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Archives: Nov. 2011

Nov.
30th

WA Guard suicides rise even as prevention efforts pay off with interventions

The Washington National Guard is seeing mixed results from an “all hands” effort to halt service member suicides, military leaders told state lawmakers in a briefing Wednesday.

The number of suicides among Washington Army and Air Guard service members increased from 0 in 2010 to four so far this year. Seven Washington National Guard soldiers took their own lives in 2009.

But leaders are taking heart in multiple successful suicide interventions that they attribute to enhanced awareness about behavioral health concerns in the military.

“These efforts are saving lives,” Washington National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg said. “We have

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Nov.
29th

JBLM Stryker brigade shapes training with an eye on Afghanistan

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division spent the past month training in the California desert with an eye on a possible deployment to Afghanistan, according to Army reports from its exercises.

Brigade commander Col. Barry Huggins went so far as to act out a ceremony marking the completion of a civil affairs project that would benefit Afghans. An Afghan flag fluttered above the exercise as Huggins depicted the pomp that would follow a bridge opening, an Army writer wrote.

“A man with seven sons, gave seven sticks to his sons and told them to break them.

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Nov.
22nd

Hundreds of soldiers staying behind as Stryker brigade heads to Afghanistan

A Stryker combat brigade is heading to southern Afghanistan starting at the end of the month for a yearlong deployment with some of its forces staying behind.

A small crowd braved the cold and driving rain at the installation Tuesday to bid farewell to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which is headed to overseas combat for the fourth time in seven years.

Soldiers cased the unit colors of its headquarters and three of its infantry battalions during the ceremony in front of the brigade headquarters and surrounding a memorial that honors the unit’s fallen from its three prior deployments

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Nov.
19th

National leader of veterans support group here for two-day visit

The national president of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is coming to the South Sound for two days to help promote the theme of her tenure: “Step Up – Leave No Veteran Behind.”

Gwen Rankin is leading the 522,875 members of the national VFW Ladies Auxiliary for the 2011-2012 term. She is from Sacramento, and has held leadership posts for the Auxiliary back home in California.

Rankin, the wife of an Army veteran from the Vietnam War era, arrives Sunday and will visit the Veterans Memorial at Triangle Park in Milton at 11:30 a.m. On

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Nov.
18th

Stryker sergeant guilty of assaulting junior soldier in 11th “kill team” case

8:50 PM UPDATE: Staff Sgt. David Bram will serve five years in prison, the jury announced tonight.

6:45 PM UPDATE: Staff Sgt. David Bram tonight pleaded for mercy from jury that will sentence him up to 14 years in prison for crimes he committed in Afghanistan last year.

Bram tearfully asked for an opportunity to be reunited with his son and daughter.

“After seeing my children ripped away from me for the sins of their father, I truly do understand the weight of what I’ve done,” he said.

He also delivered an apology that might some Lewis-McChord soldiers have been

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Nov.
17th

Sergeant linked to “kill team” fights detainee abuse, assault charges

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord staff sergeant who supervised soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians last year is in court today facing charges that he beat up the private who kicked off the Army’s “kill team” investigation.

Staff Sgt. David Bram, 27, faces 17 years in prison if he’s convicted on various charges. The accusations against him break down into two groups – the ones the Army charged against him when he came home in June 2010 and ones prosecutors filed against him in May 2011.

The first set includes accusations that Bram led a seven-man assault on then-Pfc. Justin Stoner

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Nov.
15th

Gibbs is gone, but another “kill team” trial is set to begin Wednesday

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was the biggest target in the Army’s “kill team” investigation, but his conviction last week does not represent the end of the road for the soldiers who were connected to his crimes.

Staff Sgt. David Bram is due in court tomorrow, where he’ll face charges accusing him of assaulting an Army whistleblower, soliciting a junior soldier to join him an unfulfilled scheme to murder Afghan noncombatants, abusing detainees and violating a general order by possessing photographs of casualties.

Bram, 27, of Vacaville, Calif. could be sentenced to a maximum punishment of 17

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Nov.
14th

Taliban forge I Corps commander’s signature to undermine Kabul meeting

The Taliban reportedly forged the signature of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s top general in a 28-page document the insurgents released Sunday to undermine an upcoming governance meeting.

Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti deployed to Afghanistan in July with about 500 soldiers from Lewis-McChord’s I Corps. He’s the war’s No. 2 commander, running daily combat operations while managing the drawdown of U.S. forces.

The Taliban emailed the security plan to a number of western media outlets to demonstrate that it had influential allies inside the Afghan government, according to a report from McClatchy’s Habib Zohori.

NATO rejected the Taliban report as

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