By Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly
Editor's note: This is part of a Security Clearance series, Case File. CNN Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly profiles key members of the security and intelligence community.
Being the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee comes with its own unique set of challenges. For starters, every day begins with a mountain of briefings on subjects that all seem pressing when it comes to keeping the country safe: ongoing operations against al Qaeda, cyber espionage being waged against American companies, Russians revamping their nuclear fleet, and Iran's nuclear intentions.
As chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers helps oversee America's 17 Intelligence agencies. He is one of only four members of the House or Senate who hold such a high clearance level. The intelligence information he receives is restricted to just the chairmen and the ranking members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. It's a responsibility that can, and often does, keep him up at night.
"The intelligence committee is very different in the sense that its probably more engaged in activities than any other committee," says Rogers, R-Michigan. "We have a constant stream of information."
As the country prepares to honor all who have ever worn the uniform on Friday, it happens as the all-volunteer military force seems to be growing more separated from the everyday world of their civilian counterparts.
“There’s no challenge for the 99% of the American people who are not involved in the military,” Army veteran Ron Capps told Time Magazine for an article about the growing military-civilian divide. “They don’t lose when soldiers die overseas, they’re not being forced to pay, for the wars, and there’s no sense among the vast population of what we’re engaged in.”
For most of its history, the United States military was filled with those volunteering to serve, and it was filled with conscripts as well. With the elimination of the draft in 1973, today’s wars are being fought by the smallest proportion of our citizenry in over 200 years.
As the slow economic recovery persists, and Defense budgets face the chopping block on Capitol Hill, many analysts see the drift between the military and the rest of society growing even larger.
Mark Thompson takes an in-depth look at the issue at Time’s Battleland blog.
By Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy at Yokota Air Base, Japan
About three dozen US military hats lay on the floor of a hanger at Yokota Air Base. The brownish hats are officially called Marine utility covers. The greyish hats are Air Force BDU Caps.
The troops who own the covers and caps were nearby in the hanger listening to an address by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (aka SecDef for those into shorthand) . Because they were inside, military regulations dictate that they remove any head coverings, hence the herd of hats on the floor.
By CNN's Chelsea J. Carter reporting from El Paso, Texas
A brigade of U.S. troops originally scheduled to be among the very last to leave Iraq is being pulled out of the country months ahead of its planned departure, military officials said Saturday.
The announcement follows news this month that a deal to keep American troops in Iraq past a December 31, 2011, deadline to withdraw was on shaky ground after Iraqi leadership said any remaining U.S. forces would not be granted immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline must require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.
The Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, deployed to Iraq in August to replace two withdrawing brigades. The troops were sent with the understanding they would be among the last to leave the country and were told to expect up to a 12-month deployment, though it wasn't clear how long they would stay in Iraq. But brigade officials informed hundreds of military families gathered Saturday at its headquarters that their troops would begin returning home within weeks.
When family members inquired why soldiers were returning early, they were told by a military official: "Basically, what's happened ... is that the United States and Iraq have not come to an agreement," according to a CNN reporter who attended the meeting.
Additionally, the brigade official told families: "We were over there for a couple of missions. Those missions are finished."
Tattoos are as old as war. Lots of soldiers get them, with military motifs, girlfriend's names, or various guns, skulls or dragons adorning their skin. Some get something less ornate. As Mark Thompson reports on Time's Battleland blog, when Private First Class Kyle Hockenberry had For those I love I will sacrifice stitched into his flesh he had no idea how prescient he was.