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US abandons failed $500M program to train and equip Syrian rebels

Syrian rebel trainins failingThe Pentagon has abandoned its failed $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels in favor of ramping up support for established and proven forces —including Kurdish fighters — a decision that comes on the heels of the Obama administration's admission that building a force from scratch to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was "a more difficult endeavor than we assumed."

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook announced the strategic overhaul on Friday, saying in a statement that the U.S. will now “provide equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted leaders and their units” who are “motivated to take back Syrian territory from ISIL.”


12 Dead After U.S. C-130 Transport Plane Crashes in Afghanistan

us c-130Twelve people, including five American service members, were killed early Friday when a U.S. C-130 transport plane crashed while taking off from an airport in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said.

The crash happened shortly after midnight local time (3:30 p.m. ET) at Jalalabad airport, coalition spokesperson U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus said.


U.S.-trained Syrian rebels gave equipment to Nusra: U.S. military

Nusra front fightersSyrian rebels trained by the United States gave some of their equipment to the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday, the latest blow to a troubled U.S. effort to train local partners to fight Islamic State militants.

The rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and some ammunition, or about one-quarter of their issued equipment, to a suspected Nusra intermediary on Sept. 21-22 in exchange for safe passage, said Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, in a statement.


Neller takes over as top Marine as Dunford moves on to chairman of Joint Chiefs

Gen. Joseph DunfordHailed as “a tested warrior and an innovative strategist,” Gen. Robert Neller accepted command of the U.S. Marine Corps on Thursday morning during a traditional ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington.

Neller — who was pinned with a fourth star Thursday — became the Corps’ 37th commandant, taking over for Gen. Joseph Dunford, who held the post for less than a year. Dunford will become the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., replacing retiring Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.


U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Child Rape

Dan QuinnIn his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”


Head investigator: Bergdahl shouldn't go to prison

Bergdahl investigator : no jailThe officer who led the investigation into U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture in Afghanistan six years ago said he doesn't think Bergdahl should go to prison.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl testified Friday at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, that Bergdahl said he walked away from his post as part of a plan to spark a search and get the attention of a general so he could express his concerns about his unit's leadership.


In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another

vet suicidesAfter the sixth suicide in his old battalion, Manny Bojorquez sank onto his bed. With a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam beside him and a pistol in his hand, he began to cry.

He had gone to Afghanistan at 19 as a machine-gunner in the Marine Corps. In the 18 months since leaving the military, he had grown long hair and a bushy mustache. It was 2012. He was working part time in a store selling baseball caps and going to community college while living with his parents in the suburbs of Phoenix. He rarely mentioned the war to friends and family, and he never mentioned his nightmares.


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