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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.

Mar 5, 2014

U.S. lawmakers divided on Russia sanctions, eye vote on Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers could vote
within days on legislation to aid Ukraine’s government as it
tries to rebuild the country and struggles to halt Russian
incursions, but are still far apart on what action to take
against Russia.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives on
Wednesday made a rare show of support for President Barack
Obama, saying they would work with the White House to address
the crisis in Ukraine.

Mar 5, 2014

More U.S. jets on NATO patrol in Baltics amid Ukraine crisis: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will more than double the number of U.S. fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and do more training with Poland’s air force as it strives to reassure allies alarmed by the crisis in Ukraine, officials said on Wednesday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that he had directed the U.S. military’s European Command to “consult and plan within the construct of the North Atlantic Council” while stressing the intent was to help stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Mar 5, 2014

Pentagon boosts training, NATO air policing amid Ukraine crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Wednesday it will bolster training with Poland’s air force and provide more U.S. aircraft to a NATO air policing mission in the Baltics, as it eyes ways to reassure allies without escalating the Ukraine crisis.

The United States has showed no interest in pursuing military options following the Russian intervention in Crimea. The biggest step the Pentagon had taken so far was to cut off military exchanges with Russia on Monday.

Mar 4, 2014

U.S. halts military engagements with Russia in rebuke over Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday suspended all military engagements with Russia, including military exercises and port visits, as Washington sought ways to punish Moscow over its military intervention in Ukraine without escalating the crisis.

The announcement from the Pentagon came hours after President Barack Obama warned the U.S. government will look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow. The United States also put trade and investment talks with Russia on hold.

Mar 3, 2014

Obama must carefully calibrate Russia response, rhetoric: Gates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama needs to look “two or three moves out” as he weighs his response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, which Moscow is unlikely to soon reverse, Obama’s former defense secretary, Robert Gates, said on Sunday.

Gates, a Russia expert and former CIA chief, portrayed a difficult path for Obama in which European allies may “huff and puff” but fail to match rhetoric with strong action and where Russian President Vladimir Putin feels he has the upper hand.

Feb 26, 2014

NATO chief still hopes to salvage new Afghan mission

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO’s chief said on Wednesday he still hoped plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond this year could be salvaged despite objections by President Hamid Karzai that have called the mission into question.

NATO plans to keep a scaled-down training mission with around 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after international troops end combat operations by year-end.

Feb 25, 2014

Eyeing Afghan exit, U.S. intensifies campaign against Haqqani militants

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has intensified its drive against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in an attempt to deal a lasting blow to the militants in Afghanistan before foreign combat forces depart this year, according to multiple U.S. officials.

The effort is taking on added urgency as the clock ticks down on a NATO combat mission in Afghanistan set to end in December, and as questions persist about whether Pakistan will take action against a group some U.S. officials believe is quietly supported by Pakistani intelligence.

    • 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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