We'll dive right in; there have been more casualties in Afghanistan this week, as an RAF helo full of NATO personnel has gone down
with loss of life.
Five people, including two RAF personnel, have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
The Puma Mk2 helicopter crashed as it was landing at Nato's training and support mission HQ, in Kabul. Nato has not released the nationalities of the other victims or the five left injured.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the crash was "an accident and not the result of insurgent activity".
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon expressed his "deepest sympathies".
The MoD said the families of the British victims had asked for a period of grace before their names were released.
The accident comes after a convoy of UK military vehicles was attacked in Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Sunday morning, injuring seven people. There were no UK casualties, the MoD said.
The MoD said an improvised explosive device caused an explosion, while officials in Kabul said it was a suicide bombing.
The Taliban said it carried out the attack in retaliation for air strikes in Kunduz that killed civilians and doctors.
The two RAF personnel killed in the helicopter crash were from 230 and 33 squadrons, both of which are based at RAF Benson, in Oxfordshire, the MoD spokesman said.
He added: "The incident is currently under investigation but we can confirm that it was an accident and not the result of insurgent activity."
Of course, that's not the only Cost of War
, as our ever-mounting expense can attest. We find that number passing through: $ 1, 644, 959, 800, 000 .00
We'll keep moving at a blistering pace today; how's Syria grab you for a quick visit? With the Russians mounting an ever-increasing presence in the region, things are getting awfully crowded and chaotic
. This is how accidents happen - and when accidents happen in a war zone, the results often aren't going to be pretty.
WASHINGTON -- The skies over Syria are increasingly crowded -- and increasingly dangerous. The air forces of multiple countries are on the attack, often at cross purposes in Syria's civil war, sometimes without coordination. And now, it seems, they are at risk of unintended conflict.
The latest entry in the air war is Russia. It says it is bombing the Islamic State in line with U.S. priorities, but the U.S. says Russia is mainly striking anti-government rebels in support of its ally, President Bashar Assad. The Russians, who are not coordinating with the Americans, reportedly also have hit at least one U.S.-supported rebel group.
That opens the possibility, however unlikely, of the Americans and Russians coming to blows.
For its part, Turkey in late August began airstrikes in Syria as part of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition. Turkish warplanes are fully integrated into the coalition attack plan, as are those of Australia, which began flying strike missions over Syria in September. France also began bombing in September.
And Syria's air force is also bombing targets within its borders, hitting both Islamic State and anti-government rebels, all of whom Assad has labeled "terrorists" with a broad brush.
U.S. and Russian defense officials held a one-hour video teleconference last week on ways to "de-conflict" Syrian airspace, or prevent unintended air incidents, including collisions. No agreement was reached. More talks are expected, although a senior defense official said Monday there had been no further word from Moscow, raising doubt about Russian intentions. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
The introduction of the Russian planes in the crowded skies over Syria endangers not only air forces and military pilots, but non-combatants on the ground, as well.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has expressed worry about the possibility of "inadvertent incidents and lack of communication" with Russian air crews, although so far the Russians have flown mainly in western Syria, relatively far from U.S. and coalition flights in the country's north and east.
The picture darkened further on Monday as Turkey's prime minister vowed to protect the nation's borders after a Russian fighter jet entered Turkish airspace from Syria over the weekend. The incursion, which Russia said was an accident, prompted Turkey to scramble jets to intercept the Russian plane. Turkey also lodged a diplomatic protest.
The secretary general of NATO rejected Moscow's claim that its military incursion into alliance airspace over Turkey wasn't intentional or important, saying there were two separate incidents and "the violation lasted for a long time."
Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday that the reported incidents were "very serious." Stoltenberg added, "It doesn't look like an accident, and we've seen two of them over the weekend."
The violation is more than a Turkey-Russia spat because Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance, whose defense leaders meet later this week in Brussels. Russia is not a NATO member. Carter said he expects the matter to be on the NATO agenda, and he repeated his strong criticism of the Russian military involvement in Syria, calling it "doomed to fail" and "way off track."
"What we're seeing now is a lot of different countries and coalitions operating in the skies over Syria," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I think it creates a situation that is fraught with danger and very delicate, as we'd seen in the issue of the violation of the airspace with Turkey ... This should really refocus people's attention on finding a political solution."
Russian officials say more than 50 warplanes and helicopters are taking part in the open-ended air operations, including Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 jets. They are flying 20-25 missions a day in Syria, compared to an average of about eight per day by the U.S.-led coalition.
Since we are ostensibly a Veteran's column...let's move on to the home front. There's been some recent news about more profiteering being uncovered in the insurance industry
, and it's particularly heinous as it involves dead GIs. Some things just won't go away, even after 15 years at war.
One of the country's largest veterans' organizations says it has uncovered proof that that the Veterans Affairs Department agreed to an insurance policy payout system that gave Prudential Insurance Co. an edge in holding onto survivor's money rather than pay it out in a lump sum.
A 2009 document shows that that VA allowed Prudential to pay benefits in the form of an account that survivors could draw on rather than a single payment, as the law governing Service Group Life Insurance and Veterans Group Life Insurance required.
"The documents speak for themselves, and they show that Prudential initiated this program for the money that could be gained, not to help grieving military families -- and the VA knew all about it," VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said. "For an insurance company to profit off the dead is sickening, but for our own government to turn a blind eye to profiteering is something entirely else."
A spokesperson for the department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Among the 3,600 pages of documents acquired by the VFW is one detailing a plan wherein account managers were encouraged to increase earnings by holding onto control of client -- that is beneficiary -- money.
The document includes a subtitle stating "It's About Money," Biedrzycki said in a statement Tuesday.
Another document reveals Prudential trained personnel on how to deal with survivors who insist on a lump-sum payout rather than leaving the money with Prudential and drawing on it in much the same way they would a savings or checking account.
Biedrzycki is calling for an independent investigation into the Prudential/VA arrangement and for the SGLI and VGLI contracts to be awarded to another company.
The VFW got involved in the case in 2010 and filed a motion for the documents release two years ago.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2009 with the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleged Prudential collected interest from unpaid life-insurance benefits by encouraging beneficiaries to leave the money in so-called Alliance Accounts rather than taking lump-sum payments.
By investing the money, Prudential made hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the complaint.