Entries in Army (42)


XM-25 'Punisher': The Army's New Taliban-Hunting Super Weapon

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The target is hiding in a building down range, but he's behind cover and won't pop out for a clear shot. But a U.S. soldier takes aim anyway and pulls the trigger, sending a small grenade round barreling through the air -- seemingly too high to even be close to a hit.

Then, at the precise moment the grenade round flies over the cover and is just above the enemy, it suddenly explodes, taking the target down.

That particular scenario is only played out with a model target in a new video of the Army's next generation grenade rifle system, but similar scenes have already taken place in several real firefights in Afghanistan for the few lucky soldiers who are equipped with the experimental XM-25, lovingly referred to as "The Punisher."

The video, released by the Army and posted on, is the closest look yet at the XM-25 and demonstrates not only the weapon's ability to detonate a grenade at a precise, preprogrammed distance, potentially eliminating enemies' ability to hide behind cover, but also its high-tech sighting system and various ammunition loads.

Five prototypes of the rifles have already seen combat in nine operational missions in Afghanistan as part of what the military called a "forward operational assessment" of the weapon. There, they helped soldiers put a quicker end to deadly firefights, according to a February report by the military.

"The XM25 brought the difference to whether they would stay there 15 to 20 minutes shooting [and] taking pot shots or the actual fight ended after using the XM-25," said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Smith, Soldier Requirements Division, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga., according to the report. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


All-Female Air Force Combat Team Makes History over Afghanistan

Jupiterimages/Comstock(KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan) -- An all-female Air Force team, the "Strike Eagles of 'Dudette 07,'" have soared into history over Afghanistan. Their combat mission, performed March 30 in honor of Women's History Month, was the first in history to involve only female Airmen. From the pilots of the two F-15E jets to the mission planners and maintainers, the operation was carried out entirely by women.

"I have flown with female pilots before, but this was the first time I have flown in an all-female flight," Maj. Christine Mau told the Air Force's news service. "This wasn't a possibility when I started flying 11 years ago."

Although the mission was full of symbolism, the air support they were providing to coalition and Afghan forces in the Kunar Valley was anything but symbolic. ABC News' Mike Boettcher was embedded with the 101st Airborne in the valley and said it was the fiercest fighting he'd seen in his 30 years of covering war zones, and that the support was desperately needed.

"We knew that they were taking some fire, that there were some bombs being dropped that day and we knew we were going to support the guys on the ground the very least making some noise, and most likely that we were going to drop some bombs," said Capt. Jennifer Morton.

Women -- yes, they are still called Airmen -- have been able to participate in Air Force pilot training since 1976, but they were not allowed to fly combat missions until 1993.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Anthrax Killer Should Not Have Had Army Security Clearance

FBI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An independent review of the psychiatric records of the alleged anthrax killer Dr. Bruce Ivins has revealed that the Army scientist should never have been given a security clearance or access to the deadly pathogen based on his psychological profile and diagnosable mental illness. The report also found that Ivins allegedly carried out the attacks for revenge following questions about his work with the anthrax vaccine.  The findings were made by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, which was ordered by a federal judge to review Ivins’ sealed psychological records to determine if future acts of bioterrorism could be prevented.

“Dr. Ivins had a significant and lengthy history of psychological disturbance and diagnosable mental illness at the time he began working for USAMRIID in 1980 that would have disqualified him from a Secret level security clearance had this been known.” said panel chairman Dr. Gregory Saathoff at a Tuesday press conference in  Washington to announce the findings in the report. Dr. Saathoff is the executive director of the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group and associate professor of research psychiatry at the UVA medical school.

“Information regarding his disqualifying behaviors was readily available in the medical record and accessible to personnel had it been pursued,” the report concluded in its key findings.

The report also found in key findings that Dr. Ivins omitted key information during his security clearance process and that Army investigators did not follow up on conflicting information or review additional medical records that were available despite Ivins signing multiple waivers for his health records privacy.  
Information released in the report notes that Ivins was first treated by a psychiatrist in 1978 when he was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.   The report concluded, “Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and the means.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Soldier Charged in Afghan Thrill Kills to Plead Guilty LEWIS, Wash.) -- An American soldier accused of being part of a "kill team" that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for fun will plead guilty to murder Wednesday in a military courtroom at Fort Lewis, Washington and then testify against his four co-defendants, according to his attorney.

In a confession taped last year and obtained by ABC News, Jeremy Morlock, a 22-year-old corporal from Wasilla, Alaska, admitted his role in the murders of three unarmed civilians, but told Army investigators that his unit's "crazy" sergeant had hatched the plan.  Earlier this week the German magazine Der Spiegel published a photo of a smiling Morlock posing with the body of one of the alleged victims.

Morlock reached a deal with Army prosecutors last month, said his civilian attorney, Geoffrey Nathan, in which he will plead guilty to three counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit assault and battery and one count of illegal drug use.  According to Nathan, the deal will require Morlock to serve 24 years in prison, with parole eligibility after seven years, and to testify against the other defendants at trial.  Morlock had been facing life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Morlock, a member of the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade, is one of five soldiers charged in the deaths of three Afghan civilians that occurred in Southern Afghanistan between January and May 2010.  Prosecutors allege that Morlock, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spec. Adam C. Winfield, Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II, Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes and Morlock participated in one or more of the murders and staged them to make unarmed Afghans appear to be armed insurgents.

On the confession tape, shot in May 2010 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Morlock told investigators that Gibbs planned the killings.

"He just really doesn't have any problems with f---ing killing these people," Morlock said, and then laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action.

"And so we identify a guy.  Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?" Morlock told investigators.

The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on a civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.

"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," said Morlock.

Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers.

The corporal said he opened fire as directed, fearful of not following Gibbs' orders.

"It's definitely not the right thing to do," Morlock told the investigators.  "But I mean, when you got a squad leader bringing you into that, that type of real, that mindset, and he believes that you're on board with that, there's definitely no way you wanted him to think otherwise."

The investigator asked Morlock, "Because you felt maybe the next shot might be coming your way?"

"You never know.  Exactly," answered Morlock.  "I mean Gibbs talked about how easy it is, people disappear on the battlefield all the time."

A lawyer for Gibbs declined to comment to ABC News.  Gibbs, Winfield, Wagnon and Holmes are in military custody and face life sentences if convicted. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Army to Punish Nine Officers for Fort Hood Shootings

File: Soldiers salute at a remembrance service for the 13 victims killed in the Ft. Hood attacks. Ben Sklar/Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- The Army has begun administrative punishments against nine officers for what it calls "administrative and leadership failures relating to the career of Maj. Nidal Hasan," the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood, Texas shootings that killed 13.

Army Secretary John McHugh has initiated "adverse administrative action" against the officers, according to an Army statement released Thursday on the results of an accountability review to determine if Hasan's superior officers were negligent.

"Although no single event directly led to the tragedy at Fort Hood, certain officers clearly failed to meet the high standards expected of their profession," the Army statement said.

The officers were not identified by name or rank, and it seemed there would not be a uniform punishment.

"The severity of each action varies depending on case-specific facts and circumstances," the statement said.

As part of its broader investigation into the circumstances that led to the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting, the Army conducted an accountability review of the actions of the officers that supervised Hasan. Unlike the broader investigation's conclusions, which were made public this year, the results of the accountability review have not been made public -- until now.

In the days following the attacks, it came to light the FBI knew Hasan had contact with U.S.-Born Islamic radical Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, a known Al Qaeda operative and recruiter. A report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released last month concluded that there were warning signs about Hasan's radicalization and antagonism to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that raised concerns among his colleagues -- but some didn't report these for fear they would be accused of racial profiling.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He could face the death penalty if his case is recommended to a court martial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Army Recruits Will Face Tougher Training Exercises

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If you're thinking about joining the Army but you're worried about sit-ups, push-ups and running two miles, the military isn't going to put much emphasis on these exercises anymore.  That's the good news.

The bad news is that the Army has something more grueling in mind for new recruits.

The Pentagon plans to retool the yearly physical fitness tests with more practical exercises geared to really getting soldiers in fighting shape.  Among other things, troops will be required to run an obstacle course while dressed in full combat armor, and while dragging a body's equivalent weight of 180 pounds.

The new Army Physical and Combat Readiness Test is being introduced at eight installations and if all goes well, will be rolled out Army-wide on Oct. 1.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the commander of Army initial training, says that sit-ups and other old-fashioned workouts don't prepare soldiers for survival on the battlefield.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Medal of Honor Recipient Sal Giunta To Leave Military

Photo Courtesy - United States Army(WASHINGTON) -- The only living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War is leaving the U.S. Armed Forces in mid-June.

The Army confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the bravery he displayed in Afghanistan, has decided to the leave the military.

“It does not surprise me that he made this decision,” said ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who has spoken with Giunta on several occasions. “I think this was a difficult decision for him. I know he always wanted to continue his education. I know he loves the Army and he loves his fellow soldiers, but in many senses I think he probably realized that as a Medal of Honor recipient...that would be taking up a lot of his time in the Army. It would be highly unlikely they would ever send him back into a war zone.”

Raddatz said that Giunta – who, since being awarded the Honor, has become the face of the war in Afghanistan – loves being a soldier and is modest about his accomplishments.

“I think he is uncomfortable with the spotlight in many ways because he doesn't consider himself a hero,” Raddatz said.

Giunta put himself in danger of enemy fire to rescue two fellow soldiers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Army Waiting List Swells to Near Record Levels

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Young Americans looking to join the armed forces may have to wait to serve.

The combination of lower recruitment target numbers, a weak economy and the implementation of the GI bill has made waiting lists, officially known as the Delayed Entry Pool, longer than they have been in recent years.

The Marine Corps, which has traditionally had a smaller recruiting base, has fulfilled more than 65 percent of its target for fiscal year 2011.  The Army entered the new recruiting year in October having fulfilled 50 percent, or half its targeting goals for next year.

The number is a near record for the Army.  The last time in recent decades the waiting list was so long was in 1996, when the Delayed Entry Pool was at 42.9 percent at the start of the fiscal year.

A number of factors are behind the surging numbers.  The military has cut back recruitment goals across the board.  The Army target, for example, for the fiscal year 2011 is 67,000, lower than 74,500 in 2010 and well below the average recruitment goal of 80,000 between 2005 and 2008.

The economy also plays a crucial part.  Unemployment remains relatively high at 9.8 percent, the same level as last year, and among 18-to-24-year-olds -- the Pentagon's prime recruiting age -- it's even higher.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


US Army to Deploy Smartphones in Combat as Early as Spring

Photo Courtesy - US Army/ABC News(FORT BLISS, Texas) -- For many Americans, the smartphone is a constant source of intel on daily life, from tracking the whereabouts of friends and family to navigating city streets and finding the best price at the mall.  And as early as this spring, the U.S. Army could make iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys and similar devices standard-issue communication and intelligence-gathering tools on the front lines of the world's most dangerous battlefields.

"This is a profound and fundamental change about how soldiers will be able to access and share information," said Michael McCarthy, director of the mission command complex of the Army's Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Troops with smartphones will be able to use text messages to more closely coordinate with their peers in the field and commanders at remote locations.  They'll also be able to stream real-time surveillance video from overhead drones to more effectively target the enemy, among other advantages, McCarthy said.

While the Army is still ironing out the details of a budget for the program, the benefits are expected to come at a relatively low cost to the military -- and taxpayers -- since the technology is commercially available and doesn't require significant investment for research and development.

The "Connecting Soldiers with Digital Applications" initiative began more than a year ago but is now several months ahead of schedule, officials say.  Tactical field tests with the smartphone technology have moved to advanced stages.

In the most recent exercise last week, a company-size Army unit used iPhones while running a simulated checkpoint, conducting tactical raids, and practicing local security sweeps.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


DOD Announces Fort Hood Reviews, Move Toward Increased Security

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) – The U.S. Department of Defense has announced the release of reports from U.S. military branches that reflect how those entities implemented new procedures to improve safety following the Fort Hood shootings.

The Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy addressed policies and procedures recommended by a DOD Independent Review Panel that followed the November 2009 breach.

“This tragedy caused us to take a hard look at ourselves over the last year," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh. “We are committed to ensuring the men and women and their families, who step forward and serve in these very challenging times, can rely upon us to take care of them in every way possible.”

The Army, along with other branches, announced several changes, such as the implementation of the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program that is meant to help emphasis soldier awareness in an effort to detect inside threats.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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