.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, told a Navy conference the Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, was monitoring China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as it conducted operations in international waters for the first time when the incident occurred.

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.

    • 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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