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US Army deserter’s asylum bid PDF Print E-mail
An American soldier who claimed asylum in Germany after deserting the Army to avoid the Iraq war will have to prove he would have been forced to take part in war crimes in Iraq to win refugee status, Europe’s highest court has ruled.

The ruling also said “it does not appear” that the possible court charge and punitive discharge that former helicopter mechanic Andre Shepherd would face if denied asylum amounts to “persecution,” the European court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled Thursday.

A German court in Munich requested the ruling more than a year ago. The Munich court is expected to continue hearing Shepherd’s asylum appeal.

The Luxembourg ruling appears to back Germany’s earlier rejection of Shepherd’s asylum request, which was turned down in 2011. Germany’s Interior Ministry then said the soldier’s fear of persecution for deserting was not substantial enough to merit refugee status under European law.
 
 
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The Army’s Future in Cyberspace PDF Print E-mail
By Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano, U.S. Army retired

There is a good deal of energy and a fair amount of chaos in the Army’s approach to developing the resources needed for seizing the high ground in cyber warfare. That’s a good thing. What the military needs to succeed in this effort is even more energy and more chaos. That’s because it is currently operating within a very large void.

In 2013, The Heritage Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C., began a unique research project: developing an independent, objective measure of U.S. military power that would enable analysts to assess the strength of the armed forces relative to threats and mission. The first edition of the Index of U.S. Military Strength comes out this year. Subsequent editions, published annually, will track year-to-year changes in strength, threats and mission, allowing us to mark whether the relative power of the armed forces rises or falls.

Unlike episodic assessments of military capabilities such as the Quadrennial Defense Review and National Defense Panels, the index uses consistent metrics to evaluate forces, threats and the operational environment. Further, in contrast to indices such as the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ The Military Balance, The Heritage Foundation’s index includes both standardized quantitative and qualitative assessments that incorporate more than just the numbers of planes, ships and people. It provides context for determining the force structure’s relevance to military requirements.
 
 
V.A. Secretary Apologizes for Embellishing Military Record PDF Print E-mail
Robert A. McDonald, the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, apologized on Monday for falsely claiming last month that he had served in the Special Forces.
Mr. McDonald, a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where he completed jungle, arctic, desert warfare and Ranger training, according to his official biography.

But his assertion to a homeless veteran in Los Angeles that he was in the Special Forces — captured on camera for a CBS News report — was false, he acknowledged on Monday. His initial claim was first reported by The Huffington Post.

Mr. McDonald said in a statement that his claim “was inaccurate, and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”
“I have great respect for those who have served our nation in Special Forces,” Mr. McDonald said. “They, and all veterans, deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs that provides them the care and benefits they have earned.”

He said he would “remain committed” to improving veterans’ services and overhauling the department.
White House officials said they accepted Mr. McDonald’s explanation.

“Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service,” the White House said. “We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he’s doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans.”

 
Continued U.S. military presence in southern Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
In the first official sign that the Pentagon plans to keep a U.S. military presence in southern Afghanistan after this year, the Army is sending the 7th Infantry Division headquarters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord on a year-long deployment to Kandahar Province this spring.

The deployment follows Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s weekend visit to Kandahar, where he acknowledged in a meeting with soldiers that the Obama administration was reconsidering the pace of its planned withdrawal of the 10,000 U.S. troops who remain in Afghanistan.

The deployment is small, fewer than 100 soldiers. But it’s significant because it shows that the U.S. military wants to maintain a presence in Afghanistan’s Pashtun heartland while continuing to reduce its footprint in the 14-year-old war.

The division’s deployment has been an open secret at the base for months. The Pentagon in December announced that it was adding staff to the headquarters to help it reach a deployable strength.

This month, the Army sent the division command team to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana, where it is carrying out an exercise to prepare for the mission. The Army has published photos from the exercise to its own social media accounts.

And, this week, the Army set up an interview with McClatchy’s News-Tribune newspaper to discuss the deployment. Late Tuesday, just before the interview, however, the Army canceled after officials in Washington, D.C. determined they had not given proper notification about the mission to Congress. The deployment is still going forward, officials said.
 
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