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Military secrets leaked July 21, 2008

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UK armed forces lose loads of laptops

The British Ministry Of Defence has admitted that it has now lost 659 laptops and 121 memory sticks, some of which contained Top Secret data.

The latest theft, from a hotel in Liverpool, added to the previous total just one day after the embarrassing admission was made when a question about the scale of losses and thefts was tabled in parliament. The latest theft concerns a laptop containing “sensitive information” which has been stolen while an official checked out of the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool city centre.

Originally, the MoD had confessed that 347 of its laptops were where they shouldn’t be, but ‘anomalies in the accounting process’ forced a recount and the figure was nearly doubled, that’s quite an anomaly. The figures cover the years between 2004 and 2007.

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US and Russia in sandwich battle May 12, 2008

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The Russians made sandwiches shaped like sailing ships

From Cold War to cold meats… sailors from the US and Russian navies have tested their culinary skills in a sandwich-making competition.

The contest was held during a visit by the US destroyer Stethem to the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok to mark Victory Day. Officers also joined in.

A Russian cook took the prize for best-tasting sandwich while an American came top for most original presentation. Sandwiches topped with cucumber sails were among the Russian offerings. The ingredients included peppers, smoked ham, lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise, olives, cherry tomatoes and gherkins.

The US winner in the individual contest got a bottle of vodka, and presented his Russian rivals with USS Stethem caps and sweatshirts in return. Earlier, the Russians had laid on a traditional welcome for the Americans, with vodka and appetisers such as bliny (buckwheat pancakes) with smoked salmon and pickled green tomatoes. Yet a traditional Russian restaurant is hard to find in Vladivostok, where Chinese and Japanese restaurants are much more common.

The crew of the Stethem were taking part in a military parade in Vladivostok for Victory Day, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

Russian fat generals told to shape up April 14, 2008

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The Russian army has launched a fitness regime to help generals lose weight and squeeze into a new designer uniform.

A third of the army’s elite officers are overweight and 25% failed a fitness test, defence ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Sedov said. The army will now launch a fitness drive as it prepares to move over to a stylish uniform designed by Valentin Yudashkin, reports the Daily Telegraph. The uniforms move away from the functional styles of the former Red Army to a more svelte, fitted look.

“The new military uniform should match what is inside it,” said Mr Sedov. The army will build gyms, swimming pools and sports halls to get the officers back in shape, he added. A campaign will also be launched “to cultivate the culture of sport in the armed forces”, said Mr Sedov.

The fitness tests were organised by Lt-Gen Vladimir Shamanov, who was decorated as a Hero of the Russian Federation for his service in Chechnya. Lt-Gen Shamanov said that the unfit officers need more physical exercises, particularly aerobic exercises. Officers are to be tested on their running, swimming and shooting skills.

A new website for Vietnam war launched March 30, 2008

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The US National Archives is joining with a Web site to make historical records of tens of thousands of deceased Vietnam War veterans available electronically for the first time.

The interactive site, http://www.footnote.com is a web re-creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. The site allows access to thousands of pages of casualty records and agency photos. People can search by name, hometown, birthdate, tour date, or dozens of other categories.

Such information now is typically found only at National Archives locations, including the headquarters in College Park, Md., and by poring through files organized by topic. That makes searches a hit-or-miss proposition with long odds of finding relevant information, the agency said.

Hundreds of veterans visit the central research room each year “to examine the documents that may enable them to establish their rights, and, just as with the wall, to honor, remember and appreciate,” said Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States. “And historians increasingly turn to these essential records to explain the significance of the Vietnam conflict in American history.” The site will help “provide ever-greater access to our critical holdings on this subject,” he said.

The interactive wall allows people to post photographs they may have of a deceased veteran and to make comments. The service is currently free for Vietnam War information; the company is deciding whether to charge fees for some of the 50,000 National Archives photos now digitized.

The goal is to tell the stories behind the more than 58,000-plus names on the wall’ polished black granite, with information such as specialty, rank, posthumous decorations, regiment, cause of death and whether the body was recovered, the company said.

“We know that there are many untold experiences represented on that wall and we hope that this interactive version of the memorial helps those affected by the war by sharing their stories,” said Russell Wilding, chief executive officer of footnote.com.

Veterans advocacy groups praised the move as a good way to promote public awareness of the contributions of those who served in Vietnam. But some said they would like to see the effort expanded to provide electronic access of records for living Vietnam veterans. Many of them must go through a lengthy process of searching for records at the Archives and elsewhere to establish a disability claim with the government.

“It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. We certainly have to do much to honor our dead,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for policy and government affairs at the Vietnam Veterans of America. “But we continue to press for access for living veterans. The whole rest of the world is digitized, so why not military action reports?”

German fighters to chocolate soldiers March 7, 2008

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The soldiers of what was once one of the world’s most feared armies are fat, smoke too much and don’t exercise enough, a report claims.

“The public perception is that soldiers are slim, sporty and healthy. Unfortunately, the reality is very different,” Germany’s army commissioner Reinhold Robbe said as he presented the report.

Some 40 per cent of soldiers between 18 and 29 are overweight compared to 35 percent among Germany’s civilian population, said the report, which also found young male and female soldiers smoked too much and failed to do enough sport.

“I make no secret of the fact that these results worry me a lot,” said Robbe, who blamed a passive lifestyle among troops.

Once one of the world’s most brutally effective fighting forces, Germany’s armed services now have about 245,000 uniformed staff.

Dogged by the legacy of World War Two, it is only nine years ago that Germany engaged in its first foreign combat operations since 1945, taking part in NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia. Roughly 9,000 German troops are deployed today in global hotspots including Afghanistan and Kosovo.