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Retired Soldier Blasts Canada for Payout to Ex-Gitmo Detainee

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layne

By Debbie Gregory.

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who killed a U.S. soldier and injured another in Afghanistan recently received an apology and an $8 million check from the Canadian government.

Retired U.S. Special Forces soldier Layne Morris was blinded by a grenade thrown by Canadian-born Omar Khadr during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002.

“I don’t see this as anything but treason,” Morris said. “It’s something a traitor would do. As far as I am concerned, Prime Minister Trudeau should be charged.”

Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured by U.S. forces following a firefight that cost Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer his life and Morris the sight in one eye.Khadr had accompanied his al Qaeda fighter father to Afghanistan. He was convicted of killing Speer in 2010 by a U.S. military commission

Morris has always maintained that Khadr threw the grenade that wounded him as well.

Khadr was allowed to return to Canada two years after his conviction to serve out the remainder of his sentence there, but was released in May 2015 pending an appeal.

Now it appears that Khadr, who is now 30, will receive a formal apology as well as an $8 million settlement from the Canadian government for allegedly conspiring with the U.S. to violate his constitutional rights.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled twice — the first time in 2010 — that Khadr had been interrogated  under “oppressive circumstances” at Guantanamo and that Canadian officials were complicit in his mistreatment. An anonymous source familiar with the case told the Canadian Press wire service that the Trudeau government wanted to “get ahead of an attempt by [Morris] and [Speer] to enforce a massive U.S. court award against Khadr in Canadian court.”

Trudeau recently defended the deal saying, “When the government violates any Canadian’s charter rights, we all end up paying for it.”

Lawyers for Morris and Speer’s widow, Tabitha Speer, will ask a Canadian court for an urgent order to have Khadr’s payout frozen pending the outcome of a request to recognize a 2015 $134.1-million US Utah judgment against Khadr.

What do you think?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Linkin Park Frontman and Vet Advocate Chester Bennington Dies in Apparent Suicide

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chester

By Debbie Gregory.

Chester Bennington was one of those guys: enormously talented but deeply troubled. The 41-year-old father of six struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, and had previously talked about suicide as the result of childhood trauma and abuse.

Linkin Park bandmate Mike Shinoda said that the band had always felt “a special bond with the military.”

In 2014, the band teamed up with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to call attention to the suicide crisis that dramatically affects American service members and veterans.

“It is an honor to meet with you guys, the men and women of the armed forces, who protect our freedom every day,” Bennington told fans during a performance in Denver during the band’s Carnivores tour. “The greatest country in the world and it’s because of men and women who go out and risk their lives for all of us … no matter who we are or what we believe in.”

To give a startling visual impact, the group displayed 22 American flags to symbolize the estimated number of U.S. veterans who take their own lives on a daily basis.

Bennington’s death occurred on what would have been his good friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Cornell, best known as the lead vocalist for the rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, committed suicide on May 18th.

“My whole life, I’ve just felt a little off,” Bennington said in an interview. “I find myself getting into these patterns of behavior or thought – especially when I’m stuck up here [in my head]; I like to say that ‘this is like a bad neighborhood, and I should not go walking alone.’”

Our sincere condolences go out to Bennington’s wife Talinda Bentley and his six children.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Is Colonel “Big Nasty” Too Much of a Hardass?

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lambesis

By Debbie Gregory.

The Arizona National Guard is trying to oust one of its top officers, Col. Christopher Lambesis, based on charges that he has been insubordinate, as well as a toxic leader who committed and communicated threats to the state’s military commander, Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire.

Col. Lambesis, nicknamed “Big Nasty,” has been accused by his superiors of being too much of a hardass.

With his 24-year Army career on the line, the combat veteran with two Bronze Stars contends the case against him is really about his complaints of improper promotions, unethical leadership and inaccurate data that could endanger troops scheduled for deployment.

Col. Lambesis said he found evidence that many Guard units, soldiers, and airmen had falsified readiness documentation, calling into question their skill certifications and fitness evaluations.

As recent as February 2016, Lambesis was promoted to O6, running operations and training for Arizona’s 8,300 part- and full-time guardsmen.

But by October, he was being shown the door.

At age 49, Lambesis is an imposing figure with a shaved head and starched uniform — an officer who greets people with direct eye contact and a firm grip.

“He has a very rigid picture of what an effective leader looks like, and that picture is Chris Lambesis,” one junior officer told investigators.

In a written statement, the National Guard said Lambesis came under investigation last year when several subordinates lodged complaints alleging the colonel “was a toxic leader and a bully who created a hostile work environment.”

Those charges, and other accusations of hostility, led an administrative tribunal to discharge Lambesis honorably from full-time duty. He is now a “weekend warrior,” being told to drill part-time, or retire his commission.

But Lambesis is not giving up, and he still wants an independent investigation.

“We’re taught to hunker down and take on the charge,” he said. “I’ve been under fire in the fox hole, basically shooting at anything that jingles my wire for the past year. … I believe the institution of the Army is at risk.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Proposal to Cut Housing Stipends For Dual-Military Couples

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mil to mil

By Debbie Gregory.

When it comes to finding ways to save money, the last place Congress should look is at military families, especially when both spouses are active duty service members.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is considering a proposal that would require dual military couples to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) stipends at the “without dependents” rate, regardless as to whether or not they have children.

Currently, dual military couples without dependents each receive their respective BAH.  In dual military families with dependents, the higher ranking service member receives BAH at the with-dependent rate and the lower ranking service member receives BAH at the without-dependent rate.

The BAH allowance is determined by geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. It provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets within the United States when government quarters are not provided. For servicemembers stationed outside the U.S. who are not furnished with government housing, there is Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).

If enacted, this change would affect approximately 6.4% of active duty service members in dual-military marriages.

The proposed plan would save roughly $300 million over the next five years.

The Senate believes that the current BAH is too high, since the payout rates are typically higher than the cost of living in the areas where service members are stationed. But the Pentagon argues that BAH is a necessary part of military family compensation.

“While there would be some monetary savings in the BAH program achieved through implementation of a limitation of BAH payments for dual-military couples, the department objects to any limitation based solely on housing or marriage choices,” a DoD spokeswoman said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Should Ex-Army Officer Serving Prison Sentence Be Freed?

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clint

By Debbie Gregory.

Ex-Army officer Clint Lorance is serving a 19-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for his role in the slayings of two unarmed Afghans.

In July 2012, Lorance found himself newly installed as the leader of a combat platoon in Afghanistan. Just three days into his tenure, three Afghan men on a single motorcycle approached his platoon’s position. A rifleman called out the threat and fired, but missed. Based on the rifleman’s threat assessment, Lorance radioed troops stationed in a nearby watch position to open fire. Two of the Afghan men were killed, while the third escaped.

In 2013, a court-martial jury found the 32-year-old Oklahoma native guilty of two counts of second-degree murder after nine members of the platoon he’d led in Afghanistan testified against him at his trial.

A campaign to free Lorance includes retired Army lieutenant colonel and former congressman Allen West, Marine veteran and Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, and talk show host Sean Hannity. They contend that Lorance is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Was Lorance a hero who did what he believed was necessary to bring his men home alive or an

overzealous leader who was eager to get his hands?

One point that Lorance’s critics and supporters can agree on is that he was deeply suspicious of the local population. Whether Lorance was justified in addressing that perceived threat with violence is the question at the heart of his case.

No weapons were found on the two dead Afghans.

Lorance remains publicly optimistic, and he and his supporters have made it clear that the fight for his exoneration will continue.

Functioning in a combat zone requires rapid decision-making in situations with low or poor information. Making the wrong call can be dangerous, even deadly, for an officer and his men.

Did Lorance make the right call? What do you think?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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