In Brief: A Message to N. Korea; Pentagon’s $1Bn Jobless Bill; Cyber Preparedness

Mike O'Brien

THE PENTAGON plans to add 14 interceptors to a missile defense site in Alaska by 2017 following the recent threats by North Korea carry out a nuclear strike.

The 14 ground-based interceptors would be added to the 26 already at Fort Greeley in Alaska as defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles. There are another four at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif.

The move is aimed at warning the Pyongyang regime that the U.S. is not cutting back on its defenses despite sequestration. Warships in the north Pacific would also form part of the defensive shield, the LA Times reports.

U.S. intelligence reports say North Korea does not currently have long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the continental U.S., but parts of Alaska may be vulnerable.

NAVY ADMIRAL James G. Stavridis (pictured) told Congress on Friday that America needs to focus its national security attention on three main areas: cyberspace, trafficking and special operations.

Adm. Stavridis, the longest-serving U.S. combatant commander, said he "would put cyber at the top" of the list.

The commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe for almost four years said: "I think in cyber we find the greatest mismatch between our level of preparation and the level of danger. "In cyber we have a lot of work to do.

"This is something that cuts across all parts of government and all parts of society."

DESPITE FACING budget cuts, the Pentagon is spending nearly a $1 billion a year on Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers, a program that pays out-of-work checks to troops who left the military voluntarily.

According to the Labor Department, it is meant to help "eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own," but eligibility simply requires that someone served in uniform and was honorably discharged. That means a person who serves for several years and decides not to re-enlist could get about 90 weeks of unemployment checks.

Air Force veteran Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told Associated Press: "It eats away at other parts of the budget, and is for people they no longer have control of."

Related: Fight is on to Restore Military Tuition Assistance After Budget Cuts

Some military analysts believe the availability of the money may be putting some veterans off actively looking for work. Current statistics show higher jobless figures for Iraq and Afghanistan vets than for older ones and for society in general.