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August 21, 2013

News Briefs: August 21, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,126

As of Aug. 20, at least 2,126 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 1,763 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 127 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 three 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, 19,141 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Navy rejects California whale protection suggestions

The Navy has rejected California Coastal Commission suggestions to limit sonar training to avoid harming whales and other marine mammals.

The Orange County Register says the rejection came in a July 31 letter. However, Navy officials say theyíll continue working with the commission to resolve differences.

At issue is a Navy plan for sonar and underwater explosives training in Southern California and Hawaii between 2014 and 2019.

Conservationists fear the noise could do damage to marine mammals and lead to whale strandings.

In March, the coastal commission urged the Navy to stop training in some areas at times when certain marine mammals are known to be present ó for instance, during August and September when blue whales are in California.

Navy officials say protections now in place are adequate. AP

Four crew names released from B-1B bomber crash

The Air Force has released the names of the four South Dakota crew members who safely ejected from a B-1B bomber that crashed in Montana.

Maj. Frank Biancardi II and Capt. Curtis Michael were the instructor pilots on board. Capt. Chad Nishizuka and Capt. Brandon Packard were weapons system instructors.

Their hometowns were not released.

All four suffered injuries and are being treated or already have been released.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the Aug. 19 crash near Broadus, Mont., about 170 miles southeast of Billings, Mont.

The bomber and crew were part of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, S.D., which has 28 of the planes, including the one that crashed.

They remained grounded until maintenance and operations commanders ensure they’re safe. AP

Explosion injures eight in boathouse at U.S. Navy base

An explosion during boat maintenance at a U.S. Navy base injured eight sailors and civilian employees Aug. 20, one seriously.

The blast happened at the Earle Naval Weapons Station in New Jersey and was confined to a boathouse, Navy spokeswoman Beth Baker said. She did not have details on the work being done.

There was no immediate word on what caused the explosion. No ammunition was involved, Baker said. The station provides ammunition and explosives for Navy vessels.

One sailor was hospitalized with serious injuries.

He was conscious and speakingî before being taken to a hospital, Baker said.

Seven other sailors and civilian employees sustained minor injuries, mostly smoke inhalation. The Navy was withholding their names until relatives could be notified. AP

Japan puts troops on display, says role to grow

Japan is holding an annual exercise at the foot of Mount Fuji to showcase the nation’s ability to defend itself against an invasion and to drum up support for plans to give Japanese troops a broader role both at home and abroad.

Designed more as a spectacle than a training opportunity, the exercises focus on a scenario in which Japan is attacked from the sea. This year’s exercises involve 2,400 troops, 30 aircraft and 80 tanks and armored vehicles, which is fairly typical. They began Aug. 20 and will continue for several days.

In a written statement, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the exercises show Japan’s resolve to meet deepening uncertainties in the region and to be able to defend its own territory. He says the military’s role will likely grow. AP




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Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

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NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

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