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ARLINGTON, Va. — It was a difficult year for servicemembers deployed to war zones, and for military planners.

In Iraq, the February bombing of the mosque in Samarra and the ensuing violence negated any hopes of building an Iraqi police force and a military in a calm atmosphere.

In Afghanistan, a resurgent Taliban and an increased use of improvised explosive devices there delayed any real stability.

New flare-ups in Lebanon and Somalia commanded attention, while diplomacy became increasingly difficult with countries such as North Korea and Iran.

The difficulties facing the Bush administration, particularly in Iraq, were at least partly responsible for what the president called the “thumpin’ ” that Republicans took in the November elections, when they lost both houses of Congress.

Soon after, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned.

A new defense secretary is in place, and a new strategy for Iraq, with a January rollout, is on the horizon. The administration hopes to take back the initiative and show the American people that it has a plan for victory in the war on terror.

Here are some of the events that shaped the military landscape in 2006:

JanuaryJan. 24

Congress receives a report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that includes evidence of fraud, rebuilding money that was not properly stored and secured, and contract work that was improperly certified as complete.

FebruaryFeb. 10

New Air Force uniform rules ban colorful cell phones, eliminate the Good Conduct medal and nix the wearing of “Live Strong” or other inspirational bracelets.

Feb. 22

Shauna Rohbock, who previously served in the Utah National Guard, wins a silver medal in the two-person bobsled during the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

MarchMarch 1

Pentagon officials say they will ask Congress to extend the military pay table to 40 years, with pay increases designed to give senior military personnel with high-demand skills or valuable institutional knowledge an incentive to stay in the force a little longer.

AprilApril 26

A European Parliament inquiry finds that the CIA has conducted about 1,000 undeclared flights over Europe since 2001, transporting suspected terrorists to countries that allow torture.

MayMay 8

President Bush taps Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency after Porter Goss’ abrupt resignation May 5. The Senate approves Hayden for the job on May 26 by a vote of 78–15.

May 22

Some 26.5 million veterans learn that their personal data, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, are in danger of identity theft when the Department of Veterans Affairs announces that an employee took home a laptop computer with the information, and the computer was stolen.

May 29

Congress approves legislation limiting protests at military funerals in response to demonstrations by the Westboro Baptist Church at memorials for troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

JuneJune 22

The Senate rejects a call for all troops to be withdrawn within a year by a vote of 86–13, and a call for troop withdrawals to begin by the end of the year, by a vote of 60–39.

JulyJuly 20

U.S. Marines enter Lebanon for the first time in 20 years to evacuate Americans.

AugustAug. 3

Army Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of American forces in the Middle East, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee he believes sectarian violence in Iraq could deteriorate into civil war.

Aug. 8

The Army promotes Sgt. Keith “Matt” Maupin, the only U.S. soldier listed as “captured” in Iraq, for the third time since he went missing after his unit was ambushed April 9, 2004.

Aug. 14

The Pentagon releases a report blasting the instant-loan industry and backing limits on the rates the lenders can charge. Despite objections from the industry, Congress approved the new caps in September.

SeptemberSept. 7

U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, asks for additional equipment and troops to bolster operations against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. The request continues to go largely unfilled by year’s end.

Sept. 11

Nationwide vigils and prayer services mark the five-year commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In his nationally televised address, President Bush says Saddam Hussein was not involved in the attacks.

OctoberOct. 16

The Defense Department again makes anthrax vaccinations mandatory for U.S. troops and civilian contractors serving in the Central Command Area of Responsibility and on the Korean peninsula for 15 days or more. The shots had been voluntary after a 2004 court ruling cited mistakes in how the FDA determined the safety of the vaccine.

Oct. 29

The U.S. military has failed to keep track of thousands of weapons sent to Iraq, according to a report released by the Special Inspector for Iraq Reconstruction and requested by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).

NovemberNov. 8

The day after Republican election defeats, President Bush announces that Donald Rumsfeld will resign as U.S. Secretary of Defense, and tapss former CIA chief Robert Gates as his successor.

Nov. 13

Gen. James Conway becomes the 34th Marine Corps Commandant, replacing Gen. Michael Hagee.

DecemberDec. 6

The much-awaited Iraq Study Group report comes out. The president thanks its authors and promises a major policy speech on the Iraq situation in January.

Dec. 18

Robert Gates is sworn in as defense secretary.

Dec. 29

Defense Department officials confirm that President Bush has OK’d creating a combat command specifically for Africa.

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


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