In Brief: U.S. Chopper Crash; Army’s Cloud Move; Terror Threat Update

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 08/05/2013

A U.S. military helicopter crashed on Monday at an American base on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa.

The HH-60 rescue helicopter, which was housed at the island’s Kadena Air Base, was on an unspecified training mission when it crashed at Camp Hansen. All four crew members are believed to have survived.

Television footage showed smoke rising from a forest, with the helicopter on fire.

The U.S. statement said the cause of the crash was not known. Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said three crew members ejected from the helicopter and the fourth was apparently injured and taken to hospital.

Onodera said the accident was "regrettable" and that he was asking the U.S. to provide information promptly, conduct a thorough investigation and take preventive measures.

Anti-U.S. military sentiment on the island is a longstanding issue, with countless complaints about noise and accidents.

The Army plans to speed up its information gathering process by equipping combat troops with small cloud computing systems that can rapidly analyze video footage and other intelligence to warn soldiers of impending threats.

The tactical edge cloud nodes, combined with advanced analytical tools being developed, will automatically collect, process and analyze the video within seconds, providing commanders with better situational awareness.

The new technology tools will be part of an upgrade of the existing intelligence system, the Distributed Common Ground System–Army (DCGS–A), which the Army is moving to a private cloud.

Col. Charles Wells, project manager of DCGS-A, said: "You really need cloud computing at the tactical edge to deal with this massive amount of sensor data in the battlefield. It allows you to quickly store, analyze and process it and provide powerful answers to the commander."

U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least through the end of this week, the State Department said.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates shut was taken out of an "abundance of caution" and is "not an indication of a new threat."

Intelligence chiefs, however, believe a major terrorist attack was in the planning stages. Diplomatic facilities will remain closed in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries, through Saturday, Aug. 10. The State Department said on Sunday that four African sites, in Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius, were added to the closures.

The U.S. has also decided to reopen some posts on Monday, including those in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Baghdad.

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 08/05/2013