TIME Nuclear

U.S. Looks to Improve Management of Nuclear Weapons Cache

“Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security”

The United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons is badly in need of a makeover, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

“The good news is that there’s nothing here we can’t fix,” Hagel told reporters. “But if we don’t pay attention to this, if we don’t fix this eventually, it will get to a point where there are some questions about our security.”

Hagel said a full review of the country’s nuclear arsenal revealed “evidence of systematic problems,” including issues with manpower, infrastructure, skill deficiencies, a culture of micromanagement and over-inspection.

The overhaul of nuclear arms across the entire Department of Defense will include reforms that address each of these areas. In order to make the nuclear field a more attractive career path for young soldiers, for instance, Hagel elevated the Global Strike Command to so-called a four-star billet, meaning high-ranking soldiers in the nuclear fleet can be equal in rank to their counterparts in non-nuclear fields. Hagel also announced the creation of a new medal to recognize service in the nuclear field.

“Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security,” Hagel said. “No other capability remains more important.”

Read next: Why ISIS Can Survive Without Baghdadi

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 7

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Reimagining a Pentagon for the future in pictures: Group personnel by skills, streamline leadership, dump outdated regional commands.

By Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre with Valerio Pellegrini in Foreign Policy

2. Innovators should cater new wearable tech to those who need it most: older and chronically ill people.

By J.C. Herz in Wired

3. Add kids football to the list of cultural dividers in America.

By David Leonhardt in the Upshot

4. “We live in a world of evolutionary state disorder.” We must upgrade our global institutions or risk a future with no rules.

By Mark Malloch Brown at Project Syndicate

5. In resisting the law of supply and demand, law schools are saddling students with debt and aggravating income inequality.

By Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Terrorism

U.S. Military Ups Vigilance as Fears Mount of Fresh ISIS-Inspired Attacks

William Mayville
Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., speaks about the operations to target the Khorasan Group in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon. Cliff Owen—AP

Defense officials are fearful that their personnel may be targeted after receiving public threats from terrorists operating in the Middle East

The American military is warning service members and their families to be a bit more vigilant amid threatens directed from or inspired by ISIS, according to a report on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers and service members were described by the Pentagon, in an internally circulated memo last week, as “legitimate targets” by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the Military Times reports. The message came days after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, killing one soldier.

The Marine Corps was also reported to send out an announcement that called on troops to report “even the most minor suspicious activity” and to be prudent when posting updates on social media. And officials at MacDill Air Force Base, overseeing the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa, Fla., were said to have instructed troops to keep a low profile and avoid public affiliation with the military.

According to a dossier compiled for the U.N. Security Council, an estimated 15,000 individuals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS and other militant organizations. The large number of fighters receiving training with such groups has raised fresh fears in the U.S. and abroad of domestic attacks should they return home.

[Military Times]

TIME Military

Pentagon to Boost Support for Troops Exposed to Chemical Agents

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U.S. soldiers don chemical warfare gear. Stocktrek Images—Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

After an investigation found fault in the military's handling of claims

The Pentagon will provide long-term health monitoring for American service members and veterans who were exposed to chemical agents in Iraq, according to a report Thursday, in a move that comes after an investigation earlier this month found fault in how the military responded to troops’ claims.

The New York Times reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was said to have ordered a review into the military’s handling of troops who came forward about their exposure following its explosive investigation that found at least 17 U.S. service members had been exposed to abandoned mustard and nerve agents dating back to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Eight new cases have emerged since the report was published in mid-October, the Times said Thursday, and the U.S. government has neither released a list of those incidents, nor of the abandoned chemical weapons found in Iraq.

[New York Times]

TIME Military

19-Year-Old Marine Is First Soldier to Die Fighting ISIS in Iraq

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa
Reuters

Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Neal of California died in Baghdad on Thursday

The U.S. has lost its first soldier in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Iraq.

The Pentagon announced Friday that Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Neal, 19, died in Baghdad during a noncombat incident on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. No further details about his death were available.

Neal’s death is the first in Iraq since the U.S. military began the mission Inherent Resolve, which targets the extremist group that has rapidly expanded its control over parts of Iraq and Syria this year.

More than 4,000 members of the military died in Iraq in the years following the 2003 invasion. President Barack Obama has said that the U.S. will not send troops back to the country after withdrawing forces in 2011, though the U.S. has begun air strikes and some ground operations as it tries to stop ISIS.

[Washington Post]

TIME Syria

Coalition Air Strikes Have Killed More Than 500 Militants Across Syria

Smoke and dust rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc
Smoke and dust rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike on October 22, 2014. Kai Pfaffenbach —Reuters

Monitors say that dozens of civilians have also been killed by the aerial onslaught

The U.S.-led air campaign to degrade and destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has killed more than 500 Islamic militants as well as dozens of civilians throughout Syria, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday.

The Observatory claims in a new report that the coalition’s air offensive had killed 464 ISIS troops, in addition to 57 fighters allied with the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. At least, 32 civilians have also been killed since the offensive commenced in early September, the report said.

However, analysts say that the air strikes have only eliminated a fraction of ISIS’s troops on the ground. On Thursday, Charles Lister, a Syria expert and visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, remarked on Twitter that the coalition’s aerial offensive in Syria had killed just 1.47% of ISIS’s estimated manpower, based on data supplied by the Syrian Observatory and the CIA.

A majority of the coalition strikes have targeted ISIS forces massed in and around the embattled city of Kobani in northern Syria. Besieged Kurdish militia forces have battled the Sunni extremist group for more than a month near the Turkish border and are believed to have regained momentum on the contested battlefield thanks largely to the air strikes.

Earlier in the week, U.S. C-130 cargo planes dropped light weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the Kurdish militia forces in Kobani. However, one of the 28 bundles reportedly fell into the hands of the enemy. The Pentagon was quick to dismiss the error as inconsequential.

“One bundle worth of equipment is not enough equipment to give the enemy any type of advantage at all,” Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “It’s a relatively small amount of supplies. This is stuff [ISIS] already has.”

In northern Iraq on Wednesday, the semiautonomous Kurdish parliament passed a resolution to send peshmerga troops to fight alongside their fellow Kurdish fighters in Kobani, following Turkey’s decision earlier this week to allow reinforcements to cross the border into the besieged enclave.

TIME Military

U.S. Military Action Against ISIS Deemed ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’

US Department of Defense (DOD) shows an aircraft launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf on Oct. 13, 2014.
US Department of Defense (DOD) shows an aircraft launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf on Oct. 13, 2014. Joshua Card—EPA

Pentagon chose the name to "reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S."

The operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria was finally given a name on Wednesday. U.S. Central Command has deemed the U.S. military actions against Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria “Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to the Department of Defense, the name is “intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.”

Since strikes began on Aug. 8, the operation has gone without a name, but the Pentagon announced Wednesday all actions against ISIS since that time will be considered a part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

And yet, military officials seemingly weren’t always in favor of the operation’s new moniker. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in October that the name had been rejected by military officials, who said the name wasn’t the right fit for the effort. One unnamed officer was quoted as saying, “It is just kind of bleh.”

TIME ebola

U.S. May Send Up to 4,000 Troops to Liberia to Help Contain Ebola

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Sept. 23, 2014.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Sept. 23, 2014. Bao Dandan—Xinhua Press/Corbis

Obama had previously announced a commitment of 3,000 troops

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved 4,000 troops for potential deployment to Liberia to help fight the spread of the deadly Ebola outbreak, the Pentagon announced Friday. President Barack Obama had previously announced a commitment of 3,000 troops.

“As we continue our support to the broader U.S. government response to the Ebola crisis, I want to emphasize that our operations remain focused on four lines of effort: command and control, logistics support, training, and engineering support,” said Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby at a press conference.

While 4,000 troops have been approved, the number that will actually be deployed to West Africa remains unclear. There are currently just over 200 troops working to fight Ebola in the region.

“I want to make one thing real clear, that that’s a potential deployment. That doesn’t mean it is going to get to that number,” Kirby said.

The United States has already made deep financial commitments to help thwart the Ebola outbreak, committing $500 million to a global effort that the World Health Organization estimated that would cost $1 billion. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an additional $50 million toward both immediate treatment and long-term research into the disease, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives in West Africa.

TIME Pentagon

The Pentagon Doesn’t Know What to Call Its Operation Against ISIS

Lt. General William Mayville Jr. Briefs The Media At Pentagon On Recent Strikes Against ISIL In Syria
Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr. speaks about the Syrian bombing campaign September 23, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Operation Inherent Resolve was deemed “just kind of bleh” by one military officer

After two months of military operations against or related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon still doesn’t known what, exactly, to call the mission.

Top military brass is still trying to find a fitting name for the operation as classified Pentagon PowerPoint slides tentatively call “Operations in Iraq and Syria,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Officials rejected the latest name nomination, “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

“It is just kind of bleh,” said one officer.

The ISIS mission name search is in keeping with an operations nicknaming tradition extending back in the U.S. to World War II. The 1989 invasion of Panama added another layer to the military mission naming question after officials realized the propaganda value of a name; that mission was called “Operation Blue Spoon” until it was renamed “Operation Just Cause.”

[WSJ]

TIME Syria

U.S. and Allies Launch New Strikes Targeting ISIS Oil Fields

President Obama Delivers Statement On Recent Airstrikes Against ISIS In Syria
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the recent air strikes against ISIS on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23, 2014 Win McNamee—Getty Images

The Pentagon says the targets included oil refineries that produce about 300 to 500 barrels of petroleum per day

The U.S. and partner forces launched additional strikes in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on Wednesday, the Pentagon said. Forces from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly launched 13 air strikes against 12 oil refineries controlled by the Islamist group.

“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful,” U.S. Central Command said Wednesday. “Producing between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day, [ISIS] is estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day from these refineries. The destruction and degradation of these targets further limits [ISIS’s] ability to lead, control, project power and conduct operations.”

The strikes are a part of the U.S.’s ongoing effort to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for beheading two American journalists and one British aid worker, among other Western casualties. During a speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called on more American allies to join in the fight to “dismantle this network of death.”

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