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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.

Jan 7, 2015

U.S.-led air strikes have hit 3,222 Islamic State targets: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria have damaged or destroyed 3,222 targets since August, including 58 tanks, 184 Humvees, 673 fighting positions and 980 buildings or barracks, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said he wasn’t sure how many targets had been damaged versus destroyed, “but I’m confident that the destruction level is high. Our strikes are extraordinarily accurate.”

Jan 7, 2015

U.S. investigating civilian casualty claims in Iraq, Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Tuesday it had received 18 complaints of civilian casualties in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, but concluded that 13 of the cases were not credible and was still reviewing the other five.

The Pentagon has said it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates them, but in the past military officials had played down such reports.

Jan 6, 2015

U.S. training of Syrian rebels could begin in spring: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has made progress in its effort to identify moderate Syrian rebels to train for the fight against Islamic State militants and a U.S. training mission could begin this spring, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, welcomed statements from Ankara indicating Turkey and the United States plan to conclude a deal this month on training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels, part of a U.S.-led campaign to counter Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

Jan 5, 2015

U.S. troops training Iraqi military at bases in Anbar, Taji

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. troops have started training Iraqi military forces at two bases in Iraq as they work to build a force that can take the offensive against Islamic State militants who overran part of the country last year, the Pentagon said on Monday.

About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at Ain al-Asad air base in western al Anbar province, which is taking regular harassing mortar fire from Islamic State militants, said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. The training began on Dec. 20.

    • 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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