OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Obama avoids national security issues in inaugural address

The Defense secretary did several TV interviews after the lunch, and then had to be hurried out of the building by staff so he didn’t get stuck at the Capitol by the presidential motorcade in the parade.

McKeon looks for ‘action’ from Obama: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said that he thought President Obama’s speech was “very good.”

But he still didn’t sound too optimistic that the president would be on his side for the upcoming budget battles.

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“Actions count more than words,” McKeon told The Hill after he left the stage at the inauguration.

McKeon has criticized the president for putting the military at risk by not doing more to stop the across-the-board cuts from sequestration. The issue will be one of the first major policy battles of the president’s second term, as sequestration is set to take effect on March 1 after a two-month delay was agreed to in the "fiscal cliff" deal.

McCain waits for specifics on Afghanistan: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he isn’t yet going to offer a number for how many troops he believes should be in Afghanistan post-2014.

He told The Hill Monday that he wants to wait to see what the president’s proposals are, but he predicted the number will be too low.

“I can’t give a specific number, but I think it’s very likely that you will see a repeat of what happened in Iraq, and that is, it will be too low of a number to be able to carry out the mission,” McCain told The Hill.

As the Obama administration nears a decision on its Afghan troop levels post-2014 — after NATO hands off security to Afghan forces — other senators have weighed in with their own thoughts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said following a visit to Afghanistan that at least 10,000 troops should remain, while Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said last week they’d support a “small number” of troops.

Taliban attacks police headquarters in Kabul: For the second time in as many weeks, Taliban gunmen launched a deadly, high-profile attack against Afghan security forces inside the capitol of Kabul, just as U.S. and Afghan leaders are looking to craft a peace deal with the terror group.  

Monday's nearly nine-hour assault on the headquarters of the Kabul traffic police, a part of the Afghan National Police, in downtown Kabul ended with three policemen killed and four Taliban attackers dead, according to recent news reports. 

The attack comes less than a week after Taliban suicide bombers struck the headquarters of Afghanistan's intelligence directorate in Kabul, killing one and injuring dozens in the daring daytime attack. 

The attacks come as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is working on a plan with Washington and regional allies such as Pakistan to begin peace talks with the Taliban.

Karzai reaffirmed those efforts during one-on-one talks with President Obama earlier this month. Those talks centered around a multiphased, Afghan-led approach to getting the Taliban to the negotiation table. 

The Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban, as part of an overarching peace plan, "is absolutely essential to bringing the war to a responsible close," Doug Lute, the administration's top adviser for South Asia, told reporters earlier this month. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

— Taliban steps up attacks inside Kabul

— US must 'fight back' against al Qaeda in Africa 

— Obama sidesteps national security in inaugural address 

— Congress brings back Benghazi attack into spotlight


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