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Nov 22, 2013

As Arctic ice melts, U.S. military adapting strategy, forces

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Friday the Pentagon’s first Arctic strategy to guide changes in military planning as rapidly thawing ice reshapes global commerce and energy exploration, possibly raising tensions along the way.

Ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank last year to its lowest levels since satellite observations began in the 1970s, and many experts expect it will vanish in summers by mid-century due to climate change.

Nov 12, 2013

U.S. sends aircraft carrier to bolster Philippines relief efforts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is sending the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and other ships to bolster relief efforts in the Philippines after a devastating typhoon killed thousands of people, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The Pentagon, confirming an earlier Reuters report about the deployment, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had ordered the nuclear-power aircraft carrier and other ships “to make best speed for the Republic of the Philippines.”

Nov 10, 2013

U.S. dispatches aid for Philippine typhoon recovery, Obama says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States rushed assistance to the Philippines after a typhoon killed at least 10,000 people and will provide additional aid if it is needed, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

Obama said America “is already providing significant humanitarian assistance and we stand ready to further assist the (Philippines) government’s relief and recovery efforts.”

Nov 8, 2013

Afghan troop deaths climb but U.S. says transition on track

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghanistan troop casualties climbed 79 percent during key fighting months this year as the still-resistant Taliban kept up the pace of its attacks and NATO forces moved into a support role in preparation to end their combat mission, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The data came in a Defense Department report to Congress that also showed NATO casualties falling 59 percent during the April-September period under review. The Pentagon did not provide the number of casualties for either year.

Nov 8, 2013

U.S. veterans agency slashes claims backlog by a third since March

WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – After growing steadily for
years, the backlog of U.S. military veterans’ disability claims
is falling sharply – dropping by more than a third since March,
the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said on Thursday.

Eric Shinseki said the progress kept him on track to
eliminate the claims backlog by sometime in 2015. It would also
allow him to briefly halt mandatory overtime for claims
processors, one of the reasons the backlog has fallen.

Oct 23, 2013

NATO, Russia could play role in eliminating Syrian chemical arms

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO and Russia could play a role in eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles if they were asked to do so by the United Nations, said U.S., NATO and Russian officials on Wednesday.

The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons was discussed at a meeting of NATO and Russian defense ministers in Brussels, the first such meeting in two years.

Oct 22, 2013

U.S., NATO officials expect approval for Afghan troop deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Senior U.S. and NATO officials said on Tuesday they were confident Afghanistan’s elders and parliament would back a deal allowing American troops to stay there after 2014, playing down lingering concerns over the accord.

The Afghan president’s spokesman Aimal Faizi had told Reuters on Sunday Kabul and Washington had not yet agreed on several issues in a bilateral security pact, raising the prospect that the U.S. might still have to pull all its troops from the war-ravaged nation by the deadline.

Oct 11, 2013

U.S. Air Force fires general overseeing nuclear missiles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The two-star general overseeing the U.S. arsenal of intercontinental missiles was fired on Friday for personal misbehavior, the Air Force said, adding the matter was not tied to the readiness or security of America’s nuclear missiles.

The removal of Major General Michael Carey from his job as commander of the 20th Air Force was the latest in a string of recent high-profile firings of top U.S. generals.

Oct 10, 2013

Pentagon No. 2 to step down after four years in top defense jobs

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Deputy Defense Secretary
Ashton Carter, known for his deep knowledge of U.S. defense
spending and the defense industry, said on Thursday he was
stepping down in December after four years in top Pentagon jobs.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he “reluctantly accepted”
Carter’s decision to leave the post.

Oct 9, 2013

During shutdown, U.S. charity to ensure fallen troops’ death benefits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A private U.S. charity struck a deal with the Pentagon on Wednesday to advance a “death gratuity” to families of American troops who die during the government shutdown, after the Defense Department determined it was legally unable to make the $100,000 payment.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the agreement after returning from Dover Air Force Base, where he attended a ceremony marking the return of the bodies of four U.S. soldiers killed by insurgents in Afghanistan on Sunday.

    • 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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