National Security Brief: Military Mental Health Review

– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a Senate panel on Wednesday that the Pentagon’s current approach to combating military suicides is insufficient and the Defense Department will review its procedures for handling mental health cases.

– The Washington Post reports that the U.S. military is establishing a network of small air bases across Africa to spy on suspected terrorist hideouts using unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes.

– South Korea has imposed limits on exports to Iran — mainly steel, cars and electronics — in order to minimize risk of payment defaults as western sanctions disrupt Iranian oil revenues.

– When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Russians risked escalating the blooming civil war in Syria by sending attack helicopters to Bashar al-Assad’s repressive government, she failed to mention, as U.S. officials told the New York Times today, that the choppers weren’t new. Instead, they likely were sent back to Russia for repairs and maintenance, and then returned to Syria. The Russians claim they only send Assad’s government defensive weapons.


– The Israeli State Comptroller released a report criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of a raid on a Turkish ship aiming to break the blockade of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip two years ago, finding Netanyahu didn’t consult with security advisers before ordering the raid and failing to prepare for the violence that ensued, killing 8 Turks and a U.S. citizen. A U.N. report last year found the raid “excessive and unreasonable.”

– A trio of former U.S. ambassadors to Iraq urged the Senate to confirm Brett McGurk’s nomination to serve in the post they once filled. In a letter, the former ambassadors gave their “strongest possible endorsement” to McGurk, whose nomination came under right-wing attacks after an extra-marital affair with a reporter came to light.