Pentagon reports record number of suicides
A soldier on patrol in Afghanistan. Photo by ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images
January 15th, 2013
04:03 PM ET

Pentagon reports record number of suicides

By Barbara Starr

Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 U.S. service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.

According to the Pentagon, 239 military deaths in 2012 have been confirmed as suicides and another 110 are being investigated as probable suicides. The number of suicides in 2011 reached 301; there were 298 the year before.

The statistics on suicides among service members, many of whom had deployed to war zones, included deaths among reserve forces.

Each branch of the service showed an increase. The Army had by far the highest number of suicides and probable suicides - 182, a number that was up from 166 in 2011. The Navy had 60 suicides in 2012 compared with 52 the year before, followed by the Air Force with 59 (up from 51) and the Marine Corps with 48 (up from 32).

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Filed under: Army • Defense Spending • Marines • Military • Navy • Security Brief • Sequestration
Epic combat valor: Former soldier to receive Medal of Honor
January 11th, 2013
04:48 PM ET

Epic combat valor: Former soldier to receive Medal of Honor

By Mike Mount

A former U.S. Army staff sergeant will receive the nation's highest award for combat valor for his actions in repelling an insurgent onslaught in Afghanistan in 2009. He is the fourth living recipient to receive the award for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

President Obama said on Friday that Clinton Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor next month.

Romesha is being recognized for his courage while a section leader with Bravo Troop, 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at combat outpost Keating.

The Medal of Honor: What is it?

The assault on the outpost in the eastern province of Nuristan goes down as one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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Marine Corps to spouse clubs: Allow same-sex members or you can't operate on base
Ashley Broadway, left, and her wife, Lt. Col. Heather Mack.
January 10th, 2013
01:33 PM ET

Marine Corps to spouse clubs: Allow same-sex members or you can't operate on base

It apparently takes more than a few good men, according to the U.S. Marine Corps. It takes all kinds of people to support military families, including same-sex spouses of service members.

CNN published a story this week about a woman married to a female lieutenant colonel at Fort Bragg who believes she was rejected from an officers' spouse club because she's gay.  Less than a day later, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary advised Marine Corps legal staff such clubs conducting business on its bases must admit same-same spouses. If they do not, the clubs will be barred from meeting on any Marine Corps installation. Read the full story

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Filed under: Army • Marines
December 28th, 2012
08:11 PM ET

Mother tells of secrecy surrounding Ft. Myer child abuse allegations

Two former caregivers at an army day care center at Ft. Myer, Virginia are charged with assaulting children at the facility just next door to the Pentagon.

And at least 30 other childcare workers have been taken off the job after background checks found criminal records including sexual assault and drug use.

Military families are shocked and telling CNN’s Barbara Starr that the military kept them in the dark about many of the problems at Ft. Myer.


Filed under: Army • Barack Obama • Erin Burnett OutFront • Military • Panetta • Pentagon • Security Brief
Soldier marches to 'Ultimate Fighter' title
Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, in the grey shorts, battles Michael Ricci in the welterweight championship bout of the Ultimate Fighter last weekend. Smith won the title and a six-figure salary. (Getty Photo)
December 21st, 2012
05:25 PM ET

Soldier marches to 'Ultimate Fighter' title

By Larry Shaughnessy

It should come as no surprise that U.S. Army soldiers can fight.

But Staff Sgt. Colton Smith can say he's the Army's ultimate fighter.

Smith, who is based at Fort Hood, won the season 16 finale of "The Ultimate Fighter" on national TV last weekend by beating Canadian Mike Ricci in three five-minute rounds of mixed martial arts (MMA).

"It's an amazing feeling of accomplishment," Smith said in a story posted on Fort Hood's website.
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Filed under: Army
Reports of abuse at Army day care spurs call from Obama
President Barack Obama urged U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh to conduct an investigation into the hiring practices at Army day care facilities after reports of abuse.
December 19th, 2012
11:31 PM ET

Reports of abuse at Army day care spurs call from Obama

By Barbara Starr

President Barack Obama made the rare move of calling the secretary of the Army on Tuesday night to express concern about reports of abuse at an Army child care facility, U.S. officials told CNN.

"The president made clear that we must have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse. The president urged Secretary (John) McHugh to conduct the investigation into its hiring practices at (Army day care facilities)," a White House official told CNN's Lesa Jansen.

It is highly unusual for the president to call a military service secretary regarding a criminal matter, said a senior U.S. defense official who has served at the Pentagon for more than a decade.

The Department of Defense is now reviewing the hiring procedures at military day care centers and other youth facilities after the September arrests of two workers at Fort Myer in Virginia. The workers were charged Tuesday with "assault on a child under the age of 16" in connection with incidents that occurred in September.

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Filed under: Army • Obama • Panetta
December 19th, 2012
08:46 PM ET

Sex assault at military academies underreported, survey finds

By Larry Shaughnessy and Barbara Starr

The risk of sexual assault is growing at the elite military service academies, but victims are reluctant to report the problem, according to a Pentagon report obtained by CNN.

The survey of three military academies was ordered by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and will be released Thursday. CNN obtained advance details of the survey, which shows that the problem is getting worse with a rise in reported assaults and evidence that many more are never discussed.

Some of the most disturbing new information comes from the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. The survey found that 225 midshipmen, mainly females, reported that they were the victims of unwanted sexual contact in the most recent academic year. That contact includes everything from touching to rape. But only 12 filed formal reports, down nearly 50 percent from last year. The belief is the women still are not confident that their reports will be taken seriously.
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December 4th, 2012
06:55 PM ET

The science behind camo

The Army is ready to buy different camouflage for its fatigues and equipment, just eight years after troops in Afghanistan were outfitted with new uniform.

The move to a different uniform comes after soldiers, many of them redeploying to Afghanistan, began voicing their criticism in the summer of 2009 of the "universal" camouflage pattern, introduced in 2004 and meant to be used in all types of battle environments.

The problem: the one-size-fits-all approach of the universal pattern wasn't working.

CNN's Chris Lawrence spoke to one camo designer, whose three patterns are in running to outfit U.S. soldiers. But the developer has his eyes set even further down the road, to technology that can make U.S. troops invisible on the battlefield.

Click here for the full story on the Army's selection process.

Military judge removed from Fort Hood shooter case
December 3rd, 2012
09:01 PM ET

Military judge removed from Fort Hood shooter case

By Jennifer Rizzo

A military appeals court has removed the judge who had been overseeing accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s court-martial, saying the judge was biased.

The ruling makes Col. Gregory Gross’ order for Hasan’s beard to be shaved invalid. Hasan has objected to the order with various appeals, citing religious freedom.

“We order the removal of the military judge on the basis of the appearance of bias,” the court document states.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces faulted Gross with allowing the proceedings to become a “duel of wills” between him and Hasan rather than focusing on the serious crimes with which Hasan is charged.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with 13 counts of murder in connection with the November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, the sprawling Army post in central Texas.
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Filed under: Army • Legal • Military • Nidal Hasan • Terrorism
Pentagon weighs Afghanistan troop options after 2014
November 26th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Pentagon weighs Afghanistan troop options after 2014

By Chris Lawrence

Pentagon officials are considering a preliminary assessment by Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, on "what he needs going forward" in the country as the U.S. looks to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014, a U.S. official tells CNN.

One of the options being considered is "to keep a force of roughly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan post-2014," according to the official who did not want to be identified discussing ongoing deliberations. The official said that force would comprise a small number of special operations forces dedicated to counterterrorism missions, while the remaining troops "would either continue to train and advise Afghan forces, or assist with logistical issues such as medical evacuations and air support operations."

The "10,000 option" is just one of several being examined, the official said. The options represented "different ends of the spectrum" in terms of troop levels, the official added, but the official did not provide any detail as to what those options are.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not presented a formal recommendation to the White House, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Monday. FULL POST

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