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Kerry Warns Russia on Further Penalties, Senate Bans Iranian Diplomat, Inside the Battle on Apaches Kerry Warns Russia on Further Penalties, Senate Bans Iranian Diplomat,...

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Kerry Warns Russia on Further Penalties, Senate Bans Iranian Diplomat, Inside the Battle on Apaches

By Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

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


Kerry Warns Lavrov Russia Faces 'Costs' if It Further Destabilizes Ukraine
(Reuters: David Storey)
Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that any moves by Moscow to destabilize Ukraine would "incur further costs for Russia."

Iran's Choice for U.N. Post Denied Entry Into the U.S.
(The New York Times: Jonathan Weisman)
Hamid Aboutalebi, who was to become Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in July, was a member of the Muslim student group that took American hostages in 1979.

Inside the Army, Guard Lobbying War
(Politico: Austin Wright)
The Army and the National Guard are at war over the Guard's Apache helicopters, and both sides are turning to Congress for backup.


Army Releases Detailed Account of Base Rampage
(The New York Times: Manny Fernandez, Alan Blinder)
It is the first detailed timeline since the shooting last Wednesday.

USAID Chief To Face Questions On 'Cuban Twitter'
(Associated Press: Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum)
First up to question agency head Rajiv Shah is Sen. Patrick Leahy, who publicly called the social media program "dumb, dumb, dumb."

High Court Won't Take Up NSA Case
(The Hill: Julian Hattem)
An intervention from the Court would have been unusual, but conservative activist and lawyer Larry Klayman had tried to leapfrog the appeals process because of the importance of the issue.


Ukraine at Risk of Civil War, Warns Russia
(The Wall Street Journal: Lukas Alpert)
Russia has warned that use of force by Ukrainian authorities to dislodge Pro-Kremlin separatists in three cities in eastern Ukraine could plunge the country into civil war.


Ukraine Accuses Russia of Orchestrating Separatist Moves
(Reuters: Richard Balmforth, Lina Kushch)
Kiev says the seizure of public buildings in eastern Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking industrial heartland is a replay of events in Crimea.

Kerry to Meet With Top Diplomats on Ukraine
(Associated Press: Josh Lederman, Lara Jakes)
Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to meet with top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union within the next 10 days.

Putin's New Ploy? Protestors Seize Buildings in East Ukraine, Demand 'Independence'
(The Daily Beast: Anna Nemtsova)
Moscow's latest gambit ratchets up tensions as his army remains poised to cross Ukraine's border.

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Ukrainian Air Force Prepares for Battle
(War Is Boring: David Axe)
Kiev restores old planes, boosts training.

One in Six Americans Know Where Ukraine Is
(The Washington Post: Kyle Dropp, Joshua Kertzer, Thomas Zeitzoff)
Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off.


U.S. to Send F-16 Jets to Romania for Exercises
(Reuters: Luiza Ilie)
The United States will deploy F-16 fighter jets to Romania this month as part of planned joint exercises.


McCain Blasts Obama 'Weakness' on Ukraine
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
His comments come after pro-Russian demonstrators took over government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. 

Rep. Pompeo: NATO Not Prepared to Prevent Putin From Moving Deeper Into Ukraine
(Fox News: Christopher Snyder)
He sees parallels to the justifications for Russia's takeover of the Crimean peninsula now playing out in eastern Ukraine.

Sen. Feinstein Calls Former CIA Director's 'Emotional' Comment 'Nonsense'
(National Journal: Elahe Izadi)
The senator rebuked the former intelligence director's remarks on her personal feelings about a CIA report.

Dems Slam CIA Ex-Boss Over Feinstein Criticism
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper)
Leading Democrats are criticizing a former CIA director who suggested the classified Senate torture report is motivated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein's "emotional feeling" and not objectivity. 


Suicide Bomber Hits Foreign Troops in Afghanistan
(Associated Press)
An Afghan official says a suicide bomber in a minivan has targeted a convoy of NATO troops in southern Afghanistan.

Impatient Afghan Candidates Are Counting Their Own Votes
(The Washington Post: Joshua Partlow)
Trucks loaded with plastic tubs full of ballots are making their way to the capital, and the official vote count starts this week.

U.S., Partners, Hope for Thaw in Relations With Afghanistan
(Stars and Stripes: Heath Druzin, Josh Smith)
The U.S. and its allies are taking comfort in one certainty: The country's next leader will not be Hamid Karzai.

Early Afghanistan Election Tallies Indicate Winner Would Sign Security Deal With U.S.
(Fox News)
That could be welcome news for the Obama administration.

Slain U.S. Diplomat Anne Smedinghoff Is Honored at Embassy in Kabul
(Los Angeles Times: Shashank Bengali)
The River Forest, Ill., native is the only State Department diplomat to die in the 13-year war in Afghanistan.

Late Fees Ending for Pentagon
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
The Pentagon racked up some nasty late fees—$620 million-plus since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in 2001—for failing to return shipping containers on time.


Army: Fort Hood Suspect Had Requested Leave
(Associated Press)
Investigators say the rampage that left three dead and 16 wounded last week at Fort Hood was related to the shooter's request for leave from the Army post.

Pentagon: 'Too Soon to Tell' if Military Gun Policy Will Be Reviewed
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
Current policy allows military police and some other personnel to carry loaded weapons deemed essential to their duties.


CNO: Cutbacks Reducing Navy's Surge Readiness
(Navy Times: David Larter)
The Navy's top officer warned that the service could only surge-deploy one carrier strike group and one amphibious ready group under current levels.

CNO Urges Smaller, Tailored Naval Forces
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
A budget-constrained, potentially smaller Navy must become willing to scale back the ways it responds to some missions or crises.

Navy Seeks Sub Replacement Savings: From NASA Rocket Boosters to Reused Access Doors
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
The Navy is working with everyone from the Royal Navy to the U.S. Air Force to NASA to keep costs down and technology up to date.

Navy 'Optimistic' About Submarine Funding
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The Navy has no Plan B in case Congress and the Defense Department don't set up a separate funding stream for its new ballistic-missile submarine.

Exclusive Interview: SECNAV on Sea Pay, Tobacco Use, Gender Equity, and More
(Navy Times: Meghann Myers)
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is pushing steps to boost quality of life for sailors and their families by expanding opportunities for women and paying sailors more for fleet duty.

Navy's Magnetic Super Gun to Make Mach 7 Shots at Sea in 2016: Adm. Greenert
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
Just in time for the Navy's biggest gathering of the year, the Sea-Air-Space conference, the Navy released this video and issued new details of the test plan.

Navy Testing Revolutionary Remote-Controlled Choppers, Rail Gun
(Fox News: Jennifer Griffin)
Those who chuckled when Amazon's Jeff Bezos suggested he could one day deliver packages by drone might want to think again.


Thousands of Airmen Spared Under Revised Force-Shaping Plan
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
At least 8,751 airmen's jobs are no longer on the chopping block this year.

15-year Retirement Window Closes, but New Round for Some
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
Some airmen will get a second chance at a 15-year retirement.


Northrop Grumman to Build Five More MQ-8C Fire Scouts for U.S. Navy
(Seapower Magazine)
It will allow commanders to extend their intelligence-gathering capabilities far beyond the horizon.


North Korean Official Reportedly Executed With a Flamethrower
(The Washington Post: Terrence McCoy)
Monday's news, if true, raised – or lowered – the bar on North Korea's ongoing horror show.

Hagel, Chang Air Differences Over Disputed Islands
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
The Defense secretary said America will protect Japan in a dispute with China, as laid out in U.S. treaty obligations.

China Gives Hagel Access to Aircraft Carrier, but Not Cybersecurity Policy
(Associated Press)
The United States' campaign to encourage China to be more open about its military growth and intentions got a symbolic boost.

U.S. Sailors Sue Japan Utility for Tsunami Radiation
(Associated Press)
The 79 sailors allege it lied about radiation in the area where they were carrying out a humanitarian mission after the 2011 tsunami.


Kerry, Military Clash on Syria
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Julian Barnes)
Pentagon opposes direct military intervention but agrees with Kerry that the U.S. should train and equip rebel fights—but not until Assad gives up all his chemical arms.

Hard Evidence That Obama Has Started Arming Syrian Rebels?
(War on the Rocks: Jack Mulcaire)
Fresh video from the battlefields of southern Idlib province show the rebels using US-made BGM-71 TOW missiles.

Syria's Assad Secure, Will Seek Reelection: Hezbollah Leader
(Reuters: Dominic Evans)
Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said that after three years of conflict the danger of the country fragmenting was receding.

Assad Recently Used Chemical Weapons, Israel Says
The Assad regime used a nonlethal chemical weapon on rebel fighters Mar. 27.


Iran, Powers Seek to Narrow Gaps in New Round of Nuclear Talks
(Reuters: Justyna Pawlak, Parisa Hafezi)
Iran and six world powers began a new round of negotiations aimed at settling the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program by late July.

Four Arrested Over Iran Nuclear Sanctions Violatio
(The Wall Street Journal: David Roman)
Spanish police say alleged network was trying to ship machinery to Islamic Republic.


Israel, Palestinians Press on With Peace Talks Rescue Bid
(Reuters: Jeffrey Heller)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators ended another U.S.-mediated session with no sign of a breakthrough.


Holder: Scout's Honor on Gitmo Transfer
(The Washington Post: Colby Itkowitz)
One congressman asked Attorney General Eric Holder to make a more sacred vow.


Group Says Congress Should Set Example by Hiring More Vets
(Air Force Times: Leo Shane III)
What's the worst federal agency for hiring veterans? Try Congress.

VA Releases Findings on Deaths, Injuries From Delayed Tests
(The Tampa Tribune: Howard Altman)
Three veterans died and nine others were injured as the result of delays in treatment for gastrointestinal cancers in the VA's Sunshine Healthcare Network serving Florida, southern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Putin's Latest Escalation
(The Wall Street Journal)
Russia follows the Crimea script in eastern Ukraine.

A Familiar Script in Ukraine
(The New York Times)
The events taking place in eastern Ukraine are very similar to those that led up to Russia's annexation of Crimea. Does the West have a response ready?

So, Is Donetsk the Next Crimea?
(The Washington Post: Adam Taylor)
Protesters are demanding a referendum on joining Russia, with May 11 touted as the day of the vote.

Avoiding the Guns of April
(War on the Rocks: David Wise)
How can it make any rational sense to tie all of the NATO countries to tripwires in unstable places like Georgia and Moldova?

Afghanistan's Vote
(The New York Times)
The high turnout in the presidential election suggests a maturing political system in a war-torn country.

Can This Man Save the Pentagon?
(The Daily Beast: Bill Sweetman)
Bob Work is one of the few defense experts in Washington who thinks strategy first and weapons second. Somehow, he's about to become the Pentagon's No. 2.

Security Insiders: Defense-Budget Cuts Put the Military on a Dangerous Course
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
The planned cuts leave the military with too few resources to fight, experts say.

Leave Military Policy Alone
(The Washington Post)
More weapons on military installations aren't necessarily a good idea.

This Map Shows the Deadly Aftermath of War Right Here at Home
(The Huffington Post: Jan Diehm, Kathleen Miles)
A look at incidents where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been charged with killing.

Let's Put Things in Perspective: You're Still Safer on a Military Base
(The Daily Beast: Robert Beckhusen)
On average, military bases are safer than similarly sized American cities. The violence at Fort Hood may best be explained as a workplace shooting, not a uniquely military tragedy.

South Sudan Cannot Starve
(The New York Times)
It would be unspeakably tragic if they gained their independence only to starve to death at the hands of their leaders.

Will the Pentagon's Secret Space Plane Ever Return to Earth?
(The Daily Beast: Kyle Mizokami)
Nearly 500 days into its mission, the Pentagon still won't say what its drone space shuttle is doing in orbit, or when it might come back.

Teaching Machines How to Spell Will Help Catch Terrorists
(Defense One: David Murgatroyd)
Obviously we need technology to be more robust to catch simple spelling variations in suspects' names—but how?

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

The best!"

Mark, Compensation Analyst

Timely and informative."

Dave, HR specialist

I can browse over breakfast or while on the metro."

AJ, US Army Officer

Sign up form for the newsletter
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