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In new budget, US Army will shrink to its smallest size in decades,

cuts to army in budgetThe Army will shrink to its smallest size in decades, between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers by 2019, according to the new Pentagon budget Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will release Monday afternoon.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Hagel had consulted with all service chiefs before determining the size of each force that he would recommend in the budget.


Iraq signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran - document

Iraw buys arms form IranIran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters - a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran.

The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington, where he lobbied the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.


Taliban says it's suspending talks on captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl

Afghamistan POW talksThe Taliban says it is suspending talks with the United States to exchange Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl -- the only American soldier held as a captive -- for five Taliban prisoners.

U.S. diplomats had been carrying out "extremely sensitive discussions" with Taliban intermediaries, a U.S. official told CNN on Tuesday.

The Taliban said the discussions were taking place in Qatar, where the group opened an office last year.  However, on Sunday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid sent a statement saying the group has called for the talks to be suspended.


Overlooked veterans to get Medal of Honor

Meda lof HonorPresident Obama will correct a historical act of discrimination next month when he awards the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest commendation for combat valor, to a group of Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds.

The unusual presentation will culminate a 12-year Pentagon review ordered by Congress into past discrimination in the ranks and will hold a particular poignancy when conducted by the nation’s first African-American president.


US ranks low on LGBT military index

US low on LGBT military indexThe Hague Center for Strategic Studies, an independent research group of the Dutch Ministry of Defense, has released a ranking of countries based on their level of inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members in their armed forces. The global ranking is the first of its kind.

Countries were judged based on their level of inclusion, admission and tolerance of LGBT service members, and were penalized based on their level of exclusion or persecution of them.


Police ID 2 Americans found dead on Maersk Alabama -- 'Captain Phillips' ship

Maersk AlabamaTwo American security officers have been found dead on the Maersk Alabama container ship, police in the Seychelles said Wednesday.

Seychelles police identified them on Thursday as Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy. The men, both 44, were found dead on Tuesday.

"A postmortem will be carried out this week in order to establish the cause of their sudden deaths," police said, adding that the police investigation is ongoing.


F-35 fighter plane $163b cost overruns detailed

F-35The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is $163 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and will cost taxpayers about twice as much as sending a man to the moon. But according to Pentagon officials, the Lockheed Martin-built plane is light years ahead of its competition from other countries, and there’s no turning back on the project now.

In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, called the $400 billion purchase “acquisition malpractice” that strayed from the long-standing “fly-before-you-buy” rule.


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