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May 17, 2013

News Briefs May 17, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,085

As of May 14, 2013, at least 2,085 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 1,727 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 123 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 department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,480 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Jordan jet crashes near Syrian border, two killed

Jordan’s military says a trainer jet has crashed near the Syrian border, killing its two Jordanian pilots.

A spokesman says the British-made aerobatic T-67 Firefly trainer was on a routine flight early May 16 west of King Hussein Air College, a Royal Jordanian Air Force base in the border town of Mafraq, when it developed an unspecified ìtechnical fault.

The spokesman demanded anonymity under army regulations.

The base is believed to house 3,000 Syrian army and police defectors and 200 U.S. troops dispatched recently to bolster Jordan’s border defenses against potential Syrian threats.

The base is also believed to be the site where U.S. experts are training secular Syrian opposition fighters seeking to topple Bashar Assad. It is in a military zone that is off limits to the public. AP

U.S. military considers Pacific island for training

The U.S. military is exploring the idea of using the Pacific island of Pagan (PAW’-gehn) to practice dropping bombs and other training maneuvers.
The proposal for the island about 330 miles north of Guam is still in the early stages. It is part of the military’s broader effort to focus more on the Asia-Pacific region.

Maj. Neal Fisher says the military has been seeking input from all stakeholders and is committed to being a good neighbor.

But critics fear the plan could hurt the island’s environment, endangered species and archaeological resources.

Some Pagan residents who were evacuated following a 1981 volcanic eruption are also worried the plan could prevent resettlement. Just a handful of people currently live in Pagan, which is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. AP

U.S. Navy tests anti-mine drones in Gulf drills

The U.S. Navy is putting underwater drones through wartime-style drills as part of international mine-clearing exercises in the Persian Gulf following similar maneuvers by Iran.

The U.S.-led exercises, which began last week, include operations by the unmanned SeaFox devices, which are equipped with sonar and an explosive charge designed to shoot and destroy mines. It is part of the Navy’s plans to increasingly deploy automated surveillance and protection systems, including aerial drones.

Navy commanders insist the exercises, comprising more than 41 nations, are not intended solely against possible Iranian threats. But Iran has previously warned it could block critical Gulf oil routes in retaliation for Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

In apparent response to the U.S.-led drills, Iran last week staged its own minesweeping operations. AP

Boeing resumes 787 deliveries after four-month halt

Boeing is delivering 787s again after a four-month halt while it fixed problems that led to smoldering batteries.

Boeing announced a delivery May 14 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways.

Airline flights and deliveries were halted in mid-January after two battery incidents, including a fire on a plane that had just finished a flight. Boeing says it has fixed the issue.

Airlines have been slowly resuming flights. Ethiopian Airlines was the first to get the plane back in the air, on April 27. United Continental Holdings Inc. is set to resume 787 flights again on Monday.

Boeing says that even with the halt in deliveries, it is on track to meet its original goal of delivering more than 60 of the planes this year. AP




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Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

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