The Sunday Read: Catch Up on the Week’s Top Military Stories


By Rick Rogers

The Army sergeant convicted of murdering five fellow service members in 2009 has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Sgt. John Russell killed the men at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.
Navy Dolphins training off San Diego have found a very rare 19th century weapon.
The bottlenose dolphins discovered a Howell torpedo. Just 50 were made between 1870 and 1889. The relic is now headed to Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington. D.C.
Days after Veterans Affairs Department announced that 10,000 workers there would log mandatory over time to reduce the benefit claims backlog, a group of anonymous VA employees is calling it a bad idea. 
The said the move would not cut the glut and only hurt morale. 
It appears a moves afoot to strip military commanders of their power to decide whether to prosecute sexual assault cases.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and top Army and Air Force generals have all signaled a willingness to give military prosecutors the authority instead.
Bees to the rescue.
Researchers in Croatia are training bees to find land mines, many or which were planted during Balkan War of the 1990s.
The insects are learning to associate their food with the scent of explosives.
Sexual assaults are costing the military in more ways than one.
More than 85,000 veterans were treated by Veterans Affairs Department last year for sexual assault issues such as Post Traumatic Stress and depression. And 4,000 sought disability benefits, according to information obtained by the Associated Press.
More Boston-type attacks could be coming.
Michael Barbero, who once ran the military’s anti-IED command, said domestic terrorism is here to stay because homemade bombs are cheap and easy to make.
The Boston bombers used common pressure-cookers in their attack.
The Army is discharging more veterans for wrongdoing and some cases wounded combat vets are getting booted without any benefits.
A Colorado Springs Gazette investigation found Army misconduct discharges at posts with the most combat units have jumped 67 percent. The Army has separated more than 76,000 soldiers since 2006.
Two FBI special agents from its Hostage Rescue Team were killed in a training accident in Virginia.
The accident happened off the coast of Virginia Beach. The FBI said Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw died in the incident, according to the Virginian Pilot.
There might be one saving grace to the huge budget cuts the military is undergoing: longer stateside assignments.
To cut the expense of moving troops — and often their family members — an initiative calls for assignments to be extended up to 4 years from the current 2 ½ years, according to the
The Pentagon is sending Congress a report that reportedly shows that reserve troops are cheaper than the active-duty variety. 
According a story by Military Times based on a Defense Department draft, National Guardsmen and Reservists are more cost effective because, in part, their overall compensation is lower.
Those enrolled in Tricare Prime in the western United States can still access specialty care without a referral through June 18. The Pentagon extended the grace period because of a backlog in specialty referrals.
The House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation making it crime to lie about military medals for personal gain.
Last summer Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act only to have the Supreme Court rule it unconstitutional. 
A revised act now awaits the president’s signature.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed with the Student Veterans of America to create an email hotline to aid veterans with GI Bill or VA benefit issues.
Student-veterans can now e-mail for assistance at [email protected].
Where are the medical records? 
That’s what the House Veterans Affairs Committee is asking the Pentagon. The files were supposed to kept on all soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If not found or reconstructed, the missing records could derail veterans’ efforts to get their benefits. 
More than 120 banks have signed on to a Small Business Administration program aimed at lending more money to veteran businesses.
The Veteran Pledge Initiative is expected to generate $475 million in loans over the next five years.
The Army officer accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood is still drawing a government paycheck.
Maj. Nidal Hasan has received nearly $280,000 since the mass shooting in 2009. 
The Army is going a little Hollywood.
The largest military branch is launching a reality TV program in June called “Starting Strong.” The recruiting tool is aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds.
Until this week, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen had killed three American citizens, according to government reports. 
Now a fourth name on that list: Jude Kenan Mohammed was indicted for an alleged plot to attack a Marine base in 2009, but escaped to Pakistan to fight with jihadist. 
A rule change at the Pentagon would allow full, second awards of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest medal for valor.
Only 19 people have ever received two of the awards – none this century.  In the past, a small pin – not an entire medal — signified a second honor.


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Rick Rogers is a defense reporter based in San Diego.