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March 24, 2014

News Briefs March 21, 2014

Pentagon reviews will focus on military medals

The Pentagon has begun three separate reviews on how military medals are awarded.

The move follows criticism over the military’s inability to recognize heroism in incidents such as the Fort Hood shootings, and criticism about now-shelved plans to create an award for drone pilots.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed a letter March 20 ordering a yearlong study.

He said the review will focus mainly on whether the Defense Department adequately recognizes all levels of combat valor and whether current award processes are appropriate.

Members of Congress have ordered two separate reviews into how the military bestows Purple Hearts. That’s largely due to disagreements over whether victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, should receive the medal. AP

County supports Air Force training range expansion

County officials in western South Dakota have voted in favor of a proposal to nearly triple the airspace where some U.S. Air Force pilots can train for combat.

The Rapid City Journal reports that Pennington County commissioners will be sending a letter to the Air Force showing support for the expansion.

The proposal calls for broadening the area where B-1 Bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base can train. The new area would stretch for about 28,000 miles across South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

A commissioner says pilots will be better prepared thanks to the extra training the expansion would allow for.

At least one county has expressed concerns over the proposal. The Federal Aviation Administration has the final say on the plan.
Training happens about 240 days a year. AP

General: Fort Huachuca might lose 2,700 positions

The senior commander of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., says the Army base in Sierra Vista may lose up to 2,700 uniformed and civilian positions in next five years.

Maj. Gen. Robert P. Asley tells The Sierra Vista Herald that the possible reduction would be part of an Army-wide reduction following the ends of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ashley is commander of the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca and of the base itself.

He says the possible personnel reduction at Fort Huachuca could add up to 1,700 military positions and 1,000 civil-service ones.
According to Ashley, the Army hasn’t made decisions regarding individual bases such as Fort Huachuca but is working on a planning process that will take place over five years. AP

U.S. military not getting involved in Ukraine

President Barack Obama is ruling out use of the U.S. military in the West’s dispute with Russia over Ukraine.

Obama says nobody wants to ìtrigger an actual war with Russiaî because that would serve no one’s interests. He said the U.S. and its allies will continue to turn up the pressure on Russia in hopes of reaching a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula this week after residents there voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. The move came despite warnings by the West to Russian President Vladimir Putin that annexation violated international law and would be ignored by the world.

Obama says Putin acted out of weakness, not strength.

Obama commented March 19 during interviews with TV stations NBC 7 in San Diego and KSKD in St. Louis. AP

U.S. Army will exercise in Ukraine this summer

The Pentagon says it will participate as planned in a multinational military exercise this summer in Ukraine.

Dubbed ìRapid Trident,î the ground maneuvers have been held annually for a number of years with forces from Britain and other NATO countries as well as Ukraine, which has a partner relationship with NATO but is not a member.

The Pentagon says it has no details on the number of U.S. forces expected to participate.

A spokesman, Army Col. Steven Warren, says Rapid Trident is the only Ukraine exercise the U.S. military plans to participate in this year. The exercise is intended to help the Ukrainian military improve its ability to operate with NATO forces.

Last year’s Rapid Trident was held in July and lasted two weeks. Land forces from 17 countries participated. AP

U.S. says Boeing 787’s design, manufacture safe

Boeing’s design and manufacture of its cutting-edge 787 jetliner is safe despite the plane’s many problems since its rollout, including a fire that forced a redesign of the plane’s batteries, according to a report issued jointly March 19 by the Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft maker.

The yearlong review concluded the aircraft was soundly designed, met its intended safety level, and that the manufacturer and the FAA had effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification,î the agency said in a statement.

The report also makes seven recommendations for further improvements by Boeing and FAA.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta asked for the review in January 2013 after a lithium-ion battery caught fire on a 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston. A battery aboard another 787 failed less than two weeks later.

The 787, Boeing’s newest and most technologically advanced plane, is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries. Since the FAA didn’t have safety regulations for those batteries as installed equipment in planes when the 787 was designed, the agency and Boeing jointly developed the special safety conditions the plane’s battery system should meet.

After the battery failures, the FAA was criticized for relying too heavily on designated Boeing employees to ensure the safety of the plane’s design and manufacture.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the battery fire in Boston is still underway. Wednesday’s report was not intended to address the battery’s design, but rather the overall safety of Boeing’s design and manufacture of the plane and the adequacy of FAA’s oversight. AP




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