By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised further investigation Thursday into how the Air Force mortuary mishandled bodies of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he seemed uncertain about when the families had been informed of problems and what the consequences should be for the people responsible.
He said that in addition to an independent review by experts outside the Pentagon, he was asking the service's top civilian to take an additional look.
"I've asked the secretary of the Air Force, Mike Donley, to ensure that the disciplinary action taken was appropriate and to provide me with the results of that review," Panetta announced a Pentagon news conference. Two civilians were transferred to other jobs, and a military officer received a career-ending letter of reprimand.
By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty
Foreign Service officers are firing back at Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's charges that some State Department employees are not working in the best interest of the country.
In a written statement, the American Foreign Service Association said Thursday the Texas governor's comments "reflect a serious misunderstanding" of the role of Foreign Service officers "in promoting American interests overseas."
In a radio program this week with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Perry said, "I'm not sure our State Department serves us well."
As the country prepares to honor all who have ever worn the uniform on Friday, it happens as the all-volunteer military force seems to be growing more separated from the everyday world of their civilian counterparts.
“There’s no challenge for the 99% of the American people who are not involved in the military,” Army veteran Ron Capps told Time Magazine for an article about the growing military-civilian divide. “They don’t lose when soldiers die overseas, they’re not being forced to pay, for the wars, and there’s no sense among the vast population of what we’re engaged in.”
For most of its history, the United States military was filled with those volunteering to serve, and it was filled with conscripts as well. With the elimination of the draft in 1973, today’s wars are being fought by the smallest proportion of our citizenry in over 200 years.
As the slow economic recovery persists, and Defense budgets face the chopping block on Capitol Hill, many analysts see the drift between the military and the rest of society growing even larger.
Mark Thompson takes an in-depth look at the issue at Time’s Battleland blog.
By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
The ashes of cremated body parts from some of the nation's war dead were dumped in landfills until 2008, unbeknownst to their survivors, an Air Force general acknowledged Wednesday.
The practice was stopped, and remains from cremated body parts now are disposed of at sea, Air Force Chief of Public Affairs Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick said.
The landfill disposal of the ashes was first reported in The Washington Post.