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By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2011 - American Forces Press Service published nearly 2,500 articles in 2011, covering topics ranging from the end of the Iraq mission to defense budget pressures and troop concerns over retirement benefits.

The top 10 stories most viewed on this year are:

10. "U.S. Kills bin Laden in Intelligence-driven Operation," posted May 2, focuses on President Barack Obama's remarks to the nation the day after an American counterintelligence and counterterrorism team killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

9. "Officials Urge Precautions at Yokosuka, Atsugi," posted March 15, relayed officials' warnings to personnel in and around Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan to limit outdoor activities due to the detection of low levels of radioactivity released from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. The plant was damaged in a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

8. "Shutdown Could Affect Young Troops Most, Gates Says," posted April 7, covered then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' response to a soldier's question at Camp Liberty in Iraq about troop pay during a possible government shutdown, later averted. Gates told the troops while paychecks might be delayed, all service members would receive full pay for the shutdown period.

7. "Meyer Inducted Into Pentagon Hall of Heroes," posted Sept. 16, detailed the Pentagon ceremony during which Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta inducted Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota L. Meyer into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes. Meyer was the first living Marine to receive the medal for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

6. "Coalition Launches 'Operation Odyssey Dawn,'" posted March 19, announced the beginning of coalition operations enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 and protecting the Libyan people from the country's ruler. Officials said the military coalition's goal was to prevent further attacks by regime forces on Libyan citizens, and to degrade the ability of Moammar Gadhafi's regime to resist a no-fly zone being implemented.

5. "Panetta: Any Retirement Changes Won't Affect Serving Military," posted Aug. 19, relayed Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's assurances that any changes to the military retirement system would not affect those now serving. "People who have come into the service, who have put their lives on the line, who have been deployed to the war zones, who fought for this country, who have been promised certain benefits for that -- I'm not going to break faith with what's been promised to them," Panetta said.

4. "Leaders Offer Condolences in Wake of Helicopter Crash," posted Aug. 6, relayed President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's statements following the crash of a CH-47 Chinook in Afghanistan, during which 38 U.S. and Afghan service members were killed. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the Americans who were lost earlier today in Afghanistan," the president said. "Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan."

3. "No Changes to Military Retirement Any Time Soon, Officials Say," posted Aug. 15, reiterated senior officials' assurances to serving troops that any future changes to the military retirement system would not affect those currently serving.

2. "Tricare Promotes Mail-Order Pharmacy Option," posted Oct. 8, relayed Tricare officials' advice to beneficiaries, especially those taking long-term medications, to get their prescriptions delivered to their doorsteps. Increased usage of the health care system's home delivery option, officials said, is a win-win situation that saves patients, as well as the government, money.

1. "Battaglia Joins Thousands for 'Wreaths Across America'," posted Dec. 11, recounted Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia's participation in "Wreaths Across America," a program now in its 20th year, at Arlington National Cemetery. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, joined thousands of volunteers at national cemeteries placing 100,000 holiday wreaths on veterans' graves.

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