By Chris Lawrence and Lindy Royce-Bartlett
The U.S. Navy plans to deploy a laser weapon aboard a warship for the first time, Navy leaders said on Monday.
The laser will be deployed on the USS Ponce in early 2014.
"The weapon's quick-reaction capability matches what we see as potential targets" in the Persian Gulf, a Defense Department official said.
The laser has been tested against and destroyed drones and fast-moving small boats, the official said.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. Navy is moving a warship and a sea-based radar platform closer to the North Korean coast in order to monitor that country's military moves, including possible new missile launches, a Defense Department official said Monday.
The decisions to move at least one ship and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments, CNN has learned.
They follow weeks of belligerent rhetoric from North Korea, including threats to use nuclear weapons.
The United States and South Korea have gone ahead with joint military exercises despite the threats, and South Korea warned Monday that any provocative moves from North Korea would trigger a strong response "without any political considerations."
Time is running out: unless Congress acts by March first - $85 billion in massive spending cuts will kick in automatically. Two million federal workers face furloughs.
But one way or another the impact may be felt by most Americans.
The White House warns that 10-thousand teacher jobs would be at risk and 70-thousand children could be removed from Head Start.
The cuts would hit during tax season - meaning millions of taxpayers would have an even tougher time getting answers from the IRS.
CNN's Chris Lawrence has been looking at other areas where you may feel the sting.
By Barbara Starr
The commander of all Navy SEALS is sharply critical of claims attributed to a man called "The Shooter," identified in a published report to have been the SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden but felt mistreated by the military when he left the service.
Esquire magazine's riveting account of the 2011 bin Laden raid in Pakistan was based on an interview with the former SEAL, who was not named but complained about losing his health care coverage when he left the Navy last year.
He was short of the full 20-year career required to receive such benefits.
"Concerning recent writing and reporting on 'The Shooter' and his alleged situation, this former SEAL made a deliberate and informed decision to leave the Navy several years short of retirement status," said Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
By Greg Botelho
A U.S. Navy minesweeper remained stuck in a reef teeming with endangered marine life off the Philippines on Sunday, prompting an American commander to apologize and promise stepped-up efforts to prevent further damage.
The USS Guardian ran aground early Thursday in the Tubbataha Reef, about 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island in the Sulu Sea, the U.S. Navy reported.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
While there have been months of dire predictions from the Pentagon about spending cuts, one of the most visible for the military could resonate across the Middle East at a time when uncertainty continues to grip the region.
The U.S. Navy may face the prospect of not being able to routinely keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region, which has been a longtime requirement for any ability to launch military campaigns in that part of the world.
The United States would have to scale back to one carrier in the region if Congress can't avoid deep automatic spending cuts, including some $500 billion directed at the Pentagon over 10 years, a U.S. military official directly familiar with the Navy's latest preliminary budget analysis tells CNN.
The Navy has kept an on-and-off presence with two carriers in the Gulf region during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
By Barbara Starr
Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 U.S. service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.
According to the Pentagon, 239 military deaths in 2012 have been confirmed as suicides and another 110 are being investigated as probable suicides. The number of suicides in 2011 reached 301; there were 298 the year before.
The statistics on suicides among service members, many of whom had deployed to war zones, included deaths among reserve forces.
Each branch of the service showed an increase. The Army had by far the highest number of suicides and probable suicides - 182, a number that was up from 166 in 2011. The Navy had 60 suicides in 2012 compared with 52 the year before, followed by the Air Force with 59 (up from 51) and the Marine Corps with 48 (up from 32).
The Navy put out a PSA warning sailors to stay off the synthetic drug bath salts. In a shocking video an actor plays an American sailor high on the drug. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on the Navy's increasing efforts to warn sailors of the drug's serious side effects, after military doctors started seeing more cases of its use.
By Mike Mount
The Iranian military says it has successfully test-fired a number of advanced missiles and air defense systems during coastal defense exercises near the strategic oil passageway of the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian government press reports said its navy launched anti-ship "Qader" cruise missiles and a new "optimized" version of a long-range surface-to-surface missile, called the "Nour" missile. Both models are made in Iran, according to the reports.
The exercises are part of what Iran says is a six-day naval maneuver that started on December 28 and is designed to, "display the country's capabilities in defending its maritime borders."
By Larry Shaughnessy and Barbara Starr
The risk of sexual assault is growing at the elite military service academies, but victims are reluctant to report the problem, according to a Pentagon report obtained by CNN.
The survey of three military academies was ordered by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and will be released Thursday. CNN obtained advance details of the survey, which shows that the problem is getting worse with a rise in reported assaults and evidence that many more are never discussed.
Some of the most disturbing new information comes from the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. The survey found that 225 midshipmen, mainly females, reported that they were the victims of unwanted sexual contact in the most recent academic year. That contact includes everything from touching to rape. But only 12 filed formal reports, down nearly 50 percent from last year. The belief is the women still are not confident that their reports will be taken seriously.