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Lippert Gets Ambassador Nod, HASC Bills Largely Avoid Cuts, Judge Halts Russian Engine Buys Lippert Gets Ambassador Nod, HASC Bills Largely Avoid Cuts, Judge Halt...

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Early Bird

Lippert Gets Ambassador Nod, HASC Bills Largely Avoid Cuts, Judge Halts Russian Engine Buys

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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

Lippert Nominated for South Korea Ambassador Post
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
Lippert, who has close ties to President Obama, has served as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's chief of staff since last May.

 

Angela Merkel's U.S. Trip to Focus on Ukraine Crisis
(Associated Press: Frank Jordans)
The German chancellor and Obama will discuss when they meet Friday at what point further measures—targeting the Russian economy directly—could be taken.

Judge Halts U.S. Purchase of Russian Engines
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
Judge Susan Braden said the purchases violate American sanctions against the head of Russia's space program.

Democrats Blast Lack of Cuts in Defense Budget
(Stars and Stripes: Travis Tritten)
HASC subcomittees reaffirmed there is little appetite for cutting any military pay or benefits with a series of markups that largely ignored the Pentagon's version of the budget.

Veterans Affairs Officials Purged 1.5 Million Unfinished Medical Orders
(Washington Examiner: Mark Flatten)
VA officials have since refused to say how widespread is the practice of canceling orders by labeling them "administratively closed."

CONGRESS

Rep. Smith: 'Accept' Most Proposed Cuts; Extra $26B for DoD is Unlikely
(Defense News: John Bennett)
A key House Democrat urged his colleagues to embrace some of the Obama administration's proposed weapon program cuts.

House Encourages Cargo RPA Development, National Airspace Integration
(Inside the Air Force: James Drew)
Mark-ups of the fiscal year 2015 Defense Authorization Act include a provision encouraging the Pentagon to create a program of record for the development of unmanned aerial cargo platforms -- a move which could provide spin-off benefits to the Air Force.

Hill Split on DOD Sexual-Assault Data
(Politico: Darren Samuelsohn)
Congress isn't done coming up with new sexual-assault policies as it crafts its latest version of a defense authorization bill.

Rep. Duncan Hunter to Hagel: Don't Promote Legere
(Politico: Austin Wright)
The Republican's effort to prevent Legere from advancing is just the latest move in his longstanding feud with the Army over its Distributed Common Ground System.

McCaskill Wants Answers From Kerry
(The Washington Post: Al Kamen, Colby Itkowitz)
She questions the secretary of state's call for a course on how to survive congressional hearings.

Lawmakers to DOD: Finish Investigation of F-22 Whistle-Blowers
(Air Force Times: Brian Everstine)
The Air Force grounded the F-22 from May 2011 to September 2011 because of pilots' complaints of hypoxia-like symptoms during flight.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Concerned DOD Changing Workplace Survey Agency
(Stars and Stripes: Jennifer Hlad)
The New York Democrat is concerned that having a different entity collect the data will impede the ability of the DOD and outside groups to track progress.

BENGHAZI

Release of White House Email Stirs Up a New Controversy Over Benghazi
(Los Angeles Times: Kathleen Hennessey)
Several Republicans described the latest email as a "smoking gun" that showed the White House sought to cover up a lethal terrorist attack for partisan gain.

John Boehner Calls on John Kerry to Testify on Benghazi
(Politico: Lauren French)
The House speaker said Kerry needs to explain why the documents were not sent to Congress under its subpoena order for any documents related to Benghazi.

McCain: Emails Prove Benghazi 'Cover Up'
(The Hill: Ramey Cox)
Republicans have charged that the White House initially linked the attack to a protest because it wanted to play down the idea it was a terrorist attack before the presidential election.

Pelosi Dismisses Email as GOP 'Subterfuge'
(Roll Call: Emma Dumain)
Asked by reporters more than once about revelations the email, the California Democrat threw up her hands.

General: We Didn't Even Try to Save American Lives in Benghazi
(The Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
A former general is accusing the U.S. military of not even trying to save the Americans under attack at Benghazi in 2012.

General's Opinion on Benghazi Draws a Rebuke
(Associated Press: Deb Riechmann, Donna Cassata)
Rep. Buck McKeon said the general "did not serve in a capacity that gave him reliable insight into operational options available to commanders during the attack."

UKRAINE/RUSSIA

Ukraine Attacks Rebel City, Helicopter Shot Down
(Reuters: Maria Tsvetkova)
Ukrainian officials said Slaviansk was "tightly surrounded" and called on separatist leaders to release hostages and surrender.

Putin Wants Troops Out of West Ukraine
(Associated Press: Peter Leonard)
But Ukraine's acting president ordered that the military draft be renewed, citing "threats of encroachment on the nation's territorial integrity" and interference by Russia in its internal affairs.

Replacing Russian Rocket Engine Isn't Easy, Pentagon Says
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
The Pentagon has no "great solution" to reduce its dependence on a Russian-made engine.

NATO Official: Russia Now an Adversary
(Associated Press: Robert Burns)
For the time being, defensive measures would be taken without violating the political pledge NATO made in 1997 when it established a new relationship with Moscow.

Bush Aide: We Should Have Sanctioned Russia Over Georgia
(USA Today: David Jackson)
But Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush's national security adviser at the time, did note that there were other things going on in August of 2008.

EUROPE

Romania Calls for Greater U.S. Military Presence in Black Sea
(Reuters: Radu Marinas)
The foreign ministry stressed the importance of an enhanced, long-term U.S. presence in the Black Sea region "to deter any other destabilizing initiatives."

NATO Says Seeking Closer Ties With Georgia as Ukraine Crisis Mounts
(Reuters: Margarita Antidze)
A NATO official said Russia's words or actions wouldn't influence the final decision on whether to make Georgia a full member

NATO to Urge Members to Boost Defense Spending
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The topic of increasing defense spending will be among the top agenda items when the heads of state from alliance member nations meet later this year.

NATO Rethinks Its Response Strategy
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow doesn't envision the North Atlantic Treaty Organization launching any sort of military operations in the current crisis.

Why NATO Is Such a Thorn in Russia's Side
(CNN: Diana Magnay)
Fear of the Western military alliance's steady march east is deep-rooted. It strikes at the very heart of Russia's national sense of security.

ASIA/PACIFIC

Philippines to Give U.S. Forces Access to Up to Five Military Bases
(Reuters: Manuel Mogato)
The United States is also considering whether to seek access to four civil airports as well as Batanes airfield for refueling and emergency servicing.

China Criticizes U.S. Terrorism Report
(The New York Times: Austin Ramzy)
Chinese officials said the United States wrongly played down China's counterterrorism efforts and was too hesitant to label attacks on Chinese soil as terrorism.

North Korea: New Kind of Nuke Test Still an Option
(Associated Press: Eric Talmadge)
Many experts—and the South Korean government—had suspected the North would conduct its fourth nuclear test during Obama's visit.

West Urges North Korea to Close Political Prison Camps, End Caste System
(Reuters: Stephanie Nebehay)
North Korea defended its human-rights record in a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

MIDDLE EAST

John Kerry Says He'll Pause, Reassess After Israeli-Palestinian Peace Bid
(Reuters: Phil Stewart)
The secretary of State appeared to push back against descriptions of his talks as fruitless.

Kerry Says He Had No Advance Warning of Palestinian Deal for Unity Government
(Associated Press)
Kerry says he still hopes the two sides will come back to the negotiating table.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Pentagon Chief Orders Steps to Fight Sex Assaults
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
Hagel called on the military services to step up efforts to encourage troops to intervene in assault situations.

Defense Acquisition Reform Could Include Pay Hikes for Program Managers
(Government Executive: Charles Clark)
One obstacle to progress is a discontinuity of personnel and short tenure of program managers.

West Coast Missile Defense System Remains on Hold
(Global Security Newswire: Rachel Oswald)
Congressional auditors say the Pentagon is not giving Congress adequate information about its plan for testing a troubled strategic missile defense system.

ARMY

Army Expands Involuntary Separations of Problem NCOs
(Army Times: Jim Tice)
The service also is targeting senior noncommissioned officers who have failed to complete required NCO Education System Courses.

He Lost a Leg in Combat but Vowed to Return. Here's What It Look to Get Back
(The Washington Post: Tim Craig)
Joshua Pitcher always wanted a military career. But after a bomb blast, that goal got a lot harder.

AIR FORCE

Air Force's A-10 Transition Plan In Flux Pending Congressional Action
(Inside the Air Force: Gabe Starosta)
The Air Force has a very loose plan for shifting A-10 pilots and crews to new missions, but Air Combat Command said this week that the details of that plan are as uncertain as the future of the A-10 Warthog itself.

Bye Bye Blue Devil
(Inside the Air Force: Gabe Starosta)
An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed on May 1 that the service is divesting all mission equipment relating to the Blue Devil I multi-intelligence system, with that equipment possibly being transferred to other Pentagon or federal government agencies.

Air Force Charges Ex-Informant With Lying About Her Rape
(The Daily Beast: Jacob Siegel)
The Air Force is going after one of its own for falsifying a rape charge. But it's the military brass, not the young woman, who may soon be under fire.

NAVY

Life on a Navy Sub Relies on Rules Both Serious and Ridiculous
(The Wall Street Journal: Julian Barnes)
USS New Mexico, often submerged for weeks, follows rules both serious and ridiculous. This crew loves "Odd Couple" matches and listening to Kesha on Fridays.

INDUSTRY

HASC Throws General Dynamics Little Bone on AMPV
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
The report requirement does have two interesting wrinkles—but they mainly illustrate how limited General Dynamics' ambitions have become.

VETERANS

V.A. Hospital Officials in Phoenix Are Placed on Leave
(The New York Times: Richard Oppel Jr.)
The department's inspector general is investigating allegations that the hospital created a secret waiting list for patients intended to hide long wait times for appointments.

VA Budget Bill Bans Bonuses for Senior Executives
(Military Times: Leo Shane III)
Senate appropriations officials have not given a timetable for when the chamber will take up the spending bill.

Employers Told to Meet Vets Halfway on Jobs
(Military.com: Richard Sisk)
Good intentions are not enough when it comes to hiring the new generation of veterans in a highly competitive job market.

FBI

This American Refused to Be an FBI Informant.
(Mother Jones: Nick Baumann)
Then the government made his family's life hell.

INTELLIGENCE 

White House Takes Aim at 'Big Data' Discrimination
(The Wall Street Journal: Elizabeth Dwoskin)
The Obama administration called for new protections against the use of "big data" technologies in ways that could impinge on civil liberties or lead to discrimination.

Defying U.S., Tech Firms Alert Users to Data Demands
(The Washington Post: Craig Timberg)
Tech companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators' demands for user data, saying that users have a right to know.

U.S. and Germany Fail to Reach a Deal on Spying
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
The effort to reach an accord began after it was disclosed last year that the National Security Agency was tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.

The Race to Bring NSA Surveillance to the Supreme Court
(The Verge: Adrianne Jeffries)
There are at least three pending cases against the agency with a shot at making it all the way.

AFRICA

Kerry in South Sudan to Seek an End to Fighting
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
The American secretary of state arrived Friday on an urgent mission to try to stop the violence that has killed thousands and is ripping the new nation apart.

U.S.: South Sudan Killings Show Unbelievable Cruelty
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
Kerry came to Africa in large part to broker an agreement among the African Union—and eastern Africa states in particular—to send peacekeepers to South Sudan.

Kerry Raises Detained Ethiopian Bloggers With PM
(Reuters: Aaron Maasho)
Addis Ababa has said the charges relate to "serious criminal activities" and have nothing to do with muzzling the media.

ARCTIC

As the World Warms, Navy Strategists Plan for an Arctic Rush
(Newsweek: Max Strasser)
Strategists in the Navy and throughout the government are scrambling to put policies in place, develop technology, and create a plan of action.

AMERICAS

Cuba Calls Terrorism Designation by U.S. Absurd, Manipulative
(Reuters: Daniel Trotta)
The designation carries with it economic sanctions beyond those already imposed in the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Searching for the Obama Doctrine
(Defense One: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon)
The concern for Obama's supporters and critics is that the president is "still defining his foreign policy agenda against the last administration's."

We Will Not Be Threatened
(Politico: Danny Danon)
How Secretary Kerry's "apartheid" warning set back the cause of peace.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Garden-Variety Self-Deception
(Slate: John Dickerson)
Why the new Benghazi emails aren't a "smoking gun."

How the Iraq War Crippled U.S. Military Power
(Defense One: Nathan Freier)
The decline of American military influence actually began with 9/11 and the reflexive response to a growing threat the U.S. government never completely understood.

How I'll End the War: My First Week Back in Afghanistan
(The Daily Beast: Nick Willard)
A military officer chronicles his first week back in Afghanistan readjusting to the strange rhythm of life on an overseas military base.

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