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Entries in US Army (10)

Wednesday
Sep262012

Army General Charged with Forcible Sodomy During Tour in Afghanistan

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(FORT BRAGG, N.C.) -- An Army brigadier general has been charged with forcible sodomy, inappropriate relationships, and possessing alcohol and pornography while serving as a senior commander in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a deputy commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, faces a possible court martial over the charges handed down Wednesday.

In May, Sinclair was sent home to the United States in the middle of his combat tour in Afghanistan, where he was serving in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar as the deputy commander of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne.

Sinclair was sent to the division’s home base of Fort Bragg, N.C., so allegations of potential misconduct could be investigated.  At the time of his return, base spokesmen confirmed that Sinclair was under criminal investigation.

A news release by the Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office listed the charges presented against Sinclair as including, “forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, violations of regulations by wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships and misusing a government travel charge card, violating general orders by possessing alcohol and pornography while deployed, maltreatment of subordinates, filing fraudulent claims, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

Few specifics about the allegations against Sinclair were released Wednesday, but a Defense Department official said, “several women were the subject of Sinclair’s alleged misconduct.”

A former U.S. official who worked with Sinclair during his deployment in Kandahar said he and other officials who knew Sinclair were shocked by the news of the charges.  He described Sinclair as being “very proactive” and a “gregarious individual.”

Sinclair remains at Fort Bragg, where he has been serving in a placeholder position as a special assistant to the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps.  A Defense Department official said Sinclair was read the charges against him on Monday.  Another official added that Sinclair is not under detention at the base.

Sinclair will now face an Article 32 hearing, at which evidence will be presented to a presiding officer to determine if his case should proceed to a court martial.  No date has been set for that hearing.

This past decade, Sinclair has served two tours in Iraq and was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.  He had also deployed as part of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Army spokesman George Wright says that in the past decade there have been only two Army general officers who have undergone court martials.

In June, Brig. Gen. Roger B. Duff, a former commander of the 95th Training Division, pleaded guilty to two charges of false statements, two charges of conduct unbecoming, and seven charges of wearing unauthorized badges, awards or ribbons.  Duff was sentenced to two months confinement and dismissal but, because of a pre-trial agreement, only the dismissal could be imposed.  Duff’s sentence has not been finalized.

Prior to Duff’s case, the only other court martial involving an Army general officer was in 1999, when Maj. Gen. R.E. Hale pled guilty to seven counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of making a false statement about an adulterous relationship. He was reprimanded, fined $10,000, ordered to forfeit $1,000 a month in pay and retired as a brigadier general.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan202012

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.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT]

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

Wednesday
Dec212011

US Military Charges Eight Soldiers in Death of Army Private

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On Oct. 3, Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found shot to death in a guard tower in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was 19 years old.

Military officials believed he killed himself, but that wasn’t the whole story. One military official told Chen’s family he was the victim of terrible abuse by his fellow soldiers, according to an October account by The New York Times.  One example: his superiors were said to have dragged him out of bed one night and across the floor when he failed to turn off a water heater.

The belief was that Chen was abused because he is Asian-American.  His parents live in New York City and speak no English.

On Wednesday, the military announced it is charging eight soldiers in Chen’s death; five of them will be charged with negligent homicide -- a clear admission by the Army that Chen’s fellow soldiers caused his death. The eight are currently in U.S. military detention in Afghanistan. The next step is an Article 32 hearing -- the military’s equivalent of a grand jury.

Minority advocates have expressed concern over the treatment of Asians in the military.  Chen is the second Asian-American soldier to kill himself in Afghanistan this year.  In April, Lance Cpl. Harry Lew of California shot himself after his fellow Marines allegedly subjected him to brutal hazing. The Marines in that case were court martialed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Four Soldiers Dead After Army Helicopters Crash in Washington State

US Army/2nd Lt. Kyle Suchomski(JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.) -- Four American soldiers were killed Monday night when two Army helicopters went down at a military base in Washington state.

The crash occurred sometime after 8 p.m. inside the southwest training area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Army said in a statement.  Initial reports said two people were injured, but as Joint-Base Lewis-McChord spokesman Joseph Piek explained, there were no survivors.

"The two helicopters are OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and they are two seat aircraft," Piek said, meaning all four aviators died.  Their names have not yet been released.

An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Army Successfully Tests Top Secret Hypersonic Weapon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Should President Obama want to strike any target in the world from the U.S. in just a couple of hours, that capability could soon be at his fingertips thanks to a top secret weapon successfully tested on Thursday, the Army said.

The Army's own version of a hypersonic, long-range weapon system blasted off from the Pentagon's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, early Thursday morning and -- in less than half an hour -- reached its destination approximately 2,500 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll.  The Army would not say exactly how fast the weapon can go, but does describe it as a hypersonic weapon, meaning it reaches speeds of at least five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

It was the first ever test for the Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), part of a Conventional Prompt Global Strike capability in development by the military.  The AHW is described by the Department of Defense as a "first-of-its-kind glide vehicle" that uses a three-stage booster system to launch the glider slicing through the air.

"The objective of the test [today was] to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight," the Department of Defense said in a statement.  "Mission emphasis is aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies."

A Defense spokesperson would not say how similar the Army's AHW program is to the hypersonic jet tested -- and momentarily lost -- by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in August.  That jet was designed to travel at a blistering Mach 20, fast enough to travel from Los Angeles and New York in just 12 minutes.

According to an environmental report from June describing the test flight for the Army's AHW, the weapon is meant to "provide the President , Secretary of Defense, and Combatant Command with the ability to quickly destroy, delay, or disrupt key enemy targets within a few hours."

The Defense spokesperson said that due to the project's sensitivity, no images of the weapon will be made public, but the environmental report, first referenced by the DefenseTech blog, shows what appears to be a computer-generated rendering of the craft.  Based on that image, the design appears much different from DARPA's version -- more in the shape of a cone with stabilizing fins, rather than the arrow-head style of the DARPA project.

The Department of Defense said that the results from DARPA's failed test in August, along with a previous test in April 2010, were used in the planning for Thursday's flight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

Army Considers Lifting Ban on French Manicures, Earrings

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Army may have new plans to update its grooming regulations that has some soldiers all riled up.

Among other things, the Army wants to hear from its soldiers on whether it should ban visible tattoos or allow its female soldiers the opportunity to sport French manicures or earrings while wearing combat uniforms.

Those are some of the questions that Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler wants answers to as the Army prepares to update its regulations on how soldiers should look while in uniform.

Chandler told the Army Times earlier this week that grooming standards send a message to the American public about the Army’s professionalism.

“I believe that we can better visualize to the American people and the Army what it means to be an American soldier than we’re doing now,” he said.

To that end, Chandler turned to Facebook to help him get input from soldiers about what grooming standards need to be updated.

Last month he posted, “Give me your thoughts on earrings for females in ACUs, or if French-tipped fingernails should be allowed,” Chandler wrote. “What about tattoos? Do visible tattoos in ACUs (neck, hands, etc.) keep us from being professional Soldiers?”

ACUs stands for Advanced Combat Uniforms, the Army’s pixelated camouflage uniforms.   His questions have so far drawn more than 1,200 responses.

Like all the military services, the Army has very detailed regulations about the grooming standards for its soldiers while in uniform.  The regulations are extremely detailed and run the gamut from the length of haircuts to how much makeup female soldiers can wear when in uniform.

For example, when it comes to fingernails for female soldiers, they “will not exceed a nail length of 1/4 inch, as measured from the tip of the finger” and though fingernail polish is allowed, they can’t be of “extreme colors” or “two-tone or multi-tone.”

But it is the easing of the tattoo policy in 2006 that has drawn the most responses on Chandler’s Facebook posting, with many favoring a return to tighter standards.

The Army eased its tattoo policy in 2006 as it struggled to meet recruiting goals at the height of the war in Iraq.  Some eligible recruits were being turned away because of regulations that banned visible tattoos on the hands and neck.  The regulations were adjusted to allow for those kinds of tattoos as long as they were not racist, sexist, extremist or offensive in nature.

Some of Chandler’s Facebook respondents say relaxing that policy now makes soldiers look unprofessional.

“I don’t know why the tattoo standards ever changed. Nothing should be on the neck and also on the hands,” says one.

“Having my nails done in a neatly fashion doesn’t affect my performance and skills or what I believe in. It absolutely looks professional,” says another.

Current regulations make no mention of cellphone use while in uniform and some Facebook respondents think it’s time the Army comes up with a policy on that issue.

Chandler told the Army Times the goal in updating the regulations isn’t just to bring change, but to bring clarity to the ranks. For Chandler, the Facebook outreach is a way to get insights and information from soldiers, their families and former soldiers.

“I would assume there are going to be some changes,” he told Army Times.  “Exactly what they are it’s too early to tell.”

Any recommendations he eventually comes up with will have to be approved by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

More Gruesome Details Emerge on US Army 'Kill Team' in Afghanistan

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine sheds more light on a so-called U.S. Army "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport.

Last week, Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty in a military court in Washington state to his role in the slayings and will testify against four other soldiers, including accused ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Graphic photos of the soldiers and their dead Afghan victims that already appeared in Germany's Der Spiegel are also featured in the Rolling Stone story written by Mark Boal, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker.

At one point, Boal describes how the soldiers in the "kill team" used a pinky chopped off the hand of a dead 15-year-old to place a bet during a card game.

Worried that the incident could turn into another Abu Ghraib -- the now-closed Baghdad prison where U.S. guards were shown in photos abusing prisoners -- Boal claims the Pentagon "launched a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib."

Among other things, it is against Army rules to take photos of war dead.

The Pentagon is calling the alleged atrocities "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."

Spc. Morlock, who faces 24 years in prison, grew up in Wasilla, Alaska and is a friend of Track Palin, the son of former Gov. Sarah Palin.

Monday
Mar212011

US Army Apologizes for Afghan Trophy Photos

US Army(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Army is apologizing for photographs published in the German magazine Der Spiegel this weekend that show American soldiers posing beside the corpse of an Afghan civilian they are accused of having killed for sport.

An Army statement responding to the photos publication says, "Today Der Spiegel published photographs depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.  We apologize for the distress these photos cause.”

The photographs are part of the evidence seized in the case against five U.S. Army soldiers who are accused of murder and conspiracy for the deaths of several Afghan civilians.  The soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were deployed to southern Afghanistan last year at the time they are alleged to have participated in the killings.  They are facing court martial at their home base of Fort Lewis, Washington.

“The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings” said the Army statement.

Several photos show the soldiers lifting a corpse by the hair.

The Army statement says the photos are “in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our Soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations.”

Because the case is being prosecuted the Army limited its comments but stressed that it is “is committed to adherence to the Law of War and the humane and respectful treatment of combatants, noncombatants, and the dead.”

“When allegations of wrongdoing by Soldiers surface, to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated.  Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate," the statement read.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb192011

Fugitive Army Private Captured in Florida

Photo Courtesy - Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- An Army private wanted in Los Angeles County, Calif., for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl was captured in Florida on Friday.

Authorities say 20-year-old Daniel Brazelton was taken into custody Friday night after officers found him hiding out in a motel room in Daytona Beach. Brazelton had been on the run since Feb. 11, when he escaped custody in Georgia, where he was being held pending extradition to Los Angeles County. Authorities say Brazelton was taken to Fort Stewart for medical treatment, and while being transported back to Liberty County jail, he managed to escape from the Army transport vehicle.

Brazelton, of Palmdale, Calif., faces charges of rape of a minor and for escaping custody. He has been taken to a Florida jail, where he will await extradition to Los Angeles County.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Dec152010

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







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