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
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.


Sequestration: The road tour
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), participates in a news conference with House Armed Services Committee Republicans about their formal recommendations on deficit reduction (October 2011)
May 14th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Sequestration: The road tour

By Jennifer Rizzo

A House Armed Services Committee member is taking the obscure concept of "sequestration" to the streets, kicking off a nationwide tour Monday to discuss the potential $1 trillion in automatic cuts threatening the defense budget.

"The impact of looming defense cuts would be catastrophic to our military, communities and veterans. If no action is taken by January 1st," Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, said in a press release. "I look forward to seeing firsthand how sequestration will impact Virginia installations and hear how these cuts will affect local communities."

The Department of Defense already is required to cut $400 billion from its budget as part of an agreement that allowed President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling. The same deal created a congressional "super committee" tasked to find more than a trillion in government savings over the next decade, although no solution was reached. If Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on where the cuts should come from, another $600 billion would automatically be axed from the defense budget. The automatic cuts are referred to as sequestration.

The "Defending our Defenders" tour, which begins in Chesapeake, Virginia is being billed as a "listening session" where attendants can share their stories, ask questions, and voice their opinions on how massive cuts to the defense budget would impact their communities.

But some see an ulterior motive in the tour - using it as a platform to argue against the cuts.

A constant reminder of America's POW
May 11th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

A constant reminder of America's POW

A poster of the American soldier being held captive by the Taliban since June 2009 is on display in the Defense Department's CENTCOM command center.   Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, mentioned the display of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, during a briefing with reporters Thursday, to highlight how the soldier's fate is always on the military's mind.

"I can assure you that we are doing everything in our power, using our intelligence resources across the government, to try to find, locate him," General Martin Dempsey said at a Pentagon press conference.

Bergdahl's parents said this week that the U.S. had been negotiating with the Taliban to exchange their son for five detainees at Guantanamo.  It was the first public admission of the fact their son was part of the negotiation.  The POW's parents gave the interview in part because of frustration about the lack of progress in freeing their son. FULL POST

Filed under: Afghanistan • Dempsey • Military • Security Brief • Taliban • US Central Command
May 4th, 2012
06:49 PM ET

Panetta warns troops

After a series of scandals this year the entire military received a warning against bad behavior. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke to troops at Ft. Benning Georgia Friday, CNN's Barbara Starr reports

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Filed under: Dempsey • Marines • Military • Panetta • Panetta
Military reviewing training material to remove anti-Islamic content
Soldiers taking cultural sensitivity training
April 25th, 2012
02:42 PM ET

Military reviewing training material to remove anti-Islamic content

By Chris Lawrence

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has ordered the entire U.S. military to remove all anti-Islamic content from its training materials.

Gen. Martin Dempsey sent a letter to the directors of military education institutions, combatant commanders and the heads of all branches of service instructing them to review all relevant training materials to make sure it does not have anti-Islamic content.

The order was precipitated by an elective course called "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," offered at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. FULL POST

U.S. military planning, but diplomacy still goal for dealing with Syria
April 19th, 2012
05:17 PM ET

U.S. military planning, but diplomacy still goal for dealing with Syria

By Mike Mount

The United States military is continuing to plan for various military options for Syria, but U.S. and international diplomatic efforts will remain the primary effort to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government to step aside, the top Pentagon leadership told a congressional panel on Thursday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told members of the House Armed Service Committee there would be no unilateral military action in Syria and there would have to be an international consensus for the United States to play a part in any military operations against the Syrian government.

"There is no silver bullet," Panetta told the congressional panel. "We also know that the complex problems in Syria cannot all be solved through the unilateral actions of the United States, or any other country. They demand a coordinated international response that is uniquely tailored to the situation," he said.

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Filed under: Assad • Dempsey • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Syria
April 1st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

Rep. Ryan apologizes for comment about generals

By Ashley Killough

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday he misspoke earlier in the week when he accused military officials of not being honest about the Pentagon budget.

“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I didn’t mean to make that kind of an impression. So, I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.”

On Thursday, the Wisconsin congressman said senior military leaders had been misleading when they defended a decrease in Pentagon spending proposals. He argued that the generals were not “giving us their true advice” and accused them of toeing an administration line.

"I think there is a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the (administration's) Pentagon budget, which is not really a true, honest and accurate budget. When you confront military experts – retired or active – they concede these things to us," Ryan said.

Read more about the military's response on CNN's Political Ticker.

Filed under: 2012 Election • Budget • Dempsey • Military • Pentagon • Politics • Republican
March 7th, 2012
10:14 AM ET

Military resists calls to intervene in Syria

by Larry Shaughnessy

America is working to remove al-Assad's regime in Syria through diplomatic pressure, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday, but he warned against U.S. military intervention.

"For us to act unilaterally would be a mistake," Panetta said in his opening statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Syria. He noted there is no consensus among nations for intervention.

Panetta said military options are being considered, but he asked the senators to “recognize the limitation of military force, especially U.S. boots on the ground."


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Filed under: Assad • Dempsey • McCain • Middle East • Military • Panetta • Senate Armed Services Committee • Syria
Procrastination as a military strategy
March 1st, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Procrastination as a military strategy

By Adam Levine

It's the "meat ax" hanging over the Pentagon, to borrow a colorful phrase from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It's so fearsome it could end America's position as a global power, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So what is the Department of Defense doing about this incredible threat? Hoping it goes away.

As unlikely as it sounds, defense officials insist that aside from trying to convince Congress to stop it, the Pentagon is not planning for a possible $500 billion more in imposed cuts to the defense budget over the next decade that could begin to take effect at the end of the year. That would be on top of the half a billion dollars it is already planning to cut back over the next ten year. FULL POST

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Filed under: Budget • Congress • Defense Spending • Dempsey • Military • Panetta
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