Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense was being blocked by Senate Republicans over demands for more information on Hagel’s background and the September attack of the consulate in Benghazi, reported Politico.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff made another round of dire warnings about impending sequestration at a hearing Wednesday, this time telling the House Armed Services Committee who may die because of budget problems — and how.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully conducted the first live test Wednesday of a satellite missile tracking system designed to provide ship and shore-based batteries greater range to destroy rogue missiles, MDA officials told USNI News Wednesday.
At 4:10 a.m. EST, a missile from USS Lake Erie (CG-70) successfully intercepted a “medium-range ballistic missile target,” launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, on Kauai, Hawaii using Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators (STSS-D) with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA guided missile, MDA spokesperson Rick Lehner said.
The massive material withdrawal from Afghanistan began Monday when almost 50 containers of weapons and equipment began leaving via Pakistani supply routes, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The departure began the day after U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford took charge of the NATO forces in the region from USMC General John Allen.
With the passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011, Congress and the President set up a series of mechanisms meant to compel consensus on a roadmap for the nation’s long-term fiscal stability. But instead of compromise, bickering and discontent among the nation’s political leadership led to successive fiscal showdowns and short-term budgetary patches, the latest of which expires in just a few weeks. The effects of the budgetary stalemate have been particularly acute in the Department of Defense (DOD), and the threat to the nation’s armed forces is growing every day.
In a joint news conference on Thursday afternoon, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs announced the discontinuation of the 19-year-old Combat Exclusion Policy. The removal of existing gender barriers will be implemented on a rolling timeline: the services must report initial plans by this May, and by January 2016 all fields should be opened to qualified service members regardless of gender. The timeline delays are planned to give the services time to comply, to figure out how to apply for any desired waivers, and to evaluate resulting questions or concerns. The end of the Combat Exclusion Policy seems anticlimactic yet absurdly necessary.
The Pentagon announced yesterday it would end its official policy banning women from serving in ground-combat roles, opening an estimated 230,000 positions to female servicemembers. The unexpected move by departing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has met mixed reaction, and numerous questions remain about the practical effects of the decision.
The Thursday announcement by Panetta—who was joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey—settles one of the last remaining policy disparities between men and women in combat, allowing females to join infantry, artillery, armor, and other combat-coded posts previously reserved solely for men, including the special operations components. But, while the policy change topples some of the last remaining walls for women in uniform, it also poses serious questions for policy makers, chief among them being the status of women vis-à-vis the Selective Service System.