By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)
Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email email@example.com.
Bergdahl Back in the U.S. to Continue Recuperation
(Associated Press: Robert Burns, Lolita Baldor)
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Bergdahl flew to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio from Ramstein Air Base.
Americans Being Evacuated From Iraqi Air Base
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes, Julie Pace)
A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Letting Rebels Bring In Tanks
(Reuters: Natalia Zinets, Timothy Heritage)
Evidence that Russia is sending in weapons or assisting the rebels militarily would implicate Moscow in the uprising against Kiev's pro-Western leaders.
Senate Confirms McCord as Pentagon Comptroller
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale will finally get to retire.
Lawmakers Debate Next U.S. Steps in Iraq
(The Wall Street Journal: Michael Crittenden)
Some GOP lawmakers fault Obama for not signing security pact with Baghdad in 2011.
Senators Urge Air Power to Support Iraq Against Insurgents. Again.
(National Journal: Clara Ritger)
"Iraq is collapsing," Lindsey Graham says as Senate Armed Services holds a closed-door meeting to discuss U.S. options in the face of the Iraqi government's failure.
McConnell: Obama Needs 'Capable Manager' to Lead VA
(The Hill: Ramsey Cox)
McConnell said he hopes a conference committee with the House will quickly send a bill to Obama's desk, but that Obama could still do more on his own.
Key Lawmakers Open to Giving Some Antiaircraft Weapons to Syrian Rebels
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous)
Could support arming small group of rebels with limited number of manpads.
House Intel Chief 'Extremely Optimistic' on Cyber Bill's Chances
(The Hill: Julian Hattem)
The head of the House Intelligence Committee thinks the odds are good that the Senate will pass a long-delayed cybersecurity bill this year.
Sen. John McCain at Naval War College: U.S. Can't Afford to Be Disengaged From Conflicts
(Associated Press: Jennifer McDermott)
McCain said that the military and political leaders who helped win the war in Iraq should be brought back to figure out how to deal with the resurgence of militants there.
President Obama Promises Help for Iraq, Won't 'Rule Out Anything'
(The Washington Post: Jaime Fuller)
Obama said it is now clear Iraq will need help from the United States as the situation there deteriorates.
Pentagon Officials Cautious on Iraq, Point to Maliki
(Defense One: Stephanie Gaskell)
In the halls of the Pentagon, many service members are disappointed that Iraq has spiraled out of control.
Pentagon: Iraqi Rebels May Have Captured U.S. Military Equipment
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
A defense official said claims the group had captured a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter were wrong, but that Humvees and armored vehicles might have fallen into the militants' hands.
U.S. Secretly Flying Drones Over Iraq
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Julian Barnes)
White House could expand drone flights following takeover of two Iraqi cities.
Alarmed by Iraq, Iran Open to Shared Role With U.S. - Iran Official
(Reuters: Parisa Hafezi)
The idea is being discussed internally among the Islamic Republic's leadership.
The Iraqi Army Was Crumbling Long Before Its Collapse, U.S. Officials Say
(The New York Times: Eric Schmitt, Michael Gordon)
Despite the expenditure of billions of dollars to defend against the ISIS militancy, that army is failing at a crucial moment.
Russia Sees American 'Adventurism' in Iraq Behind Current Conflict
(The New York Times: Neil MacFarquhar)
The Russian foreign minister accused the U.S. of withdrawing its forces prematurely for domestic political reasons, without finishing the task of preparing the Iraqi military.
NATO Secretary General Says Sees No Role for Alliance in Iraq
(Reuters: Tracy Rucinski)
"I don't see a role for NATO in Iraq, but of course we follow the situation closely and urge all parties involved to stop the violence," he said
Jihadist Gains in Iraq Blindside American Spies
(Foreign Policy: Shane Harris)
First Crimea, now Iraq. Why does America's $50 billion intelligence community keep getting taken by surprise?
Diplomats, Pilots, and Hired Guns: Here Are the Americans Left in Iraq
(The Washington Post: Dan Lamothe)
While the United States pulled virtually all of its remaining troops from Iraq in 2011, there are thousands of Americans still there.
How Did 800 ISIS Fighters Rout Two Iraqi Divisions?
(Marine Corps Times: Andrew Tilghman, Jeff Schogol)
The stunning outcome reflects widespread desertions among the Iraqi units in the north as well as the Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions that underlie the military battles.
Iran Would Resume Enrichment if Nuclear Talks Fail: Minister
(Reuters: James Mackenzie)
"Iran will return to 20 percent enrichment if a deal cannot be reached ... failure to reach a deal will be a disaster for everyone," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.
Iran Says It Is Redesigning Arak Reactor to Cut Plutonium Capacity
(Reuters: Michelle Moghtader, Fredrik Dahl)
The future of the Arak plant is among several sticking points that Iran and six world powers need to resolve if they are to reach a deal by late July.
Iran Says Nuclear Weapon Would Take Years to Build
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
A report published by the Iranian government says that it would take years to assemble a weapon with its current infrastructure.
U.S. Quietly Moves Detainees Out of Secretive Afghanistan Prison
(Reuters: Missy Ryan)
President Obama informed U.S. lawmakers that about 38 non-Afghan prisoners remained at the Parwan detention center.
U.S. Drone Strike in Pakistan Killed Senior Afghan Militant, Others
(The Wall Street Journal: Qasim Nauman, Safdar Dawar)
Aerial attacks target domestic and foreign militants.
Iraq Shows 'Responsible' U.S. Exit Strategy Needed: Afghan Frontrunner
(Reuters: David Brunnstrom)
Abdullah Abdullah was asked in a teleconference with a Washington think-tank whether he was concerned about the U.S. "zero option" for Afghanistan.
Clinton Open to Staying in Afghanistan Past 2016
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
If the next elected president of Afghanistan "were to come up with a well thought-through plan of what is needed, I believe that would be very seriously considered," Hillary Clinton added.
Abbott and Obama Agree to Extend Australia's Defence Cooperation With U.S.
(The Guardian: Lenore Taylor)
Australian prime minister leaves open possibility of helping tackle the growing conflict in Iraq.
NORAD: Russian Bombers Flew Within 50 Miles of California
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
Russian bombers flew close to Alaska and California this week, prompting the U.S. Air Force to scramble fighter aircraft.
A Top Russian Official Who Once Admired the U.S. Is Now on a Sanctions List
(The Washington Post: Michael Birnbaum)
Yevgeny Bushmin tried to make his nation more American. Now he can't believe he's been slapped with U.S. sanctions.
Russia to Submit Draft U.N. Resolution on Ukraine
(Reuters: Vladimir Soldatkin)
Russia plans to submit the resolution to the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on Ukraine to implement a "road map" to peace.
Russia Doesn't See Need for Peacekeepers in Eastern Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Andrey Ostroukh)
Russian foreign minister says situation not serious enough.
Local Guards at U.S. Embassies Were Inadequately Vetted, Audit Finds
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung)
An internal review of six embassies found that none fully complied with requirements for hiring contractors..
Study to Assess Threats to U.S. Military Technological Superiority
(Roll Call: Tim Starks)
A group of senators got spooked that maybe the Pentagon wasn't taking seriously enough the notion that other countries are starting to tailgate the U.S. military on technology.
Director Sees Smaller but Better DLA
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The Pentagon's essential, sometimes notorious, Defense Logistics Agency plans to get a lot smaller after the war in Afghanistan.
Sailors Encouraged to Use Tuition Assistance While There's Still Full Funding
(Stars and Stripes: Steven Beardsley)
The Navy hopes more sailors will take advantage of tuition assistance now that the service has dropped plans to slash the often-targeted $86 million program.
NASA Hopes to Launch 'Flying Saucer' With Navy Help After Delay
(Associated Press: Alicia Chang)
The space agency is working with the Navy on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to see if it can get the experimental flight off the ground in late June.
Howe Named 55th President of Naval War College
A Navy rear admiral who oversees the Special Operations Command in the Pacific has been named the 55th president of the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Bergdahl's Health Is Stable, but Doctors Say He Is Psychologically Fragile
(The Washington Post: Stephanie McCrummen)
The Daily Beast published letters reportedly from him expressing frustration over military leaders.
West Point to Get a New Commandant of Cadets
The Army chief of staff said that Brig. Gen. John C. Thomson III will be assigned commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.
VA, IG Warn Against Rush of Veterans Into Private Care
(Stars and Stripes: Tom Philpot)
A report by the VA IG and a separate "access audit" of appointment scheduling practices across VA health care facilities confirm system-wide abuses to distort wait times for care.
VA Docs Concerned About Retaliation
(The Washington Post: Joe Davidson)
Though a persistent undercurrent, the current scandal did not dominate discussions at the National Association of Veterans Affairs Physicians and Dentists.
No Court-Martial for Coast Guard Cadet
A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet accused of entering a classmate's room and touching her leg will not face a court-martial.
Africa and West Pledge More Support in War Against Boko Haram
(Reuters: Belinda Goldsmith)
Nigeria will get more military and tactical support to help combat the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and find 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
U.S. Condemns Sudanese Government's Deadly Attacks on Civilian Schools, Hospital
The U.S. "condemns in the strongest possible terms attacks by the Government of Sudan and its Rapid Support Forces (RSF) against civilians," Samantha Power said.
Iraq's Fate Hangs in the Balance
(The Washington Post)
The nation's collapse could haunt America for years to come.
The Iraq Debacle
(The Wall Street Journal)
An extended civil war is likely. A terrorist caliphate is possible.
Prime Minister Maliki Panics as Insurgents Gain
(The New York Times)
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is said to be in a panic. It is hard to be surprised by that, because more than anyone he is to blame for the catastrophe.
As Iraq Falls Apart, U.S. F-16 Deliveries Still Set to Begin
(Time: Mark Thompson)
U.S. investment in blood and treasure is in danger of being squandered.
Iraq Is Vietnam 2.0 and U.S. Drones Won't Solve The Problem
(The Daily Beast: Leslie Gelb)
U.S. drones and fighters won't solve the problem: The problem is the Iraqi government.
Who Lost Iraq?
(The Washington Post: Fareed Zakaria)
The Iraqis did, with an assist from George W. Bush.
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