On Patrol

Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

After a detailed search, the Department of Defense released names of 78 troops who will be attending the February 29 White House dinner marking the end of the Iraq War.

But the most interesting thing about the event so far – titled “A Nation’s Gratitude” and hosted by President Barack Obama – may be the steps the DOD took to make it happen.

USA Today has a story about the filtering process the Pentagon executed to make sure every corner of America was seen in the faces of the service members attending the dinner.

“Old, young, male, female, gay, straight. We wanted the entire country represented,” Pentagon spokesman Doug Wilson told CNN’s Security Clearance blog. “That means all ranks, all branches of service, all races. We wanted it to look like the battlefield in Iraq.”

Read the full list of invitees here.

Listen Up!

February 24, 2012, 9:06AM |

Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Alarcon gives jump instructions during a joint operational access exercise February 10, 2012 at Pope Field, North Carolina. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Tony R. RitterArmy Staff Sergeant Matthew Alarcon gives jump instructions during a joint operational access exercise February 10, 2012 at Pope Field, North Carolina. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Tony R. Ritter

It’s been a nightmarish 24 hours for American forces around the globe.

Seven Marines were killed when helicopters collided over the California desert Wednesday night and two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday amid nationwide protests over improper disposal of Korans at Bagram Air Base.

According to The Associated Press, the helicopters collided during night training at the Yuma Training Range Complex near the Arizona border. The area is used to simulate flying conditions in Afghanistan.

Half a world away, a NATO spokesperson confirmed to CBS News that two American troops were killed by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform outside a base in eastern Afghanistan during a riot over the alleged burning of Korans earlier this week.

Afghanistan is demanding the NATO troops responsible for the Koran incident be put on trial. President Barack Obama sent Afghan President Hamid Karzai a letter apologizing for the incident.

Warriors Only

February 23, 2012, 9:20AM |

Marine Corporal Marcus Chischilly, a wounded warrior with the West Team, dives in the pool at the start of the 50-meter race February 20, 2012, during the 2012 Marine Corps Trials hosted by the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Mark FaylogaMarine Corporal Marcus Chischilly, a wounded warrior with the West Team, dives in the pool at the start of the 50-meter race February 20, 2012, during the 2012 Marine Corps Trials hosted by the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Mark Fayloga

The Supreme Court will take a look at the Stolen Valor act today, a law that criminalizes false claims about military service.

At the heart of the argument is whether or not a law—in this case, one that President Barack Obama’s administration and veterans’ groups consider narrowly crafted—can criminalize someone’s speech. On the other side of the argument, civil liberties groups, publishers and media entities are concerned the law could lead to more government attempts to regulate speech.

According to Fox News, attorneys for Xavier Alvarez—who has been prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act—admit in their Supreme Court brief that Alvarez is a liar, but argue his falsehoods caused no harm.

Read more in High court examines lying about military exploits.

In other news around the military:

Cultural Exchange

February 22, 2012, 8:58AM |

American Marines and sailors watch as Thai marines conduct a Muay Thai kick boxing demonstration February 16, 2012, as part of a sports day and warrior dinner celebration of camaraderie on the beach in Samaesan, Thailand. The demonstrations were part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012. Marine Corps photo by Captain Caleb EamesAmerican Marines and sailors watch as Thai marines conduct a Muay Thai kick boxing demonstration February 16, 2012, as part of a sports day and warrior dinner celebration of camaraderie on the beach in Samaesan, Thailand. The demonstrations were part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012. Marine Corps photo by Captain Caleb Eames

One crisis management lesson that will be taken from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that bad news—even in a third-world country—now  travels faster than anyone can anticipate.

A violent protest occurred outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan today after word spread that NATO troops had improperly disposed of Islamic religious materials, including placing Korans in an area where materials are burned. There is a dispute between Afghans and Western officials over whether or not any Korans were actually set ablaze.

Marine General John R. Allen—the American officer in charge of operations in Afghanistan—released a statement apologizing for the action, thanking Afghans on the base for stopping the burning when they did, and promising an investigation.

Read more in NATO Commander Apologizes for Koran Disposal in Afghanistan.

In other news around the military:

  • The U.S. Postal Service has issued a series of stamps called Dogs at Work. One of the stamps—seen here—features a dog working with troops downrange. The stamps are 65 cents apiece and are good for sending first class mail up to 2 ounces.

Extending their Oath

February 21, 2012, 8:52AM |

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta re-enlists airmen on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, on February 17, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-CuomoDefense Secretary Leon E. Panetta re-enlists airmen on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, on February 17, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo