By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)
Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key House Panel OKs Plan to Save A-10 For at Least a Year
(Arizona Daily Star: David Wichner)
The House Armed Services Committee adopted a bipartisan amendment that would continue to fund the A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog" through fiscal 2015.
American Embassy in Yemen Is Closed
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
The United States has closed its embassy in Yemen to the public because of security concerns
Guard's NASCAR Deal Leads to Virtually No Recruits
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
Even though the Guard spent $88 million as a NASCAR sponsor from 2011 to 2013, it is unclear how many new recruits, if any, signed up because of it.
U.S. to Nominate Iraq Ambassador as Egypt Envoy
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton, Missy Ryan)
Robert Stephen Beecroft, a longtime diplomat who has been U.S. ambassador in Baghdad since 2012, would replace Anne Patterson, who left the Cairo post last year.
A Putin Climb-Down on Ukraine?
(The Daily Beast: Igor Kossov)
The Kremlin's best-laid plans may have gone awry. But a Russian pause is not the same as a retreat.
Senators Look to Stop National Guard Cuts
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
A bipartisan group of senators is planning to block the Army's plan to cut the National Guard force from 350,000 to 335,000 by 2017.
HASC Votes to Limit LCS Mission Mods Funding, Keep Cruisers
(Defense News: John Bennett)
The panel approved an amendment hat would block all funding for LCS mission modules until senior Pentagon and Navy officials deliver some assurances to lawmakers.
HASC Endorses Two Super Hornets Per Month
(Navy Times: John Bennett)
The panel also approved a standalone amendment that would limit the Pentagon's ability to retire more than four E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft.
Proposed House Bill Would Reorder $6.8B in DOD Modernization Accounts
A proposed House Armed Services Committee bill would shift $6.8 billion among weapon-system investment accounts and boost modernization spending by a total of $1.5 billion.
Armed Services Panel Rejects New Round of Base Closures
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
The voice vote further reiterated opposition to a Defense Department request to appoint a Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2017.
Sen. Tim Kaine Pushes for Survey on Military Benefits
(The Newport News: Hugh Lessig)
The Virginia Democrat wants a commission to survey military personnel on what pay and benefit packages they most value.
Congress Moves Toward New Venezuela Sanctions
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper)
A House panel will finalize its version of a sanctions bill Friday.
Democrats Split on Benghazi Panel Response, GOP Full Speed Ahead
(Roll Call: Daniel Newhauser, Matt Fuller)
Leaders and party members are vacillating between a symbolic boycott or begrudging participation.
House Takes Major Step to End NSA Mass Surveillance
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
The House Judiciary passed an amended version of the USA Freedom Act.
House Panels Sell Alternate Realities on NSA Reform
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
Ahead of dueling votes, Intelligence Committee leaders insist a deal everyone can agree on is taking shape. The Judiciary Committee is skeptical.
Edward Snowden Being Manipulated by Russian Intelligence: Ex-NSA Chief
(Reuters: Matt Siegel)
Snowden, who fled to Moscow last year, has dismissed the allegations.
Ukrainians Favor Unity, Not Russia, Polls Find
(The New York Times: Marjorie Connelly)
Two polls conducted by the Pew Research Center last month, after the annexation of Crimea, found two-thirds of Ukrainians believe that Russia is a bad influence.
Putin: Troops Have Pulled Back From Ukraine Border
(Associated Press: Laura Mills)
Putin said the Russian troops have been pulled back to their training grounds and locations for "regular exercises," but didn't specify whether those locations were in areas near Ukraine.
Putin Calls for Postponement of Referendum in Eastern Ukraine
(The Washington Post: Michael Birnbaum, Fredrick Kunkle, Simon Denyer)
The effort marked a significant shift in tone from the hard line that Putin and other top Russian officials have taken for months toward the acting government in Kiev.
Russian Military Needs Ukrainian Spare Parts
(War Is Boring: Michael Peck)
Kiev's arms embargo could cripple the Kremlin.
Inside Putin's East European Spy Campaign
(Time: Massimo Calabresi)
Beyond Ukraine, Putin's espionage operations pose a threat to Russia's other neighbors, Western Europe and the U.S.
What to Do When Russia Invades Your Country
(The Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
As Ukraine responds to a Russian stealth invasion, few countries can empathize. But the republic of Georgia has been there before, in 2008. And it's got some advice for Kiev.
Russia's Aggression Spurs Sweden to Boost Spending, Acquire New Capabilities
(Defense News: Gerard O'Dwyer)
The government is pushing for cross-party support to acquire long-range cruise missiles for new Gripen-39/E jets.
Iran, Six Powers Hold 'Useful' Nuclear Talks; Agreement Elusive
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau)
A Western diplomat said they are still struggling to overcome deep disagreements on the future of Iranian atomic capabilities.
Israeli President Peres to Visit White House in June
(Reuters: Mark Felsenthal)
Peres's visit will come after U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ground to a halt.
Israelis Reject Reports of Spying on the U.S. as Susan Rice Visits
(Los Angeles Times: Batsheva Sobelman)
Some American counterspy officials say Israel is pursuing espionage efforts against the U.S. that have "crossed red lines."
Israel, U.S. Divided Over Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Deal
(Reuters: Dan Williams)
The dispute appeared part of Israeli efforts to weigh in on world powers' difficult talks with Tehran before a July 20 date for a deal.
White House Official Urges Mideast Talks Continue
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that the United States remains convinced that a two-state solution is the answer.
Yemen Says Kills Militant Behind Attacks on Westerners
(Reuters: Mohammed Ghobari)
Security forces also detained five al-Qaida suspects and captured weapons in raids across the capital, the state news agency reported.
U.S. to Support ICC War Crimes Prosecution in Syria
(Foreign Policy: Column Lynch)
The Obama's administration has decided to back a push to have the International Criminal Court open a formal, United Nations-sanctioned investigation into potential Syrian war crimes.
Syria Rebel Leader Says He'll Ask U.S. for Antiaircraft Missiles
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon, Eric Schmitt)
Ahmad Jarba, who heads the opposition coalition, confirmed reports that Syrian rebels had received American TOW antitank missiles.
Rebels Evacuating Strongholds in Syria's Homs
(Associated Press: Bassem Mroue)
The exit of some 1,200 fighters and civilians will mark a de facto end of the rebellion in the battered city.
State Department Approves More Visas for Afghan Interpreters
(The Washington Post: Ernesto Londono)
Under a bill members of the House and Senate plan to introduce, the visa program would continue to run until the end of 2015 and be open to 3,000 additional petitioners.
FBI Agent Held in Pakistan on Weapons Charge May Remain in Custody for Days
(The Washington Post: Tim Craig)
U.S. officials appear to be having little success in getting him released quickly.
U.S. Says Concerned About China-Vietnam Incident in South China Sea
(Reuters: Bill Trott, David Brunnstrom)
The U.S. views China's deployment of an oil rig in a disputed part of the South China was "provocative and unhelpful.
Ships Clash Over China's Push
(The Wall Street Journal: Brian Spegele, Vu Trong Khanh, Josephine Cuneta)
Strains between China and its neighbors burst to the surface in two parts of the South China Sea, taking the high-stakes struggle for control over the waters to new levels of friction.
Report: 3 U.S. Navy Planes Crushed in Japan Snow
A 550-foot-long hangar with an aging 50-foot-high roof collapsed under snow, damaging most of the Japanese planes as well.
Commission Could Decide Future Pay and Benefits
(Military.com: Bryant Jordan)
The commission with the task of recommending changes to compensation is preparing an interim report due in June.
Hagel Fights Spreading U.S. Isolationism
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Chuck Hagel wants to sell America the world.
Recruiting Fraud 'Pervasive' Across Army, Guard Advocacy Group Says
More than 800 soldiers are under criminal investigation for cheating Army, Guard, and Army Reserve programs that paid a bonus to soldiers and civilians for referring each new recruit.
Army Wants Unmanned Convoys to Resupply Troops
(Military.com: Matthew Cox)
The Army wants to take soldiers out of the driver seats of future ground convoys to cut down on casualties.
Illinois Man Hacked U.S. Navy, Others
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Robert Patrick)
A Salem, Ill., community college student and an enlisted man on an aircraft carrier hacked into U.S. Navy computer systems and those belonging to more than 30 other government entities.
Navy Preparing to Wind Down SLBM Launch Capabilities
The U.S. Navy is preparing to reduce its capability to deploy Trident II D5 missiles on ballistic missile submarines as part of the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The Navy Just Announced an E-Reader Designed for Life on a Submarine
(The Verge: Adrianne Jeffries)
When you can't use a Kindle and there's no space for books, what do you do?
8,600 Airmen Apply for Voluntary Separation Pay
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
About 5,600 applicants were eligible for VSP.
Sikorsky Gets Presidential Helo Contract Worth $1.24B
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
But the historically controversial program is likely to encounter some more congressional scrutiny.
Site to Help Vets, Public Service Workers to Market Skills
(The Eagle: Beth Brown)
"Hire Our Hero" is a website that will serve as a database to allow heroes who offer skilled trades as either a business or a side job to advertise their skills.
Shinseki to Veterans: VA Is Here to Care for You
(Air Force Times: Leo Shane III)
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is promising "swift and appropriate" punishment for any employees who may have been involved with medical-appointment delays.
Veterans Affairs Reviews Security After Shooting
(Associated Press: Lisa Cornwell)
A former employee at Dayton's VA hospital remains in federal custody after a shooting that wounded an employee.
Senator Backs Alternative Treatments for Vets' Pain
(Air Force Times: Patricia Kime)
Sen. Bernie Sanders is pressing for expanded veterans' access to treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and animal-assisted therapy for chronic pain.
The Jester Speaks, and He Has a Lot to Say
(Homeland Security Today: Anthony Kimery)
In a Q&A, the Jester explains why he does what he does, and offers his unique insights into the cybercapabilities of Islamist jihadists and cybersecurity.
Senator Questions Whether DHS Allowing Those With Terror Ties Into U.S.
Sen. Chuck Grassley flagged the issue after obtaining an internal email exchange which discussed an airline passenger with apparent ties to Middle East terror groups.
U.S. to Send Fewer Than 10 Troops to Nigeria to Help Find Missing Girls
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
The U.S. is talking with Nigeria about information and intelligence sharing, but nothing has been decided.
U.S. Aid for Nigeria Likely to Be Limited to Guidance
(USA Today: Oren Dorell)
The United States can offer satellite and air surveillance through drones, as well as bring in military advisers to help units of the Nigerian military.
Nigeria Militants Killed "Hundreds" in Remote Village
(CBS News/Associated Press)
As many as 300 people were killed when a band of extremists attacked the town of Gamboru Ngala.
Inside the Army's Growing Arctic Circle Mission
(Military Times: Michelle Tan)
With more than 70 pounds in his ruck and "bunny boots" on his feet, Staff Sgt. Kandom Moore jumped from the C-17 Globemaster and into the Arctic.
Leading Globally: Why America Cannot Keep the Peace Alone
(CNN: Reps. Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Pat Meehan, Mac Thornberry, Kay Granger, Kristi Noem, Aaron Schock, Paul Cook)
America has a bright future in Asia, but only if we seize it.
Five Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear
(The National Interest: Kyle Mizokami)
China's economy is on the rise—and so is its military. Should Washington be concerned?
Amid Tensions, a Gesture From Putin
(The New York Times)
The dangerous standoff between Russia and Ukraine could be moving toward a resolution if President Vladimir Putin remains true to his words.
Six Mistakes the West Has Made (and Continues to Make) in Ukraine
(The National Interest: Nicolai Petro)
Six widely held assumptions have played an inordinate role in shaping Western discourse about Ukraine.
Is America's Air Force Dying?
(The National Interest: Mackenzie Eaglen)
Today's Air Force is already struggling, and tomorrow's is entirely at risk.
The Lawyer Behind the Drone Policy
(The New York Times)
Considering that David Barron is being vetted for a lifetime post, senators have a right to see his memos that justified the use of drones to kill an American.
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