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Army morale low despite 6-year, $287M optimism program

Army morale lowMore than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as "I rarely count on good things happening to me." Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

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US Army Guardsmen tried to sell guns, ammo, armor to Mexico cartels

US Nat'l guard sold ammo to cartelTwo active duty reservists of the U.S. Army National Guard were arrested in California on Wednesday for allegedly trying to funnel weapons, ammunition and body armor -- equipment that belonged to the U.S. military -- to outlaws in Mexican drug cartels, a federal complaint said.

Jaime Casillas and Andrew Reyes, ages 22 and 34, respectively, are each accused of selling firearms in California without certification. Reyes faces an additional count of purchasing weapons -- including multiple AR-15 assault rifles -- in Texas and transporting them to California.

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The hidden battle to build the Air Force's new stealth bomber

hidden stealth bomberThe bombardment began early this year on the airwaves and online.

“What will the next revolution in advanced aircraft be?” asks one of the slick advertisements, showcasing a mysterious, tailless aircraft parked in a darkened hangar and draped with a tarp.

The campaign by defense giant Northrop Grumman, specifically targeted at the Washington market, is the most visible evidence of the behind-the-scenes battle to build the Air Force’s new stealth bomber, a deal with an estimated value of at least $55 billion.

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Reckoning point: Ex-US guards face sentencing in Iraq case

blackwaterA yearslong legal fight over a deadly shooting of civilians in an Iraq war zone reaches its reckoning point with the sentencing this week of four former Blackwater security guards.

Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough face mandatory, decadeslong sentences because of firearms convictions. A fourth defendant, Nicholas Slatten, faces life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder.

At the hearing Monday in U.S. District Court, defense lawyers intend to appeal for mercy by arguing that their clients acted in self-defense during a chaotic firefight in Baghdad. They also plan to argue that sending the defendants to prison for decades would be an unfairly harsh outcome for men who have close family ties and proud military careers, and who were operating in stressful conditions in a war-torn country.

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Cronyism, racial bias claims against N.J. National Guard leaders prompt multiple investigations

NJ national Guard investigationThe head of the New Jersey National Guard on Thursday confirmed there are multiple investigations into complaints by senior officers of favoritism and racial discrimination in the top ranks, but said he was confident those claims would be found to be baseless.

In his first public comments on the allegations, the adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff, sought to downplay the complaints without responding to specifics, saying they were made by a small group of people who were "unhappy with how their careers are ending."

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General sacked for remarks that raised congressional ire

Maj. Gen. James PostThe brawl between Congress and the Air Force over the fate of the venerable A-10 Warthog attack jet claimed its highest-ranking victim Friday.

The Air Force brass reprimanded and removed from his command a two-star general who raised the ire of lawmakers when he told troops it would be “treason” for service members to talk with members of Congress trying to save the Warthog from the budget ax.

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US army investigates reports that soldiers raped dozens in Colombia

US army investigates Columbia rapesThe US army says it will look into claims that soldiers or civilian defence contractors sexually assaulted as many as 53 women and girls while stationed in Colombia between 2003 and 2007.

“After coordinating with Colombian authorities, we will initiate investigations into any credible allegations of sexual assault or any crime,” said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the US army criminal investigation command.

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