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Benghazi Suspect Confirms Attack Details, DoD Denies Mission Creep, Board: NSA Internet Spying Legal Benghazi Suspect Confirms Attack Details, DoD Denies Mission Creep, Bo...

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Early Bird

Benghazi Suspect Confirms Attack Details, DoD Denies Mission Creep, Board: NSA Internet Spying Legal

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Early Bird is taking a break for the July Fourth holiday. We will return on Monday, July 7. 

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email earlybird@nationaljournal.com.

 

Pentagon Denies 'Mission Creep' in Iraq
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
Still, a Pentagon spokesperson would not rule out the possibility that more troops and assets will be deployed at some point.

U.S. Deploys Attack Helicopters to Iraq
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The newest U.S. troops deploying to Iraq have attack helicopters and unarmed surveillance aircraft that are operating from the Baghdad airport.

Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Will Leave Post
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon, Eric Schmitt)
James Dobbins, the veteran diplomat who has served as the United States special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is leaving government this month.

NSA's Internet Monitoring Said to Be Legal
(Associated Press: Ken Dilanian)
The new report, which the board was to vote on Wednesday, found that the NSA's collection of Internet data within the United States passes constitutional muster.

Navy Promotes First Woman to 4-Star Admiral Rank
(The Virginian-Pilot)
Michelle Janine Howard will relieve Adm. Mark Ferguson III as vice chief of naval operations.

Benghazi Suspect Said to Confirm Details of Attack
(The New York Times: Michael Schmidt)
American officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala has provided "key facts" about the attacks on the U.S. mission in 2012.

CONGRESS

No Guarantee of Quick Senate Approval of VA Secretary Pick
(Stars and Stripes: Travis Tritten)
It is too early in the process to know when a committee hearing might be called.

Expiration Date for Iraq Strikes?
(Defense News)
CongressWatch spoke with three prominent lawmakers about the timing of possible U.S. airstrikes on ISIS militants in Iraq—and how to ensure they would be effective.

Sen. Walsh Questions Decision to Send More Soldiers to Iraq
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Sen. John Walsh criticized Obama's plan to deploy an additional 200 troops to Iraq to help quell the violent insurgency there.

Sen. McCaskill Investigates Troubled Power Plant in Afghanistan
(McClatchy: Lindsay Wise)
The $300 million Tarakhil power plant outside Kabul has been "severely underused" and only generates 2.2 percent of the power it was intended to produce.

Democrats: GOP Charges of 'Late' War-Funding Plan Are 'Ridiculous'
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Democrats are defending the Obama administration for submitting a war-funding request nearly four months after sending Congress its base military spending plan. 

Intel Chairman: Drone Strikes on Americans Abroad 'Legitimate'
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
Rep. Mike Rogers said al-Qaida affiliated fighters targeting the U.S. should not be handled by the court system, regardless of whether they are American citizens.

IRAQ

Sale of 4,000 U.S. Missiles to Iraq Is Readied
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
The State Department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles.

Pentagon Says Growing U.S. Forces in Iraq Need 'Flexibility' for Mission
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
Spokesman says there is "no mission creep" to U.S.'s increased involvement while Iraqi ambassador renews plea for airstrikes.

General: U.S. Assessing Whether Iraq Forces Can Hold
(Associated Press: Oskar Garcia)
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that troops in Iraq are there to help determine what the United States might do next to help Iraq fight an insurgency.

Iraqi Ambassador Pleads for U.S. Military Aid
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Iraq's ambassador said his government would increase its military cooperation other nations, unless the U.S. provides additional aid.

Sunnis, Kurds Shun Iraq Parliament
(Reuters: Raheem Salman, Oliver Holmes)
The United States, United Nations, Iran and Iraq's own Shi'ite clergy have pushed hard for politicians to come up with an inclusive government.

Iraqi Kurds Declare Plans For Breakaway State
(The Daily Beast: Jamie Dettmer)
The U.S. condemns the Kurds' intent to form a separate nation in northern Iraq, even as Israel and Turkey back the plan.

McChrystal: Iraq Boundaries Likely to Change 'Pretty Significantly'
(The Hill: Jesse Byrnes)
Former Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said borders are likely to change following the recent conflict there.

Keeping Boots Off the Ground in Iraq, as the Skies Get Crowded
(The Washington Post: Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
The United States, Russia, and Iran are all flying over the country.

After Retreat, Iraqi Soldiers Fault Officers
(The New York Times: C. J. Chivers)
In the case of one brigade, at least, what emerges instead is a portrait of mismanagement and treachery.

MIDDLE EAST

Syria-Iraq 'Caliph' Incites Muslims to Holy War
(Reuters: Yara Bayoumy)
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued the call to jihad - holy war - in an audio message lasting nearly 20 minutes that was posted online.

U.N. Security Council Seeks Compromise to Boost Aid Access to Syria
(Reuters: Michelle Nichols)
U.N. Security Council members are pushing Russia and China to support a compromise draft resolution to boost cross-border access and threaten sanctions on those that stand in the way.

American Ship to Load Syrian Chemicals for Destruction at Sea
(The New York Times: Alan Cowell)
A specially equipped United States vessel, the MV Cape Ray, was set to begin loading toxic chemicals at an Italian port for destruction at sea.

Oil, Auto Companies Make Plans to Invest in Iran if Sanctions Ease
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon)
As diplomats work on potential nuclear deal, prospect of end to sanctions draws plans for return to Iran.

Sacked Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Named Spy Chief
(Agence France-Presse)
Saudi King Abdullah appointed a new spy chief, giving the job to the former deputy defense minister days after sacking him from that post.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

Pakistan Launches Assault in Taliban Stronghold
(CBS News: Farhan Bokhari)
A senior army official and two Pakistani government ministers said the operation would continue until Pakistani forces are able to take complete control of areas currently under Taliban control.

Afghan Official: Election Results Might Be Delayed
(Associated Press: Rahim Faiez, Amir Shah)
The crisis has undermined Western hopes for a smooth transfer of power ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied combat troops by the end of this year.

U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan at 2,194
(Associated Press)
At least 1,817 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action.

Report: Petraeus Hails 'Lawrence of Afghanistan'
(Military.com: Richard Sisk)
His "extremely unconventional" way of war ended Special Forces Maj. Jim Gant's Army career, but retired Gen. David Petraeus said he exemplified "the perfect counter-insurgent."

ASIA/PACIFIC

India Summons U.S. Envoy Over Reports NSA Spied on Modi's Party
(Reuters: Frank Jack Daniel)
"We expect a response to be provided to us, and if these are true, an assurance that this will not happen in the future," an official said.

Cyberspying Concerns Won't Overshadow U.S.-China Talks: Lew
(Reuters: Jason Lange)
The annual talks, which span everything from trade and currency to geopolitics, come amid a pronounced rise in military tensions between the two countries over the last year.

Japan Takes Historic Step From Post-War Pacifism, OKs Fighting for Allies
(Reuters: Linda Sieg, Kiyoshi Takenaka)
The change will widen Japan's military options by ending the ban on exercising "collective self-defense."

We've Spotted Japan's New Stealth Fighter
(War Is Boring: Thomas Newdick)
ATD-X makes its first appearance as Tokyo's warplane plans advance.

North Korea Fires Two Short-Range Projectiles Into Sea
(The Wall Street Journal: Jeyup Kwaak)
It's the latest of a series of missile launches as it stokes tensions ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul.

UKRAINE/RUSSIA

As Cease-Fire Expires in Ukraine, Violence Escalates
(The Washington Post: Michael Birnbaum)
Both sides appear to be preparing for a protracted battle.

Putin Vows to Defend Russian Interests as Ukraine Violence Again Escalates
(The Washington Post: Michael Birnbaum)
It was a hint that a stretch of conciliatory efforts from the Kremlin after Ukraine's May 25 presidential election may be at an end.

Putin Says U.S. Blackmailed France Over Warship With Fine
(Bloomberg: Henry Meyer, Stepan Kravchenko, Anton Doroshev)
Putin accused the U.S. of seeking to blackmail France into scrapping a contract to sell Mistral warships to Russia.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

DOD: Curbs on Pay and Benefits Finally Taking Hold
(Defense News: Andrew Tilghman)
Overall military personnel costs are in fact coming down, and the Pentagon's long battle against rising pay and benefits is showing signs of gaining momentum.

Pentagon Refutes Senators' Charges of Wasted Ammo
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
There may be some waste, Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said, but not on the scale alleged by the senators. He also rejected the implication that the military destroys usable ammunition.

DOD Seeks Healthier Food Choices for Troops
(Air Force Times: Karen Jowers)
Concerns about the comparative scarcity of healthy food choices on military installations have led defense officials to launch a comprehensive study.

ARMY

Many Sharp Turns in Bergdahl's Path to Army
(The New York Times: Kirk Johnson, Matt Furber)
People who knew him in Idaho paint a fairly consistent portrait: hard-working and socially awkward, full of restless energy and romantic plans.

$4.3M Spent on Defending Hawaii Soldier in Death-Penalty Case
(Associated Press)
It cost more than $4.3 million to defend a former Hawaii-based soldier who faced the death penalty for the murder of his 5-year-old daughter.

Army Football Breaks (Arena) Losing Streak
(Navy Times: Kevin Lilley)
The streak is over. Well, one of them.

NAVY

New Students at Naval Academy Arrive
(Associated Press)
More than 1,200 new students have arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy.

MARINE CORPS

Re-Up Bonuses See Big Increase for FY15
(Marine Corp Times: James Sanborn)
First-term Marines who re-enlist in one of 106 military jobs can take home thousands of dollars in bonuses.

Marines in East Coast, Europe See Change of Command
(The Virginian-Pilot: Kara Driscoll)
Lt. Gen. Robert Neller relieved Lt. Gen. R.T. Tryon.

Corps Looks at PFT Standards for Female Marines
(Jacksonville Daily News: Thomas Brennan)
A change to female physical-fitness standards may put the Corps' move away from flexed-arm hangs on hold.

Former Marine's 'Bogus-as-Hell' Service Record Used in Trial
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
A Marine Corps official who pulled Charles Allen Chavous's service record confirmed that the DD-214 given to Connell is phony in many respects.

AIR FORCE

Staff Sergeant Promotions Hit 16-Year Low
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
The selection rate for promotion to staff sergeant plunged this year to 25.59 percent—the lowest rate in 16 years.

USAF: Malfunction Caused Lake Ontario Drone Crash
(Associated Press: Brock Vergakis)
The GPS and other systems in an Air Force drone failed multiple times during a routine training mission in upstate New York.

COAST GUARD

GAO Denies Protest Over Coast Guard Patrol Cutters
(Associated Press)
Each of the three companies received a preliminary and contract design award worth about $22 million.

INDUSTRY

Airbus, Boeing and Israel Firm Bid for South Korea Air Tanker Deal
(Agence France-Presse)
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said it has accepted the bids from the three companies with a goal to choose a final bidder by the end of November.

VETERANS

Poll: Many Veterans Say It's Difficult to Access VA Care
(CBS News: Rebecca Kaplan)
Twenty-seven percent of veterans said it was "very difficult" to access care, and 28 percent said it was "somewhat difficult."

Robert McDonald Nomination May Stem the Bleeding in VA Health Scandal
(Roll Call: Steven Dennis)
The nomination is a welcome bit of good news for a White House that has been besieged by the VA scandal.

New VA Secretary Nominee Not a Health Care Expert
(Associated Press: Matthew Daly)
Robert McDonald may face his toughest challenge yet in fixing the huge, scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department.

Obama's VA Nominee Gains Key Endorsement
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The Veterans of Foreign Wars endorsed Obama's choice of former Proctor & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to lead the embattled Veterans Affairs Department.

Gulf War Vets Hope VA Changes Yield Progress
(Military.com: Bryant Jordan)
The VA has long been criticized by veterans and advocates who say the department has dragged its feet on GWI research.

Vets Struggle to Register on VA Burn-Pit Site
(USA Today: Kelly Kennedy)
Veterans Affairs officials this week took down then relaunched a balky new website for veterans who may have been exposed to waste burn pits.

Combat Vets' Use of Painkillers Troubling, Researchers Say
(Army Times: Patricia Kime)
Researchers also found that 15 percent of soldiers had used opioid pain medications.

VA Offers Appointment to Vietnam Vet Two Years After He Dies
(Associated Press)
Suzanne Chase says the VA had to know her husband was dead because she applied for funeral benefits and was denied.

AFRICA

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Islamist Group in Congo for Targeting Children
(Reuters: Anna Yukhananov)
The move freezes the group's assets in the United States and blocks U.S. firms from dealing with it.

ARCTIC

Russian Navy to Acquire New Minesweepers, Boost Military Presence in Arctic
(Defense News: Jaroslaw Adamowski)
The minesweepers are to be deployed to the navy's Northern Fleet, responsible for northwestern Russia, the Arctic, and the Atlantic Ocean.

AMERICAS

Chilean Court Links U.S. Intelligence to 1973 Killings of Two Americans
(Associated Press)
Former U.S. Navy captain gave information to Chilean officials that led to executions of journalist and student, judge finds.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

The Ukrainian Crisis Reaches a New Level
(The New York Times)
Washington and Brussels have drawn lines and threatened serious sanctions, and the time has come to show they mean it.

Time's Up for Russia
(The Washington Post)
Putin ignores the West's deadlines in Ukraine, again.

Iraq Must Not Come Apart
(The New York Times: Leslie Gelb)
Words will not bring Iraqis over from the separatist dark side. Only the hell of civil war can bring them back, in time, to political solutions.

Iraq Reinforcements: Return of the '5 O'Clock Follies'?
(Time: Mark Thompson)
Evolving U.S. troop numbers raise questions about "mission creep"

The Real Red Line in the Middle East
(Foreign Policy: David Rothkopf)
If ISIS attacks Jordan, neither the United States nor Israel will be able to stay out of the fray.

From Sarajevo to Baghdad: The Lessons of War
(The New Yorker: John Cassidy)
Wars ars are terrible things, and they have terrible, unpredictable consequences.

Iranian Nuclear Deal Still Is Possible, but Time Is Running Out
(The Washington Post: John Kerry)
July 20, the deadline to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program, is fast approaching.

Changing VA's Culture Harder Than Selling Soap
(The Washington Post: Joe Davidson)
Bob McDonald is about to learn just how difficult fixing a government agency can be.

Building a Warship for the Video Game Generation
(Foreign Policy: Michael Peck)
The Navy's latest high-tech destroyer is basically a floating Xbox.

The F-35 Flies Amid Europe's Mature Aeronautics Market
(Breaking Defense: Douglas Barrie)
The F-35 Lightning II European debut in July will be welcome, but it remains the Punch and Judy program of the defense aerospace sector.

Want your defense news even faster? Follow the Early Bird on Twitter: @NJEarlyBird. And tell your networks to sign up directly here.

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