The Topline: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a slew of American warships, aircraft and personnel to the central Philippines to support ongoing disaster relief efforts in the country.
Hagel ordered the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, along with several destroyers and supply ships, to the Visayas region of the country, ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan over the weekend.
The U.S. ships and aircraft will join the nearly 100 Marines already in country providing support to government-led humanitarian operations.
Earlier on Monday, Hagel ordered an additional 90 Marines, four MV-22 Osprey aircraft and three KC-130J cargo aircraft from bases in Japan to the hardest hit areas in the country.
American forces will primarily responsible for conducting search-and-rescue missions as well as running air support operations for the massive humanitarian operation.
Defense Department officials are working closely with the U.S. ambassador in Manila and the U.S. Agency for International Development to organize the response to the storm.
The typhoon, which slammed into the chain of islands in central Philippines on Sunday, is reportedly the strongest to ever make landfall in the Pacific or elsewhere in the world.
Current casualty reports show more than 900 perished in the massive storm, which reportedly took out whole villages and towns — including the central town of Tacloban — located in the coastal areas near the eye of the typhoon.
Local government and humanitarian organizations fear that death toll could reach 10,000 as rescue and recovery efforts continue in the country.
Kerry to brief Senate panel on Iran: The Obama administration is making another push to convince Congress to hold off a little longer on new Iran sanctions.
Secretary of State John Kerry will brief the Senate Banking Committee as the committee’s chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), weighs whether to move forward with a new Iran sanctions bill.
A Banking aide said Monday that Johnson was not making a decision until the panel met with Kerry later this week and consulted on the measure.
The White House is also trying to convince Democratic leadership, as Vice President Biden on Monday briefed the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), by phone on Monday.
A GOP aide said that Kerry will have “less credibility” with senators to convince them not to move forward with sanctions after the deal fell through this weekend between Iran and the six world powers.
There’s been skepticism expressed from both Democrats and Republicans over the deal on the table to suspend some of Iran’s enrichment for sanctions relief.
Republicans have suggested they could also pursue Iran sanctions through the defense authorization bill if the Banking Committee does not move forward.
House Republican backs Afghan postwar force: Illinois Republican and Afghan war veteran Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Monday he supports a 10,000-man U.S. force to remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. pulls out in 2014.
The American units would be part of a NATO-led postwar force that could total upward of 15,000 Western troops, primarily used to train and advise the country's nascent armed forces, as well as carry out targeted counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al Qaeda and other militant extremist groups operating in the country.
Those "robust" training and counterterror missions will be vital in ensuring a peaceful transition from American-led operations in Afghanistan to local control, Kinzinger said after a recent trip to the region.
His comments echo those of senior congressional lawmakers, who are also calling for a U.S. postwar force of roughly 10,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
"My hunch is it’s going to be below 10,000," Senate Armed Services Committee chief Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said earlier this month during a breakfast in Washington in September.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul said the eventual U.S. force in Afghanistan after 2014 would be "somewhere around 10,000" during an interview with CNN in October.
Senior Haqqani leader killed in Pakistan: A senior leader of the Haqqani Network was killed on the outskirts of Islamabad, dealing a blow to the militant group among the most dangerous in Afghanistan.
Nasiruddin Haqqani was killed while getting bread at a bakery in a residential area called Bara Kahu on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, The Associated Press reported, after he was shot by gunmen on motorcycles.
Members of the Haqqani Network confirmed his death to the AP, and the Haqqani was buried in North Waziristan on Monday.
The Haqqani Network has been a sore spot in relations between the United States and Pakistan, as U.S officials have accused the Pakistani intelligence agency of aiding the militant group. Pakistan denies the charge.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
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— Kerry says Iran walked away from nuke deal
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