— President Obama’s decision to redeploy 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer “could save the Pentagon billions of dollars in operating costs in 2012 and beyond.” One analyst said the move will save DOD $17 billion in 2012 alone.
— The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bipartisan package of rules redefining the guidelines for detaining terrorism suspects. The new rules would give military judges the authority to review the cases of detainees in Afghanistan and mandate military detention for Al Qaeda suspects, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they are captured.
— An unnamed U.S. national security official told reporters that intelligence indicates embattled Libya dictator Muammar Qaddafi might move outside the country’s capitol, Tripoli, in order to hide from NATO airstrikes.
— The U.S. on Thursday took steps to get U.N. Security Council authorization to send more than 4,000 Ethiopian troops into a disputed region between North and South Sudan ahead of the planned partition this summer.
— More than 1,500 Syrian refugees crossed into Turkey on Thursday as Syrian forces launched a major show of force against anti-government protesters. Syrian troops are now within 500 meters of the border and the Turkish government reports that 11,700 Syrians are now housed in refugee camps inside Turkey.
— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U.S. will also draw down its civilian presence in Afghanistan, “shift(ing) our efforts from short-term stabilization projects to longer-term sustainable development.”
— Two men in Seattle have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in a purported suicide terror plot aimed at a Seattle federal building.