Entries in Army (42)


Petraeus Retires, Warns Against Military Cuts

DoD photo by Cherie Cullen(WASHINGTON) -- On a sunny parade ground field at Fort Myer, near Washington, D.C., General David Petraeus’ storied 37-year Army career came to a close Wednesday.

“I have been privileged to serve in the arena together with America's finest, its men and women in uniform, as well as with its finest diplomats and civilian officials and innumerable coalition partners,” Petraeus told an audience of officials, colleagues, classmates, and friends as honor guards from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard looked on.

The man who literally wrote the book on how America fights its wars left his post as the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in July and will take over next month as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

That book, The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, was the cornerstone of the strategy Petraeus implemented at the helm of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been credited with turning around the situation in both theaters. The book even became a bestseller.

“Only Dave Petraeus could take a military manual and make it a great stocking stuffer,” quipped Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his tribute to the outgoing general.

Mullen praised Petraeus as “the gold standard for wartime command in the modern era” and likened his leadership to military giants like Grant, Pershing, Marshall, and Eisenhower as “one of the great battle captains of American history.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn heaped on the praise.

“No one has played a more important role leading this new generation on the battlefield than the man who stands before us today,” he said.

At a ceremony filled with the pomp and circumstance befitting a four-star general, Petraeus dedicated the bulk of his remarks to thanking everyone who helped him along his career, from his wife Holly to the soldiers he served with.

Many of Petraeus’ classmates from the West Point class of 1974 were on hand for the ceremony. Before it began, they huddled together to cheer for “Peaches! Peaches Peaches!” which was Petraeus’ childhood nickname.

Petraeus did offer one final piece of advice before taking off the uniform for the last time: a blunt warning about major cuts to military spending.

“As our nation contemplates difficult budget decisions, I know that our leaders will remember that our people, our men and women in uniform, are our military, and that taking care of them and their families must be our paramount objective,” he said.

“We have relearned since 9/11 the timeless lesson that we don't always get to fight the wars for which we are most prepared or most inclined. Given that reality, we will need to maintain the full-spectrum capability that we have developed over this last decade of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Petraeus said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Developmentally Disabled Texas Girl, 14, May Be with Soldier

Police are searching for Andrea Fox, 14, whom they believe is with a James Martin, 21. (Handout)(LEAGUE CITY, Texas) -- An Amber Alert has been issued for a developmentally disabled 14-year-old Texas girl who is believed to be with a 21-year-old soldier headed to Colorado.

Andrea Fox, of Timpson, Texas, who has the mental capacity of someone much younger, may be en route to Colorado with James Martin, the older brother of one of her friends and an Army soldier based at Fort Carson.

Fox was reported missing Aug. 16 by her grandmother, whom she was visiting in League City, near Houston. The girl wrote a note saying she was going to New York and would be back before school started on Tuesday, according to Sgt. John Jordan of the League City police department. She instructed her grandmother not to look for her, Jordan said.

Police say Fox was last seen on Tuesday morning with Martin and that text messages between the two led detectives to believe that Fox may be traveling with Martin to Colorado, where he is scheduled to report for duty by Friday morning.

League City police notified the state police's Amber Alert department, which determined that because Fox's mental capacity was that of someone younger than 14, and she may be traveling with someone unrelated to who was more than three years older than she is, she was at risk for serious danger.

"Certainly when you have someone who is young and is traveling with someone older, there is always a concern that they could be in danger of serious bodily harm, sexual assault, or even death," said Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas state police.

Notification was sent to all law enforcement agencies in addition to electronic highway billboards on highways throughout Texas. Mange said they also shared the information with other states, which could choose to display the information on their own billboards.

Police are hoping Martin's vehicle is stopped and Fox is found to be with him, Jordan said.

Martin is driving a blue Chevy Aveo that he just purchased while home in Texas on leave from the Army, Jordan said. The police have no plate number for the vehicle or information as to what year it was made.

Anyone who has seen the vehicle, Martin, or Fox is asked to call the League City police at 281-332-2566.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Army Tours of Duty Expected to Drop to 9 Months

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Defense officials confirm that the U.S. Army will announce Friday that its troops will no longer be serving year-long combat deployments as they move towards nine-month tours of duty.

The Army has been studying the change for some time and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey had advocated the change when he was the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. The timeline for implementing the change is unclear.

The announcement should ease the stress of soldiers who've had to endure the longest combat deployments among the military services. At one point, during the surge in Iraq in 2007, Army units were serving 15-month deployments.

Marines serve seven-month combat tours and have seven months off between their next deployments. For sailors, ship deployments last a minimum of six months and some serve nine-month deployments depending on ship rotation schedules. Air Force personnel serve a minimum six-month deployment.

Currently, Army soldiers are supposed to get at least two years off in between overseas combat deployments, what's known as "dwell time." In a June interview with the Army Times, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said the Army was looking at increasing dwell times to three years, but that it might take until 2014 for such a change to be fully implemented.

It’s unclear if there will be a dwell time announcement Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Soldier Arrested Near Fort Hood with Bomb-Making Materials

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(KILLEEN, Texas) -- A U.S. serviceman is in custody after he allegedly admitted he was planning an attack on the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, the same base where 13 people were killed in a 2009 terror attack.

U.S. officials told ABC News an AWOL serviceman identified as Private First Class Nasser Abdo was arrested Wednesday attempting to make a purchase at Guns Galore in Killeen, Texas -- the same ammunition store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the weapons he allegedly used to murder 13 people and wound 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009.

Multiple senior law enforcement officials report that this appears to be a classic lone wolf case – although military investigators and the FBI continue to look at Nasser’s associations. Evidence so far is that he acted alone.

Pfc. Abdo made headlines in 2010 when he refused to deploy to Afghanistan and applied for conscientious objector status, saying his Muslim faith prohibited him from doing so. At the time, he told ABC News, "Any Muslim who knows his religion...can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the U.S. military." Abdo's request was granted earlier this year.

Sources say that when authorities searched his hotel they found firearms and enough materials to make at least two bombs, including 6 pounds of blackpowder and 18 pounds of sugar. They also found some jihadist literature in his backpack. He had also apparently purchased an Army uniform with Fort Hood patches from a local surplus store.

Local police were initially alerted to the suspect by the owners of Guns Galore who reported him as "suspicious."

After he was arrested, Abdo reportedly told law enforcement he was at the base to "get even," according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News.

A spokesperson for the Killeen Police Department, which has the suspect in custody, said Abdo was arrested for an outstanding warrant for child pornography and did not have information about the alleged plot against the base.

Officials believe an attack was imminent, targeting a location outside of Fort Hood where soldiers frequented. Nasser is described as angry about his court martial for child pornography and angry about the U.S. military role in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Soldier Saves Passengers in Fatal Bus Crash

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An unidentified U.S. Army soldier is being hailed as a hero Friday for pulling over his car to rescue passengers inside a burning New York-bound tour bus that had crashed into a tractor trailer, killing one and injuring at least 30 passengers.

There were no fatalities on the tour bus, and police say that's thanks largely to the heroic actions of the soldier stationed at the nearby Fort Drum Army base. The soldier spoke with rescue teams when they arrived and then continued on to the airport.

The Army has stated that the soldier was part of the 1-8 cavalry brigade that had just gone on leave Thursday and was on his way to the airport when he pulled over to help rescue the victims.

The tour bus was carrying 53 people from Ontario, Canada, to New York for a three-day tour. Thirty passengers were injured, two critically, and the driver of the tractor trailer was killed. Thirteen of the wounded sustained very minor injuries and were able to walk away from the scene on their own, while 15 others sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious, according to ABC News' New York City affiliate, WABC-7.

The soldier was driving in a car behind the bus and stopped to pull passengers out of the burning vehicle after it crashed, according to ABC News affiliate WSYR-9 in Syracuse, N.Y.

New York State Police identified the tractor trailer driver as a 59-year-old man from Dryden, Mich.

The accident occurred around 1:30 a.m. on the New York State Thruway in Waterloo, N.Y., midway between Syracuse and Rochester. Police say the tractor trailer rear-ended the tour bus as it pulled back onto the Thruway after it had been stopped for about 30 minutes with a mechanical problem.

Both vehicles were destroyed by fire.

The tour bus, operated by Farr's Coach Lines of Dunnville, Ontario, was on a planned trip from Hamilton, Ontario, to the New York City area. The bus departed Canada Thursday night and was to return Sunday.

The name of the truck's driver has not yet been released, nor have the names of the bus driver and his passengers.

Friday's crash is the latest in a spate of crashes involving tour buses this year that have left 32 people dead and 323 injured, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alleged Fort Hood Shooter to Be Arraigned

U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- The Army psychiatrist accused of the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood that left over a dozen people dead will be back in a Texas courtroom Wednesday for his arraignment.

U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the terror attack. Hasan was found to have links to Yemen-based Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, the former imam at the Virginia mosque where Nadal once worshipped, who became a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He ranks among the world's most-wanted terrorists.

After the attack, Awlaki confirmed the findings of an FBI investigation that showed the two men had been in contact before the shooting. Al-Awlaki said he'd advised the alleged shooter, calling him a "hero" for his actions. 

During Wednesday's court appearance -- Hasan's first since the Army announced two weeks ago that he would face the death penalty if convicted -- the circuit judge assigned to the military base will advise Hasan of his rights and the charges against him, and then ask the 40-year-old to enter a plea.  This will be done only as a formality since, under military law, Hasan cannot plead not guilty in a death penalty case.

The judge may also set a trial date at Wednesday's arraignment.  The defense has asked that it start in March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alleged Fort Hood Shooter to Face Death Penalty for 2009 Rampage

Ben Sklar/Stringer/Getty Images(FORT HOOD) -- Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, 40, accused of killing 13 people in the Nov. 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, will face the death penalty, the Army said Wednesday.

Although no specific date has been set, Hasan will be tried in a military court most likely within a year, and will face the death penalty if convicted.

Hasan, who was born and raised in Virginia to Palestinian-born parents, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and faces another 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder.

The Fort Hood Public Affairs Office will announce the arraignment date and location once it is set and the military judge authorizes its publication.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Passengers Help Soldier Propose in Houston Airport

KTRK/ABC News(HOUSTON) -- A soldier returning from Iraq proposed to his girlfriend in Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, with a little help from his fellow airline passengers.

Each passenger brought a single rose to Army Lt. George Dalton's girlfriend, Lauren Raabe, while she was waiting in the baggage claim area for him. Finally, as Raabe struggled to hold the growing bouquet, Dalton came from behind a small group of revelers accompanying the group and greeted his girlfriend with a kiss.

After giving her the remainder of the huge bouquet of red roses, Dalton told her he had something else for her -- and got down on one knee.

"I don't really know what to say," said Dalton. "Will you marry me?"

Raabe smiled and immediately said yes.

Dalton coordinated the plan with his parents in Houston over Skype while he was in Iraq. When he got on the plane, he asked the flight attendants to help him carry it out.

"They were really helpful," said Dalton to ABC News affiliate KTRK. "They made an announcement and asked for everybody to take a rose and bring it down here to the baggage carousel and she'd be here."

He said the planning kept him on edge.

"I've been nervous for the past couple of hours," said Dalton. "I haven't been able to eat or think about anything else."

Dalton is home for two weeks from a tour in Iraq. The couple said they would marry when he completes his tour, which should be in a few months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bradley Manning's Father Says His Greatest Fear Is Son Is Guilty

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When people ask Brian Manning if he is related to Pvt. Bradley Manning, he sometimes denies it.  The thought that his son could be guilty of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks -- including Afghan and Iraq war logs, a quarter of a million State Department cables and two videos -- scares the elder Manning.

He hasn't had a chance to ask his son, who was arrested in May 2010, if he's guilty -- but if he is, Brian Manning was matter-of-fact in what he'd say to his son.

"You f---ing stupid idiot.  Why would you do something like that?"

He added, "I would be openly embarrassed at holding up thinking he's innocent and I'd be embarrassed he'd done such a thing."

But for now, Brian Manning, who was a naval intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, is sticking by his son and denying reports the two had a fractured relationship.

Many Americans know little about the soldier accused of leaking the mountain of military secrets to WikiLeaks beyond his name and now-recognizable picture.

"He was always very energetic.  He was just a pretty normal kid," his father said of the 23-year-old who now sits in a cell at Fort Leavenworth, awaiting a military trial on charges that could keep him locked up for the rest of his life.

A recent PBS Frontline documentary obtained Bradley Manning's Facebook page, where he wrote openly about being gay, opposing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the feelings of loneliness and isolation he experienced in the army.

In fact, they were feelings so acute that Manning's superiors almost didn't send him to Iraq because he was considered emotionally unstable.  Somehow, the young private ended up working in a top-secret facility -- a place where he would have access to classified documents.

Bradley Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly bragging to a hacker about leaking a trove of documents to WikiLeaks.

Even though he's sticking up for Bradley now, Brian Manning knows there are even more twists and turns ahead as his son awaits trial and the potential of spending the rest of his young life in prison.  And for whoever leaked the documents -- even if it was his Bradley -- Brian Manning said he hopes justice prevails.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marine Battalion Returns Home After Bloody Afghan Deployment

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PENDLETON, Calif.) -- The Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines have begun to come home to Camp Pendleton after an intense eight month tour in Afghanistan that top Pentagon officials say will rank their battles among the legends of Marine lore.

Referred to as the 3-5, the 950-man Marine battalion experienced some of the highest casualty rates ever experienced by an American combat unit in the war in Afghanistan with 25 dead and 140 wounded. The casualties included more than a dozen amputees.

One of the fatalities was 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, the son of Lt. Gen. John Kelly, who is the personal military aide to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The general was the highest ranking officer to lose a child in Afghanistan.

There were happy reunions at Camp Pendleton Monday night as the first wave of 250 Marines returned home from a tour that garnered them praise for their heroism after a long tough fight.

The unit began its bloody tour in October when it took over control of Sangin district from British forces that had also taken significant casualties during their deployments in what had long been a Taliban stronghold.

The Marines were given the tough task of pushing out beyond the town center to broaden the security zone for local residents. They faced heavy combat almost instantly and the unit's increasingly high casualty rates last fall raised concern among top Pentagon officials. By January, Marine commanders were praising the 3-5 Marines for their heroism and battlefield successes that had pushed Taliban forces out of the district.

As the unit's losses mounted during their deployment, military medical personnel said they were surprised by the unit's mental health resiliency and said they didn't find higher combat stress levels.

In an effort to reduce the effects of possible Post Traumatic Stress back home, more mental health professionals have been brought to Camp Pendleton to help the unit and their families. Furthermore, the unit has been ordered to be kept as intact as possible for three months so that the Marines can decompress together. While an Army combat battalion saw 27 fatalities during a 15-month tour, no other unit has faced such high casualty rates in a tour that was half that length.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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