National Security Brief: April 17, 2012

— The performance of Afghan troops in responding to a coordinated series of assaults in Kabul and across eastern parts of Afghanistan on Sunday and Monday show that the country’s security forces are prepared to “defend their country” after the departure of international troops next year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

— Hamid Karzai and U.S. officials acknowledge that the attacks on Sunday and Monday in Afghanistan were the result of an “intelligence failure” by NATO.

— Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced today that she expects her country to complete its military withdrawal from Afghanistan one year ahead of schedule due to improvements in the security situation there while acknowledging that “the peoples of the world’s democracies are weary of this war.”

— Ongoing violence in Syria, despite the implementation of a U.N.-Arab League brokered ceasefire on Tuesday, could jeopardize plans to extend the U.N. monitoring mission, said U.S. envoy to the U.N. Susan Rice.


— Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey yesterday rejected GOP claims that military leaders don’t support the president’s budget. “The bottom line is that was this was a team effort,” Panetta said.

— Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Monday that Iran was prepared to resolve the nuclear dispute with world powers at their next meeting, in Baghdad on May 23, if the West showed some good will by easing the sanctions imposed on Iran.

— With dim hopes for a breakthrough in negotiations between Iran and world powers that would meet Israeli expectations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that Israel is “not committing to anything” when asked if his country would pledge not to attack while talks played out.  — U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said a 300-ship fleet — slated this January for reduction from a 2005 plan for 313 ships — would be able to handle all the global security demands made on the Navy and that criticisms of the plan are based on bad information or resistance to change.  — “Sexual assault has no place in the military,” said Panetta in a joint press conference with lawmakers and Gen. Dempsey announcing a “strong package” of reforms to the military’s handling of alleged sex crimes.