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Malaysia asks US for military undersea equipment

The Pentagon has said it was considering a request from Malaysia's defence minister to provide undersea surveillance equipment to help in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

It added the defence secretary Chuck Hagel would "assess the availability and utility of military undersea technology for such a task and provide him an update in the very near future."

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US army to shrink to smallest size since before WWII

Chuck Hagel has said he wants to shrink the army to its smallest size since before the Second World War. Credit: Reuters

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said he wants to shrink the army to its smallest size since before the Second World War.

Speaking at the Pentagon, Mr Hagel said forces must adjust to the reality of smaller budgets.

The active-duty army would shrink from its current 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 and 450,000 while the Air Force's A-10 aircraft and spy plans could also be retired under the plans.

The cuts are expected to face opposition in Congress.

Defence Secretary getting 'regular updates' on shooting

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is getting "regular updates" on the situation at the Washington Navy Yard, the Pentagon Press Secretary has said.

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#SecDef is receiving regular updates on the tragic situation at the DC Navy Yard. Saddened to hear reports of fatalities and injuries.

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Understandable desire for information on tragic events at Navy Yard. Need to let law enforcement officials determine precise facts.

Diplomatic solution depends on 'real threat' of Syria strike

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that for a diplomatic solution in Syria to have any chance of succeeding, there is still a need for a "real threat" of US military action.

All of us are hopeful that this option might be a real solution to this crisis. Yet, we must be very clear-eyed and ensure that it's not a stalling tactic.

For this diplomatic option to have a chance of succeeding, the threat of a US

military action - the credible, real threat of US military action - must continue.

– chuck hagel, us defence secretary

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'Likelihood very high' Assad would use weapons again

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told a House of Representatives hearing the "likelihood is very high" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would use chemical weapons again if America fails to act.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Credit: APTN

The US defence chief told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that a strike on Syria would not be a "pin prick" and would reduce Assad's military capability.

Hagel: 'America must protect its people' over Syria

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate hearing on military action in Syria, "We also must understand that America must protect its people and its national interest."

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses the hearing.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel addresses the hearing. Credit: RTV

Hagel said they "owe the American people, and especially those wearing the uniform of our country, vigorous debate on how America should respond" in Syria.

Vote 'does not change' UK's strong Syria condemnation

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Britain has strongly and publicly condemned Syria's alleged gas attacks, adding, "That vote in the Parliament doesn't change that."

Mr Hagel told a news conference this morning, "Every nation has a responsibility to make their own decisions, and we respect that of any nation ... We'll continue to work with Britain and consult with Britain as we are with all our allies."

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Manila earlier today.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Manila earlier today. Credit: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Mr Hagel stressed that the Obama administration wants "an international collaboration and effort" whatever decision is taken.

The US will keep talking to the UK and other countries on "ways forward together," he added.

Chuck Hagel expresses regret over Taliban joke

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has expressed regret to an Indian-born college professor for jokingly asking, "you're not a member of the Taliban, are you?" seconds before the professor rose to ask a question.

Hagel's spokesman said the joke was not directed at anyone in particular, and the defence secretary called the professor, Robin Gandhi, to tell him as much hours after the event at the University of Nebraska, where Hagel gave a speech and took questions from the audience.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Credit: REUTERS/Jim Watson

Hagel "expressed regret for any trouble that this caused the professor," spokesman George Little told reporters.

"They had a very good discussion and (Hagel) wanted to leave no impression that this joke was directed at anyone in particular, including the professor," Little said.

He added that the defence secretary a little earlier in the programme had answered a question about the Taliban, the Afghan insurgent group.

Gandhi said in a statement that he was honoured to hear Hagel's speech and enjoyed the secretary's answer to his question about cyber weapons.

"Before I rose to ask a question, there was apparently some confusion that did not involve me," Gandhi said, suggesting he too did not believe Hagel's joke was addressed at him.

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