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May 24, 2012

Bin Laden film got no Special Ops help: U.S. admiral

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. admiral who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden denied on Thursday that he or his staff helped advise Hollywood film makers shooting a movie about last year’s secret raid to kill the al Qaeda leader.

A conservative legal group this week made public documents which it said showed how the Obama administration arranged special access to top officials for film makers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the director and screenwriter of “The Hurt Locker,” a 2008 film about the Iraq war that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

May 21, 2012

NATO to hand combat role to Afghans as it seeks way out of war

CHICAGO (Reuters) – NATO will hand over the lead role in combat operations to Afghan forces across the country by mid-2013, alliance leaders said on Sunday as they charted a path out of a war that has lost public support and strained budgets in Western nations.

A NATO summit in Chicago on Monday will formally endorse a U.S.-backed strategy for a gradual exit from Afghanistan, a move aimed at holding together an allied force scrambling to cope with France’s decision to withdraw its troops early.

May 20, 2012

NATO to embrace pivot to Afghanistan support role in 2013

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Western leaders gathering this weekend to define their path out of Afghanistan will announce a pivot in the NATO mission next year, formally putting Afghan soldiers in charge of combat operations across the country, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

The leaders are expected to endorse a U.S. decision – telegraphed by the Pentagon earlier this year – to shift foreign troops to a support role by mid- or late 2013, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

May 20, 2012

NATO chief: No “rush for the exits” in Afghan war

CHICAGO, May 20 (Reuters) – NATO’s chief sought on Sunday to
dispel fears of a “rush for the exits” in Afghanistan as Western
allies gathered to chart a path out of an unpopular war that has
dragged on for more than a decade.

President Barack Obama hosts the summit in his home town,
Chicago, a day after major industrialized nations tackled a
European debt crisis that threatens the global economy.

May 20, 2012

General Allen plays down urgency of Pakistan deal

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. commander in Afghanistan told Reuters he would not be disappointed if a long-sought agreement with Pakistan on supply routes failed to materialize by the end of the NATO summit in Chicago on Monday.

General John Allen, who is also the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview he was confident a deal would eventually be struck but “whether it’s in days or weeks, I don’t know.”

May 18, 2012

Chinese entities world’s biggest economic spies-Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Friday it believes China spent up to $180 billion on its military buildup last year, a far higher figure than acknowledged by Beijing, and it accused “Chinese actors” of being the world’s biggest perpetrators of economic espionage.

The Pentagon, in its annual report to Congress on China’s military, flagged sustained investment last year in advanced missile technologies and cyber warfare capabilities and warned that Chinese spying threatened America’s economic security.

May 16, 2012

U.S.-Pakistan near deal on reopening supply lines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In what would be a major breakthrough, Pakistan and the United States appeared on Tuesday to be on the verge of clinching an agreement to reopen ground supply lines into Afghanistan, a U.S. official said, as Pakistan confirmed its president will attend a summit of NATO leaders this weekend in Chicago.

Ties between the United States and Pakistan have been severely strained over the past year, fuelling speculation Islamabad might be excluded from the high-level NATO talks on Afghanistan’s future because of the failure to reach an agreement on the supply lines, which have been shut for months.

May 15, 2012

Pentagon limits F-22 flights due to safety concerns

WASHINGTON, May 15 (Reuters) – The Pentagon announced on
Tuesday new safety precautions for its F-22 fighter jets -
including limiting how far they can fly away from airstrips -
after pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation aboard
the advanced stealth aircraft.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes the new
precautions on the F-22s, built by Lockheed Martin Corp,
are sufficient to guarantee safety. But the Pentagon did not
rule out again grounding the aircraft, if necessary.

May 10, 2012

Pentagon: No impact from ending gay ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After years of worrying what might happen if openly gay troops were allowed in the military, the Pentagon said on Thursday there had been no impact on morale, readiness or unit cohesion in the eight months since the ban on homosexuals was lifted.

President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday became the first U.S. president to publicly support gay marriage, helped champion the end of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is counting the ban’s repeal last September as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises.

Apr 25, 2012

US defense chief urges Brazil to buy fighter jets

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 25 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta made a full-throated pitch for Brazil to buy
American fighter jets in a speech on Wednesday and said defense
trade between the hemisphere’s two largest economies was “an
area ripe for growth.”

U.S.-based Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet is seen as an
underdog in a Brazilian competition for a contract with an
initial value of about $4 billion. It will likely be worth
considerably more over time once maintenance and follow-on
orders are included.

    • 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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