WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning announces she has ended a hunger strike because the Army has agreed to provide her with gender transition surgery.
The US Army soldier was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents.
Psychologists recommended in April that Chelsea Manning should receive the treatment.
The move comes after the US military in July lifted a ban on transgender people in the armed forces.
“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted – for them to let me be me,” Chelsea Manning, 28, said in a statement.
The US Army has so far declined to comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented Chelsea Manning, confirmed that she would be provided with medical treatment.
ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, said: “This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming.
“Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs.”
Chelsea Manning began her hunger strike on September 9, saying she was being bullied by the US government and denied treatment for gender dysphoria.
In July, Chelsea Manning attempted suicide over the lack of treatment.
She will now be treated under the US military’s new transgender policy, which also allows troops to transition gender while serving and aims to set standards for medical care.
However Chelsea Manning’s campaign team said she could still face being put in solitary confinement as punishment for having tried to commit suicide.
Chelsea Manning, who was arrested as Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year sentence at the all-male Fort Leavenworth military facility in Kansas.
She was convicted in a military court of leaking more than 700,000 secret files to WikiLeaks after having worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Shortly afterwards she announced Chelsea Manning would start living as a woman.
The US will increase its military presence in Eastern Europe in response to an “aggressive Russia”, the Pentagon has announced.
From 2017, three fully manned US combat brigades will be deployed.
In February, the Pentagon announced plans to quadruple its budget for European defense in 2017.
The additional presence will increase US ability to conduct military exercises in the region.
The plan demonstrates “our strong and balanced approach to reassuring our NATO allies and partners in the wake of an aggressive Russia in eastern Europe and elsewhere”, said Gen. Philip Breedlove, the senior US commander in Europe.
“Our allies and partners will see more capability. They will see a more frequent presence of an armored brigade with more modernized equipment in their countries,” Gen. Philip Breedlove added.
Each brigade will rotate through the region for nine months before being replaced.
There are about 4,500 soldiers in a brigade, bringing with them military vehicles and other equipment.
“There will be a division’s worth of stuff to fight if something happens,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work told the Wall Street Journal.
Relations between Russia and the West have plummeted since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March 2014.
The intervention sparked fears that Russia was considering other incursions into neighboring countries.
Russia has accused NATO of using the situation in Ukraine as an excuse to move closer to Russian borders.
“Stories are being spread that Russia will send its tanks into the Baltic states, into Sofia or into Budapest. No-one intends to do that,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Some analysts suggested the US military could be planning for the post-Obama era.
US army officials are investigating the reported friendly-fire incident in southern Afghanistan that killed five American soldiers and two Afghans.
Rear Admiral John Kirby said the US had “reason to suspect that friendly fire is the cause here, specifically friendly fire from the air”.
He said the Pentagon “would let investigators do their work”.
Afghan officials say coalition forces had called for air support to fend off a Taliban attack in Zabul province.
An Afghan soldier and an interpreter were killed in the incident.
US army officials are investigating the reported friendly-fire incident in southern Afghanistan that killed five American soldiers and two Afghans
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had been informed of the deaths and that his thoughts and prayers were with the families of those killed.
The incident is among the most serious cases of so-called “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, US military sources confirmed on Tuesday.
NATO-led troops have been battling Taliban and other insurgents in the country since 2001. Militants have stepped up attacks as foreign combat troops leave this year.
US defense officials told the Associated Press news agency the Americans killed were special operations forces.
Those elite troops are responsible for calling in air support. Under constraints imposed by President Hamid Karzai, they may only do so when they fear they are about to be killed, after concerns over civilian deaths.
The ISAF force currently has soldiers from 50 contributing nations in Afghanistan. Most troops stationed in the south are American.
The incident happened in Arghandab district, a place hotly contested between the Taliban and international forces for some years.
There have been more than 30 NATO forces killed this year in Afghanistan – the latest incident is the deadliest so far in 2014.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to what is expected to be its smallest size since before World War Two.
An entire class of Air Force attack jets was tipped to be axed under the plans, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlines his 2015 budget.
Chuck Hagel is expected to propose trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel.
The US military is under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars.
The number of active-duty US Army members is already expected to be pared down to 490,000, as the US prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan later this year.
Referring to budget pressures, Chuck Hagel said at the Pentagon on Monday: “The reality of reduced resources and a changing strategic environment requires us to prioritize and make difficult choices.”
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to what is expected to be its smallest size since before World War Two
Noting there are currently about 520,000 active-duty US Army members, Chuck Hagel will also say according to prepared remarks: “Since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy.”
The proposed Army staffing levels would be the lowest since before the US entered World War Two in 1940, when 267,000 active-duty members were employed.
By the end of that conflict, 8.2 million active-duty US Army members were employed.
The figure peaked at 1.6 million both during the Korean War, in 1952, and during the Vietnam War, in 1968.
The number was 482,000 in 2000, a year before the attacks of September 11, 2001.
After those attacks, the force peaked at 566,000 in 2010.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Chuck Hagel will also recommend reducing housing allowances and other benefits, limiting pay raises and increasing healthcare premiums.
However, the military cost-cutting drive could well cause ructions on Capitol Hill, which is gearing up for November’s midterm elections.
The plan is said to take into account government cutbacks as well as President Barack Obama’s pledge to end land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under the proposed cuts, the military would still be able to defeat any adversary, unnamed officials told that newspaper, but be too small to engage in protracted foreign occupations.
Clashes between prisoners and guards have erupted at Guantanamo Bay as authorities moved inmates, many of whom are on hunger strike, out of communal cellblocks.
The move came after detainees covered surveillance cameras and windows, a US Army spokesman said.
He said some prisoners used “improvised weapons” and in response “four less-than-lethal rounds” were fired.
The Pentagon says 43 prisoners are on hunger strike, but lawyers for the detainees say the number is higher.
Almost a dozen are being force-fed, according to military officials.
Clashes between prisoners and guards have erupted at Guantanamo Bay as authorities moved inmates, many of whom are on hunger strike, out of communal cellblocks
There were no “serious injuries to guards or detainees” in Saturday’s clashes, according to Capt Robert Durand of the US military’s Southern Command.
“I know for sure that one detainee was hit but the injuries were minor, just some bruises,” another spokesman, Col. Greg Julian, told the Associated Press.
Lawyers for some of the detainees condemned the camp authorities’ actions.
Carlos Warner, who represents several detainees, told AP that “the military is escalating the conflict”.
Hunger strikes have happened frequently at the US military prison, but this protest, which began in February, is reportedly one of the longest and most widespread.
However, Guantanamo officials deny claims that the strike began after copies of the Koran were mishandled during searches of prisoners’ cells.
Human rights groups and lawyers representing the prisoners say it reflects growing frustration at the US military’s failure to decide the detainees’ future.
Nearly 100 of the detainees have been reportedly cleared for release but remain at the facility because of Congressional restrictions and also concerns of possible mistreatment if they are sent back to their home countries.
The military detention centre opened in 2002 to hold suspects captured in counter-terrorism operations after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.
Families of the Afghan people who lost their lives in the Kandahar massacre have been paid compensation.
The US military gave $46,000 for each person killed, and $10,000 for each person injured, Afghan officials and tribal elders say.
US staff sergeant Robert Bales was charged on Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Meanwhile, eight Afghan police officers and an ISAF foreign soldier have been killed by a bomb in Kandahar province.
They were on patrol when they were hit by an improvised explosive device late on Saturday, officials said.
“Four Afghan local police and three national police, one ISAF soldier and one Afghan interpreter were killed,” Shah Mohammad, administrator for Arghandab district, said.
Family members attended a private meeting with personnel from the US military and the NATO-led ISAF forces at the offices of Kandahar’s governor.
The families were told that some witnesses would be flown to the US to give evidence – and others would be able to participate by videolink – when Staff Sgt. Robert Bales stands trial over the deadly night-time rampage in Panjwai district on 11 March.
Sgt. Robert Bales had been formally charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, nine Afghan children and eight adults
The US army said on Friday that Sgt. Robert Bales had been formally charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder – nine Afghan children and eight adults.
Afghan officials and villagers say 16 died – 12 in Balandi and four in Alkozai – and the US military has not explained the discrepancy.
Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, was also charged with six counts of attempted murder over attacks on a man, a woman and four children.
The soldier is currently being held at a military jail in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is being held in solitary confinement after being flown out of Afghanistan last week.
His lawyer, John Henry Browne, who has played down reports that his client was drunk on the night of the killings, has said Sgt. Robert Bales remembers “very little” of the incident.
John Henry Browne said there were “no forensic evidence” against him and “no confession”.
Sgt. Robert Bales is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.
His trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.
The shooting spree has further undermined relations between Kabul and Washington. The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.
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