CNN's Barbara Starr reports on an extraordinary allegation being leveled against the nation's top Marine, Gen. James Amos, stemming from that infamous video of Marines urinating on corpses in Afghanistan. The complaint against Amos was first reported by the Marine Corps Times.
Warning: the images contained in this piece may be disturbing.
By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
Several dozen combat-ready U.S. Marines stationed in southern Spain have been put on alert to potentially move into Libya and assist in the evacuation of American personnel if the unrest grows there in the coming days, a senior military official confirms to CNN.
The Marines have not yet moved from their base, but could be ordered to move closer to Libya so they could get there faster if a full evacuation is ordered.
A team of special operations forces also are on standby in Germany to assist, if needed.
The Marines in Spain are supposed to be ready to move within six hours of notification. By moving them closer, that time frame could be cut in half.
The Marines were sent to Spain in recent weeks as part of a new permanent contingency force capable of moving into North Africa very quickly after the deadly attack in Benghazi last year showed military forces were not close enough to assist.
The force in Spain totals about 500 Marines with six V-22 aircraft they can use to move quickly.
The United States has already withdrawn some embassy personnel, but with militants blocking some portions of the city, the military option would be used if personnel cannot get to the commercial airport, the official said.
By Barbara Starr
A Facebook page with sexually explicit comments denigrating female Marines was taken down after a congresswoman who complained about it was threatened on that site, an aide to the lawmaker told CNN.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, made public a letter she wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos on Wednesday about "F'N Wook" and others like it, asking them to review them and take action.
A Speier staffer told CNN on Thursday the page was taken down after her office made Facebook aware of threatening remarks about her that the aide said appeared on that site.
By Barbara Starr
The Pentagon has approved a Marine crisis response force for North Africa with air transport and combat capabilities, Defense Department officials said, a response to criticism the military was unable to get any forces to the scene of last September's deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The plan for a force of 500 Marines that can arrive at a crisis point within 12 hours has been in the works for weeks.
Details are being discussed with the Italian government and others in southern Europe, officials said.
The United States hopes to quickly reach a final agreement for a base of operations, most likely in Italy. For now, the force will be based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
By Alison Harding and Shannon Travis, CNN
A shooting that prompted a lockdown for hours at a Marine base in Virginia ended with three dead early Friday, including the gunman, authorities said.
Sgt. Christopher Zahn said they were notified of the shooting at Marine Corps Base Quantico late Thursday.
One person was fatally shot, and the gunman barricaded himself not far from where the victim was found, he said.
Using a public address system, police announced a base lockdown as the shooter holed up in a room in barracks near the first incident.
Law enforcement officials from the base and Prince William County surrounded the area.FULL STORY
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).
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
By Mike Mount
With little fanfare Monday, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford was confirmed by the Senate as the newest commander for the international forces in Afghanistan, charged with overseeing the final two years of the U.S.-led war and executing the White House plan to phase out troops and leave a small number behind after 2014.
Dunford, much like his confirmation, has made a career of flying under the radar, but he will be front and center as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, replacing Gen. John Allen. He is well-known in the tight-knit Marine Corps community as a thoughtful and calm leader and has 22 months of commanding in Iraq.
Until his name emerged in August as the nominee for the top job in Afghanistan, few people had heard of him.
His first real position in the public spotlight came at his confirmation hearing last month, which was notable mostly for Sen. John McCain's rant that Dunford lacked Afghanistan experience. McCain seemed amazed that Dunford was not part of the planning phase of the Afghanistan drawdown.
The Arizona senator's concern about Dunford's lack of experience in Afghanistan is quickly refuted by those close to Dunford, who said his work as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps took him to Afghanistan many times. He is no stranger to the country operationally because he was also the head of the Marine Corps command that handles operations and logistics in Afghanistan. He also spent time in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he focused on Afghanistan.
Dunford would not be the first ISAF commander with no real Afghanistan ground experience. When then-Gen. David Petraeus took the position, he had commanded Central Command, which oversaw the war from the U.S., but had never commanded troops on the ground inside Afghanistan. Petraeus's experience was in Iraq.
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
By Larry Shaughnessy
(CNN) - Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress on Thursday that he was not involved in recent discussions about the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan even though he is in line to become the top commander there.
"I have not been included in those conversations," Dunford said at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
"I think I have an understanding of the framework within which that decision ought to be made. I have certainly identified what I think are the most important variables that need to be considered," Dunford, who is assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said.