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ARLINGTON, Va. — With Saddam Hussein in the dock and Osama bin Laden still gone to ground, the American military faced two other enemies in 2005: terrorism and Mother Nature.

Already operating at full speed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. servicemembers raced around the globe, working to save victims of natural disasters.

They helped alleviate suffering and want through tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes that seemed biblical in size.

As always, the year’s challenges demanded sacrifices from families and servicemembers, especially those assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Successful democratic elections marked the year’s end for both countries.

But so, too, did a solemn marker in Iraq, of more than 2,000 servicemembers killed fighting for hard-won progress there.

Back home, Americans debate U.S. involvement abroad, but they agree on two points:

Admiration and gratitude for the bravery, skill and loyalty of U.S. servicemembers — and a wish for their safe return.

Jan. 2: U.S. military aid pours into Asia for victims of the tsunami that devastated 11 nations. More than 225,000 are killed.

Jan. 13: U.S. Army reservist Charles Graner is found guilty of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib during his court-martial and sentenced to 10 years in military prison.

Jan. 31: Congress raises the death gratuity from $12,420 to $100,000 for troops killed in combat zones and increase SGLI coverage to $400,000.

Feb. 14: President Bush asks Congress for an $82 billion supplemental to support the tsunami aid and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

March 16: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nominated by President Bush to head the World Bank.

March 31: Bush-appointed commission on events leading up to the war in Iraq says U.S. intelligence agencies were “dead wrong” in their assessment of Saddam Hussein’s military capabilities.

April 22: Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski is found guilty of dereliction of duty in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

April 22: The White House nominates Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Deputy Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, to succeed Air Force Gen. Richard Myers as the next Chairman.

May 3: To help cover the costs of the war on terror, Congress approves an $81 billion supplemental budget, including $689 million for Humvee armor improvements.

May 13: The Base Realignment and Closure commission recommends closing about 800 military installations in the U.S.

May 31: Vice President Dick Cheney tells CNN’s “Larry King Live” that Iraq’s insurgency is in its “last throes.”

June 23: U.S. Central Command’s leader, Army Gen. John Abizaid, contradicts Cheney’s “last throes” comment by telling Congress that the Iraqi insurgency is about as strong as it was six months ago.

July 20: A Pentagon report to Congress says Iraq’s security forces are only “partially capable” of fighting insurgents without significant U.S. military assistance.

Aug. 7: British, Japanese and American military members rescue seven Russian sailors trapped in a submarine in 600 feet of frigid water in the Pacific Ocean.

Aug. 19: Two rockets are fired at the U.S. Navy’s Kearsarge and Ashland in Aqaba, Jordan. The Jordanian government says it was the work of Iraqi insurgents.

Aug. 29-Sept. 3: Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath devastate the Gulf Coast. Large areas of New Orleans are destroyed by floods. The U.S. military rushes troops and equipment to the region.

Sept. 26: A military court finds Army reservist Pvt. Lynndie England guilty and sentences her to three years in prison for her role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Oct. 8: A 7.6 magnitude earthquake hits Pakistan and India, killing an estimated 87,000 people and leaving 2.5 million homeless. The U.S. military rushes humanitarian aid to the worst-hit areas.

Oct. 25: U.S. military suffers its 2,000th fatality in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

Nov. 17: Senior Democrat Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq “because they have become the target.” Days later, House Republicans put an “immediate withdrawal” measure to a vote, which fails 403-3.

Dec. 23: Congress finalizes work on the 2006 defense bill, which includes more than $610 million for Humvee armoring and a 3.1 percent pay raise for all military.

Sources: Infoplease.com; CNN.com; Stars and Stripes, and other media reports.

More about 2005 ...

See other Stars and Stripes Year in Review stories about:The MideastEuropeJapan and GuamKoreaOkinawa


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