Senator ends hold on Air Force chief nomination
A Republican senator has ended his hold on the White House pick for Air Force chief of staff over the service’s response to a widening sex scandal at a Texas base.
In a statement Aug. 2, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he had met with Gen. Mark Welsh and was pleased with his commitment to investigate.
Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, is the site for basic training for all Air Force recruits. It has been rocked by scandal stemming from accusations of sexual assault.
Lackland has about 500 instructors for some 35,000 airmen who graduate every year. One in five recruits is female, while most instructors are male. AP
Southern California Marine base wants to claim off-road valley
A plan to expand a Mojave Desert Marine base would engulf a beloved off-road recreation area.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the Navy issued an environmental impact statement that recommends adding some 146,000 acres of Johnson Valley to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.
That’s about two-thirds of the valley, which currently is the largest off-road vehicle recreation area in the nation.
The Marine Corps says it needs to expand to permit live-fire maneuvers to train larger forces.
Off-road enthusiasts say it would reduce access to an area that draws about 200,000 visitors a year and hosts the popular King of the Hammers race.
The California Off-Road Vehicle Association plans to protest the proposal. Congress will make the ultimate decision. AP
Australia rejects proposal to host U.S. carrier
Australia has rejected a proposal by a Washington think tank to base a nuclear aircraft carrier strike group on Australia’s west coast as part of a shift of U.S. military might to the Asia-Pacific region.
A Pentagon-commissioned report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on repositioning U.S. forces in the region suggested relocating an aircraft carrier from the U.S. East Coast to an Australian naval base south of the city of Perth.
But Defense Minister Stephen Smith said Aug. 2 that while negotiations were under way to increase U.S. navy access to Australia’s Indian Ocean base, HMAS Stirling, it would never become a U.S. military base. AP
Man pleads guilty in illegal China exports case
A man accused of trying to buy sophisticated military equipment to send to China has pleaded guilty to a federal charge in San Diego. Calif.
U-T San Diego reports Chi Tong Kuok entered a plea Tuesday to conspiracy to violate export laws. Under a plea deal, he’ll face no more than 46 months in prison.
A previous conviction and eight-year sentence were overturned. A federal appeals court said Kuok should have been allowed to put on a defense that the Chinese government forced him to seek the equipment.
Prosecutors claimed that Kuok tried for several years to obtain GPS, communications and other equipment used by the U.S. military that cannot be exported without a license. The investigation began in 2006 and involved a Carlsbad company. Kuok was arrested in 2009. AP