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Obama: New Russia Sanctions Coming, Low Job Approval for Hagel, U.S., Philippines Reach Defense Deal

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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


Obama Says More Sanctions Against Russia Are Coming
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
President Obama said that the United States would impose additional sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, as well as freezing some exports of military technology.

Philippines Agrees to Large-Scale Return of U.S. Military Forces
(Los Angeles Times: Christi Parsons, David Cloud)
The agreement opens the way for the first return of U.S. forces to the island nation since their eviction after the Cold War.

Poll: Low Job Approval for Hagel
(Defense News)
More leaders in government, industry and academia disapprove of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's job performance - 44.9 percent - than approve.


Contractors Battle for Shrinking Defense Dollars
(Politico: Jeremy Herb)
Defense contractors are going back to war to protect their slice of a shrinking Pentagon budget.


One of 8 Observers Is Freed by Pro-Russian Forces in Eastern Ukraine
(The New York Times: C. J. Chivers, Noah Sneider)
The self-appointed mayor of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine presented the men at a news conference Sunday, calling them "prisoners of the situation,

Putin Halts All Talks With White House
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
As new U.S. sanctions against Russia loom, the Kremlin has shut down—at least for now—intensive high level communications between top U.S. and Russian officials.

White House Says Sanctions Will Include Russia's Defense Industry
(Reuters: Eric Beech)
The United States will impose further sanctions on Russia on Monday over the crisis in Ukraine and they will include high-tech exports to Russia's defense industry.


Sanctions Revive Search for Secret Putin Fortune
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
President Obama's response to the Ukraine crisis, while derided by critics as slow and weak, has reinvigorated a 15-year global hunt for the Russian leader's hidden wealth.

U.S. Steps Up Air Adviser Work With European, Asian Air Forces
(Air Force Times: Kristin Davis)
A year and a half before Russia's March annexation of Crimea, U.S. airmen began a series of security cooperation activities with countries across the region.

EUCOM Dismisses Reports of Secret U.S. Base in Crimea
(Military Times: Michelle Tan)
Military officials in Europe are pushing back against reports the U.S. was conducting humanitarian assistance projects in Crimea as a ruse to establish a military base in the region.

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Key Senator: Send Body Armor and Fuel to Ukraine Now
(Military Times: John Bennett)
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said "there are a number of steps that we can take to support them in their struggle."


Perilous Politics Threaten NDAA
(Politico: Austin Wright)
The midterm elections this fall could also stall the bill, which authorizes funding for military programs and can run on for more than 1,000 pages.

State Guard Generals Take Fight To Senate, Push Freeze To Planned Cuts
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
The state-level commanders of the National Guard have launched a new offensive against the Army plan to cut their forces, flooding Capitol Hill with letters and PowerPoint slides.

Lawmakers Pushing to Add Israel to Visa-Waiver Program
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
Pro-Israel members of Congress are at odds with the administration over what many see as a double standard.


Pentagon Wasting Millions on Ammunition
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
It's impossible to know what portion of the arsenal slated for destruction — valued at $1.2 billion by the Pentagon — remains viable.

For Transgender Service Members, Honesty Can End Military Career
(The Washington Post: Ernesto Londoño)
A skilled technician who joined Navy as a woman but served as a man is sent home after the secret comes out.


U.S. Says It Built Digital Programs Abroad With an Eye to Politics
(The New York Times: Ron Nixon)
The United States built Twitter-like programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but like a similar program in Cuba, they were shut down for lack of money, officials said.

Phone Company Bid to Keep Data From N.S.A. Is Rejected
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
A judge upholds an earlier ruling that there was no Fourth Amendment protections for metadata — information like the numbers dialed and the duration of a call, but not its contents


In Malaysia, Obama Works to Salve Troubled Ties
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
President Obama's visit to Malaysia underscored the change in the country's attitude toward the United States, from deep suspicion to a desire for cooperation.

U.S.-Philippines Pact Could Modestly Boost American Arms Sales
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
The agreement, to be signed on Monday, establishes a framework for an increased U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

On a Trip That Avoids Beijing, Obama Keeps His Eye on China
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
Perhaps no country has more to gain from a new Cold War than China, which has historically benefited from periods of conflict between the United States and Russia, analysts say.

North Korea Says Army Must Develop to Be Able to Beat U.S.
(Reuters: Nick Macfie)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged the army to develop to ensure it wins any confrontation with the United States.

Obama: May Be Time for More North Korea Sanctions
(Associated Press)
But the president also acknowledged there are limits to what effects additional penalties can have on the country.

North Korea Detains American Tourist
(The Wall Street Journal: Colleen McCain Nelson)
Announcement comes as Obama visits South Korea.

Chinese Spies Read Australian MPs' Emails for a Year
(Reuters: Matt Siegel)
A cyber attack on the Australian parliamentary computer network in 2011 may have given Chinese intelligence agencies access to lawmakers' private emails for an entire year.


U.S. Official: Iran Must Prove It's Not Building Nuclear Weapon
(Defense News: Awad Mustafa)
Frank Rose, US deputy assistant secretary of state for space and defense policy, said that the U.S. is "acutely aware of the threats and anxieties in Abu Dhabi and throughout the Gulf."

Iran to Target Decoy U.S. Aircraft Carrier in Drills
(Associated Press)
An Iranian newspaper is reporting that the country's military plans to target a mock-up American aircraft carrier during upcoming war games.

Zarif Says Most Iranians Support Nuclear Deal With West
(Reuters: Mehrdad Balali)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday he saw a good chance for a nuclear deal with the West.


Meet the Syrian Rebels Who Received the First U.S. Missiles
(The Washington Post: Liz Sly)
The arrival of the missiles has raised the profile of the young rebel commander of the group, who has built a reputation as a moderate.

As Deadline Passes, Syria Is Pressed to Complete Destruction of Its Chemical Arms
(The New York Times: Nick Cumming-Bruce)
Although Syria has made "significant progress," it missed a second deadline, April 27, for the destruction of its arsenal of chemical weapons, international monitors said.

Kuwait the Top Funder of al-Qaida-Linked Rebels in Syria
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung)
U.S. officials are expressing frustration at its ally's unwillingness to curb the flow of contributions.


Afghanistan Crash Kills Five NATO Troops
(Los Angeles Times: Hashmat Baktash, Shashank Bengali)
Five NATO troops died in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan in the deadliest incident so far this year.

Top Taliban Commander Resigns, Revealing Major Rift in the Leadership
(The Daily Beast: Sami Yousafzai)
Mullah Abdul Qayam Zakir was said to be the number two to the vanished Mullah Omar.

Afghan Panel Claims to Find Secret Prisons
(The New York Times: Azam Ahmed, Taimoor Shah)
The commission appointed by President Hamid Karzai said it discovered unlawful prisons run by American and British forces.

Afghan Presidential Election Set for Runoff
(The Wall Street Journal: Margherita Stancati, Ehsanullah Amiri)
No single candidate wins outright majority in Afghanistan's presidential race.


As Iraq Violence Grows, U.S. Sends More Intelligence Officers
(Reuters: Mark Hosenball, Warren Strobel)
A high-level Pentagon team is now in Iraq to assess possible assistance for Iraqi forces in their fight against radical jihadists.

Netanyahu Tells Abbas to 'Tear Up' Pact With Hamas
(Reuters: Jim Loney)
Netanyahu also said Abbas's comments earlier on Sunday denouncing the Holocaust could not be reconciled with his alliance with Hamas.

Palestinian Leader Denounces Holocaust
(The Wall Street Journal: Nicholas Casey, Joshua Mitnick)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the Holocaust as the "most heinous" modern crime.


Soldiers Lose Vacation Time in 20 Locations
(Army Times: Michelle Tan)
Beginning June 1, soldiers deploying for 12 months to certain countries across the globe will have to go without their two-week rest and recuperation leave.

U.S. Army Breaking Out the Big New Guns
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
Army Brig. Gen. David Bassett visited this remote desert artillery range to see something that has become increasingly rare in Army acquisition circles.


Ex-Navy Linguist Pleads Guilty in Secret Documents Case
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
James Hitselberger, 57, entered the plea during a morning hearing in front of U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras.

Navy Restructures JPALS To Focus On F-35, UCLASS; Scraps Plans For Increment 2
(Inside Defense)
The Navy has overhauled plans for its Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, reducing near-term spending by $1 billion.


James: Air Force 'Rusty' at Force Management
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James James said that she's found the force cuts are "the number one issue on the minds of our airmen."


U.S. Panel Urges Guantanamo Inmate Be Transferred to Yemen
(Reuters: Ian Simpson)
The Periodic Review Board said the detention was no longer needed to protect U.S. security.


The Federal Government Is Giving Fewer People Security Clearances
(Government Executive: Eric Katz)
The number of new security clearances provided by the federal government -- both initial clearances and renewals -- has decreased by 9 percent since 2011.


Kerry to visit Ethiopia, Congo and Angola Next Week
(Reuters: Arshad Mohammed)
Secretary of State John Kerry will travel from April 29 to May 5 to promote democracy and human rights.

Egypt Court Recommends Death Sentence for Brotherhood Leader, 682 Supporters
(Reuters: Yasmine Saleh)
Seeking the death penalty for Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's general guide, is certain to raise tension in Egypt.


Obama's Fraught Foreign Policy Dreams
(Bloomberg: Albert Hunt)
Fifteen months after his second inaugural, President Obama's goal of building a foreign-policy legacy is looking problematic.

The Russia Problem
(The Wall Street Journal)
Putin's Kremlin is not a status quo power with a few historical grievances.

Reality Check in Ukraine
(The Daily Beast: Jamie Dettmer)
Comparing the promises made in the Geneva agreement on April 17 to the actions on the ground in the ten days since gives a good idea which side is the bigger liar.

For Russia, Negatives Seem to Outweigh Positives of an Invasion
(The New York Times: Neil MacFarquhar)
Ukraine becomes more of a tinderbox by the day.

Did Obama Just Draw Another Red Line in the East China Sea?
(The Daily Beast: Michael Auslin)
The president promised Tokyo that the U.S. would protect Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands.

Perfect: Enemy of the Good & Missile Defense
(Real Clear Defense: David Trachtenberg)
The Obama administration's latest budget request reflects the lowest level of missile defense funding since the Clinton administration.

Build Fast, Effective Acquisition: Avoid The System We've Got
(Breaking Defense: Bill Greenwalt)
The first question Congress and the Pentagon should address as they try to reform the acquisition system is: what has really worked in the past.

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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

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