Feb. 8, 2013 - NS/FR Weekly Update

National Security

1. Defense Budget: Secretary Discusses 2014 Defense Budget Request
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta revealed that the proposed military pay raise for 2014 is 1 percent, and that the department is proceeding in a logical, careful way to do its part to cut the deficit and preserve military capabilities.

In a normal year, defense officials would be discussing the fiscal 2014 DOD budget request now. But this year is far from normal, and officials do not expect the budget to even go to Congress until late in March.

“No one is getting a pay cut, but we will provide a pay raise that’s smaller than we’ve seen in past years in order to achieve some savings by virtue of what we confront in the compensation area,” Panetta said.

“We will stress that retirement benefits would be grandfathered,” Panetta said, noting the department will continue to look for savings in the military’s TRICARE health program.

The department will propose some additional cuts to the Air Force and “we will resubmit some of our proposed cuts to the Navy,” Panetta said. These are proposals that Congress rejected last year.

Read more: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119220

Resolution No. 55: Protecting the Defense Budget

Resolution No. 63: Rebuild America’s Defense Industrial Base http://archive.legion.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/2224/2012N063.pdf?s...

The American Legion issued a release: http://www.legion.org/veteransbenefits/213783/legion-opposes-military-pa...

2. Benghazi attack: Leon Panetta defends Pentagon’s response
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday gave a forceful defense of the Pentagon’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, arguing the government “spared no effort to save American lives.”

Panetta also acknowledged the limits to American military force and the intelligence that supports it. In his opening remarks, he pointed out that there were no “specific indications of an imminent attack” on Sept. 11.

“Without adequate warning, there was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond,” Panetta told the committee.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), however, went after Dempsey for giving “one of the more bizarre statements that I have ever seen in my years in this committee.”

McCain claimed the military had not been “appropriately responsive,” as Dempsey claimed in his opening remarks to the committee. The facilities in Benghazi, McCain said, could have been easily reached and more quickly assisted by U.S. forces.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/panetta-defends-response-to-bengha...

3. Senate Panel Delays Vote on Hagel Nomination
A Senate panel on Wednesday abruptly postponed a vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary amid Republican demands for more information from President Barack Obama's nominee about his paid speeches and business dealings.

Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, has faced strong opposition from his ex-GOP colleagues who have questioned his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons. It was unclear whether the delay in the vote would derail the nomination or merely postpone action on Obama's choice to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Last month, Hagel told Pentagon officials he would divest some of his financial holdings and resign from several corporate boards and public interest groups to avoid potential conflicts of interest if he wins Senate confirmation.

He said he would resign his corporate board post at Chevron Corp. and shed investments in the energy company, a major government contractor. He also would cut ties and investments with the McCarthy Group LLC, an Omaha-based private equity firm.

Hagel also pledged to cut ties with several academic and public interest groups, including Georgetown University and the Atlantic Council.

Read more at: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/02/07/senate-panel-delays-vote-o...

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Foreign Relations

1. Global War on Terror: Mali Hit by 'first' Suicide Bombing Since French-led Mission Against Rebels
A suicide bomber has attacked a checkpoint in northern Mali, killing himself in the first known assault of its kind since the French military intervention against Islamist rebels.
A Malian military officer said the bomber struck on Friday near Gao, a Saharan city recently recaptured from the rebels.
The attacker approached on a motorbike and blew himself up at the Bourem checkpoint, lightly wounding a soldier, A French officer reported.
Since a military coup in March last year that plunged Mali into chaos and led to the occupation of the north by Tuareg and Islamist rebels, paratroopers loyal to Touré had been largely sidelined and some arrested.
"The chief of staff had taken a disciplinary measure against some of the paratroopers, and some of them were not happy with the decision so they woke up this morning and started shooting," a Malian defence ministry official said.
France and its western allies are pushing for a national political settlement and democratic elections to stabilise the situation in the west African state, where interim civilian leaders have faced interference from Sanogo and other junta officers.

2. North Korea: Threatens Stronger Measures than Nuclear Test
North Korea stepped up its bellicose rhetoric on Tuesday, threatening to go beyond carrying out a promised third nuclear test in response to what it believes are "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch Reuters reported.
Pyongyang frequently employs fiery rhetoric aimed at South Korea and the United States and in 2010 was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval vessel. It also shelled a South Korean island in the same year, killing civilians.
It did not spell out the actions it would take. North Korea is not capable of staging a military strike on the United States, although South Korea is in range of its artillery and missiles and Japan of its missiles.
"We are all concerned that, despite the strong measures taken in (UN Security Council Resolution) 2087, the provocative rhetoric continues, which means we've all got to stay unified in watching this and making absolutely clear to Pyongyang that if it takes further actions, so will we," Victoria Nuland told reporters.

3. POW/MIA Update – Recently Accounted For:
• 2nd Lt. William R. Parkinson, U.S. Army, B-24D Liberator Pilot, was lost on May 7, 1944, near the Papua New Guinea town of Lae. He was accounted for on Jan. 15, 2013.

• Pfc. Weldon A. Davis, U.S. Army, 2nd Infantry Division, was lost in Jan.1951, near the Ch’ongch’ River in North Korea. He was accounted for on Feb. 3, 2013.

John Stovall
Director, National Security / Foreign Relations Division