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August 28, 2014

News Briefs August 28, 2014

Russian directing new offensive in Ukraine

The Obama administration believes Russia is leading a new military counteroffensive in Ukraine.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Russia has sent additional columns of tanks and armored vehicles into its neighbor’s territory. She says the incursions suggest a ìRussian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in the contested eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Psaki says Russia is being dishonest about its actions, even to its own people. She says some Russian forces are being sent 30 miles inside Ukraine, the soldiers and their parents not knowing where they’re headed. She says burials in Russia and wounded soldiers returning for treatment in St. Petersburg show what Russia is doing.

Psaki also voiced concern Aug. 27 about rebel attacks in a southeastern Ukrainian port city.
She didn’t outline any immediate U.S. response. AP

Army IDs soldier who shot self at Virginia base

The Army has identified the soldier who barricaded herself in a building at a Virginia base and then fatally shot herself in the head.

Fort Lee officials Aug. 27 said it was 33-year-old SFC Paula M. Walker of Yonkers, N.Y. She was a human resources specialist.

Walker died Aug. 25 after barricading herself in an office inside the headquarters for the Army’s Combined Arms Support Command and was throwing objects.

The base about 25 miles south of Richmond temporarily locked down.

About 1,100 people were inside the building as law enforcement officials tried to negotiate with her. No other injuries were reported.

Officials say Walker had been in the Army for 14 years and at Fort Lee since December 2011. Officials say her gun wasn’t a service weapon. AP

Oklahoma helicopters accidentally coated in foam

Cleanup has finished on 10 Black Hawk helicopters that were accidently bathed in fire suppression foam at an Oklahoma National Guard base.

Col. Max Moss says a Simplex Grinnell company representative triggered the fire suppression system Aug. 26 at the Tulsa base during a routine maintenance check. He says the system was installed a few months ago.

Photos and videos released by the National Guard show the UH-60 model helicopters slathered in the substance. The foam reached helicopters both inside and outside of the hangar.

Moss says the chemicals aren’t dangerous to humans or the environment and have already been cleaned up. He says officials will inspect the helicopters before using them for flights.
No damage to the helicopters was reported. AP

Navy commissioning USS Jackson at Gulfport

The Navy will commission its newest shallow-water, near-shore combat ship in Gulfport next July.

The USS Jackson was christened in March at the Austal USA Shipyard on Mobile Bay. It’s the first naval vessel named for Mississippi’s state capital.

The Jackson has been undergoing testing since its launch in December, and it is expected to be delivered to the Navy early next year after trials.

The Jackson is a ìlittoralî combat ship, meaning it’s designed to operate in shallow water.
The Sun Herald reports Gulfport chief administrative officer John Kelly announced the commissioning during a business club speech Aug. 26.

Kelly says the city is soliciting money from businesses and selling $10 commemorative coins to help cover the costs of bringing the ship to Gulfport. AP

U.S. transfers two Yemenis held in Bagram prison

Two prisoners held at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan were handed over to Yemen Aug. 26, Yemeni security officials said.

The officials said the two Yemeni prisoners were transferred to Yemen from Bagram prison, north of Kabul. They didn’t elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Yemen’s Hood human rights organization identified the two prisoners as Amin al-Bakri and Fadi al-Maqaleh, who have been detained since 2002 when they were arrested in Pakistan. It called on the government to set them free.

U.S. forces are due to hand over control of the Bagram prison to Afghan forces when they pull out of the country in December.

Hood also said that there are more than 90 Yemeni detainees in US prison of Guantanamo, or two thirds of prisoners there and called for their handover to Yemen.

Yemen is home of what Washington perceive as the world’s most dangerous offshoot of the terror al Qaeda network. AP

U.S. giving extra $60 million in military aid to Tunisi

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The U.S. has announced it will be giving Tunisia another $60 million in military aid next year.

The head of the U.S. African command, Gen. David Rodriguez, said Aug. 26 during a visit to Tunisia that aid would be for training, mine detection, naval craft and counter-terrorism exercies with Tunisian troops.

Since 2011, the U.S. has given Tunisia $100 million in military aid.

Rodriguez said the U.S. and Tunisia face a common terrorist threat in the form of al Qaeda linked organizations.

In July, 15 Tunisian soldiers were killed by suspected al Qaeda militants near the Algerian border in the latest of a series of attacks by radicals. AP

Debris cleanup begins at Alaska rocket complex

A military safety team will clean up unexploded rocket fuel and other potentially dangerous debris at the Kodiak Launch Complex following an explosion Aug. 25 of a rocket carrying an experimental Army strike weapon.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports state officials are waiting for the military safety team to do the cleanup before damage to the launch complex is assessed.

The rocket carrying the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was blown up four seconds after it lifted off.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Maureen Schumann says an anomaly was detected and flight controllers blew up the rocket for safety reasons.

Debris damaged buildings on the rocket range.

Alaska Aerospace Corp. President Craig Campbell says debris bent or broke sheet metal siding, roofs and doors and blew out windows. AP

China deploys armed drone to multinational drills

China’s air force says it deployed an armed drone to multinational anti-terrorism drills, underscoring its rapid progress in developing unmanned aerial vehicles.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying the drone carried out a successful mission Aug. 26 in which it destroyed a mock enemy command vehicle with a missile.

Shen said the drone’s ability to monitor, identify and destroy objects below in real time makes it an important tool in fighting terrorists. China says radicals fighting Chinese rule in the vast northwestern region of Xinjiang have used illicit border crossings and desert encampments that could be monitored from above.

This week’s ìPeace Mission-2014î drills involve more than 7,000 personnel from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. AP




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