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Friday, Dec 19th

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Pentagon chief Leon Panetta lifting ban on women serving in combat

Us lifts ban on women in the militaryThe groundbreaking move overturns a 1994 rule preventing women from serving in ground combat units. The military has been given until 2016 to recommend any special exceptions to the new regulation.

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

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Why Is the Marine Corps Fighting With the Navy Over a Camouflage Pattern?

CamouflageMilitary combat uniforms have two purposes: to camouflage soldiers, and to hold together in rugged conditions. It stands to reason that there's only one "best" pattern, and one best stitching and manufacture. It should follow that when such a uniform is developed, the entire military should transition to it.

In 2002, the Marine Corps adopted a digital camouflage pattern called MARPAT. Rigorous field-testing proved that it was more effective than the splotched woodland pattern in use at the time, and the Combat Utility Uniform (of which it was a part) was a striking change for such a conservative institution.

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Scientists find Camp Lejeune water contamination went back to 1953

Camp LejuneFederal health officials have determined that water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune exceeded safe levels as far back as August 1953, four years earlier than previous findings.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also found that water had been contaminated at two additional water distribution systems on the base.

“This a big deal,” said Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine master sergeant who was stationed at Lejeune and whose daughter died of a rare form of leukemia in 1985 at age 9. “You’re talking tens of thousands of more people being exposed.”

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Servicemembers Kicked Out Under Military's Gay Ban Since '04 To Receive Full Separation Pay

LGBT vets get full payPeople discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since November 10, 2004 who had only received one-half separation pay following their discharge but who otherwise would have received full pay now will be entitled to that full separation pay, according to the terms of a settlement agreement reached Monday between the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal government.

"It makes no sense to continue to penalize service members who were discharged under a discriminatory statute that has already been repealed. The amount of the pay owed to these veterans is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country," said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, in a statement.

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Shaheen Amendment Expands Female Service Members Access To Abortion

Jeanne ShaheenNew Hampshire’s senior senator Jeanne Shaheen, who introduced the amendment repealing the ban that had been in effect since 1981 (PDF) called the bills passage an “important step” toward ending a policy that was “blatantly unfair to women putting their lives on the line.”

Currently, military insurance only covers abortions performed to save the life of the mother, and military health care facilities will only perform them to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest. Shaheen’s amendment will let insurance pick up the cost of the procedure in such cases, rather than forcing the woman to pay out of pocket.

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Civilian analysts gained Petraeus’s ear while he was commander in Afghanistan

Kimberly KaganFrederick and Kimberly Kagan, a husband-and-wife team of hawkish military analysts, put their jobs at influential Washington think tanks on hold for almost a year to work for Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Provided desks, e-mail accounts and top-level security clearances in Kabul, they pored through classified intelligence reports, participated in senior-level strategy sessions and probed the assessments of field officers in order to advise Petraeus about how to fight the war differently.

Their compensation from the U.S. government for their efforts, which often involved 18-hour workdays, seven days a week and dangerous battlefield visits?  Zero dollars.

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This ‘seven years’ war’ is a battle over Pentagon secrecy and torture information

PentagonPenn State University faculty member Jonathan H. Marks wants interrogation documents that the Pentagon insists on locking up.

The resulting struggle over sensitive information, now entering its seventh year, has become an unexpected master class in government secrecy for the Oxford-educated Marks. Hoping to shed light on harsh U.S. interrogation techniques, he has simultaneously undertaken a long and instructive legal journey.

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