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U.S. Wants More Troops in Black Sea; Kerry-Abbas Talks Canceled; GOP Budget Boosts Defense Spending U.S. Wants More Troops in Black Sea; Kerry-Abbas Talks Canceled; GOP B...

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U.S. Wants More Troops in Black Sea; Kerry-Abbas Talks Canceled; GOP Budget Boosts Defense Spending

By 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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With 'Ryan Budget,' GOP Wants To Show It's Strong on Defense
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled a GOP spending plan that would inflate President Obama's proposed Pentagon spending level by more than $30 billion.


Romania: U.S. Wants More Troops at Black Sea Base
(Associated Press)
The U.S. wants to add up to 600 troops to the 1,000 currently stationed at the base of Mihail Kogalniceanu and military aircraft "for specific missions."

Congress (Finally) Sends Ukraine Package to White House
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
The measure is largely symbolic and not expected to change dynamic with Vladimir Putin.

CIA's Harsh Interrogation Tactics More Widespread Than Thought
(McClatchy: Marisa Taylor, David Lightman)
The CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques on foreign terror suspects was more widespread than the agency has publicly acknowledged,

Kerry-Abbas Visit Canceled as Mideast Talks Falter
(The New York Times: Jodi Rudoren, Mark Landler, Michael Gordon)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas moved to join 15 international agencies, a move vigorously opposed by Israel and the United States.


NSA Searched Americans' Communications, Intelligence Director Says
(The Washington Post: Ellen Nakashima)
James Clapper acknowledged that the National Security Agency has searched for Americans' communications without a warrant. 


American Spy's Release Would Be High-Stakes Gamble
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The Obama administration is bringing the U.S. closer than it has been in years to granting convicted spy Jonathan Pollard an early release in a high-stakes gamble to advance Mideast peace talks.

U.S. Parole Commissioner: Convicted Spy for Israel Waives Hearing
(Associated Press: Pete Yost)
Waiving the parole hearing comes amid diplomatic discussions between the U.S. and Israel about Jonathan Pollard's possible release in the name of advancing Mideast peace talks.

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Possible Pollard Release Spurs Uproar
(USA Today: Michele Chabin)
A reported U.S. offer to free spy Jonathan Pollard has politicians, settlers, and activists on all sides in an uproar over whether the price is too high.

White House: No Decision to Release Pollard
(Associated Press)
The White House says President Obama has not made a decision on whether to release Pollard.

Israel's Prolific American Spy
(USA Today: Doug Stanglin)
The United States has jailed spies before, but none quite like Jonathan Jay Pollard.

I Was Against Pollard's Release Before I Was for It
(Foreign Policy: Shane Harris, John Hudson)
In January 1999, a group of senators sent a strongly worded letter to President Clinton urging him not to commute the prison sentence of Jonathan Pollard. Now, John Kerry is singing a different tune.

Dempsey Says Israel-U.S. Perceptions of Iran Grow Closer
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
Israel's view of how soon Iran will gain a nuclear-weapon capability has become much closer to that of officials in Washington, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey.


Ryan Budget Calls for Return to Pre-Sequester Defense Spending
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
Paul Ryan's budget takes from nondefense funds to boost defense spending well beyond Obama's request.

Defense Budget Hunger Games? Paul Ryan Says Thanks, but No Thanks
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
The Wisconsin Republican would spare some of the programs currently on the chopping block, but doesn't delve into details of what he would cut.

Rep. Tom Cole: Party Hopes to Make National Security a Midterm Election Issue
(Defense News: John Bennett)
An influential House Republican leadership member made clear his party intends to inject national security and foreign policy issues into this year's midterm elections.

John McCain: Classified Senate Report on Torture 'Chilling'
(National Journal: Sarah Mimms)
The Republican says some aspects of the report, which have not yet been made public, are too upsetting to repeat.

Hoyer Reflects on Post-9/11 Intelligence Action
(McClatchy: David Lightman)
Rep. Steny Hoyer says lawmakers did not go too far when they gave broad authority to intelligence agencies after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


NATO Severs Cooperation With Russia
(CBS News)
NATO's foreign ministers ordered an end to civilian and military cooperation with Russia.

NATO Chief Recommits to Defending Eastern European, Baltic Nations
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
A reinvigorated NATO flexed old Cold War muscles as the Atlantic alliance's chief recommitted to defending Eastern European and Baltic nations rattled by Russia.

Russia Warns Kiev Against NATO Integration
(Reuters: Thomas Grove)
Russia said Kiev's previous attempts to move closer to the bloc had strained ties with Russia.

Kerry Denounces Use Of Energy As Weapon
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
Secretary of State John Kerry is denouncing the use of energy as a weapon, after Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine. 

Russia Puts Pressure on Ukraine With Rise in Gas Price
(The New York Times: Andrew Kramer)
Gazprom, the Russian energy company, increased the price of natural gas by 44 percent even as American and Russian diplomats worked toward a settlement over Ukraine.

West Stumbles as Autocratic Force Trumps Economics
(Reuters: David Rohde)
Authoritarian rulers such as Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad are showing they can and will defy international norms, suppress dissent and use military force.

Behind Russia's 'Neo-Nazi' Propaganda Campaign in Ukraine
(U.S. News & World Report: Paul Shinkman)
Kiev is largely peaceful, but that could hinge on further U.S. support, opposition ministers say.

Bulgaria Wary as Russia Steps Up Military Flights Over Black Sea
(Reuters: Tsvetelia Tsolova)
Both the West and Russia have carried out a series of military drills as a show of force in the worsening standoff over Russia's annexation of Crimea.


Alliances Realign as Latest Superpower Pulls Out of Afghanistan
(The Guardian: Jason Burke, Jon Boone)
The presidential election and U.S. withdrawal are likely to have complex repercussions for the region's web of invisible networks.

Can Afghan Forces Hold After Marines Depart?
(San Diego Union-Tribune: Gretel Kovach)
A Q&A with Col. Michael Langley, adviser to 215th Corps in Helmand.

Afghanistan Presidential Candidates Key to Fate of Nation, Legacy of U.S.
(Stars and Stripes: Heath Druzin, Josh Smith)
Whether Afghans accept the outcome of the election will help determine whether the war-ravaged country moves closer to stability or slides deeper into chaos.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, India All Want Leftover U.S. MRAPs
(Air Force Times: Jeff Schogol)
The U.S. military has more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Afghanistan than it can bring home.

No Afghanistan War Casualties in March
(CBS News: Stephanie Condon)
There were no U.S. military casualties in the Afghanistan war for the entire month—the first time that has happened since January 2007.


Assad Regime Relying on Foreign Militias, Fighters
(USA Today: Jim Michaels)
Syrian leader Bashar Assad is increasingly relying on a network of local militias and foreign fighters to defend his regime as his regular army has been eroded by defections and heavy casualties.

Syria Death Toll Surpasses 150,000: Activists
(Associated Press)
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that it has documented 150,344 deaths in the conflict that started in March 2011.


Army-Navy Tag Team Trains to Defend Persian Gulf
(War Is Boring: Joe Trevithick)
Aviators in Kuwait are ready to fly from ships in a crisis.

LCS War Game Focuses on Blue Water, Anti-Sub, Anti-Ship Capabilities
(Inside Defense: Olga Belogolova)
The Littoral Combat Ship war game, which was executed at the Naval War College, included 125 participants across the Navy and the other services and involved threats that the service could face in the mid-2020s.

'Smart' Launcher Will Boost MH-60's Firepower
(Seapower Magazine)
A modernized rocket launcher will soon enable MH-60 Seahawk helicopters to carry and deploy a variety of weapons for the first time.

Accenture Selected to Support U.S. Navy Supply Systems Command
(Seapower Magazine)
The Navy has selected Accenture Federal Services to provide information technology support under a multi-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.


Inside the Military's New Office for Cyborgs
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
The new office, named the Biological Technology Office, or BTO, will serve as a clearinghouse for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programs.

Commissary Cuts Could Hurt MWR Programs
(Air Force Times: Karen Jowers)
If higher commissary prices drive shoppers away, that could impact customer traffic at base exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation programs are partly funded by exchange programs.


CIA Officer Confirmed No Protests Before Misleading Benghazi Account Given
(The Washington Times: Guy Taylor)
Information on the ground rejects protest account. 


DOD: F-35's Ability To Achieve 'Critical' Operational Requirement in Question
(Inside Defense)
A Pentagon assessment has determined that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could miss one of eight key performance parameters deemed "critical or essential."

U.S. Focuses on Cheaper, More Reliable F-35 Jet: Air Force Official
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
Assistant Air Force Secretary William LaPlante said the price of the new A-model F-35 is on track to drop from around $112 million now to the mid-$80 million range by 2018 or 2019.

General Dynamics: We Can't Compete for AMPV Unless Army Changes Course
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
A General Dynamics withdrawal would be yet another embarrassment for the Army's chronically troubled acquisition system, since it would effectively leave the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle with a single bidder.

Exelis Spins Off Vectrus
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
Vectrus is set to become the newest government contracting company, joining a spate of brands including Leidos and Engility formed in recent years as the industry reshapes.


VA Hides Names of Hospitals Where Vets Died From Delays
(Washington Free Beacon: C.J. Ciaramella)
Freedom of Information Act experts say docs were wrongly withheld.

Holder Renews Call for Civilian Terror Trials
(USA Today: Kevin Johnson)
Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the successful prosecution of al-Qaeda propagandist Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, "vindicated'' the government's disputed contention that terror suspects could be safely tried in civilian courts.


Job Pool Expanding for U.S. Troops Interested in Heading Down Under
(Stars and Stripes: Seth Robson)
The Australian Defence Force, which expects to double its budget over the next decade, is looking for even more foreign military members willing to serve Down Under.


Bad Move on Jonathan Pollard
(The New York Times)
The emergence of the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is a lamentable sign of America's desperation to keep both sides talking.

Release of Israeli Spy Is Premature
(The Washington Post)
Why is the U.S. in the position of offering its own concessions rather than brokering compromise?

Meltdown in Palestine
(The Wall Street Journal)
Peace talks collapse amid an unseemly U.S. prisoner swap proposal.

10 Tough Questions Obama Needs to Answer on Ukraine
(The Atlantic: Jeffrey Tayler)
The president should spell out what he is ready to do if Vladimir Putin strikes again.

Putin's Imaginary Nazis
(Politico: James Kirchick)
No, Ukraine's right-wing agitators are not fascist anti-Semites. But Russia wants them to be.

Over-Commitment Is Not the Problem
(War on the Rocks: Usha Sahay)
Rather than illuminating the current failures of our foreign policy, the idea of diplomatic overstretch simply serves as a distraction from what's really wrong.

Why Are We So Busy Trying to 'Figure Out' Vladimir Putin?
(Foreign Policy: Stephen Walt)
On personality politics, great men, and the fallacy of thinking that individuals actually shape the world.

The Dissing of the President
(The Wall Street Journal: Bret Stephens)
The world is treating Obama like another failed American leader.

Realizing the Asia-Pacific Rebalance
(Defense One: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel)
In a world where security challenges do not adhere to political boundaries and our economies are linked as never before, no nation can go it alone and hope to prosper.

Military Caregivers Are Hidden Heroes
(USA Today: Elizabeth Dole, Michael Rich)
Many are family members who don't get the recognition and help that they deserve.

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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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