Marines protecting threatened desert tortoises
The Marine Corps is hoping to deploy some four-footed recruits in Californiaís Mojave Desert – about 500 threatened desert tortoises.
The Los Angeles Times says the hatchlings live in a special 5-acre facility at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base that’s protected from predators by wire and netting.
The slow-growing tortoises may need a year or more before they’re big enough to be released into the desert.
The $100,000-a-year protection program began in 2006 under a partnership between the Marine Corps and UCLA.
The tortoise is threatened by development, off-road vehicles, disease and predators such as ravens. The Marines take their survival seriously. Every Marine training at Twentynine Palms gets a video lecture about the animals and troops are warned to halt training when a tortoise is spotted. AP
500 French combat troops exit tense Afghan region
France has pulled its last 500 combat troops out of a volatile region northeast of Afghanistan’s capital as part of an accelerated French withdrawal from the NATO mission in the country.
French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard told the Sipa news agency that 500 French soldiers in trucks and armored vehicles left the Nijrab base in the Kapisa region – where anti-government insurgents have been active ñ Nov. 20 and headed for the capital, Kabul.
France plans to keep 1,500 troops in Afghanistan next year mainly to repatriate equipment deployed during the 11-year French military role as part of the allied intervention in Afghanistan. About 500 will help train and support Afghan forces, and help run Kabul’s airport.
Eighty-eight French troops have died in Afghanistan since late 2001. AP