March 26th, 2014
07:02 PM ET

U.S. intel assessment: greater likelihood Russia will enter eastern Ukraine

By Barbara Starr

A new classified intelligence assessment concludes it is more likely than previously thought that Russian forces will enter eastern Ukraine, CNN has learned.

Two administration officials described the assessment but declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

The officials emphasized that nothing is certain, but there have been several worrying signs in the past three to four days.

“This has shifted our thinking that the likelihood of a further Russian incursion is more probable than it was previously thought to be,” one official said.

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Responding to Ukraine: U.S. to keep carrier in Mediterranean to reassure NATO allies
March 12th, 2014
07:19 PM ET

Responding to Ukraine: U.S. to keep carrier in Mediterranean to reassure NATO allies

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon plans to keep an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean longer than planned as a military presence to reassure NATO allies following Russia’s intervention in Crimea, CNN has learned.

The Obama administration is expected to announce the development involving the USS George H. W. Bush on Thursday.

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February 27th, 2014
12:19 PM ET

Russian troop movements near Ukraine raise concerns, U.S. official says

By Barbara Starr

Russian military exercises near Ukraine are raising concerns that Moscow may be putting troops in position to move across the border if such orders are issued, a senior U.S. official familiar with the most recent administration assessment told CNN Thursday.

But the United States still believes that Russia doesn't plan to order its forces into its tumultuous neighbor, the official said.

U.S. officials - who are monitoring the area 24 hours a day - have not yet seen signs that Russia is preparing to secure supply and transportation routes that would be crucial to any such movement, the official said.

Russian military activity levels observed by the United States also "appear to be within normal range," the official said.

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Officials: Al Qaeda tries to recruit Americans in Syria
February 21st, 2014
12:22 PM ET

Officials: Al Qaeda tries to recruit Americans in Syria

By Barbara Starr

Intelligence increasingly shows al Qaeda is encouraging American and other western fighters in Syria to undertake special training to prepare them for possibly returning to their home countries to carry out attacks, U.S. officials told CNN.

National security officials are concerned that amid the mayhem of Syria's civil war, the global terror group has found a safe haven and a place where it again can recruit, plot and train operatives to carry out attacks on the U.S. homeland.

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U.S. launches push to gain release of soldier Bowe Bergdahl
February 18th, 2014
01:00 PM ET

U.S. launches push to gain release of soldier Bowe Bergdahl

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. government is engaged in a new effort to negotiate the release of the lone American soldier held in captivity - Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The push is fueled by concern over his health and the pending departure of most, if not all, U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

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February 10th, 2014
03:01 PM ET

Source: U.S. debating targeted killing of American terror suspect overseas

By Barbara Starr

The Obama administration is in high-level discussions about staging an operation to kill an American citizen involved with al Qaeda and suspected of plotting attacks against the United States, a senior U.S. official tells CNN.

The official, who declined to disclose any specific information about the target or the country the suspect presides in, was confirming information first reported by The Associated Press.

The debate about whether to undertake a mission is being held with various commanders in the U.S. military, as well as the U.S. national security agencies. The discussion centers on the risk involved and the importance of the target.

Before military force against an American is approved, there must be an imminent danger and no reasonable prospect of capturing the target. Ultimately, the President would need to sign off on the decision.

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First on CNN: General disciplined over e-mail about member of Congress
February 6th, 2014
04:19 PM ET

First on CNN: General disciplined over e-mail about member of Congress

By Barbara Starr

Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey has privately disciplined one of his top generals, who has been investigated by the Army for sending an inappropriate e-mail about a female member of Congress, CNN has learned.

Two senior U.S. military officials said Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer was ordered by Dempsey to no longer participate in weekly briefings to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the movement of troops around the world. FULL POST

U.S. finalizing Sochi evacuation contingency plans
January 31st, 2014
05:20 PM ET

U.S. finalizing Sochi evacuation contingency plans

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military is putting the final touches on a series of orders that will put transport aircraft on standby status to assist in the evacuation of Americans, should that become necessary, at the Olympic Games in Sochi, CNN has learned.

Two U.S. military officials confirmed to CNN the orders are expected to be issued next week and will go into effect with the opening of the Winter Games on February 7.

Both officials strongly emphasized Friday that Russia remains responsible for security and any request for U.S. military assets would have to come through the State Department, which is coordinating government security arrangements for Americans.

The military orders will ensure that in the event of a crisis, C-17 transport aircraft and medical evacuation crews will be ready to move from their base at Ramstein, Germany, to Sochi within roughly six hours of being notified.
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Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows
January 30th, 2014
12:05 PM ET

Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows

By Barbara Starr

A cheating scandal involving members of the Air Force nuclear command has tripled in size over the past two weeks with more people identified as investigators stepped up their probe.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Thursday that 92 officers from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are now implicated in the scandal over a proficiency test administered last year.

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Air Force nuke officers cheating scandal doubled in size
January 28th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Air Force nuke officers cheating scandal doubled in size

By Barbara Starr

A cheating scandal by Air Force nuclear weapons officers has doubled in size, a U.S. military official told CNN.

The Air Force revealed earlier this month that 34 officers were alleged to have cheated or turned a blind eye to cheating on a proficiency exam for intercontinental missile launch officers at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana.

After further investigation, it appears another three dozen or so officers are also alleged to have cheated.

About 180 officers took the proficiency exam.
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