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(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 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.
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.
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.
Peace in our time, which is what Neville Chamberlain called for in a 1938 speech, remains as elusive today as it did after World War I. While the Army has been getting smaller as large-scale combat operations ended in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world is not close to peace at all.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made this clear in a message to the entire Defense Department on the day he was sworn into office. “We confront a turbulent and dangerous world: continuing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, and the malignant and savage terrorism emanating from it; an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan; a reversion to archaic security thinking in parts of Europe; tensions in the Asia-Pacific; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and intensifying threats in cyberspace,” Carter said.
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The newest barracks at the U.S. Military Academy will honor a graduate who never had a roommate while at West Point.
The building will bear the name of Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the Air Force's first black general and a member of Class of 1936, the school announced Monday. Davis, the fourth black graduate from the school and the first in the 20th century, was shunned by the West Point community during his time on campus, with no roommates and no interactions outside official business.
"Living as a prisoner in solitary confinement for four years had not destroyed my personality, nor poisoned my attitude toward other people," he would write in his autobiography, according to his New York Times obituary from 2002.
The Army on Tuesday announced new assignments for the following general officers:
CLICK HERE FOR LIST
he United States military officially ended a mission to build treatment facilities to combat an Ebola outbreak in Liberia on Thursday, months earlier than expected, in the latest indication that a year-long epidemic in West Africa is waning.
Washington launched the mission five months ago and the force peaked at over 2 800 troops at a time when Liberia was at the epicentre of the worst Ebola epidemic on record.
Nearly 10 000 people have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea over the past year. More than 4,000 of those deaths were in Liberia, but the number of new cases has plummeted in recent months, leaving many treatment centres empty and the mission has already begun winding down.
“While our large scale military mission is ending...the fight to get to zero cases will continue and the (Joint Force Command) has ensured capabilities were brought that will be sustained in the future,” said US Army Major General Gary Volesky.
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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Recent Fallen Grads
- COL James M. Acklin III USA (Retired), USMA1962: 17 Jun 1940 - 26 Mar 2015
- BG Marcial David Samaniego Paraguayan Army (Retired), USMA1962: 29 Dec 1937 - 24 Mar 2015
- Dr. William G. Liakos, USMA1957: 25 Apr 1934 - 23 Mar 2015
- LTC Walter J. Ambrose Jr. USA (Retired), USMA1970: 13 Oct 1946 - 23 Mar 2015
- LTC George G. Peery III USA (Retired), USMA1966: 21 Feb 1944 - 23 Mar 2015
- LTC Edwin N. Dodd USA (Retired), USMA1958: 15 Feb 1936 - 22 Mar 2015
- Mr. Jessie M. Hartman, USMA1978: 08 Aug 1956 - 22 Mar 2015
- COL Kendell O. Iverson USAF (Retired), USMA1954: 11 Mar 1930 - 21 Mar 2015
- COL John F. Concannon III USA (Retired), USMA1965: 22 Jun 1942 - 18 Mar 2015
- COL Richard L. Gruenther USA (Retired), USMA1946: 14 Dec 1924 - 18 Mar 2015
- COL Alan C. Esser USA (Retired), USMA1951: 03 May 1928 - 17 Mar 2015
- Mr. Marion G. Creath Jr. USA (Retired), USMA1954: 20 Mar 1932 - 15 Mar 2015
- MAJ William P. Ruedel USA (Retired), USMA1960: 18 Sep 1935 - 15 Mar 2015
- COL Ronald E. Rule USAF (Retired), USMA1955: 24 Oct 1931 - 14 Mar 2015
- COL Robert T. Winfree Jr. USA (Retired), USMA1946: 03 Jan 1924 - 13 Mar 2015
- MAJ Thomas J. McClung USAF (Retired), USMA1952: 26 May 1927 - 12 Mar 2015
- LTC Earl C. Horan USA (Retired), USMA1961: 29 Feb 1936 - 07 Mar 2015
- COL Moody E. Layfield USA (Retired), USMA1941: 30 Sep 1917 - 07 Mar 2015
- GEN Joseph T. Palastra Jr. USA (Retired), USMA1954: 10 Nov 1931 - 03 Mar 2015
- LTG George H. Sylvester USAF (Retired), USMA1949: 10 Aug 1927 - 02 Mar 2015
- COL Joe B. Tye Jr USAF (Retired), USMA1949: 19 Mar 1926 - 01 Mar 2015
- COL Laurence L. Heimerl USA (Retired), USMA1945: 10 Jul 1922 - 28 Feb 2015
- LTG Carlos M. Talbott USAF (Retired), USMA1943JAN: 28 Jan 1920 - 26 Feb 2015
- LTC Roger D. Manning USA (Retired), USMA1963: 21 Jan 1939 - 26 Feb 2015
- LTC Douglas S. Rogers USA(Retired), USMA1976: 01 Jan 1954 - 22 Feb 2015
- COL Charles H. Parsons II USAF(Retired), USMA1946: 05 Aug 1923 - 22 Feb 2015
- COL Francis W. Craig USA (Retired), USMA1951: 02 Jun 1927 - 20 Feb 2015
- LTC Albert V. Kinner USAF(Retired), USMA1950: 22 Apr 1927 - 20 Feb 2015
- COL Paul G. Skowronek USA (Retired), USMA1941: 15 Oct 1915 - 20 Feb 2015
- Mr. Dexter H. Shaler, USMA1956: 06 Apr 1932 - 20 Feb 2015