October 7th, 2011
06:44 PM ET

US beefs up search for conventional weapons in Libya

By CNN Sr National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The U.S. is putting its money where one of its concerns is – locating conventional weapons that may have gone astray during the upheaval in Libya.

State Department Spokesman, Victoria Nuland, said Friday that the U.S. is sending in more personnel and devoting millions more dollars to the hunt. U.S. officials and others have warned that thousands of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and well as other weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists or be used by remnants of the forces loyal to ousted Libyan leader Muommar Ghadafi.

"We now have nine teams working across Libya," Nuland said at her briefing at the State Department, and until recently just one team had been n place. "We initially had given $3 million to this effort; we've recently added another $10 million. And we are working all around Libya," she said.

Each team has one American assisted by members of the Transitional National Council.

"For each of these Americans, there is a full TNC team with them. So the Libyans are also growing their own capability," Nuland said. "We are very, very committed..

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Gadhafi • Libya • State Department
Vets gather at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to call for end to 10 years of war
Anti-war protesters at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington DC Photo By: CNN's David Jenkins
October 7th, 2011
06:38 PM ET

Vets gather at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to call for end to 10 years of war

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

Hundreds of veterans and their families and anti-war protesters marched to Washington's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Friday afternoon, marking ten years since the start of the American invasion of Afghanistan.

"Ten long years that we have engaged in war, dropping bombs, killing people, spending trillions of dollars," said event organizer Michael McPhearson of United for Peace and Justice. "We are not listening to Dr. King's words."

Demonstrators carried signs saying "Fund jobs, not war!" and "Wars are poor chisels for peaceful tomorrows."
Other speakers included three women from Afghanistan, members of a group called Afghans for Peace.

Filed under: 10 years of war • Afghanistan
October 7th, 2011
05:06 PM ET

Battlefield robots on the prowl in Washington

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

A Massachusetts company best known for its home vacuum robots is also equipping the U.S. military with larger, hardier models to check roadside bombs and discover insurgent ambushes on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The manufacturer IRobot was showing off its new "tactical unmanned ground vehicle" in Washington Friday as it and many other defense companies prepare for a major exhibition next week.

"Robots are putting distance between our service men and women and danger," IRobot's chief operating officer, retired Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer, told CNN. "They have saved scores and scores of lives."

The version he was showing off in the luxurious second floor of the Army Navy Club a few blocks from the White House was outfitted with two cameras and was able to right itself if it overturned in harsh terrain. It's easy for one soldier to lift. It can go as fast as 5 mph. If it loses communications with the fighter manipulating its video-game-like controls, it can back up on its own to reconnect. Price tag: $100,000.

Some 4,000 similar robots are serving around the world, including in Japan, where they are surveying damage from the nuclear disaster.

In previous days an American soldier facing an improvised explosive device might have to put on an awkward bomb disposal suit and waddle forward to go face-to-face with the IED, Dyer said.

"Today you don't have to do that. You can send a robot."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Technology
October 7th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

The doc caught between Pakistan and U.S.

If Pakistan prosecutes one of the men who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden, what does it say about the state of relations between Washington and Islamabad? Nothing good, according to national security experts contacted by CNN's Alan Silverleib.

But the bad blood should not be that surprising.

"Never have we had an ally with whom we've agreed on so little over such a long period of time," American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin told CNN, noting U.S.-Pakistani ties dating back to the Eisenhower era. "The bin Laden raid was simply the icing on the cake."

But "any doubt Pakistan wasn't knee deep in the bin Laden mess has now been put to rest," Rubin argued. "The fact that they're prosecuting the doctor shows that given a choice between the United States and al Qaeda, Pakistan would rather be an ally with the latter," he said.


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Filed under: 10 years of war • Afghanistan • Diplomacy • drones • Pakistan
October 7th, 2011
01:26 PM ET

Romney's national security pitch

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled his national security policy today with some swipes at President Barack Obama and some proposals sure to please the defense spending industry.

Among the proposals –

– reverse projected spending cuts and set a floor for defense spending of 4% of gross domestic product (GDP)

– increase Navy shipbuilding to a rate of 15 ships per year

– reverse Obama missile defense cuts and commit to a missile defense system

– launch review of Afghanistan transition plan

– in Latin America "launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region"

– complete border fence on border with Mexico

– reset the Obama administration "reset" with Russia

Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence talked about the spending and weapon proposals with Newsroom anchor Suzanne Malveaux.   Over on CNN's Global Public Square blog, Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon gives his take.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Afghanistan • Arab Spring • Cybersecurity • Foreign Policy • Homeland Security • Iran • Iraq • Israel • Jordan • Kuwait • Middle East • Military • NATO • North Korea • Obama • Pakistan • Pentagon • State Department • Syria • Terrorism
October 7th, 2011
09:29 AM ET

The highest ranking iPad in the military

Each day, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, uses an iPad  to read his classified intelligence.  In an exclusive interview, Dempsey talks Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr about his embracing of handheld devices and how he sees the military using them in the future.

Officially, the iPad cannot be logged into the military internet system, known as SIPRnet.  But as a military spokesman told CNN, they are used offline.   This year, there was an initiative to use tablets as a replacement to the standard, bulky briefing books prepared each day for leadership to read.

"The devices have been physically altered and are only being used in a standalone mode. Using these tablets has saved the community countless man hours and costs in reproducing and printing thousands of pages of documents," a military spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said. "The devices have been locked down to minimize the risk of exposure of classified information."

If you spend any time with troops, you see that the devices are in use, albeit not always officially.

October 7th, 2011
06:05 AM ET

10 years of war: bin Laden dead, al Qaeda not so much

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the final installment of a five-part series on 10th anniversary of the start of the US war in Afghanistan. The series tracks key moments from the past decade.

The war in Afghanistan officially began for the U.S. military on October 7, 2001, 10 years ago Friday. In his speech to the nation that day, President George W. Bush said, "This military action is a part of our campaign against terrorism."

One major success in that campaign came, finally, nearly 10 years later, on May 1, 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and shot him dead.

In his speech announcing bin Laden's death, President Barack Obama was more blunt about the reason for the war.

"We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda - an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies."

But was the secret mission that killed bin Laden really a major turning point in what has become America's longest war ever or just a symbolic victory?

Disappearing breed: the war spending watchdog
October 7th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Disappearing breed: the war spending watchdog

By Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The government watchdogs who've raised the alarm about billions of dollars of war-zone waste and fraud are falling silent or are missing in action.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting was created by Congress in 2008 as a kind of all-star team of government and accounting experts. It held 25 hearings, its members traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq and they made eight reports to Congress. As of September 30, it was out of the watchdog business with the expiration of its charter.

The top job of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has been vacant for most of the year.

At the State Department, there also is no one in the top inspector general job. Harold Giesel has been deputy since 2008.

And the inspector general at the U.S. Agency for International Development is set to retire this month.


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Filed under: 10 years of war • Afghanistan • Clinton • Congress • Defense Spending • Diplomacy • Kabul • Military