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Mar 11, 2015

U.S. Army: $500 million spent on empty buildings as troops cut

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army is spending half a billion dollars a year to maintain empty or unused facilities, even as it faces budget cuts that could force it to slash 60,000 more troops, top Army officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Army Secretary John McHugh said the Army faced a “dark and dangerous future” unless Congress took action this year to end the “ill-conceived and inflexible budget cuts” it approved in 2011.

Mar 11, 2015

U.S. blacklists more Ukrainian rebels, expands non-lethal aid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States targeted eight Ukrainian separatists and a Russian bank with sanctions and announced more non-lethal aid for Ukraine on Wednesday after accusing Russian-backed rebels of breaking a European-brokered ceasefire.

Washington is ratcheting up pressure on Moscow a day after it said Russia sent tanks and heavy military equipment into Ukraine in breach of the Minsk accord agreed on Feb. 12.

Mar 10, 2015

U.S. budget cuts erode crisis response of Navy, Marines: officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Spending cuts have left the U.S. Navy and Marines ill-prepared to deal with a sudden conflict, and continuing reductions may mean ships and troops arrive late to the fight and without the training and arms they need, Navy officials said on Tuesday.

“Ultimately, this means more ships and aircraft out of action in battle, more sailors, Marines and merchant mariners killed, and less credibility, frankly, to deter adversaries and to assure allies in the future,” Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told a Senate hearing.

Mar 4, 2015

Budget cuts will force U.S. to revise defense strategy: Carter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged lawmakers on Wednesday to endorse plans for a Pentagon base budget that exceeds federal spending caps by $35 billion, saying another year of cuts would leave the military unable to execute U.S. defense strategy.

Carter, speaking to the defense appropriations panel in the House of Representatives, said the president’s request for a $534 billion Pentagon base budget for 2016 would help the military begin to recover after 14 years of war and enable it to invest in a new generation of weapons for the future.

Mar 3, 2015

New U.S. defense chief presses lawmakers for boost in funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned lawmakers on Tuesday that continuing cuts to U.S. defense spending were causing “corrosive damage to our national security” and he urged them to back the president’s request for a big boost in military funding in 2016.

Testifying for the first time as secretary before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said military modernization by rivals such as Russia and China threatened to erode the Pentagon’s technological advantage over other forces.

Feb 27, 2015

U.S. begins vetting Syrian rebels for military training: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has begun vetting a group of Syrian rebels eligible for training and assistance in the fight against Islamic State militants, a step that paves the way for training to begin in weeks, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said about 100 moderate Syrian rebels had been vetted to participate in the training and assistance effort, with no derogatory information uncovered to weigh against their involvement.

Feb 27, 2015

Stressed, shrinking Air Force needs more funding: U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force has a quarter of the number of fighter squadrons it did 25 years ago and two-thirds of the active duty airmen, a drop that threatens U.S. air superiority, defense officials told lawmakers on Friday.

“Enough is enough,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told lawmakers in the House of Representatives as she defended a Pentagon budget request that exceeds federal spending caps. “Given the state of the world … the number one thing we have to stop is this downsizing.”

Feb 26, 2015

Bid for more US defense funds gets chilly House reception

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military officials seeking a big boost in defense spending received little encouragement on Thursday from a House panel reviewing their bid for more funds, with one lawmaker saying the extra money would have to be cut “with you or … without you.”

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, chided President Barack Obama for proposing a $534 billion Pentagon base budget that “ignores the law” by exceeding federal spending caps by nearly $35 billion.

Feb 25, 2015

NATO commander says his advice on Ukraine crisis being reviewed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military commander in Europe said on Wednesday the situation in Ukraine was “getting worse every day” as government forces struggled against Russian-backed rebels, but he declined to say whether he favored supplying defensive weapons to Kiev.

Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the NATO supreme allied commander, said the U.S. military had a deep relationship with Ukraine even before the current conflict and had a good sense of what military assets it needed, including intelligence, communications and jamming and counter-battery.

Feb 24, 2015

U.S. arms flow to Iraq ahead of planned Mosul offensive

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Some 10,000 U.S. M-16 rifles
and other military supplies worth about $17.9 million arrived in
Iraq this week as U.S. troops pushed ahead with training and
supplying Iraqi security forces battling Islamic State fighters,
the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The update on U.S. efforts to arm Iraqi troops followed an
unusual, detailed briefing last week on preparations for an
operation this spring to retake Iraq’s second biggest city,
Mosul, from Islamic State militants.

    • 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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