The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, has left Souda Bay in Greece and will steam toward the Black Sea -- and the crisis in Ukraine.
Senior Pentagon officials, top military commanders, and powerful lawmakers from both parties have long wrestled with a single question: is China, home to one of the world's largest and fastest growing militaries, a direct threat to the peace and security of the United States? Beijing's surprise announcement of a massive increase in its defense spending Wednesday is adding new fuel to the debate and emerging as a major obstacle to the Obama administration's hopes of trimming the Pentagon's bloated wartime budget.
The Army is cutting thousands of soldiers from its force while fielding new vehicles to replace the Humvee and upgrading tanks and helicopters. The Air Force is shedding thousands more airmen as it buys new, stealthy F-35 fighter jets and plans for its next-generation long-range bomber. And the Marine Corps is shrinking by thousands of personnel as it prepares to buy not only more F-35s, but a next-generation heavy lift helicopter and an amphibious vehicle that will swim from Navy ships to shore carrying combat troops.
The Ukrainian government called for the mobilization of 130,000 troops on Monday, threatening to take on the Russian military if tensions on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula boil over into a full-scale armed conflict between the two nations. There's a major problem for leaders in Kiev, however: While Ukraine's military is stronger than the one Russia devastated when it conquered parts of Georgia in 2008, it is still under-funded, undermanned and poorly equipped to take on a vastly superior foe, experts said.
After more than two years of waiting, the families of service members killed in the United States' deadliest mission in Afghanistan will finally get to hear Defense Department personnel testify before Congress on Thursday about the operation and the questionable ways the remains of the troops were handled afterward. But before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing even begins, lawmakers on the panel are already taking fire for not allowing any members of those families to testify about their pain and lingering uncertainty about why their loved ones died.