[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET] The U.S. believes one of its armed helicopters was shot down over Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing both crew members on board, a U.S. military official said.
"It is likely that the helo today was brought down due to enemy small arms and RPG fire," the official said. The chopper was a U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter. It went down over Ghazni province.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the downing of the helicopter, saying a rocket was used.
"After the rocket hit it, the helicopter came down and took fire," said an e-mail sent by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
A Black Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday in southern Afghanistan, likely killing all four of its crew members - all of them Americans - a U.S. military official said.
The crash occurred in bad weather, though the official said "we cannot yet rule out enemy action."
Troops at a combat outpost in the area waiting to be picked up saw the crash happen, the official said. Another helicopter flying nearby was not affected.FULL STORY
[Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Marine Corps plans to allow a yet-undetermined number of female volunteers to enroll in the school that trains its infantry combat officers, the Marine Corps Times has reported.
The plan to open the Infantry Officers Course to women is part of the service's effort to determine which additional jobs may be open to women in the future, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marines' assistant commandant, told the Marine Corps Times.
"We are in the process right now of soliciting volunteers," Dunford told the Times for a story published Wednesday.
Enlisted women also eventually will have a chance to take infantry training, Dunford told the Times, which reported that it wasn't yet clear what path the women who complete the training would follow.
The decision to open the school to female volunteers is part of a research plan implemented after Congress directed the Marines to review their policies on assigning women to ground combat elements, Capt. Kevin Schultz, a Marines spokesman, told CNN on Thursday.
“The Marine Corps has initiated a measured, deliberate and responsible research effort in order to provide the commandant with meaningful data so that he can make a fact-based recommendation to the senior leadership of (the Defense Department) and Congress,” Schultz said.
Under a 1994 U.S. military policy, women are restricted from formally serving in small ground units directly involved in combat. The reality of the last 10 years of war, however, has been that many women serve in support positions - such as military police or medics - that place them in harm's way. They are not formally assigned to combat units, but rather informally "attached," which means they do not get the crucial credit for combat duty that is needed for promotions to higher grades.
Over the last several years, advocates as well as some senior U.S. military commanders have increasingly called for more ground combat jobs to be open to women, Starr reported.
Earlier this year, CNN's Barbara Starr reported that the Pentagon was planning to open up nearly 14,000 jobs to military women - jobs that would place them closer to the front lines of combat.
Some of the newly opened jobs were to include specialties such as tank or artillery mechanic, missile launcher crew members and field surgeons in forward deployed brigade combat teams. However, women still would not be permitted in frontline jobs directly involved in combat such as infantry units or counterterrorism sniper teams.
The Marine Corps Times also reported that the Marines are developing "gender-neutral" physical fitness tests for combat tasks. Such requirements would not differ for men and women, and would suggest that women who wanted to perform such tasks must prove that they could do so at the level of their male counterparts, the Times reported.
[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] A Navy fighter jet experienced a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.
The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was "one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction," Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.
The malfunction is being investigated, he said.
The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Dr. Thomas Thames, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs, told CNN affiliate WAVY.
None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Thames said.
Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms told CNN that nine people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The crash and explosion ruptured the easy mood of spring break and the unfolding Easter and Passover holiday weekend, and the two-seater F/A-18 jet landed eerily upright in flames in a courtyard surrounded by five apartment buildings suddenly set afire, according to residents and authorities.
The two crew members ejected safely, the Navy said. Resident Pat Kavanaugh told CNN affiliate WTKR that he and others found one of them still strapped to his seat with a lacerated face. Kavanaugh said he was on his couch when he heard a loud boom and was startled to see a parachute hanging from the building.FULL STORY
The United States and NATO will end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year, transitioning to a training role in which Afghan security forces will take the lead, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters Wednesday.
"Hopefully, by mid to the latter part of 2013, we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role," Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Brussels and confirmed to CNN by a defense official.FULL STORY
A U.S. citizen aid worker freed in Somalia last week after three months in captivity was headed to the United States on Monday via a commercial flight from Italy, a senior U.S. official said.
Jessica Buchanan, 32, was set to depart from Sigonella, Italy, the official said. It was unclear what time the flight was leaving.
U.S. military forces rescued Buchanan and Poul Thisted, 60, on Wednesday. The two were traveling in Somalia as workers for the Danish Refugee Council at the time of their kidnappings.FULL STORY
[Update 1:51 p.m. ET] NATO's International Security Assistance Force said two suicide bombers detonated themselves in the attack that killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani at his home in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon.
Afghan officials earlier said there was one bomber. That attacker, who claimed to be a Taliban member who had come for talks about peace and reconciliation, hid the explosive device inside his turban, said Hasmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul police.
Rabbani was president of Afghanistan before the Taliban deposed him in 1996, and he had been heading the largest political party standing in opposition to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Rabbani was long considered crucial to Afghan and coalition efforts to bring Taliban leaders into the reconciliation process.
[Update 1:46 p.m. ET] Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Burhanuddin Rabbani's killing a "very tragic loss" for his country.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, where world leaders are preparing to speak to the U.N. General Assembly this week, Karzai described Rabbani as "an Afghan patriot" who "has sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and for the peace of our country."
[Update 1:21 p.m. ET] The suicide bombing that killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon shows that the Taliban don't want peace with the Afghan government, said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
"This is another outrageous indicator that, regardless of what Taliban leadership outside the country say, they do not want peace, but rather war," Allen said in a statement released Tuesday. "Their only goal with this completely immoral act is to turn the clock back to the darkness synonymous with the Taliban movement.
A suicide bombing killed Rabbani and wounded council official Masoom Stanikzai and three others at Rabbani's home in Kabul, Afghan authorities said. The attack happened when a meeting was due to take place between Rabbani and a delegation representing the Taliban insurgency.
The suicide bomber claimed to be a Taliban member who had come for the talks about peace and reconciliation, and detonated the explosives as he entered the home, said Hasmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul police.
"Our condolences go out to the families of Prof. Rabbani and Minister Stanikzai," Allen said. "We will continue to work closely with our Afghan partners in our march toward peace, and to hold those responsible for this heinous act accountable for their crimes against the people of Afghanistan."
[Update 12:57 p.m. ET] The suicide bomber who killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani and wounded one of Rabbani's top advisers on Tuesday had hidden the explosive device in his turban, Kabul police spokesman Hasmat Stanikzai has confirmed.FULL STORY
[Updated at 10:05 p.m. ET] New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Thursday night that authorities are "taking additional precautions" given "new threat information" tied to the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
These measures include "vehicle checkpoints around the city," more bomb-sniffing dogs around the city, increased towing of illegally parked cars and greater police staffing, according to Kelly.
[Updated at 9:56 p.m. ET] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Thursday night that while additional police will be deployed around the city amid reports of an "unconfirmed" terror threat to the city on September 11, "there's no reason for any of the rest of us to change ... our daily routines."
In an earlier statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to be "cautious and aware" while adding, "There is no reason to panic." And D.C. Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that authorities in the nation's capital are preparing for 9/11 anniversary events and noted "maintaining a certain sense of unpredictability is essential to the success of any security plan."FULL STORY
[Updated at 12:02 p.m.] Chinese military engineers likely got to examine the wreckage of the U.S. stealth helicopter that crashed during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, according to news reports.
"We have reason to suspect China was given access, but we cannot confirm it definitively. We have strong suspicions," a U.S. official told CNN.
Pakistani intelligence operatives likely gave the Chinese access to the wreckage, the New York Times reported, citing American officials and other intelligence sources.
The Chinese engineers were able to photograph the wreckage and take samples of the stealth skin that helps the chopper avoid radar detection, intelligence sources told the Financial Times.
When the aircraft crashed during the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader in May, Navy SEALs destroyed most of it to protect the technology. But the tail section remained mostly intact and it was that area that the Chinese engineers examined, according to the New York Times report.
U.S. intelligence is basing its opinion that the Chinese got access to the stealth copter on intercepted phone conversations, the Times reported.
The 22 Navy SEALs killed when their helicopter was shot down in Wardak province were part of a mission to go after a known Taliban leader directly responsible for attacks against American troops, two U.S. military officials have told CNN.
According to new information CNN's Barbara Starr obtained, the SEALs who were killed had been called in to assist another unit on the ground pinned down in a firefight. The officials did not know if the Taliban leader had been killed. They declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of ongoing operations in the crash area.
Coalition forces remain at the crash site in order to remove all the wreckage, and prevent insurgents from taking photos of the scene to use as a "propaganda tool," one official said. Investigators will be examining the wreckage, but the same official said the crash was catastrophic that there may be little to glean from it. The United States had specific reports of enemy weapons activity in the same area at the time of the crash, so officials continue to assume that the Chinook was shot down. One of the officials also said that while the Chinook helicopter has been described as a "conventional" aircraft, it did have all the latest electronic equipment and that the crew had special operations training.
An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flew over Kabul's Hotel Inter-Continental during an attack which left at least 10 people dead. Learn more about the attack the Taliban is taking credit for. The hotel is popular with Westerners, journalists and politicians.
The drone provided critical video of the attackers as the situation unfolded, two coalition military officials said Wednesday.
Information from the drone helped Afghan and coalition forces plan and conduct counter strikes after the attack, the officials said. Also, a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter fired on up to six insurgents on the hotel roof, the officials said. The helicopter carried snipers from the the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. The snipers were not with the U.S. military, but ISAF declined to specify their nationality because the snipers are special forces and their country views their identity a sensitive matter.FULL STORY
U.S. military-led air operations in Yemen have recently resumed after a pause of some months, a U.S. military official with knowledge of the Yemen campaign told CNN Thursday.
He said the pause was because the United States didn't have faith in the information available "to conduct targeting against individuals in Yemen during that time frame." He could not say what led to the improved intelligence picture.
He also said the United States believes it likely killed Abu Ali Al-Harithi, a midlevel al Qaeda operative, in an airstrike in southern Yemen in recent days. But he cautioned it is "very difficult" to confirm the killing.
Nine Islamic militants and four Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes overnight in the militant-held town of Zinjibar, a senior security official loyal to the Yemeni government said.
"The government is still trying to retake the governmental sites that were occupied by the militants," the official said.
The country has been wracked for weeks by anti-government demonstrations in big cities, fighting between the government and tribal forces and the activities of Islamic insurgents.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other senior Yemeni officials were wounded on Friday when the mosque at the presidential compound was attacked during Friday prayers.
Saleh is undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Tareq Al-Shami, the ruling party spokesmen, said the president will be back in Yemen "within days and is now in very good health."FULL STORY
Five troops killed in a suicide bombing this weekend at a military base in eastern Afghanistan were members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, a senior U.S. military official said Sunday.
Earlier, authorities had said only that five members of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which includes troops from the United States and other nations, were killed in the Saturday incident.
The families of all five have been notified of the deaths, and a formal announcement from the Army is forthcoming, said the official, who declined to be identified pending the announcement.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan military uniform struck, killing the five, at a military base, Forward Operating Base Gamberi, in eastern Afghanistan's Laghman Province. The attack came during a meeting between Afghan soldiers and their ISAF mentors.
Four Afghan National Army troops were also killed and eight others, including four translators, were wounded, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said in a statement. The wounded were all in good condition, Azimi said.
A former commanding officer of the USS Enterprise has had his scheduled retirement delayed pending the Navy investigation into inappropriate videos made on board the ship in 2006 and 2007, a Navy spokesman said Thursday.
"This is a prudent and necessary step as the investigation continues," said Rear Adm. Dennis Moynihan, chief of Navy information.
Rear Adm. Lawrence Rice had been scheduled to retire on February 1. He was the senior officer on board Enterprise during at least some of the time Capt. Owens Honors was the number two officer. Honors was responsible for the raunchy videos, officials have said.
Honors had become the commanding officer of the Enterprise, but was relieved of duty this month when the videos came to light inside the Navy.
After serving on the Enterprise, Rice moved to Joint Forces Command, where he was until recently being reassigned to the Navy Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, pending conclusion of the investigation.FULL STORY
The six troops who died after an insurgent attack in southern
Afghanistan on Sunday were Americans, a U.S. military source says.
The U.S. Navy's Facebook page is awash with thousands of pro-Iranian messages protesting the force's designation of the "Arabian Gulf" instead of the "Persian Gulf."
Since last Thursday, as many as 4,000 messages have hit the page as part of a coordinated computer initiative from around the world, according to the Navy.
The messages strongly advocate that the Navy use the name Persian Gulf instead of Arabian Gulf for the waters off the coast of Iran, and are believed to have been a result of several Facebook "cause" pages advocating the change, according to Navy officials.
As a result of the extremely heavy traffic on the Navy Facebook page - used by service members around the world - and with postings still coming in, many of the messages are being designated as spam and are not being posted, according to Rear Adm. Dennis Moynihan, chief spokesman for the Navy. However, by scrolling through the site, viewers can still see several older anti-Arabian Gulf postings.
A senior Pentagon official confirms to CNN that Defense Secretary Robert Gates advocated to President Obama keeping General Stanley McChrystal on the job because he was vital to the war effort. Gates was overruled. The official has direct knowledge of events, but declined to be identified because it involves internal administration discussions.
Here are the latest developments involving Gen. Stanley McChrystal, America's top commander in Afghanistan. He and his staff made comments in a Rolling Stone article that appear to mock top civilian officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. The story, which is to appear in Friday's edition, was written by Michael Hastings.
[Updated at 10:11 p.m.] McChrystal likely will resign Wednesday, a Pentagon source with ongoing contacts with the general said.
[Updated at 7:43 p.m.] McChrystal is prepared to resign if the president has lost confidence in him, a national security official told CNN.
[Updated at 6:04 p.m.] McChrystal has "offered to resign," according to a Twitter post from Time magazine's Joe Klein on Tuesday. Earlier, Klein, citing "a very reliable source," told CNN that McChrystal had already submitted his resignation.
The Twitter post from Klein's magazine offered the "clarification" that the general has "'offered to resign' he has NOT submitted his resignation."
[Updated at 5:55 p.m.] President Obama said that McChrystal showed "poor judgment," but he added that he would wait until meeting in person with McChrystal before making a decision on McChrystal's future. Obama is expected to meet with McChrystal on Wednesday.
[Updated at 4:41 p.m.] McChrystal has submitted his resignation, Time magazine's Joe Klein told CNN, citing an unnamed source. CNN is working to confirm Klein's information.
[Updated at 3:50 p.m.] Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, called for McChrystal to step down, telling CNN that the remarks in Rolling Stone were "unbelievably inappropriate and just
can't be allowed to stand."
[Updated at 3:30 p.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff "became aware" that the Rolling Stone story would be controversial before it was published, story author Michael Hastings told CNN Tuesday.
I "got word from (McChrystal's) staff ... that there was some concern" about possible fallout from the story, Hastings said.
Hastings noted that there was "a lot" of material from the interviews with McChrystal that he didn't use in the article.
[Updated at 1:41 p.m.] Waheed Omar, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the best commander for the war in Afghanistan and hopes Obama does not replace him. Karzai and his team believe McChrystal is a man of strong integrity who has a strong understanding of the Afghan people and their culture, Omar said.
[Updated at 1:25 p.m.] President Barack Obama was "angry" after seeing the upcoming controversial magazine article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
"I gave him the article last night," Gibbs said at the daily White House news briefing. "He was angry."
Earlier, Gibbs described the "magnitude and graveness" of mistakes by McChrystal in the article as "profound."
[Updated at 1:10 p.m.] White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal will have President Barack Obama's "undivided attention" on Wednesday when the two meet in person. "The president looks forward to speaking with him tomorrow about what's in the (Rolling Stone) article," Gibbs said.
[Updated 7:50 a.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal has fired a press aide because of a Rolling Stone article in which McChrystal was portrayed as critical of Obama administration officials, two defense officials tell CNN.
[Originally posted 7:41 a.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, has been recalled to Washington after making controversial remarks about colleagues in a Rolling Stone article, officials said.
An Iranian navy plane that approached a U.S. aircraft carrier last week was flying as low as 300 feet as it neared the USS Eisenhower, U.S. military officials said Wednesday.
The incident, first reported by CNN on Tuesday, came as Iran was beginning a series of military exercises last week meant to show off their military prowess.