Defense cuts would hurt some states more than others
October 25th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

Defense cuts would hurt some states more than others

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

The ripple effects of uniform cuts across the Defense Department budget wouldn't shake out equally across the country, according to a major defense industry trade association.

California, Virginia, and Texas would be hit with the brunt of job losses if hundreds of billions of dollars were axed from the Pentagon, according to a new study commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association.

Out of a projected 1 million in job losses nationwide, California would take a hit of 125,000, Virginia 122,000, and Texas 91,000. Ten states in total would account for almost 60% of the job and income losses.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Budget • Defense Spending
Pivoting from Middle East to the Pacific
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivers a speech after arriving at the Yokota airforce base in Tokyo on October 24.
October 25th, 2011
03:59 PM ET

Pivoting from Middle East to the Pacific

By Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy in Tokyo, Japan

If there's been one theme U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has tried to hammer home at every opportunity during his weeklong tour of Asia it is this:  "The United States, as a Pacific nation, is and will remain a Pacific power in this region. We will always maintain a strong presence in the Pacific."

Those assurances come from a defense secretary facing major cuts at home.

"It's no secret that the United States faces some very tough fiscal decisions back home," Panetta said Tuesday during a news conference with the Japanese defense minister. "But let me reassure the people of Japan: The one thing that we have agreed upon is that the Pacific will remain a key priority.

I will continue to strengthen our forces in this part of the world."

So if the Department of Defense has to make cuts, and it's clear it will, how will the American military be strengthened in the Far East?  Perhaps by looking to the west.

The U.S. military will be out of Iraq by New Year's Day and the mission in Libya with NATO could be over by Halloween. Even in Afghanistan, where no one is claiming victory, America's troop presence is shrinking; 10,000 troops are to come out by the end of 2011.

Panetta called it a "turning point after a decade of war."  FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Asia • Budget • China • Clinton • Defense Spending • Foreign Policy • Indonesia • Iraq • Japan • Military • Panetta • Pentagon • South Korea
'Early steps' on horizon in long-standing Okinawa issue, Panetta says
October 25th, 2011
02:58 PM ET

'Early steps' on horizon in long-standing Okinawa issue, Panetta says

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Japanese Minister of Defense Yasuo Ichikawa took reporters' questions Tuesday, every question from Japanese journalists focused on one issue: the relocation of Futenma Marine Air Station on Okinawa.

The small but strategically important base on Okinawa's southwest coast is the focal point of the much larger issue of America's role and place in Japan, where it has been a major presence since the end of World War Two.

After a 1995 attack on a 12-year-old schoolgirl by two Marines and a U.S. Navy seaman on Okinawa caused an uproar in Japan, both governments agreed to shut down Futenma

While it's been an issue for more than a decade and a half, the best Panetta could say to the Japanese journalists Tuesday was, "I believe we now see some real progress." FULL POST

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Filed under: Japan • Military • Panetta
Death of U.S. teenager in drone strike stokes debate
October 25th, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Death of U.S. teenager in drone strike stokes debate

By CNN's Tim Lister

According to his Facebook profile, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki enjoyed watching The Simpsons and the BBC's Planet Earth series.

He read the Harry Potter books and listened to Snoop Dogg. He was also the 16-year-old son of the infamous al Qaeda propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki.

And like his father he was a U.S. citizen, born in Colorado (where his father studied) on August 26, 1995.

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki left the family home in the Yemeni capital Sanaa late in September to search for his father, who was in a remote part of Yemen.  By then, al-Awlaki senior had already survived at least two attempts by the U.S. to kill him.  But days after Abdulrahman al-Awlaki began his quest, his father was killed in a U.S. drone strike.  Two weeks later, another drone strike targeting and killing a prominent al Qaeda militant, Ibrahim al-Banna, also killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a teenage cousin and several others.  Abdulrahman al-Awlaki's family in Yemen confirmed that he and his cousin were killed by a a drone strike.

It's unclear why the younger al-Awlaki was with al-Banna, but the teenager's death has refocused scrutiny on the U.S. drone campaign, which has grown exponentially since being introduced in 2004 – principally in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, but more recently in Somalia, Yemen and Libya.  Drones are now a controversial pillar of national security policy. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki • AQAP • CIA • drones • Intelligence • Living With Terror • Military • Panetta • Terrorism • Yemen
U.S. mission in Africa will be short-term, administration says
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen greets Evelyn Apoko, a former victim of the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda, after a hearing on the issue before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
October 25th, 2011
02:38 PM ET

U.S. mission in Africa will be short-term, administration says

By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

The current mission deploying approximately 100, mainly U.S. special forces to Africa will be "short term" and not open-ended in nature, Obama administration officials told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday.

"We don't have a specific timetable, we are talking I think months, but I wouldn't put a number on it at this point," Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow told committee members.

President Barack Obama notified Congress earlier this month about the mission, as required under the War Powers Act. The U.S. troops are serving in a mostly advisory role to forces from Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic to assist them in dismantling the notorious Lord's Resistance Army and hunt down its elusive leader, Joseph Kony. The group has terrorized central Africa through its abduction of children to serve as soldiers in a campaign of rape, pillaging and murder over two decades.

While the mission does not call for the U.S. troops to engage in direct combat operations, they are carrying weapons to be used in self-defense should the need arise, which triggered the requirement to notify Congress of their deployment.
FULL POST

October 25th, 2011
02:33 PM ET

Alleged conspiracy that sent bomb components from U.S. to Iran is cracked

By CNN Senior Producer Carol Cratty

An alleged conspiracy that sent components from the United States to Iran, which eventually ended up in explosives in Iraq, has been cracked and five men charged, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

Four of the men are citizens of Singapore and were arrested there on Monday. The United States is seeking the extradition of Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson. The fifth man is an Iranian citizen and resident named Hossein Larijani who remains at large.

The five men and four companies they are involved with were named in an indictment handed down in September of 2010 which has just been unsealed.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Iran • Iraq • Technology • weapons
U.S. and North Korea agree to talk more about restarting talks
October 25th, 2011
12:24 PM ET

U.S. and North Korea agree to talk more about restarting talks

The two days of talks between the United States and North Korea ended with an agreement that more talks will be needed to consider whether everyone is ready to resume the actual talks about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Speaking after the conclusion of the two-days of meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassadaor Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy said the talks were "generally constructive," with a narrowing of differences between the two countries. Bosworth would not give specifics.

"We narrowed differences on several points and explored our differences on other points. We came to the conclusion that we will need more time and more discussion to reach agreement in an effort to assess whether we have sufficient agreement to resume our active negotiations both bilaterally and in the Six-Party process," Bosworth said on Tuesday.

The two parties will return to their respective capitals and "be in touch," Bosworth said.

Back in the United States, a senior State Department official tempered expectations on how quickly North Koreacould respond.

“North Korea’s team obviously has to go home now and has to consult with their leadership. We all know how the North Korean system works. We do think it’s going to be not a matter of days or weeks but probably a matter of weeks and months before we’re going to be able to really know where we’re going next on this. We expect it will take some time for the North Koreans to digest what we talked about in Geneva," the official told CNN's Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reports.

Is foreign aid hurting Afghanistan?
October 25th, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Is foreign aid hurting Afghanistan?

Some 90% of the money in and around Afghanistan is coming from the United States and its allies. Yet this tidal wave of cash is distorting the Afghan economy, breeding corruption, and creating a dependency that may be tough to break.  On  Time's Battleland blog, Mark Thompson looks at the money flow with  Stephen Biddle, an Afghanistan expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, assess the money flow with John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security.

READ and watch the discussion

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Kabul • Karzai • Military • NATO
Panetta: NATO may continue Libya mission
Libyan children play on a tank as weapons and other items belonging to the former regime are displayed in Misrata on October 23.
October 25th, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Panetta: NATO may continue Libya mission

By Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy reporting from Tokyo, Japan

Despite the death of former leader Moammar Gadhafi and the new government's declaration of liberation, NATO may not end its mission in Libya as quickly as expected, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday in Japan.

Last week, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, commander of NATO's military forces, recommended that NATO wrap up its mission in Libya by October 31.  NATO ministers gave preliminary approval to that plan.

But Panetta said at a news conference during his visit to Japan Tuesday that the National Transitional Council - Libya's new government - wants NATO to stick around.

"I noticed today that there were comments from some of the Libya leadership asking that NATO continue its mission during this interim as they are trying to establish some of their governance," Panetta said.

He said he would leave such decisions up to NATO while the United States looks at its long-term relations with Libya's military.

"What I would do at this point is leave the decision as to future security involvement in the hands of NATO and then beyond that, that will give us a basis on which to determine whether there is an additional role that we can play."

Of more immediate concern, Panetta said, is how to help with the medical crisis that continues even after the end of fighting. FULL POST

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Filed under: Libya • Military • NATO • Panetta • Pentagon
U.S. enters Libya, leaves Iraq
October 25th, 2011
11:12 AM ET

U.S. enters Libya, leaves Iraq

by Michael V. Hayden, CNN Contributor

Editor's note: Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as CIA director in 2006 and served until February 2009, is a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm, and a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University. He formerly was director of the National Security Agency and held senior staff positions at the Pentagon.

U.S. security policy showed the effects of two substantial pivots this past week: ramping down our role in regime transformation in one Arab country even while ramping up our responsibility in another.

First to Libya, where the death of Moammar Gadhafi has finally ended the first act of what promises to be a long drama. As Iraq and Afghanistan have amply proven, collapsing the old regime is the easy part; building a functioning civil society is the real challenge.

Gadhafi's apparent execution after he was captured, on top of the still unexplained murder of the anti-Gadhafi forces' commander Abdel Fattah Younis three months ago, highlights the chaos and infighting that still exist in Libya and the need to help the Libyans build a viable state.

There is more than altruistic international good citizenship involved here. If Libya is left to its own devices, it is not difficult to conceive of it becoming Somalia on the Mediterranean, an ungoverned space threatening the heart of Europe as well as critical international lines of communication. We have already begun to fret over the loss of control of thousands of man-portable surface-to-air missiles. These are reasons enough to stay engaged.

Read General Hayden's full post here.


Filed under: EXCLUSIVE • Gadhafi • Libya • Libya • NTC
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