By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)
Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. Carl Levin: House Panel's A-10 Plan Not 'Legitimate'
(Military Times: John Bennett)
The House Armed Services Committee failed to offset its A-10 plan with a cut from another part of 2015 federal budget.
Brahimi Resigning as U.N.-Arab League Envoy to Syria
(The Wall Street Journal: Joe Lauria)
Lakhdar Brahimi to resign after failed two-year peace effort.
Ex-G.I. Gets Medal of Honor for Lifesaving Acts in Afghanistan
(The New York Times: David Joachim)
Former Sgt. Kyle White is the 14th recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in either Afghanistan or Iraq.
Sources: Russia Blocks RD-180 Engine Sales for Pentagon Programs
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
The escalating sanctions war between the U.S. and Russia has claimed its latest victim.
The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.
(Foreign Policy: Gordon Lubold)
Everything you need to know about the U.S. military's defense strategy to protect humanity from the walking dead.
NSA Bill on Fast Track
(Roll Call: Joe Warminsky)
House Republican leadership aides say that legislation to overhaul how the National Security Agency collects telephone metadata could come to the floor soon.
NSA Reform: Lawmakers Aim to Bar Agency From Weakening Encryption
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
Concerned about weaknesses in USA Freedom Act, Rep. Zoe Lofgren and colleagues pushing to prevent NSA from weakening online encryption with new amendment.
Probe Targets Why U.S. Was 'Last Flag' in Benghazi
(USA Today: Oren Dorell)
Rep. Trey Gowdy wants to know why the U.S. State Department remained in Benghazi when most other international entities pulled out.
Separatists Kill Seven Ukraine Soldiers in Heaviest Loss for Kiev Forces
(Reuters: Richard Balmforth, Alissa De Carbonnel)
About 30 rebels, who had taken cover among bushes along a river, attacked with grenade-launchers and automatic weapons.
Ukraine Set to Launch Dialogue Under OSCE Plan
(Associated Press: Nataliya Vasilyeva)
A reluctant Ukrainian government agreed to launch discussions on giving more powers to the regions.
Deputy PM Says Russia Aims to End ISS Participation in 2020
Dmitry Rogozin says that after 2020, Russia would like to redirect the resources now used for manned spaceflight to other space projects.
U.S. Plays Down Russian Industry Sanctions Over Retaliation Risk
(Bloomberg: Kasia Klimasinska)
Policymakers say they are concerned that broad-brush sanctions on Russia's energy and financial sectors risk provoking economically costly retaliation by Russia.
Foreign Minister Says France Will Sell Warships to Russia
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon)
French decision overrides U.S. objections to "mistral" deal.
Russia No Longer Needs to Invade Ukraine, Analysts Say
(USA Today: Luigi Serenelli)
It it has gained ultimate authority over much of the country by its takeover of Crimea and declarations of independence in the pro-Russian east.
Chuck Hagel: Iran Deal Won't Weaken Gulf Security
The Defense secretary said Washington is hopeful of progress this week in the Iran deal-drafting talks in Vienna.
Iranian Hacker Group Targeted U.S. Defense Companies
(The Verge: Russell Brandon)
The group also targeted Iranians trying to bypass the country's Web controls.
Big Gaps Remain in Iran Nuclear Talks but Deal Possible: U.S.
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau, Fredrik Dahl)
"I've read a lot of the optimism you've written ... it's gotten way out of control," a senior U.S. official said.
Obama, in Meeting With Syria's Jarba, Praises Leadership in Crisis
(Reuters: Roberta Rampton)
The president Obama praised the coalition's role in trying to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
France: Syria Launched 14 Toxic Attacks Since October
Top French diplomat Laurent Fabius cited "credible witnesses" to the attacks, which he said included the use of chlorine gas.
U.S. Envoys See a Rwanda Moment in Escalating Syrian Crisis
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
The shadow of the American response to Rwanda has long hung over the White House, with what many see as its fitful response to the humanitarian tragedy of this era: the Syrian civil war.
Assad May Have Won the Civil War
(USA Today: Mona Alami, Osama Abu Zeid, Elizabeth Parker Magyar)
The rebel abandonment of Homs, a city known as the "capital of the revolution," is the strongest sign yet that the dream of toppling Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from within has failed.
U.S. OKs Nearly $1 Billion Deal With Iraq
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The largest part of the deal is 24 Beechcraft T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft. The turboprop aircraft and related services and equipment is estimated to cost $790 million.
Hagel Talks to Saudis About Syria, Iran
The Saudis are hosting a meeting Wednesday of defense ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
Afghan Taliban Appoint New Military Commander
(The Wall Street Journal: Yaroslav Trofimov, Habib Khan Totakhil)
Afghan officials say he is close to Pakistani intelligence.
China Denies U.S. Version of Kerry's Remarks to Foreign Minister
(Reuters: Ben Blanchard, Michael Martina)
China has said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not refer to "provocative" action by Beijing in the South China Sea.
Chinese General Tours U.S. Carrier as Maritime Tensions Fester
(Reuters: Phil Stewart, David Brunnstrom, David Alexander)
General Fang Fenghui, chief of the Chinese army's general staff, visited the nuclear-powered Ronald Reagan.
Pentagon Backtracks on Goals for First Audit, GAO Says
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
The Pentagon has backtracked from a pledge to have all budgetary accounts ready by Sept. 30 for the initial step toward its first-ever full financial audit.
Panel Prepares to Launch Pay and Benefits Survey
(Air Force Times: Andrew Tilghman)
By the end of May, hundreds of thousands of active-duty troops, reservists and retirees will receive email invitations to take a survey.
U.S. Military Pressed on Climate Change
(The Wall Street Journal: Julian Barnes)
Retired officers' report to call for updated war plans.
Military to Get Refunds on Overcharged Student Loans
(CNN: Jennifer Liberto)
Some 60,000 active-duty service members could get their money back from lender Sallie Mae Bank for overpaying on their student loans.
Pentagon Aims to Transfer Manning to Civilian Prison for Hormone Therapy
The request was the first made by a transgender military inmate, and challenged the Defense Department's policy that prohibits transgenders from military service.
Hagel to Speak at Naval Academy Graduation
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is the scheduled graduation speaker for the U.S. Naval Academy for May 23.
Army Grapples With Cyber-Age Battles in Megacities
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
This August, after months of seminars, simulations, and study, the Army War College will host a "deep future wargame" set in a megacity, probably a coastal one, circa 2035.
Ready for Retirement, Can Predator Find New Home?
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
The Air Force needs to find a home for over 100 outdated, unwanted, but still functional surveillance drones.
Lockheed Martin Integrates Expeditionary Ground Control Station With Fury UAS
Lockheed Martin recently fielded its newest Expeditionary Ground Control Station, or "xGCS," for use with the Fury UAS.
For Now, Justice Won't Intervene in VA Care Problems
(Air Force Times: Leo Shane III)
But Attorney General Eric Holder said officials are closely monitoring the problems.
House VA Chairman Asks Obama to Create Medical Care Panel
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
VA clinics in multiple states have faced allegations that appointment wait lists were manipulated to obscure long wait times, resulting in patient deaths.
Concerns About Texas VA Hospital Wait Times Spreads
Concerns about scheduling practices at veterans' hospitals in Central Texas and San Antonio have spread to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
Texas Lawmakers Call for VA Investigation
(The Hill: Cristina Marcos)
24 members of the Texas delegation said reports that the facilities attempted to hide veterans' wait times warranted a probe.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger: Shinseki Won't 'Survive' at VA
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
The congressman also suggested some VA officials should go to prison.
After Husband's Tragic Death, Widow Takes on PTSD
He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury after he was thrown into a wall after a blast in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving with the Vermont National Guard.
Data Lacking on Success Outcomes for Student Vets
(Marine Corps Times: George Altman)
Despite recent improvements, much less is still known about vets in higher education than nonvets.
Justice Dept. Criticized on Spying Statements
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
Two senators accused the Obama administration of seeking to "ignore or justify" statements it made to the Supreme Court about warrantless surveillance by the NSA.
A Dispatch From the Counterterrorism Olympics
(The Atlantic: Alice Su)
Is there value in a six-day warrior-fest in the middle of the Jordanian desert?
Inside the Obama Administration Fight Over the Drone Memo
(Time: Zeke Miller)
The Obama administration is inching closer to the release of classified legal memos justifying its use of drones in the fight against terrorism, amid pressure from both sides.
Muslim Preacher Spars With Prosecutors at Terror Trial
(The Wall Street Journal: Charles Levinson)
Abu Hamza al-Masri, a British-born Muslim cleric, sparred with government prosecutors in a combative cross-examination that marked the climax of his monthlong terrorism trial.
Price for New Prison at Guantanamo Rises to $69 Million
(The Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
The proposed price of an exclusive new prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rose by $20 million in a year.
Videos Said to Show Force-Feeding of Detainees at Guantánamo Bay
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
The military has made videotapes of military medical officials force-feeding detainees on hunger strikes at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
A-10 Flies Into Barber Race
(Politico: Jeremy Herb, Austin Wright)
Taking center stage in a tight congressional race in Arizona: the fight in Washington over the fate of the A-10 Warthog.
Scott Brown Retires From Army National Guard Reserves
(Politico: James Hohmann)
Scott Brown retired from the Army National Guard at a private Pentagon ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
Now the Military Is Going to Build Robots That Have Morals
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
The Office of Naval Research will award $7.5 million in grant money to university researchers to explore how to build a sense of right and wrong and moral consequence into autonomous robotic systems.
U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Five Central African Republic Officials Tied to Violence
(Reuters: Roberta Rampton)
President Obama has imposed sanctions on Central African Republic's former president, François Bozizé, and four other men linked to violence and human-rights abuses.
Boko Haram Abduction: U.S. and U.K. Step Up Military Effort to Find Girls
(The Guardian: Harriet Sherwood)
Surveillance planes fly over remote forest area where jihadist militants are thought to be holding more than 200 schoolgirls.
McCain: Send U.S. Troops to Rescue Kidnapped Girls in Nigeria
(McClatchy: William Douglas)
He wants to see U.S. troops go into Nigera and rescue the girls, even if it means doing so without permission from the Nigerian government.
Uruguay: Inmate Tapped Into U.S. Ambassador's Phone
A prisoner in Uruguay tapped into the American ambassador's cellphone and tried to commit fraud. .
A Call for Justice for Syrians
(The New York Times)
Referring Syria to the International Criminal Court might finally rattle the Assad regime.
Rescue the Girls
(The Washington Post)
And that should be only a first step for Nigeria to counter Boko Haram.
We're Not Impressed With Your Space Tantrum, Mr. Putin
(Time: Jeffrey Kluger)
An open letter to the Russian leader as his deputy prime minister threatens to ground American astronauts and military satellites.
There Aren't the Defense Job Cuts You're Looking For
(War on the Rocks: Thomas Lynch)
The fact is that more expansive cuts in Defense Department civilian personnel can occur only after Congress authorizes another round of Base Closure and Realignment.
U.S.-Turkey Ties in Danger
(USA Today: Ilan Berman)
Turmoil in Ankara and the Middle East undermines our longstanding alliance.
No, Hillary Clinton Isn't 'Soft' on Terrorism
(Time: Michael Crowley)
Conservatives are pouncing on Benghazi and Boko Haram as evidence that the likely 2016 Democratic nominee is weak on national security. It's a bogus charge.
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