Military News

Friday, April 27, 2012

Panetta Reaffirms Partnership, Friendship With Chile


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

SANTIAGO, Chile  – In talks here today with his Chilean counterpart and the nation’s head of government, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed ongoing and emerging issues, from drug trafficking to cyber security, that the countries plan to address as partners.

During this first visit to the country as defense secretary, Panetta met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Defense Minister Andres Allamand at the Ministry of Defense in Chile’s capital and largest city, Santiago.

“The United States and Chile are neighbors, we are friends, and we have built a longstanding defense relationship founded on mutual respect, shared values and the goal of advancing peace and stability in this hemisphere and beyond,” Panetta said during a joint press conference this afternoon with Allamand.

“This shared goal has been the focus of my meetings throughout Latin America,” the secretary added, “and it was the focus of my meetings today with President Pinera and Minister Allamand.”

Chile is the third South American country Panetta has visited this week, after successful meetings with counterparts and officials in Colombia and Brazil.

In today’s meeting, Panetta said, he and Allamand continued a discussion that began last month in Washington, in which they considered how to enhance collaboration in areas of key interest to both nations.

The areas include enhancing the security capacity of nations in the hemisphere, countering illicit drug trafficking, meeting humanitarian needs, working together on issues like cyber security, confronting those who would undermine the stability of the nations, and examining defense institutional reform.

An example of the U.S.-Chile common effort to confront narcotics trafficking is called Operation Martillo, a multinational and interagency drug-interdiction effort to shut down illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus.

“Chile is making an important contribution to this effort,” Panetta said, “and earlier today the United States announced that, as part of Operation Martillo, our forces conducted a major drug bust off the coast of Panama, seizing $362 million worth of cocaine.”

The secretary commended the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service who were in the lead in that effort, with the support of the U.S. Southern Command.

“These are the kinds of results that strong partnerships can deliver,” he added.

“Today’s operation shows how important it is for countries in the region to cooperate and work together to confront these kinds of threats,” Panetta said, “and build even stronger mechanisms of regional security cooperation.”

Another example is the ongoing effort to strengthen regional security cooperation, the secretary said, “particularly as we look ahead to this year’s [October] Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Uruguay, which both the minister and I will be attending.”

Panetta and Allamand also discussed cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster response coordination.

“This initiative I believe will improve our ability to respond to natural disasters by creating a framework to share information, share expertise and deliver the capabilities that we absolutely need to help save lives for our people more quickly and more effectively,” Panetta said.

Chilean officials clearly understand what it means to respond to natural disasters, he added, and Chile’s critical lessons learned must be shared with the rest of the hemisphere.

“I commend Chile’s leadership in helping advance this proposal,” the secretary said, “and I look forward to working with them to try to make this a reality.

Panetta noted Chile’s success in helping those who suffered in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and tsunami, and in December 2011 the hundreds evacuated from a massive forest fire that raged through Torres del Paine Park in Patagonia, one of the country's most popular national parks, destroying more than 21,000 acres.

“I commend the Chilean government and the Chilean people,” Panetta said, “because they are an inspiration to the United States and the world in overcoming adversity and emerging even stronger.”

Chile and the United States share more than a hemisphere, he said.

“We also share the Pacific Ocean, and we are both Pacific nations,” he said, adding that the security and prosperity of both nations depends on the Asia Pacific region.

“That’s where many of the key challenges and opportunities in the 21st century lie,” the secretary said.

Panetta detailed the Defense Department’s new defense strategy for 2020 and Chile’s important role.

Allamand said Chile was the first country in South America to sign a free-trade agreement with the United States, and that his nation is in the final stages of drafting its first national defense and security strategy.

Between Chile and the U.S., the defense minister said, “we share a lot of principles, in terms of what is the needed [for] a safer world.”

“ … We share concerns about the risks of what are called the new threats to security such as drug trafficking, organized crime, civil attacks, terrorism and arms proliferation,” he said.

“We agree on the importance of the Pacific and the need to safeguard the value of peace on regional and global levels,” Allamand added. “And we agree that in the future the global security of the world demands cooperation and innovative alliances among all countries.”

Panetta said the U.S.-Chile defense relationship in many ways is a fulfillment of the Defense Department’s new strategy.

“It is exactly the kind of partnership we need under the strategy to help advance global peace and global security,” the secretary said.

“So I’m very grateful to the minister and to the president and to the Chilean people for their friendship, for their shared commitment to building a safer world for the future,” he added.

“We are one family in this hemisphere, una famiglia, as we say in Italian,” Panetta said. “And like any family, we must work together to give our children a better life, a more secure life, and protect our people.”

Alleged Document Leaker’s Trial Set for September


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md.  – Army Pfc. Bradley Manning will go to trial this fall to face charges that he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents in what’s believed to be the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history.

Army Col. Denise Lind, the judge presiding over three days of motion hearings here, scheduled the trial to begin Sept. 21 and continue through Oct. 12.

The defense will get to decide if the case will be heard by a judge alone, by a jury to consist of all officers, or by a mixed panel that includes one third enlisted members from within Manning’s current command, the Army’s Military District of Washington.

During the hearings, Lind rejected the defense’s argument yesterday that all 22 charges against him Manning should be dismissed.

Today, she also upheld the most serious charge against him, that he aided the enemy by disclosing classified military and diplomatic documents material to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, in turn, released thousands of these documents, including classified records about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its website.

Lind specified today that the prosecution must prove that Manning disclosed the data with a clear understanding that the enemy would have access to it.

The decision followed three days of oral arguments, with the discussion centered largely on Manning’s intent in disclosing the classified documents and what damage resulted.

The defense, led by civilian counsel David Coombs, argued that Manning never intended to aid the enemy when he provided the information to WikiLeaks.

The government called Manning’s intent immaterial and said he should be tried based solely on his actions. “Why he did something isn’t relevant,” Army Maj. Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, told the judge. What is relevant at this point, he said, is what Manning actually did and how he did it.

Aiding the enemy under Article 104 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice is a capital offense; however, the prosecution team has said it won’t recommend the death penalty, a legal official said.

The maximum sentence Manning could receive, if found guilty of the charge, is life in prison.

He also could be reduced to E-1, the lowest enlisted grade, face a total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dishonorable discharge, officials said.

Lind upheld other lesser charges against Manning, rejecting the defense’s claim the government imposed “unreasonable multiplication of charges,” essentially piling on duplicate charges for the same acts. She said she found no evidence that the prosecution exaggerated Manning’s criminality or otherwise “overreached” in compiling charges against him.

The judge did, however, leave the door open for combining charges in the event that Manning is found guilty and the case moves into the sentencing phase.  This could reduce the length of any sentence imposed, a military legal official explained.

The defense team reiterated its call for the government to provide assessments of damages actually caused by the disclosures, calling this information critical to its case. Coombs argued today that the government’s failure to provide a full accounting of harm done demonstrates that the disclosures actually had minimal impact.

Fein said the burden of proving actual damages isn’t the government’s responsibility, and that that information, should it be considered at all, should be reserved until sentencing.

Lind did not say when she will rule on the defense’s request for damage assessments. She said she will review these documents personally to determine if the defense team should have access to them.

The judge also has yet to consider a new prosecution request to reconsider her directive that the State Department share its interim damage assessment report findings.

Lind ruled yesterday that the prosecution does not have to provide the defense team transcripts of federal grand jury testimony regarding the WikiLeaks case. Although the FBI has been involved in the WikiLeaks investigation, the judge said the military has no authority to release the FBI information.

Manning sat emotionless in the courtroom wearing his Army service uniform during the three days of oral arguments. He followed the proceedings closely, periodically jotting notes on a yellow pad or leaning toward Coombs or his new military defense attorney, Army Capt. Joshua Tooman, to whisper a comment or peek at a document.

The 24-year-old military intelligence analyst was arrested at Contingency Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad, Iraq, May 25, 2010. A former 10th Mountain Division soldier, he is accused of installing unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloading it, improperly storing it, and transmitting the data for public release and use by the enemy.

The specific charges, as outlined on his charge sheet, include aiding the enemy; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers. The charges include violation of Army Regulations 25-2 “Information Assurance” and 380-5 “Department of the Army Information Security Program.”

Manning has not issued a plea on these charges.

Along with the trial dates, Lind scheduled additional hearings related to the case: June 6 to 8; July 16 to 20; Aug. 27 to 31; and Sept. 19 to 20. The hearings will focus on specific elements related to each charge to ensure a common understanding as both sides prepare their cases, as well as other procedural items.

C6F Commander Visits Albania


From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

DURRES, Albania (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO visited with counterparts in the Republic of Albania, April 25.

During his visit, Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe hosted a reception for U.S. and Albanian dignitaries aboard the Little Creek, Va., based amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), currently on deployment to the 6th Fleet area of operations.

During the reception, Pandolfe met with Minister of Defense Arben Imami; General Secretary Aleksander Flloko, Office of the President of the Republic; Deputy Minister of Interior Avenir Peka; and U.S. Charge d'Affairs Deborah Jones.

"As NATO allies, we share a common bond and common interests. We will continue to strengthen our enduring partnership to promote security throughout the region," Pandolfe said. "An important way we strengthen our teamwork is through port visits like this, where our Sailors and Marines get to visit this beautiful country and make new friends."

Jones explained that the port visit represents a unique opportunity for Sailors and Marines visiting Albania for the first time.

"This port call represents another opportunity for engagement and cooperation between the United States and Albania. It is a wonderful opportunity for our Sailors and Marines to learn about and experience the history of our newest NATO ally," Jones said. "I am sure that this port call will be quite memorable for the crew of the Gunston Hall, but its impact on Albania will be just as lasting. We look forward to many more visits and opportunities for engagement as we continue to expand and strengthen the relationship between our two countries."

U.S. 6th Fleet headquarters is located in Naples, Italy. It conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency and other parties to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.