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Lawmakers eyeing lame-duck for defense bill vote

House and Senate lawmakers are holding informal talks on cobbling together a joint 2015 defense policy bill in the hopes that they could approve the must-pass legislation during a lame-duck session of Congress, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Tuesday. Talks between members of the House and Senate Armed Services panels began because members are under the impression that the upper ... Read More »

House passes bill to oversee VA hospital building

The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans’ hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project. Republican congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado says the Veterans Affairs Department’s oversight of construction projects is dysfunctional and leads to delayed health care. ... Read More »

It’s not 2002 anymore: For Congress, a sea change since its last Iraq war vote

Minutes after President Obama outlined a new strategy to attack Islamic State forces, Sen. Mark Begich issued a blunt rejection of the proposal. “I oppose the President’s plan to arm Syrian rebels at this time,” the Alaska Democrat said, warning of rushing “into another decade-long ground war.” Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said many questions remained unanswered. “I will not give ... Read More »

Senate Republicans Fear ISIS Strategy Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Senate Republicans generally support President Obama’s push to train Syrian fighters, but some questioned Tuesday whether it is tough enough to take on ISIS. “It will take an army to beat an army,” said Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, adding that “there was a collective sigh of relief at ISIS headquarters” when the president ruled out putting boots on the ... Read More »

Lebanon likely to play defense role in ISIS fight

Lebanon’s contribution to the global coalition against ISIS will likely center on closing the porous border with Syria and cracking down on cells within the country, analysts said. The country’s role is likely to primarily be defensive ahead of more, expected assaults on the northeastern town of Arsal near the Syrian border, they said. Still, Hezbollah’s involvement in the fight ... Read More »

Yemen clashes between Shi’ite rebels and tribesmen kill 22: sources

Twenty-two people were killed in fighting between Shi’ite Muslim rebels and government-allied tribesmen in northern Yemen on Monday and Tuesday, tribal and local sources told Reuters. The fighting in al-Jawf province, northeast of the capital Sanaa, is further destabilizing a country struggling to overcome a range of threats including a secessionist movement in its south and the spread of an ... Read More »

Hamas debates direct talks with Israel

Hamas has weathered a great political storm in the past few days, following a Sept. 11 announcement by the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk, that the movement might undertake direct negotiations with Israel, since such negotiations have become a popular demand in Gaza but remain forbidden by law. In the same interview, Abu Marzouk said, “Just ... Read More »

In first strike since truce, a mortar round from Gaza hits Israel

A mortar round fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel on Tuesday, the first such shelling since a truce took effect last month ending seven weeks of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which caused no injuries or damage, according to a statement from Israeli military. Hamas spokesman Sami ... Read More »

Air Force trying to protect F-15s in Europe

Air Force leaders are crossing their fingers that F-15 fighters will stay at least another year in Europe through the “Europe Reassurance Initiative,” a $1 billion funding plan the White House proposed in June currently in the hands of congressional members. “As part of that billion dollars, we would propose monies in order to keep those F-15s in Europe for ... Read More »

Under Pressure, Ukraine Leader to Seek Aid on U.S. Visit

Seeking elusive military and economic aid from the United States, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine headed to North America on Tuesday, while also facing increasingly skeptical questions both here and abroad about the slow pace of change. A White House meeting with President Obama and an address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday are likely to generate ... Read More »

Ukraine Moves Reflect Moscow’s Long Shadow

Ukraine sought to draw a line under its confrontation with Moscow by ratifying a landmark trade-and-political deal with the European Union and approving limited autonomy for territories now controlled by Russia-backed separatists. But with full implementation of the EU deal postponed under Russian pressure, and the rebels insisting on independence, the developments illustrated Kiev’s weakened position—almost a year after Moscow ... Read More »

Germany May Support OSCE Mission in Ukraine

Germany sent a military fact-finding mission to eastern Ukraine on Tuesday to determine whether the Bundeswehr can support an observer mission there by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with a reconnaissance UAV, the Defense Ministry in Berlin said. The 14-member unarmed German team will travel to an area of the Luhansk region that so far has ... Read More »

UK may retain C-130J Hercules for special forces duties

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) may retain in service a number of its Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport aircraft for special forces use, a senior service official disclosed on 16 September. Speaking at the IQPC Military Airlift 2014 conference in London, Group Captain Simon Edwards, Officer Commanding RAF Brize Norton, said that there may be a continued need for ... Read More »

China sees jihadi inspiration coming from abroad by way of the Web

On a rocky hilltop close to the city of Urumqi in China’s troubled Xinjiang region, five men don black bandanas decorated with Arabic writing. A black flag used by jihadi groups across the world flutters behind them as they press their hands together in a circle and pledge their allegiance to holy war. In another video, the bearded leader of ... Read More »