December 1, 2017

News Briefs – December 1, 2017

Thunderbirds commander relieved of duty

Lt. Col. Jason Heard, commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. Te Thunderbirds, has been relieved of command upon the completion of the 2017 season.

Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander of the 57th Wing commander at Nellis aIr Force Base, Nev., relieved Heard effective Nov. 20.

While Heard led the team through a highly successful show season, Leavitt lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style.

Leavitt determined that new leadership was necessary to ensure the highest levels of pride, precision and professionalism within the team.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season,” Leavitt said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbird’s 2016-2017 Operations Officer, has temporarily assumed responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.

The Thunderbirds are preparing for the 2018 season, training their new pilots, and look forward to inspiring crowds around the country.

U.S. military: No civilians killed in August raid in Somalia

A U.S. military investigation of an August raid in Somalia is contradicting Somali officials’ accusations that several civilians, including children, were killed.

The U.S.-supported raid by Somali forces on Aug. 25 in Bariire village caused an uproar, with bodies laid out in the capital, Mogadishu, for display. Somalia’s army chief said civilians were killed.

The U.S. Africa Command statement says a “thorough assessment” of the raid by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa shows “the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants.”

There was no immediate response from Somali officials.

The Trump administration this year approved expanded military operations against the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab.

A separate statement Wednesday by the U.S. Africa Command says there are currently more than 500 U.S. military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation. AP

Mississippi shipyard union members vote to extend contract

Members of five unions at a Mississippi shipyard that’s part of America’s largest military shipbuilding company have voted in favor of a labor contract extension.

Huntington Ingalls Industries said in a news release that the five unions at the Ingalls Shipbuilding division in Pascagoula approved a four-year extension of their collective bargaining agreements Nov. 28.

The contract affects employees represented by the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council and local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Association of Machinists, United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers, and Office and Professional Employees International Union.

The deal includes cost-of-living wage increases in 2019, 2020 and 2021, along with payments of $2,500 in December 2017 and March 2018.
WLOX-TV reports that the deal also freezes health insurance costs for workers. AP

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