From Barbara Starr and Chris Lawrence
The Pentagon’s intelligence arm has assessed with “moderate confidence” that North Korea has the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon by ballistic missile though the reliability is believed to be “low.” The assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency was revealed during a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
"DIA assess with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however, the reliability will be low,” the agency concludes, according to an unclassified version of the report read out by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) during a House Armed Services Hearing.
Pentagon spokesman George Little refused to comment on the assessment in an interview broadcast on ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper,’ saying that while the conclusion was unclassified, “the underlying content is definitely classified.”
U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, less than 20 miles from the border with North Korea, bases in Japan and Guam are all targets for North Korea's missiles. Chris Lawrence reports on how and where North Korea would strike U.S. troops.
By CNN's Chris Lawrence
The website for U.S. Forces Korea is down and has been off-line all day.
A U.S. Defense Department official tells CNN, “This was a hardware crash. It could be awhile before they get back online, because they have to rebuild the system. Right now there’s no signs this had anything to do with a cyber attack or outside intrusion. These are initial indications, but right now it doesn’t appear to be caused by outside influence.”
But the official says they haven't completely ruled out an outside attack.
If you go to the site, you will see a message reading, "Network Error… The gateway may be temporarily unavailable, or there could be a network problem.”
By Chris Lawrence
Seven months ago, President Barack Obama warned the use of chemical weapons in Syria could bring direct U.S. involvement in that country's raging civil war. While the administration's interest in U.S. military involvement in Syria remains low, planners still have been preparing for the possibility U.S. forces would have to step in and neutralize Syria's military or safeguard chemical weapons stockpiles.
It's not a pretty picture, NATO commander Adm. James Stavridis said Tuesday, a day after unconfirmed reports emerged that chemical weapons may have been used.
"The Syrian situation continues to become worse and worse and worse," he said.
The mere possibility of U.S. involvement comes at a bad time for the military, which is preparing to ground some aircraft, scrap some naval deployments and cut back on training to meet budget cuts mandated by forced spending cuts that went into effect last month.
By Chris Lawrence
The U.S. military will enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from any missile attack by North Korea or Iran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday.
Still relatively new in his post, the Pentagon chief told reporters that the United States will deploy 14 additional ground-based missile interceptors to bring the total to 44. He said the expansion should be completed by 2017.
Part of the move would involve reopening a missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska, and some of the interceptors would be based in California, U.S. officials said.FULL STORY
By Chris Lawrence
Gen. John Allen is considering whether to retire rather than move forward with the nomination to become the supreme allied commander of NATO, a staff member said.
In a written statement, a member of his staff said, "After 19 months in command in Afghanistan, and many before that spent away from home, Gen. Allen has been offered time to rest and reunite with his family before he turns his attention to his next assignment."
After speaking with Allen in the last two days, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: "My recommendation to him was 'take your time.' Your country will always find a way to make use of your great services, but you have to make up your own mind."
A senior Defense official tells CNN that Allen met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey Tuesday afternoon. But the official says he was not aware of whether Allen had informed Dempsey of his decision. The official says it was a personal, one-on-one meeting in Dempsey's Pentagon office.
By Chris Lawrence, with reporting from Barbara Starr
[Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET] The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, multiple officials told CNN on Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement Thursday and notify Congress of the planned change in policy, the officials said.
"We will eliminate the policy of 'no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,'" a senior defense official said.
The officials cautioned, however, that "not every position will open all at once on Thursday." Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an "assessment phase," in which each branch of service will examine all its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable for integrating them.
The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report on their progress.
The move will be one of the last significant policy decisions made by Panetta, who is expected to leave in mid-February. It is not clear where former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the nominated replacement, stands, but officials say he has been apprised of Panetta's coming announcement.
By Chris Lawrence
The United States military could provide logistical and intelligence support in the French effort against Islamist rebels in Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.
The U.S. will "provide whatever assistance it can" as part of what Panetta said was the U.S. global efforts against al Qaeda.
"We have a responsibility to go after Al Qaida wherever they are. And we've gone after them in the FATA. We're going after them in Yemen and Somalia. And we have a responsibility to make sure that Al Qaida does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali," Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Europe.
Torture allegations in 2008 derailed CIA director nominee John Brennan from getting the same job four years ago. Now as Brennan prepares for his confirmation hearing the movie Zero Dark Thirty opens nationwide and the issue of "enhanced interrogation" techniques are front and center again. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on the controversy.
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.