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Entries in Pentagon (24)

Tuesday
Sep272011

US Military Leaving Much of Its Hardware in Iraq

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is intent on removing most of its soldiers from Iraq in the coming months.  But much of the equipment that has been sent there over the years is staying put.

Rather than box and ship everything back to the States, the military has decided instead to give much of its small and large weaponry to the Iraqi army and police.

During the past year alone, the Pentagon estimates it has allowed the Iraqi to keep in the neighborhood of 2.5 million pieces of equipment with a price tag of about $250 million.

Much of the stuff is office supplies from the bases set up in the country, including much-needed air conditioners.

However, the Iraqis are also getting Army tanks in the deal, which will come in handy in their battle with al Qaeda and various militia groups.

Describing the massive giveaway, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton explains, "It's all sunk costs.  It's money that we spent and we're not going to recoup."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

US Believes Haqqani Network Responsible for Wardak Attack

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Pentagon officials said Monday they suspect that the Haqqani Network was behind this weekend's bomb attack on a combat outpost in Wardak, Afghanistan, that wounded 77 U.S. personnel with non-life-threatening injuries.
 
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Monday, "This was of course a deplorable attack against the combat outpost in Wardak and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms and we believe the perpetrators of the attack were from the Haqqani Network.  And again this is totally unacceptable behavior and we call on these kinds of attacks to cease."
 
Little said he wasn't going to get into how the U.S. has made that determination, but said, "Suffice it to say we have strong confidence. There is a very strong likelihood that top Haqqani leadership supported and were aware of the attack.”
 
Joint Chiefs of Staff Spokesman Captain John Kirby added, “This was not one guy with a suicide vest.  This was a large, large vehicle with a large amount of explosive material and you don’t conduct that kind of attack without good resourcing good planning and a fair level of coordination. "

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Pentagon Releases Annual Assessment of China's Military

Shown in this photo is China's first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet carrier Varyag which China bought from Ukraine in 1998, at the port of Dalian, in northeast China's Liaoning province. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has released its annual assessment of China’s military capabilities, which guarantees, as it does every year, a negative reaction from China.  
 
Briefing the report Wednesday was Mike Schiffer, a deputy asst. secretary of defense for East Asia, who said China’s continued pursuit of new military capabilities “are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances.”  Schiffer added that it also increases “the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties. Such capabilities could increase Beijing's options for using military force to gain diplomatic advantage, advance its interests or resolve military disputes -- resolve disputes in its favor.”
 
Schiffer said China is on track to achieving its goal of building “a modern, regionally focused military by 2020. However, China's ability to sustain military power at a distance today remains limited.”  In March of this year China announced a 12.7-percent increase in its military budget, continuing the trend of the past two decades.  Though China has made some progress in the transparency of its military intentions, Schiffer said “a number of uncertainties” remain and “we will continue and we do continue to encourage China to improve transparency and openness.”  
 
Schiffer said that despite major engagement on the political and economic front with Taiwan, China’s military still continues to focus its military developments on Taiwan.  “Despite this political warming, China's military shows no signs of slowing its effort to prepare for a cross-strait contingency,” said Schiffer.  Given America’s defense commitment to Taiwan, that focus remains a U.S. concern.
 
As China’s neighbors in Southeast Asia know too well, Schiffer said, “in addition to planning for Taiwan contingencies, China places a high priority on asserting and strengthening its maritime territorial claims.” 

Six months ago China rolled out its new J-20 stealth fighter, and just last week conducted sea trials for its new aircraft carrier.  But Schiffer said any concerns about China’s military progress aren’t centered on any particularly military platform, but instead on China’s overall military development.  
 
Schiffer wouldn’t address concerns about China’s cyber plans, but the report notes there were many cyber intrusions around the world designed to gather information that appears to have originated in China.  The report doesn’t attribute these attacks to China’s military, but cites several Chinese military documents as laying the importance of information gathering.    
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

US Military Intervention in Libya Cost at Least $896 Million

AFPI/US AIR FORCE/US AIR FORCE/kb/jim/jim, mc(WASHINGTON) -- The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said Monday.
 
The price tag includes the amounts for daily military operations, munitions used in the operation and humanitarian assistance for the Libyan people.  
 
The U.S. has also promised $25 million in non-lethal aid to the Libyan Transitional National Council, half of which the Defense Department has already on MRE’s (military lingo for Meals, Ready to Eat).   
 
The military delivered 120,000 Halal MRE’s to Benghazi in May and a second shipment that included medical supplies, boots, tents, uniforms, and personal protective gear in June.
 
While Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appears on the way out, NATO says flight missions over Tripoli will continue, with the U.S. playing a role in helping to keep a tight window over the Tripoli area that’s been in effect for weeks.
 
Over the past 12 days, U.S. planes have flown 391 sorties for a total of 5,316 since April 1.  That total includes 1,210 airstrike missions over the same three-and-a-half-month period. The U.S. has also conducted 101 Predator drone strike missions in Libya.
 
A U.S. official credited NATO flight cover over the past many months with allowing the Libyan rebels enough time to eventually regroup and begin their pushes.   
 
One significant offset to the cost of U.S. involvement in the flights, however, has been the sale of military equipment to allies also involved in the cause.  Pentagon officials say the sale of ammunition, replacement parts, fuel, and technical assistance to allies since March has totaled $221.9 million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

US, Iraq to Discuss Leaving US Troops Past Withdrawal Deadline

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There will likely be some U.S. forces left behind in Iraq after the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline to have the remaining 47,000 troops out of country.

Concerned that the Iraqi Army and police aren't still fully prepared to deal with al Qaeda and insurgent fighters, the Pentagon has strongly recommended keeping a contingent of American troops in Iraq to train national forces.

On Wednesday, Baghdad officials agreed to enter into negotiations with the U.S. about doing just that.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that virtually all political leaders are on board with an American training mission with the exception of those loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who wants all U.S. soldiers out of Iraq by December, if not sooner, and has threatened violence if it doesn't happen.

No exact numbers of U.S. troops who might be left behind have been made public, nor data on how long they'd remain in Iraq on the training mission.

At the height of the war between 2005 and 2007, there were as many as 2,000 reported deaths per month in Iraq.  That figure has since been reduced to an average of about 200.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr292011

Afghan Progress Report Optimistic, But Expect Higher Violence

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon’s latest semi-annual assessment of security progress is the most optimistic yet, citing a halt to the Taliban’s momentum and “tangible progress.”  Yet, the successes are being deemed “fragile and reversible” partly due to increasing violence levels this year that are expected to go higher as the Taliban wages a tough fight to counter NATO’s territorial and security gains in southern Afghanistan.

The congressionally mandated “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” is available on the Defense Department’s website.

“Since the last report...ISAF and its Afghan partners have made tangible progress, arresting the insurgents’ momentum in much of the country and reversing it in a number of important areas. The coalition’s efforts have wrested major safe havens from the insurgents’ control, disrupted their leadership networks, and removed many of the weapons caches and tactical supplies they left behind at the end of the previous fighting season.”

A senior Defense official who briefed reporters on the report said the Taliban had suffered a “strategic setback” in the south and southwestern parts of the country and that violence levels will continue to rise as they try to retake these areas. He noted that the violence has also increased because of the additional NATO and Afghan troops fighting the Taliban and that much of the violence is taking place outside of key population areas which are seeing better security.

The biggest long-term challenges that remain are the ongoing lack of specialized trainers, as well political and governance development continuing to lag behind the security progress.  The official says building Afghan Security Forces into a light infantry is fairly easy compared with trying to train the local forces that must maintain them. 

It wasn’t just the U.S. surge of 30,000 extra troops that has helped stop the Taliban momentum, but the surge of additional NATO troops, civilians and the significant growth in numbers and quality of the Afghan security forces.

The official said the goal in Afghanistan is to build up the Afghan security force’s capabilities so they can maintain the fight against the Taliban on their own.  He called it the most important thing in the report “the growing capacity of the Afghan security forces.”  To that end, 95 percent of all Afghan army units and 89 percent of Afghan police units are partnered with ISAF troops, and 95 percent of al ISAF operations are partnered with the Afghans.  The official recalled that a year ago reporters were asking where the Afghan troops in Kandahar and Marjah were, he said their numbers have increased as seen in Kandahar where they make up 60 percent of all forces.

The attrition of Afghan forces remains a major problem, but a major incentive in retention has been the training command’s major push for literacy with the Afghan Army, more than 63,000 have undergone literacy training the majority having received first grade equivalency.

The report says the insurgents' momentum has arrested the Taliban momentum in Afghanistan and removed safe havens in the south and southwest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr232011

Military Officials Confirm First Predator Strike in Libya

U.S. State Department(WASHINGTON) -- Military officials at the Pentagon have confirmed that the first strike by an unmanned Predator drone was launched in Libya on Saturday.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Darryn James said in a statement that the first Predator strike occurred early Saturday afternoon Libya time. Officials said per common practice, no additional details would be provided about the strike.

On Thursday President Obama gave approval for two armed American Predator drones to operate over Libya, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The U.S. has flown armed drones in Libya for the past several weeks, but they have been used only for surveillance. They will now be used to strike Gadhafi's forces as part of the civilian protection mission.

British, French and Italian forces have already agreed to step up their efforts to aid the rebels.

The use of drones is significant, too, because it marks the United States' return to using force for civilian protection mission for the first time since shortly after the U.S. handed full authority of the mission over to NATO last month. Bombing drops by U.S. planes that have taken place since then were only to take out Gadhafi's air defenses for the separate no-fly zone enforcement mission.

American forces are helping to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, aiding rebel forces struggling against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

Libya Price Tag for US: $550 Million and Counting

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman/Released(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The intervention in Libya has cost the United States $550 million through Monday, and, going forward, it will cost an estimated $40 million a month as the United States reduces its role, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

The expense will likely come out of the Defense budget, Gates said, but there may be need for a supplemental budget, given U.S. military and humanitarian commitments in Japan.

The number is slightly lower than the $600 million figure provided by the Pentagon earlier this week.

Obama administration officials Thursday continued to tout coalition efforts and the need for intervention, saying they have successfully degraded Col. Moammar Gadhafi's defense capabilities but not to the point where he can be broken.

With millions of dollars being poured into the conflict, members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle have grown increasingly agitated about the mission and endgame in Libya, which has cost the United States millions of dollars.

NATO has taken over the day-to-day operations, and the United States will continue to provide some capabilities, such as "electronic attack, aerial refueling, lift, search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support," Gates said.

But the endgame is unclear, and rebels in Libya seem to be losing the momentum they have gained over the past week. Opposition forces have expressed frustration at the lack of airstrikes in cities where Gadhafi's forces quickly outnumber opposition forces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar152011

Pentagon Authorizes Voluntary Departure of Military Dependents in Bahrain

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The deteriorating security situation in Bahrain has led the Pentagon to authorize the voluntary departure of military dependents and non-Department of Defense (DOD) civilians based at the U.S. Naval base in Bahrain. The base is the home of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which conducts operations in the Middle East.

Bahrain’s king imposed martial law Tuesday after deadly clashes between government forces and Shiite protesters seeking reforms from the Sunni monarchy.  Two protesters were killed in Tuesday’s violence and there are reports of as many as 200 needing medical treatment.

The departure of military dependents is voluntary, which means they will decide whether they want to leave Bahrain or not. If a military plane is headed back to the United States, it could conceivably be used to bring back the family members, but no specific military aircraft will be sent to Bahrain for their departures.  Instead, those wishing to leave Bahrain can get reimbursed for buying airline tickets back to the U.S.

Sixty-one hundred Americans work at the base in Bahrain -- 4,200 of them are military and non-DOD civilians.  The authorization would apply to the approximately 700 military dependents living in Bahrain and an undetermined number of non-DOD civilians.

A statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet said the voluntary departure was in line with a similar announcement earlier in the day from the State Department authorizing the voluntary departure of non-essential U.S. Embassy staff and dependents.

According to the statement, “The welfare of our personnel and their families is of the utmost importance.  This Authorized Departure is being ordered to allow family members who have concerns about their safety to depart without incurring an undue burden.  We remain committed to our long-standing partnership with Bahrain.”

There was a mandatory departure of 900 military dependents in 2004 because of terrorism threats.  Military dependents were only allowed to return to live in Bahrain just a few years ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Feb032011

The Pentagon View of Egypt: What the Uprising Means for the US Military

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- From the fighter jets that have flown low and loud over protesters, to tanks, to tear gas canisters clearly marked "Made in the USA" -- the extent of U.S. military support for Egypt has been on display throughout the anti-government protests.

Partly for that reason, the Defense Department has been keeping a close eye on developments in Egypt. From Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has kept in close contact with his Egyptian counterpart, to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, the crisis there has been of major concern.

Sen. John McCain said on Good Morning America Thursday that the aid should be cut off if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak does not step aside. A Pentagon spokesman Thursday referred questions to the White House about whether the administration is reviewing aid packages to Egypt. Later, an official seemed to indicate that if such a review is underway, it's not occurring at the Pentagon.

The U.S. and Egyptian military have had a close relationship for decades. Egyptian military officials were at the Pentagon when the protests began, and were recalled to Cairo.

The Egyptian military, one of the most respected institutions in the country, has helped the U.S., as well. It sent tanks into Iraq in 1991 after that country invaded Kuwait. And it allows U.S. warships to pass through the Suez Canal, significantly shortening the trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The greatest benefit to the United States may be the Egyptian military's level of training. The discipline and restraint that the Egyptian military thus far has shown has stopped the Egyptian crisis from becoming even more of a bloody mess.

Analysts now wonder if Egyptian forces will step in not to stop the protesters but the pro-Mubarak forces. Looking ahead, the military likely would play a key role in any transition of power -- helping any caretaker government keep the peace before elections can be scheduled.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the Egyptian military's been acting professionally so far.

Lapan said the intimidation of reporters definitely is being noted throughout the government, including the Pentagon. "There is awareness at the highest levels here and over at the White House and the State Department," he said. "It is an issue that is being discussed here and there and over at the State Department and the White House. Everyone is aware of the issue."

"At this point, I don't know that we know the exact role of the Egyptian military in this situation with journalists," he added. "We're gathering the facts of what's happening over there."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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