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September 25, 2013

News Briefs September 25, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,138

As of Sept. 24, 2013, at least 2,138 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 1,772 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 128 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, 19,310 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

California Navy captain loses command post

A Navy captain has lost his command of an air wing assigned to the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson because of an alleged relationship with a woman who worked for him.

U-T San Diego reports Sept. 23 that the Navy relieved Capt. Jeffrey Winter of his post Sept. 20, citing an investigation that found an alleged inappropriate relationship with a junior female officer in his chain of command.

Winter had been commanding officer of Carrier Air Wing 17, based in Lemoore in California’s Central Valley. He had only been in that position since June.

The air wing’s deputy commander, Capt. Matthew Leahey, has taken the helm temporarily.

Winter has been reassigned to the Naval Air Forces command at North Island Naval Air Station. AP

U.S. military ending Gitmo hunger strike updates

U.S. military officials at the Guantanamo Bay prison announced Sept. 23 that they will stop releasing daily hunger strike updates because the number of protesting inmates has steadily dropped.

For months, the U.S. military has issued reports each day listing the number of hunger strikers at the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba. But Monday’s statement from Joint Task Force Guantanamo said the number of hunger strikers has significantly diminished since early July, when more than 100 prisoners were on a strike.

There are now 19 inmates tracked as hunger strikers in the prison with a population of 164, according to the U.S. military. The total has remained the same for almost two weeks.

ìWe believe today’s numbers represent those who wish to continue to strike,î the military’s statement said.

Eighteen of those prisoners are on the ìenteral feed list,î meaning they can be strapped down and fed a liquid nutrient mix through a nasal tube. According to the military’s latest tally, no hunger striking inmates are being observed in a base hospital.

The U.S. military requires a minimum of three days of sustained eating and a minimal caloric intake before prisoners can be removed from the tally.

Although a small group of prisoners have on long-term hunger strike since 2007, the number of striking inmates began to spike in February. By April, more than half of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had joined the strike to draw attention to their indefinite detention.

The hunger strike this year prompted President Barack Obama to criticize the force-feedings and renew his efforts to close the prison. AP

Air Force decision on Vermont F-35s expected next week

The secretary of the Air Force will decide whether to base F-35 fighter aircraft at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport at some point after the release of a final environmental impact statement, which is due out next week.

Vermont National Guard Adjutant Gen. Steven Cray of the Guard says the final environmental report is expected to be released Oct. 4.

The Air Force has said Burlington is its preferred location to base up to 24 F-35s that would to replace the guard’s aging F-16s.

Opponents claim the planes would be too noisy and cause other problems. Another segment of the local population supports bringing the planes to Vermont. AP




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Air Force photograph by Joe Davila

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