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October 9, 2013

News Briefs October 9, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,147

As of Oct. 8, 2013, at least 2,147 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 1,775 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 130 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, 19,334 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

 

Hagel appoints special envoy for Guantanamo closure

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Oct. 8 the appointment of Paul M. Lewis as special envoy for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The announcement reflects the Defense Department’s commitment to implementing President Barack Obama’s directive to close the facility, Pentagon officials said.

Lewis brings experience from his previous position as the minority general counsel of the House Armed Services Committee, where he oversaw Guantanamo-related issues, officials said. In addition to facilitating transfer determinations for Guantanamo detainees, he will oversee efforts to transfer third-country nationals currently being held by the United States in Afghanistan, they added.

He also has served as the general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee, and previously served in the Office of Legislative Counsel in the Defense Department general counsel’s office, where he became the director. Before his Defense Department appointment, he was the counsel to the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and a senior counsel for the House Armed Services Committee.

Lewis will begin his work at the Pentagon on Nov. 1.

 

Roof failure at California base damages airship

A $35 million lighter-than-air dirigible was damaged and began leaking helium when part of a hangar roof collapsed Monday at a former military base, authorities said.

The partial collapse was reported just after 7:45 a.m. at one of the World War II-era blimp hangars on the grounds of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority.

“There’s a giant hole in the roof,” he said.

Hazardous-material crews were called to stop the helium leak.

The cause of the collapse was not known, but debris was believed to have fallen on the experimental airship, which is more than 200 feet long.

The dirigible is being developed by Worldwide Aeros, which says it will be capable of carrying 66 tons of cargo.

The extent of damage to the vessel is not known. No injuries were reported.

The Department of Defense and NASA have invested $35 million in the prototype because of its potential to one day carry more cargo than any other aircraft to disaster zones and military bases.

The company says the cargo airship’s potential to carry more cargo more efficiently than ever before would provide the U.S. military with an advantage on the battlefield and greater capacity to save more lives during natural disasters.

The lighter-than-air vehicle is not a blimp because it has a rigid structure made out of ultra-light carbon fiber and aluminum underneath its high-tech Mylar skin. Inside, balloons hold the helium that gives the vehicle lift. Unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg airship that crashed in 1937, helium is not flammable.

The airship can take off vertically, like a helicopter, then change its buoyancy to become heavier than air for landing and unloading.

A call to a spokesperson for Worldwide Aeros was not immediately returned. AP

 




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