Entries in Army (42)


Soldier Charged in Drug Running, Murder for Hire

Colorado County Sheriff's Office(WASHINGTON) -- A lieutenant in the U.S. Army allegedly was willing to work with drug runners and to execute a murder-for-hire plot, according to Justice Department officials.

The Justice Department on Monday announced charges against Kevin D. Corley, who, during much of the alleged plot, was a first lieutenant in the Army and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Federal prosecutors say they became aware of Corley in January 2011 after an associate of his allegedly told DEA agents posing as members of the Los Zetas Cartel "about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them."

"The agents were later introduced to Corley, who allegedly identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers," a Justice Department release said. "He offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel under his name."

Authorities claim Corley began to discuss military tactics and even mailed operatives an official Army book on the subject. He allegedly said that for a fee he could could train 40 cartel members in two weeks.

The topic then supposedly turned to the subject of a plan to "raid a ranch where 20 kilograms of stolen cocaine were being kept by rival cartel members."

"Corley confirmed he would conduct the contract killing with a small team, at a minimum comprised of himself and another person who he described as an active duty soldier with whom he had already consulted," prosecutors say.

According to the complaint, Corley agreed to perform the contract killing and retrieve the 20 kilograms of cocaine in exchange for $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine. He allegedly offered to refund the money if the victim survived and agreed to provide security for marijuana shipments in the United States.

"On March 5, 2012, Corley delivered two AR-15 assault rifles with scopes, an airsoft assault rifle, five allegedly stolen ballistic vests and other miscellaneous equipment to an undercover agent in Colorado Springs, in exchange for $10,000," prosecutors said in a statement.

"At the meeting, Corley and the undercover agent allegedly again discussed the contract killing and the retrieval of the cocaine, which was to occur on March 24, 2012," the complaint said. "Corley allegedly stated he had purchased a new Ka-Bar knife to carve a 'Z' into the victim's chest and was planning on buying a hatchet to dismember the body."

The story ends on March 24, when Corley and two other suspects allegedly traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents, at which time they discussed the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill and their respective roles.

The three were arrested, during which time a fourth suspect was shot and killed, agents say.

The three are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine; use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking or violent crime; and conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joint Base Lewis-McChord Officer Charged with Making Death Threats

Hemera/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A lieutenant colonel from the same military base in Washington state that's linked to an Army sergeant accused of slaying 16 Afghan civilians was arraigned Tuesday on charges that he tried to hire a hit man to kill his estranged wife and his commanding officer.

Lt. Col. Robert L. Underwood, who is assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), allegedly sought to pay someone $150,000 to murder his wife.

Lt. Col. Shawn Reed, the commanding officer who was also apparently a target, had ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Underwood.

Reed says that Underwood was involved in contentious divorce proceedings and that his wife got a military protective order last December when Underwood allegedly intended "to hurt her and her children."

There are also reports that Underwood told his daughter that he planned to do "something crazy" that "the world would know about."

Meanwhile, Underwood's girlfriend told investigators he talked about blowing up the state Capitol in Olympia.  She claims he also threatened to kill her when she allegedly came across child pornography on his computer.

Underwood has been charged with three counts of felony harassment for the alleged death threats.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Army Suicide Rate Falls by 9%

ISAF/Pfc. Cameron Boyd(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon announced Thursday that the suicide rate among active duty soldiers and those in the National Guard and Reserve had fallen in 2011 for the first time in four years.

Suicides dropped nine percent, from 305 in 2010 to 278 last year.  However, the number of soldiers killing themselves is far higher than the 200 suicides reported in 2008.

Still, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the outgoing vice chief of staff, praised the military's efforts to really begin addressing the problem by identifying soldiers engaged in risky or self-destructive behavior.

Chiarelli said, "I think we've at least arrested this problem and hopefully will start to push it down.  For all practical purposes … it has leveled off."

Overall, the Army's rate of suicides is 24 per 100,000 soliders, but it's much higher among those who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan -- 38 per 100,000.  Both rates are higher than that of the civilian population, which is 19 suicides per 100,000.


The wars and multiple deployments are blamed for the rise of suicide deaths as well as for an increase in sexual assaults and instances of domestic and child abuse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Green Beret in Airport Explosives Incident Accused of Earlier Violation

Photodisc/Digital Vision/ThinkstockUPDATE: Atwater has been charged with attempting to board an aircraft for intrastate transportation with C-4 explosives.

(MIDLAND, Texas) -- The Green Beret accused of attempting to smuggle explosives through a Texas airport on New Year's Eve had already been, just a week before, caught allegedly attempting to get a live smoke grenade on another commercial flight, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Special Forces Sgt. Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was detained in a Midland, Texas, airport after security discovered two packages over a pound each in Atwater's carry-on luggage labeled as C-4 explosives, according to an account provided by law enforcement officials. Atwater, who was traveling with his wife and two children, was not carrying the initiator or detonators that are required for the C-4 to explode.

When interviewed by the FBI while in custody, Atwater, an explosives expert in the elite U.S. Army unit, said he simply forgot he had the C-4 on him and must have carried them on an earlier flight from Fayetteville, N.C., officials said.

According to officials who reviewed an internal security report, TSA officials in Fayetteville said they doubt Atwater had carried the C-4 on a previous Dec. 24 flight from Fayetteville. The report said that Atwater was stopped that day after security screeners discovered a live smoke grenade in his carry-on, but after a thorough search, no other suspicious material was found.

Atwater is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday where he will be arraigned on charges relating to both the Dec. 31 C-4 discovery and the Dec. 24 smoke grenade incident, authorities said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Soldier Shot at His Homecoming Party in California

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- An Army soldier from San Bernardino, Calif., who survived a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, was shot at his homecoming party Friday night, leaving him paralyzed, authorities said.

Christopher Sullivan, 22, of the 101st Infantry Division, was at a party held in his honor when one of the attendees got into a fight with his brother.

“Supposedly started over just a minor argument over whose football team was better,” said San Bernardino Police Lt. Rich Lawhead.

Lawhead said Sullivan moved in to break up the fight, someone pulled out a handgun, and two bullets hit Sullivan in the back and neck.

Police said the gunman fled the scene on foot before they arrived.  He is still at large.

Sullivan was taken to a hospital and listed in critical condition awaiting surgery.

“They said he was going to be a paraplegic, he will never walk again,” Sullivan’s mother Suzanne told ABC News Los Angeles station KABC.

This Christmas, his family is praying for his survival and recovery.

“They’re very distraught, very upset and you know, this is the time of year, any time of year is difficult, but this heightens it even more,” said Lawhead.

While on tour in Afghanistan, Sullivan received a purple heart after being wounded in a suicide bomb attack last December, his mother said.

Five of his friends were killed in the attack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bradley Manning Accuser Adrian Lamo Takes the Stand

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker who first identified Bradley Manning to federal authorities as the source of hundreds of thousands of classified documents leaked to Wikileaks, was challenged Tuesday by the Army private’s defense over his history as a hacker, his criminal record and his problems with drugs.

Lamo was among the prosecution’s final witnesses Tuesday at the pre-trial hearing that will determine whether Manning will face a court martial for allegedly leaking the classified documents.

Lamo told prosecutors how over a span of five days in late May 2010 he received a series of encrypted emails from Manning, providing him with information that suggested the sender was in the Army.

The contacts soon progressed to encrypted chats using AOL Instant Messenger, where Manning used the handle “bradass87.”   Lamo said he could only speculate as to why Manning was using encrypted contacts to reach out to him.

Lamo described how he made multiple attempts to verify that the person who was contacting him was actually in the Army and in Iraq.  He also verified that bradass87 was Bradley Manning after Manning sent him a “friend” request on Facebook and he saw information and photos on the site that matched.

Lamo, who acknowledged to prosecutors that he suffers from Asberger Syndrome and that he has a history of drug use, said that at the time he was communicating with Manning medication had reduced his symptoms and allowed him “to function more normally.”  He also admitted he had been a source in certain media reports.

Manning’s lead attorney David Coombs then led a blistering line of questioning, focusing on Lamo’s past drug use and his convictions for computer hacking.

“You are a convicted felon?” he began, to which Lamo replied: “That is correct.”

Coombs noted a string of 2007 hacks on large companies and a 2004 conviction for computer fraud.  Lamos then confirmed that he had been involuntarily institutionalized in April 2010, after over-medicating on prescription drugs.

Lamo told Coombs that he had not been offered immunity in return for his testimony: “I am here to ensure that the truth is presented,” he said.

What ensued was a detailed discussion of Lamo’s contacts with Manning that ultimately led him to contact federal authorities about what he had learned from Manning.

Manning’s defense attorneys are expected to call three witnesses on Wednesday when the hearing resumes.  Final arguments could come right after that.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bradley Manning Defense Reveals Alter Ego ‘Breanna Manning’

Denis Doyle/Getty Images(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- Defense attorneys for Army Pvt. First Class Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of illegally obtaining and leaking thousands of classified military and government files to the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks, have raised questions about whether his confusion over his gender identity affected his behavior and decision making at the time of his alleged acts.

Witnesses at Saturday’s pre-trial hearing were asked by defense attorneys if they knew that Manning is gay and suffered from gender identity disorder. They noted that he had created a female alter ego, calling himself Breanna Manning.

Pressed by Manning’s defense team, several Army investigators, who testified at Saturday’s pre-trial hearing, said that in the course of their investigation they became aware of Manning’s female alter ego. They also knew that a search of Manning’s room in Baghdad found medical information about female hormone treatments for people with gender identity disorder.

Prosecutors objected to the defense’s line of questioning, but Maj. Matthew Kemkes, Manning’s military attorney, said raising Manning’s homosexuality and his gender identity disorder was important because it would show “what was going on in my client’s mind.”

Manning, who turned 24 on Saturday, appeared in his camouflage uniform wearing black thick-rimmed glasses. Small in stature, he was seated between his civilian and military lawyers.

Manning was an intelligence analyst working in a secure room known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility) at Camp Liberty in Baghdad at the time that he is alleged to have released secret documents. Manning was among 10 low-ranking soldiers who had access to classified information in that facility and Manning’s attorneys suggested that others had access to the materials he is alleged to have removed from the secure room.

During his deployment Manning exhibited erratic behavior that resulted in several confrontations with co-workers. In a December 2010 incident he was forcefully carried out of the SCIF after flipping over a table “in a fit of rage” that damaged a computer.

Capt. Steven Lim, Manning’s commander during his service in Baghdad, testified that he had been made aware of the incident, but did not know the specifics. He said full awareness of the incident would have raised red flags for him about Manning’s behavior that would have probably resulted in his being removed from his job and denied access to sensitive information.

Lim said another red flag would have been knowledge about an e-mail and photo that Manning sent to his sergeant major in April 2010. In the email, Manning said he suffered from gender identity disorder and included a photo of himself dressed as a woman. Lim said the sergeant major sent him the email in June 2010, shortly after Manning’s arrest.

Lim described Manning as a smart individual who was good with statistical analysis in spotting trends. He said that despite the security regulations in effect at the SCIF, there really was not anything in place that would have prevented a soldier from burning a CD in the facility for his or her own purpose.

“We can’t watch a single person for 24 hours a day,” he said, noting that there’s an element of trust involved with those working in the SCIF.

Army investigator Troy Bettencourt described two other incidents of odd behavior Manning exhibited while he was deployed to Baghdad, one in which he assaulted his supervisor and another when he was found curled up in a ball. Asked if he would have handled Manning differently if he had been in his change of command, Bettencourt said his opinion is “colored by hindsight,” but knowing “what we know about his behavior,” he would have prevented him from deploying to Iraq.

Fellow investigator Toni Graham, who gave the order to search Manning’s work and living areas, testified that they had information from a “confidential informant” who had direct contact with Manning and had in turn contacted the FBI.

Graham’s description matches that of hacker Adriam Lamo, who released logs of his online chats with Manning and contacted the FBI when Manning boasted of having leaked thousands of government files.

Graham said that tip led them to authorize a search of Manning’s work area, his living area, as well as a supply room. They seized several laptops, 10 CDs (one of which was in a U.S. Postal Service box and labeled “Secret”), and multiple government encryption devices.

The defense tried to poke holes in the reasoning for authorizing the search. They noted that a video that surfaced on Wikileaks under the name “Collateral Murder” and appears to show an Apache attack helicopter firing on unarmed journalists in Iraq, was one justification for the search, but it was in fact unclassified. Graham testified that she had believed the video was classified when she sought the search.

Army investigator Mark Mander testified that a memory card containing classified information had been found in Manning’s aunt’s house in Potomac, Md.

The hearing was supposed to begin Friday but was delayed until Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gen. James Amos: Marine Corps Is the ‘Cheap Force’

Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Heather Golden/ Released(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said Wednesday that in the face of a shrinking defense budget, the armed services would not turn against one another and fight for funds.

“The relationship has never been better than it is today,” Amos said of the ties between the Army and the Marine Corps Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s better than it’s ever been in my 41 years of service.”

Responding to a question about whether there was a whisper campaign begun by the Marines against the other services, he said he had not heard of it.

“If there’s anyone who can keep the tribes together, it’s Marty Dempsey,” Amos said, referring to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey.

However, Amos sold the Marine Corps as the “cheap force,” and said America needed a military “that’s not going to break the bank.”

“You get a lot of bang for your buck,” Amos said of the Marines. “We don’t need fancy hotels or air conditioning.”

Amos said the Marines Corps planned to go down to 186,000 personnel from 202,000 -- cuts approved by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He added that he was not sure 186,000 was the floor. For those looking to join the Marines now, he said, there was such a backlog that it would be at least eight months before being sent to boot camp.

He added that there would also be some cuts in ground vehicles, from 40,000 to 30,000.

“I will not ask for anything I want, just things I need,” he said. “What is it that’s good enough to get us through the next eight to 10 years?”

In addition, he said, pay raises and housing, health and retirement benefits would be looked at.

“We’re paid pretty well,” he said. “Is there room to adjust inside? Yeah, I think there is room. We’re going to need to look at that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Army Ranger, Jessica Lynch Rescuer Dies on 14th Deployment

John Foxx/Thinkstock(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- An Army Ranger who was on his 14th deployment to a combat zone -- and was part of the team that rescued Private Jessica Lynch from her Iraqi captors in 2003 -- has been killed in Afghanistan.

Sgt. First Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, was killed Saturday when the assault force he was with triggered a hidden roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province.

Domeij was part of the force that invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. Within weeks of his arrival in Iraq he and his unit took part in one of the best-known moments of the war: the rescue of the wounded Lynch from an Iraqi hospital where she was being held captive.

The daring rescue in an Iraqi-held section of Baghdad thrilled the country.

Domeij went on to serve four deployments in Iraq and another nine stints in Afghanistan. During that time he was awarded two Bronze Stars. His third Bronze Star, earned during his final tour in Afghanistan, will be awarded posthumously, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Also killed in Saturday's blast were First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24, a Cultural Support Team member, and fellow Ranger Private First Class Christopher A. Horns, 20, who was on his first combat deployment.

His battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Hodne, described Domeij as "one of those men who was known by all as much for his humor, enthusiasm, and loyal friendship, as he was for his unparalleled skill and bravery under fire."

Domeij, who grew up in San Diego, Calif. and Colorado Springs, Colo., and lived in Lacey, Wash., was married and had two young daughters.

Rangers are some of the Army's most elite special operations forces and have seen almost continual combat in Afghanistan since October 2001 when they were part of the original airborne assault into the country.

Rangers serve three- to four-month tours of duty that are significantly shorter than the year-long deployments served by soldiers in conventional units. But during those short deployments they see a constant churn of intense combat missions. On average, a Ranger battalion will conduct between 400 to 500 missions during a combat deployment.

Tracy Bailey, a spokesperson for the 75th Ranger Regiment, says Domeij had a combined total of 48 months deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Higher-ranking enlisted Rangers, like Domeij, typically have between nine and 12 deployments if they were with the 75th Ranger Regiment prior to or shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. Domeij had enlisted in the Army in July 2001 and joined the 2nd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in April 2002.

With his 14 deployments, Domeij becomes the Ranger with the most deployments to date killed in action. Just a year ago this month, fellow Ranger SFC Lance Vogeler was killed in Afghanistan during his 12th deployment, becoming at that time the Ranger with the most deployments killed in action.

Domeij had the distinction of being one of the first Rangers to be qualified as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), a position usually reserved for Air Force airmen who serve with ground combat units and call in airstrikes from fighters or bombers flying overhead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Secret Weapon?: Department of Defense Enlists Mobile Devices

Apple Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- Picture yourself as a young Marine who's just been sent to Haiti after an earthquake. There is horror everywhere. Fifty survivors crowd around you, asking for food and water, and you'd love to help them. But in the chaos you don't know where caches of supplies have been delivered.

So you do exactly what you've been trained to do: you whip out your smartphone.

Right there on the screen is an app that tells you exactly where you are, where your fellow troops are, and where relief supplies have now been delivered.

"He can tell the refugees, 'Head that way,' and send a text ahead to be ready for 50 refugees," said Greg d'Arbonne of Overwatch Systems, a Textron subsidiary developing apps for the Department of Defense.

The U.S. military, used to spending big bucks on specialized hardware for its troops, has found that it can sometimes get the same results from the smartphones many teenagers have in their pockets before they enlist.

Private companies have jumped on board, creating software that does what the military needs, and for a lot less money than battle-hardened equipment would cost.

"What we need is a compass, an accelerometer, and GPS," said d'Arbonne. "Most smartphones have that."

"There was concern that a soldier might drop his phone. In that case, you can deactivate it remotely and get him a new one," he said. "And you know what? You're out $400, a lot less than you would have paid for hardware a few years ago."

The story is told of a chopper pilot in Afghanistan who got frustrated fumbling with maps over unfamiliar terrain. He loaded them all onto an iPad instead. His commanders liked his initiative. Thirty other pilots are now flying with everything they need on a tablet instead of paper.

There are issues to be dealt with, of course. Security is a major one. The hackers who crashed Sony's PlayStation network may find the U.S. Air Force too tempting to resist. So encryption specialists are already hard at work, which inevitably means a money-saving effort will get more expensive and cumbersome.

But momentum is growing. The Army ran a major exercise over the summer at Fort Bliss on the Texas-New Mexico border, with troops using Androids and BlackBerrys instead of specialized equipment. And d'Arbonne says that while the software his firm is developing is intended primarily for the military, some of the greatest interest comes from homeland security managers and relief agencies.

His firm has called its smartphone app Insite for civilian uses, and SoldierEyes for the military, but d'Arbonne said they're trying to come up with something better.

"We got some pushback from the Navy -- 'You want us to use something called SoldierEyes?'" he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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