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Dec 13, 2012

Bomber kills American near Afghan base after Panetta visit

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed one American service member and wounded three other U.S. troops outside a base in southern Afghanistan on Thursday shortly after a visit there by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, officials said.

Panetta dismissed the attack as a desperate and futile attempt by insurgents to sow chaos in Afghanistan.

Dec 12, 2012

U.S. defense chief in Kabul for talks on future U.S. presence

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived on an unannounced visit to Kabul on Wednesday for talks with military commanders ahead of a decision on how large a U.S. military presence to keep in the country after the NATO mission ends in 2014.

Panetta has not disclosed how large a force he thinks will be needed, but one U.S. official has told Reuters that figures as low as 6,000 U.S. troops were under consideration.

Dec 11, 2012

U.S. says intelligence signals no new Syria steps on chemical weapons

KUWAIT (Reuters) – United States intelligence agencies have detected no new moves by the Syrian government in recent days that would indicate it was preparing to use chemical weapons against rebel forces, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday.

Several Western countries issued coordinated warnings last week to President Bashar al-Assad not to deploy chemical weapons, many citing secret intelligence that U.S. officials have said his government might be preparing to use poison gas.

Nov 30, 2012

Al Qaeda battle in Afghanistan to stretch for years: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Al Qaeda fighters are still trying to make inroads into Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday, cautioning that battling the group would be a core U.S. mission there for years to come.

Panetta made the comments as the United States weighs how large a military force to keep in Afghanistan when the NATO combat mission ends in 2014, ending a war that, at that point, will have stretched for over 13 years.

Nov 26, 2012

Analysis: For Obama, could 10,000 troops in Afghanistan be too many?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama publicly scoffed at the idea of keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq. So could he really be persuaded to keep that many in Afghanistan after the war formally ends in 2014?

The 10,000 figure is well within a preliminary range put forward by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and which is informing deliberations by the Obama administration, one U.S. official said.

Nov 15, 2012

With top brass under scrutiny, Pentagon chief orders ethics review

BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
has ordered the U.S. military’s top brass to look for any gaps
in ethics training as he lamented lapses in judgment by officers
that could “erode public confidence in our leadership,” a
Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday.

Questions over the conduct of U.S. generals has come into
sharp focus over the past week as retired General David Petraeus
lost his job as CIA director over an affair and General John
Allen, who leads the Afghan war effort, was placed under
investigation for potentially inappropriate emails with a
Florida socialite.

Nov 15, 2012

No other top brass ensnared in Petraeus scandal: Panetta

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday he knew of no other military officials beyond the top commander in Afghanistan drawn into the investigation surrounding former CIA Director and retired four-star general David Petraeus.

Panetta, on a visit to Thailand, acknowledged that further revelations were possible in the case. But his comments suggested that, at least for now, questions about email traffic with a Florida socialite had ensnared no other officers.

Nov 15, 2012

No other top brass ensnared in Petraeus scandal-Pentagon chief

BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta said on Thursday he knew of no other military officials
beyond the top commander in Afghanistan drawn into the
investigation surrounding former CIA Director and retired
four-star general David Petraeus.

Panetta, on a visit to Thailand, acknowledged that further
revelations were possible in the case. But his comments
suggested that, at least for now, questions about email traffic
with a Florida socialite had ensnared no other officers.

Nov 14, 2012

Don’t jump to conclusions over US general, Pentagon chief says

PERTH, Australia, Nov 14 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta warned on Wednesday against jumping to conclusions
over the actions of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, a day
after placing him under investigation in a widening scandal that
already cost CIA Director David Petraeus his job.

Marine General John Allen, who denies any wrongdoing, is
being investigated for potentially inappropriate communications
with a woman at the center of the Petraeus case, Jill Kelley, a
Florida socialite.

Nov 13, 2012

Petraeus scandal widens, snares US commander in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The scandal involving former
CIA Director David Petraeus widened on Tuesday as U.S. defense
officials said they were looking into “flirtatious” e-mails
between General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in
Afghanistan, and a woman at the center of the affair.

Defense Department officials said they were sifting through
30,000 pages of email and other communications between Allen and
Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite whose complaints about
harassing messages led to the discovery of Petraeus’ affair with
his biographer.

    • 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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