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Search scaled back for Marine lieutenant missing in California mountains for nearly 2 weeks
The search for the Marine lieutenant missing in the California mountains for nearly two weeks is being scaled back to a "limited continuous search status" since rescuers have been unable to locate him along his planned route.
1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, 24, was reported missing to law enforcement after failing to make his return date while skiing and hiking the Sierra High Route in central California. His itinerary began Feb. 23 at the Kearsarge Pass trailhead and he was scheduled to finish around March 4 or 5 at Bridgeport, California, according to a press release from the 1st Marine Division.
Since then, multiple federal and local agencies have been searching throughout the mountains for Kraft, but have only been able to find his vehicle at a campground near Independence, Calif. Searching an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, rescue crews have faced significant challenges, including rough weather and high winds, and snow instability, the Division said.
In addition to searching on the ground, aircraft with thermal and night vision capability have also been deployed to the area, but they only found animal-related activity.
Now the interagency search effort that is looking for Kraft is shutting down its command post and ground search efforts are being suspended until the summer, said Sintia C. Kawasaki-Yee, a spokeswoman for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
"We are not presuming Mr. Kraft dead; we are merely scaling down search operations," Kawasaki-Yee told Task & Purpose.
With the command post closed, park rangers will "not be focused on this incident all day," she said, while flight crews will "keep this in the back of their mind" whenever they fly over the park area.
Kawasaki-Yee insisted that the search for Kraft is not over because ground search operations will resume in a couple of months.
"Our rangers and staff will continue to search," she said. "We are just waiting for the conditions to improve to be able to get more rangers out there safely in areas that we weren't able to search with ground crews at this time of year. As the snow begins to melt, as wilderness rangers begin to deploy out to the wilderness, they will also be searching for clues."
Kraft, an infantry officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines out of 29 Palms, California, has extensive survival training from the Marine Corps, a source familiar with the matter told Task & Purpose.
"The Marine Corps, along with the other assisting agencies, will continue to stand by and support Kraft's family, friends, and Marines during this difficult time," said 1st Marine Division spokesman Capt. Paul Gainey.
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.
The 7-day "reduction in violence" negotiated between the United States and the Taliban is set to begin on Feb. 22, an Afghan government official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Task & Purpose on Monday.
A temporary truce beginning on Saturday that would last for one week is seen as a crucial test between the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan governments that would prove all parties to a potential peace deal can control their forces. Defense Secretary Mark Esper declined to confirm the date on Sunday.
"That is a moving date because we are still doing consultations, if you will," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters.