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March 6, 2013

News Briefs March 6, 2013

At least 2,047 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001

As of March 5, 2013, at least 2,047 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 1,707 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 five more than the departmentís tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,299 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Northrop Grumman closing Southern California facility

Nearly 800 jobs will be affected when Northrop Grumman closes a Southern California facility near Carson this year, as the military contractor seeks to consolidate and cut costs.

The Daily Breeze reports the work at the Dominguez Hills campus, which develops information technology and battlefield communications systems, will be moved to other Northrop facilities in phases.

Northrop Chairman Wes Bush said March 4 the contractor must reorganize as the federal budget tightens.

Engineers and scientists are among the positions affected.

Rep. Janice Hahn, a Torrance Democrat, says in a statement that she’s saddened by news of the 768 jobs that will be moved out of the area.

The Dominguez Hills facility was built in 1987 by TRW. Northrop acquired TRW in 2002. AP

Tanks, aircraft interact for virtual Army training

The Army is rolling out a new training system that integrates live, virtual and computer-generated scenarios in order to allow troops to train without the expense of using real tanks and aircraft.

Lt. Col. Shane Cipolla, the officer in charge of the Integrated Training Environment, says before the system was deployed armored vehicle and helicopter simulators couldn’t communicate with each other.

The system was delivered to Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas, and it’s expected to be deployed to 18 locations by 2017. It is expected simulators will interact with each other from bases across the world.

With the effects of the automatic budget cuts looming for the Army and more soldiers returning from more than a decade of wars, Cipolla says the new system will permit more frequent training. AP

Naval ship christened in San Diego

The Navy has christened a ship in honor of African Americans who served in segregated units in the Marine Corps during World War II.

The Los Angeles Times reports the USNS Montford Point is the Navy’s first mobile landing platform ship. It was christened March 2 at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The name honors the 20,000 African Americans who trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina from 1942 to 1949 during an era of segregation within the military. The Times says 30 of the Montford Point Marines attended the christening.

The 785-foot ship provides 25,000 square feet of space for vehicles, equipment and 380,000 gallons of fuel. AP

China defends massive growth in military spending

China is defending its booming military spending, saying its vast investments in the armed forces have contributed to global peace and stability.

However, in a break with previous years, no figure for this year’s defense budget was presented at a news conference held March 4 on the eve of the opening of the annual legislative session. Spokeswoman Fu Ying said the figure would appear in the overall budget to be released Tuesday.

Chinese defense spending has grown substantially each year for more than two decades, and last year rose 11.2 percent to 670.2 billion yuan ($106.4 billion), an increase of about 67 billion yuan.

Only the United States spends more on defense.

Fu cited U.N. peacekeeping and anti-piracy patrols as examples of China’s contribution to world peace and stability. AP

West Virginia air show cancelled after losing Thunderbirds

Organizers have canceled this year’s Thunder Over the Blue Ridge, Martinsburg, W.Va., air show because the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds won’t be participating.

The Air Force canceled the Thunderbirds’ air show appearances after April 1 in response to automatic federal spending cuts.

Thunder Over the Blue Ridge had been set for May 11-12 at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg.

Media outlets report that the president of the air show’s board, Nic Diehl, announced the show’s cancellation March 4.

The West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing had earlier announced it no longer could host the show because of budget constraints. AP

Kalispell, Mont., air show postponed, Thunderbirds cancel

The Kalispell, Mont., Chamber of Commerce is postponing indefinitely the Mountain Madness Air Show scheduled for July after federal budget cuts grounded the main attraction – the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

March 1, the Air Force announced the cancellation of all Thunderbirds shows after April 1 because of automatic budget cuts that took effect when Congress and the White House couldn’t reach a federal budget agreement by March 1.

The air show had been scheduled for July 20-21. Capt. Jason Curtis, a Kalispell native, was scheduled to fly with the Thunderbirds. AP




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NASA photograph by David Olive

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