OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Syria alters US-Russia relations

The Obama administration has urged Russia to stop supporting
Assad’s regime — Clinton’s charges Tuesday being the latest step — but so far
the administration has not wanted to take actions outside of the United Nations Security
Council, where Russia has vetoed most attempted actions. The administration has
faced criticism from defense hawks in Congress for not supplying the Syrian
opposition with arms or using airstrikes to establish a safe haven for the

{mosads}The Russian arms sale also has the potential to upend a
trade deal with Russia to normalize trade relations before Russia joins the
World Trade Organization. 

(Four-) star wars: The
Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding two separate hearings on the
long-sought Law of the Sea Treaty on Thursday, as the committee’s chairman, Sen.
John Kerry (D-Mass.), attempts to get the treaty ratified. The hearings have
become a battle over whether the military supports or opposes Law of the Sea: the first hearing will have senior Pentagon officials testifying in support of
the treaty, while the latter will feature former Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld voicing his opposition. The Coalition to Preserve American
Sovereignty, a group run by Frank Gaffney trying to defeat the treaty, sent a
letter to Kerry and the committee members signed by nine former generals and
admirals who oppose the treaty.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey warned Congress
Wednesday that cutting war funds would put the Pentagon’s already precarious
financial situation further into doubt. Dempsey told members of the Senate
Appropriations Committee if war funds for Afghanistan are rolled into
sequestration, DOD will have to raid its training, maintenance and procurement
coffers to pay those bills. Since those areas are already set for
automatic reductions, department officials are unsure how much more they can
pull out of those accounts without affecting national security priorities. Those decisions could become easier as the
war winds down in Afghanistan. That said, getting U.S. troops out of the
country has become a more expensive endeavor than the Pentagon had planned

Movin’ out: The
United States has likely paid billions in blood and treasure over the past
decade of war in Afghanistan. Now it seems the Pentagon will be paying a lot
more to get U.S. forces out of the country. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told
Senate Appropriators on Wednesday it was costing the Pentagon roughly $100
million a month to move troops and equipment out of Afghanistan via routes in
Central Asia. Military leaders have been forced to use those routes since
Pakistan closed its borders to American forces last November. Panetta said
there was still hope in getting those supply lines in Pakistan opened back up,
despite a decision to suspend all negotiations with Islamabad. “It’s a
complicated relationship [with Pakistan] but it’s also a necessary relationship
by virtue of our security and needs in that area,” Panetta told the

Finishing the budget-hearing
The duo of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey traveled to
Capitol Hill on Wednesday for their sixth and final hearing this year on the
2013 budget. The 2012 budget gauntlet was 50 percent longer than last year, as
the House and Senate Budget Committees invited the defense chiefs to testify
for the first time in recent memory, in addition to the usual Armed Services
and Appropriations hearings. Of course, it’s not likely that Congress has seen
the last of the Panetta and Dempsey duo this year to talk about the defense
budget — expect hearings on sequestration will be coming to a committee
room near you later this year.


— Feinstein fires
at McCain leak criticism

— Alternate supply lines cost $100M per

— Dempsey: Sequestration could
key accounts

— Panetta orders
of mental-health cases

— Cornyn blocks Army nominee over

— Lawmakers want legal
for drone strikes

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