Army suicides down in August

WASHINGTON — Army officials saw a drop in suicide cases in August, but remain on pace for another grim record this year.

Army officials said 25 soldiers – 16 of them active-duty troops – are believed to have killed themselves last month. That’s down from July, when the figure hit an all-time high of 38 suicides among the active and reserve forces.

Sequestration question gets Panetta worked up

WASHINGTON — After fielding a slew of questions ranging from insider attacks in Afghanistan to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, it was the final question of a nearly hourlong press conference Thursday that got Defense Secretary Leon Panetta the most fired up.

He was asked if he’d support “a short-term deal” by Congress to stave off sequestration. His retort? “I’ll take whatever the hell deal they can make right now.”

House Republicans send Obama a letter seeking answers on Benghazi attack

The United States does “not appear to be learning from the past,” and may be in a “pre-9/11-mindset,” eight senior House Republicans wrote in a letter to President Obama this week.

The letter addresses the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and asks the president for a joint briefing to address their classified questions. Reps. Buck McKeon, Ileana Ros Lehtinen, Mike Rogers, Lamar Smith, Hal Rogers, C.W. Bill Young, Frank Wolfe and Kay Granger signed the letter. McKeon is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ros Lehtinen is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rogers is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senators: We’re still working on sequestration

WASHINGTON – Just two days after Congress left town without solving the problem of sequestration, Democratic and Republican leaders on the Senate Armed Services Committee promised publicly that they’re still working on the issue.

In a “don’t panic yet” letter to Senate leadership on Monday, committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., ranking member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and four other top committee lawmakers said they are “working together to help forge a balanced bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid damage to our national security” and stated that “all ideas should be put on the table and considered.”

Critics continue assault on Eisenhower memorial design

Rendering of the Eisenhower Memorial from the historic Maryland Avenue cartway by Gehry Partners, LLP.

Critics of the planned memorial honoring former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington D.C. continued their assault on the design by famed architect Frank Gehry on Tuesday, calling instead for a smaller memorial within an urban park dedicated to the former general.

The plans for the $112 million memorial, slated for a four-acre plot south of the National Mall and near the National Air and Space Museum, drew criticism for the depiction of the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower’s boyhood on steel tapestries supported by 80-foot columns.

After 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal, problems remain

WASHINGTON — Most coverage so far marking the one-year anniversary of the end of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law has focused on how smoothly the transition went, and how noncontroversial the change ended up being.

But editors over at the magazine for the military gay rights group OutServe posted a story Tuesday reminding supporters that just because the law is gone, that doesn’t mean all of the problems and prejudices have faded away.

Donley: For all Air Force's successes, challenges remain

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley kicked off the Air Force Association conference in Washington this week by praising airmen for their accomplishments in the past year, and calling on leaders within the service to hold everyone to Air Force standards.

In the last year, airmen flew more than 90,000 combat flights and transported 1.2 million troops, Donley said Monday at National Harbor, Md. Air Force medical flights transported nearly 3,000 injured patients, with a patient survival rate of more than 95 percent.

Defense official: Wounded veterans' caregivers a priority

WASHINGTON – A top defense official is making support for caregivers of wounded veterans a priority this year, calling for collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the private sector.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense John R. Campbell, speaking Thursday at the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium in Washington, said he is calling a conference in early 2013 that would bring together caregivers and support organizations to discuss issues affecting wounded servicemembers and veterans as they work their way through the recovery process.

Fixes to F-22 oxygen system expected to be complete by end of year

Problems with the F-22 Raptor’s oxygen system have been identified and removed, and fixes to a faulty valve on the fighter’s oxygen system should be complete by the end of the year, Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon told a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee Thursday morning.

Physiological incidents are a “fact of life” for pilots, Lyon said, but “we are certain the F-22 cockpit and surrounding space is a safe place to operate.”

Stars and Stripes' front page from Sept. 12, 2001

On a day for looking back, here's Stars and Stripes' front page from Sept. 12, 2001, bearing an iconic image and the simple words "U.S. attacked."

And here's Newseum's gallery of Sept. 12 front pages from across the country.

Bin Laden raid book won't be sold in Navy or Marine exchanges

WASHINGTON – “No Easy Day,” the memoir by a former SEAL that the Pentagon says reveals classified information, won’t be sold in exchanges on Navy or Marine Corps bases either, representatives from both services said Monday.

On Friday, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES, had announced a similar decision.

Top National Guard job changes hands in Pentagon ceremony

WASHINGTON – Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the first National Guard chief to wear four stars and sit among the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Friday, handing his responsibilities to Army Gen. Frank Grass in a Pentagon ceremony.

In McKinley’s four years as chief, the National Guard completed a transition from a strategic reserve to a fully integrated part of the operational military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

Allen: Insider attacks demand coordinated NATO-Afghan response

WASHINGTON – The rising number of attacks by Afghan forces on international troops is as much a problem for Afghanistan as it is for the U.S.-led NATO coalition and demands a coordinated response, the war’s top commander, Gen. John Allen, said in a statement released Thursday.

“This is not simply a Green on Blue problem; it is a threat to both Green and Blue that requires a Green and Blue solution,” Allen said in a written statement from Kabul.

US, Afghan officials struggling to identify insider attack patterns

WASHINGTON – The United States will help the Afghan government recheck the entire 352,000-member Afghan security force in the wake of an upsurge of attacks against international troops by Afghans in uniform, the No. 2 U.S. general in the country said Wednesday.

“We’re going back through, along with our partners up here at [the Afghan interior and defense ministries,] a lot of information out there to try to pull together patterns,” said Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of ISAF Joint Command.

Panetta to participate in 9/11 events in Pennsylvania and at Pentagon

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will travel to Pennsylvania on Monday to commemorate victims of the 9/11 attacks who died when terrorists crashed their plane into a field near Shanksville.

The day after touring the Flight 93 National Memorial, Panetta will participate in two 9/11 events scheduled at the Pentagon: a morning observance to be held at the Pentagon Memorial, and one for all servicemembers and civilian Pentagon employees in the Pentagon courtyard in the afternoon, Pentagon officials said.

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