Pentagon Correspondent
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Jun 19, 2013

Pentagon unveils plans for moving women into combat roles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. military official declared “the days of Rambo are over” as the Pentagon unveiled its plans on Tuesday for integrating women into combat infantry positions following 12 years of war in which they fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan while barred from front-line fighting jobs.

The plans, which call for gender-neutral job requirements like scaling walls and lifting 55-pound (25-kg) tank ammunition, will require more years of study, education and training before some services open combat jobs to women.

Jun 14, 2013

U.S. military options in Syria remain challenging

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is promising to step up assistance to Syrian rebels after concluding Damascus used chemical weapons against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, but the military options facing the United States are no easier than before.

President Barack Obama has been slow to move toward military assistance for Syria’s opposition in the past and is likely to continue to move judiciously, looking to work with allies in any intervention in the country’s civil war.

Jun 4, 2013

U.S. military chiefs face grilling over sexual assault

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America’s top military officers told Congress on Tuesday that sexual assault represented a crisis in the armed forces but warned lawmakers against going too far with legislation stripping commanders of power within the military justice system.

The hearing comes after a wave of sexual assault scandals and new Pentagon data showing a steep rise in unwanted sexual contact, from groping to rape, that have deeply embarrassed the military.

Jun 4, 2013

U.S. military chiefs to draw line on sexual assault law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America’s top military officers are likely to advise Congress not to go too far overhauling the U.S. military’s justice system to address the problem of sexual assault when they testify at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and top officers from each branch of the military will comment on legislation meant to stem a rise in sexual assault cases.

May 31, 2013

U.S. Naval Academy football players investigated for sexual assault

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female student, the Pentagon said on Friday, the latest in a string of scandals that have thrown a spotlight on sex crimes in the military.

The alleged incident took place in April 2012, when the student attended a party at the off-campus “football house” in Annapolis, Maryland and became intoxicated, her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement.

May 24, 2013

Veterans’ claims put pressure on Obama even as backlog dips

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A long-growing backlog of U.S. military veterans’ disability claims, which has stoked congressional anger, has dipped in recent weeks, however tentatively.

But that is not taking any pressure off President Barack Obama, his Department of Veterans Affairs or the Pentagon to fix a system that has left veterans waiting – sometimes for years – to get answers from the U.S. government about their disability claims.

May 22, 2013

Pentagon looks to private market for health records fix

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel will ask the private sector to develop software to track
troops’ health records, part of an ambitious plan to create a
system that is fully integrated with the one used by the
nation’s military veterans, a U.S. official told Reuters on

Hagel’s decision is complicated and technical but goes to
the core of President Barack Obama’s goal to create an easier
transition for troops as they leave the military and seek care
at the VA.

May 17, 2013

Russian missiles to Syria could embolden Assad: U.S. general warns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military officer on Friday condemned Russia’s shipment of advanced anti-ship missiles to Syria, saying it could embolden President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to keep fighting a bloody civil war.

“It’s at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon when asked about the weapons shipment.

May 17, 2013

Russia sends Syria advanced anti-ship missiles: U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia has sent Syria advanced anti-ship missiles, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday, bolstering Syrian defenses despite pleas from Washington and elsewhere to stop supplying President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

One of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest Yakhont surface-to-air missiles were delivered recently. The transfer of the missiles was first reported by the New York Times.

May 16, 2013

Sex assault scandals put unprecedented pressure on Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A rash of scandals discrediting the U.S. military’s efforts to stamp out sexual assault is putting unprecedented pressure on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to consider options that once appeared off limits to address sex crimes in the armed forces.

On Tuesday, the military disclosed that another one of its advocates for victims of sexual assault was himself being accused of sex crimes, including allegations linking him to prostitution.

    • 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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