The wars

May 11, 2009 2:18:48 PM PDT
Iraq and Afghanistan are making headlines tonight. We start in Afghanistan, where the Pentagon is replacing the chief American commander - less than a year after he was put in charge.

This leadership shakeup comes at a time when President Obama is now facing an increasingly volatile and frightening political and military situation in Afghanistan.

Gone is Gen. David McKiernan, replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who recently was in charge of all special operations in Iraq. McChrystal was also held accountable for the "inaccurate information" (don't you just love Pentagonese?) offered by the unit of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former pro football player, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman's Rangers unit tried to cover up the incident by initially claiming he was killed by enemy fire.

And in Iraq, a sergeant in his third deployment there opened fire at his fellow soldiers at Camp Liberty, one of the biggest American bases in Baghdad.

Five soldiers were killed; four, including the shooter, were hurt. The shooting happened at a clinic for soldiers suffering from war stress. According to recent studies by the U.S. Army Medical Command, non-commissioned officers on their third or fourth deployments are more than twice as likely to suffer from mental health issues - compared to their counterparts on their first deployment.

This is the worst case of U.S. soldier-on-soldier violence since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

We'll have the latest on both stories, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, Jim Dolan continues his coverage of the Pope's trip to Israel. Today Benedict the 16th visited the country's National Holocaust Museum - an especially significant event because the Pope was a member of Hitler Youth during the war. He insists he was forced to join.

We're also following the blockbuster developments in the crash of Continental flight 3407 in February in Buffalo. Turns out -- the captain of the flight did not have hands-on training with a critical piece of equipment aboard the plane, and that he had failed at least four flight simulator tests.

You'll recall there was much consternation at first about how ice may have played a factor in the mysterious crash. One person on the ground and 49 people on board were killed.

But it now appears that the captain incorrectly handled the plane's control column -- a device known as a stick-pusher, which automatically kicks in when the plane is about to stall. It was not the right move.

We put complete faith in the pilots who take the helm of the planes we fly. We trust that our faith is well-placed. Tonight, Colgan Air, which runs the Continental Express planes, is responding.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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