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3 West Point grads part of upcoming space missions PDF Print E-mail
Retired Navy Capt. Scott Kelly is set to kick off a year in orbit with a March 27 launch to the International Space Station, but beginning in November, the ISS will take a decidedly Army slant.

Three retired colonels, all U.S. Military Academy graduates, will head skyward starting that month, with Tim Kopra (Class of 1985) off to the station for the more standard visit of about six months. Before Kopra returns to Earth in May 2016, Jeff Williams ('80) will launch in March, returning that September.

The same month Williams lands, Shane Kimbrough ('89) will head into orbit, scheduled to be gone until early 2017.
 
Bergdahl Charged With Desertion and Misbehavior PDF Print E-mail
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held by the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan for five years, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the Army said Wednesday.
 
The case has been referred for a preliminary hearing that’s equivalent to a grand jury in the military’s court-martial system, according to an Army statement.
While Bergdahl’s years in captivity may mitigate any potential punishment, he could face a maximum penalty of life in a military prison if convicted on the charge of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.” The charge of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” can bring a maximum of five years’ confinement.
 
Both charges also could result in forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge. The Army didn’t disclose details of its case against Bergdahl, and said it won’t answer questions while the case is pending.
 
Bergdahl was released in May in a swap that freed five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the U.S. said it received warnings that his life was in danger. Since then, the Army has been investigating the circumstances under which he left his unit at a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan.
 
U.S. Army apologizes for treatment of soldiers PDF Print E-mail

U.S. Army apologizes for treatment of soldiers exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq

 The undersecretary of the Army apologized Wednesday for the military’s treatment of U.S. service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards.

Undersecretary Brad R. Carson acknowledged that the military had not followed its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions that had been scattered around Iraq, and vowed improvement. He also said that the Army had reversed a previous decision and approved a Purple Heart medal for a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and Carson said he expected that more medals would be issued to other veterans after further review.

“To me, the scandal is that we had protocols in place and the medical community knew what they were, and yet we failed in some cases to implement this across the theater,” he said. “That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. I apologize for past actions and am going to fix it going forward.”

Carson was appointed last fall by Chuck Hagel, then the defense secretary, to lead a Pentagon working group to identify service members who had been exposed to chemical weapons and offer them medical screening and other support. The effort was in response to an investigation in The New York Times that revealed that the U.S. military had secretly recovered thousands of old and often discarded chemical munitions in Iraq.

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US Army establishes first manned-unmanned unit PDF Print E-mail
The US Army has established its first manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) squadron, combining Boeing AH-64D/E Apache helicopters with Textron Systems RQ-7B Shadow unmanned air vehicles in one heavy attack-reconnaissance unit.

The Fort Bliss, Texas-based 1/501st Aviation Battalion of the 1st Armoured Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade on 16 March became the first unit to combine manned and unmanned aircraft, reflagging to become the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.

Although the Apache and Shadow have previously demonstrated MUM-T interoperability, having the two types fall under the same chain of command is the result of “years’ worth of planning”, the army says.

The Shadow is equipped with the new tactical common datalink, which will allow it to be operated alongside Apaches to fulfil the army’s armed aerial scout role previously provided by Bell Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which are due to enter retirement.
 
Statement on March 12 Airstrike in Somalia PDF Print E-mail
DOD news release
 
On March 12 at approximately 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time, working from actionable intelligence, U.S. forces using unmanned aircraft struck a vehicle carrying Adan Garar, a member of al-Shabaab's intelligence and security wing, in the vicinity of Diinsoor, Somalia. The attack was a success and resulted in the death of Garar.
 
Garar was a key operative responsible for coordinating al-Shabaab's external operations, which target U.S. persons and other Western interests in order to further al-Qaida's goals and objectives. He posed a major threat to the region and the international community and was connected to the West Gate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya. His death has dealt another significant blow to the al Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia.
 
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