U.S. airman and his family among those wounded in Brussels attacks

U.S. airman and his family among those wounded in Brussels attacks

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A member of the U.S. Air Force and his family are among the Americans wounded in the attacks Tuesday in Brussels, and the Pentagon is still working to account for other members of the military who may have been nearby, U.S. officials said.

The wounded airman is a member of Joint Force Command Brunssum in the Netherlands, Pentagon officials said in a statement. The command is a part of NATO, and focused primarily on providing command and control to the coalition’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

The injuries to the service member and his family were withheld due to privacy concerns.

“We are saddened by today’s attacks and extend our sincere condolences to the victims and families of those impacted,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement. “Our priority at this time is the safety and well-being of our airmen and their families.”

The detail was first reported by the independent Military Times newspaper chain after Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R.-N.J.), chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, said during a hearing that six Americans were injured in the attacks, including military family members. The branch of the service member became clear after the Pentagon’s announcement.

“It’s horrendous,” the congressman said. “I’m sure we are meeting their needs.”

European Command was working to confirm the safety of all U.S. service members and their families in the areas, but must find those serving full-time in the area and those who may have been there while on leave or on official travel.

Separately, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the chief of European Command, ordered a temporary ban on non-essential travel to Brussels, where NATO has its top headquarters. Travel by service members to the city while on leave is prohibited until further notice, and those who must travel there for business must first get approval from a general officer. A similar ban was put in place following the attacks in Paris in November, and rescinded within about two weeks.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Tuesday during a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the United States stands ready to provide assistance to allies in Europe as necessary.

“Brussels is an international city, and it has been host to NATO and the European Union for decades,” Carter said. “Together, we must and we will continue to do everything that we can to protect our homelands and defeat terrorists wherever they threaten us.”

Carter also linked the attack in Belgium to the broader fight to stop the Islamic State.

“No attack — no attack — will affect our resolve to accelerate the defeat of ISIL,” he said, using one of the acronyms for the militant group.

The secretary said that the United States has already had a significant impact in Iraq. Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, with U.S. assistance, have begun the shaping of the battlefield around Mosul, a city in northern Iraq that has been under militant control since June 2014. The death Saturday of Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, the second U.S. service member killed by enemy action in the campaign against the militants, occurred in support of it, he added. Cardin and several other Marines were hit by a rocket at a fire base south of the city that they’d been at for less than a week.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and with the other Marines injured in Saturday’s rocket attack,” Carter said. “Their sacrifice will not be forgotten, and our global coalition will complete the mission they were supporting.”

The attacks raise questions about how much U.S. service members and their families will be allowed in Europe in coming days. In November, the Defense Department temporarily banned service members from traveling on their free time following terrorist attacks in Paris. That ban was rescinded about 10 days later, just before Thanksgiving.

This piece was first published at 10:59 a.m. and updated multiple times with new reporting.

 

This article was written by DAN LAMOTHE from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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