Tag Archives: Pentagon

‘Extremism in the ranks’ – Pentagon Chief opens discussion.

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin launched a discussion about extremism in the US military Wednesday, as the Pentagon reels from the revelation that several troops and veterans participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Austin, who is the first Black person to serve as Pentagon chief, has given all units 60 days to hold a day of talks on extremism, his spokesperson John Kirby said.

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The aim is to teach troops about the dangers of extremism and misinformation, but also to hear their views, Kirby added.

Over the past decade, several successive US administrations have acted slowly, if at all, on FBI and Department of Homeland Security warnings of white supremacists joining the police and military.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends a congressional tribute to the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who lies in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 3, 2021. – The US Capitol police officer who died after being injured in the January 6 attack by pro-Trump rioters will lie in honour at the building’s Rotunda, lawmakers said Friday, a mark of respect rarely bestowed. Brian Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher while struggling with the rioters who swarmed through the halls of Congress (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP)

The Pentagon has never published figures on how many extremists it has booted from service.

The storming of the Capitol building was a “wake-up call,” Kirby said, adding the Pentagon does not yet understand the scale of the problem that “we haven’t solved.”

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Biden on Tuesday paid a final tribute at the Capitol to Brian Sicknick, the policeman who died of injuries he suffered in an attack by former President Donald Trump’s supporters as they tried to overturn Biden’s election win.

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#Newsworthy

‘Return Home’ – New US pentagon Chief tells Troops.

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The former US special forces officer and counterterrorism expert was named to lead the Department of Defense after Trump fired Mark Esper.

Newly appointed Pentagon chief Christopher Miller signaled Saturday that he could accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying, “It’s time to come home.”

“All wars must end,” Miller, named acting defense secretary by President Donald Trump on Monday, said in his first message to the US armed services.

He said that the US is committed to defeating Al Qaeda, 19 years after the September 11 attacks on the United States, and is “on the verge of defeating” the group.

“Many are weary of war — I’m one of them,” he wrote in the message, dated Friday but posted early Saturday on the Defense Department’s website.

“But this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role,” he said.

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“Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”

Miller did not mention specific US troop deployments, but the reference to Al Qaeda appeared to single out Afghanistan and Iraq, where US troops were deployed after the September 11 attacks.

Trump, who lost to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 election, has been pressing to pull US forces out of both countries since he came into office four years ago.

Any such action would have to come in the 67 days before Biden takes office on January 20.

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Esper cut US forces in Afghanistan by nearly two-thirds in the wake of the February 29 US-Taliban peace deal.

But, drawing a line, he said he would hold troop numbers at 4,500 after this month until the Taliban, as they negotiate with the government in Kabul, follow through on pledged reductions in violence.

Trump, however, has pushed for continued cuts, tweeting that he wants the troops “home by Christmas,” December 25. His national security advisor Robert O’Brien has said the goal is to cut to 2,500 by February.

But critics say this removes any leverage on the Taliban insurgents to halt attacks that continue amid scant progress in their peace talks with the Afghan government.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: China working to double nuclear warheads – Pentagon

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Report says China aims to double its arsenal from current level of about 200 warheads in next decade, US has over 6,000


China is expected to at least double the number of its nuclear warheads over the next 10 years – from an estimated figure in the low 200s it has now – and is nearing the ability to launch nuclear attacks by land, air and sea, a capacity known as a triad, the Pentagon has revealed.

The annual report to Congress on China’s military marks the first time it has put a number to China’s nuclear warheads. The Federation of American Scientists has estimated that China has about 320.

The Pentagon said the growth projection was based on factors including Beijing having enough material to double its nuclear weapons stockpile without new fissile material production.

“We’re certainly concerned about the numbers … but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, told reporters.

The annual report comes as the US Congress debates the pending $700bn defence authorisation bill amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Noble Reporters Media learnt the bill amounts to three times China’s annual defence budget.

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She said US President Donald Trump’s Republican allies want some of the money to cover potential nuclear testing, which is opposed by the Democrats.

Nuclear triad capacity
In his statement, Sbragia said China was also nearing completion of its nuclear triad capacity, as it develops an air-launched ballistic missile that would have nuclear capability.

The report said that in October 2019, China publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear-capable air-to-air refuelling bomber.

Earlier this year, Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time [File: Wu Hong/EPA]

Washington has repeatedly expressed its desire to expand an Obama-era nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia to include China instead of simply extending the pact, known as New START, when it expires in February.

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China has shown no interest in joining the negotiation.

In July, a senior Chinese diplomat said Beijing would “be happy” to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations, but only if the US was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level.

Earlier this year, the Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times said Beijing needed to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time.

In an interview with Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on Wednesday, China analyst Andrew Leung said China’s nuclear posture was “largely defensive”, adding that even if China doubled its nuclear warheads, from 300 to 600, it would still be only a tiny fraction of the US arsenal.

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“The US is said to possess something like 6,000 nuclear warheads, and the US has much more extensive military bases, with about 800 bases in more than 20 to 30 countries around the world. And so, even if China built some bases, it’s still way behind the US.”

Russia has roughly 4,300 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-armed missile designed to evade US defences were displayed in Beijing in 2019 as the country marked the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party taking power in China in 1949 [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP]

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said China’s growing nuclear arsenal should not be used as an excuse for the US and Russia to not extend New START.

It “further reinforces the importance of extending New START and the folly of conditioning extension on China and China’s participation in arms control,” Reif added.

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Tensions have been simmering between China and the US for months.

Washington has taken issue with China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and moves to curb freedoms in Hong Kong. The increasingly aggressive posture comes as President Donald Trump bids for re-election in November.

Another source of tension has been Taiwan. China has stepped up its military activity around the democratic island Beijing claims as sovereign Chinese territory, sending fighter jets and warships on exercises nearby.

The Pentagon report, based on 2019 information, said China’s military continued to “enhance its readiness” to prevent Taiwan’s independence and carry out an invasion if needed.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Pentagon awards Glaxo $342m contract for vaccines

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The Pentagon on Thursday announced a $342 million contract has been awarded to British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to deliver “mass quantities of COVID-19 vaccines” to US troops.

It said GSK was the only company to make a bid for the contract, which will consist of supporting “military locations and personnel throughout the continental US and outside the continental US.”

The work will be carried out in North Carolina “with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2021,” the Pentagon said.

In this file photo taken on July 10, 2020 A photo shows vaccines in prefilled, single-use syringes before the inspection and packaging phase at the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s world distribution centre in Val de Reuil, France.  JOEL SAGET / AFP

The US Army will supervise execution of the project.


#Newsworthy…

United States to slash troops in Germany by 11,900 – Pentagon

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The United States will slash its military presence in Germany by 11,900 troops, relocating some to Italy and Belgium in a major shift of Washington’s NATO assets, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Wednesday.

Of the 34,500 US military personnel in Germany, some 6,400 will be sent home while nearly 5,600 others will be moved to other NATO countries.

A key aim of the rotation is to reinforce NATO’s southeastern flank near the Black Sea, Esper said.

File photo: WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 19: U.S. President Donald Trump signs a signed the executive order on DOT deregulation, during a meeting with his cabinet in the East Room of the White House on May 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day President Trump met with members of the Senate GOP. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

Some could also go to Poland and the Baltic states if Warsaw follows through on an agreement already sketched out by the two sides, Esper said.


#Newsworthy…

Trump’s Biddings: Pentagon squirm under pressure, amid protests.


President Donald Trump wants the US military to take the lead in stopping violent race protests, making the Pentagon increasingly vulnerable to accusations of being a tool for his political goals.
Trump put the issue out in front Monday in a made-for-TV show of force.

After having police fire tear gas to clear away peaceful protestors in front of the White House, he walked with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley at his side to a nearby church to pose for pictures.

Minutes earlier, he had declared that he was dispatching “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to help quell unrest, which appeared to invoke the rarely used Insurrection Act to involve the US Army in domestic peace-keeping.

The Pentagon stressed that the Insurrection Act had not been activated.

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But Trump’s words, and the picture of Milley in his camouflage battle dress at the White House, left many nervous.

Likewise did Esper telling governors of US states earlier Monday that they should “dominate the battlespace” to end the protests, sounding like he too viewed the situation as war.

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One week after the killing of handcuffed African American George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman sparked protests and riots for racial justice across the country, such talk sparked anger and concerns that Trump would use the military against political foes, and to boost his own stature.

“America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy,” said retired General Martin Dempsey, who held Milley’s job from 2011 to 2015.

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“I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops,” Mike Mullen, Dempsey’s predecessor as the top Pentagon commander, wrote in the Atlantic on Tuesday.

“Furthermore, I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes.”

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‘Not aware’
The Pentagon sought Tuesday to dampen the concerns, even as hundreds of army policemen were placed on standby for duty if violence continued in the US capital.

A senior official, speaking on grounds of anonymity, insisted that Esper’s “battlespace” was simply his habit of using the jargon of the US military.

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“It’s the common term we use for the area we are operating in,” he said.

As for Milley’s and Esper’s presence when Trump made his political display, the official claimed they had been called to the White House at short notice — hence Milley’s camouflage uniform — and did not know it was going to happen.

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“The president indicated an interest in viewing the troops outside and the secretary and the chairman went with him,” the official said.

“They were not aware that the police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square.”

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‘Autocratic rule’
That failed to douse concerns that the two top military leaders were being sucked and pressured into Trump’s political plans.

“I remain gravely concerned about President Trump’s seemingly autocratic rule and how it affects the judgement of our military leadership,” said the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith.

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“The role of the US military in domestic US law enforcement is limited by law,” he added.

“It must not be used in violation of those limits and I see little evidence that President Trump understands this fundamental premise.”

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Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, accused Trump of “using the American military against the American people.”

It was clear, too, that African Americans in the US military had their focus on brutality toward blacks and less so on Trump’s machinations.

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“Just like most of the Black Airmen and so many others in our ranks … I am outraged at watching another Black man die on television before our very eyes,” tweeted Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright, the senior-most enlisted man in the US Air Force.

“I am George Floyd,” he wrote.


#Newsworthy…

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