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Robins AFB ranks 25th in "Best Bases for Airmen"

No matter the service, no matter the era, one of the favorite pastimes of troops has always been comparing duty stations — griping about the lousy ones and singing the praises of the good ones.

Air Force Times is weighing in on this argument with the best tool at our disposal: cold, hard stats. We've looked at 68 stateside Air Force bases and their surrounding communities, and pulled together data on a dozen factors — everything from school quality to the local economy, crime rates to traffic, and climate to on-base amenities, such as commissaries.

And when we tallied up the results, some surprising bases rose to the top of our list. Our top five bases may not get a lot of attention or be as glamorous a posting as, say, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. But they are diamonds in the rough and provide good places for airmen to raise families and entertain themselves, as they serve their country.

DoD still hasn't released final 2013 suicide numbers

In 2012, the U.S. military hit a record for the number of suicides among troops on active duty — 319 — since the Pentagon began closely tracking the numbers in 2001.

Preliminary Pentagon figures issued early this year indicated that figure dropped in 2013 to 261.

But no one outside the Defense Department knows for sure.

That's because as of July 17, DoD has not released any official suicide data for the fourth quarter of 2013. Neither has it published suicide data for the first two quarters of this year.

The data has been further obscured in the wake of a Pentagon decision last year to be the sole source of the information, instead of the individual services, as well as a move by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office to redefine the methodology for calculating rates and exclude previously counted suicides among mobilized National Guard and reserve troops.

Airman run over, killed during Fort Bragg training exercise

An airman was run over and killed during a training exercise Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The airman, whose name was not released pending notification of family, was run over by a government vehicle about 10:45 a.m., according to a news release from the base.

The incident is under investigation, the release said. No other information was immediately available.

Bergdahl's attorney also fought for Army captain in espionage case

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has retained a high-profile attorney — the same lawyer who defended Capt. James Yee, a Muslim Army chaplain cleared in an espionage probe a decade ago.

Bergdahl's lawyer is Eugene Fidell, a Yale Law School scholar, prominent military legal expert and a co-founder and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

The Army is investigating the circumstances that led to Bergdahl's disappearance and capture, probing allegations that Bergdahl walked off his remote post in Afghanistan without authorization before militants seized him. After five years in captivity, Bergdahl was freed May 31 as part of a controversial exchange with the Taliban for five militants who were in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senate panel votes to keep A-10 flying

Senate panel votes to keep A-10 flying

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee has joined the House and the Senate Armed Services committees in protecting the A-10.

The subcommittee, in approving its version of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill on Tuesday, included $338 million to maintain the A-10 fleet, which the Air Force has proposed cutting to save money.

The bill now goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for approval. Both the Senate and House Armed Services committees authorized funding for the A-10 in their versions of the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

The House Appropriations Committee, however, voted June 10 to block an amendment protecting the A-10. The amendment, offered by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., would have transferred $339.3 million from other parts of the Air Force's operations and maintenance budget to keep the jet flying.

Minimal Impact from Reserve Cuts

The Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters at Robins will lose 258 positions, but that doesn't mean 258 pink slips.

The Secretary of the Air Force announced a new round of budget-cutting Monday.

Some say that may not hit Robins Air Force Base as hard as it sounds.

Chrissy Miner, Interim CEO of the 21st Century Partnership, echoed comments from an Air Force Reserve spokesman.

She said many of the cuts there, may not mean actual workers losing jobs.

While still a loss to the community, many could come from unfilled vacancies.

Miner said, "If there is somebody in that job they might offer them some early retirement incentives, or separation incentives, or they might move them to another job. But bottom line, 258 jobs that could have been there, won't be there anymore."

F-35 cleared for flight

FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — The F-35 might make it to Farnborough after all.

A Pentagon official told Defense News that the F-35 fighter fleet has been cleared by air worthiness authorities. A decision on attending the show has not been made but the official said DoD is "hopeful" it can make the trip.

A statement released by Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary, confirmed the news.

"Yesterday the air worthiness authorities for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force approved the F-35 fleet to return to flight," Kirby said in the statement. "This is a limited flight clearance that includes an engine inspection regimen and a restricted flight envelope which will remain in effect until the root cause of the June 23 engine mishap is identified and corrected."