Dempsey: Fewer programs, more leadership

WASHINGTON - When it comes to efforts for combat stress reduction, suicide prevention and building resiliency, the top military leader said each service branch should be free to do its own thing.

“I’m not at the point yet where I think it needs to be all one program,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Warrior Resilience Conference in Washington on Friday.

Air Force extends stop-loss deadline

The Air Force has once again extended the deadline for airmen to apply for retroactive stop-loss pay, the service announced Wednesday.

The service has used stop loss -- the involuntary holding of airmen beyond their enlistment or their approved retirement or separation date -- twice since Sept. 11, 2001. Those times were Oct. 2, 2001 to Jan. 31, 2003 and May 2 to Dec. 31, 2003, said Col. Jerry Couvillion, personnel services directorate operations chief for the Air Force Personnel Center, in a release.

Afghanistan helicopter crash video appears real

WASHINGTON — A viral video of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan appears to be a real accident that occurred last month, according to ISAF officials.

The clip, making the rounds on YouTube and other video sharing sites this week, reportedly shows an AH-64 Army helicopter slamming into the ground after executing a steep turn. ISAF officials said Wednesday they believe the video shows a crash which occurred in Paktika province on Feb. 6, although they are still investigating who filmed and posted the clip.

DOD working on guidelines for cyberwar operations

WASHINGTON — After years of confusion over the authority of U.S. computer warriors to mount attacks in cyberspace, the Defense Department is aiming to institute key cyberwarfare guidelines within two months, Defense Department officials told Congress on Tuesday.

The Joint Staff and Office of Secretary of Defense’s policy office have been developing rules defining, among other things, the Pentagon’s authority to engage in “active defenses” designed to head off attacks aimed at Department of Defense computer networks.

How a contractor switch affects Tricare customers in 21 western states

WASHINGTON —  Some beneficiaries in Tricare’s western region may need to start looking for a new doctor.

The Department of Defense has changed the contractor that creates the network of civilian health care providers for Tricare beneficiaries in the West region. The contract was originally awarded to TriWest Healthcare Alliance, but the DOD re-opened the bidding process after UnitedHealth Military & Veterans Services filed a protest.

Amid Afghan turmoil, Allen to brief Congress this week on recent setbacks and successes

WASHINGTON – Of some 26 congressional hearings starring Defense Department officials this week and next, perhaps none will be more carefully watched than those featuring Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Allen is scheduled to testify about recent developments in Afghanistan on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee and on Thursday to the Senate.

Obama declares National Day of Honor

On the night of March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush announced what Americans had been anticipating for some time.

“My fellow citizens,” he said, “at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”

OSC: Dover chief set the tone for retaliation

WASHINGTON - The former commander of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover’s Port Mortuary “set the tone for retaliation and was the primary force” behind actions against whistleblowers at the facility, and the Air Force should discipline him and two other managers for their actions, according to a report by the Office of Special Counsel.

The report is the result of an OSC investigation into complaints by four whistleblowers, who said they faced retaliation after reporting wrongdoing ranging from privacy violations to mishandling of the remains of service members.

$120 million heat ray waiting for first action

QUANTICO, Va. — In the market for a long-range heat ray? The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate can hook you up.

The “Active Denial System” beams a high-frequency, man-sized electromagnetic wave 1,000 meters. The target feels a blast of heat, similar to opening a very hot oven, and reflexively steps or runs away. The nonlethal weapon, which can be mounted on a military vehicle, is primarily designed for crowd control.

Viral video shines a spotlight on an African rebel group

STUTTGART, Germany- The goal was to make him famous, and in less than a week a group of activists have done just that.

Joseph Kony, the mysterious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army—a rebel group that has spent more than 20 years wreaking havoc in central Africa—is on the brink of becoming a household name.

Deep-sea dive is nothing new for Navy

Filmmaker James Cameron announced Thursday he will attempt a potentially perilous dive to the deepest point in Earth’s oceans, the Challenger Deep near the U.S. territory of Guam.

It would be a daring expedition, but if successful, Cameron will not be the first to touch down in the black depths of the nearly 7-mile-deep trench. The U.S. Navy holds that title. It sent the first and only manned exploration there 52 years ago and set a world record that still stands.

Lt. Don Walsh and a Swiss scientist named Jacques Piccard made the harrowing journey in a free-diving, deep-sea submersible called the Trieste in 1960, years before U.S. astronauts landed on the moon.

In later interviews, Walsh recounted the cramped, freezing space of the bathyscaphe and a loud bang during the descent when part of the vessel cracked under the intense pressure.

The Navy reported his experience in a press release sent out in February 1960:

“There was light outside the Trieste until about 800 feet, according to Lt. Walsh. At about 6,000 feet, the chill from the water forced both men to don warmer clothing. The entire descent required 4 hours and 48 minutes. Once done, about 20 minutes was spent on the bottom making observations and recording data.”

The team believed another mission would be sent down within a few years, but the Navy has never returned.

The Challenger Deep reaches to the bottom of a trench that is itself deeper than Lower Midnight, an abyssal ocean environment where no sunlight can reach and water temperatures hover just above freezing.

Little is known about ocean life at such depths beyond some photos and video of pale eel-like fish and crustaceans taken by unmanned submersibles. Walsh had said the Navy team could only remain for a matter of minutes and had difficulty observing the area due to seafloor sediment kicked up by the landing of the bathyscaphe.

According to a National Geographic press release, Cameron will make his dive in the coming weeks.

Sen. Levin calls on AFN to drop Rush Limbaugh

The influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee joined a group of female veterans in advocating for the removal of polarizing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh from the American Forces Network Wednesday following controversial comments the shock jock made about a young female law student, according to a CNN report Thursday.

Sen. Carl Levin said that while he would not legislate to have Limbaugh’s program removed from the network that provides a broad spectrum of viewpoints and ideas in television and radio to U.S. servicemembers around the world, he hoped the Pentagon would “drop it on their own volition.”

Women vets want Limbaugh off of AFN

WASHINGTON - Advertisers have been bailing on conservative talk radio king Rush Limbaugh since his caustic comments about a female student, and now a progressive veterans group is taking aim, urging the Pentagon to kick Limbaugh off American Forces Network airwaves.

In a statement circulated by the Democratic-leaning veterans political group VoteVets.org, four female veterans argue he has no place on military airwaves.

Double-V Stryker, pelvic protection helping save lives in Afghanistan

The nearly 300 double-V hull Strykers already in Afghanistan have performed beyond expectations, and more than 400 more should be finished by December, Lt. Gen. William Phillips, military deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said Friday.

But so far, there are no plans or funding to build more than the 760 double-V hull Strykers needed to equip two battalions, he said.

Panetta addresses rising green-on-blue attacks, cyber threat

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Increased attacks on U.S. troops by Afghan security forces will not shake the United States off its strategy of working closely with Afghan units to train them, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

“Let me be very clear: The brutal attacks we have seen over the last few days on our troops will not change and will not alter our commitment to get this job done,” Panetta said, speaking at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

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