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Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan, Bergdahl Discharged From Hospital, Kerry in Iraq Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan, Bergdahl Discharged From Hosp...

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Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan, Bergdahl Discharged From Hospital, Kerry in Iraq

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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

 

Tapes Said to Reveal Polish Minister Disparaging U.S. Ties
(The New York Times: Rick Lyman)
Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is quoted as describing his country's security relationship with the United States as "worth nothing."

Former Afghanistan POW Bergdahl Discharged From Hospital: Army
(Reuters: Jonathan Kaminsky)
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been discharged from a military hospital in Texas and will continue treatment as an outpatient.

Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan Bomb Blast
(The Guardian)
No information was immediately available about the incident, but deaths confirmed by U.S. official.

 

John Kerry in Baghdad to Urge Iraqis to Form New, Inclusive Government
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
The secretary of State plans to meet with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and other leading political figures.

CONGRESS

Conferees on VA Reform Bill to Meet Next Week
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Sen. Bernie Sanders said the group of 28 lawmakers would meet on Tuesday.

Sen. McCaskill Seeks Details About VA Whistleblower Retaliation
(The Washington Post: Josh Hicks)
McCaskill asked for specifics about the number of complaints at each location, how many managers and senior executives were involved, and any disciplinary actions that have been taken.

House-Passed Defense Bill Bucks Pentagon
(Politico: Jeremy Herb)
The House passed its 2015 defense spending bill, defying many of the Pentagon's cost-cutting efforts in favor of instead sparing weapons programs and protecting troops' pay and benefits.

 

House Bucks Appropriators; Forbids A-10 Retirement
(Breaking Defense: Colin Clark)
It didn't take a rocket scientist to ascertain why members voted as they did.

House OKs Defense Spending Bill With 1.8 Percent Pay Raise
(Marine Corps Times: Leo Shane III)
The vote came after two days of floor amendments and repeated complaints from military leaders that Congress has again failed to help them hold down long-term spending.

House Votes to Curb N.S.A. Scrutiny of Americans' Communications
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
By a 293-to-123 vote, the House approved the ban as an amendment to the 2015 defense appropriations act.

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Behind Dianne Feinstein's Calculated Rebuke of the White House
(National Journal: Elahe Izadi, Michael Catalini)
The Intelligence chair has been a defender of administration practices. But when Obama failed to warn her about the Bergdahl swap, he met the limit of her patience.

Congress Won't Block Obama on Iraq
(Roll Call: Steve Dennis, Emma Dumain)
It's now clear Congress will not block President Barack Obama from using force in Iraq if he chooses, despite opposition primarily from the president's own party.

ISIS 'Number-One Threat' to U.S., McCaul Says
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul warned that extremists' training grounds in Iraq are more pronounced than those in the lead-up to 9/11.

Paul: U.S. Has Been Arming ISIS in Syria
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
The administration has reportedly assisted the moderate opposition in Syria, but details about the dissemination of those resources are unclear.

IRAQ

ISIS Fighters Sweep Through Anbar Province, Control Most of Iraq's Western Border
(The Washington Post: Liz Sly)
Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria swept through the towns of Ana, Rawa and Rutba.

Iraq's Military Seen as Unlikely to Turn the Tide
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon, Alissa Rubin)
It has become increasingly clear to Western officials that the army will continue to suffer losses in its fight with Sunni militants.

Obama: 'Medium,Long-Term Threat'
(Politico: Katie Glueck)
Obama says the insurgent group on the march in Iraq is a "medium- and long-term threat."

Kerry: Insurgency in Iraq Threatens Entire Mideast
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
Arab countries should resist funding Sunni fighters in what is turning into a cross-border war between Iraq and Syria because that support eventually could help the insurgency in Iraq.

Secret U.S. Plan to Aid Iraq Fizzled Amid Mutual Distrust
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Julian Barnes, Siobhan Gorman)
The Obama's administration devoted only a handful of U.S. specialists to the task.

Iraq Rattled by Army Deserters, Analysts Say
(The Washington Post: Loveday Morris, Karen DeYoung)
Even as U.S. advisers deploy, the "psychological collapse" of the local military offers little hope that territory can be quickly reclaimed from militants.

Relief Over U.S. Exit From Iraq Fades as Reality Overtakes Hope
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
The war that Biden cursed is again cursing the Obama administration.

In Devising a Plan in Iraq, U.S. Looks to Its Yemen Model
(Los Angeles Times: Kathleen Hennessey)
The ISIS insurgents in Iraq pose greater challenges for the U.S. than do Yemen's militants.

Iraq Vets Say Obama's Promise of No Combat for U.S. Advisers Will Be Hard to Keep
(McClatchy: James Rosen)
The president's national security aides say the advisers will be "special operators"--military lingo for Special Operations forces.

Report: U.S. Fired Depleted Uranium Ammo at Iraqi
(UPI: Ed Adamczyk)
The ammunition is meant for use targeting tanks and armored vehicles, not people.

IRAN

Toughest Issues Still Unresolved in Iran Nuclear Talks
(The New York Times: David Sanger)
Negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program entered their brinkmanship phase, with the toughest issues still unresolved a month before the deadline for a final agreement.

Iran Nuclear Talks Produce Possible Framework for Deal
(The Wall Street Journal: Laurence Norman)
Chinese envoy says negotiations this week made progress but main issues unresolved.

U.S., Iran, Longtime Enemies, Now Potential Partners
(Associated Press: Deb Riechmann, Bradley Klapper)
With alliances blurred in the Mideast, the two countries are talking about how to stop an offensive in Iraq by al-Qaida-inspired insurgents.

SYRIA

Obama: Notion That Opposition Could Have Overthrown Assad With U.S. Arms a "Fantasy"
(CBS News)
The security vacuum in the Middle East would have opened up regardless of whether the United States had decided last year to back moderate rebel forces in war-torn Syria.

Syria Warns U.N. - Aid Delivery Without Consent Is an Attack
(Reuters: Michelle Nichols)
It suggested it would have the right to retaliate against convoys.

Equipped With Humvees, ISIL Clashes With Rivals in Syria
(Reuters: Sylvia Westall)
Its advances in Iraq appear to have spurred on the Syrian branch, which is fighting both the army of President Bashar al-Assad and also rival opposition groups.

UKRAINE/RUSSIA

Putin, Obama to Speak by Phone Mainly About Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: James Marson)
Iraq, Syria will also be discussed, Kremlin adviser says.

U.S. Ramps Up Sanctions Amid Fresh Russian Moves
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
Leaders in Ukraine have struggled to contain an armed separatist movement which both Ukrainian and American officials say is receiving support from Moscow.

Russia's Putin Calls for Compromise in Ukraine
(Associated Press: Lynn Berry)
Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly expressed support for Ukraine's declaration of a cease-fire in its battle against pro-Russian separatists and called on both sides to negotiate.

Ukraine Crisis Forces U.S. to Bolster Europe Forces
(Reuters: Peter Apps)
The Pentagon finds itself focusing on the continent in a way not seen in decades.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
(The New York Times: Azam Ahmed)
Until now, Karzai had dismissed any suggestion that Afghanistan needed help running the election.

Afghan Election Crisis: 'Stuffed Sheep' Recordings Suggest Large-Scale Fraud
(The Guardian: Emma Graham-Harrison)
Audio released by Abdullah Abdullah's campaign allegedly capture senior election official conspiring with team of rival candidate Ashraf Ghan.

Taliban Attacks NATO Air Base In Afghanistan
(Reuters)
Taliban militants fired eight rockets into a NATO air base at one of Afghanistan's main airports.

Air Advisers Halfway Through Mission to Train Afghans
(Air Force Times: Brian Everstine)
The mission of the NATO personnel tasked to train the Afghan air force is to no longer have a job within three years, and they are well on their way.

ASIA/PACIFIC

Okinawa Governor to Drop Call to Kick Out U.S. Air Base
(Japan Times: Eric Johnston)
The move comes six months after the governor approved a landfill project in Nago's Henoko district needed to build a replacement base for the facility.

Hawaii-Based F-22 Raptors Deploy to Malaysia
(Honolulu Adviser: William Cole)
Six Hawaii-based F-22 Raptor fighters and more than 100 airmen participating in an exercise in Malaysia are making history.

Deal to Bring More U.S. Assets to Australia
(Stars and Stripes: Wyatt Olson)
Although details about numbers and initiatives remain largely unspecified, defense analysts from both countries expect an increased presence in Australia for the Air Force, Navy and, Marines. 

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Wormuth Confirmed as DoD Policy Chief
(Defense News)
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Christine Wormuth to become the Defense Department's policy chief.

U.S. Missile Defense System in First Successful Intercept Test Since 2008
(Reuters)
The Bush-era program has failed in five of eight tests.

More Than 400 U.S. Drones Have Crashed Since 2001
(The Washington Post: Craig Whitlock)
More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001.

Military Pay Is Outpacing Civilians'. Is It Justified?
(The Virginian-Pilot: Dianna Cahn)
Whether you are military or civilian, enlisted or officer – mention military pay in this region and you are likely to hear an earful.

Dempsey on Smoking Ban: Chiefs Need to Weigh in
(Marine Corps Times: Andrew Tilghman)
A forcewide review of tobacco that could result in new restrictions on the sale and use of cigarettes is drawing some skepticism from the Defense Department's top officer.

ARMY

Army Drawdown Continues: 1,100 Captains to Be Cut
(Stars and Stripes: Chris Carroll)
Another 500 majors will get the same news in early July.

Here's How Disgraced Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's Affair Will Hit Him in the Wallet
(The Washington Post: Dan Lamothe)
The decision could be one of the final chapters in a sordid scandal that rocked the Army.

JBLM-Based Soldier Killed in Training Exercise in California
(Army Times)
A soldier has died during a training exercise in Southern California.

NAVY

Naval Base Guam Changes Command
(Stars and Stripes)
Capt. Andy Anderson relieved Capt. Mike Ward as commanding officer of the Guam Navy base.

6 CAP Fixes Sailors Want
(Navy Times: Mark Faram)
Sailors have a love/hate relationship with spot promotions.

COAST GUARD

Adm. Allen Returning to Coast Guard Academy
(Associated Press)
Former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen is returning to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London to help develop strong military leaders.

SPECIAL OPS

New Horsepower for War Zones: Special Forces Saddle Up
(USA Today: Jim Michaels)
The need to bring these skills back was driven home in Afghanistan in 2001, when the first Special Forces soldiers to arrive found themselves fighting on horseback.

VETERANS

VA Officials Defend Bonuses in Light of Long Waits
(USA Today: Kelly Kennedy)
Of 500 senior executives, not one has been rated less than "successful" in the past four years.

VA Brass Knew of False Data for 2 Years
(USA Today: Dennis Wagner)
VA administrators knew two years ago that employees throughout the Southwest were manipulating data on doctor appointments and failed to stop the practice.

Phoenix VA to Get Another Acting Director
(Associated Press)
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that Glenn Costie will temporarily serve as acting director starting July 9.

One Thing That Is Going Right for Veterans
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
More Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are finding jobs, but the unemployment rate could easily creep back up as more soldiers come home.

Flood of PTSD Cases Coming, Scientists Warn
(USA Today: Gregg Zoroya)
The Pentagon and VA are not ready for a potential flood of war-related post-traumatic stress disorder among troops and veterans, particularly from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

VA Falls Short on Female Medical Issues
(Associated Press: Garance Burke)
Even the head of the VA's office of women's health acknowledges that persistent shortcomings remain in caring for the 390,000 female vets seen last year at its hospitals and clinics.

VA Home Loans Underused, Real Estate Experts Say
(Military Times: Karen Jowers)
Too many troops and veterans either don't know about their VA home loan benefit or are being discouraged from using it, experts say.

Service Members Can Now Register on Burn-Pit List
(Navy Times: Patricia Kime)
The Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is now live.

INTELLIGENCE

NSA Surveillance Program Gets 3 More Months
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
The reauthorization was approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Thursday and will run through September 12.

CYBER

Israel Claims $3B in Cyber Exports; 2nd Only to U.S.
(Defense News: Barbara Opall-Rome)
Netanyahu: 'We have a land flowing with milk and cyber.'

INDUSTRY

Corps to Improve LAVs' Mobility and Reliability
(Marine Corps Times: James Sanborn)
The Marine Corps has awarded General Dynamics a $52 million contract to upgrade the suspension, driveline, steering system and electrical components.

AFRICA

Kerry 'Confident' Egypt To Get Apache Gunships Soon
(Agence France-Presse)
"The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," Kerry said.

U.S. Pressing Egypt to Adopt More Moderate Policies
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
Kerry made the highest-level American visit to Egypt since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office.

U.S. to Move Some Embassy Staff From Kenya Over Security Concerns
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
The United States said it would move some staff from its embassy in Kenya to other countries following a string of militant attacks on the country's coast.

Airmen From U.S., 8 African Nations Find Bonds in Classroom - and Soccer
(Air Force Times: Kristin Davis)
More than 100 airmen from nine countries attended the African Partnership Flight.

TERRORISM

Benghazi Case a Big Test for D.C. Lawyers Who Lack Experience Prosecuting Terror Suspects
(The Washington Post: Adam Goldman, Carol Leonnig)
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington has watched as authorities in New York and Virginia handled many of nation's biggest terrorism cases — even ones in which the District was the target of planned attacks.

Boston Bombings Suspects' Friends Due in Court
(Associated Press)
A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev plans to ask a judge to release him on bail while he awaits trial on charges of impeding the investigation into the deadly attack.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Post-9/11 GI Bill Keeps Promise to Newest Vets
(Military Times: Barack Obama)
You pick the school, and we'll help pick up the bill.

The USS Guantanamo
(The Wall Street Journal)
Obama's prison for terrorists is the U.S. Navy.

The Heavy Burden of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(The New York Times)
Those who have suffered mental trauma on the battlefield deserve the best care the nation can provide.

Syria's Chemical War
(The Washington Post)
The effort to eliminate a dictator's arsenal has stalled.

Obama's Iraq Feint
(The Wall Street Journal)
Public maneuvering to dump Maliki is likely to backfire.

Iraq's Identity Crisis
(USA Today: Watheq Al-Hashimi)
In the past, people would say, 'I'm Iraqi.' Today, they'd reply Sunni, Shiite or Kurd.

What's the Pentagon Endgame in Iraq?
(Time: Mark Thompson)
For now, it seems saving Baghdad is the key objective for U.S. warships, warplanes and war advisers bound there.

Why Congress Fights the President on Defense
(Real Clear Defense: Roger Zakheim)
The struggle over defense strategy and budgets will continue, but don't be fooled by the pundits: there's more at play here than a member's district.

Five Indian Weapons of War China Should Fear
(The National Interest: Kyle Mizokami)
India's rising military might could cause China severe angst if the unthinkable ever occurred.

Want your defense news even faster? Follow the Early Bird on Twitter: @NJEarlyBird. And tell your networks to sign up directly here.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

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