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Dec 2, 2014

U.S. expects some familiar faces among Syria rebel recruits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is creating a vigorous vetting process to weed out undesirables among the Syrian rebels it will train to fight Islamic State, but some of the new recruits will be familiar faces requiring far more limited screening.

The program is expected to include a number of fighters already known to the U.S. government who could take as little as a day to initially vet, U.S. officials said.

Dec 2, 2014

Obama expected to nominate Ashton Carter to lead Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Pentagon official Ashton Carter emerged on Tuesday as the expected nominee to replace Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary, sources familiar with the situation said.

Carter, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Defense, would have the task of breaking into the tight-knit White House inner circle that President Barack Obama has leaned on to run national security policy.

Dec 2, 2014

Obama expected to nominate Ashton Carter to lead Pentagon: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Pentagon official Ashton Carter emerged on Tuesday as the expected nominee to replace Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary, sources familiar with the situation said.

Carter, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Defense, would have the task of breaking into the tight-knit White House inner circle that President Barack Obama has leaned on to run national security policy.

Dec 1, 2014

U.S. plays down idea of safe zone along Syria-Turkey border

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday played down the idea of creating a buffer zone along the Syria-Turkish border after a media report cited it as a possible concession to Turkey in return for use of bases to launch attacks on Islamic State militants in Syria.

Representatives at the White House, U.S. State Department and the Pentagon all said U.S. officials were considering a range of proposals with Turkey over security near its border with Syria but were not ready to implement a specific plan.

Nov 25, 2014

Hagel, under pressure, resigns as U.S. defence secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned on Monday, leaving under pressure as President Barack Obama faces critical national security challenges, including fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and revising plans to exit Afghanistan.

It was the first major change to Obama’s Cabinet since his Democrats were routed in midterm elections three weeks ago, and Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, are looking for a new approach from the White house.

Nov 25, 2014

Behind Hagel’s ouster, tensions over Syria and Obama’s team

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – From the moment he was appointed last year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had a troubled relationship with President Barack Obama’s tight-knit White House national security team. As the bombing intensified in Iraq and Syria, so did his problems.

U.S. officials with knowledge of Hagel’s relationship with the Obama administration described increasingly uneasy ties between Hagel’s Pentagon and the White House – although not between the two men themselves.

Nov 24, 2014

Hagel resigns as U.S. Defense secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned on Monday, the first major change to President Barack Obama’s Cabinet since his Democrats were routed in midterm elections three weeks ago.

Obama announced the resignation at a White House event with Hagel at his side. Hagel will remain in the job until a successor is in place.

Nov 24, 2014

Hagel resigns as U.S. Defense secretary, official says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned, the first major cabinet change after Obama’s Democrats were routed in mid-term elections three weeks ago.

Obama was to announce Hagel’s resignation at a White House event at 11:10 a.m. (1610 GMT) on Monday.

Nov 24, 2014

Hagel resigns as Defense Secretary, official says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned, the first major cabinet change after Obama’s Democrats were routed in mid-term elections three weeks ago.

Obama was to announce Hagel’s resignation at a White House event at 11:10 a.m. on Monday.

Nov 22, 2014

U.S. plans to arm Iraq’s Sunni tribesmen with AK-47s, RPGs, mortars

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against Islamic State militants in Anbar province, according to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress.

The plan to spend $24.1 million represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6 billion spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

    • 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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