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U.S. comes to agreement with Japan to move 9,000 Marines off Okinawa

Washington Post
By Greg Jaffe and Emily Heil
April 27, 2012

The U.S. and Japanese governments said Thursday that they will move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, in a bid to remove a persistent irritant in the relationship between the two allies.

The Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa has been seen by both sides as essential to deterring Chinese military aggression in the region. But the noisy air base’s location in a crowded urban area has long angered Okinawa residents, and some viewed the Marines as rowdy and potentially violent.

“I am very pleased that, after many years, we have reached this important agreement and plan of action,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement.

Still unresolved is the issue of establishing a replacement for Futenma. The failure to find a suitable spot for a new air base had held up a previous effort to relocate the Marines to Guam, but the current agreement removes that barrier. U.S. Marines would leave Futenma as soon as suitable facilities on Guam and elsewhere are ready. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-comes-to-agreement-with-japan-to-move-9000-marines-off-okinawa/2012/04/26/gIQA1seKkT_story.html

Panetta: ‘We’re within an inch of war almost every day’

April 19, 2012

The United States is prepared for “any contingency” when it comes to dealing with North Korea, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CNN.

“We’re within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do,” Panetta said Wednesday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” …

: http://articles.cnn.com/2012-04-19/politics/politics_pol-clinton-panetta-interview_1_long-range-rocket-north-korea-kim-jong?_s=PM:POLITICS

Iran says it recovered data from captured US drone

Associated Press
By Ali Akbar Dareini
April 22, 2012

Iran claimed Sunday that it had recovered data from an American spy drone that went down in Iran last year, including information that the aircraft was used to spy on Osama bin Laden weeks before he was killed. Iran also said it was building a copy of the drone.

Similar unmanned surveillance planes have been used in Afghanistan for years and kept watch on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. But U.S. officials have said little about the history of the particular aircraft now in Iran’s possession.

Tehran, which has also been known to exaggerate its military and technological prowess, says it brought down the RQ-170 Sentinel, a top-secret drone equipped with stealth technology, and has flaunted the capture as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States.

The U.S. says the drone malfunctioned and downplayed any suggestion that Iran could mine the aircraft for sensitive information because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.

The drone went down in December in eastern Iran and was recovered by Iran almost completely intact. After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed the plane was monitoring Iran’s military and nuclear facilities.

Washington has asked for it back, a request Iran rejected. …

Read on: www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i2PaL8ibPt7lHkzlpohGiN4hQ6DQ?docId=715e9cb213244e4eb3b0f889980d9d72

Iran military says copying U.S. drone

By Marcus George
April 22, 2012

Iran’s military has started to build a copy of a U.S. surveillance drone captured last year after breaking the software encryption, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, said engineers were in the final stages of decoding data from the Sentinel aircraft, which came down in December near the Afghan border, Mehr news agency reported.

Iran said the unmanned aircraft was shot down, but Washington disputes that and says the security systems mean Iran is unlikely to get valuable information from the Lockheed Martin Corp drone.

“The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane,” Fars news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying. “Our experts have full understanding of its components and program.”

Iran’s military regular announces defense and engineering developments, but some analysts are skeptical as to how reliable those reports are.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, voiced his own doubts.

“There’s a history here of Iranian bluster, particularly now when they’re on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them,” Lieberman said in a television interview. …

Read on: www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/22/us-iran-military-drone-idUSBRE83L02I20120422

Report reveals increased drug use among US soldiers in Afghanistan

Global Post
April 22, 2012

Eight American soldiers died of drug overdoses while the US Army has investigated 56 soldiers on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during deployments in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, military statistics reveal.

Meanwhile, heroin use is on the rise in the Army overall, CNN reported, with the number of soldiers testing positive for heroin growing from 10 instances in 2002 to 116 in 2010.

Meanwhile, some Afghan forces that are being trained by the US military to take over the mission by 2014 have been found dealing drugs to American soldiers, according to Judicial Watch, a conservative US watchdog group.

According to Fox News, a December 2011 report from Army Criminal Investigation Command showed that at one forward operation base, hash, pot and heroin were purchased “from various Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel.”

Read on: www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120422/american-soldiers-drug-overdoses-us-army-heroi

Leon Panetta: US military planning for greater role in Syria conflict

The Christian Science Monitor
By Anna Mulrine
April 19, 2012

US military officials are crafting possible new strategies to ‘protect the Syrian people’ from the Assad regime, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday on Capitol Hill. NATO’s Libya intervention may be a model.

The Pentagon is “reviewing and planning for a range of additional measures that may be necessary to protect the Syrian people,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday, with top US military planners using the recent US intervention in Libya as a potential template for action.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Panetta said the violence in Syria has been “brutal and devastating,” putting the Syrian people “in a desperate” situation.

Iran is helping to prop up Syrian strongmen, Panetta contended, supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “with material, financial, and technical assistance.” That’s because “no other country stands to lose more than Iran from the eventual fall of the Assad regime,” he added.

For now, the US is in the process of sending “nonlethal” aid, including communications and medical equipment, to the civilian-led opposition in Syria. The Pentagon is also providing humanitarian relief to the tune of $25 million.

These measures are putting pressure on the Assad regime, Panetta argued. He acknowledged, however, that more may need to be done.

“There are legitimate questions” about what steps are needed to bring an end to the Assad regime, he said, “with some arguing for an approach similar to the one we took in Libya.” …

Read on: www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/0419/Leon-Panetta-US-military-planning-for-greater-role-in-Syria-conflict

Israeli TV report shows air force gearing up for Iran attack, says moment of truth is near

Times of Israel
By Greg Tepper
April 15, 2012

‘IAF expects losses, and knows it can’t destroy entire Iranian program’

A major Israel TV station on Sunday night broadcast a detailed report on how Israel will go about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in the event that diplomacy and sanctions fail and Israel decides to carry out a military strike.

The report, screened on the main evening news of Channel 10, was remarkable both in terms of the access granted to the reporter, who said he had spent weeks with the pilots and other personnel he interviewed, and in the fact that his assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor.

No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May, the reporter, Alon Ben-David, said. “But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense.”

In the event that negotiations fail and the order is given for Israel to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, “dozens if not more planes” will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid-air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters, the report said. …

Read on: www.timesofisrael.com/iaf-plans-for-iran-attack/

The U.S. Military Is Offering $2 Million To Anyone Who Can Build A Robot Soldier

Business Insider
By Julie Bort
April 11, 2012

The U.S. military has $34 million in prize money and it wants to see a robot fight.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued an all-call to anyone who can build a human-like robot capable of doing the kinds of things soldiers would do in dangerous conditions.

It’s called the DARPA Robotics Challenge and the winner will get a $2 million cash prize. DARPA also plans to award multiple $1 million prizes to other teams that do well.

To get the money, contestants will basically have to build the kind of thing only seen in sci-fi movies.

DARPA is looking for a robot that can do difficult tasks in combat conditions like use human hand tools, drive a car, climb a ladder, walk over rubble, locate and close a valve near a leaking pipe. …

Read on: www.businessinsider.com/us-military-offering-2-million-to-anyone-who-can-build-a-robot-soldier-2012-4

Cutting-edge Navy warship to be based in Pacific

Star Advertiser
By David Sharp
Associated Press
April 11, 2012

BATH, Maine: An enormous, expensive and technology-laden warship that some Navy leaders once tried to kill because of its cost is now viewed as an important part of the Obama administration’s Asia-Pacific strategy, with advanced capabilities that the Navy’s top officer says represent the Navy’s future.

The stealthy, guided-missile Zumwalt that’s taking shape at Bath Iron Works is the biggest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy.

The low-to-the-water warship will feature a wave-piercing hull, composite deckhouse, electric drive propulsion, advanced sonar, missiles, and powerful guns that fire rocket-propelled warheads as far as 100 miles. It’s also longer and heavier than existing destroyers — but will have half the crew because of automated systems.

“With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability and lower manning requirements — this is our future,” concluded Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, who gave the warship his endorsement on a visit last week to Bath Iron Works, where the ships are being built.

It wasn’t always this way.

The General Accounting Office expressed concerns that the Navy was trying to incorporate too much new technology. Some Navy officials pointed out that it’s less capable than existing destroyers when it comes to missile defense, and a defense analyst warned that it would be vulnerable while operating close to shore for fire support.

Even its “tumblehome” hull was criticized as potentially unstable in certain situations.

The 600-foot-long ships are so big that the General Dynamics-owned shipyard spent $40 million to construct a 106-foot-tall building to assemble the giant hull segments.

And then there’s the cost, roughly $3.8 billion apiece, according to the Navy’s latest proposed budget.

Including research and development, the cost grows to $7 billion apiece, said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information in Washington.

Because of cost, the originally envisioned 32 ships dipped to 24 and then seven. Eventually, program was truncated to just three. The first, the Zumwalt, will be christened next year and delivered to the Navy in 2014.

But Greenert told reporters that the ship fits perfectly into the new emphasis on bolstering the U.S. military presence in the Pacific in response to Asia’s growing economic importance and China’s rise as a military power. …

Read on: www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/Cutting-edge_Navy_warship_being_built_in_Maine_.html

MoD unveils plans to axe 1,800 police and guard jobs by 2016

Daily Mail
By Jamie Mcginnes
March 27, 2012

The Ministry of Defence today revealed that 1,800 defence police and guard jobs will be slashed.

In a written statement to Parliament, Defence Personnel Minister Andrew Robathan said he regretted the uncertainty and anxiety caused to staff affected, but said the Government ‘can and will’ make changes in guarding and civil policing.

Under the measures, the MoD Police is to downsize from a current strength of just under 3,100 to about 2,400 by April 2016.

The MoD Guard Service will be cut from just under 3,300 members today to about 2,200 by April 2015.

The headquarters and management structures of each organisation will see costs slashed by 50 per cent, Mr Robathan said.

This will mean fewer security staff at some sites and a shift to more security being undertaken by staff who do not require police powers. Local police forces will also be utilised more. …

Read on: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2121098/MoD-axes-1-800-police-guard-jobs.html