military and defense

The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho with desertion, intent to shirk duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering soldiers' safety. Bergdahl could face a life sentence.

Citing Safety Concerns, Hailey, Idaho Cancels Bergdahl Celebration

Jun 5, 2014

An annual rally turned homecoming celebration for released POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been canceled in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho. Boise State Public Radio’s Emilie Ritter Saunders explains the event is off because of safety concerns.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Almost immediately after the jubilant response to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release from the Taliban on Saturday, the story took a very different turn. First, there was criticism of the Obama administration exchanging five Taliban detainees for Bergdahl. Then, some soldiers from his former unit started speaking out against the freed POW. Josh Korder told CNN earlier this week that he believes men lost their lives searching for him.

Sgt. Erin Quirke / 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Oregon National Guard members could be some of the last members of the U.S. Armed Forces to serve in Afghanistan. Three battalions are set to deploy later this summer to help wrap up the American mission in that country. The first group of Guard members will mobilize this Saturday .

Sgt. Bergdahl's Hometown Rejoices At His Long-Awaited Release

Jun 2, 2014

The town of Hailey, Idaho, has waited five years to hear news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's return. In 2009, Bergdahl was captured and held by the Taliban — first in Afghanistan and later, it's believed, in Pakistan.

On Saturday, he was released in a swap for five Guantanamo Bay detainees. Now Hailey, Bergdahl's hometown, is preparing for the next chapter.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A Vietnam vet from north Idaho on Friday received nine military honors more than four decades overdue. Sgt. Leon Strigotte's medals had been overlooked for years as a result of poor record keeping and possibly a sunken ship.

"Marines and soldiers don't issue themselves orders, they don't send themselves overseas," says former Marine Phil Klay. "United States citizens elect the leaders who send us overseas."

Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003, when they were serving in the 101st Airborne Division. She was an Arabic linguist; he was a staff sergeant who had earned a Bronze Star. In October of that year, at a time when they were becoming close but not yet seeing each other, McGough was on a bus in a military convoy when an IED went off, blowing out the front door and window.

For years, Johnny Walker interpreted for the U.S. Navy SEALs on missions all over his home country of Iraq. He served on over a thousand missions, and stood out as an invaluable part of nearly every team he worked with.

No, Johnny Walker isn't his real name. The SEALs gave him the nickname in honor of his love of Johnnie Walker Whisky — and to protect his identity, a necessary precaution even today.

"Bad guys, if they hear your real name, they can find you," he tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Artis Henderson never imagined she'd end up a military wife. She had dreams of becoming a writer and traveling the world; settling down with a conservative, church-going Army pilot wasn't the life she'd planned for herself.

But she fell in love with Miles Henderson and she followed him to Army bases in small towns where she struggled to fit into military life and culture. Then, in 2006, her new husband deployed to Iraq and was killed just months later in an Apache helicopter crash.

On Saturday, Army and Navy will take the field to renew their legendary football rivalry for the 114th time. The teams are playing in Philadelphia, which is also where they faced off in 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The players that year faced a sobering new reality: The nation was at war, and they'd soon leave the football field behind for the battlefield.

Oregon Military Department Affected By Shutdown

Oct 4, 2013
oregonmildep / Flickr

Approximately 1,000 full-time personnel in the Oregon Military Department are being furloughed due to the government shutdown.

In the pages of David Finkel's new book, you'll meet a veteran who has recurring nightmares in which a fellow soldier asks, "Why didn't you save me?" You'll also meet a veteran who sees images of dead Iraqis floating in his bathtub, and another who tries to kill himself by biting through his right wrist — the only wrist he can raise to his mouth since his left side is paralyzed.

Washington Air Guard

A military band that entertained Northwest troops heading off to the Korean War and played the dedication of Grand Coulee Dam will close their music books for good this weekend. The military is deactivating the 560th Air Force Band, based out of Spokane.

Police have arrested the second teenager accused of beating to death an 88-year-old World War II vet in Spokane. The two 16-year-old males have been charged with first degree robbery and first degree murder in case that's attracted national attention.

Delbert Belton was beaten beyond recognition while he waited in his car outside the Eagles Lodge in north Spokane last week. Belton, known as "Shorty" to his friends, served in the Army and had survived injuries in the battle of Okinawa.

For more than a decade, Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been sending soldiers off to war and welcoming them back home. Now this cycle of deployments and homecomings is winding down.

Over the next month, more than 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade will return home. More than 200 were welcomed back Wednesday. And this time they don’t expect to go back to Afghanistan.

Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz / US Army

Urban development around military bases in the Northwest and across the nation is creating a headache for the U.S. Defense Department. So Wednesday, several federal agencies announced they will pool money to preserve buffer lands, starting with Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma.

Prosecutors in rural Long County Georgia are calling a soldier from Washington State the ringleader of a militia group that plotted cross country attacks. Pvt. Isaac Aguigui of Cashmere is stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga. He‘s recently been charged with the murder of his pregnant wife.

Madigan Army Medical Center PA

The Army has more than doubled its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers in the past five years. It’s an important step. But it may not be enough. A report out today examines how the Army evaluates soldiers for mental health issues; it finds the system is riddled with problems.

Photo courtesy I Corps, U.S. Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect at the end of this week. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Oregon And Idaho National Guard Troops Heading Overseas

Feb 21, 2013

Two Oregon National Guard units are mobilizing for overseas deployments. Idaho soldiers will be joining one of the missions.


A same-sex couple from Eugene has received the first-ever waiver to be buried together at a national cemetery. It comes after the death of one of the women.

Two themes emerged from a roundtable of mostly female soldiers at the U.S. Army's biggest West Coast post. Joint Base Lewis-McChord organized the panel Thursday to speak on the Pentagon's decision to allow women into combat roles.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales' arraignment in a military court room south of Tacoma marked the start of a court martial that could potentially end in a death sentence.

Judge Orders Sanity Review For Bales

Jan 17, 2013
Courtesy Maj. Brent Clemmer

  The Army staff sergeant accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians in an overnight rampage last March was arraigned in a military court room south of Tacoma Thursday. He could face death if found guilty.

Afghan Survivors And Witnesses Testify At Army Hearing

Nov 12, 2012
Photo Credit: Maj. Brent Clemmer

Witnesses and survivors recounted a horrific scene following a massacre at two villages in Kandahar Province that killed 16 civilians and wounded 6. They testified via live video from Afghanistan during a pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Maj. Brent Clemmer

Friday is the fourth day of pretrial hearings for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Bales is accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, in March. The proceedings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are also known as an Article 32 hearing. They will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has stated it plans to seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors have made opening arguments in a hearing for the Washington soldier accused of massacring 16 Afghan villagers earlier this year. The pretrial hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is expected to last several days.

Army prosecutors have outlined their case against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the Washington soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians in two villages. At a pretrial hearing Monday the prosecution played nighttime surveillance video.