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April 23, 2014

News Briefs April 23, 2014

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

As of April 22, 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.

The AP count is one less than the Defense Department’s tally.

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 133 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 12 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, 19,701 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Sub records detailed images of WWII wreck

An unmanned submarine has recorded some of the most detailed images of two American ships that sank off the coast of England during World War II, according to the Massachusetts company that surveyed the wreckage to mark the disaster’s 70th anniversary.

Bourne, Mass.,-based Hydroid says they are the first high-definition sonar images of two ships sunk by German forces during Exercise Tiger, a rehearsal for the D-Day invasion. The torpedo attack on April 28, 1944, claimed the lives of 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors.

Richard ìBungyî Williams, a regional manager for Hydroid Europe, said the company was interested in exploring the area because of the upcoming anniversary of the attack. He said the images will be donated to the United Kingdom’s National Archive and local memorials.

The autonomous undersea vehicle recorded images of the two boats about 50 meters beneath the surface of the English Channel. Williams said divers have accessed the site before, but the submarine provided the highest quality images yet, including one showing a boat’s upturned stern.

ìUsing the AUV we could get down very close to the wreck,î he said. Hydroid, a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, manufactures the vehicles.

The casualties from Exercise Tiger were one of the least known Allied disasters of World War II. Fast-moving German torpedo boats happened upon the convoy, sank two ships and badly damaged a third during the practice run for the invasion.

The survivors were warned to keep it secret, and the casualties were not announced until nearly two months after the Normandy invasion. Full details were not known until 1974, when the records were declassified.

An annual wreath-laying to honor the victims is scheduled for April 28 at U.S. Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light in New Jersey. AP

Israeli army ëinvites Arab Christians to enlist

The Israeli military says it is inviting young Arab-Israeli Christians to enlist.
The minority historically views itself as part of the Palestinian people and considers service in the army as taboo. But a recent push by a Greek Orthodox priest to persuade more Christians to enlist has set off an emotional debate. Father Gabriel Nadaf said Christians must serve in the army if they want to integrate into Israeli society and win access to jobs.

The officer in charge of the army’s campaign, Col. Gal Ben-Shaul, says April 22 the army will now send out invitations to Arab Christians interested in joining. Military service is mandatory for Jews.

Israeli Arabs make up just over one-fifth of Israel’s 8 million people. Of those about 128,000, or less than 10 percent, are Christians. AP

Ukraine crisis prompts Sweden to boost arms budget

Following the crisis in Ukraine, Sweden’s government has proposed increasing the Nordic country’s military spending by 5.5 billion Swedish kronor ($830 million) a year.

The four-party center-right coalition said April 22 it is deeply concerned by the recent events in Ukraine and wants to raise the military outlays gradually in coming years to reach the proposed figure by 2024.

Among other things, it wants to buy 10 more fighter jets and two more submarines to improve the defense of the Baltic Sea and the island Gotland.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Sweden’s defense budget was slashed and its military emphasis shifted toward international peacekeeping operations. Now, however, both the left-leaning opposition and the government agree that the country’s military readiness is inadequate. AP

Russians inspect demolished missile facilities

Air Force officials say Russian inspectors visited Montana this month to verify that 18 nuclear missile launch facilities have been demolished as part of a 2011 arms-control treaty.

Malmstrom Air Force Base officials said April 21 the inspectors spent 12 hours on April 9 viewing the facilities in central Montana to see the doors had been removed and the launcher tubes filled with earth and gravel.

Treaty compliance chief Richard Bialczak of the 341st Missile Wing says the inspection was the first of its kind at Malmstrom.

The demolished facilities were operated by the 564th Missile Squadron, which was deactivated in 2008. Three other missile squadrons are responsible for the 150 intercontinental ballistic missiles at Malmstrom.

Air Force officials say all 50 of the 546th squadron’s launch facilities will be demolished. AP




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