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Dec 3, 2014

Landmine casualties fell by 25 percent over last year to 15-year low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fewer people were killed or wounded by landmines over the past year than at any time since record-keeping began in 1999, and production of the weapons has almost stopped, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in a new report on Wednesday.

The drop in casualties caused by landmines, victim-activated explosive devices and unexploded weapons left behind after war came despite the spread of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe over the past year.

Dec 3, 2014

Bill would cap Russian engines on U.S. satellite launches

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – A compromise defense policy
bill in Congress would bar the purchase of more Russian-made
rocket engines to launch U.S. military satellites, clearing the
way for competitive bids for 14 future launches, senior
congressional aides said on Tuesday.

The proposal is one of several new agreements included in a
compromise version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization
Act filed in the House of Representatives and expected to be
debated as early as this week.

Dec 2, 2014

Bill would limit use of Russian engines to launch U.S. satellites

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – A compromise defense policy
bill in Congress would bar the purchase of more Russian-made
rocket engines to launch U.S. satellites, clearing the way for
competitive bids for 14 future launches, senior congressional
aides said on Tuesday.

The proposal is one of several new agreements included in a
compromise version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization
Act due to be filed in the House of Representatives and expected
to be debated as early as this week.

Nov 21, 2014

Pentagon reforms aim to curb predatory sales targeting troops

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Moving to curb predatory
sales practices targeting U.S. military personnel, the Pentagon
said on Friday it was reforming its payment system for troops to
prevent them from using direct salary deductions to buy consumer
goods like cars and computers.

Under the reforms that go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, military
personnel will no longer be able to have the Pentagon directly
deduct money from their salaries to make installment payments
for personal property like cars, washers and dryers or
big-screen televisions, a defense official said.

Nov 20, 2014

U.S. to send new troops to Iraq even before Congress OKs funds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some of the 1,500 new U.S. troops authorized to advise and train Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State militants will deploy to the country in the next few weeks without waiting for Congress to fund the mission, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said leading elements of the U.S. force would begin moving to Iraq in the coming weeks, even if Congress has not yet acted on a $5.6 billion supplemental request to fund the expanded fight against the militants who overran northwestern Iraq earlier this year.

Nov 18, 2014

Hagel seeks to reassure U.S. troops about safety of Ebola mission

By David Alexander

FORT CAMPBELL Ky. (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sought on Monday to reassure soldiers training for the fight against Ebola in Liberia that their mission was a legitimate use of the military and the Pentagon was taking every step to ensure their safety.

Hagel watched members of the 101st Airborne Division as they practiced safely taking off protective clothing that could be needed if they were to come into contact with people who had contracted the disease, a scenario officials said was unlikely.

Nov 17, 2014

Hagel says U.S. military accelerating mission to train Iraqi troops

By David Alexander

FORT IRWIN Calif. (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday the Pentagon will accelerate its mission to train Iraqi forces to combat Islamic State militants, using troops already in Iraq to start the effort while funding is sought for a broader initiative.

Hagel, speaking to reporters while visiting the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, said special operations forces had moved into Iraq’s Anbar province in recent days to begin work on the training effort.

Nov 16, 2014

Hagel announces push to boost U.S. military’s technological edge

, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Defense Secretary
Chuck Hagel, warning that the Pentagon’s technological advantage
was eroding, announced an ambitious effort on Saturday to
identify and develop weapons systems that would enable continued
U.S. military dominance in the 21st century.

Hagel, in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum,
said the new Defense Innovation Initiative would include an
effort to develop and field breakthroughs from cutting-edge
technologies including robotics, autonomous systems,
miniaturization, big data and three-dimension printing.

Nov 15, 2014

U.S. military readiness for war, competitive edge worsening: officials

By Andrea Shalal and David Alexander

SIMI VALLEY Calif. (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s ability to stay ahead of technology advances by other countries and respond to multiple crises around the world is already in jeopardy and will get worse unless mandatory budget cuts are reversed, top U.S. officials warned on Saturday.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert told Reuters the Navy would have to cut forces and reduce its ability to position ships around the world if lawmakers did not ease or reverse the cuts, which are due to resume in fiscal 2016.

Nov 14, 2014

Hagel reassures troops of U.S. commitment to nuclear arms mission

By David Alexander

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE N.D. (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told troops responsible for U.S. nuclear bombers and missiles on Friday he was committed to revitalizing their force with millions of dollars in new funding after years of neglect.

Hagel, visiting Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota hours after announcing an overhaul of U.S. nuclear forces, promised additional money to improve their jobs and work conditions, including curbing an excess focus on perfection that helped spark a cheating scandal at a sister base this year.

    • 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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