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Mar 9, 2013

Suicide bomber kills nine Afghans in Kabul during Hagel visit

KABUL (Reuters) – A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Defence Ministry gate in Kabul on Saturday killing nine civilians during a visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, underlining the insurgent threat as NATO troops prepare to leave.

Hagel was nowhere near the explosion, said a spokesman for Afghanistan’s NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). A U.S. defense official said Hagel was in a safe location at an ISAF facility.

Mar 8, 2013

Pakistan supply routes open, but move gear slowly into Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It is the least expensive way to get food and fuel to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But eight months after Pakistan reopened its ground supply routes for the NATO war effort, hardly any new cargo has taken that path into the landlocked country.

Instead, supplies have been moving almost entirely along far more expensive routes, one of several factors that have prompted senior Pentagon officials to warn that Afghan war costs are higher than projected at a time of increasingly tight budgets.

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.

    • 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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