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Mar 21, 2014

U.S. search for missing Malaysian jetliner cost $2.5 million so far

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s search for the missing Malaysian jetliner has cost $2.5 million so far, the Pentagon estimated on Friday, adding it has set aside about $4 million for the hunt so far, enough to cover operations through early April.

It was the first disclosure of costs for the U.S. ships and aircraft joining the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370, which went missing almost two weeks ago with 239 people aboard.

Mar 20, 2014

U.S. eyes military supplies for Ukraine, seeks to avoid escalation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Thursday it was focusing for now on Ukrainian requests for non-lethal support, as opposed to any weaponry, as a senior U.S. official said Washington wanted to avoid further militarizing the standoff with Russia.

Ukraine’s government has put its heavily outnumbered and outgunned forces on alert for an invasion from Russia in the east following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

Mar 20, 2014

Russia defense chief tells Hagel no plans to cross into eastern Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received assurances on Thursday from his Russian counterpart that the thousands of Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border had no plans to enter the country, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Hagel held an often “direct” conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the Ukraine crisis for about an hour, U.S. Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Mar 19, 2014

Nato chief says Russia may not stop at Crimea, urges Europe to “step up”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of NATO warned on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin may not stop with the annexation of Crimea and said the crisis should serve as a “wake-up call” for European nations to bolster defense spending.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia’s move to annex Crimea following a Kremlin-backed referendum on Sunday had triggered “the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War.”

Mar 19, 2014

Russia ripping up international rule book, NATO chief says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia on Wednesday of tossing out international rules in an attempt to “redraw the map of Europe,” as he called the Ukraine crisis NATO’s most pressing security challenge.

“We have seen Russia rip up the international rule book, trying to redraw the map of Europe, and creating, in just a few weeks, the most serious security crisis since the end of the Cold War,” Rasmussen told a forum at Georgetown University during a trip to Washington.

Mar 19, 2014

Afghan police payroll under scrutiny from U.S. watchdog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A government watchdog is raising fresh concerns that U.S. funds meant to help pay Afghan police salaries may instead be going to “ghost workers,” according to a letter he sent to military commanders in Afghanistan.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said his staff has initiated an audit on the reliability of personnel data for Afghan National Security Forces, including how such data are used to calculate payrolls for Afghan National Police officers.

Mar 14, 2014

U.S. weighs Ukraine requests for military aid, OKs rations -sources

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) – The United States is
weighing requests for military assistance from Ukraine,
including both lethal and non-lethal support, two U.S.
officials said on Thursday, as a prominent U.S. senator urged
approval of any arms sought by Kiev.

The U.S. officials, who asked to speak on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomatic
discussions, said the United States had already decided to move
ahead with some aid, including military food rations.

Mar 12, 2014

U.S. calls Guantanamo hunger strikes ‘non-religious fasting’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New Guantanamo Bay U.S. prison guidelines describe hunger striking detainees as undergoing “long term non-religious fasting,” a copy of the document obtained by Reuters shows.

Two U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday the change in terminology helps differentiate between detainees with medical conditions caused by malnourishment, and political protesters who were at or above their ideal bodyweight.

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 11, 2014

Obama’s NSA nominee aims to build trust in beleaguered spy agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the National Security Agency pledged on Tuesday to look for ways to build confidence in the beleaguered spy agency and, in a possible shift, stopped short of calling former contractor Edward Snowden a traitor.

Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, now the Navy’s top cyber warrior, was cautious during often terse exchanges at a Senate hearing on his confirmation to also lead the U.S. Cyber Command that saw critics and supporters prod him about the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records, a program exposed by Snowden.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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