Entries in Marines (20)


Losing a Hot Meal Makes Marines Hot Under the Collar

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Marines are losing a daily hot meal due to the gradual U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

Last Saturday, Camp Leatherneck in southwestern Helmand Province cut back its food service from four to three meals by getting rid of "midrats," which is either breakfast or dinner depending on whether a Marine is starting a midnight-to-noon shift or ending a noon-to-midnight shift.

The Pentagon says the reason for the cutback is because food workers are going home before the Marines who provide security in Afghanistan. It's expected that a total of 30,000 U.S. service personnel will be heading home in the coming months with the plan to get most of the remaining 35,000 troops out of the country by sometime next year.

Yet, Marines aren't too happy about getting shortchanged a meal everyday in spite of the prospects of finally ending the nation's long commitment in Afghanistan. They can't say anything publicly but their relatives are learning about their displeasure through letters back home.

Help may be on the way soon. A Facebook page called "Breakfast for Bagram" has been started to encourage Americans to make food donations to the Marines and others troops who could use a little sustenance from back home.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Taliban Kill 2 US Marines at US-British Base in Afghanistan; Prince Harry Safe

JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages(HELMAND, Afghanistan) -- Taliban fighters Friday launched a complex and sustained attack on the large U.S.-British military base in Southern Afghanistan where Britain's Prince Harry is based, killing two U.S. Marines and injuring several others.

Taliban fighters attacked the coalition base at Camp Bastion-Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province just before midnight local time with small-arms fire and rocket attacks, according to U.S. officials.

A U.S. official said Prince Harry is safe and was not affected by the attack. The British Defense Ministry said Friday that Prince Harry had been deployed to Camp Bastion along with his Apache helicopter unit. It is Prince Harry's second deployment to Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman had said days after the announcement of Harry's deployment that they would try to kill him while he's in Helmand Province.

"We will do our best to kill Prince Harry and Britain's other troops based in Helmand," Zabihullah Mujahid said. "It is not important for us to kidnap him. We will target him and we will kill him."

The coalition camp houses as many as 28,000 international troops. The British side of the base is known as Camp Bastion, the adjoining U.S. facility is called Camp Leatherneck. Defense officials say the casualties and damage to buildings and aircraft occurred on a Marine portion of the base located at Camp Bastion.

A Defense official said two Harrier fighter jets flown by U.S. Marines were damaged in the attack.

Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., a spokesman for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, said a "follow-on assessment" of damage to the base is ongoing.

The attack was repelled, but it is unclear how many Taliban fighters might have been killed or wounded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Warships Deployed to Libyan Coast in Wake of Consulate Attack

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released(NEW YORK) -- With U.S. missions in potential hot spots on high alert after the attacks on the embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, President Obama ordered the deployment Wednesday of two destroyers to the region.

The USS Laboon is already off the coast of Libya while the USS McFaul should arrive in the next few days.

Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens became the first American envoy killed in the past 33 years along with three other countrymen after terrorists stormed the poorly-fortified consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday.

While the war ships don't have a specific assignment, they're expected to be at the beck and call of the U.S. if needed to protect national interests in Libya and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, an elite squad of 50 Marines is also headed to Tripoli, Libya, to secure American facilities.

There are also reports that the U.S. might fly unmanned drones over eastern Libya to search for jihadist camps where the consulate attackers might be hiding out.  These aircraft were used in 2011 when a no-fly zone was established over Libya during the revolt against then-dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Punishments Leveled For Marines Urinating on Corpses in Afghanistan

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The first of a group of Marines who were caught on tape allegedly urinating on the corpses of several Taliban fighters have been given what's known as "non-judicial administrative punishments," the Marine Corps said Monday.

The Corps did not specify exactly how the three Marines had been punished, but generally non-judicial administrative punishments can include, among other things, a reprimand, reductions in rank, forfeiting pay, extra duties or being restricted to a military base.

More Marines are believed to be involved in the incident and the service said in a statement that further punishments will be announced at a future date.

A video posted on the Internet in January appeared to have been taken in Afghanistan and showed four Marines urinating on the corpses of three Afghan men -- one of the Marines chuckling as they do so. In the background, a voice could be heard saying, "Have a nice day, buddy."

The video drew instant condemnation from top Pentagon officials who feared that it would lead to a backlash against American troops serving in Afghanistan.

The three unidentified enlisted Marines who received the administrative punishments are all non-commissioned officers. The Marines are not being identified because the punishments are administrative.

Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, was the general officer who determined the punishments. A press release from Marine Corps Combat Development Command says, "We hold Marines to a high standard of ethical behavior. The Marine Corps takes misconduct by Marines very seriously and is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible."

Two of the Marines pleaded guilty to having violated a general order for "wrongfully posing for an unofficial photograph with human casualties." One of them pleaded guilty to urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter and another to having recorded the video.

The third Marine, the highest ranking among the three NCO's, pleaded guilty to having "failed to report the mistreatment of human casualties by other Marines" and for having made a false statement about his knowledge of the event.

The press release announcing the punishments indicated further punishments are likely as "disciplinary actions against other Marines involved in the incident will be announced at a later date."

No additional details about the investigation into other Marines involved in the incident were being provided "in order to preserve the integrity of the investigations, and to ensure fair and impartial legal proceedings in the future," the statement said.

The three Marines who received non-judicial punishments were all members of the Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment (3/2) or served in units that were attached to 3/2 during their deployment. The battalion is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Shortly after the video appeared online, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos initiated a criminal investigation to authenticate the video. He also commissioned a command investigation by a three-star general to determine what factors may have led to the recording of the video. Both investigations were concluded in March.

Based on the information gleaned from the command investigation, Mills ordered a further inquiry into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident beyond those depicted in the video. That investigation was completed in June.

Non-judicial administrative punishments were also expected to be announced Monday in another high-profile incident in Afghanistan earlier this year that sparked deadly protests there. Six Army soldiers are expected to receive administrative punishments for the burning of Korans and other religious materials that had been taken from a prison library and designated for incineration.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US, Japan Reach Deal on Moving Marines Out of Okinawa

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- The U.S. and Japan have reached an agreement to move 9,000 Marines off the southern island of Okinawa.

The proposal, which is part of the Obama administration's larger push to beef up security in Asia, was announced by both countries on Thursday.  Under the reworked deal, about 5,000 Marines will be sent to Guam, with the rest being spread out across Australia and Hawaii.

The new plan follows years of disagreements between the U.S. and Japan over the future of military bases in Okinawa.  The countries have agreed to relocate a controversial base to a remote part of the island, but strong local opposition and environmental concerns have delayed those plans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marines Land in Australia to Help Counter China's Influence

Greg Wood-Pool/Getty Images(DARWIN, Australia) -- Two hundred U.S. Marines arrived in northern Australia Wednesday, the first deployment of an estimated 2,500 troops the Pentagon has promised to bolster American presence in the region.

President Obama made the deal during a trip to Australia last November.  At the time, Obama told that nation’s parliament, “The United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping [the Asia-Pacific] region and its future."

The deployment, which was done with the approval of Asia-Pacific allies, recognizes China's growing military and economic influence that threatens not just surrounding nations but the U.S. as well.

Upon the Marines' arrival in Darwin, Defense Minister Stephen Smith strongly dismissed speculation that his continent is acting as America’s “deputy sheriff” as some critics have suggested.

As a continuation of the six-decade military alliance with Washington, Australia said it would consider allowing the U.S. military to fly long-range spy drones over its territory.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Marines in Afghanistan Ordered to Disarm Before Panetta's Speech

Chris Turner/Pool Photo(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a sign of possible frayed nerves in the military, U.S. Marines were asked to lay down their weapons on Wednesday before entering a tent where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was scheduled to speak.

It happened in Afghanistan's Helmand province after Panetta had met with tribal elders in nearby villages, assuring them that the U.S. mission was on track.  The unusual order came just days after a U.S. Army staff sergeant went off base and allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians in their homes.

The 200 Marines were inside a tent at Camp Leatherneck along with Afghan guards and troops from other countries waiting for Panetta to arrive when they were told abruptly by Sgt. Major Brandon Hall to exit the tent, leave their weapons elsewhere and return unarmed.

It's an unusual break from protocol since Marines are expected to be armed at all times.

Afghan guards in the room, along with other foreign troops, were also unarmed during Panetta's address.  A defense official told reporters there was no heightened threat, but that the order to disarm was done to be "consistent" so that Americans troops wouldn't be the only ones carrying weapons.  The request reportedly did not come from Panetta or his team.

The order for the Marines to put down their weapons came from Major Gen. Mark Gurganus, according to a press pool report.  Gurganus said that since the Afghan soldiers were unarmed, he did not want them treated differently, but said it was not because of the shooting this weekend.

"You've got one of the most important people in the world in the room," he said.  "This is not a big deal."

This is Panetta's third trip to Afghanistan and, arguably, his most important.  The visit was planned months in advance, but carries additional significance.  It comes at a time of deeply strained U.S.-Afghan relations.

Addressing NATO troops at Camp Leatherneck, Panetta addressed last Sunday's massacre directly, which included nine children and three women, some of whose bodies were found with deep burn marks.

"We will not allow individual incidents to undermine our resolve," he said.  "We will be tested, we will be challenged by the enemy, by ourselves, and by the hell of war itself," he said.

He added, "Our strategy is working."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US, Japanese Officials Meet to Discuss Future of Marine Base

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is greeted by US military staff upon his arrival at the Futenma US air base at Ginowan. STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Senior American and Japanese officials are in talks once again to decide the future of a controversial U.S. marine base on Japan’s southern island.

Defense and diplomatic officials met in Tokyo on Monday to discuss how to deploy Marines from Okinawa to Guam. A 2006 agreement calls for 8,000 Marines to be moved off of the island, while Marine Corps Air Station Futenma moves to a remote part of Okinawa.

But local opposition to the plan has delayed the move. The two sides are now treating the base relocation and marine deployment as separate issues. They hope to have a redeployment plan in place by May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marine Corps in Trouble Again over Questionable Photo

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Marine Corps, already in hot water over a video showing four of its members urinating on what are believed to be the bodies of dead Taliban fighters, is again facing criticism for a photograph that seems to glorify the Third Reich.

The snapshot, which was taken 18 months ago in the Afghan province of Sangin, show members of a scout sniper team posing in front of a flag with what looked like the Nazi SS log.  The SS stood for the Schutzstaffel, originally Adolf Hitler's bodyguards that grew into Germany's all-powerful police force during World War II.

According to Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Calif., the flag was only symbolizing the scout sniper team but was nonetheless unacceptable to the Marine Corps and those in the photo are no longer with the service.

However, that explanation did not suffice with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which wants a full investigation into the matter.

Mikey Weinstein, the group's president, said former Marines have contacted him to express their disgust with the photo, which appeared online, adding, "Heads need to roll and this needs to be fully investigated.  This is a complete and total outrage."

Weinstein said he contacted both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the head of the Marine Corps.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan May Move US Marines to Guam

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Thousands of U.S. Marines in Japan could be headed to Guam soon.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he is considering a plan that would transfer close to 5,000 Marines out of the southern island of Okinawa, where a majority of the U.S. bases are located.

That's a break from a previous bilateral agreement that calls for 8,000 Marines to be moved out of Japan, so long as the controversial base Futenma is moved to a remote part of the island.

Okinawans, who are increasingly frustrated with U.S. military presence, say they want that base off the island altogether. That opposition has stalled U.S. efforts to realign troops in Asia. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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