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Mar 27, 2014

Pentagon sees no signs of Russia military drills despite buildup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sees no indications that Russian forces along the border with Ukraine are carrying out the kind of springtime military exercises that Moscow has cited as the reason for their deployment, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Ukraine’s government has put its heavily outnumbered and outgunned forces on alert for an invasion from Russia in the east following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea, as the West moves to isolate Russia diplomatically and pressure it economically.

Mar 25, 2014

Deep budget cuts may erode U.S. Army ability to fight long war: general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. Army officer told lawmakers on Tuesday that a return to deep budget cuts as required by law beginning in 2016 would make it difficult for the military to carry out even one extended ground war.

General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told a panel in the House of Representatives that severe, across-the-board budget cuts would force the Army to shrink to 420,000 active-duty soldiers, a level at which it could no longer execute the president’s national defense strategy.

Mar 24, 2014

U.S. sending undersea drone in hunt for Malaysian jetliner

WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) – The United States is
sending an undersea Navy drone capable of exploring waters
nearly 15,000 feet deep to potentially help search for any
sunken wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the
Pentagon said on Monday.

The U.S. disclosure that it was pre-positioning the
sonar-equipped Bluefin “autonomous underwater vehicle” in
Australia came hours after Malaysia announced that the jetliner
which disappeared over two weeks ago had crashed in the southern
Indian Ocean.

Mar 21, 2014

U.S. may give sonar gear to Malaysia for plane search

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) – The Pentagon is weighing a
request from Malaysia for sonar equipment to bolster the so-far
frustrated search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370,
as concerns grow that any debris may have sunk to the bottom of
the sea.

Malaysia’s Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein asked for
undersea surveillance equipment in a phone call with U.S.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, as the Pentagon tallied $2.5
million in costs so far in the nearly two-week-old search.

Mar 21, 2014

U.S. search for missing Malaysian jetliner cost $2.5 million so far

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s search for the missing Malaysian jetliner has cost $2.5 million so far, the Pentagon estimated on Friday, adding it has set aside about $4 million for the hunt so far, enough to cover operations through early April.

It was the first disclosure of costs for the U.S. ships and aircraft joining the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370, which went missing almost two weeks ago with 239 people aboard.

Mar 20, 2014

U.S. eyes military supplies for Ukraine, seeks to avoid escalation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Thursday it was focusing for now on Ukrainian requests for non-lethal support, as opposed to any weaponry, as a senior U.S. official said Washington wanted to avoid further militarizing the standoff with Russia.

Ukraine’s government has put its heavily outnumbered and outgunned forces on alert for an invasion from Russia in the east following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

Mar 20, 2014

Russia defense chief tells Hagel no plans to cross into eastern Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received assurances on Thursday from his Russian counterpart that the thousands of Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border had no plans to enter the country, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Hagel held an often “direct” conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the Ukraine crisis for about an hour, U.S. Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Mar 19, 2014

Nato chief says Russia may not stop at Crimea, urges Europe to “step up”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of NATO warned on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin may not stop with the annexation of Crimea and said the crisis should serve as a “wake-up call” for European nations to bolster defense spending.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia’s move to annex Crimea following a Kremlin-backed referendum on Sunday had triggered “the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War.”

Mar 19, 2014

Russia ripping up international rule book, NATO chief says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia on Wednesday of tossing out international rules in an attempt to “redraw the map of Europe,” as he called the Ukraine crisis NATO’s most pressing security challenge.

“We have seen Russia rip up the international rule book, trying to redraw the map of Europe, and creating, in just a few weeks, the most serious security crisis since the end of the Cold War,” Rasmussen told a forum at Georgetown University during a trip to Washington.

Mar 19, 2014

Afghan police payroll under scrutiny from U.S. watchdog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A government watchdog is raising fresh concerns that U.S. funds meant to help pay Afghan police salaries may instead be going to “ghost workers,” according to a letter he sent to military commanders in Afghanistan.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said his staff has initiated an audit on the reliability of personnel data for Afghan National Security Forces, including how such data are used to calculate payrolls for Afghan National Police officers.

    • 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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