A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to 'do better' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is pledging to improve the way troops are treated while in coronavirus quarantine after a soldier in Texas reportedly called the situation “the most dysfunctional Army operation I’ve ever seen.”


A soldier, referred to by the pseudonym Henry Chinaski by The Daily Beast, told the outlet he has been stuck in a 15-by-15 foot room with three other troops at Fort Bliss since Sunday. The service members just returned from Afghanistan and have been ordered to remain quarantined for two weeks in case they caught the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, while deployed or returning to the States.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

The group gets two meals a day and a couple bottles of water, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday. The soldier, who has served for 17 years, texted reporters with the outlet about their experience. He said they’ve gotten no information about what they’re supposed to be doing while they wait.

“Prisoners receive better care and conditions than that which we are experiencing at Fort Bliss,” the soldier told The Daily Beast. “The Army was not prepared, nor equipped to deal with this quarantine instruction and it has been implemented very poorly.”

The situation now has Esper’s attention, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters Wednesday.

“His response is, ‘We can do better, and we need to do better,'” Jonathan Hoffman said. “I know that the commander at Fort Bliss is aware; he has been in contact. My understanding is that he met with all the soldiers who are quarantined and talked through some of their concerns.”

The soldier at Fort Bliss told The Daily Beast his exercise has been limited to push-ups, sit-ups and lunges in the room. On Tuesday, the service members got 20 minutes of yard time, according to the report.

The military is now looking at allowing troops stuck in holding patterns before they’re considered to be virus-free more time outside, Hoffman said, and visits to base exchanges, where they can purchase toiletries and other items.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

“[We’re] also looking at other bases that are doing quarantines,” Hoffman said. “We’re checking to see how they’re holding up and doing this, as well. We can do better.”

As of Wednesday morning, 49 U.S. troops had tested positive for COVID-19. Another 14 Defense Department civilians, 19 dependents and seven contractors also have the virus.

Hoffman said every base commander is looking at how the military should handle quarantine situations as a result of The Daily Beast’s story.

“This is something that’s unusual for all these bases to be handling, and they’re doing the best they can,” he said. “… [But] we owe it to them, and we’re going to look into it and try to do better.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Humor

5 kid toys troops will reuse for tactical reasons

Children love playing with toys. So, it makes sense that immature adults love playing with toys, too. A benefit of being in the military is that we can pretend like there’s actually a legitimate reason for playing along.


Somewhere along the line, a high-ranking officer saw that same immature troop accomplish some good through playing with toys and gave the following the seal of approval.

1. Nerf guns

Never underestimate the abilities of a bored infantry platoon looking for a way to let off steam. Stacking and clearing “glass houses” (which are really just white tape on the ground) and using your gun-shaped fingers as mock-weaponry gets kinda dull after a while.

What’s actually fun is when the platoons of hardened warfighters practice their battle drills in the barracks by kicking in doors and tagging each other with Nerf darts while they’re on the toilet.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
You thought civilian office pranks were bad? Check out an infantry platoon on a regular Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Peterson)

2. Paintball guns

The rules of engagement are taken very seriously by troops who are deployed. First, you must establish a show of force, letting a potential enemy know you’re armed. Then, you shout, usually through an interpreter or in broken Farsi, to let the enemy know they should back the f*ck up. If they still don’t back away, you can physically “shove” them in the direction they should be going in. Finally, use of force is authorized.

Some troops find it easier to just cover their feet with colored paint than to bust out the real weapons.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
The real ones don’t really shoot red paint. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison)

3. Little, green Army men

Sand tables are used by commanders to show a rough overview of the mission. Many different things can be designated as a unit. This broken stick? The objective. And this pebble will flank in through the south — like this.

Commanders can clear away a bunch of the confusion by ordering a $5 bucket of plastic Army guys. Add a little bit of paint and you’ve got some distinct markers.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
“Okay, first platoon. You’re going to wave your rifles in the air like an idiot. Second, you’re going to kneel with a radio.” (Photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

4. Silly String

Trip wires are placed by the enemy on the paths through which troops will walk. When someone bumps into it, the attached explosives detonate. The solution? A cheap can of Silly String.

The string shoots out pretty far and is so soft and light that it won’t set off the wire. If troops spray it through a doorway, they’ll quickly discover a trap. Even if a wire is sensitive enough to be tripped by silly string, the surprisingly long range of the spray gives troops enough distance to mitigate some of the explosion.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

5. Walkie-talkies

The military has plans for everything, especially communication. Primarily, units depend on secured, frequency-hopping radios. Alternatively, troops can rely on a slightly less secure radio. In case of an absolute emergency, send a runner.

A cheap, effective, “ah-crap” plan is to use regular walkie-talkies instead of sending that runner to maintain unit integrity.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
At least opt for the non-kiddie version to save some dignity. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster)

Articles

Russia denies funding the Taliban

The Russian embassy in Kabul on May 23 rejected allegations that Moscow was funding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, stating the claims were unsubstantiated.


This comes after Kandahar police chief general Abdul Raziq said the week before that certain countries in the region were keeping the Taliban’s war machine operational as they believe conflict in Afghanistan protects their interests.

He said countries such as Pakistan, Russia, and Iran are funding and equipping the Taliban and other insurgent groups in order to fuel the war machine and pursue their own objectives.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
An Afghan and coalition security force conduct room searches in which they detained eight suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2012. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc Justin Young)

Raziq said some countries in the region have a vested interest in the conflict in Afghanistan.

He claimed that there is sufficient evidence to show that Pakistan, Russia, and Iran are funding the Taliban and other militant groups in the country.

“The Russians have been in contact with the Taliban militants since 2004 or 2005. It is not correct to say that they (Russians) engaged in ties with the Taliban in recent times (only), but now these relations have been clarified. Pakistanis, Iranians and the Russians are jointly supporting the terrorists, however the Russians do their work through Iran, for instance sending the Taliban weapons and money,” said Raziq.

U.S director of defense intelligence Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart said in Congress that despite signs of Russia’s support for the Taliban, U.S officials have not found physical evidence to back these claims.

Also read: US general again accuses Russia of supplying the Taliban

On May 24, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said the alliance had heard reports to this effect but they too did not have proof.

The Afghan government has also said on a number of occasions in the past that they do not have evidence to back these claims.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment patrol the fields in Marjeh, Afghanistan to seure the city of Marjeh from the Taliban. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Andres J. Lugo)

The Russian embassy’s statement further said that Moscow once again declares that allegations of its support to the Taliban “does not match the reality (of the situation) and are merely unsubstantiated claims.”

This coincides with the Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the sidelines of a summit in Moscow, the national security council said in a statement.

The NSC said the two sides held talks on further expanding bilateral, political, and security relations.

The statement added that the two sides also held talks on the establishment of a comprehensive plan to support and strengthen the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Atmar arrived in Moscow on May 23, heading a delegation of high-ranking Afghan officials.

Officials from 25 countries are meeting at the Russia Security Conference, which will focus on countering terrorism in the region.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the trailer for Clint Eastwood’s new Spencer Stone movie

In August 2015, on a high-speed train in France, three American friends, two of them off-duty members of the US military, thwarted a terrorist attack after a man armed with an assault rifle and other weapons tried to open fire in the train. Four people were injured, but there were no fatalities.


The three Americans instantly became heroes and wrote a book about their ordeal, which has now inspired a movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

This all sounds like standard protocol for an incredible act of bravery like this, but it gets more interesting: Eastwood cast the three real-life friends who stopped the attack to be the leads in the movie.

“The 15:17 to Paris,” which is also the title of the book about the attack, is Eastwood’s latest based-on-a-true story movie (American Sniper, Sully), and in telling this one he has Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, Specialist Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler reenacting their heroics (Stone sustained injuries while taking down the gunman).

The trailer was released Dec. 13 and looks beyond the acts on that August day, showing how the friends got to that moment in their lives through flashbacks of their childhood and Stone and Skarlatos’ military service.

Watch the trailer below. It’s quite inspiring. Warner Bros. will release the movie on Feb. 9.

 

(Warner Bros. Pictures | YouTube)
Articles

Army evaluates new shoulder-fired rocket tech

The U.S. Army is testing new recoilless rifle technology designed give soldiers shoulder-fired rockets that are lighter and more ergonomic and in future, make them safe to fire in tight urban spaces.


Testers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland are evaluating upgrades to the M3 recoilless rifle, also known as the Multi-role Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System, or MAAWS. The improvements will make it more ergonomic, six pounds lighter and shorter.

Also read: The Army’s new grenade has a split personality

Maneuver officials at Fort Benning, Georgia, are also conducting a live-demo on the new Shoulder Launched Individual Munition, or SLIM, as part of the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments, or AEWE, 2017.

SLIM is a new lightweight, disposable shoulder-fired rocket, made by Aerojet Rocketdyne. It weighs 14.9 pounds and is designed to be safely fired from inside enclosures without causing hearing or respiratory system damage, Army officials at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Benning maintain.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
A soldier tests the recoilless rifle known as the M3E1 Multi-role Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System. | U.S. Army photo

“At 14.9 pounds, it lightens the soldier load, increases engagement lethality and flexibility by eliminating the need for multiple specialized rocket systems with single purpose warheads,” according to a recent press release from MCOE.

Officials from Benning’s Maneuver Battle Lab will document findings in an initial report on live fire capabilities Nov. 1 and present them in conjunction with the AEWE 2017 Insights Briefing to the public on March 1, 2017.

Findings from the assessment of SLIM and other technologies will inform the material selection process for the Individual Assault Munition capabilities development document and final production decision, Benning officials say.

The Individual Assault Munition, or IAM, is a next-generation, shoulder-launched munition being designed for use by the Objective Force Warrior.

IAM will also contribute to survivability by enabling soldiers to engage targets from protected positions without exposing themselves to enemy fire, Army officials maintain. The new weapon is being designed to combine the best capabilities of the M72 LAW, M136 AT4, M136E1 and M141 BDM and replace them in the Army arsenal.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen test officials are testing improvements to the M3 MAAWS . The 75th Ranger Regiment and other special operations forces began using the recoilless rifle in 1991.

The Army began ordering the M3 for conventional infantry units to use in Afghanistan in 2011. The M3 weighs about 21 pounds and measures 42 inches long. The breech-loading M3 fires an 84mm round that can reach out and hit enemy bunkers and light-armored vehicles up to 1,000 meters away.

Program officials will incorporate modern materials to “achieve input provided by U.S. Special Operations Command and other services’ users,” said Renee Bober, Product Manager for the M3E1 at U.S. Army Project Manager Soldier Weapons, in a recent Army press release.

To assist in the project with funding and expertise, the M3E1 team turned to the Army Foreign Comparative Testing Program and began working with the M3’s Swedish manufacturer, Saab Bofors Dynamics, for testing and qualifying its next-generation weapon, known as the M3A1.

Saab unveiled the new M3A1 in 2014. It’s significantly lighter and shorter than the M3 recoilless rifle. It weighs about 15 pounds and measures 39 3/8 inches long.

The Army project team traveled to Sweden so they could observe and validate the vendor’s testing instead of duplicating it back in the U.S., said William “Randy” Everett, FCT project manager.

“It was an innovative solution that saved more than $300,000,” he said.

When testing and qualifications are completed in spring 2017, it is scheduled to go into type classification in the fall of 2017, Army officials maintain. After that, the system will be available for procurement to all Department of Defense services.

The upgraded weapon will able to fire the existing suite of MAAWS ammunition, Army officials maintain.

One of the upgrades will include a shot counter. For safety reasons, a weapon should not fire more than its specified limit of rounds.

Right now, soldiers are manually recording the number of rounds fired in a notebook provided with each weapon. The shot counter will help the system last longer because soldiers can keep a more accurate count of how many rounds go through each weapon, Army officials maintain.

Articles

Here’s what the Turkish coup means to NATO and the US military

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
Tanks on Istanbul’s main streets. (Photo: Defne Karadeniz)


The Turkish Armed Forces – or at least elements of them – carried out a coup d’etat in the late-night hours Friday. The intention of the coup was to depose President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. This was quite a shock to most Americans, as Turkey would strike many people to be a very unlikely country for a coup. This is partially due to its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and it has in the past petitioned for admission into the European Union. Turkey, though, has had a turbulent domestic history with military involvement.

This should have Americans’ attention. Not only is Turkey next door to the Syrian civil war, as well as on the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State, but American forces, notably the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, are deployed in-country. The safety of American troops during this time is one area of concern.

Turkey is not the only NATO country to have seen a military coup. Portugal had one in 1974 that toppled a dictatorship (the “Carnation Revolution”), and Greece saw a coup in 1967 that catapulted a notorious military junta into power for seven years. Spain saw attempted coups in 1981 and 1982, both of which were thwarted by the government. France also famously had a close call with a coup in 1958.

Since Turkey’s admission to NATO in 1952, the country has seen two full-fledged military coups take place (in 1960 and 1980) as well as three other military interventions (“memorandums” issued in 1971, 1997,and 2007) in Turkish domestic politics prior to the one that started Friday. Some circles believe that the Turkish military carried out a “stealth coup” in 1993, citing a number of suspicious deaths, including that of then-President Ozal. In most cases, the coups took place when the government was perceived as going too far in an Islamist direction.

Erdogan had faced a number of allegations that he was going in an Islamist direction during his rule. The Turkish government had been reportedly turning a blind eye to fighters joining ISIS. Erdogan’s government also had been arresting members of the military, including some who were purportedly involved in the alleged 1993 coup. Erdogan had also been accused of trying to set up a dictatorship, involvement in electoral fraud, and even imprisoned a former Miss Turkey over comments she made. He may have had this coup coming.

The coup could also have some serious consequences for the Turkish military. The United States has generally issued sanctions against juntas installed via military coup. One notable case was in 2013 when weapons sales were placed on hold in the wake of the coup that deposed Morsi. Egyptian forces facing a fight against terrorists in the Sinai peninsula did not get Apache helicopter gunships that had been provided as military aid.

What effects could this coup have on the Turkish military? Surprisingly, the Turkish military may be better postured than some other countries to weather some sanctions from the United States. Turkey does produce the F-16 Fighting Falcon locally, so its force of over 200 Falcons will still be able to operate. The same is true for its UH-60 Blackhawks, and some other systems.

But the older F-4E and RF-4E Phantoms in the Turkish Ai Force could have readiness issues, as the United States could cut off spare parts for the fighter-bombers and recon planes. The same would also apply for other modern systems Turkey has, including the M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket System, the MGM-140 ATACMS, and the eight Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates that the United States gave to the Turks in the last 1990s. Turkey also could see trouble remaining a partner in the F-35 program for the duration of military rule, and it is an open question whether it would be able to keep its stocks of AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles and AIM-120 AMRAAMs operational. Furthermore, the Turkish Navy’s force of SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, which operate off frigates and corvettes, could have problems operating.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Iran will try to fight sanctions before they topple the regime

Aligning with a superpower worked for some countries during the Cold War, and for many others, it didn’t. But Iran never aligned itself with the US or the Soviet Union, preferring to maintain its independence and sovereignty. But where the Non-Aligned movement was dedicated to the principles of pretty much minding one’s own business, the coalition Iran is building is more dedicated to pushing back against the US.

But just for one very specific reason: inflation.


A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

Ever since the United States left the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – also known as the ‘Nuclear Deal’ – sanctions imposed by the U.S. have left Iran’s currency and economy in tatters. As today is the day Iranians celebrate the New Year, Iran’s Supreme Leader is celebrating the regime’s resistance to the economic hardship.

“In the face of severe, and according to them unprecedented, sanctions from America and Europe, the Iranian people showed a strong and powerful reaction both in the field of politics and economy,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in a pre-recorded speech. President Hassan Rouhani echoed that sentiment and called for Iranian to stop fighting each other a band together against the United States.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

With sanctions crippling the value of Iranian currency, the Iranian government is looking to its neighbors to strengthen the rial. Other countries like Germany and France, who are still party to the nuclear plan, have opened channels to Iran for trade without using the dollar. While this has eased the out of control inflation in the Islamic Republic, the rial is still trading at 190,000 to one. Iranians have seen their savings and their net worth plummet in the past few years, which is the first result of rampant inflation.

Banks, merchants, and institutions have also seen the values of their businesses and livelihoods decline as a result. Throughout Iran, the inflation and unhappiness with the sanctions, and the regime’s inability to do anything about it has caused widespread protests and demonstrations – some on the same scale of the ones that brought down the Shah and saw the Islamic Republic come to power.

Articles

Drone swarms may help Marines storm beaches

The Marine Corps wants to deploy swarms of drones ahead of troops during amphibious operations in coming years.


The concept, incorporating Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, or LOCUST, developed by the Office of Naval Research, would bring a flotilla of weapons, including underwater drones, unmanned surface vessels and underwater mine countermeasures.

Also read: The Marines want robotic boats with mortars for beach assaults

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the service’s commanding general for combat development, on Tuesday detailed the plan, with hopes it would not only slow down the enemy but save Marines’ lives.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan | We Are The Mighty

“Today, we see this manned-unmanned airlift, what we see what the other services are doing, along with our partners in the United States Navy. Whether it’s on the surface, under the surface or in the air, we’re looking for the opportunity for, ‘How will Marines move ashore differently in the future?’ ” Walsh told a crowd at the Unmanned Systems Defense Conference outside Washington, D.C., hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

“Instead of Marines being the first wave in, it’ll be unmanned robotics … sensing, locating and maybe killing out front of those Marines,” he said. “We see that ‘swarm-type’ technology as exactly the type of thing — it will lower cost, dominate the battlespace, leverage capabilities … and be able to complicate the problems for the enemy.”

Walsh said incorporating unmanned systems within the multi-domain battlespace — in the air, on land, at sea, in space and cyberspace — would be “completely different, certainly than what we’ve done in the last 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Pentagon has recently been touting more technologies for multi-domain battle.

Walsh, like many officials across the Defense Department, emphasized that multi-domain battle is how future wars will evolve — through electronic warfare, cyber attacks and drones. And he said adapting to these concepts is a must in order to match near-peer adversaries.

Marines, for example, are likely to first see the use of drones within the infantry corps.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller last month said he wants every Marine grunt squad downrange tocarry an unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance and surveillance by the end of 2017.

“At the end of next year, my goal is that every deployed Marine infantry squad had got their own quadcopter,” Neller said. “They’re like 1,000 bucks,” he said last month during the Modern Day Marine Expo in Quantico, Virginia.

Walsh on Tuesday accelerated that premise. During a talk with reporters, he said he had been ordered to equip four battalions with small UAS as an experimental measure before the end of the year, but did not specify the system.

From previous experimentation, Walsh said, “Having a small UAS — quadcopter-like UAS — that was an easy one. We’re going to do that. We probably want those across the entire force, but what we want to do, as we see this technology change so rapidly, we’re going to first buy four battalions’ worth, and see how that operates.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The War in Afghanistan costs America $45 billion every year

Forty-five billion dollars. That’s how much the Pentagon says the Afghan war is costing American taxpayers, and, with no end in sight, they may have to keep footing that bill for years to come.


Lawmakers, skeptical about the prospects of victory, grilled the Trump administration Feb. 6 on the direction of the nation’s longest-running war, now in its 17th year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing comes after a wave of shocking militant attacks in Kabul that killed more than 200 people.

Randall Schriver, the Defense Department’s top Asia official, said the $45 billion total for the year includes $5 billion for Afghan forces and $13 billion for U.S. forces inside Afghanistan. Much of the rest is for logistical support. Some $780 million goes toward economic aid.

The costs now are still significantly lower than during the high point of the war in Afghanistan. From 2010 to 2012, when the U.S. had as many as 100,000 soldiers in the country, the price for American taxpayers surpassed $100 billion each year. There are currently around 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Both Republican and Democratic senators highlighted the scale of the continuing outlay from Washington. Six months prior, President Donald Trump unveiled his strategy for turning the tide in the war, setting no time limit on the U.S. military’s involvement in the war-battered country, saying it would be based on conditions on the ground.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
U.S. Soldiers conduct a patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers to check on conditions in a village in the Wardak province of Afghanistan Feb. 17, 2010. (DoD photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest, U.S. Army)

Tens of billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan,” said Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. “We’re in an impossible situation. I see no hope for it.”

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts suggested that those funds could be more effectively spent in saving American lives by investing in treatment for those suffering from opioid abuse. He cited research that two months of Afghan spending could fund an opioid center in every county in the United States.

Painting a bleak picture of the Afghan political and security situation, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon complained that every couple of years, U.S. administrations claim the corner is being turned in the Afghan war. He listed problems with corruption, government dysfunction and Afghan security forces, and said U.S. hopes of using military pressure to compel the Taliban to reach a political settlement were unrealistic.

Also Read: The Pentagon will restrict information about the 16-year war in Afghanistan

“Why do the Taliban want a political settlement? They now control more territory than they did since 2001,” Merkley said.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who visited Kabul and met with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan government members last week, conceded it wasn’t a “rosy situation.”

The attacks last month were a real shock to many people in the government,” Sullivan said. “I don’t want to come here and say, Henry Kissinger-like, that peace is at hand … but we’ve got a policy that we believe in. We want to stick to it.

He said the U.S. remains committed to brokering peace talks between the government and the Taliban. When Trump declared that the U.S. would no longer talk with the militant group, Sullivan said the president’s thrust was that “significant elements” of the Taliban are committed to violence and not prepared to negotiate. Sullivan said Ghani shared that view.

But Sullivan added that the insurgent group isn’t monolithic and the focus is on peeling off “those elements of the Taliban that we can reconcile with.”

Separately, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the decision to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan, saying it was to prevent “another 9/11” being hatched from there. He told the House Armed Services Committee that the U.S. regional strategy “puts the enemy on the path toward accepting reconciliation.”

Articles

Elite Marine Raiders were among those killed in tragic C-130 crash

For an elite band of US Marines known as the Raiders, the fiery military plane crash this week in Mississippi represents a second devastating blow during training in less than three years. Six Marines and a Navy corpsman from a Raider unit died July 10 on their way to training exercises, linking them in tragedy with seven members of the same North Carolina-based command who died in a March 2015 helicopter crash off Florida.


The present incarnation of the Marine Raiders was formed in 2006 amid the global war on terror — making it the newest of the military’s counterterrorism forces that also include the Army’s Special Forces and Navy SEALs. The group was officially named the Marine Raiders in 2015 to link its heritage to World War II commando units made famous in movies.

The Raiders’ command now has about 2,700 troops, including those in intelligence and support roles, according to spokesman Maj. Nick Mannweiler.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
Photo from USMC

Tragedy also struck the close-knit command in March 2015 when seven of its Marines died with four soldiers in a helicopter crash during training off Florida. Mannweiler said he knows of no other significant training losses in the decade-long existence of the Marine Special Operations Command, or MARSOC. At least 31 members of MARSOC have died in combat, Mannweiler said.

The Marines killed this week were headed to Yuma, Arizona, with guns, ammunition, radios, and body armor to participate in training for an eventual deployment somewhere in the Middle East. Mannweiler said such pre-deployment training in the desert would have likely ranged from urban combat to language skills.

Mannweiler said the Raiders’ flight aboard a Marine Corps Reserve airplane wasn’t an unusual arrangement because the command doesn’t have its own planes.

“Marine Corps aircraft are always our personal preference,” Mannweiler said in an interview. “We’ll catch a ride however it makes the most sense.”

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
A ceremony commemorating 11 fallen service members lost in March 2015 crash. USMC photo by Cpl. Steven Fox.

Mannweiler said the crash in Mississippi will be felt acutely in the tight-knit group of Marine Raiders and their families.

“This is a closed-loop community,” he said. “The loss of seven Marines from a battalion literally impacts the entire organization.”

The Raider name was made famous by World War II Marine units that carried out risky amphibious and guerrilla operations that were dramatized in books and movies such as “Gung Ho!” in 1943 and “Marine Raiders” in 1944.

The original Marine Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to have a commando-style force that could conduct amphibious raids and operate behind enemy lines. Raider leaders studied unconventional warfare tactics and were credited with beating larger Japanese forces on difficult terrain in the Pacific. Their name wasn’t used in an official capacity by the Marine Corps for decades after World War II.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
Marine Raiders, 1944. Photo from US National Archives.

When the Raider name was re-adopted in 2015, the Marine Corps said the moniker offered its elite personnel special shorthand similar to Army Green Berets or Navy SEALs. Marines in MARSOC must pass a selection process that includes grueling swims and hikes, as well as specialized combat training.

While the training has some similarities to special units in the Army and Navy, retired Navy officer Dick Couch wrote in a 2015 book that members of MARSOC are known for their marksmanship and maturity, when compared with other branches’ elite. In “Always Faithful, Always Forward,” Couch wrote that he was “in awe” of how the Marines Corps needed so little time to develop an effective training program to make its “brotherhood within a brotherhood” ready for combat.

“They’re an excellent addition to the special operations mix,” Couch said in a phone interview July 12. “I’m sorry to see they lost some people. They’re in a risky business. It can happen in training or in combat.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The UK and France will also challenge China in the South China Sea

Both France and the United Kingdom will challenge Beijing by sailing through “territorial waters” in the South China Sea in early June 2018.

French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly and British Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson made the announcement while speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2018. While neither official mentioned China in regards to the exercise, which will involve a French maritime task group and UK ships, the language they used was pointed.


“We have to make it clear that nations need to play by the rules, and there are consequences for not doing so,” Williamson said, adding that the UK will send three ships to the South China Sea in 2018 to enforce rules-based order.

Parly also gave further details of how a challenge will play out.

“At some point a stern voice intrudes into the transponder and tells us to sail away from supposedly ‘territorial waters,'” Parly said. “But our commander then calmly replies that he will sail forth, because these, under international law, are indeed international waters.”

“By exercising our freedom of navigation, we also place ourselves in the position of a persistent objector to the creation of any claim to de facto sovereignty on the islands,” Parly added.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Florence Parly, France’s minister of defense.
(DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

The South China Sea is a highly contentious area in which China, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have competing claims.

But China has drawn increasing ire for the militarization of its islands, and the US recently disinvited the PLA Navy from an international military exercise because of Beijing’s “continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea” which “only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region.”

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated this stance on June 2, 2018, at the Singapore meeting, saying that the placement of weapons on South China Sea islands “is tied directly to military use for the purpose of intimidation and coercion.”

“There will be consequences to China ignoring the international community,” Mattis said.

“I believe there are much larger consequences in the future when nations lose the rapport of their neighbors… eventually these [actions] do not pay off,” he said.

Several hours later, China’s Lieutenant General He Le slammed “irresponsible comments from other countries.”

“Certain countries, under the guise of so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ and ‘freedom of aviation,’ have sent military vessels and aircraft to the waters and airspace near China’s territory, even sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese waters,” He said.

“This has jeopardized China’s security and challenged China’s sovereignty,” He said, highlighting that such acts “are the true root of the militarization of the South China Sea.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

The Capitol Building might be getting its own quick-reaction force

The National Guard doesn’t have the funding for it, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill are thinking about creating a military unit that would only respond to needs from the federal building, according to the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).

After the fallout from the January 6, 2021, riot that saw much of the Capitol Building wrecked and forced lawmakers to flee the chamber, Congress has been looking for a means to prevent the possibility of such a riot happening again. 

The legislative body would also like to have a force it can call on to ensure that such a riot, once out of hand, would never again be able to breach the building and destroy so much of the building’s offices and files.

It’s an issue so important to Congress that the Senate was holding hearings to discuss passing a reconciled version of the one passed by the House of Representatives in May 2021. A sum of $200 million would be set aside for a standing force inside of D.C. that can be called on by the District of Columbia National Guard.

In June 2021, the commander of the National Guard, Gen. Daniel Hokanson told a panel of senators that a quick reaction force (QRF) wasn’t really in the scope of the National Guard mission.

“Many of these [duties] are actually a law enforcement mission set,” Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard, told reporters at the Pentagon. “We’re not a SWAT team. We’re not law enforcement. We’re soldiers and airmen trained and equipped to fight our nation’s wars.”

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Hokanson (U.S. Army)

The Guard was deployed to the Capitol Hill area for four months after rioters broke into Congress in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. The initial response was handled by local law enforcement and the Capitol Police – but the external response was so bungled that some began to suspect collusion between the rioters and the police officers. 

Gen. Hokanson wanted lawmakers to know that the National Guard, even in the District of Columbia, can’t be the QRF they want, needed or not. He argued that the Guard doesn’t really have the resources, and he was on Capitol Hill to get lawmakers to pay for the four-month deployment of Guard troops to the Capitol.

It cost the Guard more than $520 million to deploy during that time. To redeploy would require the Guard to get 24 hours notice before being ready to act. Whereas law enforcement is on the job when it’s time to go, members of the National Guard have to leave their civilian jobs, grab their gear and then meet at the armory to prepare.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’
(U.S. National Guard photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones)

Only when a matter exceeds law enforcement capabilities is the National Guard called in to support the effort. Some senators instead support creating that QRF unit inside an existing federal agency, which they believe would be much more cost-effective.

As for the National Guard, funding is a big deal. The Guard used its maintenance and operational funds to pay for its four-month deployment to Washington, and so the lack of additional funds from Congress is beginning to affect its capabilities. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, Army Chief of Staff were also concerned with the Guard’s lack of funding. The three defense officials told lawmakers that the readiness of the National Guard would be affected if it can’t get reimbursed for its deployment. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

12 things NOT to say to a military spouse during the holidays

1. Well, at least you don’t have to get him/her a gift right away.

I’m sorry, what? I will more than likely still get my spouse a gift and squirrel it away until they get home, but also why is that the one thing you think I am thinking about the most? Our gift to each other will be a phone call or a quick Skype call. That is better than any other gift either one of us could get each other.


2. Well, you signed up for this, why are you surprised?

I may shank the next person that says that. Just saying. I fell in love with a human not their occupation. Their occupation is a small part of who they are and we adjust to the situation. We are simply making it each day at a time.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

(Photo by Alexander Dummer)

3. Wait, the military won’t send him/her home for the holidays?!

You realize that the military does not care what day of the week it is let alone a holiday. Stop with the silliness. The service members are on a deployment, field exercise, staff duty, etc. they cannot come home.

4. Why are you staying here? Why aren’t you just moving home?

Well, I have a whole life and network system I have established at the base that I can’t just abandon. Yes, I miss my family and will come home to visit them, but it isn’t possible for me to move home while my spouse is away.

5. He’s only in overseas why don’t you just go visit him/her?

Are you planning on paying for the ticket or…? We are living on a budget and don’t have the luxury of always going to visit each other. The idea is great but not practical. Also, do you know what a war zone is?

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. displays some holiday spirit as he speaks to the soldiers of 1st Armored Division in Germany.

(US Army photo)

6. At least you don’t have kids, it would be so much worse.

Thank you? It is still hard to be apart from my spouse even though we don’t have kids. Can someone just hand me a bottle of wine the next time someone tries to comfort me with that.

7. Well at least the kids are young, they won’t remember.

The kids will still miss their parent. The kids will still ask where they are first thing in the morning. Looking around the house, seeing if their dad/mom will surprise them or waiting patiently by the phone to hear their voice. No it won’t be easy no matter the age of our kids, but we make it work.

8. Isn’t it nice to have your own space? I love when my husband isn’t home.

Well, I much prefer when he is home, but that is just me. We have spent enough time apart I am ready to be together again. Sure a nice weekend apart spent with family or my girlfriends is nice, but after a few months I am more than ready for him/her to be home.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

Lancer Brigade soldier makes it home for the holidays.

(US Army photo)

9. Ask when is he coming home and immediately respond with, “Well, that isn’t too far away.”

One day is too far away. Yes, my countdown app has helped me stay focused and able to remember we are one day closer, but somedays (most days) it is far too many days away. Minutes feel like days, days feel like weeks, weeks feel like months, and so forth. It is a long and frustrating experience I would not wish on my worst enemy.

10. Why are you visiting his side of the family? He’s not even home.

They are still family. No matter if my spouse is home or not I am going to see my in-laws at holidays. They are as special to me as my own family and I want to see them. It is silly to think that just because my spouse isn’t home I would not go see that side of the family.

11. Aren’t you scared he’s going to get lonely being so far away?

Well, yes he may get lonely, but so will I. Yes, we will have struggles, but we also have each other. We also have our phones, Skype, Facebook messenger, various apps that will get us through the time apart. We also have our friends that will help us deal with the frustrations that come with time spent apart.

A soldier compared coronavirus quarantine to prison, Pentagon vows to ‘do better’

Soldiers gather together during a Christmas service at Combat Outpost Shur Andam, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

12. Well, one year my spouse had to go out of town for an extended weekend so I completely understand what you are going through.

Seriously, if anyone comes to me with this this holiday season you better be handing me a bottle of chardonnay with that comment. Yes, some couples go through time apart from their loved one, but no one understands the separation like other military significant others. It is a different, it is an everyday struggle, a daunting task that only can be dealt with by fellow military spouses that understand the hardships that will happen and that are happening.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

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