July 29th, 2012
11:00 PM ET

Panetta kicks off sensitive trip to North Africa and Mideast

By Barbara Starr

When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visits the Middle East this week, he will start in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began. But he’ll move quickly into the security hot spots about which everyone is worried.

The sensitive part of the trip begins in Cairo, when Panetta will have his first meeting with newly elected President Mohamed Morsy and Egyptian military leaders, reminding everyone that the United States wants to see a full transition to civilian rule.

Then comes Israel and Jordan, where the dual crises of Syria and Iran have captured everyone’s attention.


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Filed under: Africa • Egypt • Israel • Jordan • Middle East • Panetta • Pentagon • Tunisia
July 13th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Syria believed to be moving "some" chemical weapons

By Barbara Starr

The United States believes Syria has moved "some" chemical weapons in recent days, a U.S. official told CNN on Friday.

The stockpile is believed to be is under the control of regime forces, the source said.

The official, who would only speak anonymously because the source was speaking about intelligence matters, said the reason behind the movement is unclear. The source could not say what types of chemical stockpiles were involved or how much was moved.

The United States has had satellite surveillance of Syria's key weapons sites since the unrest began.

But it's also likely some of the information came from communications intercepts based on conversations CNN has had with other sources knowledgeable about this matter.

Possible reasons for the move could range from whether it was to better protect the material from the fighting of the spreading revolt in Syria or more ominously to use against the population, the sources said.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the suspicion. FULL POST

June 14th, 2012
05:18 PM ET

Special forces from around the world train together in Jordan

Over one thousand special forces troops from the U.S. and more than a dozen countries trained for dangerous missions in Jordan, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

U.S. military completes initial planning for Syria
June 14th, 2012
03:27 PM ET

U.S. military completes initial planning for Syria

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military has completed its own planning for how American troops would conduct a variety of operations against Syria, or to assist neighboring countries in the event action was ordered, officials tell CNN.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed, how many troops, and even the cost of certain potential operations, officials tell CNN.

Multiple military officials say initial planning is complete with a full understanding of what types of troops and units would be needed. This has been done so that if President Obama were to ask for options the military would be ready to present them. But officials say additional detailed work would have to be done before forces could be deployed.

The planning comes as the U.S. has become increasingly concerned that the violence in Syria is verging on civil war. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the recent series of bombings have heightened the worry.

Dempsey said it reminded him of the escalating violence during the Iraq war.

The violence "gives us all pause that have been in Iraq and seen how these issues become sectarian and then they become civil wars and then they become very difficult to resolve," Dempsey told CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

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Filed under: Assad • Dempsey • Jordan • Middle East • Military • Syria
Surge in U.S. weapon sales overseas
A Japanese F-2 Fighter Jet built and designed largely by Lockheed Martin, a major US defense contractor. Sales of US defense technology to other countries has surged recently.
June 12th, 2012
06:26 PM ET

Surge in U.S. weapon sales overseas

By Larry Shaughnessy

American arms exporters, in the midst of a defense spending slowdown here in the U.S., are enjoying an increase in overseas sales, according to a new State Department report.

The government authorized the sale of more than $44 billion in military and other U.S. technical hardware in fiscal year 2011, a jump of more than $10 billion over the year before, according to U.S. officials.

In order for a company to sell military hardware or sophisticated non-military hardware, like satellites, it must obtain a license for each sale from the State Department.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Defense Spending • Japan • Jordan • Military • Pakistan • State Department • Technology
May 30th, 2012
07:18 PM ET

Sticking with 'Plan A' but thinking about 'Plan B' for Syria

The United States and its allies are blatantly accusing the Syrian president of having blood on his hands.

But right now, any talk of military intervention is still just talk.

United Nations observers report finding 13 corpses in eastern Syria this week with their hands tied behind their backs.

This, only days after the massacre in Houla that unleashed global outrage.

Russia and China made it clear again today that they're staunchly opposed to using force against Syria.

And the Obama administration shows no sign that it's ready to change course.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has details.

Filed under: Assad • Barack Obama • Dempsey • Free Syrian Army • Jordan • Military • Rep. Mike Rogers • Security Brief • Syria • United Nations
May 25th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

Exclusive: U.S. and Jordan forces share secrets

Now more than ever Jordan's elite special forces are a key ally for US troops. CNN's Barbara Starr was granted exclusive access to see US anti-terrorism troops and Jordian special forces learn lessons from each other and share the latest secrets on how to capture or kill terrorists.

May 25th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Inside Jordan, worries about Iran and Syria

Editor's note: CNN's Barbara Starr is covering the Eager Lion military exercise in Jordan. Read all her reporting here.

By Barbara Starr

The tiny nation of Jordan may be one of the most important U.S. allies in the Middle East, but these days trouble is brewing from growing al Qaeda threats in the region.

In several days of talking here with senior U.S. military, diplomatic and Jordanian officials, the word most often heard is "instability." What worries Jordan is that regional stability could be shaken even more by unrest in neighboring Syria and also by Iran's nuclear intentions.

And the Syria and Iran problems increasingly may be linked.


May 23rd, 2012
05:34 PM ET

Al Qaeda's growing reach in Syria

CNN's Barbara Starr reports from Jordan on growing worries about an al Qaeda presence in neighboring Syria.  A senior Jordanian official tells CNN that there are nearly 1,500 al Qaeda members and sympathizer in Syria. While some US officials say the Jordanian estimate is high, one U.S. expert on jihadists in Syria agrees with Jordan's view.

Editor's note: CNN's Barbara Starr is covering the Eager Lion military exercise in Jordan.  Read all her reporting here.

May 22nd, 2012
05:29 PM ET

12,000 troops train in massive war game in Jordan

In the Middle East thousands of U.S. and allied forces are training for a nightmare scenario– the region exploding in a full-fledged war. CNN’s Barbara Starr got exclusive access to their mission in Jordan.

Editor's note: CNN's Barbara Starr is covering the Eager Lion military exercise in Jordan.  Read all her reporting here.

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