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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NSA Hacked Chinese Servers That U.S. Saw as Spy Risk
(The New York Times: David Sanger, Nicole Perlroth)
As the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from Huawei Technologies, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors.
Russian Troops May Be Massing to Invade Ukraine, Says White House
(The Guardian: Jon Swaine)
Russian forces gathering on the border with eastern Ukraine may be poised to invade, the White House warned.
U.S. Congress Republicans Want Small Arms Sent to Help Ukraine
(Reuters: Richard Cowan, Eric Beech, Patrick Temple-West)
Republicans urged the Obama administration to dispatch small weapons and other military equipment to aid Ukraine as Russian troops amassed at that country's eastern border.
Terror Report Release May Fuel Congress' CIA Spat
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper, Stephen Braun)
If senators vote this week to release key sections of a voluminous report on terrorist interrogations, an already strained relationship between lawmakers and the CIA could become even more rancorous.
More U.S. Troops to Aid Uganda Search for Kony
(The New York Times: Helene Cooper)
President Obama is sending more troops and military aircraft to Uganda as part of a long-running effort to hunt down fugitive rebel commander Joseph Kony.
Fake U.S. Ship Spotted in Gulf Is a Movie Set, Iranian Media Say
(Reuters: Mehrdad Balali)
A replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier spotted near the coast of Iran is nothing more sinister than a movie set.
Russia Dominates, but Obama Trip Broadens Outreach
(Associated Press: Jim Kuhnhenn)
President Barack Obama begins a week of international travel with Russia's Crimean incursion at the top of his agenda, even as he simultaneously seeks to re-emphasize U.S. influence abroad.
Obama's Aim to Shift U.S. Foreign Policy Runs Up Against an Old Cold War Rival
(The Washington Post: Scott Wilson)
President Obama has long said he intends to push the country's approach to the world into the 21st century and away from the power politics of the past.
Kerry Hopes Crimea Won't Hit Russian Cooperation on Syrian Weapons
(Reuters: Fredrik Dahl)
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped the Crimea crisis would not harm cooperation with Russia on international efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons
Two Ukrainians Captured as Crimean Base Stormed
Ukraine's Defense Ministry says Russian forces have stormed yet another Ukrainian military base on the Crimean Peninsula and taken two servicemen captive.
West Warns on Troops as Russia Asserts Control of Crimea
(Bloomberg: Daryna Krasnolutska, Aliaksandr Kudrytski)
Western nations expressed growing concern over Russia massing soldiers on its border with Ukraine.
Ukraine Official: Chances of War With Russia 'Growing'
(The Wall Street Journal: Michael Phillips)
Ukraine's top diplomat warned Sunday that the chances of war with Russia "are growing" due to the buildup of Moscow's forces along his country's eastern border.
World Leaders Gather For Hague Nuclear Summit
(Associated Press: Toby Sterling, Mike Corder)
Nuclear terrorism is officially the main topic for world leaders at a two-day summit in the Netherlands, but it will likely be overshadowed by Ukraine.
Foreign Monitors Enter Ukraine to Observe Political Situation
(The New York Times: Alison Smale)
Deployment of the first observers was seen by some as the first break in the crisis over Crimea since Russia annexed it last week.
Poland Calls for Larger U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe
(Reuters: Marcin Goettig)
Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Washington was open towards the idea but detailed talks were yet to begin.
As Sanctions Start, Russia Feels a Sting
(The New York Times: Steven Lee Myers, Neil MacFarquhar)
With the onset of sanctions, Russia's stock indexes opened sharply lower and agencies threatened to cut the country's creditworthiness, but Putin's oligarchs stood by him.
Moscow's Low-Key Man in Washington
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak has stayed publicly silent and out of sight as the Crimea crisis has worsened.
Did Obama Just Sanction Russia's Next President?
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
The U.S. sanctions against Russian officials announced this week could have long-ranging effects for years to come, especially if sanctioned official Sergey Ivanov succeeds Vladimir Putin as the next leader of the Russian Federation.
Two Warships Leave Europe as Hagel Seeks to Defuse Tensions
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sought to reassure his Ukrainian counterpart, after receiving assurances of non-aggression from Russia and as two U.S. warships left the region.
Pentagon: Hypersonic Needed to Defeat Russian Air Defense Systems
(Military.com: Kris Osborn)
Pentagon leaders see hypersonic flight of weapons and aircraft as essential to future military superiority.
Ukraine Signs Political Accord With European Union
(Los Angeles Times: Henry Chu, Sergei Loiko)
The deal risks further angering Putin, though he signals a pause in sanctions retaliation.
Durbin, Ayotte Want Military Aid for Ukraine
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Sens. Dick Durbin and Kelly Ayotte backed military aid to Ukraine.
Senators Already in Their Corners in Upcoming Debate Over Ukraine Aid
(McClatchy: William Douglas, Lesley Clark)
Russia's annexation of Crimea has produced yet another perfect storm in Washington: a fast-moving international crisis and a slow-moving Congress.
New Bipartisan Ukraine Sanctions Bill Introduced — Without IMF Language
(Roll Call: Emma Dumain)
A House bill introduced Friday imposing sanctions on Russia and providing economic aid to Ukraine would closely mirror legislation up for consideration in the Senate next week.
On Capitol Hill, a Return to Pet Military Projects
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Lawmakers are pressing Pentagon brass hard to explain cuts proposed in their districts and states, and lobbying them to consider other options.
Military Sexual-Assault Verdicts Revive Debate on Hill
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
Critics said the cases underscore the need for further reforms.
Rogers: U.S. 'Rhetoric Doesn't Match Reality'
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
Rogers said the Obama administration needs to be tougher on Russia and provide military aid to help Ukrainians defend themselves.
U.S. Scurries to Shore Up Spying on Russia
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Julian Barnes, Siobhan Gorman)
In Crimea, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping.
China Demands Explanation From U.S. on Huawei Spying Report
(Reuters: Ben Blanchard)
China wants a clear explanation from Washington over a report that the U.S. National Security Agency infiltrated servers at the headquarters of telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co.
Sen. Feinstein 'Open to Changes' on NSA Spying
(The Hill: Kate Tummarello)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will consider forthcoming recommendations to change the National Security Agency's controversial phone surveillance program.
Senate's Top Law Enforcement Officer Confirms Progress on Investigation Into CIA Spying
(Roll Call: Hannah Hess)
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said his staff has "absolutely" begun investigating the controversy involving the CIA and the Intelligence Committee.
U.S. Intelligence Officials Believe Snowden Is Working With Russia, Lawmaker Says
(The New York Times: Brian Knowlton)
Rep. Rogers's assertions about the former NSA contractor expanded on his previous suggestions, for which he has yet to offer evidence.
Carter Fears NSA Is Spying on His Emails
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
Former President Jimmy Carter says he thinks the NSA might be monitoring his emails.
Brennan Strikes Conciliatory Note With Intelligence Panel
(The Washington Post: Greg Miller)
The CIA director praised the committee a week after the two traded allegations of illegal conduct.
White House Growth and Security Bill Includes $8B for New Weapons
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The Pentagon's share of the White House's $56 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative requests more than double the procurement money previously disclosed.
DoD Seeks to Recognize Drone Operators
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The Pentagon is taking another shot at creating awards for drone operators and cyber troops after a backlash from Congress and veterans groups sank its first attempt.
U.S. to Ration Cold Medicine to Curb Drug Misuse|
(Stars and Stripes: Ashley Rowland)
U.S. Forces Korea has announced that the command will soon begin monitoring the sale of some over-the-counter drugs in an effort to curb an 18-month increase in drug misuse and abuse cases.
Dems: Deal or No Deal?
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
About a quarter of the Senate is urging Obama to consult with Congress over how the United State will respond to Iran if a deal over its nuclear program is or isn't reached.
Breaking With the West, Afghan Leader Supports Russia's Annexation of Crimea
(The New York Times: Matthew Rosenberg)
Afghanistan's president cites "the free will of the Crimean people," in a statement issued shortly after he met with three members of the United States Congress.
U.S. Strongly Condemns 'Barbaric' Attacks in Afghanistan
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
The State Department said it strongly condemned "barbaric" attacks in Afghanistan that left more than two dozen people dead or wounded, including children.
Carrier Clash Hints at Future Spending Battles
(Politico: Austin Wright, Philip Ewing)
The last-minute wrangling over the Navy's request is just one example of the difficulties for the military, the White House and Congress in finding ways to agree to spend less than planned on defense.
Navy Jettisons More Than 1,100 Tomahawk Missiles, $1.8B From Procurement Plan
The Navy's fiscal year 2015 budget lops off $1.8 billion and five years of planned Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile purchases.
Armor Programs Will Recover Despite GCV Kill, Sequester
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
Even if sequestration continues, said one leading analyst, ground vehicle spending has at the very least bottomed out — and it may well rebound impressively.
Japan to Let U.S. Assume Control of Nuclear Cache
(The New York Times: Michael Shear, David Sanger)
Japan will announce Monday that it will turn over to Washington more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and a large quantity of highly enriched uranium.
U.S. Emerges as Central Stage in Asian Rivalry
(The New York Times: Martin Fackler)
Experts say that both Japan and South Korea have the same goal: cajoling Washington into pressuring the other to make concessions in their bitter rivalry over history and geography.
Missing Plane Hunt Costs US Military $2.6 Million
(Military.com: Richard Sisk)
The Defense Department has spent $2.6 million to date in the expanding international search effort to find missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
U.S. Reassures Taiwan on Funding for F-16 Radar Upgrade
(Defense News: Wendell Minnick, Aaron Mehta)
But Taipei accusing U.S. of not giving full financial picture.
North Korea: Rockets Fired in a Test Land in the Sea
(The New York Times: Choe Sang-Hun)
North Korea test-fired 30 short-range rockets off its east coast on Saturday, the latest in a series of military actions condemned by South Korea.
Boeing U.S. Tanker Program Seen $1 Billion Over Budget
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
The latest estimate from the Air Force office that runs the KC-46A aerial tanker program puts the total development cost at $5.85 billion.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Jet's Software Delayed, GAO Says
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
Delays in testing critical software for Lockheed Martin's F-35 jet are threatening to delay the Pentagon's most expensive weapon and boost development costs.
Lockheed Looks Beyond Weapons
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
Lockheed Martin is the world's largest defense contractor — but you wouldn't know it by what the company has been buying lately.
Raytheon, Kongsberg File Protest Of LRASM Follow-On Contract Award
Raytheon Missile Systems and Norway's Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace have filed a joint bid protest of the Defense Department's decision to award Lockheed Martin a major follow-on development contract.
CAE to Develop Six Additional P-8A Operational Flight Trainers
CAE will manufacture the P-8A simulators and a suite of P-8A trainers, which will be used as role playing stations during training of P-8A aircrews.
In Defense Industry, a Souring Mood on Acquisition Reform
(National Defense: Sandra Erwin)
In a recent survey, more than half of the executives called attention to a growing disconnect between what buyers expect and what contractors promise to deliver
Report Estimates Half of Vets on GI Bill Graduate
(Associated Press: Pauline Jelinek)
A little more than half of the veterans who got college money under the GI Bill since 2009 eventually graduated, though many took longer to do it, a new study estimates.
Higher Jobless Rates for Iraq, Afghanistan Vets
(McClatchy: James Rosen)
Military veterans are having better luck finding jobs, outpacing their civilian counterparts in many states, but younger former troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan still lag behind.
U.N. Report Faults Syria and Rebels for Blocking Relief Supplies
(The New York Times: Somini Sengupta)
The document is likely to spur fierce arguments among the members of the deeply divided Security Council, but it is unlikely to result in any immediate enforcement measures.
U.S. Shifts Syria Strategy to 'Southern Front'
(Los Angeles Times: Nabih Bulos, Patrick McDonnell)
The U.S. and allies are giving cash, and many say, training, to rebel forces in what many view as a last chance to turn the war against Bashar Assad's government.
Russian Defiance Is Seen as a Confidence Builder for Syria's Government
(The New York Times: Anne Barnard)
The prospect of a deal brokered by Russian and American officials to end the Syrian war seems increasingly remote, as bonds deepen between Moscow and Damascus.
U.S. Forces Hand Over Seized Oil Tanker to Libya
(Reuters: Ulf Laessing)
The Navy handed over to Libyan authorities an oil tanker carrying crude that had been loaded at a port controlled by armed rebels in defiance of Tripoli's government.
U.S. Embassy Limits Visas for Venezuelans Amid Diplomatic Tension
(Reuters: Diego Ore)
The U.S. embassy in Venezuela said it is suspending appointments for new tourist visas due to a lack of personnel following the expulsion of consular staff last month.
Uruguay Asks U.S. to Free Cubans in Return for Guantanamo Transfer
(Reuters: Malena Castaldi)
President Jose Mujica said in his weekly radio broadcast that he had asked for Cubans on U.S. soil to be released in exchange.
Could the U.S. Face a Cruise Missile Threat from the Gulf of Mexico?
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
The United States is puzzling over how to block cruise missiles that theoretically could be launched from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Energy Wedge
(The Washington Post)
The U.S export of natural gas could reduce Russia's predatory practices.
The West's Obligation to Ukraine
(The Washington Post: Madeleine Albright, Jim O'Brien)
It does not happen often that a country is given a second chance. Ukrainians have one, and so do international leaders.
In Defense of Empire
(The Atlantic: Robert Kaplan)
It can ensure stability and protect minorities better than any other form of order. The case for a tempered American imperialism.
Putin Is Violating a Rule That Was Designed to Prevent World War Three
(Quartz: Steve LeVine)
Those who deal in global security--NATO in particular--are worried that the underpinnings of the six-decade "long peace" since World War II are at risk.
3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
He has argued with United States presidents, lectured them, misled them, accused them, kept them waiting, kept them guessing, betrayed them and felt betrayed by them.
Burning Bridges and the Smell of Fresh Blood
(Foreign Policy: James Traub)
Putin says he doesn't "need" eastern Ukraine, but he might just take it anyway.
How the Russia Sanctions Could Backfire
(Politico: Oliver Bullough)
The costs to Russia are undoubtedly severe but, as Russian businessmen scramble to get their money out of America's reach, Putin may be secretly pleased.
Five Questions in CIA-Senate Fight
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Much of the fighting is conducted behind closed doors over classified material, and there are many unanswered questions.
Please Come Back, Bob Gates
(The National Interest: Richard Russell)
The rose-colored worldview of the Obama administration and many at the top of the military sorely needs the hardboiled realist's balance.
Think the Pentagon Isn't Serious About Asia? Think Again
(Defense One: Brian Harding)
U.S. commitment to directly engage ASEAN is also a strategic attempt to put the grouping at the center of multilateralism in Asia.
Why Aircraft Carrier Workers Deserve a Better Plan from the Pentagon
(Defense One: Rick Giannini, Darrell Grow)
The uncertain future Pentagon officials have charted for the Navy's aircraft carrier fleet unfortunately provides no clear direction for the defense industrial base that builds and supplies it.
Military Pension Reform 2.0
(The Wall Street Journal: Pete Hegseth)
The COLA changes are history, but the entire retirement system is too costly—and inequitable.
Building an Army of 125,000 Spartans, Part II
(Real Clear Defense: J. Furman Daniel, III)
Responding to the critics.