A Russian official tells CNN that Moscow has not sold new helicopters to Syria in years, but rather simply refurbushing them. But the State Department says whether they are new or old, they are still killing people.
Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reports.
By Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer
The Department of Defense announced Thursday that it will be commemorating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride later this month. The event will be the first of its kind for the Pentagon.
"The Defense Department is planning an LGBT Pride Month event for later this month," Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Laniez said in a statement issued Thursday.
Press Secretary George Little said senior Defense Department officials will take part in the event, but had no other details.
Just a year ago, a member of the military faced punishment or discharge if he or she admitted being homosexual, but last September the administration scrapped the policy known as "don't ask don't tell."
The nomination of the president's pick to be ambassador to Iraq appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday as Senate Democrats raised concerns about recent revelations of questionable conduct, reports CNN's Ted Barrett and Paul Courson.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is "evaluating" controversies surrounding Brett McGurk and may postpone a scheduled committee vote on the nomination next Tuesday.
"I need to talk to senators and evaluate where we are," Sen. John Kerry told CNN. "People have become aware of things they weren't, so we have to evaluate."
Over one thousand special forces troops from the U.S. and more than a dozen countries trained for dangerous missions in Jordan, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. military has completed its own planning for how American troops would conduct a variety of operations against Syria, or to assist neighboring countries in the event action was ordered, officials tell CNN.
In recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed, how many troops, and even the cost of certain potential operations, officials tell CNN.
Multiple military officials say initial planning is complete with a full understanding of what types of troops and units would be needed. This has been done so that if President Obama were to ask for options the military would be ready to present them. But officials say additional detailed work would have to be done before forces could be deployed.
The planning comes as the U.S. has become increasingly concerned that the violence in Syria is verging on civil war. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the recent series of bombings have heightened the worry.
Dempsey said it reminded him of the escalating violence during the Iraq war.
The violence "gives us all pause that have been in Iraq and seen how these issues become sectarian and then they become civil wars and then they become very difficult to resolve," Dempsey told CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
The top U.S. military official voiced more concerns about the uncertainty over the Pentagon’s budget with the looming threat of an additional half trillion dollar cut, should Congress be unable to reach an agreement about debt reduction by the end of the year.
“I know what the budget did to us with the reduction of $487 billion as a result of the Budget Control Act, but I don’t know what it would do to us with another $500 billion,” Joint Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey told CNN’s Barbara Starr in an interview during the Army 23th birthday celebration. “I know how hard it was to get $487 (billion).”
If another $500 billion was cut from the budget, in a trigger mechanism known as sequestration, Gen. Dempsey said there would be a risk.
“We would certainly be less visible and active globally because we’d have a much smaller force. And nature abhors a vacuum,” he said. “And if we’re not there others will be and that doesn’t mean we have to be the world’s policeman and all the rhetoric but it does mean we have to engage and build partnerships. We have to live up to our treaty obligations and so forth.”
By Jill Dougherty
The Russian government is not sending new helicopters to Syria, but it refurbishes choppers it previously sold, a Russian official told CNN late Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Clinton said this week the United States had information that Russian helicopters were being shipped to Syria, where a fierce crackdown against a grass-roots anti-government movement has persisted for 15 months.
Clinton stood by her comments even as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied his country was sending any equipment that could be used against protesters.
"We are completing right now the implementation of contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago," Lavrov said Wednesday after talks with his counterpart in Iran. "All these contracts concern exclusively anti-aircraft defense."
By the CNN Wire Staff
Six Republican senators are recommending Brett McGurk's name be withdrawn from consideration for the Iraq ambassador post a week after racy e-mails emerged suggesting he allegedly had an affair with a reporter.
"Recent information has surfaced to call into question the prudence of moving forward with the nominee at this time," said the letter to President Barack Obama signed by six GOP members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"As members of the Committee, with the responsibility of providing advice and consent, we write to respectfully urge you to reconsider this nomination. There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk's qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment."
By the CNN Wire Staff
An Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed Wednesday during a routine training mission north of Navarre, Florida, injuring five crew members aboard, a military official said.
The Osprey crash occurred about 6:45 p.m. at Hurlburt Field's Eglin Range, said Amy Nicholson, chief of public affairs at the air field.
The five injured crew members were taken to an area hospital, Nicholson said. The extent of the injuries was not immediately known.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, she said.
Read the full CNN.com story here.
By Jill Dougherty and Mike Mount
The United States' refusal to apologize for a 2011 military strike that killed two dozen Pakistani troops continues to hold up any final agreement to open transit routes into Afghanistan, a senior Pakistani diplomat tells CNN.
The official described the talks as being in hiatus after U.S. negotiators left the country this week following nearly two months of talks over reopening land routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan that have been used to carry supplies for the war.
The official spoke on background because of the sensitivity of the issue.