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November 5, 2012

News Briefs – November 5, 2012

Pentagon saw chance for hostage mission in Libya

The Pentagon says that the U.S. military was ready within a few hours of the terrorist attacks on U.S. outposts in eastern Libya to respond to numerous possibilities, including hostages.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said Nov. 2 that when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered several U.S. military units to respond from bases in the U.S. and Europe, he did not know what they might face. As it turned out, he says, they did not get to a staging base in Sicily until well after the attacks in Benghazi had ended.

Little said the Pentagon would soon release a timeline of military actions taken on Sept. 11. Various agencies are each releasing their own timelines for the events that night as Republicans raise questions before Tuesday’s presidential election. AP

Arizona asks Pentagon to review state Guard

Revelations of a series of corruption cases and other wrongdoing among Arizona National Guard members has prompted Gov. Jan Brewer to ask the Pentagon to review the state military agency.

Brewer sent a letter to the Pentagon’s National Guard Bureau Nov. 1 following an Arizona Republic series on corrupt conduct within the military organization. It asks for an investigator to assess the state Guard’s “culture, policies and practices,” and to review incidents of misconduct and personnel actions taken in response to wrongdoing.

The Republic reports the letter was co-signed by Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, who serves as Arizona’s top military officer.
Recent Republic stories exposed a checkerboard of corruption that included sexual abuse and harassment, embezzlement, forgery, drug smuggling, firearms violations and whistleblower retaliation. AP

Australia, Philippines to bolster military drills

The Philippine defense chief says his Australian counterpart plans to visit early next year to discuss ways to bolster security cooperation and the entry of Australian forces for military exercises under a new pact.

The Philippine Senate in July ratified an accord that would allow Australian troops to train in combat exercises with Filipino forces in the country. It was a long-delayed pact that got backing from lawmakers alarmed by Manila’s recent territorial spats with Beijing.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Nov. 4 that he and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith would discuss how to enhance joint exercises, including those that would help their forces better deal with natural disasters, terrorism and other threats.

Washington is the only other country with a similar visiting forces agreement with the Philippines. AP

Protests in Tokyo against U.S. Osprey aircraft

Thousands of people have rallied against American deployment of Osprey military aircraft on a southern Japanese island amid escalating anti-U.S. military sentiment following recent crimes.

Protesters gathered Nov. 4 at a Tokyo park demanding removal of 12 MV-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft from Okinawa. Ospreys were deployed in October despite local opposition over safety concerns following two crashes elsewhere.

They chanted, “Ospreys out! Marine Corps out!”

Anger was running high days after a U.S. airman allegedly assaulted a teenage boy on Okinawa, just two weeks after a curfew was imposed on all 52,000 U.S. troops in Japan after the arrest of two Navy sailors in alleged rape of a local woman.

More than half of American troops in Japan are on Okinawa. The recent incidents have further inflamed tension and distrust. AP

Spanish fighter jet crash kills one pilot

Spain’s Defense Ministry says one air force pilot has been killed and another seriously injured when their fighter jet crashed during a training mission in southwestern Spain.

The ministry in a statement said the plane, a Northrop F-5, apparently suffered engine failure and hit the ground hard while trying to make an emergency landing Nov. 2 close to the Talavera la Real air force base.

The flight tutor died upon impact and his student was rushed to a local hospital.

The Spanish air force has had 14 pilots killed in accidents and lost 12 F-5 planes since 1984. AP




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