News Briefs – September 10, 2018


Shipbuilder considering Portland or Seattle for Army project

A shipbuilding company with a $1 billion contract with the U.S. Army is choosing between Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., to set up a production line for new landing vessels.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Portland-based Vigor Industrial says it’s planning to make the decision within the next 60 days.
The company says the chosen city is expected to get up to 300 new jobs that are slated to last a decade. The company is contracted to build as many as 36 landing vessels with improved maneuverability and stability.
The company is building a prototype of the landing craft in Seattle. It plans to start full production within three years. AP

Egypt, U.S. special forces hold drills on combating terrorism

Egypt’s military says its special forces have held drills with special forces from the United States to exchange expertise on combating terrorism.
The announcement was made in a Sept. 6 statement by Egypt’s armed forces.
The anti-terrorism drills came ahead of the “Bright Star” exercise that runs Sept. 8-20, and involves additional countries including Greece, Jordan, Britain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and France.
The first “Bright Star” exercise took place in 1980, but the Obama administration postponed them in 2011 following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak, and scrapped them in 2013 after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in.
Last September, Egypt held the war games with U.S. troops for the first time in eight years. AP

Saudi attack helicopter crash kills American trainer

Saudi Arabia’s National Guard says an American trainer has been killed and a Saudi trainee injured in a helicopter crash in Riyadh.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency cited a military statement on Sept. 6 saying the crash of a Boeing AH6i attack helicopter happened at Khashm Al-An Airport in the Saudi capital.
It identified the American as Paul Reidy. It said the trainee was transferred to a local hospital and was in stable condition.
The National Guard said an investigation into the crash had begun.
The Boeing AH6i is a light attack and reconnaissance helicopter built by Chicago-based Boeing. It is a variant of a model used by U.S. Army Special Operations Command. AP

U.S. military announces plan to add troops in Germany

The U.S. Army Europe says it’s expanding its troop presence by adding 1,500 solders to its forces in Germany.
The military said Sept. 7 that the new unit activations are scheduled to begin this year and that the troops and their families should all be in place in southern Germany by September 2020.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell says they’ll add to more than 33,000 American troops already in Germany and reinforce that the U.S. is “committed to strengthening the transatlantic alliance and President (Donald) Trump’s promise to increase U.S. defense capabilities means the alliance is stronger today.”
Units include a field artillery brigade headquarters and two multiple-launch rocket system battalions in Grafenwoehr, a short-range air defense battalion in Ansbach, and various supporting unites in Hohenfels and Baumholder. AP

U.S. to release $1.2 billion in military aid to Egypt

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized the release of $1.2 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt, despite human rights concerns that have held up previous funding.
The State Department said Sept. 7 it is notifying Congress that Pompeo has signed national security waivers allowing the money to be spent. Congress has 15 days to object. The money includes $1 billion in aid for the current 2018 budget year and $195 million appropriated for 2017 that would have had to have been returned to the Treasury had it not been spent by Sept. 30.
The department said Pompeo had determined that continuing the aid is important to strengthening security cooperation with Egypt. It added that it was continuing to work with Egypt to improve its human rights practices. AP

Army says pilots in fatal Hawaii crash were disoriented

An Army investigation into a fatal helicopter crash found the pilots became disoriented during nighttime training off Hawaii last year. All five soldiers on board were killed in the Aug. 15, 2017 crash.
The pilots experienced “spatial disorientation,” which is when a pilot can’t determine a current position and altitude relative to the earth’s surface, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sept. 7. The newspaper obtained the results of the investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The crash occurred off Oahu’s Kaena Point after the helicopter and an accompanying chopper left Wheeler Army Airfield for night-vision goggle training.
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., conducted the investigation. The Army is also working on a second investigation it will make public.
Chief Warrant Officer Brian M. Woeber, 41, and Chief Warrant Officer Stephen T. Cantrell, 32 were declared deceased by officials in late August 2017. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner previously made the determination for 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26; Staff Sgt. Abigail R. Milam, 33; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, after trace remains discovered among floating debris were matched to their DNA.
All the crew members who were with the 2nd Battalion and the 25th Aviation regiment died of multiple blunt force traumas, the report said.
The two Black Hawks were flying in tandem at about 1,000 feet (304 meters) and 126 mph (202 kph) when the aircraft that crashed entered a right turn.
Its nose began to slowly pitch down and the helicopter began to climb slightly. About nine seconds into the turn, the aircraft’s right bank and downward nose pitch increased until it rolled to the left.
It then abruptly rolled back to the right and descended with its nose down, the report said. It fell in the water, broke into multiple pieces and came to rest on the ocean floor about a mile west of Kaena Point. AP