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November 28, 2012

News Briefs – November 28, 2012

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,030

As of Nov. 27, 2012, at least 2,030 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 1,693 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, 17,992 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Female military members sue to serve in combat

Four female military service members have filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s ban on women serving in combat.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco Nov. 27 and is the second such federal challenge filed by female service members this year.

The latest demands the lifting of the military’s so-called combat exclusionary policy that applies to all women.

The lawsuit alleges the ban on a single gender violates constitutional equal protection rights and unfairly blocks women from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat.

Further, the lawsuit alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units.

Two of the four women who filed the lawsuit have received Purple Heart medals for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. The women are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. AP

Israel successfully tests missile defense system

Israel says its new mid-range missile defense system has successfully passed a test.

The ìDavid’s Slingî system is designed to stop mid-range missiles. The military says it shot down its first missile in a drill Sunday.

The system is designed to intercept projectiles with ranges of up to 180 miles.

The system is part of what Israel calls its ìmultilayer missile defense.î Israel has also deployed Arrow systems for longer-range threats from Iran. The Iron Dome protects against short-range rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. It shot down hundreds of rockets from Gaza in this month’s round of fighting.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the success of Iron Dome highlighted the ìimmense importanceî of such systems. AP

Australia apologizes to military victims of abuse

Australia’s defense minister Nov. 26 apologized to military personnel past and present who were sexually abused or otherwise mistreated during their service. He also started an inquiry into hundreds of allegations of abuse over six decades.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith made the apology in Parliament on behalf of the government in the latest step in a two-year effort to reform the culture of the Australian military and it make more accepting of women.

Young men and women have suffered treatment which no member of our defense force or our community generally should experience, Smith said.

Young men and women have endured sexual, physical or mental abuse from their colleagues which are not acceptable and do not reflect the values of a modern, diverse, tolerant, Australian society, he added.

He noted claims that officers had abused their positions of trust through their own behavior or by turning a blind eye to the actions of others.

Smith also announced that retired judge Len Roberts-Smith had been appointed to examine allegations of abuse by more than 1,000 alleged victims across every decade since 1950s.

The earliest case relates to the alleged abuse of a 13-year-old navy trainee in 1951, while the most recent relates to events in 2011.
A preliminary review of these allegations by a law firm found that 750 were ìplausible,î Smith said.

The three-month inquiry could result in compensation of up to $52,000 for each victim and the alleged perpetrators being referred to criminal authorities for prosecution.

Smith said some of the perpetrators could still be serving in the military.

The government started inquiries last year in response to a young woman’s allegation that a fellow cadet had secretly filmed a sexual encounter between the pair and broadcast it to their colleagues at the Australian military officer training academy. The incident and the attention the government focused on it provoked a wave of complaints of sexual misconduct over the decades. AP

Turkey: NATO to survey sites for Patriot missiles

Turkey’s military says a delegation of Turkish and NATO officials will start surveying sites for the possible deployment of Patriot missiles on Turkey’s border with Syria.

Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads and Turkey, a NATO member, fears a spillover of the civil war on its territory.

A military statement said Nov. 26 the selected sites, the number of systems to be installed and the number personnel to be deployed would be worked out after the site surveillance, which starts Tuesday, is complete. It said work toward linking the systems into Turkey’s air defense network is ongoing.

Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. have the advanced PAC-3 model Patriots that Turkey wants for intercepting ballistic missiles. AP

NATO moving Naples base to high-tech campus

NATO is moving its run-down southern command in Italy to a new, $212 million high-tech campus 10 miles away.

NATO said Nov. 26 it would leave its base of nearly 60 years, located in the Naples neighborhood of Bagnoli, on Dec. 3 and move to the new campus at Lake Patria, up the coast in Campania’s farmland.

U.S. Navy Capt. Ike Skelton, spokesman for the Joint Force Command, said the new base corresponds to NATO’s needs for greater operational flexibility.

NATO is looking to reform and streamline its command structure, still partially based on Cold War requirements, in response to declining defense budgets in most member nations. This is in keeping with NATO’s new philosophy of ìsmart defense,î allowing members to combine resources. AP

Precision Castparts buys Synchronous Aerospace

Defense contractor Precision Castparts Corp. said Nov. 26 that it has agreed to buy Synchronous Aerospace Group, which makes mechanical assemblies for commercial and military planes.

Precision Castparts said it was paying an undisclosed amount in the cash deal. It said the deal should close by the end of December and would add immediately to earnings.

Synchronous makes flight controls, wing ribs, bulkheads, and other airplane parts. It employs about 700 people in Santa Ana, Calif., where it has its headquarters, and in Kent, Wash., Wichita, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla. It is a portfolio company of the private investment firm Littlejohn & Co. of Greenwich, Conn., Precision Castparts Chairman and CEO Mark Donegan said it was ìanother tuck-in acquisition that will make a strong contribution as we continue to expand our aerostructures capabilities.î He also said that Precision Castparts will be able to handle some functions that Synchronous had previously had to buy from other companies, such as fasteners (which include bolts and rivets) and metal forging and casting work. AP

Sterne Agee analysts Peter Arment and Josh W. Sullivan noted that this is fifth recent deal, and the fourth time this year, where Precision Castparts has bought an aerospace supplier. Previous deals included McSwain, Centra, Klune, and Primus.

Shares of Precision Castparts fell $1.25 to $178.09 in afternoon trading. Its shares peaked for the past year at $182.40 two weeks ago. They fell as low as $150.53 in early August.
AP-WF-11-26-12 1920GMT




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