By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
American military aircraft will fly African and European peacekeepers to the Central African Republic, which is in the midst of a bloody internal conflict between various proclaimed Christian and Muslim militias and other rebel factions.
The decision announced the Pentagon was followed by a statement from President Barack Obama, who called on the country's citizens to reject violence and urged the transitional government to join "respected leaders" in Muslim and Christian communities in calling for "calm and peace."
By CNN Staff
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says his Afghan counterpart assured him that an important security pact will be reached with Kabul in a "timely manner," despite a failure so far to forge a deal.
Hagel made the remark during a visit to Afghanistan on Saturday. What is known as the bilateral security agreement - ready to be implemented but still unsigned - initially has been front and center in Hagel's visit.FULL STORY
By Jennifer Rizzo and Shirley Henry
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Wednesday he clearly understands a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 - known as the "zero option" - is a "possibility" given Afghan President Hamid Karzai's current unwillingness to sign the security pact that would govern some troops remaining in his country beyond that time frame.
But Dempsey also said he has not been told to plan for such a withdrawal.
By Jamie Crawford
The U.S. Navy has deployed two of its next-generation reconnaissance aircraft to Japan, a long-planned move that comes amid controversy over Chinese air defenses.
Designed to enhance the Navy's long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A Poseidon's specialty is submarine detection, the Navy said. The planes flew from Norfolk, Virginia, to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, in recent days.
The P-8A Poseidon also is part of the Navy's effort to phase out the P-3C Orion. It is more technologically advanced than its predecessor and can fly higher with a crew of up to nine. It also can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs and mines.
While the Navy rebalances resources in the Pacific, the arrival of the aircraft comes at a time of heightened tension in the region with China's imposition of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.
By Paul Armstrong
By his own admission, one of the U.S Navy's top commanders says his Pacific fleet "gets all the best stuff" when it comes to state-of-the-art weaponry - an undeniable reflection of President Barack Obama's so-called pivot towards Asia.
The flagship of its 7th fleet, the Nimitz-class USS George Washington aircraft carrier boasts a formidable arsenal; from the latest FA-18 fighter jets, to anti-submarine helicopters and early-warning surveillance aircraft. Add to this the fleet's numerous missile destroyers, cruisers and submarines and the statement of intent is clear to see - Washington is serious about its role in the region.
"It's a long-term effort for us here," Fleet commander Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, told CNN aboard the giant vessel amid the muffled roar of jet engines from the flight deck directly above. "From a policy perspective it's a shift in balance of not only our resources but our thinking across diplomatic, information, economic and military lines to the Pacific.
"But I would offer that the 7th Fleet never left - we've been a strong presence here for the past 70 years. We're slowly shifting from a 50/50 mix in the United States Navy to a 40% Atlantic, 60% Pacific mix," he added, referring to the gradual swing away from traditional areas of operation in the West.FULL STORY
It's the 12th Thanksgiving in Afghanistan for US troops. But after 12 years of war, with Afghan corruption still rampant, billions of dollars in aid spent, more than 2,000 troops killed and more than 19,000 wounded, some are asking why don't all the American troops just come home, rather than signing an agreement with Afghanistan that could keep some troops there past 2014. Barbara Starr reports.
By Paul Armstrong
The deafening roar of state-of-the-art warplanes being catapulted into the air from its huge flight deck signaled that the USS George Washington was back in combat mode after its recent detour to the Philippines to take part in the aid effort in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Barely a week on and the 90,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is now patrolling waters off the island of Okinawa as part a huge naval exercise - AnnualEx 2013 - involving dozens of warships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The aim? To provide a stern test of their ability to effectively and mutually respond to the defense of Japan or to a regional crisis or contingency situation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the U.S. Navy.
But this year's war games have taken on an added dimension given the high-pressure atmosphere in the region at present - they take place in the shadow of a controversial new Air Defense Identification Zone announced by the Chinese last weekend.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Two U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft on Monday flew into China's newly claimed air defense zone over the East China Sea without identifying themselves as China would have wanted, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.
This follows China's move last week to announce a new air zone over islands that both China and Japan claim.
The flights of the B-52s would not be a departure from the United States' previously stated intentions. Since China declared the new air zone last week, the United States said it would continue with its own air operations in the region and not recognize China's new restrictions, which require aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves and file flight plans.
The B-52s, which flew from Guam and returned there without incident, were not armed because it was a training mission. The mission lasted for several hours, but the aircraft were in the newly declared Chinese air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.FULL STORY
By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy
The Navy has reassigned the second in command of a unit that protects ships and harbors as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into alleged bribery by a defense contractor.
Capt. David Haas has been suspended as deputy commander of Coastal Riverine Group One while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) probes activities of Glenn Defense Marine Co., and its chairman, Leonard Glenn Francis, according to a Navy statement released Thursday. Francis is known by the nickname “Fat Leonard."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - This year, for the first time in the history of the Marine Corps, the graduation class at its infantry training course will include women.
Fifteen women voluntarily began the training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on September 24. On Thursday, three of them will graduate from the course, a milestone for women seeking equality in the Armed Forces, according to Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
A fourth woman finished the course, but was injured and couldn't pass the required combat fitness test. She will be allowed to graduate once she heals and passes that test.
The women went through the same physically grueling exercises as the male Marines, including carry 90 pounds of combat gear on a 12.5-mile march, Krebs said.
They also had to perform three pull ups, just as the men did. For ordinary Marine Corps physical fitness tests, women can choose either the pull up or something called a "flew arm hang."
This is part of Marine Corps research regarding the capability of women to serve in infantry units. Since last year, 10 women officers have entered Marine infantry officer training at Marine Base Quantico, Virginia. So far none of the officers have completed that course.
However, the women who passed the enlisted course will not join infantry units. They instead will be sent to non-combat jobs throughout the Corps.
Their 59 days of arduous work will instead become part of the Marine Corps ongoing research into the possibility of having women serve in combat.