November 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Iron Man suit, from the silver screen to the battlefield

By Larry Shaughnessy

A U.S. Special Operations soldier kicks in the door of a terrorist safe house.  The bad guys open fire with AK-47s, but the bullets just bounce off the soldier as he fires back.

It’s a scene that easily could have been included in any of the hugely successful “Iron Man” movies, but the man who runs U.S. Special Forces Command, Adm. William McRaven, wants to make it reality, and soon.

McRaven gave the green light to what the Pentagon officially calls a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, but everyone refers to it colloquially as “The Iron Man suit.”

McRaven recently spoke about losing a special operator in Afghanistan. "I would like that last operator to be the last one we ever lose," he said.
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June 18th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

DoD plans for women in combat

A dramatic moment at the Pentagon Tuesday, and another milestone for military women.

Declaring "the days of Rambo are over," officials announced that in a few years, women will be allowed in combat units.

Eventually, that may including the country's most elite special forces.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence explains how long the transition will take.

October 4th, 2012
07:21 PM ET

U.S. military official: Special Ops helping gather intel on Libyan militia

By Barbara Starr

U.S. Special Operations forces are in Libya and nearby countries aiding in the collection of intelligence regarding suspected Libyan militia who were part of the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. military official told CNN.

The intelligence gathering effort is just part of a broader involvement by the American military in the aftermath of the September 11 attack, including providing security on Thursday to an FBI investigative team that traveled to Benghazi.

The special operations units are employing various methods to investigate, including communications intercepts, satellite and drone imagery and face-to-face meetings with those who may have information, the official said.The official declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.
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Filed under: Libya • Libya • Middle East • Military • Terrorism • USSOCOM
CIA "overlooked" Osama bin Laden movie documents
July 25th, 2012
06:48 PM ET

CIA "overlooked" Osama bin Laden movie documents

By Adam Levine

The Central Intelligence Agency says it "inadvertently overlooked" documents related to its assistance to filmmakers creating a movie about the Osama bin Laden raid and failed to hand them over as part of a lawsuit against the CIA and the Department of Defense.

The oversight was revealed in a court document filed as part of the lawsuit by Judicial Watch, which is seeking information about how much the CIA and Pentagon disclosed about the raid by cooperating with filmmakers.

"The CIA discovered a 4- to 5-inch stack of records," according to the filing by the government's attorney, Marcia Berman. "From its initial review of the documents, the CIA has determined that the newly discovered documents are responsive to plaintiff's request but contain some duplicates of produced records."

The number of documents found is "approximately 30 new documents (primarily e-mails), with many documents containing multiple pages," according to the filing. FULL POST

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • CIA • Navy SEALs • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism • USSOCOM
Congress Wars: Battle for the defense budget
May 28th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Congress Wars: Battle for the defense budget

By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer

In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.

The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.

The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.

Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.

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April 30th, 2012
06:07 PM ET

Military Probe into Cartagena misconduct set to wrap up soon

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. Southern Command expects to finish questioning early this week 12 military members suspected of potential misconduct in Cartagena, Colombia during President Barack Obama's recent visit there, a Defense Department official said Monday.

The investigating officer conducting those interviews will then forward his report, along with recommendations, to military lawyers for review, and then to Gen. Douglas Fraser, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command.

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High level meeting focuses on future of special ops in Afghanistan
Adm. William McRaven
March 7th, 2012
04:13 AM ET

High level meeting focuses on future of special ops in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr

The head of U.S .Special Operations Command recently held a closed-door secret meeting at his Florida headquarters to discuss the future of special operations forces in Afghanistan after the U.S. formally withdraws at the end of 2014.

The Tampa meeting was called by Adm. William McRaven, commander of SOCOM. It involved some of the most senior officers in the military, as well as officials from U.S. intelligence agencies, two U.S. military officials told CNN.

Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan; Gen. James Mattis, the commander of U.S. Central Command, as well as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were just some of the participants, the officials said.

The officials declined to be identified because what was discussed at the meeting is considered highly private by the participants prior to key decisions being made about the future role of special operations forces.

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If Zawahiri caught, military not sure where he would go
March 6th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

If Zawahiri caught, military not sure where he would go

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

The U.S. military is still not clear where it would hold al Qaeda's most-wanted terrorist should he be caught, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

Following up on a question asked of Adm. William McRaven, special operations commander, at his confirmation hearing last year, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, asked the admiral again: If al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri were caught tonight in Pakistan, where would he be placed for long-term detention?

"Last year, you said you weren't sure what we would do in that circumstance," Ayotte said. "Has anything changed since then?"

"Nothing has changed since then," McRaven responded.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • Detainees • Gitmo • Military • Terrorism • US Central Command • USSOCOM
It's money that matters
February 13th, 2012
06:47 AM ET

It's money that matters

By Adam Levine

With today's budget for 2013 comes the latest sign of how the Obama administration wants to reshape the military going forward to deal both with the changing nature of threats to the U.S. and a scaled back military budget.  The 2013 budget request will be the first truly detailed look at how the shaping of the military vision impacts the bottom line.

Of course, even adjusted for inflation, the reduction in defense budget growth will still add up a historically high budget and the biggest in the world.

War spending remains high, even though the U.S. military is out of Iraq.  The military is expected to ask for $88.4 billion, down from $115 billion, for war spending.  The reason, said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that the "costs associated with that effort are pretty significant." FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Air Force • Army • Asia • Budget • China • Congress • Defense Spending • drones • Foreign Policy • Iran • Iraq • Marines • Middle East • Military • Navy • North Korea • Romney • Secretary of Defense • Special Operations Forces • USSOCOM
February 7th, 2012
04:32 PM ET

Elite troops' commander told: 'Get the hell out of the media!'

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

There's a saying that old soldiers just "fade away," but retired Army Lt. Gen. James Vaught, who is known for being unconventional, sure isn't fading away.

Vaught on Tuesday scolded Adm. William McRaven - head of Special Operations Command and the officer who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden - for all the attention his elite troops have been getting lately.

"One of these days if you keep publishing how you do this, the other guy's gonna be there waiting for you and you're gonna fly in and he's gonna shoot down every darn helicopter," Vaught said with passion and even a bit of shouting. "Get the hell out of the media!"
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Filed under: Navy SEALs • Special Operations Forces • USSOCOM
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