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November 16, 2012

News Briefs – November 16, 2012

F-22 Raptor crashes at Florida base

An F-22 Raptor crashed Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m. on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., one quarter mile east of the drone runway.

The pilot ejected from the aircraft safely and is currently under supervision of the 325th Medical Group.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,025

As of Nov. 13, 2012, at least 2,025 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 1,686 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 118 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is four more than the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 17,939 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Australia to host two U.S. space surveillance systems

Australia will host two U.S. space surveillance systems as part of closer military ties agreed to Nov. 14 at a bilateral security summit.

The new cooperation on space is one of a string of enhanced engagements agreed on at an annual summit attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts.

The two militaries have agreed that Australia will operate a U.S. Air Force C-band ground-based radar system near the northwestern town of Exmouth.

Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith announced they also plan to relocate a Space Surveillance Telescope from New Mexico to an as-yet undecided location in Western Australia.

Panetta described the relocation as “a major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation.”

Together the radar and telescope will provide accurate tracking and identification of objects in space such as satellites and debris. The radar will be delivered in 2014 at the site of a former U.S. Navy communications base. AP

Unarmed Minuteman 3 missile reaches target area

An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile blasted from a silo at the West Coast’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 14 and successfully reached a target area 4,200 miles away in the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force said.

The Minuteman 3 missile with a simulated re-entry vehicle was launched at 3:07 a.m. Wednesday and it reached the Kwajalein Atoll about 30 minutes later, said Col. Brent McArthur, vice commander of Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing.

The launch was initiated by an aircraft crew employing the Airborne Launch Control System.

The military conducts several Minuteman 3 tests each year at the Santa Barbara County base to determine the weapon system’s accuracy and reliability.

Vandenberg’s 576th Flight Test Squadron installs tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems for the missions.

A task force from the 341st Missile Wing at Montana’s Malmstrom AFB handled launch operations.

“Today, Team Vandenberg and our mission partners’ teamwork delivered another successful launch from America’s West Coast spaceport,” McArthur said in a news release. AP

Five EU powers plan tighter defense cooperation

Defense and foreign ministers from five large European Union countries plan to tighten defense cooperation amid strained national budgets and an increasing U.S. focus on Asia.

With U.S.-led NATO long the main military bloc on the continent, ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain said in a joint statement after a Nov. 15 meeting that “Europeans must take their share of responsibilities to meet the challenges to come and ensure Europe’s security in the most energetic way.”

Britain, one of the EU’s biggest military powers, was notably unrepresented, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it would be “welcome” to sign on to the agreed text.

The ministers discussed violence in Syria, Islamic extremists who control northeast Mali, and EU success in fighting piracy of Somalia’s coast. AP

Senate passes bill boosting payments to veterans

The Senate sent the White House a bill Nov. 13 giving nearly 4 million veterans and survivors a 1.7 percent increase in their monthly benefit payments next year.

Democrats said the normally routine measure was delayed for weeks because an unidentified Republican senator objected to it.

Republicans were not given enough time to ensure that all senators were okay with the bill, said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He said the clearance process was completed soon after Congress adjourned for the elections and that Democrats could have brought the bill up if necessary.

When the Senate returned this week, it acted quickly to ensure that checks issued beginning in January reflect the adjustment for the higher cost of living.

The House approved the measure in July. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, welcomed the financial boost.
“Particularly in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet,” Murray said. AP

Senator Durbin asks Senate for more help for veterans

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says the best way to honor veterans is to make sure they have jobs and the mental health care they need when they come home.

In a speech on the Senate floor Nov. 13, Durbin urged his colleagues to pass two pieces of legislation to help veterans and their families.

One bill would improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide prevention, counseling and mental health services.

A separate piece of legislation, the Veterans Job Corps Act, would help put thousands of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to work.

Durbin says that while the national unemployment rate is now below 8 percent, the rate for post-9/11 veterans is 10 percent. He says the VA estimates 18 veterans commit suicide each day. AP




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