WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After years of worrying what might happen if openly gay troops were allowed in the military, the Pentagon said on Thursday there had been no impact on morale, readiness or unit cohesion in the eight months since the ban on homosexuals was lifted.
President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday became the first U.S. president to publicly support gay marriage, helped champion the end of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is counting the ban’s repeal last September as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises.
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 25 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta made a full-throated pitch for Brazil to buy
American fighter jets in a speech on Wednesday and said defense
trade between the hemisphere’s two largest economies was “an
area ripe for growth.”
U.S.-based Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet is seen as an
underdog in a Brazilian competition for a contract with an
initial value of about $4 billion. It will likely be worth
considerably more over time once maintenance and follow-on
orders are included.
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Another embarrassing incident surfaced involving U.S. personnel and prostitution in Latin America on Tuesday, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Marines had been punished for allegedly injuring a prostitute in Brazil in December.
Panetta told reporters during a visit to Brasilia that the incident was fully investigated and the military personnel involved had been “severely punished,” demoted and withdrawn from Brazil.
BOGOTA (Reuters) – A 12th U.S. military service member was linked to the prostitution scandal in Colombia on Monday and the Pentagon suspended security clearances of personnel implicated in the events leading up to President Barack Obama’s visit.
The service member, attached to the White House Communications Agency, has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of an investigation, according to a U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
BOGOTA (Reuters) – The Pentagon has suspended security clearances of military personnel implicated in the Colombia prostitution scandal, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday.
U.S. Secret Service and military personnel allegedly took as many as 21 women back to their beachfront hotel on the night of April 11-12, ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to the seaside city of Cartagena to attend the Summit of the Americas.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney was recovering on Saturday after undergoing heart transplant surgery, a once risky procedure whose survival rates have improved over the years.
The 71-year-old Republican, who wielded unprecedented power as vice president during the George W. Bush administration’s war on terrorism, was in the intensive care unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.
MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Friday a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan was in the path of an apparent suicide attack that coincided with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s arrival in Afghanistan this week, a key detail of the incident that had not been initially revealed.
Major General Mark Gurganus and his deputy were part of a VIP delegation assembled to greet Panetta on Wednesday when an Afghan translator driving a stolen sport utility vehicle sped onto the runway ramp, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
ABU DHABI (Reuters) – The United States played down a call by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday for a NATO pullout from Afghan villages, saying no change in the troop withdrawal timetable was in the works and no immediate pullout was being sought by Kabul.
Karzai, in a statement after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul, said “international security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to (larger) bases.”
KABUL (Reuters) – A U.S. soldier accused of shooting dead 16 Afghan civilians has been flown out of Afghanistan, officials said, as Washington attempted to calm seething anger over a massacre that raised serious questions about the West’s war strategy.
Underscoring the instability in Afghanistan, an Afghan man in a stolen pickup truck sped onto the tarmac as a plane carrying U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was about to land on Wednesday, an extraordinary security breach in a southern province next to where Sunday’s massacre took place.
BASTION AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – An Afghan man driving a stolen pickup truck sped onto a runway ramp at an air base in southern Afghanistan and then emerged from the vehicle ablaze at around the time U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was arriving aboard a military plane, U.S. officials said.
The Pentagon chief, making an unannounced visit at a time of high tensions after a U.S. soldier massacred 16 Afghan villagers on Sunday, was not hurt in the incident at Bastion Airfield, a British base, and continued on with his schedule of events.