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May 7, 2014

News Briefs May 7, 2014

Hagel talks of tough defense choices after war

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says tough trade-offs are necessary as the military pivots from a 13-year war footing and comes under enormous budgetary constraints.

In a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs May 6, Hagel said those painful decisions include cuts to military pay, the upgrading or abandoning of aging weapons systems, and a reduction in the size of the armed forces.

At the same time, Hagel says, national security also depends on strategic investment in cyber technology, unmanned weapons systems and international partnerships.

Hagel says Congress must step up and give military leaders the flexibility to make the budget cuts that lawmakers are demanding, even if that means closing bases and programs popular with constituents. AP

Military chiefs, lawmakers debate budget cuts

The nation’s military leaders are telling Congress that they have raided every other pot of money they have in order to cut spending, and lawmakers must now slow the growth of personnel pay and benefits.

In a rare combined appearance on Capitol Hill, the military chiefs say their forces worry more about not having the best training and equipment. They say skyrocketing personnel costs are forcing them to cut the number of troops they have, and erode their ability to maintain forces ready for combat.

Senators expressed reservations about slowing the increase in pay rates, and pressed the chiefs on other ways to trim spending.

Several continued their opposition to the Pentagon’s efforts to cut the A-10 aircraft, which provides close air support for combat troops. AP

Bulgarian leader calls for stronger European Union

Bulgarias president has called for a stronger European Union in response to the crisis in the Ukraine.

Speaking at a military parade in the capital, Sofia, May 6, President Rosen Plevneliev said the correct answer to the economic problems, rising nationalism and the Ukraine crisis is: more Europe.

He added that we have to work for a new level of defense and energy integration, for a stronger European Union.

Plevneliev called for an increase in next year’s military budget to 1.5 percent of GDP from the current 1.3 percent and for a swift replacement of Bulgaria’s outdated Russian-built military equipment to comply with NATO standards.

He said 10 years after Bulgaria joined NATO, its membership in the alliance is the country’s main guarantee for its independence. AP

Iran admiral: U.S. ships are a target in case of war

The navy chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard says that if war with the United States breaks out, the Iranians will target American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

The remarks by Adm. Ali Fadavi of the hard-line Guard navy sharply contrast moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s outreach policies toward the West.

Fadavi was quoted May 6 by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying the size of the U.S. carriers makes them an easy target.

Fadavi also says the Guard navy has already carried out an exercise targeting a mock-up of an American warship.

Last month, an Iranian newspaper reported that Iran’s military was building a simple replica of the USS Nimitz in a shipyard in the southern port of Bandar Abbas in order to be used in future military exercises. AP

Investigators probe crash at California air show

FAIRFIELD, Calif. – Investigators trying to determine what caused the crash of a vintage airplane during a stunt at a California air show say they will start by examining the wreckage and ground scars.

Howard Plagens of the National Transportation Safety Board said May 5 that his team will also look at the time it took emergency crews to respond.

Witnesses have said it seemed like a long time before fire crews arrived at the scene of Sunday’s crash at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

The crash killed 77-year-old pilot Edward Andreini of Half Moon Bay. No spectators were hurt.

Base spokesman Jim Spellman disputed witness accounts, saying crews were dispatched promptly and responded within a minute or two. AP




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