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July 29, 2012 | By Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Strapped into the cockpit of an F-16 jet fighter, Air Force Col. Scott Brenton has dropped bombs over Bosnia, screamed over the desert in Iraq and strafed Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. But on a recent morning, Brenton flew his combat mission from a leather easy chair in a low-slung cinder block building on the edge of Syracuse. Brenton's unit, the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard, traded in its fleet of F-16s for unmanned Reaper drones two years ago. Since then, the reserve pilots have been flying nearly around-the-clock combat operations over Afghanistan from a base about five miles from this city's nearest Wal-Mart.
April 18, 2012 | By Brian Bennett
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon began flying military helicopters and surveillance planes over the U.S. border with Mexico last month as part of an effort to withdraw all but 300 of the National Guard ground troops who have helped patrol the rugged border since mid-2010. The 19-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops on the southwest border has hurt recruiting efforts and threatened to strain diplomatic relations with Mexico, Brian J. Lepore, a director at the U.S. Government and Accountability Office, told a House homeland security subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
February 12, 2012 | By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
In the new film "Return," Linda Cardellini plays Kelli, a National Guard soldier just returned to her small hometown from deployment overseas. As she struggles to fit into the routines her husband and two young daughters have established during her absence, she soon falls into a tailspin, bonding with a Vietnam vet she meets in an alcohol education program, then being called back to active duty. The first feature from writer-director Liza Johnson, "Return" isn't a documentary, but it was inspired by real-life events.
December 25, 2011 | By Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times
When Sean Walsh was 8 or 9 years old, his mother recalled, he'd knock on a friend's door in his San Jose neighborhood, and if the boy wasn't home, he'd ask for his sister. If she wasn't there, he would settle for whoever was home. "So what are you doing?" he would ask the other kids' mom and invite himself in, said his mother, Cheryl Walsh. "That was Sean," she said. "I can't tell you how many of the neighbors felt like he was a part of their families. " Many from the old neighborhood now mourn Walsh, as do others who knew him from Prospect High School in Saratoga, the Santa Clara Police Department's Explorer program and the California Army National Guard's 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade in Pittsburg, northeast of Berkeley.
October 31, 2011 | By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
Matthew Dunn, 34, flashed his best Popeye the Sailor grin as he boarded the van from Venice Beach to the Westside winter shelter. Julie "Julez" Arispe, 42, roused from a beer-induced slumber on the grass near Windward Avenue, clambered aboard with her guitar and bags of belongings and launched into an upbeat rendition of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz. " With darkness bringing a damp chill to Ocean Front Walk one recent evening, both appeared relieved at the prospect of a hot meal and a cot inside the West Los Angeles National Guard Armory, about 7 miles inland.
September 14, 2011 | By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Greenfield, Calif. -- The story of the California Army National Guard's 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment is mostly in the record books now: 17 soldiers killed, more than 100 wounded, 11 Army Commendations for Valor, more than 80 Purple Hearts. Lt. Col. Patrick Frey knows there is still one chapter to be written β€” his own. It's been seven years since he took command of the 1-184 and led more than 700 soldiers into combat in Baghdad. A schoolteacher back home, Frey became the face of a grand military experiment β€” to move the National Guard's "weekend warriors" from the reserve to the combat front.
September 8, 2011 | By Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times
Authorities were still trying to determine Wednesday why a man opened fire with an assault rifle at an IHOP in Carson City, Nev., killing three uniformed National Guard members and a civilian woman before killing himself. They attempted to quell early theories that the lone gunman, Eduardo Sencion, 32, of Carson City, entered the restaurant Tuesday morning specifically to gun down the unarmed National Guard members. The attack appears to be a random barrage of violence, said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
August 30, 2011 | By Brian Bennett
The 1,200 National Guard troops deployed along the Southwest border could be going home on Sept. 30 unless the Department of Defense agrees to cover the cost. The military pays $10 million a month to keep the troops on the border to assist the Border Patrol in spotting illegal crossings and smugglers. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that her department offered to cover the tab, but Congress said no. β€œIt comes down to whether [the Department of Defense]
July 12, 2011 | By Roula Hajjar, Los Angeles Times
Two top officials in Cyprus resigned Monday after a massive explosion of munitions seized from an Iranian shipment to Syria killed at least 12 people in the Mediterranean island nation. The early-morning explosion in the southern city of Zygi, which was felt for miles around, destroyed a power plant, leveled houses and shattered windows, doors and even the railing of a highway, said witnesses and journalists reached by telephone. Sixty-two people were injured. The blast at the Evangelos Florakis military base, apparently set off by a wildfire, quickly led to the resignation of the European Union nation's defense minister, Costas Papacostas, and the commander of the Greek Cypriot National Guard, Petros Tsaliklides.
June 17, 2011 | By Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau
The Obama administration has extended the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops along the Southwest border for an additional three months. The troops sent to assist the Border Patrol last August were scheduled to withdraw at the end of June, but have been ordered to remain in place until Sept. 30, according to Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department. The extension is intended to help prevent illegal border crossings and stop shipments of cash moving south from drug sales while the Homeland Security Department adds more patrols, fences and sensors in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
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