Shanahan still undecided on which projects will be impacted by border wall funding

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.


A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.

By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.

According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.

"We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates," Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.

"Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions," Shanahan said.

He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.

Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.

The U.S. defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.

Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.

"I am not required to do anything," he said.

Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.

Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.

"Military housing, what's been interesting- I've received a number of letters, I've had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway," Shanahan said.

"As we step our way through the process we'll use good judgment," Shanahan said.

The Republican president's move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.

Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.

"We are following the law, using the rules and we're not bending the rules," Shanahan said.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali aboard military aircraft; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

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The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

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