National Security Brief: January 31, 2012

— President Obama defended his use of unmanned drone vehicles to kill suspected militants in a number of theaters around the world, saying his administration was “very careful in terms of how it’s been applied” and the program was “kept on a very tight leash.”

— A U.N. survey found that only 21 percent of Afghans think their national police force is ready to handle crime-fighting on its own, but 54 percent thought they’d be ready in two or three years when the U.S.-led war there is slated to end.

— Iran’s foreign minister offered to extend IAEA inspectors’ visit to Iran but the U.N. nuclear watchdog said that the officials will end the trip today.

India has joined China in declaring it won’t cut back on oil imports from Iran but German Chancellor Angela Merkel will use an upcoming visit to China this week to urge Beijing to reduce imports of Iranian oil.


— Israeli officials are quietly conceding that new international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program are constraining the Jewish state’s ability to take military action against Iranian facilities. The officials reportedly said Israel must act by summer if it wants to effectively attack Iran’s program.

— First lady Michelle Obama and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis yesterday proposed an expansion to the Family and Medical Leave Act that would give more job protection to military caregivers.   — Outgoing Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy said despite a Pentagon budget not designed to fight two major ground wars simultaneously, the U.S. military would be “retaining full capability to confront more than one aggressor anywhere in the world even if we are engaged in large scale operations.”

Lawmakers from both parties will oppose the Obama administration’s efforts, included in the Pentagon blueprint for cutting $487 billion, to launch a new round of base closures in the United States.