military

The Pentagon has quietly sidelined a program that placed blast gauges on thousands of combat troops in Afghanistan.

NPR has learned the monitoring was discontinued because the gauges failed to reliably show whether service members had been close enough to an explosion to have sustained a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury.

A federal judge has overturned a military panel's decision to force a Marine out of service for using his Yahoo account to send an email that included classified information warning his fellow Marines about a corrupt Afghan official.

That warning was not taken seriously, as NPR's Quil Lawrence told our Newscast unit, and three Marines were killed shortly after. Later, "after some negative news coverage, the Marine Corps decided to force Jason Brezler out of the service for mishandling classified data."

Retired Gen. James Mattis' nomination to be President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of defense may, well, march through the Senate, but there is one potential obstacle to maneuver around: the retired general part.

The National Security Act of 1947, which established the current national defense structure, had a key stipulation, requiring that the secretary of defense be a civilian well removed from military service. In fact, the law is quite clear:

An Army review concludes that commanders did nothing wrong when they kicked out more than 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq or Afghanistan – even though all of those troops had been diagnosed with mental health problems or brain injuries.

The Army's report, ordered by Secretary Eric Fanning, seeks to reassure members of Congress that it's treating wounded soldiers fairly. But senators and military specialists say the report troubles them.

Congress has reached a compromise on the Pentagon's effort to claw back millions of dollars in bonuses paid by the California National Guard, agreeing to forgive the debt in cases where soldiers "knew or reasonably should have known" they were ineligible to receive the money.

The Pentagon is suspending its debt collection program to claw back bonuses paid to thousands of California National Guard soldiers who re-enlisted to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter calling the current situation "unacceptable."

Citing a duty to keep promises to service members, Carter said he's ordering the Pentagon's Defense Finance and Accounting Service to "suspend all efforts to collect reimbursement from affected California National Guard members" until he's satisfied that the process has become more efficient and fair.

After a Marine Corps report found a pattern of abuse at the Parris Island training facility in South Carolina, 20 officers and enlisted leaders could face punishment, including potential criminal charges or court-martial.

The investigative report linked the hazing activities at Parris Island to the March 18 death of one young recruit, Raheel Siddiqui. Military officials say Siddiqui killed himself, but this week Siddiqui's family released a statement through their lawyer challenging that idea.

Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier imprisoned for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, says she is ending a hunger strike after the U.S. Army agreed to allow her to get medical treatment for her gender dysphoria.

She began the hunger strike last week to protest her treatment at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., vowing to persist until she was treated better.

Four years ago, Jason Brezler sent an urgent message to a fellow Marine in Afghanistan, warning him about a threat. The warning wasn't heeded, and two weeks later, three U.S. troops were dead.

Now the Marine Corps is trying to kick out Maj. Brezler because the warning used classified information.

Solving a problem

Jason Brezler never thought he'd make a career out of the Marine Corps — his family history was FDNY.

"My grandfather was a firefighter, my father was a firefighter and fire chief," he says.

Marine 1st Lt. Ernesto Rodriguez is a father of two. When he deployed to Iraq in 2005, he had only recently become a dad. When he got back, he struggled to hold his life together.

But he'd never spoken about those times with his son, Sebastian, until they sat down for a StoryCorps interview.

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