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HASC Blocks Most Pentagon Cuts, House to Advance NSA Reform Bill, U.S., Djibouti Reach Defense Deal HASC Blocks Most Pentagon Cuts, House to Advance NSA Reform Bill, U.S....

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HASC Blocks Most Pentagon Cuts, House to Advance NSA Reform Bill, U.S., Djibouti Reach Defense Deal

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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


Armed Services Chairman Releases $521 Billion Defense Spending Bill
(The Hill: Kristina Wong, Martin Matishak)
The blueprint denies most of the Pentagon's cost-saving proposals for the next fiscal year while striking compromises on key weapons systems and compensation.

Survey: Nine in 10 Troops Oppose Cuts to Pay, BAH
( Brendan McGarry)
Ninety percent said they disagreed with reducing next year's pay raise to 1 percent from a previous 1.7 percent.

U.S. OKs Diplomatic Mission for Syrian Opposition
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
The steps announced by the State Department upgrade the status of the Syrian Opposition Council and boosts total U.S. assistance to $287 million.


U.S., Djibouti Reach 10-Year Security Agreement
(Associated Press: Julie Pace)
The agreement includes an option to extend the lease for an additional 10 years without renegotiating the terms.

Chairman of Key House Committee Agrees to Proceed With NSA Reform Bill
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
The judiciary committee is expected to take action on an amendment encapsulating the provisions of the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday.


HASC Markup Limits Air Force Options on A-10, U-2
(Military Times: Aaron Mehta)
The markup limits the availability of funds authorized for fiscal 2015 that can be used toward the retirement of the A-10.

House Bill Calls for $100 Billion 'Efficiency' Cut in Commissary Budget
(Army Times: Karen Jowers)
It is half of what the Pentagon had proposed in the first year of a three-year plan.


HASC Bill Would Shift Billions to Weapons, Readiness Accounts
(Defense News: John Bennett)
The bill authorizes $521.3 billion in base Pentagon spending, and $79.4 billion for its overseas contingency operations budget

Boeing Rallies for Growler Amid NDAA Battle
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
But Boeing isn't done yet. The Navy put 22 Growlers on its wish list and lawmakers who attended today's event in St. Louis promised to keep pushing for more.

Congress Asks for Clarity on Shifting Contingency Spending to Base Budget
(Inside Defense)
The House Armed Services Committee this week demanded that the Pentagon complete a task it has been unable or unwilling to perform for years.

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Proposed NDAA Calls for Carrier Refueling, 12th LPD, Five Growlers
(Seapower Magazine: Richard Burgess)
The bill also would require the Navy to report to the potential costs, savings, and benefits of the Navy's plan to lay up 11 cruisers and three amphibious warfare ships.

Dem: Defense Bill Leaves 'Crushing' Constraints on Pentagon
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
Rep. Adam Smith attacked the 2015 defense bill released by Republicans on Monday as avoiding "difficult choices."


McKeon Wants DOD to Redo QDR
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
If DOD does not resubmit its quadrennial defense review, McKeon said he would withhold 25 percent of the Pentagon policy office's budget.

Rand Paul Threatens to Derail Obama Judicial Nominee Over Drone Memos
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
Republican senator demands release of legal memos written by David Barron that signed off on killing of U.S. citizen.

Boehner Picks Gowdy for Benghazi Special Committee
(Roll Call: Daniel Newhauser)
The House is expected to vote later this week to form the committee.

White House May Not Cooperate With Benghazi Select Panel
(The Hill: Justin Sink)
Press secretary Jay Carney refused to answer questions directly about whether the White House would cooperate, but he noted that there had been 13 congressional hearings.

Kerry Spokesperson: Boss in Mexico on Day of Issa Hearing
(Roll Call: David Eldridge)
Secretary of State John Kerry will be on a previously scheduled trip to Mexico on May 21.

Dem Whip: 'Vote No' on Benghazi Panel
(The Hill: Mike Lillis)
Rep. Steny Hoyer said he'll oppose the measure to create the subcommittee, and predicted that other Democratic leaders would join him in opposing it.

Defense Influence: Tracking the Money
(Politico: Jeremy Herb, Austin Wright)
The defense industry is running full speed ahead to cozy up to Sen. Jack Reed, in line to be chairman of the Armed Services Committee next year if Democrats maintain control of the chamber.


Military Sexual-Assault Victims May Get Amnesty for Minor Crimes
(U.S. News & World Report: Paul Shinkman)
Powerful panel considering new rules to clear rape victims of rule-breaking that led to their assault.

Bill Would Strip 'Good Soldier Defense' in Military Sexual Assaults
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The proposal also calls for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual offenses to ensure they are not being retaliated against for reporting crime.

Work Sworn In as Deputy Defense Secretary
(Air Force Times: Marcus Weisgerber)
The Senate confirmed Work on April 30, nearly three months after he was nominated by Obama.


Clashes Bring New Setbacks to Ukraine's Forces
(The Washington Post: Simon Denyer, Fredrick Kunkle, Michael Birnbaum)
Fresh fighting highlights the weakness of Ukraine's military, which has struggled to retake separatist-held cities in the east.

White House Concerned as Unrest Spreads to Odessa
(Associated Press)
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the possible loss of Odessa underscores the need for an immediate deescalation to the Ukraine crisis.

U.S. Official to Europe to Discuss Russia Sanctions
(Associated Press)
Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen will visit Germany, France, and Britain and also plans to stop in Israel to discuss issues largely unrelated to Russia and Ukraine.

U.S. Sending F-15s, KC-135 to Norway for Exercises
(Air Force Times: Jeff Schogol)
The F-15s and about 40 airmen will go to Norway to work with the air forces from Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

U.S.: Russian Planes Flew Near California, Guam, in Upped Activity
(Reuters: David Brunnstrom)
Russia's intervention in Ukraine had been accompanied by a significant increase in Russian air activity in the Asia-Pacific region in a show of strength and to gather intelligence.

U.S. to Use Tax Law on Russian Banks
(Associated Press: Stephen Ohlemacher)
The United States is planning to use an anti-tax-evasion law to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Russia to Abide By Arms Reduction Treaty With U.S.: Deputy Minister
(Reuters: Vladimir Soldatkin)
Russia will abide by a 2010 strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States despite their differences over the crisis in Ukraine.


U.S.-Philippines Launch War Games After Obama Pledge
(Agence France-Presse)
Filipino Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the 10-day drills were necessary to deal with the challenge of "aggressive" neighbors.

New Excavation at N. Korea Nuclear Site Suggests Test Not Imminent
(Global Security Newswire: Rachel Oswald)
38 North image expert Nick Hansen notes that the Kim Jong Un regime appears to be "continuing and perhaps stepping up excavation activities resumed" late last month.

USAF Official: 7 Rescued Sailors Head Back to China
(Associated Press)
They were rescued when a crew aboard a Venezuelan fishing boat found a total of 11 Chinese sailors on a lifeboat Friday 1,100 miles off the Mexican coast.


U.S. Aid Indirectly Helps Hamas Under Deal With Palestinian Authority
(Fox News: Paul Alster)
The U.S. subsidizes the PA budget to the tune of approximately $400 million per year.

Palestinian Leaders Abbas, Mashaal Hold Rare Talks to Advance Reconciliation
(Associated Press)
They plan to form a unity government by May and hold elections by 2015.

Persistent Saudi-U.S. Differences Hurt Syria Strategy
(Reuters: Yara Bayoumy, Angus McDowall)
Rebels lament a lack of antiaircraft missiles to help counter Assad's air force.


Iran Admiral: U.S. Ships Are a Target in Case of War
(Associated Press)
The remarks by Adm. Ali Fadavi of the hard-line Guard navy sharply contrast moderate President Hassan Rouhani's outreach policies toward the West.

Russia Expects Progress in Iran Nuclear Talks Next Week
(Reuters: Gabriela Baczynsk)
Iran and six world powers could agree parts of a text of an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program when they in Vienna next week.

Iran Moves to Meet May 15 Deadline in U.N. Nuclear Deal
(Reuters: Mehrdad Balali, Fredrik Dahl)
IAEA inspectors will go to the Saghand uranium mine in central Iran and to the Ardakan ore processing plant.


Pakistan: Attack on NATO Supply Convoy Kills Two
(Air Force Times)
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.


Army Leaders Say Aviation Restructure Is 'Sound'
(Inside Defense)
Top Army leaders kicking off an annual aviation conference this week defended the service's controversial aviation restructure as the Army faces fiscal constraints and a reduction in size.


2-Star Tapped for Surface Navy's Top Job
(Navy Times: David Larter)
The surface Navy is about to get a new boss.

Navy Systems Administrator Arrested on Hacking Charges
(The Wall Street Journal: Andrew Grossman)
Prosecutors allege Nicholas Knight is the leader of an antigovernment hacking group.


King Stallion: Newest Marine Helo Gets a Royal Rollout
(Defense News: Christopher Cavas)
The name perpetuates the Sea Stallion monicker of the two-engined CH-53 first introduced in 1966.


Interview: Gen. William Fraser
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
He is in charge of getting U.S. equipment out of Afghanistan.


Suspect Arrested in Ohio Veterans Center Shooting
(USA Today: Doug Stanglin)
An officer said the suspect apparently "came in looking for someone else to do harm to, didn't find him, and fired at this guy."

American Legion to Call for Removal of VA's Top Leadership
(The Washington Post: Josh Hicks)
The veterans organization said it is troubled by preventable deaths and long wait times at VA health clinics, as well as bonuses the department paid to senior executives.

Biden Calls for More Brain Research That Could Help Veterans
(Army Times: Patricia Kime)
The vice president said research will not only help those with mental health concerns but also would advance treatments for certain diseases.

Mattis: Veterans Are Not Victims
(USA Today: Jim Michaels)
A public that wants to paint veterans as victims and why that is potentially damaging to the fighting spirit of America's warriors.


White House Tech Advisers: Online Privacy Is a 'Market Failure'
(The New York Times: Steve Lohr)
A science and technology advisory group to President Obama described online privacy practices as a "market failure" in a report issued last week.

Policy Debate Looms on U.S. Role in Market for 'Zero-Day' Cyber Threats
(Inside Cybersecurity: Christopher Castelli)
There remains a looming policy debate about how to control the proliferation of zero-day exploits.


Rising African Cache Poses Choice for U.S. Ties
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The administration has a choice: Pursue economic opportunities with governments that do not respect rule of law or human rights, or take a backseat in global competition.

U.S. to Sanction Both Sides of South Sudan Conflict in Days
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau, Lesley Wroughton)
The sanctions would involve a ban on travel to the United States and the freezing of any assets under U.S. authority.

Kerry Renews Appeal to Rebel Leader to Try to End South Sudan Fighting
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
Secretary of State John Kerry also warned that the United States was prepared to impose sanctions if the leader, Riek Machar, refuses.

Warring South Sudan Parties Sign Deal to Freeze Military Actions
(The Wall Street Journal: Nicholas Bariyo)
One-month agreement is set to allow evacuations of civilians caught up in fighting.


Why the U.S. Needs an Ambassador to the North Pole
(National Journal: Marina Koren)
The country is about to gain a whole lot more responsibility in the Arctic region that Russia, China, and others are vying to control.


Obama's Task: Define New Foreign-Policy Mileposts
(The Wall Street Journal: Gerald Seib)
White House says his May 28 speech at West Point will address the U.S.'s global role.

The U.S. Doesn't Need to Prove Itself in Ukraine
(The Atlantic: Peter Beinart)
The United States has paid dearly for such thinking in the past. What a pity that it's making a comeback today.

Security Insiders: Sanctions Won't Encourage Putin to Diplomatically Resolve Crisis in Ukraine
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
Virtually all Insiders also say there's no chance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians in Obama's last term.

DOD: Slashing Redundancy Instead of Personnel
(The National Interest: Wilson VornDick)
There has been a lot of talk from all sides concerning the Army force drawdown to 440,000 personnel.

Budget Uncertainty and the Geopolitical Opportunists at America's Doorstep
(Homeland Security Today: Timothy Coleman)
The tiger and the bear are already knocking at the door. The question is, will Congress act to counter the geopolitical opportunists lining up at our doorstep?

Obama's Real Libya Failure
(The Washington Post)
Thanks to Benghazi myopia, the House is missing the real indictment of the president.

The Benghazi-Industrial Complex
(Politico: Michael Hirsh)
Will the pseudo-scandal be enough to stop Hillary from running?

Michael Hayden's Unwitting Case Against Secret Surveillance
(The Atlantic: Conor Friedersdorf)
The former head of the NSA asserted that one can't know whether spying is legitimate or not unless one knows all the details about it.

Syria's Terror Blowback Threatens Europe and the United States
(The Daily Beast: Bruce Riedel)
Security services around the world are becoming increasingly alarmed at the implications for the safety of their citizens.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

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Mark, Compensation Analyst

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Dave, HR specialist

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AJ, US Army Officer

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