By Larry Shaughnessy
A new report details the military's approach for countering so-called insider attacks in Afghanistan, which remain a concern but have declined over the past month.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a periodic update to Congress that the U.S. military and its partners in the region have taken four steps to address the problem that triggered concerns about the stability of Afghan security forces ahead of planned NATO withdrawals in 2014.
The plan involves enhanced training that emphasizes cultural awareness, counterintelligence techniques, vigilance, and real-time information sharing as well as implementing a "guardian angel" program, in which one or more coalition troops remain armed and ready when working with Afghan counterparts.
The plan also expands vetting and counter-intelligence operations and efforts to analyze attack patterns.
The Afghan defense ministry also took steps to help reduce the problem by going back and rechecking each service member's background to make sure there was no indications they might one day turn their guns on their brothers in arms.
This year through the end of September, 38 insider attacks killed 53 troops in Afghanistan, including 33 Americans, according to Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. William Speaks. The number spiked in August to 15 fatalities, which included a dozen U.S. forces.
There have been no confirmed attacks since September 29, Speaks said, but some incidents are under investigation.
And earlier this week, a man wearing an Afghan police uniform shot and killed two British soldiers in an apparent "green on blue" attack.
From Suzanne Kelly
A senior U.S. intelligence official emphatically denied that the CIA refused repeated requests from its officers on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, to assist the Americans under attack at the U.S. mission there.
Just five days before the presidential election and in a rare briefing to reporters, the official Thursday offered almost a minute-by-minute account of what happened that night.
According to a Fox News report last Friday, citing an unnamed source, CIA officers working at an annex about a mile from the mission were told by officials in the CIA chain of command to "stand down" after receiving a call from the mission asking for help.
"There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support," the senior intelligence official said, offering a passionate defense of the actions taken by the CIA officers on the ground during the September 11 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The official insisted the agency operators at the annex were in charge of their movements and the safety of those who were preparing to respond to the initial attack on the mission compound.
The USS Wasp has anchored about five miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey and is bringing aboard a number of helicopters and about 250 Marines in case they are needed, according to Navy spokesman Lt Cdr Chris Servello.
The ship is now visible to those on land as opposed to earlier Navy reporting that said the ship would remain over the horizon.
There is still no official request by either the NY or NJ governor to the federal government for the Navy's assistance. The other two ships should arrive in the next day.
Military cargo jets flew power trucks and crews from California to New York on Thursday to assist with Superstorm Sandy recovery in hard-hit states.
The move by the Air Force came as three U.S. Navy ships neared the coast of New York and New Jersey where they would be ready to help, if asked by those state governments.
The steps compliment thousands of National Guard troops activated throughout the mid-Atlantic to deal with flooding, massive power outages and debris cleanup from the deadly storm that swept through the region on Monday.
Sixty-nine vehicles belonging to Southern California Edison were flown from the West Coast to New York's Stewart Air National Guard Base on five C-5 Galaxys and 12 C-17 Globemaster jets.
Those areas have already been getting help from power companies closer to New York, but the cargo flights meant the trucks could get to the heart of the region in a matter of hours.
By Jill Dougherty
Frustrated with the current leadership of the largely ineffective opposition movement against President Bashar Al-Assad, the State Department said Thursday it has identified individual Syrians who "show leadership" and is "bringing them to the attention" of opposition members who will gather November 7 in Doha, Qatar.
"This is primarily political leadership. People who can not only organize but provide services. Because what this really is about is the day after, and the day will come when Assad falls, and there needs to be in place structures that can provide governance and services to the people," said Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy State Department spokesman.
U.S. officials, including the Ambassador to Syria currently working in Washington, have met the individuals in several ways, an administration official told CNN.
These include opposition conferences, governance training sessions run by the United States in Istanbul, and through recommendations by other opposition members.
By Larry Shaughnessy
Seventeen of the biggest Air Force cargo jets are forming an air bridge from Southern California to the New York City region to carry electric repair crews and their equipment to assist Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
The 69 vehicles on the flights belong to Southern California Edison. The trucks and the power crews were being flown Thursday to New York’s Stewart Air National Guard Base on five C-5 Galaxys and 12 C-17 Globemaster jets, according Air Force news release.
The first jet was scheduled to land at Stewart about 4 p.m.
The equipment will be used to help restore power to customers in New York state and New Jersey.
Those areas have already been getting help from power companies closer to New York, but using the cargo jets means the trucks can get to the heart of the storm-ravaged region in a matter of hours instead of days.
"There's been a lot of mutual aid to bring in more utility crews from surrounding areas as far south and west as California, those crews that can drive in that can get in relatively fast, have driven in," FEMA Director Craig Fugate said Thursday. "But we still have some equipment teams on the west coast that the concern was still 3-5 days transit time to get them to the east coast. There was also concern with their fire season, that if they couldn't get back to their fire season once that gets going, then they wouldn't be able to send the resources. So the President directed that we bring to bear DOD resources, aircraft."
By Saima Mohsin
As residents of the U.S. Northeast grapple with the destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy, an offer of assistance has come from an unlikely quarter: the leader of a radical Muslim group in Pakistan that Washington has branded a terrorist group.
"We offer our unconditional support and help for the victims" of the storm, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, head of the Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said in a statement late Tuesday. "If U.S. government allows, we will send our doctors, relief and rescue experts, food and medicine on humanitarian grounds."
India accuses Saeed of masterminding the 2008 terrorist assault on Mumbai that killed 166 people - an allegation he denies.
The United States, which has declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist organization and put up a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed's arrest and conviction, declined the offer.FULL STORY
By Suzanne Kelly
The Office of the Inspector General at the State Department is launching two reviews to determine whether the U.S. security posture is adequate at overseas posts prone to violence and terrorism.
In a letter provided to CNN by a source familiar with the investigation, Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel announced the additional reviews, which are part of ongoing audits. According to the letter, the new reviews, known as “scopes of work,” will take a closer look at not only the security measures and procedure in place, but they will also focus on the role contractors play in assessing whether local security guards are up to the task of protecting U.S. embassies and missions.
A number of inspections are underway that examine how information about threats is shared within the State Department and its various missions. According to the letter, additional inspections are already being planned for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad with more being considered at U.S. embassies in Beirut, Lebanon, and Rabat, Morocco. The scope extends to a number of missions around the world as well.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The USS Enterprise is the nation's oldest active duty warship, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and a history-making symbol of America's naval might for half a century.
But it's now headed for the scrap heap.
Virtually all the weapons and ammunition has been off loaded. By the end of the week, it'll make its final return to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia. On Dec. 1, "The Big E" will be become officially inactive.
But one doesn't just take an aircraft carrier with eight nuclear reactors in its hold and park it somewhere. The Navy will spend three years and tens of millions of dollars removing the ship's radioactive fuel and reactors before cutting it into scrap.