Pentagon Correspondent
Phil's Feed
May 8, 2015

U.S. military starts training Syrian fighters to combat Islamic State

WASHINGTON/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The United States has begun a long-awaited program to train Syrian fighters to go into combat against Islamic State, the Pentagon said on Thursday, deepening America’s role in Syria’s civil war after eight months of airstrikes against the Sunni militants.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the military was starting small, training a first group of just 90 Syrians, who would be paid a stipend and could expect some still-undefined support once they return to the battlefield.

May 7, 2015

U.S. military starts training Syria fighters to combat Islamic State: sources

ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has started training Syrian fighters to combat Islamic State militants, U.S. and Middle East sources told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding the program had begun in Jordan and would soon launch in Turkey.

The U.S. plan to train and arm a force that is expected to eventually total more than 15,000 troops is a major test of President Barack Obama’s strategy in Syria, which critics say is too limited to steer events.

May 6, 2015

Pentagon chief calls for new multi-year defense spending deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Calling Republican defense spending plans a “road to nowhere,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter appealed on Wednesday for lawmakers to work with him toward a new bipartisan budget deal to provide stable funding for a U.S. military hurt by years of steep cuts.

Carter told a Senate appropriations panel that Republican efforts to try to meet President Barack Obama’s defense funding request were well-intentioned but would not give the Pentagon the flexibility it needed and ultimately would lock in budget cuts Obama has threatened to veto.

Apr 30, 2015

U.S. Navy starts to accompany U.S. ships passing through Strait of Hormuz

WASHINGTON/COPENHAGEN, April 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Navy ships
started accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial vessels passing
through the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, seeking to ensure
freedom of navigation two days after Iran seized a cargo ship,
U.S. defense officials said.

The officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of
anonymity, described the decision as incremental, saying it was
a precautionary move expected to be for a limited time involving
Navy ships already deployed to the area.

Apr 23, 2015

Pentagon says evicted Russian hackers, global cyber threat grows

PALO ALTO, California (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday disclosed a cyber intrusion this year by Russian hackers who accessed an unclassified U.S. military network, in a episode Defense Secretary Ash Carter said showed the growing threat and the improving U.S. ability to respond.

Carter cited the newly declassified incident during an address at Stanford University, in which he also warned the Pentagon was ready to help defend America’s networks and to use cyber weaponry, if needed.

Apr 23, 2015

Pentagon chief seeks to woo Silicon Valley, eyes tech innovation

REDWOOD CITY, California (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in California’s Silicon Valley on Wednesday at the start of a three-day trip aiming to draw in America’s tech innovators despite major challenges, including making the Pentagon attractive to cyber-savvy youth.

Carter plans to make several announcements during the visit, defense officials say, including establishing an outreach office in Silicon Valley focused on scouting new and emerging breakthrough technologies and building industry ties to the Pentagon.

Apr 23, 2015

Pentagon’s new cyber strategy cites U.S. ability to retaliate

REDWOOD CITY, California (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is due to unveil an updated cyber strategy on Thursday that will stress the military’s ability to retaliate with cyber weapons, a capability he hopes will help deter attacks.

The strategy presents a potentially far more muscular role for the U.S. military’s cyber warriors than the Pentagon was willing to acknowledge in its last strategy rollout in 2011 and singles out threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Apr 23, 2015

US concerned Iranian ships may carry arms to Yemen -Pentagon chief

MOFFETT FIELD, California, April 22 (Reuters) – The United
States is concerned a group of Iranian cargo ships may be
carrying advanced weapons to Yemen, Defense Secretary Ash Carter
said on Wednesday, as he called on Iran to avoid “fanning the
flames” of the conflict with arms deliveries.

Asked whether he thought weapons were on board the Iranian
ships, Carter said: “We’re certainly concerned about that.”

Apr 16, 2015

Iraq signals unease with Iran general’s battlefield prominence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister said on Thursday that he welcomed Iranian assistance in Iraq’s battle against Islamic State but suggested unease with the prominence of a top Iranian general, who has been widely seen in photos from Iraq’s battlefields.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s al-Quds brigade of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was almost an invisible man until Islamic State’s Sunni jihadists overran cities in northern and central Iraq last year.

Apr 15, 2015

Iraq says Islamic State still fierce; eyes Baiji, Anbar fights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister said on Wednesday that the Islamic State remains a fierce adversary as he outlined plans during a trip to Washington to prioritize battles in the refinery city of Baiji and Anbar province, where the militants are striking back.

Haidar al-Abadi, speaking to reporters a day after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama, portrayed a mixed picture of a weakening Islamic State eight months after U.S.-led air strikes against the group began in Iraq.

    • 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. ..."
    • Contact Phil

    • Follow Phil