Projected Department of Defense Budget to Ignore Sequester Cuts
Marcus Weisgerber and Christopher P. Cavas, The Military Times – February 23, 2014
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will offer a preview of the next five years in defense budgets today, and the most notable fact about them is that they ignore sequester caps from 2016 to 2019. This may be an overly optimistic assessment of the potential for bipartisan work in Congress. Whether or not the sequester remains in place, DOD intends to cut personnel from all elements of its forces by tens of thousands over the next few years, and various programs will be temporarily halted or retired in order to cut costs.
P5 + 1 talks are getting technical
AFP – February 23, 2014
Technical experts on both sides of the negotiations are set to meet next week amid the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors meeting. This will lead into the next round of negotiations, set to start March 17. In between the technical talks, likely to occur between March 3 and 7, and the next round of negotiations, Tehran will host Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Ashton has also led coordination among the P5 + 1, but her visit to Tehran will be as a representative of the EU alone.
Netanyahu “concerned” about ongoing Iran negotiations, world hadn’t heard
AFP – February 23, 2014
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is apparently concerned that the P5 + 1 negotiations could allow Iran to become a “threshold nuclear state with an enrichment capacity,” though it remains unclear why a limited, monitored civilian program that happens to include low-level enrichment should be so frightening.
White House looking at a 3,000-troop presence beyond 2014
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post – February 23, 2014
Most reports on the post-2014 US presence in Afghanistan have focused on two options–10,000 troops or none at all. The most hawkish analysts have suggested that up to 30,000 are necessary. Now, reports suggest that another option, one that would leave 3,000 troops in Kabul and at Bagram Air Force Base, is being considered. If 10,000 troops were to remain, they would be spread more widely across the country. The United States wants to retain a presence in Afghanistan largely to conduct drone operations but also to continue training the Afghan National Security Forces.
Air Force to change training for nuclear weapons crews
Stephen Losey, Defense News – February 20, 2014
In response to the cheating scandal that has rocked the Air Force’s nuclear missile launch crews, the Air Education and Training Command is going to change training procedures. It could offer no specifics yet, however, as it first needs to wait for the Defense Department to complete a review of the ICBM force.
Cheating on nuclear launch tests yielded year’s lowest scores
Robert Burns, AP – February 22, 2014
In the most recent wrinkle added to the nuclear crew cheating scandal, it turns out that cheating did not improve the scores relative to the other monthly proficiency exams. The scores from July and August, the time period during which the alleged cheating took place, were among the lowest last year. Though the Air Force has not offered a definitive statement as to why this might be the case, it did mention that the content of the tests shifts from month to month and may result in variance in scores.