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October 7, 2013 | Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud
The Obama administration's decision to mount two risky attempts to capture Al Qaeda operatives in Africa reflects a reduced role for lethal CIA drone strikes and a growing prominence for the Pentagon in counter-terrorism operations, U.S. officials said Sunday. In one raid, Navy SEALs stormed the coastal Somalia home of a leader of the Shabab, the Somali-based group that claimed responsibility for last month's massacre in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. In that operation, the administration opted to put U.S. commandos at risk against a fixed target that could have been destroyed with bombs or missiles from the air. U.S. intelligence had indications that a dozen or more family members and other noncombatants were present at the compound, raising the risk of civilian casualties in any missile strike, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing the classified operation.
October 7, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- Defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. said Monday it would reduce its planned layoffs to 2,400, after the Pentagon recalled most of the civilian workers it had furloughed because of the partial federal government shutdown. The move came after United Technologies Corp. said Sunday it was canceling the planned layoff of 2,000 employees at its Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., because of the return of the Defense Department workers. Lockheed had announced Friday it would lay off 3,000 employees starting Monday due to the shutdown.
October 5, 2013 | By Lisa Mascaro and David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - The urgency to end the government shutdown eased Saturday as the Pentagon said it would recall nearly all its furloughed civilian employees and House Republicans focused their attention to a broader budget battle with the White House. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's surprise announcement to call about 350,000 civilian defense workers back to work next week was expected to loosen pressure on Congress and the White House to quickly end the shutdown, which was in its fifth day Saturday.
October 2, 2013 | By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Gays and lesbians in the military are running into widespread obstacles as they seek to take advantage of a new Obama administration policy designed to make it easier for same-sex couples in the armed services to get married. The policy, announced with great fanfare at the Pentagon in mid-August, was meant to give same-sex couples up to 10 days special leave to get married in the 13 states that allow it - and thus equal access to low-cost healthcare, base shopping and other benefits available to married couples in the military.
September 27, 2013 | By Evan Halper and Richard Simon, This post has been updated. See note below for details.
WASHINGTON -- About 400,000 civilian workers for the Department of Defense would be furloughed starting Tuesday if Congress is unable to reach a deal to fund the federal government, according to the Pentagon's top finance official. Military service members would continue to report to duty, but they, too, would not be paid during a shutdown. The first paychecks that would potentially not be issued would be the ones due Oct. 15, according to Undersecretary of Defense Robert F. Hale. In a shutdown, the department would also be forced to stop other payments, including death benefits for families of members of the armed services.
September 19, 2013 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - When Aaron Alexis received an access card to enter the Washington Navy Yard, the Pentagon relied on a 5-year-old background investigation completed before most of his brushes with police and signs of mental illness, a senior Defense Department official said Wednesday. But the 2008 investigation was considered recent enough under federal rules for Alexis to be granted permission to enter the Navy Yard, where he worked, merely by flashing his card to a guard at the gate.
September 11, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
Americans will return Wednesday to the grim task of commemorating the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the day Islamist fundamentalists seized four airliners and killed nearly 3,000 people in a disaster known simply as 9/11. Every year since then, the nation has mourned the victims of the Al Qaeda attacks, which felled both towers of New York's World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon. A fourth jetliner crashed into a Pennsylvania field when passengers tried to retake control from the hijackers.
September 7, 2013 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is preparing for a longer bombardment of Syria than it originally had planned, with a heavy barrage of missile strikes followed soon after by more attacks on targets that the opening salvos missed or failed to destroy, officials said. The planning for intense attacks over a three-day period reflects the growing belief in the White House and the Pentagon that the United States needs more firepower to inflict even minimal damage on Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, which have been widely dispersed over the last two weeks, the officials said.
August 27, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
The United States has naval and air forces massed in the Mediterranean Sea and poised to strike Syria if President Obama gives the order, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday. In an interview with BBC television during a trip to Southeast Asia, Hagel said Obama had asked the Pentagon for "all options for all contingencies," and that American and allied forces are in position to mete out any ordered punitive measures against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hagel said the White House was waiting for final confirmation from U.N. inspectors of a rash of suspected poison gas attacks in rebel-held Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21. “I think the intelligence will conclude that it wasn't the rebels who used it, and there'll probably be pretty good intelligence to show that the Syria government was responsible - but we'll allow the time to come together to provide that information,” Hagel told the BBC during a visit to the sultanate of Brunei.
August 6, 2013 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon will furlough 650,000 civilian employees without pay for six days this year after months of warnings that mandatory budget cuts might idle defense workers for far longer, officials said Tuesday. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has vowed to help furloughed defense workers since he took over the Pentagon in February, said fewer furlough days became possible after officials found savings elsewhere in the military budget. In addition, Hagel said the ongoing U.S. withdrawal of combat troops and equipment from Afghanistan was proving less costly than anticipated, and money was shifted from Pentagon weapons acquisition accounts to help pay for personnel.
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