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Obama Hits Russia With More Sanctions, Senate Panel to Pentagon: 'Reassess' Value of Alternate F-35 Engine Obama Hits Russia With More Sanctions, Senate Panel to Pentagon: 'Reas...

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Obama Hits Russia With More Sanctions, Senate Panel to Pentagon: 'Reassess' Value of Alternate F-35 Engine

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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


Pentagon Envisions 'Small' Training Program for Syria Opposition
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Julian Barnes)
Plan offers little up-front support to moderates battling the Assad regime.

Senate Panel to Pentagon: 'Reassess' Value of Alternate F-35 Engine
(Defense News: John Bennett)
A U.S. Senate subcommittee wants senior Pentagon officials to consider reviving an effort to develop a second power plant.

U.S. Slaps Toughest Sanctions Yet on Russia
(Reuters: Steve Holland, Elizabeth Piper)
Washington targeted Putin's allies, many of whom have become wealthy during his tenure.


Israel: Chance of Ground Invasion Is 'Very High'
(The Washington Post: Sudarsan Raghavan, William Booth, Ruth Eglash)
A senior military official suggested that an invasion of Gaza is near as Israel announced it will briefly suspend attacks in what it calls a "humanitarian truce."


HASC Hammers DepSecDef Over OCO Counter-Terrorism Fund
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
The furor focused on the $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund.

Lawmakers Criticize War Funding 'Slush Fund'
(Politico: Jeremy Herb, Philip Ewing)
The resistance comes just weeks after the Obama administration submitted its Overseas Contingency Operations budget.

Durbin Wants Defense Spending Bill on the Floor, but Isn't Optimistic
(Roll Call: Niels Lesniewski, Humberto Sanchez)
Asked if the regular process of handling bills one at a time was dead, the Illinois Democrat said "I hope not, but it really looks tough."


Acting VA Secretary: It Will Take Years Before Department Changes
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
Sloan Gibson says the agency can turn the corner in two years, but it will need a lot more money.

Tester Sounds Off on VA Reform
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Sen. Jon Tester slammed his fellow lawmakers for dragging their feet on legislation to fix the embattled Veterans Affairs Department.

Will Congress Take August Recess Before Relieving VA Health Crisis?
(Roll Call: Niels Lesniewski)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would not rule out that possibility of gridlock over how to alleviate the VA crisis as House and Senate conferees continue to talk.

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5 Things to Expect From Gen. Dunford's Confirmation Hearing
(Marine Corps Times: Hope Hodge Seck)
After some 17 months in a multi-service command, he'll now be called to return his focus to Marine-specific operations, budgeting, morale, and discipline.

Senators Vow to Reassert America's Rocket Power
(The Hill: Julian Hattem)
Lawmakers and top military officials expressed fears that friction with Russia could someday leave the United States without the power to launch rockets into space.


Obama Likely to Seek Additional Time for Nuclear Negotiations With Iran
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
Obama said that he believed the United States had "a credible way forward" in its nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Obama, Kerry Discuss 'Path Forward' on Iran Talks
(Associated Press)
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Iran's track record in implementing an interim agreement has been "surprisingly favorable.

Iran, Powers Seek to Agree Terms for Extending Nuclear Talks: Diplomats
(Reuters: John Irish, Parisa Hafezi)
Officials from both sides have said it appears the talks will not yield a breakthrough by the self-imposed target date.


For Iraq, Debacle in Tikrit as Forces Walk Into Trap Set by Militants
(The New York Times: Alissa Rubin, Suadad Al-Salhy)
The debacle in Tikrit offered a vivid illustration of how badly the Iraqi military needs advisers.

Israel and Hamas Agree Short Ceasefire
(Agence France-Presse)
Both sides accept UN humanitarian request to halt bombardment for five hours on Thursday after Israeli strike killed four children.

Obama: U.S. Using All Means to Get Israel Cease-Fire
(Associated Press: Josh Lederman)
Obama said the U.S. supports Egypt's continued efforts to restore the 2012 cease-fire.

Hamas Has Already Won Its Rocket War With Israel
(The Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
The weapons rarely hit their targets, and the death toll has been lopsided against them. But by showing their rockets can hit all of Israel, Hamas has already notched a victory.


Gunmen Attack Airport in Afghan Capital
(Associated Press: Amir Shah)
The attack set off a gunbattle with security forces and forcing the airport to close for hours.

Afghanistan Revises Down Death Toll From Market Attack to 43
A car packed with explosives detonated on Tuesday as it sped through a crowded market in northern Paktika.

Pakistan: U.S. Missile Strike Kills 15 Militants
(Associated Press: Riaz Khan)
Pakistani security forces captured a key Taliban commander linked to a 2003 assassination attempt on former President Pervez Musharraf.


New to Pacific Drills: China's Navy
(The Wall Street Journal: Jeremy Page)
An unusual experiment in military diplomacy is under way in the waters off Hawaii, as the U.S. incorporates China into the world's biggest naval drills for the first time.

South Korea-U.S. Naval Drill Begins Despite North's Anger
(Agence France-Presse)
Two separate drills began simultaneously in the East Sea and off the southern port of Mokpo, South Korean military officials said.


Russia Says Washington Is Sanctions 'Bully'
(USA Today: Kim Hjelmgaard)
Russia hit back at the United States on Thursday following the imposition of a new round of sanctions for its actions in Ukraine.

Pentagon: More Russian Troops on Ukraine Border
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
Army Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. believes there are now up to 12,000 Russia troops on the border.

Russia to Reopen Spy Base in Cuba as Relations With U.S. Continue to Sour
(The Guardian: Alec Luhn)
Decision to reopen signals intelligence facility south of Havana follows Russia forgiving 90 percent of Cuba's unpaid Soviet-era debts.


DOD Proposes Wider Use of Afghanistan War Fund
(Stars and Stripes: Travis Tritten)
Winnefeld said the supplemental funding pot could be expanding even further and used for anything the military "would not normally be doing in a peaceful world."

American G.I.s: Dude, Where's My Car?
(The Daily Beast: Tim Mak)
Delays, confusion, full voicemail boxes—U.S. military families are up in arms over the failures of a new Pentagon contractor tasked with shipping their cars when they're re-stationed.


The FBI Is Worried Driverless Cars Will Be Used as Bombs
(The Verge: Adrianne Jeffries)
Look at that self-driving prototype up there. Isn't it cute? The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't think so.


Bergdahl's Lawyer Sees a Rare Case With Myriad Legal Options
(The New York Times: Kirk Johnson)
The legal road ahead for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is both narrowly constrained by Army procedures and at the same time open to almost complete discretion in what course the Army might tak

Bowe Bergdahl Thanks Obama for 'Saving His Life'
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
The former Taliban prisoner is gearing up for the investigation into his disappearance and abduction in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl's Attorney Also Fought for Army Captain in Espionage Case
(Army Times: Joe Gould)
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has retained a high-profile attorney — the same lawyer who defended Capt. James Yee.

Army Wants Trucks to Drive Without Troops
(National Defense: Dan Parsons)
Removing drivers from truck cabs also frees up soldiers to perform more complex tasks at a time when declining budgets are putting a premium on manpower.


Improving Economy, Lengthy Tours Could Affect Navy Retention
(Stars and Stripes: Steven Beardsley)
Vice Adm. Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel, said servicemembers in highly skilled fields like aviation, cyberwarfare and submarine warfare are especially tempting to civilian employers.


Guardsman Kill 2, Self: Vigil Honors Victims
(Associated Press)
Dozens of people gathered outside a Logan apartment complex for a candlelight vigil honoring two young people killed there earlier this week in a murder-suicide.


USAF Seeks Space Launch Proposals From Industry
(Defense News: Brian Everstine)
The U.S. Air Force this week opened competition for a national security space launch for the first time in a decade.

Pentagon Enlists Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson To Design a Space Plane
(The Daily Beast: Dave Majumdar)
The gazillionaire tycoons have invested big in the space business. And the military likes what they've built.


Want To Lease a Watchkeeper UAV? Call Thales
(Defense News: Tom Kington)
A deal under which Thales operated and analyzed data from a Watchkeeper UAV would be an option.


First Lady: Vets Face 'Unacceptable' Job Barriers
(Associated Press: Matt Hamilton)
The first lady cautioned that a "tiny percentage" of veterans end up on the streets, but linked homelessness to the overall need for employment.

5 Ways the VA Is Addressing Manipulation of Benefits Data
(The Washington Post: Josh Hicks)
The agency summarized those measures in an announcement.


Boston Bombing Suspect's Friend Did Not Obstruct Justice, Defense Argues
Azamat Tazhayakov did not realise that removing evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's room would be so serious, attorneys say.

Tunisian Whom U.S. Accused of Plotting Terrorist Acts Is Sentenced to Time Served
(The New York Times: Benjamin Weiser)
As part of his guilty plea, Abassi will be deported. He will be sent to Tunisia, his federal public defender, Sabrina Shroff, said after the hearing.


Hagel Said to Tell Congress 6 Detainees Will Be Sent to Uruguay
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
Hagel's determination that the transfer would be in the national security interest of the U.S. breaks a bureaucratic paralysis over a deal that has been waiting for his approval since March.


U.N. Security Council Threatens Action Against South Sudan
(Reuters: Michelle Nichols)
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has urged the Security Council to consider imposing targeted sanctions.


Former Coast Guard Chief Tapped as Arctic Diplomat
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
A retired Coast Guard admiral was named as the first special representative for Arctic issues, overseeing policy in the region that is becoming a focus for security concerns.


Give Iran More Time
(The Washington Post)
The U.S. should extend talks with Iran rather than let the process break down.

Keep Negotiating on Iran's Nukes
(The New York Times)
It would be irresponsible not to make the maximum effort to bridge the final gaps.

Putin's Latest Escalation
(The Wall Street Journal)
Russia's support for Ukrainian separatists may lead to a bigger war.

The Five Most Deadly Chemical Weapons of War
(The National Interest: Dina Esfandiary)
"Chemical weapons require a relatively low investment, can cause severe psychological and physical effects and are agents of disruption."

After Bipartisan Bush-Obama Blundering, Let's Try a Libertarian Foreign Policy
(The Daily Beast: Nick Gillespie)
Don't believe haters like Rick Perry and Chris Christie. A libertarian foreign policy is the only cure for what ails us abroad.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

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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