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Aug 21, 2015

Test of Islamic State mortar fragments shows chemical arms traces: U.S. general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fragments from mortars fired by Islamic State militants at Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq earlier this month tested positive in a U.S. military field test for the chemical weapons agent sulfur mustard, a U.S. general said on Friday.

Marine Corps Brigadier General Kevin Killea, chief of staff for operations against the militant group, said the field test was not conclusive proof of chemical weapons use, and the fragments are undergoing more definitive testing to confirm the finding.

Aug 20, 2015

More needed from Turkey in Islamic State fight: U.S. defense chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Turkey needs to do more in the fight against Islamic State militants and has indicated it is willing to go beyond its recent decision to allow U.S. planes to conduct air strikes from Turkish bases, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday.

Carter said Turkey had agreed in principle to participate in the coalition bombing campaign against the militants, but the United States also needed Ankara to step up its efforts to control its long border with Iraq and Syria.

Aug 20, 2015

Pentagon chief eyes alternative prisons for Guantanamo detainees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Teams working on plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay have been visiting detention facilities in the United States to identify sites where war prisoners could be held long term, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday.

Carter said Defense Department assessment teams had visited the U.S. Army detention facility at Leavenworth, Kansas, and would soon go to the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig at Charleston, South Carolina, to look at what investments might be needed to make them suitable for holding Guantanamo detainees.

Aug 20, 2015

Ranger school success reflects U.S. military’s opening to women

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When two women completed the daunting U.S. Army Ranger school this week they helped end questions about whether women can serve as combat leaders, as the Pentagon is poised to open new roles, including elite Navy SEALs, to women in coming months.

The feat by Army Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver followed a re-evaluation of the role of women after their frontline involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the end of a rule barring them from combat roles in 2013.

Aug 18, 2015

U.S. military probe of Afghan shooting found Bales’ camp had lax discipline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The month before he killed 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting rampage, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales bloodied the nose of an Afghan truck driver in an assault that was not reported to his camp commanders, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The assault, and the failure to report it to senior officers, was one of several signs that the post where Bales served in Afghanistan was suffering from “low standards of personal conduct and discipline,” said the military’s administrative investigation of the 2012 shooting incident.

Aug 14, 2015

Iraqi effort to isolate, retake Ramadi advancing – U.S. military

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraqi troops are more than halfway through an operation to encircle Islamic State militants in Ramadi, after which they will launch a final offensive to retake the Iraqi city, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday.

Air Force Colonel Pat Ryder, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said Iraqi forces were making progress in the fourth week of their effort to isolate and cut off Islamic State fighters, who captured Ramadi three months ago in their biggest victory this year.

Aug 13, 2015

U.S. bombing of Islamic State rebels surged in July

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. bombing campaign against Islamic State rebels surged in July as Kurdish fighters pushed into territory held by the militant group in Syria and Iraqi forces prepared an offensive to retake strategic northwestern cities, Pentagon figures showed.

The U.S. military spent an average of $4.6 million per day on bombs and other munitions between July 15 and July 31, nearly double the daily average of $2.33 million spent in the previous month.

Aug 12, 2015

Some U.S. troops may be needed on ground in Iraq: retiring Army chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The fight against Islamic State rebels is at a stalemate and if the U.S. military does not see progress in the coming months it should consider putting support troops on the ground with Iraqi forces, Army General Ray Odierno said on Wednesday.

Odierno, the outgoing Army chief of staff, backed the current strategy against Islamic State, telling his last Pentagon news conference that while U.S. troops could defeat the militants, they could not solve the broader political and economic problems besetting Iraq and Syria.

Jul 29, 2015

Top U.S. general says Iran deal lowers near-term atomic arms risk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military officer supported a proposed nuclear deal with Iran on Wednesday, saying it reduced the risk of Tehran developing atomic arms while buying time to work with allies to confront the Islamic Republic over other “malign activities.”

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing he had advised the White House to keep sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and arms trafficking for “as long as possible.”

Jul 28, 2015

U.S. Army lab faulted over lax anthrax procedure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Techniques used by a U.S. Army laboratory in Utah failed to neutralize live anthrax spores on many occasions over more than a decade and the lab should have realized the procedure was inadequate, a top health official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Despite warning signs, the lab, at the Dugway Proving Ground, persisted with the same process for inactivating anthrax samples for researchers, resulting in the unintentional shipment of live spores of the deadly bacteria to 192 labs in the United States and abroad, officials said.

    • About David

      "David has been a journalist for 30 years, based in Washington, London, New Delhi, Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He covered the first Gulf war, the Palestinian intifada and the conflict in Kashmir. Since 1998 he has been an editor and reporter in Washington, covering politics, the White House and other stories."
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