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Jan 23, 2015

First U.S. troops head to Middle East to train Syrian opposition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the first group of about 100 U.S. troops to head to the Middle East in the next few days to establish training sites for Syrian opposition fighters battling Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the troops, mostly special operations forces, were authorized last week and would begin arriving in countries outside Syria in the coming days, with a subsequent wave of several hundred military trainers following in the weeks thereafter.

Jan 16, 2015

Air Force moves to ease stress on overworked U.S. drone pilots

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s insatiable demand for intelligence collected by drone aircraft is putting a huge stress on operators who fly them 14 hours a day, Air Force officials said on Thursday as they unveiled bonus pay and other steps to tackle the issue.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said aviators who remotely fly Predators, Reapers and other drones have been putting in 900 to 1,100 flight hours a year, three or four times the number flown by traditional military pilots.

Jan 15, 2015

Five Yemenis transferred from U.S. custody at Guantanamo: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon transferred five Yemenis held at Guantanamo prison to foreign custody on Wednesday in the first handover of detainees in 2015, sending four to Oman and one to Estonia despite Republican calls for a moratorium on the resettlements.

U.S. officials said all five Yemenis, held for a dozen or more years at the military prison at a U.S. Navy base in Cuba, had been cleared for release nearly five years ago by a multi-agency task force that included intelligence, diplomatic and military officials.

Jan 13, 2015

Apparent Islamic State backers hack U.S. military Twitter feed

By David Alexander and Jim Finkle

(Reuters) – The Twitter and YouTube accounts for the U.S. military command that oversees operations in the Middle East were hacked on Monday by people claiming to be sympathetic toward the Islamic State militant group being targeted in American bombing raids.

“American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back, ISIS,” the hackers posted on the U.S. Central Command Twitter feed, using an acronym for the hardline Islamist group, which has taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq.

Jan 12, 2015

U.S. military Twitter feed hacked, apparently by IS sympathizers

By David Alexander and Jim Finkle

(Reuters) – The Twitter and YouTube accounts for the U.S. military command that oversees operations in the Middle East were hacked on Monday by people claiming to be sympathetic toward the Islamic State militant group being targeted in American bombing raids.

U.S. officials acknowledged that the incident was embarrassing but sought to downplay its importance. Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren said the Defense Department “views this as little more than a prank, or as vandalism.”

Jan 9, 2015

Hagel reorganizes effort to find U.S. troops missing in combat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Seeking to inject vigor into the search for U.S. troops missing from foreign wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday unveiled a new consolidated agency responsible for the effort and named its temporary leadership.

Hagel ordered the reorganization earlier last year as the U.S. Congress pressured the Defense Department to boost its accounting for some 83,000 missing troops – about 73,000 from World War Two and 10,000 from other conflicts, mainly Korea.

Jan 9, 2015

Agent Orange endangered U.S. Air Force workers after Vietnam -panel

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) – U.S. Air Force reservists who
did maintenance on C-123 aircraft used during the Vietnam war to
spray the defoliant Agent Orange could have been exposed to
harmful levels of dioxin even long after the conflict, the
health arm of the National Academy of Sciences said on Friday.

A panel from the Institute of Medicine acknowledged the poor
quality of sampling data available from the planes used in
Operation Ranch Hand in Vietnam, but concluded that Air Force
reservists who maintained the contaminated planes long after the
conflict could have increased risk of health problems.

Jan 8, 2015

U.S. forces ‘building pressure’ on Islamic State: military chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. efforts against Islamic State militants in Iraq are “a drumbeat, a steady building pressure” on several fronts that will ultimately enable Iraqi forces to launch a counteroffensive at a time of their choosing, the top U.S. military officer said on Thursday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces were not sitting idly in the key Iraqi cities of Baghdad or Arbil waiting until spring to launch an offensive but were actively working to weaken Islamic State in several areas.

Jan 8, 2015

U.S. to cut European military bases as budgets shrink

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facing tight budgets and a shrinking military, the United States said on Thursday it was ending operations at an air base in Britain and handing it and 14 other sites in Europe back to their home governments.

In the biggest move, the Pentagon said it would leave RAF Mildenhall northeast of London, home to tanker, reconnaissance and special operations aircraft, and withdraw 3,200 military personnel and their families.

Jan 8, 2015

Facing shrinking budgets, Pentagon moves to cut European bases

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Facing tight budgets and a
shrinking military, the Pentagon said on Thursday it was ending
operations at an air base in Britain and handing it and 14 other
sites in Europe back to their home governments in a move
projected to save $500 million annually.

The Pentagon said it would divest RAF Mildenhall northeast
of London, home to tanker, reconnaissance and special operations
aircraft, and withdraw 3,200 military personnel and their
families over the next several years.

    • 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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