Department of Defense

Office Of The Governor

Governor Mary Fallin added her voice to the Oklahoma lawmakers who oppose the discontinuation of a program that supplies vehicles to rural fire departments. Fallin wrote a letter Wednesday to an administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency criticizing the discontinuation. 

"The decision to terminate this successful program was clearly made without thought to the adverse effects to local firefighting efforts and the ability to protect the lives and property of our citizens," Fallin said. 

Health care and retirement costs that already account for a large part of the U.S. military's budget and are on a path to go even higher could leave the nation with "a military that's heavily compensated, but probably a force that's not capable and not ready," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tells NPR.

Tinker Air Force Base

A day without pay, the first of 11 through September, comes this week for more than 650,000 people who hold civilian jobs with the Defense Department. 

Officials worry that the Pentagon will be hit even harder by layoffs in 2014 if automatic budget cuts continue.

This time last week Americans were just starting to learn about the troubled Russian region of Chechnya after authorities released the identities of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Rebecca Cruise discusses women in combat and the U.S. drone program with NPR's Rachel Martin. Before taking over the host's chair of Weekend Edition Sunday, she reported from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and served as the network's national security correspondent.

Technical Sergeant William Greer / United States Air Force

In January, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the end of the U.S. military’s 19-year-old ban on women officially serving in combat roles.

“Every time I visited the warzone, every time I've met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I've been impressed with the fact that everyone - men and women alike - everyone is committed to doing the job,” Panetta said. “They're fighting and they're dying together. And the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”

Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin covered national security issues for NPR from 2010-2012. She told KGOU’s World Views the change in policy recognizes the reality on the ground, but also will afford women the opportunity to compete for top-level spots in very elite military units.

Feb. 6, 2013
Jacque Braun / tumblr

As Congress tries to avoid a looming set of sharp, across-the-board spending cuts that would strike the Pentagon and domestic agencies in just two weeks, a former State Department official says the Department of Defense could avoid “clumsy” automatic cuts by starting with personnel.

“In World War II, we had fewer flag and general officers than we do now,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. “Wow. People are anywhere from 50-60 percent, depending on whose records and analysis, of the DoD budget. They are so expensive.”

Wilkerson served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff from 2002-2005.