Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

Some Fort Bragg soldiers will begin specialized air assault training classes this week.  Fort Bragg soldiers had previously gone to posts outside the state to complete the course.  Soldiers will learn the logistics of moving troops and equipment by helicopter during combat. 

Capt. Matt Smoose is the school's commander.  He says the training includes helicopter transport and what's called 'springload operations'.

US Dept. of Defense

Aspiring defense contractors are in Fayetteville for this year's annual Defense and Economic Development Trade Show.  Companies will be at Fayetteville Technical Community College to network with military and political figures and to see demonstrations of advances in combat equipment.

This year, federal sequestration cuts have brought questions from vendors about the level of military participation.  Scott Dorney is executive director of the North Carolina Military Business Center.  He says business are coming to this year's show looking to partner up.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is greeted by Gen. Dan Allyn, commander U.S. Forces Command, as he visits Fort Bragg
DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel paid a visit to Fort Bragg Monday.  In a town-hall style meeting broadcast live on News-14 Carolina, Hagel faced tough questions from the Ft. Bragg community, which has been hit hard with budget cuts caused by sequestration.

A 2008 photo of Jeffrey Sinclair giving remarks during the transfer of authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.
James Wagner, Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq

Jury selection starts this week in the court martial of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair at Fort Bragg. Sinclair is accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate officer and faces allegations of forcible sodomy and wrongful sexual conduct, among other charges.  Prosecutors say Sinclair engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a female captain under his command.

Air Force airmen lay sandbags to protect against a flooding disaster in MO in 2011.
Dept. of Defense

Current and former members of the military want to talk about how climate change could be threatening national security. 

A public meeting in Fayetteville tonight will include discussions about evidence linking climate change to a rising risk of stronger natural disasters.  Spring Lake mayor Chris Rey is one of the speakers at the meeting and a former Army captain.  He says storms that cause widespread damage divert military resources, leaving the impacted areas more vulnerable.

Veteran student, Fort Bragg
Fayetteville Tech Community College

Fayetteville Technical Community College opens a new office on Fort Bragg Wednesday morning. 

Officials from the school and the Army say the new facility will provide on-post admissions, testing, registration and advising services to soldiers and their families.  Bill Buckner, the coordinator for military programs at FTCC, says the school offers about 33 different programs including classes in culinary arts, nursing and criminal justice.

Teachers at North Carolina's military bases are preparing for up to five furlough days due to cuts from the sequester
Fort Bragg

Teachers at North Carolina's military bases are preparing for up to five furlough days due to cuts from the sequester. 

The Department of Defense says instructors and other nine-month employees can expect mandatory days off after the next school year starts.  Marilee Fitzgerald is the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, which oversees schools at military bases.

Veteran student, Fort Bragg
Fayetteville Tech Community College

Veterans who want to go back to school will soon have access to academic counseling and career advice through a new program at Fayetteville Technical Community College.  The school has purchased a building on Fort Bragg Road to serve as a veterans center on campus.  President Larry Keen says veterans will be given special assessments and mentoring to help them graduate, get work, or start a new business.

Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg has held its annual 4th of July celebration for more than three decades. The event that Parade Magazine placed on its 2011 'bucket list' of essential American experiences has been canceled.  Post officials say sequestration cuts that took effect last month forced the move.  Spokesman Tom McCollum says the celebration has been a popular tradition.

Medics in training at Fort Bragg
Sgt. April de Armas/82nd CAB, Fort Bragg

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) alleges that at least 300 goats are killed and maimed at Fort Bragg each month for medical training.  Now activists are applauding signs the army may be starting to the change the way soldiers are trained for trauma response. According to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has required the military to lay out a timeline to phase out the use of animals for training purposes.

A sergeant accused of hazing a private who then committed suicide goes on trial today at Fort Bragg. Sergeant Adam Holcomb of Youngstown, Ohio, is one of eight soldiers charged in the death of 19-year-old Private Danny Chen, of New York. Military officials say Chen shot himself last year in Afghanistan after weeks of physical and emotional abuse. He was allegedly targeted because he was Chinese-American.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says she'll fight to protect North Carolina's military institutions from recently-announced defense cuts. But Hagan told WUNC the Pentagon's plans include certain funding increases as well.

Kay Hagan: The increase will be in areas of cyber-security, special operations forces, and areas like that. And that's gonna be where the increases in the budget are actually going. And in North Carolina, in Fayetteville at Fort Bragg, USASOC is headquartered there, and that's where all our special operations forces are administered from.

A partnership that works to protect and restore the longleaf pine in North Carolina will plant its 500,000th seedling today. Debbie Crane of the Nature Conservancy says the tree is an iconic state symbol, but it's been in decline for decades.

About 58 hundred soldiers from Fort Bragg will be deployed to Afghanistan this spring. They're headed to the southern part of the country to work with NATO and Afghan troops. Captain Allie Scott says the paratroopers are part of a transition plan to gradually hand over that part of Afghanistan to local authorities.

President Barack Obama made his first trip as commander in chief to Fort Bragg yesterday. He was there to thank all American troops for their service in Iraq.

President Obama spoke in a sunlit airplane hangar before about 3-thousand troops and their families. He told them their service was selfless and historic, and would be remembered.

President Barack Obama: "You served a cause greater than yourselves. You helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq and among all nations. I could not be prouder of you. And America could not be prouder of you."

A team of professors at N.C. State is starting a program of language and culture classes for special operations soldiers. The Language Training Center will offer six-week intensive courses to prepare special ops members for deployment overseas. Program director Dwight Stephens says the classes are designed to bridge the gap between soldier and civilian.

A recent study outlines efforts at North Carolina's military bases to help the Department of Defense reduce energy consumption. The report is from the Pew Charitable Trust. It says Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune are using energy reduction projects and bio-fuel to cut costs. Coby Jones is the energy program coordinator at Fort Bragg. He says recent renovations have cut energy consumption by 23 percent at 30 of the base's older buildings.

43 soldiers at Fort Bragg suffered heat-related injuries this morning during a 12-mile march. That's according to spokeswoman Jackie Thomas. Thomas says 25 of them were treated on the spot. 18 of them were transported to Womack Medical Center, where 13 of them were admitted, and one of them was placed in Intensive Care Unit.

Jackie Thomas: "I wouldn't attribute that to them being pushed too far. You know, you have to understand, it's a pretty grueling series of things that they've been going through in this competition. "

The Army is looking to hire more substance abuse counselors at Fort Bragg.

The head of the Army's substance abuse program says the number of troops abusing alcohol has doubled in the last five years. About 11,000 soldiers were treated for alcohol abuse in 2010. 2,000 more were using drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Military doctors say some soldiers resort to substance abuse after going through the stressful cycle of training, fighting overseas and readjusting to life at home. The Army is calling for 130 more counselors at major bases, including 10 at Fort Bragg.

Ten people were injured in an explosion on Fort Bragg last night. The injured are eight marines and two navy personnel. Marine staff sergeant Jayson Price says the explosion happened during a routine spring exercise called “Rolling Thunder.” The exercise uses live ammunition including 155 millimeter howitzers.

"The cause of the incident is under investigation and the regiment remains in a check firing status, meaning they’re not firing until safe training can resume," Price says.

A fair being held at Fort Bragg today will focus on resiliency. The first-ever “Resiliency Fair” is a chance for soldier and their families to learn about some of the support services available at the sprawling Army post. Master Sergeant Jennifer Loredo says resiliency is an important part of being a soldier:

"Being able to bounce back from an event that happens in your life and either grow from it or move forward. Soldiers and family members and people in general really can always work on improving their resilience, and so that’s kind of what this is about."

New barracks at Fort Bragg will improve the way the fort treats wounded soldiers. That's according to officers with the fort's Wounded Warrior Battalion. They say the building will consolidate operations from nine facilities to one. Major Dennis Small is the executive officer of the battalion. He says the new barracks advance a recovery process that already works.

Family and friends of America's fallen soldiers and civilians lost since 9/11 will be among the attendees at a ceremony on Fort Bragg today. Base officials are unveiling a monument honoring the dead this afternoon. Sergeant Major LaMonte Caldwell is participating in the event. He says its very personal for him:

 "I've lost a total of 11 soldiers that worked for me in my command and then also the fact that 36 was injured or maimed during the last operation that was in Afghanistan."

211 Fort Bragg-based paratroopers return home from Afghanistan tonight. Two batteries from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 18th Fires Brigade are scheduled to arrive just after midnight. Colonel Al Shoffner, Commander of the Brigade, says their primary mission was to provide support fire for maneuvering forces in the eastern part of the country.

Officials at Fort Bragg are holding a town hall meeting tomorrow for military families who have babies. Military investigators have been looking into a series of ten unexplained infant deaths on base since last year. So far they haven't found an environmental link, and they're waiting for consumer product safety results.

Tom McCullom is a spokesman for the base: