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Mar 8, 2013

Hagel makes first Afghan trip as U.S. defence chief

KABUL (Reuters) – Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for his first trip abroad as U.S. defence secretary, seeking to make his own assessment of America’s longest war as it enters its final stretch.

Hagel said he would meet U.S. commanders and troops, and hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose recent orders to curtail U.S. military activity underscore an often tense relationship with the 66,000 American forces there.

Mar 8, 2013

Hagel makes first Afghan trip as defense chief

KABUL (Reuters) – Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for his first trip abroad as defense secretary, seeking to make his own assessment of America’s longest war as it enters its final stretch.

Hagel said he would meet U.S. commanders and troops, and hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose recent orders to curtail U.S. military activity underscore an often tense relationship with the 66,000 American forces there.

Mar 6, 2013

U.S. commander seeks to ease human-rights rules that limit training

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command is seeking to ease restrictions preventing elite American forces from training foreign units linked to human rights violations, saying limiting such help can sometimes be counter-productive.

At question are restrictions under a law written by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont that prohibits funding for training foreign military units if there is credible evidence linking them to gross human rights violations.

Mar 5, 2013

U.S. efforts on Iran not working, Syria planning underway: Mattis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. general said on Tuesday that American efforts aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon were not working, even as he voiced support for crippling sanctions and diplomatic efforts aimed at isolating the Islamic state.

“I still support the direction we’re taking. I’m just paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly,” General James Mattis, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, told a Senate hearing.

Mar 5, 2013

U.S. commander discloses Afghan troop recommendation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. military commander said on Tuesday he has recommended keeping 13,600 American troops in Afghanistan after 2014, when the NATO combat mission ends and most Western troops withdraw.

General James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee he believed that properly designing the residual force would be “critical” for a good outcome to America’s longest war.

Mar 1, 2013

U.S. aid to Syria should be “non-lethal,” new Pentagon chief says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday he believed U.S. policy of giving only “non-lethal support” to Syria’s opposition was the correct one.

Hagel’s comments, at his first news briefing since taking over the Pentagon on Wednesday, came a day after the United States said it would for the first time give non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels and more than double its aid to Syria’s civilian opposition.

Mar 1, 2013

Hagel says budget cuts put all Pentagon missions at risk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that budget uncertainty, including $46 billion in new defense cuts, jeopardizes the Pentagon’s ability to effectively fulfill all its missions.

Hagel, appearing at his first Pentagon news conference since he was sworn in on Wednesday, said the cuts mean the U.S. Navy would gradually stand down four air wings, the Air Force would immediately cut flying hours and the Army would reduce training.

Feb 27, 2013

America must not “dictate” to world, new defense chief says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Decorated Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel was sworn in as U.S. defense secretary on Wednesday after a bruising Senate confirmation battle, and promised to renew old U.S. alliances and forge new ones without attempting to “dictate” to the world.

Addressing Pentagon employees shortly after a small, closed-door swearing-in ceremony, Hagel spoke optimistically, if vaguely, about global challenges ahead and the importance of American leadership abroad.

Feb 26, 2013

Afghan insurgent attacks misreported, did not fall in 2012: NATO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The NATO-led force in Afghanistan said on Tuesday it had incorrectly reported a 7 percent drop in the number of attacks by Taliban insurgents last year, acknowledging that in fact there had been no decline in the closely watched statistic.

The disclosure raises questions about recent U.S. claims of progress in the costly, unpopular war. It also serves as a reminder of Taliban resiliency as withdrawing U.S. and NATO forces prepare to declare the combat mission over at the end of next year.

Feb 22, 2013

NATO considers post-2014 Afghan force of 8,000-12,000

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO Allies are discussing keeping a training force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after most foreign soldiers leave in 2014, the United States said on Friday.

NATO-led forces are gradually handing over responsibility for security to their Afghan counterparts as the bulk of foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.

    • 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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