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The Winners and Losers of Next Year's Defense Budget, Army Shrinks, Benefits Cut and Congress Balks

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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The Winners and Losers of Next Year's Defense Budget
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher, Jordain Carney)
The blade hasn't fallen yet, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel raised the ax Monday when he offered a sneak peek of the Pentagon's planned budget for next year.


Lawmakers Push Back Against DOD Budget Plans
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber, John Bennett)
Congress and others in the defense community pushed back on Pentagon plans to cut 120,000 personnel from the active and reserve Army ranks, retire entire fleets of Air Force aircraft, and sideline Navy ships.

DOD Budget Seeks Cuts in BAH, Commissary, Tricare Benefits
(Navy Times: Andrew Tilghman)
The Pentagon proposed the deepest and most far-reaching cuts to military compensation in the 40-year history of the all-volunteer force.

White House Offers U.S. 'Support' to Ukraine, on Top of Possible IMF Package
(Fox News)
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. government is prepared to provide support to Ukraine, under certain conditions.

Vets Bill Should Win Initial Senate Vote
(Associated Press: Alan Fram)
Yet the election-year measure faces an uncertain fate as Republicans try to make it smaller and find ways to pay for it. 



Get Real, Hagel Tells Nation in Proposing Military Cuts
(CNN: Tom Cohen)
Downsizing due to modernization and budget constraints began under Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's predecessor.

Hagels Pentagon Plan Sets Up Confrontation With Congress
(Bloomberg: Gopal Ratnam , Tony Capaccio)
Hagel outlined a five-year Pentagon budget proposal that calls for retiring older weapons, limiting military compensation and shrinking the Army.

Military Budget Targets New Threats
(The Wall Street Journal: Dion Nissenbaum, Julian Barnes)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing a budget designed to turn attention from the long ground war in Afghanistan to emerging cyberthreats from China and al Qaeda-related groups in Africa.

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Pentagon Budget Plan Seen Boosting Contractors' Business
(The Wall Street Journal: Doug Cameron)
Plan reverses slide in weapons, research spending.

The Ax Falls: Highlights of the Budget Proposal
(Stars and Stripes)
Here's how the 2015 defense budget proposal would affect the services.

DOD Budget Winners, Losers, and Draws
(Politico: Austin Wright, Leigh Munsil)
Hagel put forward a $496 billion spending plan for the Defense Department for the next fiscal year that has a lot more losers than winners, plus a few draws.

FY15 Budget Request Sets Up Two Dramatically Different Spending Scenarios
(Inside Defense)
Two parallel—and dramatically different—five-year resource scenarios reframe the debate over military spending and the size and capability of the U.S. military as the nation gears up for congressional elections.

Nuclear Triad to Survive Hagel Cuts in Pentagon Spending
(Global Security Newswire: Elaine Grossman)
Hagel said the nation would keep its air-land-sea approach to the nuclear arsenal, despite new Pentagon spending cuts.

Proposed Pentagon Budget Favors High Tech Over Personnel
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
The Defense Department will try to preserve high-tech warfare capabilities while cutting people and platforms and curbing the growth of pay and benefits.

U-2 Retires Again, Pay and Benefits Slimmed Down, Cruisers Cut: 2015 Budget by Hagel
(Breaking Defense: Colin Clark)
The big budget fights shaping up between Congress and the Pentagon are likely to be: the U-2 retirement; retiring half the current cruiser fleet; everything to do with pay and benefits.


For Lawmakers, Military Benefits Will Be a War on All Fronts
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
The Pentagon's push to slash military benefits in the upcoming defense budget is about to make things awkward for Congress.

Pentagon Budget Slashes Benefits
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
Benefits for active-duty personnel and their families would be slashed under the budget proposal.

Obama Offers Troops 1 Percent Raise, Freezes Top Brass Pay
(Government Executive: Eric Katz)
President Obama will propose a 1 percent pay raise for both civilian federal employees and service members in his fiscal 2015 budget.

DOD Seeks to Raise Tricare Fees for Active-Duty Family Members
(Marine Corps Times: Patricia Kime)
The Pentagon's proposed 2015 budget includes a surprise proposal to raise health care fees for active-duty family members.


Pentagon Tasks Navy to Look Beyond LCS at a Future Surface Combatant
(Inside Defense: Olga Belogolova, Lee Hudson)
While the Littoral Combat Ship is barely a fixture of the Navy's fleet, the service is already thinking about what's next—a future surface combatant.

Scope of Navy's LCS Program Uncertain, Despite No Clear Replacement
(Stars and Stripes: Erik Slavin)
The lighter, faster surface fleet of the future may get heavier than Navy leaders have planned.

Pentagon Changes Course, Halts LCS at 32 Ships
(Defense News: Christopher Cavas)
No money for carrier refueling; 11 cruisers, three amphibs to be "laid up."

LCS Threatened by Defense Budget Cuts
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Chuck Hagel threw a monkey wrench into the Navy's long-term shipbuilding plans.

Two Ex-Navy SEALs on Maersk Alabama Died of Respiratory Failure, Police Say
(CBS/Associated Press)
The police said Monday that a syringe and traces of heroin were found in their cabin.


Pentagon Officials Say They're Willing to Assume Risks of a Reduced Army
(The New York Times: Helene Cooper, Thom Shanker)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel formally unveiled the department's $496 billion budget for the 2015 fiscal year and acknowledged the risk of a proposed troop reduction.

Hagel's Budget Seeks Smallest U.S. Army Since Before 2001 Attack
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio, Gopal Ratnam)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today outlined a five-year Pentagon budget that would shrink Army forces to fewer than before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Pentagon: Ground Forces Can Fight in One Theater, Support Air, Sea Forces in Another
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
When it comes to the Army and Marine Corps, there were no real surprises in Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's peek today of the 2015 defense budget.

Hagel's Pentagon Budget Plans for New 'Realities' and Fewer Ground Wars
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
Largest cut to Army's active strength since before the Second World War will be subject to negotiations in Congress.

Hagel Cuts Army's Size, Kills GCV, Backs Service Aviation Restructure Plans
(Inside Defense)
Sweeping changes to the Army include including proposed cuts to its end strength, the termination of the Ground Combat Vehicle and the pursuit of a controversial aviation restructure involving a swap of helicopters between the active-duty force and the National Guard.


Pentagon, Air Force Doubles Down on Engine Technology
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday made a clear statement that the Air Force plans to invest heavily in new engine technology.

Ayotte: Decision To Cut A-10 'Serious Mistake
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is pledging to fight the retirement in Congress.

USAF Eyes Future of ISR
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will leave lasting changes on the US military, but their biggest legacy on the Air Force has been the impact on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Help Wanted in the Reserve: Big Bonuses, Retraining Opportunities and a Way to Stay Air Force
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
Thousands of airmen at risk of being cut in the drawdown could find a parachute in the Air Force Reserve.

Air Force UH-1N Replacement Plan Would Revive Used Army Black Hawks
(Inside Defense)
A nearly complete RAND study recommends that the service replace its 45-year-old UH-1N Huey helicopters with excess, reconfigured Army UH-60 Black Hawks.


McKeon: Finish NDAA by Oct. 1—or Politics Will Kill It
(Defense News: John Bennett)
McKeon wants to finish the last Pentagon policy bill of his career with less of the political drama that nearly killed the last one.

Dozens of Veterans Priorities Rolled Into One Bill
(Associated Press: Kevin Freking)
The bill would make more veterans eligible for VA health care, require public colleges to offer in-state tuition rates to all veterans and help seriously wounded veterans get fertility treatments.

Senate to Debate Veterans Health Care Bill
(Politico: Paige Winfield Cunningham)
A massive veterans bill the Senate will consider this week would greatly increase their access to health care.

Rep. Hunter, Marine Family Dispute Washington Post Story
(Politico: Hadas Gold)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and the family of a fallen Marine are criticizing The Washington Post for what they describe as gross inaccuracies and factual omissions in a recent article about the Marine's death.

GOP Demanding Iran Sanctions Vote in Military Sexual-Assault Debate
(Roll Call: Niels Lesniewski)
Senate Republicans are objecting to a set of votes on addressing the issue of sexual assault in the military without a vote on imposing stiffer sanctions against Iran.

GOP Block Votes on Military Sexual-Assault Bills
(The Hill: Ramsey Cox)
Sen. Jerry Moran objected Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's attempt to bring up two military sexual-assault bills.


Veterans Advocates Prepare for New Budget Fights
(Military Times: Leo Shane III)
Cuts to annual cost-of-living adjustments in military retired pay are gone. Now comes the next fight.

Report: VA Data Breach 'Practically Unavoidable'
( Michael Hoffman)
An internal investigation found the of Veterans Affairs Department's data security is so poor a data breach is "practically unavoidable" within 18 months, according to a draft of the VA's report.

Soldiers Survive Combat, Then Lose Their Jobs
(USA Today: Gregg Zoroya)
After years of war, career soldiers given one more order: You're no longer needed.


Biden at Center of U.S. Diplomacy With Ukraine
(Associated Press: Julie Pace)
Biden, who had built a working relationship with Yanukovych since becoming vice president, was at the forefront of the delicate diplomatic maneuvering for the Obama administration.

Just Like His Power, Ukrainian Ex-Leader Vanishes Into Thin Air
(The New York Times: Alison Smale)
Accused of mass murder, Viktor F. Yanukovych has disappeared, along with a handful of loyalists and perhaps his girlfriend.

Wary Stance From Obama on Ukraine
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
While George W. Bush was inspired by Ukraine's 2004 revolution, Barack Obama has approached the unrest of 2014 with a more clinical detachment aimed at avoiding instability.

Russia Says: Don't Force Ukraine to Choose Between Us and West
(Reuters: John Irish)
Ukraine must not be forced to choose between close ties with Russia or the West, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

White House: Yanukovych Not Actively Ukraine Head
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The Obama administration said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is not actively leading the country.

EU, U.S. Scramble to Pull Together Aid for Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Matthew Dalton, Andrey Ostroukh, Laurence Norman)
Western officials say swift action needed to avoid financial crisis but face hurdles.

Russia Accuses Ukraine Opposition of Power Grab, Denounces 'Terrorist Methods'
(The Washington Post: William Branigin, William Booth)
Russia questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's new interim leadership Monday, charging that it has used a Western-backed peace deal to make a power grab.


Say Goodbye to Russia's Mach-3 Spy Plane
(War is Boring: David Axe)
Russia seems to have abandoned the Foxbat without a direct replacement, severely impairing Moscow's ability to keep tabs on its enemies.


NATO to Hold Crunch Afghanistan Talks as Obama Weighs Military 'Zero Option'
(The Guardian: Dan Roberts, Spencer Ackerman)
Allies to discuss military presence in Afghanistan amid growing acceptance that Karzai will not sign bilateral security agreement.

Obama Must Stress Importance of Afghanistan Mission, McKeon Says
(Navy Times: Leo Shane III
The House's top Republican on defense issues said the commander in chief doesn't talk about the war enough.

Pakistan Army Launches New Air Strikes Near Afghan Border
(Reuters: Jibran Ahmed)
Pakistan's army launched new air strikes targeting militant hideouts in the tribal region of North Waziristan.

Taliban Claims Government Airstrikes Mean War
(Defense News: Usman Ansari)
Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, has said the government is opting for war by carrying out recent airstrikes in North Waziristan.

Marines' New Unmanned Vehicle Could Patrol Bases in Afghanistan
(Defense News: James Sanborn)
Robot sentry proves its mettle in 29 Palms field test.


Spy Chief James Clapper: We Can't Stop Another Snowden
(Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
President Obama's director of national intelligence spent his life protecting secrets. Then came the biggest leak of all.

Brazil, Europe Plan Undersea Cable to Skirt U.S. Spying
(Reuters: Robin Emmott)
Brazil and the European Union agreed on Monday to lay an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil's reliance on the United States.


Kerry Ups Ante in Struggle to Crack South China Sea Rules
(Reuters: Greg Torode, Manuel Mogato)
Pressure is mounting on China and Southeast Asia to agree a code of conduct.

China: Beijing Rejects U.S. Move to Foster Tibet Talks
China will not recognize the United States' appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan issues, saying that it opposed any foreign intervention in its internal affairs.


Obama Worried About Effects of Waging Cyberwar in Syria
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
The Obama administration has been engaged in a largely secret debate about whether cyberarms should be used like ordinary weapons.

U.S. Risks Unintended Military Involvement as It Eyes Wider Role in Syrian Aid Effort
(The Huffington Post: Joshua Hersh, Max Rosenthal)
With the Obama administration facing intensifying pressure to consider new military-backed options for mitigating the humanitarian crisis in Syria, critics say the plans being debated would raise the prospect of much greater U.S. involvement than acknowledged.


A Conversation With The Chairman: General Martin E. Dempsey
(War on the Rocks Ryan Evans, Jason Fritz)
Dempsey talked strategy, the profession of arms, military compensation reform, and professional military education.

South Carolina Could Lose Out in Next Round of Base Closings if Military Quality of Life Not Fulfilled
(The Columbia State: Jeff Wilkinson)
South Carolina considers itself one of the most military-friendly states in the nation


Holder Urges Congressional Action on Data Breaches
(Associated Press)
Attorney General Eric Holder is urging Congress to require businesses to quickly alert consumers and law enforcement agencies in the wake of significant data breaches.


State Department Pressing Iraq for Answers After Report of Arms Deal With Iran
(Fox News)
The State Department raised "serious" concerns Monday following a report that claimed Iraq has struck a $195 million arms and ammunition deal with Iran.

Iran Signs Deal to Buy Arms Ammunition From Iran
(Reuters: Ahmed Rasheed)
Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million.

U.S. Surprised by Resignation of Egyptian Government
(Reuters: David Brunnstrom)
The United States said on Monday it was surprised by the resignation of Egypt's government.

Egypt's Prime Minister and Cabinet Abruptly Resign
(The New York Times: Kareem Fahim, Mayy Sheikh)
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi abruptly announced the resignation of his government on Monday.


Emails Reveal Marine Corps Commandant's Early Attempt to Ban Independent Newspaper
(Military Times: Lance Bacon)
The initiative to ban or bury the independent newspaper Marine Corps Times originated in May "on a rather tight timeline" at the behest of Gen. Jim Amos.

Marines to Train With Equipment Stored Underground in Arctic
(Marine Corps Times: Gina Harkins)
About 440 Marines will move prepositioned gear out of caves in Norway for the first time in decades during a multinational exercise aimed at cold weather military training.


Memorandum of Agreement Signed for National Coast Guard Museum
(Seapower Magazine)
The agreement also paves the way for the state to provide $20 million for development and construction of the museum.


GOP Governors Accuse Obama of Politically Motivated National Guard Cuts
(Time: Zeke Miller)
Saying their calls for spending cuts are coming back to bite them in the wrong way.


Poll: U.S. Thinks Obama Not Respected Abroad
(Politico: Lucy McCalmont)
For the first time, a majority of Americans think President Obama is not respected among world leaders.


Secret Gitmo Hearing Held on CIA Black Sites
(Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
A military judge held a secret war court session Saturday on defense lawyers' efforts to uncover evidence of what the CIA did to the alleged USS Cole bomber during years in the agency's clandestine overseas prison network.


Defense Sector Won't Push GOP on Immigration Reform
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Immigration reform is a long shot in the House, and defense firms are doing next to nothing to change that.


At Last, a Google Glass for the Battlefield
(Wired: Allen McDuffee)
Technology will soon turn U.S. soldiers into a lethal cross between the Terminator and Iron Man.


John Kerry: U.S. Reviewing Relationship With Uganda After Antigay Law Signed
The United States is reviewing its relationship with Uganda's government.


Convictions of Five Italians Thrown out in CIA Case
(Associated Press)
Italy's top criminal court tossed out the convictions of five Italian intelligence agents accused of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric as a terror suspect 11 years ago as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.


U.S. Urges Calm in Venezuela, Encourages Dialogue
(Reuters: Will Dunham)
The United States is working with the Organization of American States and regional partners to urge calm in Venezuela.


Still Devoted to the Troops, Especially Suffering Veterans
(National Journal: Mike Magner)
He ended a 40-year career in the Army two years ago, but retired Gen. Pete Chiarelli has not abandoned his troops. Far from it.


Ukraine's Uncertain Future
(The New York Times)
Europe, the United States and Russia can play a role in preventing war in a deeply divided country.

The Pentagon Is Taking a One-Year Break From Its Fiscal Fantasy
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
The latest Defense budget request gets real for 2015, and then returns to a fictional future in which Congress gives the military an extra $115 billion over five years.

The Pentagon Is Picking an Unnecessary Fight With Congress
(Defense One: James Joyner)
The most brazen move was proposing spending that exceeds the Budget Control Act of 2011 ceiling by $115 billion over the next five years.

Weapons Cuts in 2015 Budget Leave Soldiers, Marines at Risk
(Forbes: Loren Thompson)
When the Obama administration sends its proposed 2015 defense budget to Congress on March 4, two high-profile armored vehicle programs will be missing in action.

U.S. Defense Policy: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
(The Huffington Post: Ivan Eland)
President Obama's defense plan has positive aspects, but is not part of a coherent strategic vision for the nation.

Pentagon's Postwar Budget Marks End of War Era
(Defense One: Stephanie Gaskell)
President Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request reflects a major shift for the U.S. military after 13 long years of war.

The Army Force Cuts: 3 Truths, 4 Fallacies
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
There are three things you need to know about the administration's new budget plan and what it means for the Army.

3 Issues Define Obama-GOP Chasm Over Afghanistan Policy
(Defense News: John Bennett)
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon on Monday passionately defended America's lengthy Afghanistan mission, and warned the White House not to "abandon Afghanistan to the wolves."

Another QDR Failure?
(National Interest: J. Randy Forbes)
After numerous conversations with officials at the Pentagon and experts from the think-tank community, I am concerned that this Quadrennial Defense Review may again fall well below both Congressional expectations and legal requirements.

Let Younger Leaders Shape Army's Future
(Stars and Stripes: Adrian Bonenberger)
As Army leadership ponders who and what to cut from its budget, the first groups in the cross hairs are the junior and midlevel officers.

Talent Management in the Army
(The Bridge: Paul Dalen)
Begging Clausewitz's forgiveness for the misuse of the term, there is a war for talent raging between organizations — and whether it wants to be or not, the Army is involved in this war.

Edward Snowden Enables Chinese Hack Attacks
(New York Post: Arthur Herman)
China's military hackers are back, more brazen than ever. You can thank Edward Snowden.

Five Questions With James Goldgeier on Ukraine and U.S.-Russia Relations
(War on the Rocks: Stephen Tankel)
Goldgeier is currently dean of the School of International Service at American University.

These Aren't the Terrorists You're Looking For
(Foreign Policy: David Barnett)
Why does the Egyptian government insist on blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for every act of terrorism, even as a dangerous jihadist group claims the attacks as their own?

Quest for More Lethal U.S. Warship Could Raise Cost
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
Hagel's decision to stop building the current class of coastal warships after 32 vessels and focus on ships with more firepower and protection will result in higher costs.

The Future of Military Force
(Real Clear Defense: Robert Kozloski)
Non-lethal force could be the future of warfare.

A Concrete Way to Honor Military Sacrifices
(The Wall Street Journal: Anthony Principi, Joseph Johnston)
Congress should act now to protect funding for veterans. No more budget gamesmanship.

Why the CIA Is Still Doing Drones
(National Journal: Michael Hirsh)
The White House is supposed to be handing the program over to the Pentagon. Here's why they're dragging their feet.

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