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Posts tagged ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff’

McCain Blasts Hagel for ‘Massive Failure’ of Intel on Ukraine.


Image: McCain Blasts Hagel for 'Massive Failure' of Intel on UkraineSen. John McCain is flanked by Sen. James Inhofe while questioning Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 5.

By Cathy Burke

Sen. John McCain tore into Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday for a “massive failure” of U.S. military intelligence in the days before Russian troops marched into Crimea, reports said.

Defense News reported that in a testy, nearly five-minute exchange during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, McCain and Hagel bickered over whether the Obama administration and European allies were aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin was about to invade the Crimean Peninsula.

The Obama administration had a “total misreading of the intentions of Vladimir Putin,”NBC News reports McCain said.

But Hagel shot back: “I don’t get into the specifics in an open hearing.”

Still, he insisted, “early last week we were well aware of the threats” posed by Russian troops to Ukraine — and that he’d met with NATO officials and Ukrainian defense officials last week to talk about it, NBC News reported.

“This wasn’t sudden or new,” Hagel said.

GOP senators also hammered Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey for a spending plan they charged would hamper the military.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, noted that the $496 billion defense budget represents a funding level equal to that of 2013 and 2014 — and more than $30 billion below the Pentagon’s funding in 2012, Defense News reported.

McCain sarcastically told Hagel “your timing is exquisite” in submitting the bare-bones budget plan “at a time when the world is probably more unsettled than it has been since the end of World War II,” noting tensions in Crimea, the collapse of Syrian peace talks, “China more and more aggressive,” North Korea test-firing missiles, “and the list goes on,” Defense News reported.

McCain also noted that China has just announced a 12.2 percent increase in its military budget, NBC News reported.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe also criticized President Barack Obama for spending $125 billion on his “energy and environment agenda” — money, Inhofe said, that could have been used to buy more than 1,000 F-35s, Defense News reported.

Hagel told the committee he had worked within the limits Congress set in its 2011 Budget Control Act and this year’s bipartisan budget accord.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Special Council Would Oversee Nuclear Command System.


Lawmakers want the Pentagon to create a special council to oversee government leaders‘ communications in the event of a nuclear crisis.

The council to oversee the Pentagon’s existing NC3 system, which controls nuclear weapons command and communications processes, would be included in Congress’ compromise on an annual military authorization bill, reports DefenseOne.com. The council would also be responsible for identifying and mitigating any NC3 technology vulnerabilities.

It would also oversee system-performance assessments, develop system architectures, and ensure the program continues to have the resources it needs to operate, including support for ongoing projects like the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals, which would give senior government and military officials the ability to communicate securely over satellites.

The 2014 defense authorization measure has already been approved in the House, with the Senate expected to begin its own discussions on it Wednesday, reports Politico.

The technology for ongoing projects is expected to take years of continued development, a Senate staffer told DefenseOne, so House and Senate Armed Service Committee members believe the whole process of acquisition and policy should be institutionalized, including establishing a council to manage it all.

Acquisition planning for NC3 advancements now happens on an “ad hoc” basis that changes depending who is in charge, the unnamed aide said.

If the provision is added to the authorization bill, it would elevate the NC3 network inside the Pentagon. The council would be co-chaired by the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

The council would also include the undersecretary of Defense for policy; the head of Strategic Command; the director of the National Security Agency; and the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

US Military May Grant Gay Members Special 10-Day Leave to Marry.


Image: US Military May Grant Gay Members Special 10-Day Leave to Marry

Same-sex spouses of military members could get health care, housing and other benefits by the end of August under a proposal being considered by the Pentagon. But earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married may be reversed.

A draft Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press says the department instead may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can travel to states where they can marry legally.

The memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders, if implemented, would reverse an earlier plan that would have allowed the same-sex partners of military members to sign a declaration form in order to receive limited benefits, such as access to military stores and some health and welfare programs.

The recent Supreme Court decision extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples eliminates the need for such a plan, Hagel said in the draft.

“As the Supreme Court’s ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system,” Hagel wrote.

According to a U.S. official, the memo is under legal review by the Justice Department, and the Pentagon will not be able to take any action until that review is finished.

“Although we have bases and installations in all 50 states, not all state laws are equal when it comes to same-sex marriage,” a defense official said. “That is why we are looking at providing extra leave for same-sex couples who want to get married to travel to a state where same-sex marriages are legal.” The officials were not authorized to discuss the memo publicly, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pentagon officials would not comment on the specifics of the memo. A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said only that the Pentagon “is working alongside the Department of Justice to implement the court’s decision as quickly as possible.”

In February, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that by no later than Oct. 1 the Pentagon would extend some limited benefits to same-sex partners of service members. Housing benefits were not included, but the plans called for same-sex partners to get special identification cards granting them access to commissaries and other services.

The benefits would be contingent on the service member and his or her same-sex partner signing a declaration that they were in a committed relationship.

At the time, officials said that if the Supreme Court ruled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the issue would be revisited. The act prohibited the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.

In late June, the court cleared the way for legally married gay couples to be recognized under federal law and also allowed same-sex marriages in California to resume. It did not issue any sweeping declarations that would allow same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the country.

When the ruling was announced, Hagel said the Pentagon would reassess the department’s decisions on benefits for same-sex couples and also begin the process of extending benefits to same-sex spouses of military members.

In the new draft memo, Hagel says the department intends to treat all married military personnel the same and “make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation.”

But, recognizing that same-sex couples are only allowed to marry in a limited number of states, Hagel said the provision allowing service members to travel to states where the unions are legal is a way to help overcome those challenges.

Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It’s unclear how many of those are married.

The repeal of the ban on openly gay military service took effect in September 2011.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source:  NEWSmax.com

Fmr. Asst. Defense Sec. McFarland: US Can’t Succeed in Syria.


Congress should listen to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, and avoid any involvement in the Syrian civil war, says former Assistant Secretary of Defense K.T. McFarland.

Dempsey has outlined five options, but warned that all of them involve deeper U.S. involvement.

“If that’s not a red flag to somebody, I don’t know what is,” McFarland said Tuesday on Fox Business Network‘s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is “absolutely wrong” in his push to intervene in Syria, she said.

“You have the military saying this is not going to work out well,” McFarland said. “You’ve seen the example of Libya where we did arm the rebels … and at the same time you see what happened to those weapons that we gave those rebels. They turned around and were used against us in Benghazi.”

The cardinal rule in Washington, she noted, is that if you have two enemies fighting each other, do not try to step in and stop them.

There might have been a option two years ago to arm some of the rebels, McFarland said, but there are so many rebel groups now that it is no longer an option, especially since the strongest group is affiliated with al-Qaida.

“There are other rebel groups that are well-meaning and secular and are good guys, but they’re not going to win,” she said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Reports: Retired General Target of Leaks Probe.


Image: Reports: Retired General Target of Leaks Probe

A former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about a covert cyberattack on Iran‘s nuclear facilities, according to media reports.

Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright has been told he is a target of the probe, NBC News and The Washington Post reported Thursday. A “target” is someone a prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence linking to a crime and who is likely to be charged.

The Justice Department referred questions to the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore, where a spokeswoman, Marcia Murphy, declined to comment.

The investigation of the leak about the Iran cyberattack is one of a number of national security leak investigations that have been started by the Obama administration, including ones involving The Associated Press and Fox News.

In June 2012, the New York Times reported that Cartwright was a crucial player in the cyber operation called Olympic Games, started under President George W. Bush.

Bush reportedly advised President Barack Obama to preserve Olympic Games.

According to the Times, Obama ordered the cyberattacks sped up, and in 2010 an attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe into who leaked the information, and Obama said he had zero tolerance for such leaks. Republicans said senior administration officials had leaked the details to bolster the president’s national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.

The Times said Cartwright was one of the crucial players who had to break the news to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that Stuxnet at one point had escaped onto the Internet.

An element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it out on the Internet, the Times reported. After the worm escaped onto the Internet, top administration officials met to consider whether the program had been fatally compromised.

Obama asked if the program should continue, and after hearing the advice of top advisers, decided to proceed.

Cartwright, a four-star general, was cleared in February 2011 of misconduct involving a young aide. An anonymous accuser had claimed Cartwright acted inappropriately during a 2009 overseas trip on which the aide traveled as a military assistant. Several sources confirmed that the former aide was a young woman.

The Pentagon inspector general quickly cleared Cartwright of the most serious allegations, which involved claims that he may have had an improper physical relationship with the woman. The report did find that Cartwright mishandled an incident in which the aide, drunk and visibly upset, visited his Tbilisi, Georgia, hotel room alone and either passed out or fell asleep on a bench at the foot of his bed. Cartwright denied any impropriety and was later cleared of all wrongdoing.

Cartwright, once considered the leading candidate to become Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, resigned from the military in August 2011.

NBC said Cartwright did not respond to request for comment and that his attorney, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, said he had no comment.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Pentagon Moves to Give Benefits to Gay Spouses.


The spouses of homosexuals in the military will be among those receiving federal benefits, including being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon said Wednesday just hours after sections of the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned.

“We will move very swiftly, expeditiously, on implementing the law,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The Pentagon is still reviewing information to determine how much it will cost the Defense Department to include medical, dental, and housing benefits for same-sex partners, reports U.S. News and World Report.

Even though the Defense Department has been slammed by sequestration and forced to make deep budget cuts, including shutting down combat brigades, Hagel said the department “has a responsibility to carry out the law of the land — the decision the Supreme Court gave today — from this place.”

Hagel, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska, said the Pentagon welcomes the court’s decision, and “intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible.”

The benefits will be available to all members of the military, regardless of whether the state where they are stationed allows gay marriages, according to The Washington Times.

Some benefits had already been available for same-sex spouses since 2010, after President Barack Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill that prohibited homosexuals from serving openly in the military, reports Time Magazine.

After the repeal, service members could designate gay spouses as beneficiaries for life insurance, as the primary person to be contacted in the event of casualty, and be designated to receive the U.S. flag at a military funeral.

But since the court’s DOMA ruling, benefits for same-sex couples will extend rapidly. The most costly changes will involve housing and medical care, Time reports. Medical care, which is virtually free, will be extended to same-sex spouses, who before had to seek medical coverage elsewhere.

In addition, the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing will now allow same-sex couples to apply for married housing on base or to receive a housing allowance for living off base.

Same-sex married couples will also be eligible for family separation pay, receiving $250 a month during deployments and temporary duties.

The military will start enacting the changes by updating identification cards for military members and their spouses, said U.S. News, which could take between six and 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military is often construed as being resistant to policy shifts, but “we actually have done what I think is a very credible job of ensuring as much equality as we are able to provide. We will do that when we can for [gay service members and their spouses] within the limits of the law.”

He said the Joint Chiefs have made it very clear “that we will follow the law of the land.”

“The law of the land has changed, so we will assess as quickly as possible what that means,” he said.

Some veterans groups expressed their enthusiasm for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Today’s decision is in fact a victory for the strength of our armed forces,” said Derek Bennet, chief of staff for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “Support for military families is one of the most critical elements of a strong and healthy fighting force.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Hagel Plan Allows Women Into Navy SEALs.


Image: Hagel Plan Allows Women Into Navy SEALs

Female soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division train on a firing range at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Military leaders are ready to begin tearing down the remaining walls that have prevented women from holding thousands of combat and special operations jobs near the front lines.

Under details of the plans obtained by The Associated Press, women could start training as Army Rangers by mid-2015 and as Navy SEALs a year later.

The military services have mapped out a schedule that also will include reviewing and possibly changing the physical and mental standards that men and women will have to meet in order to qualify for certain infantry, armor, commando and other front-line positions across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Under the plans to be introduced Tuesday, there would be one common standard for men and women for each job.

Urgent: Should Women Be in Combat? Vote Here 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reviewed the plans and has ordered the services to move ahead.

The move follows revelations of a startling number of sexual assaults in the armed forces. Earlier this year, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said the sexual assaults might be linked to the longstanding ban on women serving in combat because the disparity between the roles of men and women creates separate classes of personnel — male “warriors” versus the rest of the force.

While the sexual assault problem is more complicated than that, he said, the disparity has created a psychology that lends itself to disrespect for women.

Under the schedules military leaders delivered to Hagel, the Army will develop standards by July 2015 to allow women to train and potentially serve as Rangers, and qualified women could begin training as Navy SEALs by March 2016 if senior leaders agree. Military leaders have suggested bringing senior women from the officer and enlisted ranks into special forces units first to ensure that younger, lower-ranking women have a support system to help them get through the transition.

The Navy intends to open up its Riverine force and begin training women next month, with the goal of assigning women to the units by October. While not part of the special operations forces, the coastal Riverine squadrons do close combat and security operations in small boats. The Navy plans to have studies finished by July 2014 on allowing women to serve as SEALs, and has set October 2015 as the date when women could begin Navy boot camp with the expressed intention of becoming SEALs eventually.

U.S. Special Operations Command is coordinating the matter of what commando jobs could be opened to women, what exceptions might be requested and when the transition would take place.

The proposals leave the door open for continued exclusion of women from some jobs if research and testing find that women could not be successful in sufficient numbers. But the services would have to defend such decisions to top Pentagon leaders.

Army officials plan to complete gender-neutral standards for the Ranger course by July 2015. Army Rangers are one of the service’s special operations units, but many soldiers who go through Ranger training and wear the coveted tab on their shoulders never actually serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. To be considered a true Ranger, soldiers must serve in the regiment.

In January, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Dempsey signed an order that wiped away generations of limits on where and how women could fight for their country. At the time, they asked the services to develop plans to set the change in motion.

The decision reflects a reality driven home by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where battle lines were blurred and women were propelled into jobs as medics, military police and intelligence officers who were sometimes attached, but not formally assigned, to battalions. So even though a woman could not serve officially as a battalion infantryman going out on patrol, she could fly a helicopter supporting the unit or be part of a team supplying medical aid if troops were injured.

Of the more than 6,700 U.S. service members who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 150 have been women.

The order Panetta and Dempsey signed prohibits physical standards from being lowered simply to allow women to qualify for jobs closer to the battlefront. But the services are methodically reviewing and revising the standards for many jobs, including strength and stamina, in order to set minimum requirements for troops to meet regardless of their sex.

The military services are also working to determine the cost of opening certain jobs to women, particularly aboard a variety of Navy ships, including certain submarines, frigates, mine warfare and other smaller warships. Dozens of ships do not have adequate berthing or facilities for women to meet privacy needs, and would require design and construction changes.

Under a 1994 Pentagon policy, women were prohibited from being assigned to ground combat units below the brigade level. A brigade is roughly 3,500 troops split into several battalions of about 800 soldiers each. Historically, brigades were based further from the front lines, and they often included top command and support staff.

Urgent: Should Women Be in Combat? Vote Here 

Last year the military opened up about 14,500 combat positions to women, most of them in the Army, by allowing them to serve in many jobs at the battalion level. The January order lifted the last barrier to women serving in combat, but allows the services to argue to keep some jobs closed.

The bulk of the nearly 240,000 jobs currently closed to women are in the Army, including those in infantry, armor, combat engineer and artillery units that are often close to the battlefront. Similar jobs in the Marine Corps are also closed.

Army officials have laid out a rolling schedule of dates in 2015 to develop gender-neutral standards for specific jobs, beginning with July for engineers, followed by field artillery in March and the infantry and armor jobs no later than September.

Women make up about 14 percent of the 1.4 million active U.S. military personnel. More than 280,000 women have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan or neighboring nations in support of the wars.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

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