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Mar 12, 2014

U.S. Navy bars 151 sailors from jobs after sex assault review

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy said on Wednesday that 151 sailors had been disqualified from working as sexual assault counselors and other positions as the military tries to improve how it helps victims following a string of high-profile sexual assault cases.

The sailors were disqualified mainly for lack of training after the Navy reviewed the records of about 20,000 personnel who were involved in some way with preventing sexual assault or helping victims, said Lieutenant Commander Chris Servello, a Navy spokesman.

Mar 12, 2014

Russia can’t thwart Afghan war drawdown, U.S. commander says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia, locked in a standoff with the West over Ukraine, would be unable to thwart a complete or partial U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan even if it cut off access to Russian supply routes, a top U.S. general said on Wednesday.

Asked at a Senate hearing whether the United States could still get its equipment out of Afghanistan even if Russia cut off routes running through its territory, General Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the war effort, replied: “Yes.”

Mar 10, 2014

U.S. lawmakers urge Pentagon to allow Sikhs leeway in military attire

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers urged the Pentagon on Monday to lift a virtual ban on Sikhs serving in the U.S. armed forces by easing the military-uniform policy to enable Sikhs to wear beards, long hair and turbans in accordance with the customs of their religion.

“We believe it is time for our military to make inclusion of practicing Sikh-Americans the rule, not the exception,” Representatives Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, said in a bipartisan letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, signed by 105 lawmakers.

Mar 8, 2014

Putin’s body language studied for clues to decision-making: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It turns out all those years Russian leader Vladimir Putin was cavorting bare-chested outdoors, demonstrating his judo skills and darting whales, a Pentagon researcher may have been studying him for clues to his behavior.

The Office of Net Assessments, a sort of internal think tank for the U.S. secretary of defense, has spent $300,000 annually since 2009 for research to study the body language and movement patterns of key global leaders, one of them being Putin, who has served as Russia’s president and prime minister.

Mar 6, 2014

Big budget cuts pose ‘tough, tough choices’ for Pentagon- Hagel

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel warned on Thursday that “tough, tough choices are coming”
if the Pentagon implements deep future spending cuts required by
law, including whether to slash the Army to 420,000 soldiers and
decommission an aircraft carrier.

Hagel told a House of Representatives committee that a
return to steep budget cuts in 2016 and beyond would force the
Army to cut 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers more than currently
planned and the Marine Corps to trim another 7,000 troops.

Mar 6, 2014

U.S. freedom of navigation operations in 2013 targeted China, Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military carried out freedom of navigation operations challenging the maritime claims of China, Iran and 10 other countries last year, asserting its transit rights in defiance of efforts to restrict passage, a Pentagon report said on Thursday.

The Defense Department’s annual Freedom of Navigation Report to Congress for the 2013 fiscal year showed the U.S. military targeted not only countries such as Iran, with whom it has no formal relations, but treaty allies such as the Philippines, too.

Mar 6, 2014

U.S. lawmakers skeptical of Pentagon’s 2015 budget plan, priorities

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Skeptical U.S. lawmakers told Pentagon leaders they did not like the department’s proposed 2015 defense budget on Wednesday but acknowledged that painful cuts to military personnel and popular weapons systems were due to spending caps approved by Congress.

Reacting to the new Pentagon budget unveiled this week, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern about plans to slash the size of the Army, curb the growth of military compensation and retire popular weapons systems such as the entire fleet of A-10 “Warthog” tank-killer aircraft.

Mar 5, 2014

More U.S. jets on NATO patrol in Baltics amid Ukraine crisis: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will more than double the number of U.S. fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and do more training with Poland’s air force as it strives to reassure allies alarmed by the crisis in Ukraine, officials said on Wednesday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that he had directed the U.S. military’s European Command to “consult and plan within the construct of the North Atlantic Council” while stressing the intent was to help stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Mar 5, 2014

Pentagon boosts training, NATO air policing amid Ukraine crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Wednesday it will bolster training with Poland’s air force and provide more U.S. aircraft to a NATO air policing mission in the Baltics, as it eyes ways to reassure allies without escalating the Ukraine crisis.

The United States has showed no interest in pursuing military options following the Russian intervention in Crimea. The biggest step the Pentagon had taken so far was to cut off military exchanges with Russia on Monday.

Mar 5, 2014

U.S. Air Force to fund rescue helicopter in last-minute reversal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force decided on Tuesday to start work on a new rescue helicopter by United Technologies Corp’s Sikorsky Aircraft in fiscal 2015, a surprising turnaround hours after the Pentagon told Congress the program had been postponed.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James made the abrupt decision on the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program shortly before officials began briefing reporters about the Air Force’s budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

    • 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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