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With all the focus on the War on Terror, one service has been neglected, and yet, it may be the most important service: the United States Navy. This has been the result of two decades of neglect starting just as the U.S. Navy had not only been crucial in America’s triumph over the Soviet Union, but also in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Yet with a growing crisis with Iran centering around threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, America may pay a price for its neglect of the fleet.




I was not the best sniper in my class. In fact, I failed the practice test. That meant potentially washing out of the class. Unlike the Marines, in the field we don’t work with spotters. The SEAL philosophy is, basically, if you have a fellow warrior with you, he ought to be shooting, not watching. That said, we did use spotters in training.

After I failed the test, the instructor went through everything with my spotter and me, trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong. My scope was perfect, my dope was set, nothing was mechanically wrong with the rifle.

Suddenly, he looked up at me.


Most armies in the world today use snipers in some capacity and the Spanish Legion is certainly no exception. Recently I was able to spend some time with the Spanish Legion observing their training procedures, and noted that they seemed to deploy snipers more often than other military units I’ve seen. In fact, it appeared that at least one sniper team was somewhere in the field with us during nearly all the training exercises. During the weeks I spent with the Legion I was able to appreciate their innovative use of the sniper teams and got to see some interesting sniper training

Conflict in Mali Aggravates Sahel Food Crisis

The Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali has pushed tens of thousands of people across the border into Niger. The refugee crisis has intensified a looming food crisis in the region.

Djibril Oualid and his family, from Mali, have joined 2,000 other refugees across the border with Niger in the village, Gaoudel. They fled the Tuareg rebellion in the northern part of their country. Many are living in makeshift camps along the border, with little food or water. Most say they have lost everything in the conflict.

Human tragedy

The Oualid family walked for three days to reach the border.

Venezuela: Chavez in Good Condition After Surgery in Cuba

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is reported to be in good condition following surgery to remove a tumor.

Vice President Elias Jaua made the announcement Tuesday to Venezuelan lawmakers, who responded with applause and chants in support of the 57-year-old president.

Jaua told the National Assembly that doctors removed a pelvic lesion and the surrounding tissue from President Chavez.

After Vote, Putin Promises to Stand Up to West

Under Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia has found common ground with Washington - on shipping war supplies to Afghanistan, halting the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and joining the World Trade Organization.

With Prime Minister Vladimir Putin leading all polls prior to Sunday’s presidential vote, though, the question of how Russia’s foreign policy would change under his return to the presidency is coming into focus.

Chavez Heading to Cuba for New Surgery

Venezuela's president says he will continue leading the country, even as he travels to Cuba to undergo new surgery to remove a potentially cancerous lesion.

Hugo Chavez said he will travel Friday to Havana and expects to have the surgery early next week. Speaking during a nationally televised cabinet meeting, the Venezuelan leader said he would return "with more energy, more enthusiasm, more happiness."

Chavez, who is seeking re-election later this year, has not specified how long he will need to stay in Cuba for treatment.

Syria Shelling Kills 19, Including 2 Western Journalists

Relentless Syrian shelling Wednesday in the opposition stronghold of Homs has killed at least 19 people including two Western journalists, as government forces escalated attacks on rebel bases.

The French government identified the dead reporters as Marie Colvin, a prominent American war correspondent working for Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik. Activists said several other journalists were wounded in the attack on a makeshift media center in the rebel-held Baba Amr district of Homs.

Dozens of People Face Eviction From Zimbabwe Farms

It has been more than 10 years since President Robert Mugabe’s government began seizing white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to poor blacks.

The beneficiaries were his supporters, however, with many of the elite, including the presidential couple, acquiring multiple farms. The seizures in Zimbabwe left thousands of farm hands, who used to work for the white farmers, jobless, destitute and facing eviction.

Kosovo Serb Voters Reject Pristina Rule

Serbs in northern Kosovo cast a near unanimous rejection of a referendum on whether to recognize the country's ethnic Albanian dominated government after two days of voting.

The Kosovo Serb electoral commission said 99.7 percent of voters in the four Serbian communities in northern Kosovo opposed the referendum.

Ethnic Serbs have ignored Pristina's efforts to extend its authority into the northern areas since Kosovo gained independence in 2008.

Panetta Welcomes Chinese Vice President to Pentagon

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta welcomed Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to the Pentagon with full military honors for what was the first ceremony of its kind for a visiting vice president, Defense Department officials said.

Neither Panetta nor Xi spoke publicly at the ceremony, where they took the reviewing stand before formations of the four military services on the Pentagon’s River Terrace parade field. The ceremony began with a 19-gun salute and the playing of the Chinese, then the American, national anthems on what was an unseasonably warm winter day.

Iran Touts Uranium Enrichment Advances

Iran hailed its advanced nuclear capabilities Wednesday by unveiling what it says are a new generation of centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment and its first domestically produced fuel rods.

The semi-official Fars news agency reported Wednesday that the new carbon fiber centrifuges have been installed and operated at a uranium enrichment plant in the central desert city of Natanz.

Sudan Oil Talks End With Recriminations, Large Rift

South Sudan has threatened to keep the oil pipeline to the Red Sea shut permanently following a failed round of talks on sharing revenues with Sudan. The shutdown is costing the two countries hundreds of millions of dollars a month. Six days of African Union-mediated talks ended Wednesday, with the two sides seemingly farther apart than when they began.

South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum emerged from a long night of negotiations saying he sees no reason to continue discussing oil payments with the Khartoum government.

Civil Society Pushing for Arms Trade Treaty

Final negotiations begin in July on the Arms Trade Treaty. The agreement would control the global trade in conventional weapons from rifles to tanks to warships. This week, the last round of preliminary talks is being held in New York.

In late 2006, the United Nations adopted resolution 61/89 that allowed work to begin on the Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT.

The proposed agreement has the support of 100 civil society groups, including the West Africa Network on Small Arms. Baffour Amoa is president of the NGO.