BREAKING: Panetta opens combat roles to women

AP: Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the US military’s ban on women serving in combat. The move opens hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs.

The groundbreaking move overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller combat ground units. Military services have until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.


These high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters! But when an evil force infects leader Emma, she must work with her team to save herself—and the world—from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!

Get your hands on Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau’s (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors) new miniseries today!

U.S. to strengthen presence in the Pacific, Panetta says

From Stars and Stripes:

Identifying himself as a son of the U.S. Pacific coast, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised there would be a stronger American military presence in the Pacific, and in Southeast Asia in particular, in the years to come.

Panetta, on his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region since taking office, met Sunday with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro to discuss growing bilateral military relations and broader issues facing Southeast Asia. Chief among those issues: China’s growing assertiveness in an area it considers its own backyard.

“I’ve made it very clear… that the United States remains a Pacific power, that we will continue to strengthen our presence in this part of the world and that we will remain a force for peace and prosperity in this region,” Panetta said.

Panetta said the United States would push for free commerce and open access in the sea and in the air. The comments were seemingly aimed at China’s recent territorial claims – disputed by various Southeast Asian countries – to the South China Sea.

The U.S. supports the ongoing development of a maritime code of conduct for the South China Sea being drawn up by Southeast Asian nations and China, Panetta said, as a tool for avoiding conflict there.

Despite some pugnacious initial talk, he said, China’s reaction to recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan has been commendably measured – something that augers well for improved U.S.-China relations.

Asian allies have expressed concerns that looming Pentagon budget cuts would result in force reductions and a decreased scope of American power in Asia, Panetta said. But the region is too important to U.S. security to downgrade, he said.

Panetta met late Sunday with defense ministers from 10 nations at a meeting of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, to discuss regional issues including disaster relief, nuclear nonproliferation and freedom of navigation on the seas.

“I’ve made clear that even with the budget constraints that we are facing in the United States… that there is no question in discussions within the Pentagon and discussions with the White House that the Pacific will be a priority for the United States of America,” he said.

Panetta was scheduled to meet early Monday with Indonesian President Susilo Bambeng Yudhoyono before flying to Japan. There, meetings with defense officials are expected to be dominated by the realignment of American military bases on Okinawa.

One key, Panetta said, is for the Japanese government to show that progress is being made on an environmental assessment of a controversial plan to move the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a nearby location built on landfill in the ocean. Locals have vigorously opposed the plan, part of a larger regional base realignment worked out between Japan and the United States in 2006.

But Panetta said the U.S. military is still strongly behind the 2006 plan.

“I will make clear to them that we continue to support our commitment with Japan with regards to Futenma and with regard to Okinawa,” he said. “My goal will be to ensure that steps are being taken to try to fulfill that commitment.”

Defense Ministerial Day 2 Roundup

Defense Ministers got an early start this morning at NATO HQ with lots of things to discuss on the second and final day of the Defense Ministerial. 

First, the Defense Chiefs met in KFOR format, meaning there were represenatives from the 23 Allies and 7 Partners that contribute the 6,148 troops to the mission in Kosovo present. The Defence Ministers reviewed the implications of the security situation on NATO troop levels in Kosovo and reiterated that NATO’s goal is to keep moving towards a smaller and more flexible troop presence when circumstances allow and when the time is right. 

Before the meeting started, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen noted that “KFOR has done an excellent job in maintaining a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo. And it will continue to fully implement its mandate”,  and that over the last several months, “the security situation on the ground has improved” and the people of Kosovo now enjoy a "greater freedom of movement.“

Next, Defense Chiefs met in ISAF Format; all 28 Allies and 22 contributing Partners. Ministers reflected both on progress and on remaining challenges in the country, and chief among these challenges are insider attacks. Ministers endorsed a broad political framework for a new training, advising and assisting mission in Afghanistan post-2014, which is the first political step that will guide NATO’s military authorities as they take the planning process forwards for this new mission.

After a working lunch break, Secretary Panetta held a meeting with Afghanistan’s new Minister of Defense, General Bismillah Mohammadi, to discuss a number of issues pertaining to the ISAF Mission and U.S.-Afghan bilateral relations. 

In the afternoon, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen gave a press briefing on progress made during the day. He emphasized that real progress has been made in Afghanistan and that the security situation is improving. Despite a spat of insider attacks, the Secretary General made clear that ISAF’s "goals, strategy, and timeline remain unchaged.” Insider attacks, he continued, are aimed at “underminind the trust and confidence” built between ISAF and ANSF troops, but will not succeed or hinder the mission. 

Shortly after the Secretary General spoke, Secretary Panetta took the stage to announce the nomination of General John Allen, currently the Commander of ISAF (COMISAF) in Afghanistan, as the new Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR). Panetta also announced that President Obama has nominated General Joseph Dunford as the new COMISAF. Secretary Panetta expressed his confidence in both Generals in their new roles within the NATO Command Structure and gave them his full support. 

While making these announcements, the Secretary spoke of three “keys for success” in Afghanistan. First, he called for NATO to maintain a strong coalition partnership with the ANSF and continue to help build the Afghan army and police’s capabilities in maintaining their own security. Second, Secretary Panetta said the Alliance must have an effective response to insider attacks, and take action to diminish and defeat them. Finally, the Secretary said that the Alliane must carefuly execute its plans and that NATO’s future presense in Afghanistan must be “steadfast and effective” as the mission timeline moves forward and ISAF continues to step back. 

After his announcements, Secretary Panetta took the stage once again to answer journalists’ questions. He reiterated the U.S.’s committement to Turkey’s security as a NATO ally and that all efforts are being made to aid Turkey on the humanitarian front in dealing with countless refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, and monitoring the status of Syria’s chemical and biological weapons. 

Immediately after the briefing, Secretary Panetta joined his Spanish counterpart in the U.S. Mission to sign an agreement on the hosting of American Aegis destroyers in Spain as part of NATO’s ongoing efforts in missile defense. The Secretary said that the agreement “not only strengthens missile defense for Europe, but also the relationship within NATO” and “betters our ability to promote peace throughout the world." 

Finally, Secretary Panetta took the time to present the Department of Defense's Joint Meritorious Unit Award to U.S. Mission to NATO staff for their work during the Libya campaign last year. At the ceremony, he expressed his gratitude to the Mission staff for their hard work during the crisis, and extended his personal recognition of that work. The award is granted to units or personnel who operate under a Unified, Combined, or Specified Command channels or pursue a joint mission - NATO’s operation in Libya falls well within this category. 

After the ceremony, Secretary Panetta and his motorcade left NATQ HQ to head back to the airport and home to the United States. A short trip, but one during which a lot was accomplished!

Make sure to keep checking our Tumblr and follow the US Mission to NATO and Ambassador Daalder on twitter for the latest on what’s happening at NATO HQ! 

(Photos taken by Erin Kirk-Cuomo and USNATO staff)

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: Missiles and ammunitions cache discovered by border police in Goshta District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. January 14. Rahmat Gul/AP.

Panetta says Iraqis can secure and defend themselves. That’s not what we found on my last trip to Iraq, see video.
Panetta, Barak Discuss Peace and Security

In his first visit to Israel as United States Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta stressed America’s “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.” In a meeting with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Panetta said that Israel and America share a closer defense relationship than ever before.

Leon Panetta's Five Rules for Doing Business, or, "Any Asshole Can Burn Down a Barn."

“You can’t slam dunk anyone.” Work with opponents.

“Any [expletive] can burn down a barn; it takes a leader to build one.”

“He who controls the paper controls the outcome.”

“Never let them see you sweat.”

“In a negotiation, take what you can get. And then come back for more.”

Via the New York Times.

Anyone want to place a bet on the [expletive]? We’re going with “asshole.”

Maybe “shmuck,” but would the Times really redact that?

Wait, one more: Hillary Clinton version – “It takes a village to burn down a barn.” Right? Right?

White House Insider: Obama Hesitated

Panetta Issued Order to Kill Osama Bin Laden

by Ulsterman

“What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound.”

Note:This update comes some 24 hours after our longtime Washington D.C. Insider first outlined shocking details of an Obama administration having been “overruled” by senior military and intelligence officials leading up to the successful attack against terrorist Osama Bin Laden.  What follows is further clarification of Insider’s insights surrounding that event.


Q: You stated that President Obama was “overruled” by military/intelligence officials regarding the decision to send in military specialists into the Osama Bin Laden compound.  Was that accurate?

A: I was told – in these exact terms, “we overruled him.” (Obama)  I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s “persistent hesitation to act.”  There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so.  President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.

I was correct in stating there had been a push to invade the compound for several weeks if not months, primarily led by Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and Jim Clapper.  The primary opposition to this plan originated from Valerie Jarrett, and it was her opposition that was enough to create uncertainty within President Obama.  Obama would meet with various components of the pro-invasion faction, almost always with Jarrett present, and then often fail to indicate his position.  This situation continued for some time, though the division between Jarrett/Obama and the rest intensified more recently, most notably from Hillary Clinton.  She was livid over the president’s failure to act, and her office began a campaign of anonymous leaks to the media indicating such.  As for Jarrett, her concern rested on two primary fronts.  One, that the military action could fail and harm the president’s already weakened standing with both the American public and the world.  Second, that the attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims, and further destabilize conditions in the Middle East. 

Q: What changed the president’s position and enabled the attack against Osama Bin Laden to proceed?

A:  Nothing changed with the president’s opinion – he continued to avoid having one.  Every time military and intelligence officials appeared to make progress in forming a position, Jarrett would intervene and the stalling would begin again.  Hillary started the ball really rolling as far as pressuring Obama began, but it was Panetta and Petraeus who ultimately pushed Obama to finally act – sort of.  Panetta was receiving significant reports from both his direct CIA sources, as well as Petraeus-originating Intel.  Petraeus was threatening to act on his own via a bombing attack.  Panetta reported back to the president that a bombing of the compound would result in successful killing of Osama Bin Laden, and little risk to American lives. 

Initially, as he had done before, the president indicated a willingness to act.  But once again, Jarrett intervened, convincing the president that innocent Pakistani lives could be lost in such a bombing attack, and Obama would be left attempting to explain Panetta’s failed policy.  Again Obama hesitated – this time openly delaying further meetings to discuss the issue with Panetta.  A brief meeting was held at this time with other officials, including Secretary Gates and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gates, like Panetta, was unable to push the president to act.  It was at this time that Gates indicated to certain Pentagon officials that he may resign earlier than originally indicated – he was that frustrated.  Both Panetta and Clinton convinced him to stay on and see the operation through.

What happened from there is what was described by me as a “masterful manipulation” by Leon Panetta.  Panetta indicated to Obama that leaks regarding knowledge of Osama Bin Laden’s location were certain to get out sooner rather than later, and action must be taken by the administration or the public backlash to the president’s inaction would be “…significant to the point of political debilitation.”  It was at that time that Obama stated an on-ground campaign would be far more acceptable to him than a bombing raid.  This was intended as a stalling tactic, and it had originated from Jarrett.  Such a campaign would take both time, and present a far greater risk of failure.  The president had been instructed by Jarrett to inform Mr., Panetta that he would have sole discretion to act against the Osama Bin Laden compound.  Jarrett believed this would further delay Panetta from acting, as the responsibility for failure would then fall almost entirely on him.  What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound.  Basically, the whole damn operation was already ready to go – including the specific team support Intel necessary to engage the enemy within hours of being given notice. 

Panetta then made plans to proceed with an on-ground assault. This information reached either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates first (likely via military contacts directly associated with the impending mission) who then informed the other.  Those two then met with Panetta, who informed each of them he had been given the authority by the president to proceed with a mission if the opportunity presented itself.  Both Gates and Clinton warned Panetta of the implications of that authority – namely he was possibly being made into a scapegoat.  Panetta admitted that possibility, but felt the opportunity to get Bin Laden outweighed that risk.  During that meeting, Hillary Clinton was first to pledge her full support for Panetta, indicating she would defend him if necessary.  Similar support was then followed by Gates. 

The following day, and with Panetta’s permission, Clinton met in private with Bill Daley and urged him to get the president’s full and open approval of the Panetta plan.  Daley agreed such approval would be of great benefit to the action, and instructed Clinton to delay proceeding until he had secured that approval.  Daley contacted Clinton within hours of their meeting indicating Jarrett refused to allow the president to give that approval.  Daley then informed Clinton that he too would fully support Panetta in his actions, even if it meant disclosing the president’s indecision to the American public should that action fail to produce a successful conclusion.  Clinton took that message back to Panetta and the CIA director initiated the 48 hour engagement order.  At this point, the President of the United States was not informed of the engagement order – it did not originate from him, and for several hours after the order had been given and the special ops forces were preparing for action into Pakistan from their position in Afghanistan, Daley successfully kept Obama and Jarrett insulated from that order.

“What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound.”

This insulation ended at some point with an abort order that I believe originated from Valerie Jarrett’s office, and was then followed up by President Obama. This abort order was later explained as a delay due to weather conditions, but the actual conditions at that time would have been acceptable for the mission.  A storm system had been in the area earlier, but was no longer an issue.  Check the data yourself to confirm.  Jarrett, having been caught off guard, was now scrambling to determine who had initiated the plan.  She was furious, repeating the acronym “CoC” and saying it was not being followed.  This is where Bill Daley intervened directly.  The particulars of that intervention are not clear to me beyond knowing he did meet with Jarrett in his office and following that meeting, Valerie Jarrett was not seen in the West Wing for some time, and apparently no longer offered up any resistance to the Osama Bin Laden mission. 

What did follow from there was one or more brief meetings between Bill Daley, Hillary Clinton, a representative from Robert Gates’ office, a representative from Leon Panetta’s office, and a representative from Jim Clapper’s office.  I have to assume that these meetings were in essence, detailing the move to proceed with the operation against the Osama Bin Laden compound.  I have been told by more than one source that Leon Panetta was directing the operation with both his own CIA operatives, as well as direct contacts with military – both entities were reporting to Panetta only at this point, and not the President of the United States

There was not going to be another delay as had happened 24 hour earlier.  The operation was at this time effectively unknown to President Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett and it remained that way until AFTER it had already been initiated.  President Obama was literally pulled from a golf outing and escorted back to the White House to be informed of the mission.  Upon his arrival there was a briefing held which included Bill Daley, John Brennan, and a high ranking member of the military.  When Obama emerged from the briefing, he was described as looking “very confused and uncertain.”  The president was then placed in the situation room where several of the players in this event had already been watching the operation unfold.  Another interesting tidbit regarding this is that the Vice President was already “up to speed” on the operation.  A source indicated they believe Hillary Clinton had personally made certain the Vice President was made aware of that day’s events before the president was.  The now famous photo released shows the particulars of that of that room and its occupants.  What that photo does not communicate directly is that the military personnel present in that room during the operation unfolding, deferred to either Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates.  The president’s role was minimal, including their acknowledging of his presence in the room.

“What Valerie Jarrett, and the president, did not know is that Leon Panetta had already initiated a program that reported to him –and only him, involving a covert on the ground attack against the compound.”

At the conclusion of the mission, after it had been repeatedly confirmed a success, President Obama was once again briefed behind closed doors.  The only ones who went in that room besides the president were Bill Daley. John Brennan, and a third individual whose identity remains unknown to me.  When leaving this briefing, the president came out of it “…much more confident. Much more certain of himself.”  He was also carrying papers in his hand that quite possibly was the address to the nation given later that evening on the Bin Laden mission.  The president did not have those papers with him prior to that briefing. The president then returned to the war room, where by this time, Leon Panetta had personally arrived and was receiving congratulations from all who were present.

In my initial communication to you of these events I described what unfolded as a temporary Coup initiated by high ranking intelligence and military officials. I stand by that term.  These figures worked around the uncertainty of President Obama and the repeated resistance of Valerie Jarrett.  If they had not been willing to do so, I am certain Osama Bin Laden would still be alive today.  There will be no punishment to those who acted outside the authority of the president’s office.  The president cannot afford to admit such a fact.  What will be most interesting from here is to now see what becomes of Valerie Jarrett.  One source indicated she is threatening resignation.  I find that unlikely given my strong belief she needs the protection afforded her by the Oval Office and its immense powers to delay and eventually terminate investigations back in Chicago, but we shall see.