U.S. Soldiers from 173rd Airborne Brigade drops a heavy payload from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules while conducting airborne operations during exercise Saber Junction 16 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, April 11, 2016.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade soldier charged in connection with the spectacular destruction last year of three Humvees that slipped free from their parachutes during a drop and plummeted to earth is not a parachute rigger. He is a Germany-based scout who’d been assigned to assist the brigade’s Italy-based parachute riggers during the exercise, authorities said.
Already punished in connection with the incident is a soldier who was heard laughing and cursing as he shot video of the falling Humvees on April 11, 2016, at the Hohenfels training area. He has been reprimanded, Christian Marquardt, a 7th Army Training Command spokesman, said Thursday.
More serious consequences face Sgt. John Skipper, a scout with the Germany-based 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne). Skipper, who had been detailed to assist the 173rd’s 601st Quartermaster Company, based at Aviano Air Base, was charged in May with several counts of destruction of government property and making a false official statement.
Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, 7th ATC commander, will decide whether the case proceeds to court-martial.
The charge of destruction of government property falls under Article 108 of the Unified Code of Military Justice, which prohibits damage, destruction, or loss, either “willfully caused by the accused” or as a result of negligence. The maximum punishments for each vary considerably. Destroying property valued at more than $500 through neglect carries a maximum punishment of a year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Willful destruction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
A Humvee can cost up to $220,000.
Marquardt declined to say whether the government was alleging Skipper had acted willfully or negligently.
A video of the incident has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.
The soldier who made the video is a sergeant assigned to the the 7th ATC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center as an “observer trainer coach.” His administrative letter of reprimand came from the JMRC commander, Marquardt said.
“The reprimand addressed the unprofessional comments the soldier made during the video, and the fact that he shared the video with others, which resulted in it being posted to social media by an unknown individual,” Marquardt said in an email.
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
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President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."