The Baltimore Sun, By Ian Duncan, April 23
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter will lay out the military’s new strategy for fighting battles over computer networks Thursday, today, officials said, revealing what analysts say appears be a tougher, more offensive approach to cyber warfare.
It’s the first major update to the Pentagon’s cyber strategy in four years, a period during which American businesses have suffered major attacks, including the assault late last year on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The document, to be unveiled as Carter delivers a speech at Stanford University, includes descriptions of ways the military can use computers in all stages of a conflict, according to a summary provided by defense officials Wednesday — a sign that the department is opening up about its offensive capabilities.
Arrival of 300 US Army soldiers to train Ukraine’s national guard sparks warnings by Russia of escalation in conflict.
Al Jazeera, April 18
About 300 US Army paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine for training exercises with national guard units – a move that Moscow and eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatist rebels have warned will escalate the conflict.
The troops, from the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, are to spend six months training a total of about 900 Ukrainian national guardsmen.
Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, denounced the guardsmen as “ultranationalists … who stained themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during their punitive operations”.
Although Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had said the guardsman units could include the Azov Battalion, a far-right formation notorious for using an insignia used by many military units in Nazi Germany, US Embassy spokesman James Hallock said Azov fighters would not be among those trained.
The Nation, By William Greider, March 20
While the Washington press corps obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails at the State Department, reporters were missing a far more important story about government secrets. After five decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs, as well as awesome weapons technology similar to America’s.
Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes. DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy. Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the long-standing reality.
It’s not exactly news. Policy elites and every president from LBJ to Obama have known that Israel has the bomb. But American authorities have cooperated in the secrecy and prohibited federal employees from sharing the truth with the people. When the White House reporter Helen Thomas asked the question of Barack Obama back in 2009, the president ducked. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said. That was an awkward fib. Obama certainly knows better, and so do nearly two-thirds of the American people, according to opinion polls.
The last remaining US troops have left Yemen as Sunni and Shia forces wage an increasingly lethal battle.
The Telegraph, By Harriet Alexander, March 21
America withdrew its remaining 100 special forces troops from Yemen on Saturday, in a sign of the rapid unravelling of the country – which on Friday was hit by one of its worst ever terrorist attacks.
The US soldiers left their base near Al-Houta, after al-Qaeda seized the city.
The US commandos, including Green Berets and Navy Seals, have been training Yemeni military forces in counterterrorism operations, but the Americans have not been involved in direct ground combat maneuvers against militants.
Sources told NBC News that the US Special Operations Forces have been based in remote areas of Yemen and considered relatively secure from enemy threats. But one source said that with this week’s deadly surge in sectarian violence, evacuating American commandos makes sense.
Vice News, By Jason Leopold, March 19
Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific information” on “many key aspects” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
But that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.
RT, March 15
The White House has dropped plans to slash the number of US soldiers in Afghanistan to 5,500 this year, AP reported. Official sources claim the withdrawal is likely to be much slower and have 9,800 US troops remain in Afghanistan well into 2016.
The report, citing unnamed officials, states that no final decision has been made, but discussions are ongoing about keeping US troops in Afghanistan or nearby even after 2016.
It is believed that US President Barack Obama will use Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit later this month as an opportunity to announce a new withdrawal deadline. In the past, Ghani made clear he wanted the pace of US withdrawal to be slower.
US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC said the US would deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard.
Sputnik News, March 3
Washington – The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday.
“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” Foster stated. “What we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.”
The training will take place at the level of US and Ukrainian national guard companies, Foster explained, adding that “we have nothing above battalion staff level” engaged in the military training.
The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission.
Reuters, By David Alexander & Andrea Shalal, February 2
Facing new security challenges in the Middle East and Ukraine, the Obama administration on Monday proposed a $534 billion Pentagon base budget plus $51 billion in war funds as it urged Congress to end spending cuts which it says erode U.S. military power.
In addition to the base budget and war funding requests, the administration proposed some $27 billion in defense spending at other agencies, primarily nuclear weapons work by the Department of Energy.
The Pentagon base budget proposal broke through the $499 billion federal spending cap for fiscal year 2016, setting up a debate in Congress over whether to continue deep cuts to federal discretionary spending or to amend the limits set in a 2011 law that sought to narrow the U.S. budget deficit.
“The geopolitical events of the past year only reinforce the need to resource DoD (Department of Defense) at the president’s requested funding level as opposed to current law,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
AFP: U.S. commander lifts secrecy on aid to Afghan army
Mashable, By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, December 13, 2013
If you look closely enough on Google or Bing Maps, some places are blanked out, hidden from public view. Many of those places disguise secret or sensitive American military facilities.
The United States military has a foothold in every corner of the world, with military bases on every continent. It’s not even clear how many there are out there. The Pentagon says there are around 5,000 in total, and 598 in foreign countries, but those numbers are disputed by the media.
But how do these facilities look from above? To answer that question, you first need to locate the bases. Which, as it turns out, is relatively easy.
That’s what Josh Begley, a data artist, found out when he embarked on a project to map all known U.S. military bases around the world, collect satellite pictures of them using Google Maps and Bing Maps, and display them all online.
Reuters, By Doina Chiacu, January 22
Washington – U.S.-led forces attacked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets with 21 air strikes in Iraq and 10 in Syria since Wednesday, the American military said.
- In total 17 bombs were dropped on Syria and another 12 on Iraq targets.
- Raids destroyed vehicles, buildings and units belonging to Islamic State.
- Onslaught brings number of strikes since Christmas to more than 100.
Daily Mail, By Chris Pleasance, January 1
U.S. and Arab war planes launched 29 air strikes against Islamic State fighters and buildings across both Iraq and Syria overnight, according to military chiefs.
Syrian targets included he Islamic State’s defacto capital of Raqqa, and Kobane where Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG forces have been involved in street battles with extremists for months.
The city of Dayr az Zawr, which contains 600,000 people and is the largest in Syria’s east was also among the cities hit.
In Iraq targets were hit around the town of Mosul, which contains an important dam, Fallujah, which is located just to the east of Baghdad, and Sinjar, which thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee after ISIS fighters took the town earlier this year.
The latest round of bombings against ISIS targets in the Middle east takes the number of strikes since Christmas above 100, as the U.S.-led coalition attempts to weaken the radical group.
The news came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the death toll from the four-year civil war topped 76,000 in the last year alone.
An estimated 17,790 were civilians, including 3,501 children, making it the deadliest year of the war.
Pentagon says Washington has carried out an air strike against a senior leader of armed group in Saacow in Somalia.
Al Jazeera, December 30
The United States has launched an air strike targeting a senior leader of Somalia’s al-Shabab group, the Pentagon has said.
Military spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the raid on Monday hit a target in Saacow, in sourthern Somalia, shortly after the armed group’s intelligence chief surrendered to government and African Union forces.
“At this time, we do not assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties,” Kirby said.
A senior Pentagon official confirmed that the US was targeting Abdishakur Tahlil. US officials identified Tahlil as the chief of intelligence for the al-Shabaab.
BBC: US strike in Somalia ‘killed al-Shabab intelligence chief’
BBC: Who are Somalia’s al-Shabab?
AP, December 28
Kabul, Afghanistan – The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The symbolic ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, which will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, most of them American, starting Jan. 1.
Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, rolled up and sheathed the green and white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.
“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.
CNN, By Gabe LaMonica, December 12
A recently released CIA cable casts heavy doubt on a key claim used by the Bush administration to justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
It discounts intelligence that said Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 ringleaders, met with an Iraqi official in the Czech Republic a few months before the attacks.
The Bush administration — which maintained that Atta had met with Iraqi agent Ahmad al-Anian in Prague in April 2001 — had used the report to link the September 11 attacks to Iraq.
CIA Director John Brennan included a portion of the cable in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. Levin, the retiring chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the letter public on Thursday.
Hundreds of British troops will be sent to Iraq in the New Year, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
BBC, December 13
The deployment – to help train local forces – will be in the “very low hundreds” but could also include a small protection force of combat-ready soldiers, he said.
About 50 UK troops are already training Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence said the move had not yet been formally approved.
An MoD spokesman said: “No decisions on troop numbers, units or locations have yet been made”.
However, speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Fallon said the fresh troop deployment would be made in January and would be to four training centres that US forces are establishing.