IAVA Daily Brief 6.18.10
Posted by IAVA Staff on June 17
Here are some of today's top stories and happenings at IAVA. Prefer to receive real-time updates about major stories and legislation that IAVA is tracking? Follow us on Twitter @IAVAPressRoom. MUST READS 1) Suicide Rivals The Battlefield In Toll On U.S. Military Nearly as many American troops at home and abroad have committed suicide this year as have been killed in combat in Afghanistan. Alarmed at the growing rate of soldiers taking their own lives, the Army has begun investigating its mental health and suicide prevention programs. But the tougher challenge is changing a culture that is very much about "manning up" when things get difficult. 2) Valley of Death: One Platoon's Tour of Duty The New York Times reviewed the new documentary, "Restrepo," directed by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington. They call it a 94-minute tutorial on life at the tip of that very sharp spear as they spent 14 months with a platoon of United States soldiers in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. Click here to learn more about the film. 3) Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English. They have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin. 4) Military investigates shooting at Georgia Army post An Army reservist was shot to death and another was custody at a post south of Atlanta that is a gathering place for area reserve units. The Army said the victim died at the U.S. Army Reserve Center located on Fort Gillem. The shooting followed a bizarre arrest at Fort Gordon earlier this week when a former National Guardsman was caught on the east Georgia base with a land mine, several grenades and night vision devices. AFGHANISTAN
- Engineers with NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan are working with their Afghan partners to build infrastructure to support the growth of the Afghan national security forces.
- Initial discoveries of untapped mineral deposits in poverty-stricken Afghanistan are "worth up to three trillion dollars," the country's mines minister said. The mineral discoveries are also seen as potentially stoking the insurgency rather than bringing peace because the Taliban could fight more fiercely to regain control of the country and its newfound wealth.
- Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric appears to have stepped into the post-election fray with moves that appear aligned with Iran's own ambitions in Iraq. Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the 83-year-old was once revered by Sunnis and Shiites alike as a transcendent individual, but is now seen by many as the man who brokered an alliance that put the Shiites on top.
- Around 40 Iraqi asylum seekers deported from Britain have arrived in Baghdad. This took place despite protests from international refugee agencies who had called for the flights to be suspended, saying Iraq is still not safe enough. Correspondents say the flights are shrouded in secrecy, and journalists have not been allowed to see or talk to the refugees.
- Even as a pullback of American troops marks a winding down of the war, more and more Iraqis are seeking medical treatment for trauma-induced mental illnesses, and the medical community is unable to keep up.
- The Washington Post discovered and alerted officials that several mud-caked headstones line the banks of a small stream at Arlington National Cemetery, the country's most venerated burial ground. Farther upstream in a wooded area, a few others lie submerged with the rocks that line the stream bed. Already under fire in recent days for more than 200 unmarked or misidentified graves and a chaotic and dysfunctional management system, cemetery officials vowed to investigate the headstones along the stream and take "immediate corrective action."
- William Groene is a master sergeant in the U.S. Army. His stepson, Michel Vester, is a Danish cadet currently enrolled at the Royal Danish Army Officers Academy at the Frederiksborg Palace in Copenhagen.
- Since 2001, more than 44,000 civilians have been deployed to dangerous places, notably Iraq and Afghanistan. But unlike those in uniform, who are linked by a common set of pay and benefits, the civilians work under a variety of standards that can cause confusion. The Defense and State departments wrote a new bill to "provide more uniformity and transparency to the pay and benefits for deployed civilian employees." The legislation would attempt to better coordinate their treatment by codifying the benefits civilians can receive while serving in a "designated zone of armed conflict."
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