1. Defense Budget: 2014 Proposal
The FY 2014 budget builds on the Department of Defense's reform agenda that began several years ago. That agenda generated $150 billion in efficiencies in the five-year plan submitted with the FY 2012 budget and another $60 billion in efficiencies in the five-year plan submitted with the FY 2013 budget.
For 2014, savings of approximately $34 billion have been identified to make better use of resources across the five years of this Future Years Defense Plan. To permit infrastructure consolidation, the budget requests a round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2015. BRAC is the only effective means of achieving infrastructure consolidation. This BRAC round adds $2.4 billion to costs in the next five years but would eventually save substantial sums. The actual closing of any bases would involve a multiyear process that would not start until 2016, after the economy is projected to have more fully recovered.
In order to maintain balance and readiness, the budget also includes savings associated with additional weapons program terminations and restructuring ($9.9 billion), continuing efforts to capture more favorable medical cost growth recently experienced in both the Military Health System and national medical cost trends ($8.9 billion), and restructuring of military construction plans ($4.14 billion). By September, a study of Military Treatment Facilities should have identified options that will eventually lead to further reductions in healthcare costs.
The department is also working to slow the growth in military compensation while continuing to support the All-Volunteer Force. The increase in military basic pay will be set at 1.0 percent in FY 2014, slightly lower than the 1.8 percent increase in the Employment Cost Index; the budget also provides service members with increases in their housing and subsistence allowances of 4.2 and 3.4 percent respectively. The department is also resubmitting some changes in military health care enrollment fees and pharmacy co pays that were denied last year by the Congress, but after making modifications designed to accommodate concerns. Together these initiatives reduce costs by $1.4 billion in FY 2014 and a total of $12.8 billion in FY 2014-2018.
Related Resolution: No. 55: Protecting the Defense Budget http://archive.legion.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/2316/2012F055.pdf?s... 
Read more at: http://www.defense.gov/news/2014budget.pdf 
2. Senate Committee on Armed Services
This week, the staff of the national security and foreign relations division attending a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Armed Services regarding the law of armed conflict, the use of military force, and the 2001 authorization for use of military force.
Under the law of armed conflict, it is well-established that a State may target the enemy, including known, individual members of the enemy force. For example, during World War II., U.S. Navy forces lawfully shot down the aircraft of Admiral Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese navy. Today, just as in 1943, the use of lethal force against a particular leader of the enemy force in an ongoing armed conflict is entirely consistent with settled law of armed conflict principles governing who may be the object of attack.
Unfortunately, however, some among the ranks of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces are U.S. citizens planning attacks against their own country from abroad. This, too, has historical precedent. In previous conflicts, U.S. citizens have fought in foreign armies against the United States—such as with the Axis countries during World War II. Long-standing legal principles and court decisions confirm that being a U.S. citizen does not immunize a member of the enemy from attack. Nonetheless, if we know in advance that the object of our attack is a U.S. citizen, we assume that constitutional rights—including the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause—attach to a U.S. citizen even while he is abroad, and we consider those rights in assessing whether that individual may be targeted.
Also discussed was management and oversight of military operations. Before military force is used against members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, there is a robust review process, which includes rigorous safeguards to protect innocent civilians. Throughout the military chain of command, senior commanders, advised by trained and experienced staffs—including intelligence officers, operations officers, and judge advocates—review operations for compliance with applicable U.S. domestic and international law, including the law of armed conflict, and for consistency with the policies and orders of superiors in the military chain of command.
3. Defense Chiefs meet to discuss future of Afghanistan and NATO's role
The NATO defense chiefs are moving closer to determining what the post-2014 alliance posture in Afghanistan will look like, Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, the chairman of the Military Committee, said here yesterday.
The defense chiefs stressed the alliance will continue its strong support to Afghanistan well beyond the end of the International Security Assistance Force mission in December 2014.
The 28 NATO chiefs also discussed the situation in Kosovo, alliance relations with Russia, NATO transformation and more.
"As we approach the completion of the ISAF campaign, our mission in Afghanistan is entering a new phase," Bartels said at the conclusion of the two-day meeting at NATO headquarters. "Its primary task is changing from leading a counterinsurgency campaign to providing training, advice and assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces, as they assume the lead for security across the country."
NATO forces are already shifting responsibility for security to Afghan forces. Later this year, Afghan forces will be in the lead for security over most of the country.
The Afghan army and police continue to grow in capability, Bartels said.
"They are already in the lead across much of Afghanistan and their progress in the areas of planning, coordination, execution and sustaining large-scale operations is now evident," he said. "Transition therefore remains on track and our assessment is on the whole, positive."
The chiefs also made good progress on the concept of operations for the post-2014 mission, Resolute Support. They have recommendations for NATO and partner defense ministers when they meet in June.
NATO still has forces in Kosovo and the defense chiefs discussed the changes in the Balkans.
"We recognize a significant step towards normalizations in the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, demonstrated by the recent agreement brokered by the European Union," Bartels said. "We also reflected on its possible implication for [the Kosovo Force]."
1. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
This week, staff from the national security and foreign relations division attended hearings held by the House Foreign Relations Committee regarding the threat of a nuclear armed Iran. The guest speakers included the Honorable Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State and The Honorable David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, U.S. Department of Treasury.
The Administration, from its first days in office, has tenaciously pursued a dual-track strategy that offers Iran a path to reclaim its place among the community of nations while making clear that the U.S., along with our partners in the international community, would apply increasingly powerful and sophisticated sanctions on Iran if it continues to refuse to satisfy its international obligations with respect to its nuclear program. As we have repeatedly made clear, Tehran faces a choice: it can address the call of the international community to give up its nuclear ambitions and begin reintegrating itself diplomatically, economically and financially into the world community, or it can continue down its current path and face ever- growing isolation.
The administrations next steps are: first, the U.S. will continue to identify ways to isolate Iran from the international financial system. We will do so by maintaining our aggressive campaign of applying sanctions against individuals and entities engaged in, or supporting, illicit Iranian activities and by engaging with the private sector and foreign governments to amplify the impact of these measures. As part of this effort we will also target Iran's attempts to evade international sanctions through the use of non-bank financial institutions, such as exchange houses and money services businesses. And we will explore new measures to expand our ability to target Iran's remaining links to the global financial sector.
In particular, we are looking carefully at actions that could increase pressure on the value of the rial. In that connection, we will continue to actively investigate any sale of gold to the Government of Iran, which can be used to prop up its currency and to compensate for the difficulty it faces in accessing its foreign reserves. We currently have authority under E.O. 13622 to target those who provide gold to the Iranian government and, as of July 1, IFCA will expand that authority to target for sanctions the sale of gold to or from anyone in Iran for any purpose.
2. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
This week, the staff of the National Security and Foreign Relations division also attended hearings held by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the FY 2014 Budget Request for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The guest speakers for the hearing were Mr. Joseph Y. Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State and The Honorable Nisha Biswal, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia, U.S. Agency for International Development.
Deepening our engagement in Asia and the Pacific is sensible and strategic in a region that is home to two-thirds of the world's population and the world's fastest growing economies, but one that also encompasses nearly 30 percent of the world's poor. We know that the region faces serious development challenges, such as a lack of dependable access to clean water, infectious disease pandemics, environmental degradation, food scarcity, natural disasters, and government corruption. These compelling needs in Asia require USAID assistance and support to advance U.S. strategic interests. As the President noted in that speech, "Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress." The Asia Pacific rebalance is, at its heart, our effort to ensure that the coming century is one marked by cooperation and human progress that extends mutual prosperity and security.
USAID's programs in the region are focused on enabling that vision through support of bilateral and regional efforts to address the major challenges facing Asian economies and societies, by investing in health and human capacity, strengthening food security and helping the region cope with and mitigate the impacts of global climate change and natural disasters. At the same time, we recognize that a critical constraint to inclusive and efficient growth is persistent and pervasive corruption, weak systems of governance and continuing challenges to human rights and labor rights, and as such, much of our assistance focuses on these challenges.
USAID stands ready to take up these challenges. The President's Fiscal Year 2014 foreign assistance request for East Asia and the Pacific is $768.3 million, an overall increase of 7.5 per cent compared to FY 2012 actual levels. The budget request prioritizes support for the political and economic transition in Burma and for the Partnership for Growth in the Philippines, advances the Comprehensive Partnership with Indonesia and helps consolidate economic gains as we transition our relationship with Mongolia.
Army Sgt. Charles Allen, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (IR), was lost north of the Ch'ongch'on River, North Korea. He was accounted for on May 10th and was buried May 17th, in Dallas.
Director, National Security / Foreign Relations Division