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May 29, 2013

News Briefs May 29, 2013

NATO service member killed in Afghanistan

An insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan has killed a NATO service member, the coalition said.

The U.S.-led military coalition says the service member died April 26 as a result of insurgent fire. It did not provide any other details.

The death brings the number of international force members killed this month in Afghanistan to 20.

May has been the deadliest month this year for international troops in Afghanistan, but casualties are down over previous years as foreign forces pull back and allow Afghan security forces to take the lead before the coalition run by NATO ends its mission next year.

Last May, a total of 44 NATO troops died in Afghanistan.

The coalition also said a car bomb hit a NATO convoy early Monday in the country’s west, but there were no military casualties.

Three Afghan civilians were wounded in the blast that hit the convoy in Farah province, said Deputy Governor Mohammad Rasouli. AP

Illinois trying to return 108 forgotten war medals

The state of Illinois is holding more than a 100 lost or forgotten military medals in its vaults under the capitol and is trying to return them to the families of veterans.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is asking people to take a moment over Memorial Day weekend to see if they recognize the names on a list of veterans whose military honors are held by the state.

The 108 medals span more than a century of conflicts with one dating back to the 1898 Spanish-American War. There are Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars and a Navy Cross.

Many of the items come from safe deposit boxes that have been forgotten. Banks eventually transfer the contents to the treasurer’s office.
The veterans’ names can be found at www.treasurer.il.gov. AP

Iran fields ‘massive’ number of missile launchers

Iran has fielded a ìmassiveî number of new long-range missile launchers, state TV reported May 26.

The new weapon components delivered to Iranian military units would allow them to crush the enemyî with the mass simultaneous fire of long-range surface-to-surface missiles, Defence Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying.

TV showed footage of him inspecting two dozen launch trucks without missiles at an outdoor site. The report did not specify the type of missile that would be fired, nor more details on the number of launchers deployed.

Some of Iran’s surface-to-surface missiles are estimated to have ranges of over 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), capable of hitting its arch-foe Israel and the U.S. bases in the region.

Vahidi did not specify who was the ìenemyî and said Iran would never start a war.

Iran considers both the United States and Israel as enemies. Both have not ruled out a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West suspects are aimed at weapons development. Iran denies the charge.

From time to time Iran announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified.

Facing a Western military embargo, Iran is pursuing a program for military self-sufficiency, producing weapons ranging from light submarines and jet fighters to torpedoes and missiles. AP

Deaths at Atlanta VA hospital prompt scrutiny

Four deaths at the Atlanta VA Medical Center mark the latest in a series of problems plaguing Veterans Affairs, prompting outrage from officials and congressional scrutiny of the largest integrated health care system in the country.

In recent years, there’ve been inquiries into the Pittsburgh VA system after five people died of Legionnaire’s disease and the Buffalo, N.Y., VA hospital where at least 18 veterans tested positive for hepatitis. At a VA facility in Mississippi, whistleblower complaints include improper sterilization procedures and radiology tests left unread.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He has already visited the Atlanta VA Medical Center and plans a second field hearing to air concerns about patient care. He’s also drafted legislation addressing the VA’s mental health coverage. AP

South Carolina Boeing exec sends workers anti-union email

The general manager of Boeing’s new South Carolina plant has sent workers an email saying the company wants to keep the plant union free.

The Post and Courier of Charleston obtained the email from Boeing South Carolina General Manager Jack Jones. He says he doesn’t think it is in the best interest of the company, workers or the community to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The email was titled ìThe IAM is back, and they want your money.

Union representative Tommy Mayfield says the union has never left. He says they are working to collect enough support to have an election, but he won’t say how many people have signed up.

Boeing came to South Carolina in part to get away from unions in Washington. AP

Russian military helicopter crash kills one

Russia’s Defense Ministry says that a military helicopter has crashed during a training mission, killing one of its three crew members.

It said the Mi-8 helicopter crashed near the village of Ivanovskoye in Saratov region on the Volga River in southwestern Russia May 28. The ministry said an instructor and a trainee were injured after they managed to jump out of the helicopter before it hit the ground, but the flight engineer was killed.

The Mi-8 is a workhorse helicopter used by military and civilian operators in former Soviet states. Mi-8 crashes in the past often were blamed on poor maintenance and disregard for safety rules.

Russia’s Air Force chief, Lt.-Gen. Viktor Bondarev, ordered all Mi-8 helicopters grounded pending a crash probe. AP

In China, U.S. official promotes military ties

U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is pushing for stronger relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries ahead of a summit between President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping.

Donilon told top Chinese Gen. Fan Changlong May 28 that the sides should boost cooperation in nontraditional military activities such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and fighting piracy.

Donilon was meeting with Xi and other Chinese leaders over two days in Beijing to prepare for the June 7-8 summit, the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders since Obama’s re-election and Xi’s promotion to Communist Party chief last November.

Building trust between their militaries is one of the main challenges the sides face in seeking to stop a drift in relations, under pressure from trade disputes and allegations of Chinese cyberspying. AP




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