Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

It’s no secret: America loves the legendary generals who have taken key positions of power in the Trump administration.


But the nation’s trust and dependence on these men to lead them through challenging political times may be misplaced, retired Adm. Mike Mullen said Thursday.

Mullen, who served as the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, said the way the nation is turning to these generals betrays a tendency not inherently American.

“I am increasingly — I’m not surprised, but I am concerned about the dependence of the American people on Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster, John Kelly and Rex Tillerson,” he told an audience at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2017 Naval History Conference in Annapolis.

(Adm. Mullin is a member of the We Are The Mighty board of directors)

Mattis, McMaster and Kelly — who serve as secretary of defense, national security adviser and White House chief of staff, respectively — all attained four-star rank in the military. McMaster remains on active duty.

“The question that I ask is how did we get here, to a point where we are depending on retired generals for the stability of our citizenry,” he said. “And what happens if that boulder breaks, first of all, and when.”

President Donald Trump has encouraged reverence for the generals in his administration, particularly Mattis, whom he has referred to by the nickname “Mad Dog” and praised on Twitter as a “general’s general.”

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

Mattis, who was lionized by troops while in the Marine Corps for his care for his men and straightforward style, had been out of uniform for only four years when he was nominated to serve as defense secretary.

Congress passed a one-time waiver of a law requiring defense secretaries to have been out of the military for at least seven years to allow Mattis to serve.

In a congressional hearing held prior to the waiver vote, military experts advised that Mattis be confirmed, but warned the waiver should not be used again for a long time to preserve the tradition of civilian leadership of the military.

In the past, Mullen has been outspoken about the civilian-military divide and has publicly criticized the recent trend of general and flag officers becoming keynote speakers at political conventions and publicly endorsing candidates for president.

He reiterated these views Thursday, saying that while retired officers have the right to endorse, they do damage to the military by eroding its reputation for impartiality.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
USMC photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott.

Mullen qualified that he knows Mattis, McMaster and Kelly, and called them “extraordinary individuals in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

But he suggested it sets a dangerous precedent to turn to them as a focal point for national leadership.

“I have been in too many countries globally where the generals, if you will, gave great comfort to their citizens,” Mullen said. “That is not the United States of America. It may be temporarily now; I can only hope that it won’t be in the future. And despite each one of these individuals’ greatness, there are limits.”

In addition, he said, experience on the battlefield does not translate directly to leadership in the political sphere.

“When I walked into the Oval Office for the first time, that is an environment I’d never been in before, ever,” Mullen said. “… There is no reason these individuals, who are exceptionally good, had any better preparation in that regard. They are trying to figure it out as we go.”

Recent press reports, he said, have called the generals the “bulwark” of the administration.

“And one of the questions is, will that bulwark last, and what happens if and when it doesn’t,” Mullen said. “My own belief is, it won’t.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This ‘Ragged Old Flag’ Super Bowl commercial hit it out of the park

If you were among the millions of Americans that tuned into the Super Bowl last night, you probably saw the powerful, patriotic ad in the lead up to kick off. Featuring Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter, the NFL spot is a video set to Johnny Cash’s spoken word song, “Ragged Old Flag.”


www.youtube.com

Tracing the flag’s (and America’s) journey through major wars and events, the video also shows images of protest and anger with several shots of the flag being burned before going back to images of the military, first responders and ordinary, everyday Americans.

The video spot struck a nerve immediately with some saying it was a dig at Colin Kaepernick.

Others said the video didn’t line up with Johnny Cash’s politics or beliefs although Cash was always ambiguous about where he stood on the political spectrum.

Cash released the song as part of his 47th album in 1974, at a time during great turmoil in the USA, much like today. The U.S. was winding down its involvement in Vietnam and was dealing with the Watergate scandal with President Richard Nixon just resigning the office. The song was penned to be an optimistic song for Americans dealing with such tumultuous times.

Cash, an opponent of the war and believer in social justice, had actually met Richard Nixon a couple of years before and performed several songs for him, including an anti-Vietnam War song, “What is Truth” and “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” a heartbreaking song about one of the Flag Raisers of Iwo Jima and his life as a Pima Indian.

Cash himself would open his concerts with the song and preface it with the following:

“I thank God for all the freedom we have in this country, I cherish them and treasure them – even the right to burn the flag. We also got the right to bear arms and if you burn my flag – I’ll shoot you.”

“Ragged Old Flag” was a hit upon its release with his fans who embraced the message that one can have criticisms of this country but should still respect those people and images that symbolize it. It is a message that resonates with many to this day.

The moving lyrics of the song:

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench an old man was sitting there
I said, your old courthouse is kinda run down
He said, naw, it’ll do for our little town
I said, your old flagpole has leaned a little bit
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it.

He said, have a seat, and I sat down
Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?
I said, I think it is
He said, I don’t like to brag
But we’re kinda proud of that ragged old flag

You see, we got a little hole in that flag there when
Washington took it across the Delaware
And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key
Sat watching it writing say can you see
And it got a bad rip in New Orleans
With Packingham and Jackson tuggin’ at its seams.

And it almost fell at the Alamo

Beside the texas flag, but she waved on though
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill
There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg
And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag

On Flanders field in World War one
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun
She turned blood red in World War Two
She hung limp and low a time or two
She was in Korea and Vietnam
She went where she was sent by Uncle Sam

She waved from our ships upon the Briny foam
And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home
In her own good land here she’s been abused
She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused

And the government for which she stands

Is scandalized throughout the land
And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in
‘Cause she’s been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more

So we raise her up every morning
We take her down every night
We don’t let her touch the ground and we fold her up right
On second thought, I do like to brag
‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag

MIGHTY TRENDING

What is it like fighting alongside Afghan troops?

As the war on terrorist groups drags on, it’s likely American troops will have to continue to work alongside their Afghan counterparts. Oftentimes, though, American forces are faced with working with local troops that are unwilling to fight against the enemies of their country.


Vietnam veterans reported that their South Vietnamese partners would often fail to help during fights with the Viet Cong, often witnessing them flee a battle and drop their guns.

Today, some U.S. troops seen the same thing happening with their Afghan National Army  counterparts.

Related: This was a major problem with the South Vietnamese army

 

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
Afghan National Army soldiers patrol with paratroopers from Chosen Company of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry on a mission in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

For example, some Marine elements were tasked with working with the Afghan National Police in Helmand Province.

“Working the ANP was like herding cattle,” HM2 (FMF) Raul Silva remembers. “Cool to hang out with, but when it came to do some work, they scattered.”

In 2010, Silva served on a Police Mentor Team during 3rd Battalion 5th Marines deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan, to help train and grow the local Afghan police force.

In this area, the Afghan troops would carry their weapons incorrectly or be under the heavy influence of drugs while out on foot patrols and other missions.

This contributed to the ideology that a good majority of the ANA were not in fear of taking contact from Taliban forces due to a possible affiliation with the extremist group.

Also Read: 5 military movies you should look out for in 2018

In some instances, ANA troops would sit and boil water for tea while the fight was on.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

ANA soldiers wave one of their armored vehicles through a checkpoint. Some ANA troops leave the wire without their firearms.

In the winter of 2010, several local nationals living in Helmand Province complained about being robbed by the troops that were supposed to protect them.

Reportedly, the Afghan service members were “shaking down” the members of the populous because they hadn’t received their paychecks from the government in weeks.

During that same time period, two U.S. Marines were killed by a rogue ANA soldier while manning their post at Patrol Base Amoo. Shortly after the chaos, the ANA soldier managed to escape from the base, fracturing an already fragile relationship between Afghan troops and the Americans.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
This ANA soldier patrols assuming the rear security role of this staggered column.

Of course there are some areas where the Afghans work hard and fight alongside their U.S. allies, but as more troops deploy to the wartorn land, it’s certain many of those units will face the same lack of motivation as the Marines did in 2010.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Marine killed in stabbing during fight at Camp Pendleton

A US Marine was killed in a stabbing after a fight broke out at Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry (SOI), according to a San Diego Union-Tribune report published Jan. 16.


One Marine was reportedly in custody. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating the incident.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
Sgt. Aaron San Miguel, left, chief martial arts instructor trainer, currently assigned to School of Infantry West (SOI-W) Detatchment Hawaii, presents a student with a Martial Arts Instructor tab during the conclusion of the culminating event of the three week course aboard Marine Corps Base (MCB) Hawaii, April 21st, 2016. The mission of Marine Corps Base Hawaii is to provide facilities, programs and services in direct support of units, individuals and families in order to enhance and sustain combat readiness for all operating forces and tenant organizations aboard MCB Hawaii. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)

First responders were notified at around 7:45 a.m. of an injured person, according to the Union-Tribune.

Located in San Diego County, Camp Pendleton is the primary training center for Marines on the West Coast. After graduating from boot camp, all Marines, regardless of occupational specialty, are sent to the SOI for further combat training before being attached to their units.

Also read: Why the Marines are cutting the Infantry Assaultman specialty

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
Marines with the School of Infantry-East, conduct the final movement during the Combat Instructor Stakes on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 17, 2015. The School of Infantry-East hosted the Combat Instructor Stakes, which is a grueling 30-hour competition that pits two man teams against each other, competing in physical, tactical and knowledge based events while carrying a combat load and moving over 50 kilometers on foot. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha)

MIGHTY TRENDING

A WWII airman’s remains will come home after more than 70 years

An Airman who served with 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, 9th Bomber Command, during World War II was accounted for Jan. 22, 2018.


Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty was one of eight crewmembers aboard a B-26 Maurader on a nighttime bombing mission from Easton Lodge-Essex, England, against targets near Caen, France. His B-26 was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France, on June 22, 1944.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, all eight crewmembers were killed in the incident. Because the location of the crash was in German-held territory, U.S. forces were unable to make a detailed search for the crew at the time of their loss.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, 9th Bomber Command, poses for a photo during World War II. (Courtesy photo)

“These service members have been missing for up to 75 years, in some cases,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kristen Duus, DPAA public affairs noncommissioned officer in charge. “We have spouses, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, who continue to hold out hope that their service member will be identified and can be returned with the full military honors they all deserve.”

DPAA is an agency within the Department of Defense whose mission is to recover missing personnel who are listed as POW or MIA, from all past wars and conflicts and from countries around the world.

“This mission is important because it is our obligation to fulfill our nation’s promise to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation,” Duus said.

DPAA relies on partnerships with agencies around the world and utilizes their laboratories for identification. In cases where the agency conducts excavations, they take teams to locations to excavate crash and burial sites. This involves anthropologists, augmentees, medics, analysts, and photographers to ensure every aspect of the excavation is properly conducted and documented. If remains are found, they are sent to the lab for DNA analysis, dental comparison and anthropological analysis.

Also Read: This is how the remains of a WWII hero made it home after 75 years

“I have spoken with families after their loved ones have been identified and they have expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude as well as comfort,” concluded Duus.

Canty’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Interment services are pending and more details will be released approximately 10 days prior to scheduled funeral services.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Saudi missile defenses failed to stop a Houthi strike

Saudi Arabia’s missile interceptors may have “failed catastrophically” in their attempts to shoot down several missiles headed toward Riyadh over the weekend of March 24, 2018, according to one expert.


Seven ballistic missiles launched from the Yemeni Houthi rebel group were intercepted on March 25, 2018, according to the Saudi Press Agency. The National, an English news outlet based in the United Arab Emirates, reported that one person died and two others were injured by shrapnel over Riyadh.

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said on Twitter that in video footage released of the missiles, it appeared one defense system “failed catastrophically” while another “pulled a u-turn” and exploded over Riyadh.

Lewis said it was “entirely possible” that the defense-system failure rather than the missiles themselves led to any casualties or injuries.

Also read: The Saudis want their longtime adversary’s missile defenses

“Will have to see where debris fell, impact points, and where people were killed/injured before we can make educated guesses,” Lewis tweeted.

The militant group has been protesting Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s bloody civil war and has engaged in an increasingly violent border conflict with the kingdom since 2015. Experts say the March 25 barrage could be the largest number of ballistic missiles fired at once by the rebel group since the war escalated four years ago.

The Houthis have launched dozens of missiles in recent months, including one in November 2017 at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. Saudi Arabia has said it downed that missile, while the Houthis say it reached its target.

Related: Saudi Arabia is paying $15 billion for this advanced anti-missile system

The latest strikes coincided with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the US, signaling that they may have been a display of disapproval by the Iran-backed rebels.

On March 22, 2018, US Defense Secretary James Mattis urged the crown prince to pursue “urgent efforts” for a peaceful solution to Yemen’s civil war.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia warns that its largest-ever war games are the new norm

Big Russia-China war games are apparently going to be routine going forward, the Russian defense minister revealed Sept. 12, 2018.

“We have agreed to conduct such exercises on a regular basis,” General Sergei Shoigu stated Sept. 12, 2018, as he toured the Tsugol firing range in eastern Siberia where thousands of Russian and Chinese troops are training together for war. The defense minister was accompanied by Chinese General Wei Fenghe at the time of the announcement, which comes as both Russia and China confront the US.

During Sept. 12, 2018’s exercises, Russian strategic bombers launched long-range cruise missiles at a firing range while warships opened fire on targets at sea, the Associated Press reported. There are at least 300,000 Russian troops, 36,000 vehicles, and 1,000 aircraft taking part in the Vostok 2018 exercises, the largest Russian war games in decades, CNN reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense.


Shoigu said previously that the drills were being held on an “unprecedented scale both in territory and number of troops involved.” China deployed 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft, along with 3,200 troops, to the drills. Mongolia also sent troops to participate.

The strengthening of military ties between Russia and China is particularly alarming given rising tensions between each country and Washington.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

A Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter.

China has grown bolder in the South China Sea, deploying advanced weapons platforms to the disputed waterway and challenging foreign ships and planes that fly or sail too close to territorial holdings occupied by China while Beijing argues with Washington over everything from trade to North Korea. Russia, on the other hand, has gone so far as to threaten to conduct strikes on a key US-led coalition base in Syria and fly strategic bombers near Alaska, risky moves amid deteriorating relations between Russia and the US.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Sept. 10, 2018, that the US respects Russia and China’s decision to hold military exercises, something the US also does with its allies and international partners. He added, though, that the US is watching these exercises closely.

Featured image: Russian armored personnel carriers roll during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises in Russia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s the (failed) status of the first private lunar mission

April 11, 2019 Editor’s Note: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine released the following statement on the Beresheet lunar lander: “While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit. Every attempt to reach new milestones holds opportunities for us to learn, adjust and progress. I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements.”

Following a nearly two-month journey, the first private robotic spacecraft to attempt a Moon landing is on track to meet its goal on April 11, 2019, and NASA is a partner in SpaceIL’s Beresheet mission. The landing attempt comes on the heels of the agency’s own charge from the president to accelerate its plans to send astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024.


“NASA wants to conduct numerous science and technology demonstrations across the surface of the Moon, and we will do so with commercial and international partners,” said Steve Clarke, deputy associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Supporting SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) with this mission is a prime example of how we can do more, together. We’re hoping a successful landing here will set the tone for future lunar landers, including our series of upcoming commercial deliveries to the Moon.”

In addition to providing access to the agency’s Deep Space Network to aid in communication during the mission, NASA launched a navigation device on Beresheet, SpaceIL’s Moon lander, which will provide lunar surface location details that can be used by future landers for navigation. Beresheet is carrying a NASA instrument called a laser retroreflector array. Smaller than a computer mouse, it features eight mirrors made of quartz cube corners set in an aluminum frame. This configuration allows the device to reflect light coming from any direction back to its source.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

Illustration of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or LRO, will attempt to take scientific measurements of the SpaceIL lander as it lands on the Moon. LRO will try to use its own instrument called a laser altimeter, which measures altitude, to shoot laser pulses at Beresheet’s retroreflector and then measure how long it takes the light to bounce back.

By using this technique, engineers expect to be able to pinpoint Beresheet’s location within 4 inches (10 centimeters).

This simple technology, requiring neither power nor maintenance, may make it easier to navigate to locations on the Moon, asteroids, and other bodies. It could also be dropped from a spacecraft onto the surface of a celestial body where the reflector could help scientists track the object’s spin rate or position in space.

“It’s a fixed marker you may return to it any time,” said David E. Smith, principal investigator of the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or LOLA, on the LRO.

The ISA and SpaceIL will also share data with NASA from another instrument installed aboard the spacecraft. The data will be made publicly available through NASA’s Planetary Data System.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

A graphic showing Beresheet’s path to the Moon. Dates correspond with Israel Standard Time.

(SpaceIL)


Beresheet launched Feb. 21, 2019, on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft completed a maneuver April 4, 2019, called a lunar capture that placed it in an elliptical orbit around the Moon, setting the stage for its first landing attempt on April 11, 2019. Beresheet is targeting an area known as the Sea of Serenity (Mare Serenitatis in Latin), which is near where NASA’s Apollo 17 astronauts landed in 1972.

The president’s direction from Space Policy Directive-1 galvanizes NASA’s return to the Moon and builds on progress on the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, collaborations with U.S industry and international partners, and knowledge gained from current robotic assets at the Moon and Mars.

For more information about NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration plans, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/moontomars

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force confirms pilot death in Ukraine crash

The Air Force has confirmed that an American pilot from the California Air National Guard was killed during a familiarization flight with a Ukrainian pilot in a Su-27UB fighter aircraft on October 16 during the Clear Skies 2018 exercise, an event orchestrated to allow Ukraine to better incorporate its forces with eight NATO militaries.


The Air Force said in a statement:

The U.S. service member involved in the crash was a member of the 144th Fighter Wing, California Air National Guard, Fresno, California. The Airman was taking part in a single-aircraft familiarization flight with a Ukrainian counterpart. No other aircraft were involved in the incident. The identity of the service member is being withheld for 24 hours pending next of kin notification.

The Ukrainian pilot was also killed in the crash.

“This is a sad day for the United States and Ukraine,” Maj. Gen. Clay Garrison, California ANG commander and Clear Skies exercise director, said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and fellow Airmen of both the U.S. Airman and Ukrainian aviator who were killed in the incident.”

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

A Su-27B aircraft flies during Open Skies 2018 in Ukraine.

(U.S. Air National Guard)

The aircraft crash took place at 5 p.m. local time in Ukraine, and appears to have involved a Su-27UB, a two-seater combat trainer/fighter jet. A statement from the Ukrainian General Staff gave the first indication of what had occurred.

“We regret to inform that, according to the rescue team, the bodies of two pilots have been discovered: one is a serviceman of the Ukrainian Air Force, the other is a member of the US National Guard,” it said.

The incident is currently under investigation.

The Air Force said before the exercise that it would send 450 personnel to the exercise with approximately 250 of them playing a direct role. These were mostly maintainers and pilots. Multiple state national guards are involved in the exercise, including those of California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

The exercise focused on air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyberdefense, and personnel recovery. It takes place as Ukraine is increasing its military capabilities and continuing hostilities from a Russian-backed separatist movement has claimed lives in its eastern regions.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why some Marines in combat zones don’t get Combat Action Ribbons

The Marines in Afghanistan are definitely in combat, even if they are not being awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the former commander of Task Force Southwest said on Feb. 1.


“It’s absolutely a combat mission,” Brig. Gen. Roger Turner Jr. told reporters at a roundtable. “The only difference is we’re not maneuvering directly on the enemy. From the command element perspective: It’s full spectrum combat. We shoot at the enemy, they shoot at us.”

Turner led the task force of roughly 300 Marines from April 2017 until January 2018. During that time, Marines helped Afghan troops and interior ministry forces go on the offensive in Helmand province, the home of many senior Taliban leaders and a significant source of the opium that feeds the Taliban’s coffers, he said.

Despite being deployed to Afghanistan for nine months, none of the Marines in the task force were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Times has reported. The CAR is a coveted decoration, especially by younger Marines, because it certifies combat experience.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
Combat Action Ribbon awarded by the United States Department of the Navy. (Image Wikipedia)

But on Feb. 1, Turner cautioned against using the CAR as a litmus test to determine if the Marines in Afghanistan are on a combat mission.

“It’s too simplistic to say that nobody earned the Combat Action Ribbon; therefore, they weren’t in combat,” Turner said. “They’re very much in combat. We just weren’t achieving the criteria of the Combat Action Ribbon.”
Sgt. Mohamed Amin and his cadre of fellow instructors at the Camp Commando School of Excellence outside Kabul have their work cut out for them. They have been given the arduous task of executing President Ashraf Ghani’s order to double the commando force in four years, without sacrificing quality.

The CAR recognizes Marines who have taken part in direct action against the enemy, according to the decoration’s requirements. Marines who come under direct fire or are exposed to explosions can be eligible for the award. The CAR is typically not given to Marines who come under indirect fire unless they engage in offensive counter-fire operations.

Also Read: Sailors and Marines are now eligible for these new award devices

With help from the Marines, Afghan security forces went on the offensive for 250 days of the 280-day deployment, Turner said. The Marines advised the Afghans at various levels of command and helped coordinate artillery and air support.

Even though the Marines did not fight alongside Afghan units, they were attacked by Taliban rockets and mortars about 20 times during the deployment, Turner said. None of the Marines were wounded.

On Jan. 15, Turner transferred command to Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, who commands a larger task force that will be able to have U.S. military advisers permanently assigned to Afghan battalions, Turner said.

Watson has told Task Purpose that he has the authority to allow Marines to accompany Afghan troops and police into battle, if needed.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights
A U.S. Marine with Task Force Southwest fires the M-27 Infantry Automatic Rifle as part of the combat marksmanship program at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2018. Task Force Southwest is continually working on combat marksmanship to ensure proper sustainment of basic Marine combat skills, so they can better train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins)

“Whether or not we exercise that authority is going to depend on how we assess the situation at the time, and obviously I’m not going to get into specifics on that,” Watson said in a Jan. 15 interview.

After nearly 16 years of war in Afghanistan, it is not clear how much of territory the Taliban controls outright or is contesting. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director of the Joint Staff, said the U.S. estimates that the Afghan government controls about 60%of the country, but a recent BBC report claims the Taliban is active in 70% of Afghanistan.

McKenzie said he does not believe the BBC story is accurate, adding that he “couldn’t completely follow their logic as stated in the article.”

“We certainly don’t think that the Taliban has a presence to some degree in 70% of the countryside – and we would disagree with that,” McKenzie told reporters Feb. 1 during a Pentagon news briefing.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Bashing Beijing: Iranian official’s criticism of China’s coronavirus figures causes uproar

Rare criticism by an Iranian Health Ministry official of China’s controversial COVID-19 figures has angered hard-liners in Tehran, some of whom asked if he was speaking on behalf of the country’s archrival, the United States.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said at a press briefing on April 5 that China’s statistics about the number of deaths and infections from the coronavirus are “a bitter joke.”


He added that, if Beijing said it got the coronavirus epidemic under control within two months of its outbreak, “one should really wonder [if it is true].”

The comments did not go down well with Chinese officials or hard-liners in Iran who reminded Jahanpur that China has stood with Iran at a time of severe crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak and crushing economic sanctions applied by Washington.

Many questions have been raised in the Western media recently about China’s official coronavirus figures amid suggestions that the real numbers are likely much higher.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

Officials wait outside a Beijing metro station to monitor for anyone infected with the coronavirus.

Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China’s ruling Communist Party on April 3 of being involved in a “disinformation campaign” regarding the virus that is being used to “deflect from what has really taken place.”

But similar criticism from an Iranian official whose country enjoys strong relations with China led to raised eyebrows and has provoked crunching criticism.

“At a time when China has been Iran’s major helper in the fight against the coronavirus and has provided the country with several strategic products while bypassing the [U.S.] sanctions, Jahanpur suddenly becomes the spokesperson of [U.S. President Donald Trump] and [Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin] Netanyahu,” the editor of the hard-line Mashreghnews.ir, Hassan Soleimani, said on Twitter on April 5.

Others, including Hossein Dalirian, a former editor with Tasnim news, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), went as far as calling for Jahanpur’s dismissal from the ministry.

‘Unforgettable’ Support

China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, also joined the chorus, telling Jahanpur he should follow press briefings by China’s Health Ministry “carefully” in order to draw his conclusions.

Amid the mounting criticism and in what appeared to be damage control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi tweeted in support of China, saying the country has led the way in suppressing the coronavirus while also “generously” helping other countries.

“The Chinese bravery, dedication, and professionalism in COVID-19 containment deserves acknowledgement,” Musavi tweeted on April 5, adding that Iran has been grateful to China in these trying times with the hashtag #Strongertogether.

Musavi’s tweet was retweeted by Chang, who said “Rumors cannot destroy our friendship.”

The Gvt. ppl. of #China lead the way in suppressing #coronavirus generously aiding countries across . The Chinese bravery, dedication professionalism in COVID19 containment deserve acknowledgment. has always been thankful to in these trying times. #StrongerTogether

twitter.com

For his part, Jahanpur attempted to calm the waters by publicly praising China for supporting his country during the outbreak.

“The support of China for the Iranian nation in [these] difficult days is unforgettable,” he said on Twitter on April 6.

He also said the Iranian government and the nation are grateful and will not forget the countries that stood with them during the pandemic.

Jahanpur’s tweet was welcomed by Ambassador Chang, who retweeted it while writing in Persian: “Friends should help each other, we fight together.”

‘Understated’ Numbers

Citing current and former intelligence officials, The New York Times reported last week that the CIA has told the White House since February that China has understated the number of its infections.

China has claimed that it has been open and transparent about the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, which emerged in December in Wuhan, where the virus has officially claimed the lives of 2,563 people and a nationwide total of 3,331 as of April 6. Beijing also claims some 81,708 total infections.

Radio Free Asia issued a report on March 27 suggesting tens of thousands of more people had died in Wuhan from the coronavirus than the official total given by Beijing.

Some Iranian officials believe the country’s coronavirus outbreak, by far the worst in the Middle East, began because of Tehran’s ties to China, which has been buying a limited amount of Iranian oil despite strict U.S. sanctions and penalties.

Iranian officials think the virus reached Qom, Iran’s epicenter of the outbreak, through Chinese workers and students residing in the city who had recently traveled to China. Flights conducted to and from China by Iran’s Mahan Air — even after coronavirus cases were registered — have been also blamed for exacerbating the epidemic.

Since the outbreak in Qom in February, Chinese officials have sent Iran regular shipments of relief materials — including masks, test kits, and other equipment — to help the country battle against the coronavirus.

According to official figures released on April 6, COVID-19 in Iran has killed 3,739 people and infected 60,500.

Much like the case of China, many people inside and outside of Iran have questioned Tehran’s official figures on the pandemic.

An ongoing investigation by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that studies figures released by officials from Iran’s 31 provinces puts the total number of deaths in Iran at 6,872 people as of April 5, with some 94,956 infections.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These are the 7 national military parades held by the US

There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding President Trump’s proposed military parade. As is par for the political course these days, there are plenty of people who argue for it — and just as many arguing against. Whether such a parade is good for the military, the United States, or the Trump Administration isn’t for me to decide, but what can be said completely objectively is that Trump is not the first sitting Chief Executive to want to throw such a parade.

As is often the case, the best thing to do before looking ahead is to look behind — let’s review the other times in history the United States has held a military parade, and what those celebrations did for our nation.


In the early days of the republic, it was very common for the Commander-In-Chief to review troops, especially in celebration of Independence Day. This tradition stopped with President James K. Polk, however. His successor, Zachary Taylor, did not review the troops on July 4th and the tradition fell by the wayside.

Since then, we’ve hosted parades only during momentous times. Each of the following parades celebrated either a U.S. victory in a war or the inauguration of a President during the Cold War (as a thumb of the nose at Soviet parades).

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

A sight for sore eyes. General Grant leans forward for a better view of the parading troops as President Johnson, his Cabinet, and Generals Meade and Sherman look on from the presidential reviewing stand. “The sight was varied and grand,” Grant recalled in his memoir.

(Library of Congress)

1. Grand Review of the Armies, 1865

Just one month after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the new President, Andrew Johnson, wanted to change the mood of the mourning nation, especially in the capital. Johnson declared an end to the armed rebellion and called for the Grand Review of the Armies to honor the American forces who fought the Civil War to its successful conclusion.

Union troops from the Army of the Potomac, Army of Georgia, and Army of the Tennessee marched down Pennsylvania Avenue over the course of two days. Some 145,000 men and camp followers walked from the Capitol and pat the reviewing stand in front of the White House. Just a few short weeks after the review, the Union Army was disbanded.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

US Marines march down Fifth Avenue in New York in September, 1919, nearly a year after the end of World War I. General John J. Pershing led the victory parade. A week later, Pershing led a similar parade through Washington, D.C.

2. World War I Victory Parades, 1919

A year after the end of World War I, General John J. Pershing marched 25,000 soldiers from the American Expeditionary Force down 5th Avenue in New York City, wearing their trench helmets and full battle rattle. He would do the same thing down the streets of Washington, DC, a little more than a week later.

Parades like this were held all over the United States, with varying degrees of sizes and equipment involved.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

A float carried a huge bust of President Franklin Roosevelt in New York on June 13, 1942.

3. The ‘At War’ Parade, 1942

In 1942, New York held its largest parade ever (up to that point) on June 13, 1942. For over 11 hours, civilians and government servants marched up the streets of New York City in solidarity with the American troops who were being sent to fight overseas in World War II.

4. World War II Victory Parades, 1946

When you help win the largest conflict ever fought on Earth, you have to celebrate. Four million New Yorkers came to wave at 13,000 paratroopers of the 82d Airborne as they walked the streets in celebration of winning World War II. They were given one of NYC’s trademark ticker-tape parades, along with Sherman tanks, tank destroyers, howitzers, jeeps, armored cars, and anti-tank guns.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

Army tanks move along Pennsylvania Avenue in the inaugural parade for President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 21, 1953.

5. Inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 

Fresh from a trip to the ongoing war in Korea, newly-minted President Dwight Eisenhower received a welcome worthy of a former general of his stature. Equally impressive was Ike’s inauguration parade. It was not just a celebration of the military’s best ascending to higher office, it was a reminder to the Soviet Union about all the hardware they would face in a global conflict with the United States.

Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

The Presidential Review Stand during Kennedy’s inaugural parade.

6. Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, 1961

Keeping with the Cold War tradition of showing off our military power during international news events, like a Presidential inauguration, President John F. Kennedy also got the military treatment, as his military procession also included a number of missiles and missile interceptors.

7. Gulf War Victory Celebration, 1991

President George H.W. Bush was the last U.S. President to oversee a national victory parade. This time, it was a review of troops who successfully defended Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield and expelled Iraq from Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. The National Victory Celebration was held Jun. 8, 1991, in Washington and Jun. 9. in New York City — it was the largest since the end of World War II.

Articles

Pentagon brushes off Russia’s claim on ISIS commander kill

The Pentagon strongly pushed back August 31 on Russia’s claim it was responsible for killing Islamic State’s chief spokesman in Syria.


ISIS released a statement Tuesday saying its lead spokesman, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, was killed near Aleppo, Syria. The Pentagon confirmed it carried out airstrikes in Aleppo targeting Adnani, but has not independently confirmed Adnani’s death.

Russia seized on the Pentagon’s remarks to try and claim credit for the airstrike. Russian State-run media released a statement hours after ISIS’s announcement, saying, “According to reports confirmed by several intelligence channels, field commander Abu Mukhammad al-Adnani [sic], better known as ‘the official spokesperson’ of the international terrorist group Islamic State, was among the liquidated terrorists,” in a Russian air raid that day.

Russia made its claim despite acknowledging its airstrikes were carried out nearly 20 miles away from the area of Aleppo where Adnani was killed. Russia is likely trying to advance its narrative that the mission in Syria is to help Syrian President Bashar Al Assad go after terrorists. Throughout its nearly one-year military intervention in Syria, Russia has labeled any group that opposes Assad as “terrorist,” regardless of religious affiliation.

Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook took a swipe at Russian airstrikes in Syria to reporters Wednesday, saying, “we have no information to support Russia’s claim that they also carried out a strike against Adnani.” Cook elaborated, “Russia, as you know, has spent most of its time, its military campaign supporting and propping up the Assad regime,” continuing “It has not devoted much, if any, effort that we’re aware of targeting ISIL’s leadership.”

Another senior defense official told Reuters Wednesday, “Russia’s claim is a joke.”

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

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