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July 14, 2014

News Briefs July 14, 2014

Tanks, military vehicles auctioned in California

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif. – Collectors from around the world have snapped up more than 100 tanks and other military vehicles amassed by a Silicon Valley engineer, auction officials said July 13.

Jacques Littlefield’s collection, one of the nation’s most extensive and historic, was sold in the San Francisco Bay Area during one of the largest-ever auctions of military vehicles.

Bidders from 10 countries and 37 U.S. states bought nearly all of the 122 military vehicles on auction, generating $10.24 million in sales, according to Auctions America, which ran the auction on Friday and Saturday, on behalf of the Collings Foundation.

Littlefield was a Stanford University-trained engineer who collected the vehicles over decades and kept them on his family estate up a winding, forested road above Silicon Valley. The vehicles were used in conflicts ranging from World War I to the Gulf War.

After Littlefield’s death in 2009, his family donated the collection to the Collings Foundation, which plans to use the money to build a military vehicle museum at its headquarters in Stow, Massachusetts.

The top sale was an 8-ton personnel carrier that fetched $1.2 million. Other top sellers include a World War II Sherman tank and a surface-to-surface missile, each selling for $345,000, according to Amy Christie, a spokeswoman for Auctions America.

The auction room was packed and there was strong competition from bidders calling in by phone, Christie said Sunday, noting that Sherman tanks were hotly contested.

The foundation is holding on to the collection items with the greatest historical significance, including a World War I tank. AP

France wrapping up military operation in Mali

France’s defense minister says the French military operation in Mali ìfulfilled its missionî and is being reorganized into a regional force against terrorists across northwest Africa.

France intervened 18 months ago after al Qaeda-linked extremists seized a swath of the former French colony. Operation Serval was repeatedly extended to help Mali’s government regain control, and is expected to end soon – perhaps this week when French President Francois Hollande visits Africa.

While French-led forces dispersed extremists and the U.N. established a peacekeeping force, sporadic violence continues. Meanwhile, concern has mounted about links between Mali’s fighters and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Europe-1 radio July 13 that the French force will become a 3,000-strong regional operation focused on fighting terrorists and based in Mali, Chad and Niger. AP

U.S. aware of Russian, Iranian roles in Iraq

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the United States is aware of Russian and Iranian assistance to the Iraqi military in its fight against Islamic extremists, but the U.S. is not coordinating with either Russia or Iran.

Hagel was asked at a Pentagon news conference July 11 about reports that Iranian and Russian planes are flying combat missions over northern Iraq and why Washington is not seeking to coordinate with them. Hagel responded indirectly by saying he was aware of Russian and Iran assistance. A defense official said later that Hagel did not mean to suggest that Russian or Iranian pilots are flying in Iraqi airspace.

The defense official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal assessments of Russian and Iranian actions. AP




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