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May 1, 2013

News Briefs: May 1, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,077

As of April 30, 2013, at least 2,077 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 1,719 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, 18,429 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

 

Military court reverses suicide attempt conviction

The U.S. military’s highest court has reversed a Marine’s conviction for a suicide attempt.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces issued the 3-2 split opinion late April 29.

It says a military judge shouldn’t have accepted Pvt. Lazzaric Caldwell’s guilty plea in 2010 to a charge of wrongful self-injury without intent to avoid service.

Caldwell slit his wrists at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan, after learning of a friend’s death back home in California. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and received a bad conduct discharge for that offense and convictions for larceny and violating orders.

The court found Caldwell’s guilty plea for the suicide attempt technically insufficient. The majority opinion doesn’t address the larger question of whether military suicide attempts should be prosecuted as crimes or considered noncriminal matters requiring treatment. AP

 

Outraged lawmakers look to change military justice

Lawmakers outraged over an Air Force officer’s decision to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict in a sexual assault case are promising to do something about it by changing the military justice system.

Congress repeatedly has challenged the Pentagon’s lack of resolve in combatting sexual assault in its ranks. The offense is considered far more prevalent than the 3,192 reported cases in 2011, the most recent figure available. Officials estimate the real number is closer to 19,000 assaults annually.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month proposed largely stripping the authority of commanding officers to nullify jury verdicts. Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate see Hagel’s proposal as an opportunity to change the decades-old Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Final legislation is likely in June. AP

 

France to slash 20,000 military jobs, seeking savings

France is cutting 20,000 military jobs in coming years and sharply tightening its defense budget in coming years.

The new cuts are aimed at dealing with undiminished demands on the French military at the same time that the bill for France’s decades of deficit spending is coming due.

According to the defense ministry’s new “White Book on Defense and National Security” France will cut an additional 20,000 defense posts by 2019, in addition to the 55,000 cuts called for under the last top-to-bottom defense review five years ago. According to the government, there are 228,000 members of the military now.

The broad outlines of France’s defense strategy – maintaining its nuclear arsenal and its place in NATO – are unchanged, according to a review of long-range plans released April 29. AP

 

Brazil’s Embraer inks 30-jet deal with United

Brazilian plane maker Embraer says it’s signed a firm order with United Airlines for 30 regional jets.

With the option for United to buy an additional 40 jets, Embraer says the deal could eventually be worth nearly $4 billion. The first planes are to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014.

The E175 jets will be flown by the airliner’s United Express regional service and will have a 76-seat layout.

In a joint statement April 29, United chief revenue officer Jim Compton praises the E175’s fuel efficiency, and says the planes will have an expanded first-class section and larger overhead bins.

Embraer is the world’s third-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer behind Boeing and Airbus and the global leader in regional jets. AP

 

 




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