Military prepares for Sandy impact
October 29th, 2012
10:08 AM ET

Military prepares for Sandy impact

By Adam Levine

The U.S. military is preparing to help with response to Hurricane Sandy and working to protect its own equipment.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was "monitoring" the storm from the Pentagon on Monday, according to a tweet from his press secretary George Little.

Over the weekend, Panetta appointed "dual status" commanders, according to the Department of Defense website.  The commanders are authorized to command both federal and state National Guard forces.

"This special authority enables them to effectively integrate the defense support operations and capabilities that Governors request. The Secretary is prepared to quickly agree to similar requests from other States," according to a press release about the decision. 

The decision was made by Panetta at the request of governor from Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Over the weekend, the National Guard had approximately 1,500 forces on active duty in New York, Massachussets, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut and Maryland.  The troops are assisting local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with route clearance, search and rescue, equipment and supplies delivery and evacuations.

U.S. Northern Command has put helicopters, planes, and rescue teams on alert to be ready to deploy as needed.

In addition to aiding in response, the military has been moving aircraft and ships to avoid damage during the storm.  Bases in New York, New Jersey and Delaware have all moved aircraft, according to the Department of Defense.  The Navy has also moved vessels including the USS Wasp, USS Taylor USNS Kanawa, USNS Medgar Evers and the USS Ross.

Get the latest CNN coverage of Hurricane Sandy

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Filed under: Military • Panetta • US Northern Command
October 29th, 2012
06:31 AM ET

U.S. sailor found dead in Japan

A U.S. Navy sailor has been found dead with a head injury at a Japanese train station, local police said Monday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Lewis Stiles was discovered surrounded by seven or eight alcoholic drink cans on the platform in Haiki Station in Nagasaki Prefecture at 5 a.m. Sunday, Haiki police said.

The death, which police say they are investigating as either an accident or a crime, comes at a delicate time for the U.S. military in Japan after two U.S. sailors were arrested earlier this month on accusations they raped a local woman.

That case provoked an angry reaction from Japanese officials, and the U.S. military responded by imposing a curfew on its troops in Japan. The curfew restricted military personnel to bases, personal homes or hotels between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Japan • Navy
Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities
October 29th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities

A Pakistani politician critical of U.S. drone strikes said Saturday that American authorities detained and questioned him at a Canadian airport.

Imran Khan, a former cricket star, this month led a march to the border of Pakistan's tribal region to protest drone strikes, which he says end up killing more civilians than militants.

Khan said he boarded a New York-bound plane in Toronto on Friday when two U.S. immigration officials asked him to step outside. The officials made him wait for about 40 minutes before interviewing him for another 20 minutes, he said.

"I kept asking them what was this all about, and then one guy interviewed me and he was so confused, he had no idea what he was saying," Khan told CNN by phone from Seattle, another stop on his trip.

"He was talking about some fund-raising, so I asked him to come to the point, and he said, 'We're worried you might use violence against drones.' I mean, it was so ridiculous, I didn't even know how to answer it."

FULL STORY


Filed under: drones • Pakistan
"We can't kill our way out” : A bipartisan vision for 21st century American foreign policy
October 26th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

"We can't kill our way out” : A bipartisan vision for 21st century American foreign policy

By Jane Harman,  Special to CNN

Editor's note: Jane Harman is the director of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. She served nine terms as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from California where she served on the Armed Services, Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. The views expressed here are her own.

In spite of all the hoopla about bayonets and horses during Monday's presidential debate about America's role in the world, Governor Mitt Romney sounded surprisingly like President Barack Obama on the campaign trail four years ago:

"We can't kill our way out of this mess," Romney said. We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world ... reject this radical violent extremism."

Yes! At last, we have two presidential candidates who believe that playing whack-a-mole will never suffice.

As Obama said when he ran for his first term, America is a country "whose strength abroad is measured not just by armies, but rather by the power of our ideals, and by our purpose to forge an even more perfect union at home."

Both candidates consistently made that case on Monday. While partisans panned the debate - and neither side appears to have gained much of an election bounce - I saw it as evidence that we're that much closer to articulating a much-needed bipartisan vision for projecting our values around the world.

FULL POST


Filed under: Foreign Policy • Opinion • Security Brief
Panetta on Benghazi attack: 'Could not put forces at risk'
A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi burns.
October 26th, 2012
01:28 AM ET

Panetta on Benghazi attack: 'Could not put forces at risk'

By Chris Lawrence

The U.S. military did not get involved during the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last month because officials did not have enough information about what was going on before the attack was over, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday.

At a Pentagon news briefing, Panetta said there was no "real-time information" to be able to act on, even though the U.S. military was prepared to do so.

"You don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on," Panetta said. "(We) felt we could not put forces at risk in that situation."

A defense official provided more context on Panetta's comments about the decision-making involved in not sending U.S. troops to the consulate being attacked in Benghazi.

He said there was a drone aloft but not directly over the area at the time the attack began.

FULL POST

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Filed under: drones • Libya • Military • Panetta
Texas, international election monitors face off
October 25th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Texas, international election monitors face off

By Elise Labott

The presence of international monitors observing next week's presidential and Congressional election has caused a firestorm among voter ID law supporters and, particularly, the Texas attorney general.

The reservations came after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced it is sending dozens of monitors from around the world to monitor the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections.

The OSCE, which sends monitoring teams to elections around the world, has been observing U.S. elections since 2002, when the Bush administration invited them after the hotly contested 2000 presidential election. They are expected to observe in 15 states on November 6th.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Thursday wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing his displeasure with the OSCE's approach, stating that "an unnecessary political agenda may have infected OSCE's election monitoring." Texas law, he notes, does not allow "unauthorized individuals" within 100 feet of polling places. He asked Clinton to work with the OSCE to ensure the group abides by the state law or they will risk "legal consequences."
FULL POST

What is going on inside North Korea?
Kim Jong Un is shown inspecting the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division of the Korean People's Army earlier this year in this photo taken by North Korea's official news agency.
October 25th, 2012
05:31 PM ET

What is going on inside North Korea?

By Jamie Crawford

In the famously opaque world of North Korean politics, the ongoing leadership transition is in some ways proving more dagger than cloak with reports of executions and purges of top military officials in recent days.

South Korean newspapers this week reported on the execution of Kim Chol, North Korea's vice minister of the North Korean military, and other senior military officials earlier this year for drinking liquor during the mourning period for former leader Kim Jong Il. Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, who is the new leader of North Korea, has overseen purges of other former leaders from the military ranks for being involved in sex scandals the reports also said.

"Contrary to what might be the popular perception that there is a smooth transition going on from the father to the son, these reports show there is still a lot of churn going on inside the system," Victor Cha, a former Korea specialist on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, told CNN.

For Cha, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the moves under way in North Korea may signal a shift in leadership styles for the new young leader.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Kim Jong-un • North Korea
Mending the 'Space Fence'
Raytheon animation image of satellite collision
October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Mending the 'Space Fence'

By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer

The Air Force wants to rebuild a “fence” around Earth to keep the riff-raff out.

Sounds like a Hollywood script to counter aliens or asteroids but it's a real program the military wants to update at an estimated cost of $3.5 billion.

Just don't expect any space cowboys digging post holes and wrangling barbed wire in orbit.

FULL POST

October 24th, 2012
11:38 PM ET

Doubts surface over e-mail on claim of responsibility for Benghazi attack

By CNN's Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

The often fiercely political debate over who knew what - and when - about the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi has taken another turn with the disclosure of a series of e-mails sent from the State Department on the night of the attack.

But the most explosive of the e-mails - which were released late Tuesday - may have been inaccurate, a "spot report" on a rapidly evolving and highly confusing situation.

The disclosure of the e-mail has given new life to the already fevered debate over when the Obama administration learned that the attack was more than a protest that turned deadly but was the work of terrorists.

The e-mail carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al Sharia Claims Responsibility For Benghazi Attack." The message said: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group has claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

That message was sent to a wide range of federal offices, including the FBI, from the State Department at 6:07 p.m. ET on September 11 - seven minutes into September 12 in Libya. At that time, the attack on the consulate was ongoing, and the subsequent assault on the annex building, in which two more Americans would be killed, had not begun.

FULL POST

October 24th, 2012
08:21 PM ET

US intel believes some Benghazi attackers tied to al Qaeda in Iraq

By Suzanne Kelly, Pam Benson and Elise Labott

U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN.

That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Previously, intelligence officials said there were signs of connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of the terror group.

The revelation that members of al Qaeda in Iraq are suspected of involvement in the Libya attack comes at a time when there is a growing number of fighters from that group also taking part in the Syrian civil war.

FULL POST

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