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Probe of silencers leads to web of Pentagon secrets

pentagonThe mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence.

Capping an investigation that began almost two years ago, separate trials are scheduled this month in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for a civilian Navy intelligence official and a hot-rod auto mechanic from California who prosecutors allege conspired to manufacture an untraceable batch of automatic-rifle silencers.


Three women pass Marine Corps endurance test, paving way for possible first female graduates of infantry school

Women pass marine testThree female Marine Corps officers on Thursday passed the grueling combat endurance test that kicks off the service’s screening for infantry officers, paving the way for the first woman to potentially graduate from the program.

The test is conducted at Quantico, Va., and is designed to assess each individual’s ability to withstand exhausting physical conditions and make difficult decisions at the same time. Twenty-four female volunteers have attempted the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course, but none have passed to date. One woman passed the initial endurance test in 2012, but was dropped from the course about a week later due to stress fractures in her foot.


U.S. charges four with stealing $100 million in software, data

Army X-Box data hackedFour members of an alleged international computer hacking ring were charged with stealing more than $100 million worth of software and data - some of it used to train military pilots and some related to Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox gaming console - the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

Two of the four - a 28-year-old New Jersey man and a 22-year-old Canadian man - pleaded guilty to charges contained in an indictment unsealed earlier in the day, the agency said.


Army opens Ranger School to women, a historic leap toward equality

Army Rangers accept womenFor the first time, women are being invited to apply for training with the Rangers, the elite group that the Army considers its “premier direct-action raid force.”

At this point, women will not be allowed to join the Rangers even if they complete the course; the ban on women in combat still holds. But that ban is slated to be lifted no later than January 2016, potentially opening the Rangers – and other combat roles – to qualified women.


9,800 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan

US troops in AfghanistanAlmost 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after this year as part of a long-delayed security agreement with the country.

White House Senior Adviser John Podesta said on Monday the agreement between the two countries will be signed on Tuesday.

Podesta reported the agreement after attending the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in Kabul.


Obama goal of Gitmo closure stalled at Pentagon

GitmoThe transfer of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay has ground to a halt amid a slow Pentagon approval process, causing deep frustration within the administration and raising doubts that President Barack Obama will be able to fulfill his campaign promise to close the offshore prison for terrorism suspects.

A detainee sent back to his native Algeria in March is the only prisoner to have moved out this year, beyond the controversial exchange of five Taliban members in return for long-held captive U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.


US army drill sergeant found guilty of sexually assaulting eight soldiers

S/Sgt. Angel SanchezA Missouri drill sergeant is guilty of sexually assaulting and harassing eight female soldiers, a military judge ruled Wednesday.

Army staff sergeant Angel M Sanchez, 30, was accused of using his supervisory position with the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood to threaten some of the women he was tasked with training. His accusers said the incidents took place in the bathroom of the female barracks as well as in an office shared by drill sergeants.


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