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April 11, 2014

News Briefs April 11, 2014

450 U.S., Romanian troops in joint military games

Some 450 U.S. and Romanian troops and technical staff kicked off joint military exercises in northwestern Romania April 10, flying U.S. F-16 fighter jets alongside Romanian ones.

Four F-16s and one Romanian MiG-21 LanceR took off from Romania’s Campia Tarzii military base as the Dacian Viper 2014 exercises began. The weeklong exercise at the base 300 kilometers (190 miles) northwest of Bucharest – the fourth of its kind between the two nations – was planned before Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month.

Wing Commander Marian Petrus, commander of 71 Air Base, said Romanian pilots will be trained to fly F-16s.

ìThe purpose of the exercise is to train in techniques and practices used by NATO armies. The final objective is to raise the level of training for the young pilots,î said Wing Commander Adrian Motorga of the 711 Fighter Squadron.

NATO’s eastern nations have been calling on the alliance to beef up its presence following the annexation and related tensions involving Ukraine. Romania, Ukraine and Russia all border the Black Sea.

NATO has already reinforced its Baltic air patrols and is performing daily AWACs surveillance flights over Poland and Romania. The U.S. said this month it was sending new troops and aircraft to a Romanian base near the Black Sea, a decision made before Russia took control of Crimea.

Romania’s defense ministry signed a deal in October to buy secondhand F-16 fighter jets from Portugal to bring its air force up to NATO standards. AP

Chairman satisfied with military on Benghazi

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says he’s satisfied with the military response to the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Republican Rep. Howard ìBuckî McKeon, R-Calif., says the military did what it reasonably could during a chaotic night of two separate attacks. The Sept. 11, 2012, assault killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Republicans are still pressing their investigation, with five committees pursuing what happened. McKeon says the retired general who headed the Africa command testified behind closed doors for some seven hours April 9.

McKeon says he was told lawmakers heard nothing new in the testimony. AP

One of last Native American code talkers dies

Edmond Harjo, one of the last remaining Native American code talkers, has died. He was 96.

Harjo was a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. He was also one of the last surviving members of a group of American Indians who used their native languages to encode U.S. battlefield communications during World Wars I and II.

Harjo traveled to Washington D.C. last November to take part in a ceremony where congressional leaders bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honor, on American Indian code talkers.

The Swearingen Funeral Home says Harjo died March 31 at Mercy Hospital in Ada. Harjo’s nephew, Richard Harjo, says his uncle had a heart attack. AP

Judge sets hearing in lawsuit over Boeing sale

A federal judge in Kansas has set a hearing in the lawsuit against Boeing brought by two unions over pensions and retiree medical benefits.

The litigation stems from the 2005 sale of Boeing’s commercial aircraft operations in Wichita to Spirit Aerosystems.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot April 9 scheduled a June 23 status conference in the long-running litigation. The parties are now arguing over what information to exchange during discovery in the case.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace filed the lawsuit in August 2005. The Machinists union joined the lawsuit in January 2007, and the court later consolidated it into the litigation of a similar case brought by several workers. AP




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