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May 6, 2013

News Briefs May 6, 2013

One German soldier killed, one wounded in Afghanistan

The German military says one of its soldiers has been killed and another one wounded in fighting with insurgents in northern Afghanistan. It said May 5 the soldiers were accompanying an Afghan-led military operation in Baghlan province when they came under fire Saturday.

It says the troops called in air support but one soldier was fatally shot later when exploring the airstrike’s damage. The military says it assumes several insurgents were killed in the fighting, adding that the situation was still developing.  The NATO-led coalition forces in Kabul said late May 4 one international service member had been killed in the north but provided no details.

German troops are in charge of much of the country’s north, which tends to be relatively peaceful. Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan May 4. AP

 

Syria says Israel strikes military research center

The Syrian state news agency SANA, citing initial reports, says Israeli missiles have targeted a military research center near the capital Damascus.

A Syrian activist group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported large explosions in the area of the Jamraya research center early May 5.

If confirmed, the May 5 strike would mark the third Israeli attack inside Syria this year. Israel has said it will not allow sophisticated weapons to flow from Syria to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, an ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

May 4, Israeli officials confirmed that a day earlier Israeli aircraft targeted a weapons shipment apparently bound for Hezbollah. AP

 

Guantanamo hunger strike at 100 prisoners

A U.S. military spokesman says the number of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has held steady for nearly a week.

Army Lt. Col. Samuel House says 100 of the 166 men held at the U.S. base in Cuba are classified as hunger strikers as of May 3. Of those on strike, 23 are being force-fed liquid nutrients to prevent starvation. Four are in the detainee hospital for observation.

The military classifies a prisoner as a hunger striker based on criteria that include weight and the number of meals refused. Lawyers for prisoners have disputed the military’s tally since the strike began in February as a protest of conditions and indefinite confinement at Guantanamo.

The official figure had been climbing until April 27 when it hit 100 for the first time. AP

 

Job cuts averted at New Mexico base

Last-minute funding has saved the jobs of dozens of civilian maintenance workers at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the jobs were on the chopping block because of across-the-board federal spending cuts.

A manager for the Chugach Management Services – which has a multimillion-dollar maintenance contract at the base – says the company was working under the assumption of reduced funding when “magically at the eleventh hour” base officials said they found money to reinstate the full contract.

Mike Cuddihee says the layoffs would have included “carpenters, electricians, engineers, painters, you name it.”

A base spokeswoman says it received “some funding that was spread across the base maintenance contract, custodial contract, and solid waste contract.”

The cuts had been set to go into effect May 8. AP

 

U.S. military returns to Myanmar for World War II missing

The U.S. military says a 10-person team has returned to Myanmar to search for the remains of U.S. servicemen missing from World War II.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command said May 2 the team will investigate five cases near Mandalay during a monthlong mission.

JPAC officials returned to Myanmar in February and March this year for the first time since 2004.

Investigators conducted research and field missions in Mandalay, Yangon and Toungoo during that trip. They also began an outreach effort asking citizens to share what they know about U.S. servicemen or downed U.S. aircraft.

The Hawaii-based command suspended earlier searches because of chilly relations between the U.S. and Myanmar’s former military regime. The searches resumed after an elected civilian government took power in Myanmar in 2011 and initiated democratic reforms. AP

 

Female Air Force trainer sentenced in sex scandal

A female training instructor at a Texas Air Force base has been ordered to serve three months in jail after pleading guilty to having sex with a male student.

A military judge in San Antonio May 2 also ordered SSgt. Emily Allen to do 30 days of hard labor and reduced her rank to airman first class.

Allen was the first woman among more than 30 instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland charged in what has turned into the military branch’s worst sex scandal.

She pleaded guilty May 1 to having sex with a male airman in 2011, seeking to have a sexual relationship with another male trainee plus having unprofessional social relationships with two female students. AP

 

Arlington Cemetery expansion prompts environmental concerns

Expansion plans at the Arlington National Cemetery are prompting environmental concerns.

Critics say the 27-acre Millenium Project expansion would damage a stream and trees that have been at the site since the Civil War. And they are asking whether the cemetery should instead begin preparing for the day when the cemetery can no longer bury anyone else.

Cemetery officials plan to dedicate a new area on Thursday where more than 20,000 cremated remains can be stored. Without it, officials say the cemetery would run out of niche space by 2016. Kathryn Condon, the executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, says if nothing is done, Arlington will run out of in-ground burial space by 2025. The Millenium Project would add nearly 30,000 grave sites, but also remove hundreds of trees. AP

 




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