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Feb 25, 2014

Eyeing Afghan exit, U.S. intensifies campaign against Haqqani militants

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has intensified its drive against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in an attempt to deal a lasting blow to the militants in Afghanistan before foreign combat forces depart this year, according to multiple U.S. officials.

The effort is taking on added urgency as the clock ticks down on a NATO combat mission in Afghanistan set to end in December, and as questions persist about whether Pakistan will take action against a group some U.S. officials believe is quietly supported by Pakistani intelligence.

Feb 25, 2014

Obama prepared to leave no troops in Afghanistan after 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that the United States will not leave behind any troops in Afghanistan after its troop drawdown at the end of this year, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama said he had given the order to the Pentagon in a phone call on Tuesday to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement that the United States insists it must have before agreeing to leave a contingent of troops behind.

Feb 21, 2014

Pentagon plays down intelligence officer’s provocative China assessment

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – The Pentagon on Thursday
played down remarks by a senior Navy intelligence officer who
told a public forum that he believed China was training its
forces to be capable of carrying out a “short, sharp” war with
Japan in the East China Sea.

The comments by Captain James Fanell, director of
intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific
Fleet, were little noticed when he made them last week at a
conference on maritime strategy called “West 2014″ in San Diego.
They can be seen here: link.reuters.com/qyq96v

Feb 20, 2014

Anyone home? Ukraine isn’t taking the Pentagon’s calls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been unable to get anyone on the phone at Ukraine’s defense ministry over the past several days as violence flared and Kiev named a new head of the armed forces general staff, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“We haven’t been able to connect with anybody from the Defense Ministry there in Ukraine,” spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a Pentagon news briefing.

Feb 20, 2014

Pentagon working to share reserved airwaves with industry -officials

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Thursday
it was working to find ways to share more of its reserved
airwaves with commercial wireless companies that need greater
bandwidth for smartphone and tablet users, but it declined to
elaborate on how much it might vacate.

The Pentagon’s communications chief, Teri Takai, said the
department was working “very closely” with key federal agencies
to reach President Barack Obama’s goal of making 500 megahertz
of airwaves reserved for federal agencies available to
telecommunications companies over the next decade.

Feb 7, 2014

As scandals swell, U.S. defense chief to install ethics officer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday he will appoint a senior officer to report directly to him on matters of military ethics after a spate of embarrassing scandals including widespread exam cheating among nuclear missile launch officers.

Hagel said the incidents have raised questions about the extent of the problem in the armed forces and whether America’s military failed to focus enough on questions of integrity during more than 12 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Feb 7, 2014

As scandals swell, U.S. defense chief to install ethics officer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday he will appoint a senior officer to report directly to him on matters of military ethics after a spate of embarrassing scandals including widespread exam cheating among nuclear missile launch officers.

Hagel said the incidents have raised questions about the extent of the problem in the armed forces and whether America’s military failed to focus enough on questions of integrity during more than 12 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Feb 5, 2014

U.S. Navy investigating sailors over nuclear exam cheating

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Navy has suspended about 30 instructors from duties at a nuclear propulsion school over alleged exam cheating, officials said on Tuesday, adding to concern over honesty in U.S. ranks after a similar scandal involving nuclear missile officers.

The alleged cheating took place at the Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, South Carolina, with senior enlisted sailors accused of sharing answers to an exam meant to help qualify them to operate training reactors there.

Jan 30, 2014

Half of U.S. nuclear missile wing implicated in cheating

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Just over half of the 183 nuclear missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana have been implicated in a widening exam cheating scandal, the Air Force said on Thursday, acknowledging it had “systemic” problem within its ranks.

The cheating was discovered during an investigation into illegal drug possession among airmen, when test answers were found in a text message on one missile launch officer’s cell phone. The Air Force initially said 34 officers either knew about the cheating or cheated themselves.

Jan 29, 2014

Amid test scandal, U.S. Air Force sees ‘systemic problem’ in ranks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force is likely suffering from a “systemic problem” among the officers who oversee America’s nuclear missile launch systems, the new head of the military branch said on Wednesday as an exam-cheating scandal widened.

“The need for perfection has created way too much stress and way too much fear about the future,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told an Air Force Association forum near the Pentagon.

    • 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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