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April 18, 2014

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177

As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 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 1,802 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 132 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, 19,698 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Kansan’s remains from WWII to return to Topeka

The remains of a 22-year-old Topeka airman who went missing in World War II are being returned to his family for burial.

The Department of Defense announced that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Verne L. Gibb will be buried April 23 in Leavenworth.

The Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel Office said Gibb was the pilot on a routine flight from Burma to India in unfavorable weather when the plane disappeared. All six people on board were declared dead.

Human remains were turned over to the U.S. in 2002. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a Burmese national gave the remains a local priest, who gave them to an American school teacher in 2002. DNA from Gibb’s sister was used to identify the remains. AP

Ordnance rendered safe; California evacuations lifted

Evacuees from hundreds of homes and businesses in the Central California town of Solvang were returning early April 17 after experts removed a military ordnance found in the town’s business district and rendered it safe.

The evacuation call was issued April 16 for between 500 and 700 residences and work sites after the potentially explosive ordnance was found on Copenhagen Drive near houses, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office said.

Spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the Sheriff’s Department bomb squad and a bomb disposal team from Vandenberg Air Force Base cleared the ordnance early Thursday morning, shortly after midnight.

Officials released a photo of the ordnance. It didn’t provide any details, but it appeared to be some sort of artillery shell. There was no word on specifically where it was found or how it got there.

Hoover said that during the hourslong evacuation, department members went door to door to notify residents in a 1,500-foot radius of where the ordnance was found. At the same time, the Red Cross set up a shelter.

The tiny town 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles is a tourist stop known for its Danish-themed shops and buildings. AP

Jordanian fighter jet crashes; pilot killed

A Jordanian military official says one of its fighter jets has crashed during a training flight, killing the pilot.

The official says the crash took place the morning of April 17 near the town of Safawi, in the northeastern desert region of Jordan toward the Iraqi border.

He says the crash was due to a technical failure on the F-5 fighter jet. At the time, several fighter jets were taking part in the training flight.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations. AP

NATO chief wants more military cooperation with EU

NATO’s secretary general says the U.S.-led military alliance and the European Union must cooperate more because of the uncertainty about what Russia may do next.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to Luxembourg April 15 to brief EU defense ministers on what NATO is doing to counteract what Western countries call a Russian campaign of pressure and intimidation against Ukraine.

Rasmussen said NATO plans a three-fold response: ìreinforced defense plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deploymentî to reassure NATO member states nearest Russia.

Asked if NATO could create military bases in its Eastern European members, Rasmussen said it was too early to go into details. He added, ìbut no one should doubt our determination to ensure effective defense protection of all allies.î AP

Royal Navy chief warns on Scottish independence

The head of the Royal Navy says that Scottish independence would weaken Britain’s sea forces.

Admiral George Zambellas told the BBC April 15 that Britain’s defenses would be damaged if Scotland breaks away after a September referendum.

Zambellas, the First Sea Lord, said Britain makes a substantial maritime contribution to NATO that would be undermined if Scotland became a separate country with a separate navy.

“The two components would not add up to the sum of the whole,” he said.

Britain has ships and submarines as well as Royal Marine commando units based in Scotland.

Zambella says negotiations on these facilities would be long, difficult and expensive should Scotland become independent.

Scottish leaders have said the future of the military bases could be negotiated but nuclear submarines would have to go. AP




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Air Force photograph by TSgt. Terri Praden

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NASA image

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