Tag Archives: Pentagon

US, allies planning naval escort for Gulf tankers: Pentagon

US, allies planning naval escort for Gulf tankers: PentagonThe United States and its allies are discussing plans to provide naval escorts for oil tankers through the Gulf, a top US general said Thursday after Iranian military vessels menaced a British tanker. General Mark Milley, nominated to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that the US has a “crucial role” in enforcing freedom of navigation in the Gulf. Milley, currently chief of staff of the army, confirmed less specific remarks by current Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford earlier this week.



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Appeals court: Trump can't use Pentagon cash for border wall

Appeals court: Trump can't use Pentagon cash for border wallAn appeals court on Wednesday upheld a freeze on Pentagon money to build a border wall with Mexico, casting doubt on President Donald Trump’s ability to make good on a signature campaign promise before the 2020 election. A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with a lower court ruling that prevented the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The decision is a setback for Trump’s ambitious plans.



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Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. ships

Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. shipsOn Thursday evening, U.S. Cyber Command launched a retaliatory digital strike against an Iranian spy group that supported last week’s limpet mine attacks on commercial ships, according to two former intelligence officials.



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US sending 1,000 more troops to Middle East as Pentagon releases new images of tanker attacks

US sending 1,000 more troops to Middle East as Pentagon releases new images of tanker attacksThe US is sending about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East amid tensions over a series of attacks on oil tankers and with the country's nuclear agreement on the brink of collapse.   Patrick Shanahan, Acting US Defence Secretary, announced the deployment on Monday, explaining the move was for "defensive purposes," citing concerns about a threat from Iran. The US has accused Iran of attacking six oil ships in the Gulf of Oman over the last month. Iran denies responsibility.  "The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Mr Shanahan said in a statement. The series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers have been blamed by the US on Iranian-laid limpet mines. The Pentagon on Monday released new photos intended to bolster its case that Iran was responsible for the attacks. This photo shows what the Navy says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous Credit: AP Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which the US suspects in the attacks, answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and operates outside of the traditional military's control. Gen Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of the general staff of Iran's armed forces, denied Tehran was involved in the tanker attacks, saying on Monday the country only would respond in "an open, strong and severe way" if needed. But he also reiterated Iran's traditional stance on the Strait of Hormuz. "If we decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, we will to do it in a way that even a drop of oil won't pass the strait," Bagheri added. Compounding concerns in the region, the Iran nuclear agreement is in danger of collapsing by the end of the month after Iran said it would breach the agreement on June 27 unless Europe finds a way to get around US sanctions and bolster Iran’s faltering economy.  U.S. Pentagon in Washington releases handout imagery that it says shows damage from mines to commercial ships in Gulf of Oman Credit: Reuters One year after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal, Iran said on Monday that in ten days it will blow past the limits on enriched uranium that it consented to in the 2015 agreement. The ultimatum from Tehran is likely to trigger a diplomatic scramble by European powers to save the unravelling nuclear deal and force Britain, France, and Germany to consider whether they will sanction Iran if it openly breaks the accord.  European officials said there appeared to be little hope of reaching a compromise before the Iranian deadline. “If [the European states] had any cards, I think they would have played them by now,” one diplomat said.  If the deal does collapse it will plunge the world back into the uncertainty of the early 2010s, when Iran was amassing material that could be used for a nuclear weapon while Israel and the US threatened strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities to stop its progress.   Under the 2015 agreement Iran was able to hold up to 300kg of low grade uranium. The country’s atomic energy agency said Monday that on June 27 it would exceed that limit, a potentially serious violation of the agreement.  "Today the countdown to pass the 300kg reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days time we will pass this limit," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the atomic agency.  A U.S. military image shows what the Pentagon says is a handprint from an individual who removed an unexploded limpet mine from the side of the motor vessel M/T Kokuka Courageous Credit: Reuters Iran also threatened to resume enrichment of high-grade uranium, the kind that could eventually be used for a nuclear weapon. It did not set a precise date for when it would resume such enrichment, which would also breach the nuclear deal.  Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, said there was still time to save the nuclear agreement if Europe stepped up its support for Iran’s economy before the end of the month. "It's a crucial moment,” Mr Rouhani told the French ambassador in Tehran. “France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play an historic role to save the deal in this very short time.” Britain, France, and Germany have been trying to assuage Iran for months with a promise of setting up a special financial mechanism designed to let European firms trade with Iran without being hit by sanctions.  But the financial mechanism, known as Instex, has so far shown little promise and many European firms are wary of doing anything that could lead to US sanctions.  Gulf of Oman, US responds Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister and a leading critic of the nuclear deal, said the international community should “immediately” impose new sanctions on Iran if it carried out its threat to breach the deal.  Mr Netanyahu came close to ordering strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2011 but held off largely because of concerns that Barack Obama, then president, would not support an Israeli attack.  His calculations may be different under Mr Trump, who has been more supportive of Israel and more confrontational with Iran. Israeli officials said they were committed to stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and would attack if necessary to achieve that objective.  The nuclear deal includes a “snapback clause” that could, if there was backing from the UN Security Council, re-impose sanctions on Iran, if it was found to have violated the agreement. Iran continues to deny it was behind the second spate of attacks on tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz Credit:  US Department of Defense Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief was asked about the EU’s red line for the nuclear deal snapback. She said the EU hoped and expected Iran to comply with its commitments. “I will not elaborate on what happens if and when because at the moment, as of today, Iran is still compliant," she said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. “During the last year it has been increasingly difficult for all to keep the nuclear deal fully implemented," she added,"Our focus is not to enter into a blame game. Our focus is to keep our agreement in place." Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, has demanded Europe do more to help Iran's economy Credit: REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov A UK spokesman said, “The E3 [of UK, France and Germany] has consistently made clear that there can be no reduction in compliance. For now Iran remains within its nuclear commitments. We are coordinating with E3 partners on next steps.” Iran announced later on Monday that it had arrested several people in Tehran who it said were CIA operatives.  Mojtaba Zolnour, the head of Iran’s nuclear parliamentary committee, also warned that Iran could pull out of a global treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Mr Zolnour said that Iran could withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which it agreed not to seek nuclear weapons.  Iran has always claimed it has no intention of ever building a nuclear bomb but Israel and other states have accused it of secretly developing a nuclear weapons programme.   Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.



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Trump's Pentagon nominee quits, Iran targets CIA network

Trump's Pentagon nominee quits, Iran targets CIA networkPresident Donald Trump lost his nominee for Pentagon chief on Tuesday, adding to the volatility in a tense standoff with Iran, which claimed to have dismantled a CIA network. Foreign powers are watching the situation in the Mideast with growing concern as Tehran and Washington exchange warnings about an escalation in their conflict. Trump announced on Twitter that Patrick Shanahan was quitting to spend time with his family.



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Pentagon sending 1,000 U.S. troops to Middle East after oil tanker attacks

Pentagon sending 1,000 U.S. troops to Middle East after oil tanker attacksLast week, the Trump administration accused Tehran of being responsible for an explosion that set two oil tankers on fire off the coast of Iran.



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Pentagon to send more troops to Mexico border, some in contact with migrants

Pentagon to send more troops to Mexico border, some in contact with migrantsIt is the latest sign of a growing U.S. military support role for President Donald Trump’s politically charged immigration policies. Earlier this month, Trump said he would have to mobilize more of the military at the border with Mexico after listening to stories about migrants crossing the border from people attending a Republican fundraiser. The Pentagon previously said there were no plans for U.S. forces to interact with migrants as they support border agents dealing with illegal immigration.



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UPDATE 2-Inspector General clears acting Pentagon chief in probe

UPDATE 2-Inspector General clears acting Pentagon chief in probeThe U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general on Thursday concluded acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan did not seek preferential treatment of Boeing Co, his former employer, while at the Pentagon. The decision potentially opens the door for U.S. President Donald Trump to formally nominate Shanahan to be defense secretary. The inspector general started the investigation in March after a watchdog group filed a complaint alleging Shanahan promoted aerospace firm Boeing in meetings and disparaged competitors.



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Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian Attacks

Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian AttacksPhoto Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/GettyA new Pentagon space agency wants to launch nearly 1,300 small satellites and, in the process, totally reinvent the way the military operates in orbit.The goal: to help the U.S. satellite constellation survive a sneak-attack by China or Russia. With hundreds of satellites in orbit, no single satellite is critically important, or so the thinking goes. If the Chinese or Russians were to knock out one or even dozens of satellites, scores more could take their place.But the new “mega-constellation” plan from the Space Development Agency might not actually work. The agency’s own director, Fred Kennedy, said it probably was “no panacea” against an enemy attack.It could be prohibitively expensive to deploy so many sats. Rocket launches are getting cheaper. But they might not yet be so cheap that the Pentagon could afford to conduct hundreds of them in a short span of time.In any event, the agency’s plan is advisory. The Pentagon could just ignore it. But the idea is interesting if no for other reason than its contrarianness. Today the U.S. military and other government agencies, universities and private companies together operate around 850 satellites, according to a count by the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists. Second-place China has 280 satellites and Russia, in third place, has 150.But America’s satellites increasingly are vulnerable to attack, according to military officials. “China and Russia both are building direct-ascent weapons that can shoot down our satellites,” U.S. Air Force general John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said on Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs.“Direct-ascent weapon” is military parlance for “rocket.”That’s not all. Hyten also said Russia and China also are building lasers that can blind American spacecraft and jammers that cut the satellites’ links to controllers on the ground plus “on-orbit” weapons—in essence, kamikaze satellites that can ram into American sats.Not only are Moscow and Beijing building arsenals for taking down America’s space assets, they’re “doing it aggressively and quickly,” Hyten said.To be clear, the U.S. military has anti-satellite weapons of its own. And American sats aren’t exactly defenseless. Starting in 2018, the Air Force spent a billion dollars adding “resilience features” to some of its spacecraft. Resilience features might include better thrusters, allowing the spacecraft to maneuver more quickly in order to avoid attack. They may also include extra sensors on the spacecraft that act as a sort of orbital home-security system, monitoring the approach of potential assailants, according to James Oberg, an independent space expert and former NASA mission control specialist.“Now that autonomous mini-satellites can approach other satellites, sometimes without detection from the ground, space-based detection must be installed on the potential targets,” Oberg told me. The sensors could include cameras, radars, radio-signal detectors and “sniffers” that can track the energy from other satellites' thrusters, Oberg added.But the Space Development Agency, a small research organization that opened shop in March, wants to take a different approach. The Pentagon asked Congress for $ 150 million to fund the new agency through 2020.Rather than beefing up individual spacecraft, under the mega-constellation plan the military would simply buy lots more small, inexpensive satellites, reinforcing or replacing the roughly 170 large, expensive sats the armed forces currently operate.Speaking at the Colorado conference on Tuesday, Kennedy said he wants to see the Pentagon deploy “hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or more small satellites exhibiting a host of capabilities.”A graphic Kennedy displayed broke down the numbers of different kinds of spacecraft in the proposed mega-constellation. In all, 1,258 small satellites would crowd low orbit, scanning the Earth and space and relaying radio communications. Three copies of an “advanced maneuvering vehicle”—presumably some version of the Air Force’s secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle—would orbit above the other sats. Artificial intelligence would help ground-based controllers to maneuver and coordinate the hundreds of spacecraft, Kennedy said.But the plan hinges on very cheap space launches. Lots of them. In 2018, U.S. entities launched just 31, mostly big, satellites—many of which might remain in orbit a decade or longer. Since small satellites might last just a year or two, to build the mega-constellation the military could need to expand its launch activities by a factor of 20. It could be pricey. According to a 2018 paper by NASA researcher Harry Jones, the price per pound of a satellite launch has decreased from around $ 24,000 in the 1980s and 1990s to just $ 1,200 in 2019. But launching 600 or more satellites annually instead of 30 could more than offset the falling per-pound price of a launch.Kennedy acknowledged the downsides of his agency’s satellite plan. “We recognize that this isn’t the sum total of the nation's space construct,” he said. "We should not jump to extremes.”But even experimenting with a new approach to deploying satellites could result in better technology and methods that could make it harder for Russia or China to knock out America’s spacecraft, Kennedy said. “This puts us on a wonderfully disruptive path.”Kennedy said his agency would begin conducting conducting war games in order to test out the mega-constellation concept starting in 2022.Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Pentagon to find places to potentially house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children

Pentagon to find places to potentially house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant childrenActing U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request to identify places to potentially house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. In March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested Pentagon support to identify locations to house unaccompanied migrant children through Sept. 30. Migrant arrivals on the U.S. border with Mexico have been building steadily for months, driven by growing numbers of children and families, especially from Central America.



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