Obama: Military budget deal unlikely by November
President Barack Obama says he doesn’t believe Congress can reach a deal before the November elections that avoids deep cuts in military spending, but says he is optimistic that reductions won’t occur.
Obama says he has made sure that service members don’t lose pay or benefits and that veterans continue to receive their benefits. Obama made his remarks in interviews Aug. 20 with news outlets in regions with a large military presence.
Obama told the Virginian Pilot that Democrats must understand that any deal will require additional spending cuts. He said Republicans must accept the need for additional tax revenue. Without a deal, the Pentagon faces $500 billion in cuts over 10 years. AP
Aussie general gets senior post at U.S. Army Pacific
U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh says an Australian two-star general will become a deputy commander of U.S. Army Pacific, which oversees most American soldiers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Maj. Gen. Richard Maxwell Burr of the Australian Defense Force will direct training and supervise the command’s efforts to work with countries in south Asia, plus Australia and New Zealand.
McHugh told reporters Aug. 20 the appointment is an extension of previous cooperation between Australia and the United States.
Burr will join Maj. Gen. Roger Matthews and two others as a U.S. Army Pacific deputy commanding general. He says Burr gives U.S. Army Pacific a regional expert who understands the intricacies of dealing with American allies.
Burr will report to Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, a three-star general and U.S. Army Pacific’s top commander. AP
Afghan militants hit U.S. military chief’s plane
A military official says militants have fired rockets into a U.S. base in Afghanistan, damaging the plane of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff while he was on a visit. The top American military chief was not near the plane at the time of the attack and no one was injured.
NATO spokesman Jamie Graybeal says the attack Aug. 20 at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul did not affect U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey’s mission in Afghanistan. He says Dempsey had left by Tuesday morning, though it was unclear if he left on the same plane.
Graybeal was in Afghanistan to discuss the state of the war after a string of disturbing killings of U.S. military trainers by their Afghan partners. AP
Syrian minister warns U.S. against intervention
A Syrian deputy prime minister has warned the United States against any military intervention in Syria.
President Barack Obama said Aug. 20 that the U.S would reconsider its opposition to military involvement in the Syrian civil war, if Bashar Assad’s regime deploys or uses chemical or biological weapons.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow Aug. 21, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil described Obama’s statements as “propagandistic threats” connected with the U.S. presidential election. But he also said they indicate that the West is looking for a pretext to intervene militarily.
Jamil warned that such intervention was “impossible” and said: “Those who are contemplating this evidently want to see the crisis expand beyond Syria’s borders.”
The Syrian civil war already is spilling over into neighboring Lebanon. AP