News Briefs – January 4, 2015


Washington base to cut about 900 civilian jobs

Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington is expected to cut about 900 civilian jobs over the next few years.
The News-Tribune reports the job reductions will mostly be accomplished by not filling openings and offering incentives for early retirement.
The base currently employs more than 16,000 civilian workers.
The Army in July announced it planned to cut 17,000 civilian jobs across the service over the next few years. The Army has not said where those cuts would happen.
Greta Powell, chief of the base’s resource management office, says the senior leaders at the Washington military base have been meeting to discuss how they’ll manage the installation with hundreds fewer workers in jobs from retail clerks to day-care providers. AP

Afghan army helicopter crashes, three dead

Afghan officials say an army helicopter crashed in the eastern Logar province, killing three Afghan soldiers.
Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the MI-17 crashed Jan. 3 because of technical problems. He says two other soldiers were wounded.
The provincial governor’s spokesman Salim Saleh confirmed the incident, saying it took place around 1:30 p.m. local time.
Late last year, Taliban insurgents ambushed a military-contracted helicopter that made an emergency landing in northwestern Afghanistan. The militants killed three people in a shootout and captured 16 others who were on board. AP

China creates three new army units to modernize military

China has created three new military bodies as part of reforms to modernize its military — the world’s largest standing force — and improve its fighting capacity.
State television Jan. 2 showed President Xi Jinping giving military flags to the leaders of the three new units — a general command for the People’s Liberation Army, a missile force and a strategic support force. At the ceremony, which took place Dec. 31, Xi and PLA officers and soldiers sang the national anthem.
Xi said the three new units were created as part of a modernization reform and “to realize the Chinese dream of a strong military.”
He has promulgated the idea of a “Chinese dream” involving “the great renewal of the Chinese nation” and sees a strong military as key to this.
The military reform comes as China has become more assertive in pressing its claims to territory in the East China Sea and South China Sea, increasing tensions with its neighbors.
In a bid to show China poses no expansionist threat, Xi announced in September that he would reduce China’s 2.3 million-strong army by 300,000 troops. However, it will still remain the world’s largest.
Described by Xi as a “core force of strategic deterrence,” the PLA Rocket Force will replace the Second Artillery Force in controlling China’s nuclear arsenal and conventional missiles. The new Strategic Support Force will likely focus on cyber warfare.
Other reform plans include phasing out old equipment and developing new weapons systems.
The reforms also tighten the party’s leadership over the army. It used to be supervised by four headquarters, while now the army’s general command is controlled directly by the Central Military Commission, whose chairman is Xi.
The military has been the focus of an anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by Xi. The two highest-ranking officers to be accused of taking bribes were vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission. AP

Air Force museum features jet that transported Vietnam POWs

A jet that transported American prisoners of war to U.S. soil during the Vietnam war has moved to a new hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio.
The Dayton Daily News reports the four-engine plane, dubbed the “Hanoi Taxi,” was rolled into a new $40.8 million hangar at the Dayton, Ohio, museum last month. The display will be open to the public next June.
Former Air Force fighter pilot Paul Kari says he was on the first flight out of Hanoi in 1973 after he was a prisoner of war for more than seven years in a prison camp.
The C-141 Starlifter brought 78 American POWs and two civilians out of Vietnam on two trips to Hanoi. AP