Pentagon Correspondent
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Feb 10, 2015

American hostage Mueller’s death confirmed by Obama, family

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, a U.S. aid worker who had been held hostage by Islamic State militants, saying the United States would “find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible.”

Mueller’s family also said in a statement that they were “heartbroken” to learn of her death and released a copy of a letter she had written in 2014 while in captivity.

Feb 4, 2015

Obama Pentagon nominee Carter leans toward arming Ukraine

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s pick
to become U.S. defense secretary told Congress on Wednesday he
was leaning in favor of providing arms to Ukraine, in what would
be a departure from U.S. policy that opponents say could fan the
flames of war.

Ashton Carter, a former Pentagon No. 2, said he would “very
much incline” in supplying defensive arms to Ukraine, adding the
United States needed to support the country’s efforts to defend
itself against Russian-backed separatists. U.S. officials have
acknowledged taking a fresh look at the issue.

Feb 3, 2015

U.S. hopes pilot’s murder will toughen Jordan’s resolve

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State’s burning to death of a captured Jordanian air force pilot is likely to harden Jordan’s position as a member of the U.S.-led coalition striking the militant group in Syria, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Jordan has not retrenched from the air campaign against Islamic State since the group captured pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh after his jet crashed in northeastern Syria in December.

Jan 24, 2015

Exclusive: Some counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen frozen for now – U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has halted some counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda militants in Yemen following a takeover of the country by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, U.S. officials said on Friday.

The collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Yemen on Thursday has left America’s counter-terrorism campaign “paralyzed”, two U.S. security officials said, dealing a major setback to Washington’s fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a potent wing of the militant network.

Jan 24, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Some counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen frozen for now – U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has halted some counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda militants in Yemen following a takeover of the country by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, U.S. officials said on Friday.

The collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Yemen on Thursday has left America’s counter-terrorism campaign “paralyzed”, two U.S. security officials said, dealing a major setback to Washington’s fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a potent wing of the militant network.

Jan 23, 2015

First U.S. troops head to Middle East to train Syrian opposition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the first group of about 100 U.S. troops to head to the Middle East in the next few days to establish training sites for Syrian opposition fighters battling Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the troops, mostly special operations forces, were authorized last week and would begin arriving in countries outside Syria in the coming days, with a subsequent wave of several hundred military trainers following in the weeks thereafter.

Jan 14, 2015

In Twitter hack, Pentagon learns perils of social media exposure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If so-called “cyber jihadists” want to launch another social media attack on America’s military, they will have plenty of targets: the U.S. Army alone lists more than 2,000 links to feeds on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other accounts.

In the wake of Monday’s breach of U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube feeds by apparent sympathizers of the Islamic State militant group, U.S. officials updated passwords and some distributed tip-sheets to help bolster online security.

Dec 24, 2014

As U.S. troops return to Iraq, more private contractors follow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is preparing to boost the number of private contractors in Iraq as part of President Barack Obama’s growing effort to beat back Islamic State militants threatening the Baghdad government, a senior U.S. official said.

How many contractors will deploy to Iraq – beyond the roughly 1,800 now working there for the U.S. State Department – will depend in part, the official said, on how widely dispersed U.S. troops advising Iraqi security forces are, and how far they are from U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Dec 22, 2014

U.S. Army refers Bergdahl case to commander, punishment possible

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. general will decide whether to pursue disciplinary action against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl over his 2009 disappearance from his base in Afghanistan, after the Army said on Monday it forwarded the findings of its investigation to him.

General Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, would determine “appropriate action – which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial,” the Army said in a brief statement.

Dec 20, 2014

Cuban relatives of U.S. spy in dark after news of release

WASHINGTON/MIAMI (Reuters) – His release from a Cuban prison has been as cloak-and-dagger as his spying career ever was.

Not even the family of Rolando Sarraff Trujillo appears to know what has happened to the Cuban man believed by some to be the U.S. informant secretly freed in a prisoner swap between Cuba and the United States that was announced on Wednesday.

    • 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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