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July 26, 2012

News Briefs – July 26, 2012

Congress eyes probe into Army program

Congress is poised to launch an investigation into why Army leaders have resisted requests to provide battlefield units with a specific computer program that helps troops locate and clear roadside bombs.

The software program, the Palantir System, is being used by some units in Afghanistan, but Army officials have denied multiple requests for it from others, including a May memo from the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, that cited an “urgent need” for it in the volatile eastern province of Ghazni.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate the matter.

Army officials said they also have begun an investigation. AP

 

Defense chief Panetta bemoans looming defense cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he “sure as hell” hopes that automatic, across-the-board cuts in military spending don’t happen.

Panetta repeatedly has warned about a catastrophic impact from the cuts, and he issued a fresh warning July 25 at a congressional hearing.

The $1.2 trillion cuts to defense and domestic programs are set to begin Jan. 2 unless Congress can come up with an alternative.

The Pentagon would face a decade-long reduction of nearly $500 billion in projected spending. And that’s on top of the $492 billion reduction in defense over 10 years that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has criticized Obama for the expected cuts. The president pointed out that Republicans voted for them. AP

 

GOP challenges military march in gay parade

Congressional Republicans are questioning the Defense Department’s decision to allow active-duty troops to wear their military uniforms while marching in San Diego’s gay pride parade this past weekend.

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta July 24 asking him to explain why a waiver was made to a department directive that allowed service members in uniform to participate in a political activity. Inhofe said department policy prohibits such participation.

Separately, Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia condemned the waiver and called on the Pentagon to end “these dangerous exceptions to policy for political purposes.”

July 21, dozens of soldiers, sailors and Marines in uniform marched in the parade. They were joined by dozens more military personnel in civilian clothes. AP




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University of Alaska-Fairbanks photograph by Chris Larsen

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