September 25th, 2013
11:07 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Soldier shocks daughter on football field

13-year-old Bella Lund thought she was on the field during a University of Wisconsin-Madison football game as part of the team’s tradition of honoring a military family of the game during home games.

What she didn’t know was that her mom, Army Captain Jane Renee “J.R.” Lund, was returning home from a 6-month deployment in Afghanistan. Lund stood a few yards behind her daughter on the sidelines waiting to surprise her with a cheering crowd of more than 80,000 fans as an audience.

The reunion that followed is sure to warm any heart.

Check out the full video here:

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Military • U.S. Army
August 22nd, 2013
05:14 PM ET

Army sergeant says Afghan killing spree was 'act of cowardice'

The Army sergeant who admitted to gunning down 16 civilians in a 2012 rampage through two villages near his outpost in southern Afghanistan reportedly apologized Thursday, describing the massacre as an "act of cowardice."

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty in June to more than 30 criminal charges, including 16 premeditated murder counts.

The plea spares the 39-year-old Bales the prospect of a death sentence in the killings. He now faces life in prison, but a jury of four officers and two enlisted personnel will decide whether he will have a chance at parole.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army
May 29 court-martial for Hassan
May 1st, 2013
07:56 PM ET

May 29 court-martial for Hassan

A military judge on Wednesday set a May 29 court-martial for U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009 that left 13 people dead.

Hasan is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder charges for the alleged shootings at the post's processing center, where soldiers were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hasan's court-martial has been repeatedly delayed since it was initially set to begin in March 2012, most notably after an appeals court delayed the case over the question of whether the Army major's beard could be forcibly shaved.

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Filed under: Military • Texas • U.S. Army
April 15th, 2013
01:54 PM ET

Reward offered year after soldier's disappearance

It's been one year since Fort Bragg soldier Kelli Bordeaux went missing, and there's now a reward being offered for information that could help authorities solve the mystery, according to police in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The military is offering $25,000 for information that could help explain what happened to Pfc. Bordeaux, Detective Jeff Locklear told CNN on Monday.

Last April, police and the military searched an area near a Fayetteville bar where Bordeaux was last seen and last used her cell phone, authorities then told CNN.

The 23-year-old soldier left the Froggy Bottoms bar early on a Saturday, police told CNN then. She had been drinking and was given a ride home by a bar employee, according to a U.S. Army official who spoke on condition of anonymity at the time of that story.

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Filed under: Military • North Carolina • U.S. Army
Manning pleads guilty to 11 charges
Pfc. Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
February 28th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

Manning pleads guilty to 11 charges

[Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET] Pfc. Bradley Manning, after pleading guilty to half of the 22 charges against him in a case of document leaks to WikiLeaks, has explained in court why and how he leaked classified material.

In an hourlong statement in court, he said he passed on what "upset" or "disturbed" him but nothing he thought would harm the United States if it became public.

[Posted at 12:48 p.m. ET] Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to half of the 22 charges against him, but not the major one, in what the government says is the largest leak of classified documents in the nation's history.

The Army intelligence analyst is accused of stealing thousands of classified documents while serving in Iraq. The material was then published online by WikiLeaks.

The group, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website, has never confirmed that Manning was the source of its information.

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December 19th, 2012
01:22 PM ET

Army sergeant could get death penalty in Afghan killings

The U.S. military has referred the case of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to a court martial that would be authorized to consider the death penalty. Bales is accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a shooting rampage in March.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • World
Four-star general demoted for improper spending
November 13th, 2012
07:40 PM ET

Four-star general demoted for improper spending

Gen. William "Kip" Ward, the first four-star general to command U.S. military operations in Africa, will lose one star and retire as a lieutenant general, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Army also wants $82,000 back from the officer, the statement said.

Investigators found Ward used his rank as a four-star general to shuttle his wife on shopping sprees, enjoyed a lavish beachfront trip and once accepted a defense contractor's gift of going backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington.
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Basil Plumley, Army veteran of 3 wars, dies at 92
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, left, and retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore help lead the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam.
October 11th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Basil Plumley, Army veteran of 3 wars, dies at 92

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, who fought in some of the U.S. Army's bloodiest battles in three wars, died Wednesday in Columbus, Georgia. He was 92.

Plumley saw action in some of the largest battles of World War II, including the Battle of Normandy, the Battle of Salerno in Italy and Operation Market Garden.

He then fought in the Korean War, but it was his role in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam that brought him the most fame. The battle was chronicled in the book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," which was later a 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson. Sam Elliott played Plumley.

The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, tweeted a picture of Elliot and Plumley in noting the veteran's death.

Plumley, along with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, led the Army's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment in the November 1965 battle that saw 450 U.S. forces face off against 2,000 troops from the North Vietnamese army in the first major engagement between the two armies. More than 230 U.S. troops were killed.

Plumley was at Landing Zone X-Ray, where 79 U.S. troops died.

"That was a long day. I was the second one in and next to the last to leave," Plumley was quoted as saying by The Bayonet in 2010 when he donated a large print of himself and Moore in Vietnam to the National Infantry Museum.

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Filed under: Military • Obituary • U.S. Army
August 10th, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Army general is military's first openly gay flag officer

The U.S. military has its first openly gay flag officer with the promotion of Tammy Smith to the rank of Army brigadier general on Friday.

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Smith received her stars in a private ceremony at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a press release from the Service Members Legal Defense Network, an organization promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military.

Friday was also the first day she publicly acknowledged her sexuality, according to a report from Stars and Stripes, and that acknowledgement comes less than a year after the military ended the "don't ask, don't tell" policy under which an active-duty service member faced punishment or discharge if he or she admitted being homosexual.

“I don’t think I need to be focused on that," Stripes quoted Smith as saying. "What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries.”

Smith is serving as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve in Washington. She is a 26-year veteran of the Army and has served in Afghanistan, Panama and Costa Rica as well as stateside assignments.

“It is indeed a new era in America’s military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement.

Smith's spouse is Tracey Hepner, director of operations for the Military Partners and Families Coaliton, an advocacy and support organization for LGBT members of the military.

Hepner presented Smith with her stars at Friday's ceremony.

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Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell • Gay and lesbian • Military • U.S. Army
Air Force officer’s database shows U.S. bombs since WWI
THOR data plotted on Google Earth show British (red) and U.S. (blue) bombings in Germany from 1941 to 1945.
July 31st, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Air Force officer’s database shows U.S. bombs since WWI

A U.S. Air Force officer hopes to soon release a database of bombs dropped from American military aircraft since World War I a tool he says can be used to shed new light on old conflicts and perhaps even help locate unexploded ordnance.

Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson says he began working on THOR, or Theater History of Operations Reports, in his spare time in 2006. It combines information from numerous sources thousands of paper reports, punch cards and magnetic tape records for older conflicts, and digital databases for others across nearly 100 years.

The database, already being used by the Defense Department and other government agencies, for the first time allows users to search and find on a map nine decades of U.S. bombings. THOR was first reported on this week by The Boston Globe.

Robertson started the database when he was part of a briefing team for the Air Force’s chief of staff at the Pentagon.

“What drove the development of THOR was ... the data may have been out there, but it was a pain in the rear end to find it and make it useful,” Robertson said by phone Tuesday.

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Filed under: Marines • Military • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • U.S. Navy • War
June 25th, 2012
02:37 AM ET

North Korea slams use of its flag in U.S.-South Korean military drills

North Korea has reacted angrily to the use of its flag during live-fire drills by South Korea and the United States, calling it "a grave provocative act."

The comments from Pyongyang on Sunday came after the allies held military drills last week less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the North Korean border, involving more than 2,000 military personnel.

An unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesman accused South Korea and the United States of firing "live bullets and shells" at the flag, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The act was "the most vivid expression of their hostile policy," the spokesman said.

The North Korean flag was put on an elevated hill but was not directly used as a target during the exercises, an official for the South Korean Defense Ministry said, declining to be identified.

"It was used only as a symbol of North Korean territory and the drill was a defensive one," he added.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Military • North Korea • South Korea • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • U.S. Navy
Army investigators: No foul play suspected in captain's death
Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark died on May 1 while serving in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, about 85 miles north of Kandahar.
May 7th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Army investigators: No foul play suspected in captain's death

Military investigators said Monday that they do not suspect foul play in the death of an Army captain who suddenly collapsed during a video chat with his wife.

Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, 43, was using the video chatting service Skype to speak with his wife, Susan Orellana-Clark, on April 30 when he suddenly slumped forward and collapsed. He was dead when military personnel arrived two hours later.

Orellana-Clark said in a statement Sunday that she saw what appeared to be a bullet hole on the wall behind her husband after he collapsed, leading to speculation he had been shot.

While the cause of Clark's death is not yet known, investigators have ruled out a gunshot, Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey said in a statement.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • World
May 6th, 2012
05:38 PM ET

Wife: Army captain 'knocked forward' while on Skype session from Afghanistan

A U.S. Army captain in Afghanistan did not indicate any unease when he suddenly fell forward while on a video chat with his wife, who then spotted what appeared to be a bullet hole in a closet behind him, the wife said Sunday.

Susan Orellana-Clark's husband, Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, died last week while serving in Tarin Kowt, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) north of Kandahar. His wife's account offers new detail about what she saw happen from some 7,500 miles away, while also raising fresh questions as to how he died and why, according to her, it took two hours for anyone to come to his aid.

The wife said in a statement that, when the two were chatting on Skype last Monday, "there was no sign that Capt. Clark was in any discomfort, nor did he indicate any alarm."

Then, Clark was "suddenly knocked forward," the wife said. Orellana-Clark said she saw what she described as a bullet hole behind her husband, as did several other individuals - one of them a military member - who came over and could still see the scene over the continuing Skype session.

"After two hours and many frantic phone calls by Mrs. Clark, two military personnel arrived in the room (in Afghanistan) and appeared to check (Clark's) pulse, but provided no details about his condition to his wife," the statement said.

A U.S. military official with knowledge of the investigation conducted in Afghanistan said no wounds were found on the body. The cause of death is pending while authorities await autopsy and toxicology results, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. • U.S. Army • World
March 28th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Grieving survivors describe Afghan massacre

Reporter Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS network has become the first western journalist to visit the villages where a U.S. soldier allegedly killed 17 people.

In a remarkable report she talks with some of the survivors and some Afghan guards on duty at the military camp from where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales left on his alleged killing spree.

The video at the top of this story is Hakim’s account of her journey to the remote villages near Kandahar and what she was told.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • War • World
Soldier charged with 17 murder counts in Afghan shootings
U.S. officials have alleged that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales killed more than a dozen people in two villages in southern Afghanistan.
March 23rd, 2012
02:38 PM ET

Soldier charged with 17 murder counts in Afghan shootings

[Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET] Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales could be sentenced to death if convicted on any of the 17 counts of murder filed against him Friday for allegedly embarking on a bloody shooting rampage in Afghan villages, the U.S. military said.

In addition to the charges accusing him of murder "with premeditation," the 38-year-old faces six counts of assault and attempted murder.

Authorities say Bales left a remote outpost in Kandahar province's Panjwai district early March 11 and went house-to-house, gunning down villagers.

U.S. and Afghan officials initially said 16 people, including nine children, died in those attacks. The counts indicate that one more person died, though Afghan government officials in Kabul have they have no record of another death.

Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said only that the investigators assigned to the case felt they had enough evidence to charge Bales with 17 counts of murder. There was no indication as to where the other fatality came from, though it was not related to a pregnant woman, as has been rumored.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Courts • Crime • Justice • Military • U.S. Army
Official: Soldier to face 17 murder counts in Afghan shootings
U.S. officials have alleged that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales killed 16 people in two villages in southern Afghanistan.
March 22nd, 2012
06:53 PM ET

Official: Soldier to face 17 murder counts in Afghan shootings

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder in connection with a March 11 shooting spree in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

The charges are expected to be announced on Friday. The official did not explain why Bales is to be charged with 17 counts, as opposed to 16, which is the number of people reported to have been killed in the incident.

U.S. officials have alleged that Bales killed 16 men, women and children in two neighboring villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan.

Bales is being held in a military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Courts • Crime • Justice • Military • U.S. Army
March 19th, 2012
09:40 PM ET

CNN prime time: 3-year-old pat-down, outrage escalates in Florida teen's killing

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Suspect in Afghan killings had prior arrest

CNN’s Dan Simon looks at what may have been a darker side of the man accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians.

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Protesters demand arrest in teen's killing

Outrage ramps up in a racially-charged case in Florida. A neighborhood watch volunteer remains free after telling police he shot and killed an unarmed teenager in an act he claims was self-defense.

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Father: TSA agent's actions 'intrusive'

A viral video showing TSA agents patting down a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair in 2010 was posted on YouTube on Sunday by his father.

March 13th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Afghanistan massacre: A search for answers as questions arise, anger flares

A U.S. soldier is accused of shooting nine children, three women and four men in a house-to-house rampage in villages near his combat outpost in southern Afghanistan on Sunday.

The incident has sent ripples across the U.S. and the world, sparking threats of revenge from the Taliban, concern about the political implications of the attack and outrage from villagers.

There are more questions than answers around this horrific attack: What exactly happened when the soldier entered those villages Sunday? Who was the soldier behind this attack? Why did he do it? What are the political ramifications of this attack? And how will it affect the goal of peace in Afghanistan and future U.S. relations with the country?

How much do we know about what happened?

The shootings are believed to have begun between 2 and 3 a.m. Sunday in Panjwai district in Afghanistan's Kandahar province when the soldier went from house to house opening fire, according to officials and witnesses from the village.

"One guy came in and pulled a boy from his sleep, and he shot him in this doorway," one mother in the village told CNN. "Then they came back inside the room and put a gun in the mouth of one child and stomped on another child."

While investigators try to figure out exactly what happened, villagers say that the evidence that remains from the shooting paints a grisly picture. Shell casings were strewn across the streets. A dead toddler with a blood-stained face was lying sandwiched between two other dead men in the back of a pickup truck. In another truck, not far away, a blanket covered the charred bodies of two more victims.

A local minister told CNN that one family alone lost 11 members during the shooting spree.

"Look at this. The bodies - they all belong to one family," a villager cried.

While the bodies are mostly now covered or have been removed, the reminders of what happened literally still stain the village.

The floors and the walls of several homes in this area are splattered with the blood of those ambushed during the early morning attack.

The attack has shaken residents of the area in the western part of Kandahar, which is known to have a strong Taliban presence. Villagers there told CNN they are enraged. Residents say they moved back to the village because people on the nearby military base had said it was safe to return home, and that nobody would bother them.

Now, men openly weep in the street. Dreams of peace are now replaced with much of sorrow, and many people are crying and trying, through tears, to come to terms with what happened in Panjwai. 

Who is the soldier accused in the shooting?

Details about the soldier are beginning to emerge, but they are sparse. So far, it's known that he was a qualified infantry sniper, according to a senior U.S. Department of Defense official. 

The unidentified suspect served three tours of duty in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan, said Gen. John Allen, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. A U.S. military official, who asked not to be named because he was talking about an ongoing investigation, said the suspect is an Army staff sergeant who arrived in Afghanistan in January.

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March 12th, 2012
03:26 AM ET

Taliban promises revenge for U.S. soldier's shooting spree

The Afghan Taliban said Monday that its fighters would exact revenge for 16 people left dead after an American soldier went on a house-to-house shooting spree in two villages a day earlier.

Describing U.S. forces as "sick minded American savages," the Taliban said in a statement on its website that it would mete out punishment for the "barbaric actions." The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist movement, has battled the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan for a decade.

U.S. officials have expressed shock and sadness over the attack, while Afghan leaders have angrily condemned it. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan called it an "unforgivable" crime, noting that nine of the dead were children.

The killings have fueled fears of intensified ire directed at international forces in the country following deadly riots over the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops late last month.

The soldier, an army staff sergeant, acted alone and turned himself in after opening fire on civilians, according to officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. He is now in U.S. custody as investigators try to establish what motivated him.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Taliban • U.S. Army
December 29th, 2011
11:29 AM ET

Suspect in soldier shooting pleads not guilty

A man accused of shooting and paralyzing a U.S. Army soldier at a homecoming party pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Thursday.

Ruben Jurado, 19, faces a charge of attempted murder in the shooting of Army Spc. Christopher Sullivan on Friday night at a homecoming party in Sullivan's native San Bernardino, California.

Jurado also faces four "special allegations involving premeditation and the use and discharge of a firearm, causing great bodily injury," said Christopher Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

"Special allegations" can add to a convict's sentence in California.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Military • U.S. Army
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