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March 29, 2013

News Briefs March 29, 2013

US Army veteran charged with fighting with al Qaeda in Syria, using weapon of mass destruction

A U.S. Army veteran is charged with conspiring with an al Qaeda group to wage war against the Syrian regime.

Eric Harroun of Phoenix, Ariz., was charged March 28 in federal court in northern Virginia with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States. An affidavit states Harroun has been engaged in military action in Syria, siding with rebel forces against the Syrian government. It says he used rocket-propelled grenades in the fighting earlier this year.

On his Facebook page, he claimed credit for downing a Syrian helicopter.

Prosecutors say one of the groups with which Harroun served is the al-Nusrah Front, which is commonly known as al Qaeda in Iraq.

Harroun has made an initial court appearance. A public defender was appointed to represent him in a detention hearing scheduled for April 2. AP

At least 2,061 US military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001

As of March 26, 2013, at least 2,061 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 1,712 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 119 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, 18,348 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Air Force cancels Red Flag-Alaska training

The Air Force is canceling its flight training exercise scheduled for April in Alaska.

An announcement from Pacific Air Forces says Red Flag-Alaska is being set aside because of budgetary concerns.

The training exercise traditionally takes place at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, and use the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex for training.

Next monthís training was to have included aircraft and crews from Canada and the United Kingdom. The Air Force says they will still offer use of the range to them.

Pacific Air Forces officials at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman in Hawaii say they are trying to reduce the effect of sequestration on other training exercises.

Spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender says planning continues for another Red Flag training exercise in Alaska in August. AP

Anti-drone protesters arrested at Creech AFB

Officials say eight people were arrested on disturbing the peace charges during a demonstration outside an Air Force base home to Predator and Reaper remote-controlled drone aircraft.

Nevada Desert Experience coordinator Jim Haber says the March 27 protest at Creech Air Force Base was part of an annual peace walk.

It started in Las Vegas and ends this week in Mercury, at the gate of a former federal nuclear proving ground now called the Nevada National Security Site.

Haber says the five men and three women arrested were from California, New York, Wisconsin and Nevada. None was injured.

Las Vegas police Officer Laura Meltzer says theyíre accused of failing to disperse when ordered.
Each was driven 45 miles to Las Vegas, given summonses with a June court date and released. AP

E-2C Hawkeye makes emergency landing in Norfolk, Va.

A Navy spokesman says no one was injured when an E-2C Hawkeye made an emergency landing at Norfolk Naval Station.

Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Mike Maus told media outlets that the pilot noticed smoke coming from the turboprop aircraftís right engine shortly after it took off March 27 from Chambers Field at the naval station. The plane returned to the airfield.

Maus said the plane was heading to Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in Chesapeake to conduct routine field carrier landing practice.

The aircraft is being examined to determine what caused the smoke.

Four people were on the plane at the time. AP

USS Abraham Lincoln moves for complex overhaul

The USS Abraham Lincoln has arrived at a shipyard in Newport News, Va., in preparation for a refueling and complex overhaul.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s transit from Naval Station Norfolk to Newport News Shipbuilding had been delayed six weeks because of federal budget concerns. The Lincoln made its way up the James River to the shipyard March 28.

The Navy says it expects to award a contract to conduct the overhaul soon. Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers undergo a refueling and complex overhaul once in their 50-year lifespan.

The overhaul is scheduled to be completed in November 2016. AP

‘Aviation Nation’ air show canceled at Nellis AFB

U.S. Air Force officials say federal budget cuts mean the grounding of the Thunderbirds precision aerial demonstration team and cancellation of a popular Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., open house and air show.

The 99th Air Base Wing commander, Col. Barry Cornish, announced March 26 that Aviation Nation 2013 is off.

The event had been scheduled Nov. 9-10.

Base spokesman Benjamin Newell says there’s no chance it could happen now.

The event features displays by all the military services – highlighted by shows by the Nellis-based Air Force Thunderbirds.

Cornish says Aviation Nation lets Nellis show the community what takes place on the base, and he says he hopes it’ll be back.

But he says budget cuts dubbed sequestration are forcing the Air Force to prioritize combat readiness over other activities. AP

Boeing CEO says 787 is ‘very close’ to flying

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney is sure his company is ìvery closeî to getting its troubled 787 Dreamliner jet back flying again.

We have a high degree of confidence in the technical solution we are testing right now with the FAA,î McNerney said March 28. ìI think it will be sooner than later.

Boeing started flight testing a solution to the 787’s battery problems March 25. Those problems led regulators to ground the plane in January. McNerney expects the tests to conclude in a few days and said the data should be conclusive enough to convince regulators to let the plane fly again.

He called the grounding a ìfrustrating experienceî but said regulators are putting safety first.
ìThey have the best interest of the flying public in mind, McNerney said. AP




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