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Morale boost comes after election, but Afghan forces face rise in casualties

The confidence of Afghan security forces is surging after a peaceful transition of government, but their casualties in battles with insurgents are spiking as well, the top U.S. commander in the country said Thursday. Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, took office this week and has made a point of embracing Afghan troops and the U.S.-backed security mission, said Gen. John ... Read More »

UK RAF begin transferring Merlin helicopters to RN

The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Fleet Air Arm’s 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) was stood up at RAF Benson on 30 September with the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin, while the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 78 Squadron was disbanded. As part of the UK’s 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Merlin utility helicopters are migrating from the RAF’s Support Helicopter Force to ... Read More »

NATO official says Russia could stay in eastern Ukraine

Russia could move to hold territory in eastern Ukraine permanently, as it did following a military conflict with Georgia in 2008, NATO’s senior military officer said Thursday. “I do not know what the Russians are going to do but I see no reason to exclude that possibility,” Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, told reporters during a ... Read More »

Ukraine rebels renew Donetsk airport offensive

Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine are conducting an offensive to capture the government-held airport in Donetsk, officials say. Pro-Russian rebels have tried several times in recent weeks to take the airport, which lies to the north-west of the city, despite an official truce. The Ukrainian military said the rebels were moving on “a broad front”. However a spokesman denied claims ... Read More »

Alarm Over Russia Draws Volunteers to Defend Estonia

On a recent weekend in an Estonian forest, a group of new recruits in army fatigues practiced maneuvers. A sergeant major barked out instructions and the unit changed formation, sometimes crawling in the dirt between birch trees. But these weren’t professional soldiers: They were some of the hundreds of edgy Estonians who have flocked to a volunteer army in the ... Read More »

Indonesian Navy inducts third PC-43 patrol vessel

Indonesian defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro commissioned the Indonesian Navy’s (Tentera Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL’s) third PC-43 patrol craft on 27 September. The 250-tonne vessel has been named KRI Sidat (pennant number 851). The ship was constructed by Indonesian shipbuilder PT Citra Shipyard in Batam, as part of a contract awarded in 2012 to build two patrol boats for ... Read More »

IG report finds health hazards in Japan base housing, questions Pentagon policy

Mold and inadequate radon gas detection are posing “serious health hazards” to servicemembers living on military bases, the Defense Department Inspector General said in a report detailing 1,057 code violations in Japan base housing. The report found elevated levels of radon — a naturally occurring gas associated with lung cancer — in multiple buildings throughout Japan, including one at Yokosuka ... Read More »

Hong Kong chief vows to remain as tensions deepen with pro-democracy protesters

Staring down the student demonstrators who had demanded he resign by the end of the day Thursday, Hong Kong’s chief executive told a late-night news conference that his government was willing to talk with the protesters, but that he had no intention of quitting. It was a tough signal, reflecting Beijing’s unyielding stance in the face of pro-democracy protests that ... Read More »

Supporters, opponents of Hong Kong democracy protests face off

Screaming until they were red in the face, arguing until they burst into tears, supporters and opponents of Hong Kong’s democracy protests faced off Friday afternoon in the dense commercial district of Mong Kok. “Get out!” yelled dozens of men, pumping their fists and urging police to clear the intersection of Nathan and Argyle roads, a busy interchange with banks ... Read More »

Pentagon opens Ebola-testing lab in Africa

U.S. troops opened an Ebola-testing laboratory in Liberia Thursday, the first of several medical facilities it has sent to battle the virus in Africa. In all, the Pentagon has dispatched 231 personnel to Africa, more than 200 to the Liberian capital of Monrovia. They are the leading edge of as many as 3,000 troops who will construct laboratories and treatment ... Read More »

Libya’s runaway parliament seeks refuge in Tobruk bubble

Trucks fitted with anti-aircraft cannon, troops and cement roadblocks protect the five-star hotel in Tobruk that is now the surreal last bastion of Libya’s fugitive parliament. Holed up in the Dar al Salam seaside resort and pretending that all is normal, elected legislators debate laws and plan the future from the eastern city where they fled last month after losing ... Read More »

U.S. Aid Effort in Liberia Barely Off the Ground as Ebola Rages

In the furious battle against time and a rampaging Ebola epidemic, the gravel crusher joined a long list of enemies. Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin A. Holsinger was standing on an acre of neatly cleared dirt, surrounded by coconut trees, bush and bright yellow earth-moving equipment — the construction site for the first of 18 Ebola treatment centers the American ... Read More »

97 Nigerian soldiers accused of refusing to fight

A court-martial Thursday began hearing charges against 97 soldiers, including 16 officers, accused of mutiny, assault, cowardice and refusing to fight in the country’s northeastern Islamic uprising. Thursday’s mass trial comes two weeks after 12 soldiers were sentenced to death by firing squad for mutiny and attempted murder of their commanding officer. Troops regularly have complained that they are outgunned ... Read More »