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NATO: No Troops Sans Agreement, Hagel Sells Leaner Defense Budget, Army Disqualifies 588 Soldiers NATO: No Troops Sans Agreement, Hagel Sells Leaner Defense Budget, Arm...

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NATO: No Troops Sans Agreement, Hagel Sells Leaner Defense Budget, Army Disqualifies 588 Soldiers

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.


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Chuck Hagel's Selling Tighter, Leaner Defense Budget
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is trying to do more than just lay out the Pentagon's spending priorities for the coming fiscal year.


Here's What the Pentagon Will Cut If Sequestration Happens Again in 2016
(Defense One: Stephanie Gaskell)
Hagel is warning that another round of sequestration would be devastating.

NATO: No Afghan Deal, No Troops Past 2014
(Associated Press: John-Thor Dahlburg)
Without a U.S.-Afghan security agreement, forces from other alliance member nations cannot stay either.

Army Disqualifies 588 Soldiers After Sexual-Assault Review
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
The Army has disqualified 588 soldiers as sexual-assault counselors, recruiters, and drill sergeants for infractions ranging from sexual assault to child abuse to drunken driving.

Shrugging Off Past Setbacks, Obama Plans Personal Role in Middle East Peace Bid
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
President Obama will press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to agree to a framework for a conclusive round of peace talks, officials said.


DoD Has a Detailed Sequester Back-Up Plan
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The Pentagon has a detailed five-year spending plan that adheres to federal defense spending caps should sequestration return in 2016. Just don't expect to see it anytime soon.


Military Compensation Savings About 10 Percent of Cuts
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposed reductions in military compensation, the No. 2 U.S. military official said.

Hale: 'This Budget is About Balance'
(Seapower Magazine: John Marcario)
If budget cuts continue, the Defense Department will continue to shrink and face significant cutbacks in modernization programs, according to the department's chief financial officer.

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DOD Plans to Reveal Impacts of Worst-Case Budget Scenario Along With FY15 Request
(Inside Defense)
The Defense Department will provide Congress with a high-fidelity picture of programs that would be terminated or delayed under worst-case budget scenarios slated to take effect beginning in fiscal 2016.

The Pentagon Needs to Learn a New Language: English
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
To communicate the effects of budget cuts, officials will now try to avoid both "Pentagon-speak" and hyperbole.

Budget Battle: Programs or Readiness?
(Politico: Leigh Munsil, Austin Wright)
Where will they strike hardest: on programs and personnel, as Hagel is advocating, or on readiness and modernization, which have become go-to bill-payers for a Congress eager to put off painful decisions?

Proposed Budget Cuts Irk Overseas Service Members
(Stars and Stripes: Trevor Andersen , James Kimber , Eric Guzman)
Cuts announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week aren't going down well with military personnel serving overseas.


U.S. Defense Officials Report Slow Progress in Sex-Assault Battle
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
For example, two out of every 10 service members who experience unwanted sexual conduct now come forward, versus one in 10 before.

Lumpkin to Lead DOD Bergdahl Efforts
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Hagel has put one of his top deputies in charge of the Pentagon's efforts to secure the release of a U.S. soldier captured in 2009 by insurgents in Afghanistan.

Major General Criticizes Dick Cheney for Attacking Obama on Foreign Policy
(The Huffington Post: Paige Lavender)
On Monday, Cheney criticized a proposal that called for shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, saying it would do "long-term damage to our military."

Services Still Catching Up to Meet CyberCom's Demand for Forces
(Inside Defense)
It will take the services roughly two more years until they can supply U.S. Cyber Command with the kinds of qualified forces needed to carry out missions.


Fox: Pentagon Will Plan for Possible Carrier Cut in 2015
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
Fox's remarks serve as a warning to Congress, which enacted sequestration cuts of more than $50 billion to the defense budget through 2021.

Navy Plans New Future With 32-Ship LCS Fleet
( Kris Osborn)
Navy leaders say the service will reexamine the future of its Littoral Combat Ship in light of recent Pentagon direction to halt the buy at 32 ships.

Carrier Fleet Still Vulnerable to Sequestration
( Kris Osborn)
Navy leaders said the service can only afford to refuel the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier by 2016 and maintain an 11 carrier Navy if Congress can pass legislation to repeal sequestration.

Navy to Take Larger Role in Arctic Region
(National Defense: Yasmin Tadjdeh)
The Navy anticipates that it will have to increase its presence in the harsh northern region, but not until after 2020.

Walter Reed to Join Navy's Antiterrorism Drill
(Associated Press)
Navy officials say the drill is scheduled for Thursday.


Army Cancels High-Tech Combat Vehicle Project
(NextGov: Bob Brewin)
The Army has decided to cancel a high-tech ground combat vehicle project that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost $29 billion

Army Seeking to Buy 100 More Lakotas in Upcoming FY15 Budget Request
(Inside Defense)
The Army, in a departure from previous plans, will seek to buy 100 more LUH-72A Lakota helicopters in the fiscal 2015 budget request.

Army Gives Out $500,000 Armored Trucks for Free
(Bloomberg News)
The 20-ton MRAPs were built specifically to save U.S. soldiers from roadside bombs in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now the trucks are patrolling U.S. city streets.

Who Should Decide the Army's Future? Active Vs. Guard
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
The National Guard has lost the budget battle inside the administration. But it has hardly lost the war.

Army Study to Determine How Women Will Be Deemed Fit to Join the Front Lines
(Associated Press)
The Pentagon ordered last year that women must have the same opportunities to serve in combat jobs as men.

Army Special Aviation Command to Welcome a New Commander
(The Fayetteville Observer: Drew Brooks)
Brig. Gen. Erik C. Peterson will become commanding general of the one-star command, which oversees people, hardware, and training for Army special operations aviation.


James: USAF Expects Long-Range Bomber RFP in Fall
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
The US Air Force intends to issue a request for proposal on its new long-range strike bomber this fall, according to the service's top civilian official.

A-10 Warthog Faces Elimination. Will Congress Save It Again?
(Christian Science Monitor: Peter Grier)
It is a tough survivor, in both the skies and the halls of Congress. The Defense Department has tried to kill the aircraft before, and failed.

Secretary Expects Personnel Cuts to Be Less Severe Than Previously Estimated
(Air Force Times: Brian Everstine)
The Defense Department's budget request, to be unveiled next week, will propose cutting fewer than the previously estimated 25,000 airmen over five years.


Kirsten Gillibrand Tries to Revive Debate on Military Sex-Assault Bill
(CBS News: Stephanie Condon)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday held a hearing on the relationship between military sexual assault, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

Gillibrand Lights Fire Under Military Sexual-Assault Debate
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand keeps hitting roadblocks in her effort to bring her military sexual-assault bill to a vote, she opened a new dimension in the debate.

Sexual Misconduct in the Military—and Why Kirsten Gillibrand Is Pushing Reform to the Top of Her Agenda
(Vogue: Mimi Swartz)
Gillibrand dates her battle with the U.S. military brass to late 2012.

Congress Bars Families of Fallen SEALs From Testifying at Hearing About Their Deaths
(Foreign Policy: Dan Lamothe)
The hearing will address the disastrous and mysterious Aug. 6, 2011, mission that killed 38 people and a working dog on board a CH-47D Chinook helicopter.

Inside John McCain's Hollow Hold of Two Pentagon Nominees
(Defense News: John Bennett)
According to multiple congressional sources—despite reports to the contrary—McCain's dual hold of Work and Wormuth is rather hollow.


Hard Talk Aside, Little Desire by the West to Leave Afghanistan
(The New York Times: Helene Cooper)
While President Obama and NATO officials have talked of a withdrawal by year's end, Western officials worry that swaths of the country would fall back under Taliban control.

Dempsey: Military Has Job Despite Withdrawal Talk
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
America's top military officer said the U.S. threat to withdraw all troops out of Afghanistan if no security pact is signed may encourage the enemy and lead some Afghan forces to align with the Taliban.


Feds Move to Keep NSA Call Data Indefinitely
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
The Obama administration is asking for permission to keep data on billions of U.S. phone calls indefinitely instead of destroying it after five years.

NSA Wants to Expand Phone Database—Because of Privacy Suits
(National Journal: Brendan Sasso)
The government says it needs to keep the phone data as evidence.

NSA Reform Advocates Oppose White House Proposal to Hand Data to FBI
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
Jim Sensenbrenner among those concerned by proposals on the table and says stance to end bulk surveillance is "unwavering."


U.S. Envoy Tells China, Japan to Lower Temperature in Sea Row
(Reuters: Michael Martina)
China and Japan must ease tension in the disputed East China Sea to avoid severe "unintended consequences", U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said.

End Draws Near for U.S. Military Hub in Kyrgyzstan
(Marine Corps Times: Jeff Schogol)
For the time being, U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan continue to pass through Manas, said a spokeswoman for the transit center.


Syria Exports Deadly Mustard Gas for Destruction
(The New York Times: Nick Cumming-Bruce)
Sigrid Kaag, the coordinator of the international mission, called the delivery "an important step" toward eliminating Syria's chemical weapons.

Syria a 'Top' Concern for Homeland Security Chief
(CNN: Jamie Crawford)
The U.S. homeland security chief says chaos and instability in Syria remain a top concern for protecting the country from attack.

Syrian Government Promotes Local Ceasefires as the Way Out of War
(The Huffington Post: Joshua Hersh)
In the past few weeks, government teams have negotiated similar truces with rebel factions in a handful of neighborhoods across Damascus, but critics among the opposition note that not all have been successful.

Syrian State Media Say Army Killed 175 Rebels
(Associated Press)
If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest attacks by government forces against rebels in the area.


Kerry: U.S. Must Pursue Iran Talks Before Considering Going to War
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton, Arshad Mohammed)
President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, has said that all options are on the table with regard to Iran's nuclear program.

Iran Seen Resuming Work at Suspect Military Base
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
Iran has resumed activities at an installation believed by some specialists to have housed nuclear-arms studies, says a Washington analytical group.


Russia Will Take Part in Talks on IMF Financial Aid to Ukraine-Report
(Reuters: Katya Golubkova)
Debt-stricken Ukraine has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to stave off bankruptcy.

West Deliberates as Ukraine Economy Sinks
(The Wall Street Journal: Laurence Norman, Andrey Ostroukh, Jay Solomon)
Plummeting currency highlights country's vulnerability post-uprising.

Tensions Mount in a Divided Ukraine
(The Washington Post: William Booth, Will Englund)
Gunmen seized a Crimean parliament builiding and hoisted a Russian flag over it, stoking tensions even higher in the region.

New Ukraine Ministers Proposed, Russian Troops on Alert
(Reuters: Alessandra Prentice, Richard Balmforth)
Ukraine's protest leaders named the ministers they want to form a new government following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich.

Policy Makers Devise Plans to Provide Money to Kiev
(The New York Times: Annie Lowrey, Michael Gordon)
Substantial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the United States and others would come after a transitional government is in place in Ukraine.

U.S. Weighs $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon)
Kerry's comments were the first made by a U.S. official outlining the scope of support the Obama administration may provide to Kiev in a bid to stabilize its finances.

John Kerry to Russia: Ukraine Conflict Isn't 'Rocky IV'
(USA Today: Catalina Camia)
Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia should not see the protests in Ukraine as another Cold War battle.

Ukraine Draws Obama Into Putin's Long Game
(Reuters: David Rhode)
The fall of Yanukovich—and Putin's potential response to it—has reignited a debate in Washington on how to respond to the assertive Russian leader.

U.S Urges 'Outside Actors' to Respect Ukraine
(Associated Press)
The White House is urging "outside actors" to respect Ukraine's sovereignty, as neighboring Russia prepares for massive military exercises.

Putin Drills Ground Troops at Ukraine's Doorstep as U.S. Warns Against Intervention
(The New York Times: Steven Lee Myers, Rick Gladstone, Michael Gordon)
The Obama administration said any Russian military intervention in Ukraine would be a costly and "grave mistake."

McFaul Leaves Moscow and Two Dramatic Years in Relations Between U.S. and Russia
(The Washington Post: Kathy Lally)
The Russian press covered him obsessively during his two years here. Liberal media found him accessible and quotable.

Yatsenyuk Proposed as New Ukraine Prime Minister
(Associated Press: Karl Ritter)
The leaders of Ukraine's protest movement proposed Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister, as Russia's president ordered major military exercises just across the border.

U.S. State Department Urges Georgia to Integrate With Europe and NATO
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
The call comes amid growing tensions between Russia and the West over the ouster of a pro-Moscow president in Ukraine, another former Soviet republic.

Putin Orders Military Tests Amid Ukraine Tensions
(Associated Press)
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered massive exercises involving most military units in western Russia amid tensions in Ukraine.


FBI Had Human Source in Contact With Bin Laden as Far Back as 1993
(The Washington Times: Guy Taylor, John Solomon)
The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles.


Marines Delay Pull-Up Requirement for Female Recruits
(Pensacola News Journal: Rob Johnson)
The top brass worries the additional strength test could thin the ranks of otherwise qualified personnel.

Hello to Arms: Marines Reinstate a Corps Fashion Principle
(The Wall Street Journal: Ben Kesling)
After rancor in the ranks, commandant lets leathernecks roll up their sleeves.


Coast Guard Expands Tuition Assistance to Master's Degrees
(Military Times: Meghann Myers)
The Coast Guard will now fund 75 percent of tuition costs for active-duty members seeking their first master's, up to $187.50 per credit hour, with an overall cap of $2,250.


Standoff Suspect Says Military Bill Made Him 'Snap'
(The Cincinnati Enquirer: Jim Hannah)
Michael Vaughan had sought help for posttraumatic stress disorder, but was denied.


Court Rules Against Protestors at Military Base
(Associated Press)
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday against an antiwar activist who was barred from a protest area near the main gate at a California Air Force base.


General to Congress: Guantanamo's Hidden Prison Problems 'Increasingly Unsustainable'
(Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
The general responsible for the detention center told Congress that Guantanamo's hidden prison for ex-CIA captives continues to deteriorate and become "increasingly unsustainable due to drainage and foundation issues."


ATF Agents Reportedly Lose Track of Dozens of Guns
(Fox News)
ATF agents are losing track of their government-issued firearms at an alarming rate, according to a new report.


Boeing Is Making a Spy Phone That Self Destructs
(Quartz: Nick Stockton)
Boeing has filed papers with the FCC to develop a smartphone for people in the business of secrets.


Kerry Likens Uganda Anti-Gay Law to Anti-Semitism and Apartheid
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
Kerry said the legislation signed by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday was "atrocious" and expressed concern at mounting discrimination against gays in 78 countries around the world.


Kerry: U.S. Won't Take Venezuelan Blame for Things It Hasn't Done
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
The United States is seeking to improve relations with Venezuela's new government but will not stand by when Caracas falsely accuses it of stoking violence, the secretary of State said.

Lawmakers Urge Obama, Latin American Leaders to Boost Efforts to Curb Venezuela Violence
(Fox News)
The crackdown in Venezuela has already drawn in the Obama administration, though the White House stresses that the real dispute is between the Venezuelan government and its people.

Obama Administration to Mexico: Hand Over 'El Chapo'
(Foreign Policy: Shane Harris)
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stressed that extraditing him to the United States will be difficult and is far from a certain outcome.


Kerry to Russia: 'This Is Not Rocky IV'
(The Washington Post: Aaron Blake)
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged Russia to avoid confrontation in Ukraine, saying the country doesn't present a proxy battle in a some kind of new Cold War.

Hagel Says Europeans Should Step Up NATO Support
(Associated Press: Robert Burns)
Hagel said the current path of declining European defense investment is not sustainable.


Benefits Threaten Pentagon Mission
(USA Today)
Defense Department is starting to resemble the pre-bankruptcy GM, burdened by legacy pension and health care costs.

A Military Budget to Fit the Times
(The New York Times)
The truth is that the United States cannot afford the larger force indefinitely, and it doesn't need it.

Is Hagel Tying America's Hands (and Is That a Bad Thing)?
(The Washington Post: David Edelstein)
There are at least two major reasons why an American decision to "tie its hands" from invasion and occupation should not be a concern.

Defense Secretary Declares War on Budget Control Act as Hollow Force Looms
(Forbes: Loren Thompson)
Doctrinaire proponents of budget cuts might find it hard to argue with a fellow Republican who was repeatedly wounded in Vietnam when he warns them their plans are putting today's warfighters at risk.

Hagel's Defense Cuts: The Least Bad Choice
(The National Interest: James Joyner)
Massive cuts to America's ground forces are quite likely the least bad choice to make given the current strategic and budgetary environment.

Chuck Hagel's Nuclear Exemption
(Los Angeles Times: Doyle McManus)
One category of military spending largely escaped the ax in the Defense secretary's budget: nuclear weapons.

With Syria, Diplomacy Needs Force
(The New York Times: Michael Ignatieff)
The conventional wisdom about Syria is that nothing can be done.

Occupy Kiev: What Should Ukraine Do Now With the Heroes of the Maidan?
(The Daily Beast: Vijai Maheshwari)
The heroes of the Maidan forced a corrupt president to relinquish power even as snipers picked off their comrades—and now they're vowing to stay put in Kiev indefinitely.

The America-Israel Lobby Must Fully Back Kerry's Israel-Palestine Initiative
(The Guardian: Alan Elsner)
Aipac has done much to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship over decades of its existence. Now it should support Kerry.

Why Is Robert Gates Angry?
(The New Republic: Max Boot)
The former Defense Secretary: Indignant, effective, and often wrong.

Was Bush Really a Champion of Democracy?
(The Atlantic: Peter Beinart)
The father of the freedom agenda might not have responded to Ukraine's revolution all that differently than Obama has.

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