Mattis says US still debating 'big ideas' on Afghan plan - We Are The Mighty
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Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

The Trump administration is still sorting out “the big ideas” for a new Afghanistan strategy, beyond troop levels and other military details, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said July 21.


“We’re close,” he said in an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon one day after President Donald Trump met with him and his military chiefs for a broad discussion that aides said touched on Afghanistan and other issues.

The US has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years, and as recently as June, Mattis said, “we are not winning.”

Mattis told Sen. John McCain at a hearing last month that he would have the Afghanistan strategy ready by mid-July. On July 21 he was asked what is holding it up.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo courtesy of the DoD

“It just takes time,” he said. “It wasn’t that past presidents were dumb or anything else. This is hard work, so you’ve got to get it right. That’s all there is to it.”

He also said it is vitally important to “get the big ideas right,” meaning to establish a consensus within the government on what problem Afghanistan poses and what policy goal is being pursued by committing US troops there. He called this “orders of magnitude” more difficult than deciding military tactics.

“It’s easy only for the people who criticize it from the outside and who don’t carry the responsibility for integrating it altogether,” he said, referring to making diplomatic and economic elements a part of the overall strategy.

Although Mattis did not mention him July 21, McCain is among the more vocal critics of the administration’s lack of an Afghan strategy.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer James Foehl

On July 20, McCain mentioned his frustration on Afghanistan in a statement on the separate matter of the administration reportedly deciding to end a program to assist the Syrian opposition to President Bashar Assad.

“Six months into this administration, there is still no new strategy for victory in Afghanistan, either,” McCain said. “It is now mid-July, when the administration promised to deliver that strategy to Congress, and we are still waiting.”

In his remarks at the Pentagon, Mattis revealed no details of the ongoing administration debate.

He cast the Afghanistan problem in the context of past American wars, including those that did not end well — such as Vietnam — and those that still have not ended, such as Iraq. He said he wants to be sure there is administration agreement on the political goals as well as the military means.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

“I realize this probably looks easy, but it is not easy,” he said.

Mattis said a decision disclosed by the Pentagon on July 21 to withhold $50 million in “coalition support funds” for Pakistan — money it receives each year as reimbursement for logistical support for US combat operations — was separate from deliberations over a new Afghanistan strategy. Officials have said the US approach to Pakistan is an important part of the Afghan strategy debate, in part because a Taliban faction known as the Haqqani network enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan. US officials called the Haqqani network the most lethal element of the Taliban opposition in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said in a statement July 21 that Mattis has informed congressional committees that he could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network to deserve full reimbursement this year. Of $900 million in proposed reimbursement, Pakistan earlier received $550 million and Congress a few months ago withheld $300 million.

Mattis’ certification decision means the remaining $50 million also will be withheld.

The Pentagon chief said this was not a reflection of a new, tougher US policy toward Pakistan.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
A U.S. Army adviser from Task Force Forge conducts a room clearing drill with an Afghan trainee. (NATO photo by Kay M. Nissen)

“This is simply an assessment of the current state of play” with regard to suppressing the Haqqani threat. “It’s not a policy. It is the reality.”

Pakistan is authorized to receive up to another $900 million in support funds this coming year, of which $400 million is subject to Pentagon certification of sufficient Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network.

“In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we continue to stress that it is in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and reduce the operational capacity of all militant organizations that pose a threat to US and Pakistani interests as well as regional stability,” a Pentagon spokesman, Adam Stump, said.

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter determined the Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network was insufficient, and as a result, $300 million in support funds was withheld.

MIGHTY CULTURE

MightyScopes for the week of March 6th

Dear dumbass,

Even though I am a prophet, you can’t base your entire life off a horoscope, no matter how badass and totally true it is. You might have to make some decisions on your own. I know, that’s scary and you might make mistakes. I can’t be there to hold your hand. At least, not unless you pay me, a lot, cause you’re pretty f’ed up.

Anyway, don’t be such a soup sandwich. You’re embarrassing me.

Sincerely, Noadamus.


Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Maybe live in the real world this week. For once.

(Giphy)

Pisces

Remember all those times you fantasized about how great your life would be if the universe provided the perfect opportunity? That time is here, and if you don’t go for your goals right now, you will have missed an incredibly powerful time for growth and achievement. Your perceived career and money problems seem to be looming over your head, but they’ll pass without consequence if you don’t do anything impulsively. You are positioned for incredible advancement, but all you can think of this weekend are lustful thoughts. Just don’t break the bank or do something in public your mom would find distasteful, because this week it will definitely end up on the internet.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

You only get rewarded if you actually do the right thing.

(Giphy)

Aries

Leaders don’t do the right thing because someone is watching. A real leader does the right thing all the time—when things are good and when things are sh!t. They also never stop improving, even when things are going great. Don’t get complacent; just because you hope everything you do will work out perfectly, doesn’t mean it will. If asked to work alone or in secret, do it and do your work to the higher standards. You will find yourself in unexpected leadership roles.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Work before play…

(Giphy)

Taurus

This week finds you focused on friends and events, maybe planning to see some live music or something. Don’t plan a trip just yet. Remember that thing where you have to put on a uniform and play military? This week forces you to find balance between your increasing need for freedom and work which must be redone. The fact this mess was not your doing is inconsequential. You must fix the mistakes of others, and you must do so perfectly. Try to be a good leader and don’t cry about it while you work. Everyone else will be inspired by your example, and you may even enjoy yourself.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Someone’s allllllways watching.

(Giphy)

Gemini

Okay Private, let’s do this again. Literally, you will be asked to return to something you believed was complete. Just got back from a deployment? The field? A float? You might have to go back. Do whatever the task requires and try not to tell too many lies this week. Your web of deceit is more likely to trap you than your prey. This weekend brings all the adult entertainment you could hope for, especially if you are traveling. Have fun, but be respectful—you never know who is lurking about watching.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Maybe just… take a vow of silence this week.

(Giphy)

Cancer

This week finds you re-examining the past, again. On top of that nonsense, your decision-making ability concerning money is terribly flawed and emotionally driven. Don’t burn any bridges no matter how much you would like to this week; just focus on the little things and keep your head down. If you find yourself involved in a romance with someone other than your primary relationship, keep it on the DL, and you will probably get away with it this week. As long as you don’t leave a paper trail, anyway, so hide those receipts and don’t tell your friends about your illicit fling, that is.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Whatever your go-to move is, your game is on point.

(Giphy)

Leo

Oh yeah, it’s about time us Leos got some love, pun intended. If you are single and looking for a friend, or relationship, or repeat from your past you are likely to find it. In fact, even if you are not looking for it, it will probably find you. Time with your friends will lead to romantic opportunities. Oh yeah, don’t forget about your oath of enlistment; this week it’s low on your priority list, but your relentless work ethic coupled with powerful aggression positions you for career advancement.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Bring. It. On.

(Giphy)

Virgo

If you get the opportunity for advanced training this week, jump on it. Even if you have to forgo something you really want. It will not only pay off, it will be way more fun than you were expecting. If the training involves shooting, blowing stuff up, or punching people in the face, you will not only excel, but will probably end up as the honor grad. Have fun and remember the only person you should expect perfection from is yourself. As long as you remember—while perfection is the goal, it is an unreachable one.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Come on, it’s just some desperately needed character building.

(Giphy)

Libra

Does a squad leader have to pull a midnight guard shift or is that the work of the lower enlisted swine? Trick question, but you might want to review the NCO’s creed. Anyway, I’ll tell you the answer: Yes, you do. There is a good chance it will feel like the only thing that exists this week is work, but that’s not totally true. This is a time to focus on your duties, but your pleasant attitude and willingness to do things you normally feel are beneath you will endear you to others and lead to all sorts of travel and romance opportunities.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Just remember how you felt the first time you watched the Miracle of Life.

(Giphy)

Scorpio

Hey corporal, are you trying to make a baby? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but didn’t they show you that video about where babies come from in Boot Camp? Let me know if you need me to send you a link so you can review it. Other than your sloppy finances and questionable morals, things are looking up for you. Your home and family life are pleasant and engaging. You may find a positive change in your daily duties. Lateral transfer, perhaps?

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Bad Sagittarius. Put it down.

(Giphy)

Sagittarius

You win a four-day pass for crushing the SGM’s PT event? Go visit your family. You will have a bunch of your favorite thing, Fun. Promise. You might even get someone to show you how to do your laundry. No matter where you find yourself this week, get out and explore the local area, even if you’ve been everywhere a million times before. Surprising excitement awaits you. Just don’t overdraft your account again while enjoying yourself.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

There, there, it’ll all be over soon. Uhhh… we hope.

(Giphy)

Capricorn

Remember how life has been kicking your ass recently? There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This week starts with no apparent end to the problems you have been dealing with, but by next week things start to improve, slowly at first, then gaining momentum rapidly. However, there will continue to be one thing hanging over your head through next week; just accept what you cannot control. Besides, it has to be resolved eventually. I think…..

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

We both know you can’t help it, but for the love of God. Please skip the melodrama.

(Giphy)

Aquarius

This week, you might find your military duties getting in the way of your favorite hobby—going out and spending time in public with as many different people as possible. On top of that, you are forced to work in isolation and in secret. You’re not gonna die. I mean not from working by yourself, but eventually yes, you will die. To make it worse you will have an old friend, or maybe a new one, drop by this weekend to ‘catch up and stuff’ and come Monday they will not want to leave. We all know how you feel about ‘long term relationships,’ and it will restrict your freedom far too much.

Articles

This guy built a flying Spitfire from scratch

Bob DeFord really wanted to fly one of the iconic Spitfire airplanes that saved England from Nazi invasion during the Battle of Britain, but the things can sell for millions of dollars at auction, even in rough condition.


So instead he worked with a small group of friends for eight years and created a full-scale Spitfire Mk. IX, the plane that gave British pilots a better chance against the feared Focke-Wulf 190.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
(Image: YouTube/EAA)

DeFord’s creation isn’t a perfect replica. The wings and some other parts are wood where the true Mk. IXs are metal, and the engine is an Allison V-1710 instead of the Merlin 60.

But for what amounts to a flying model, DeFord’s piece is amazingly accurate. The distinct Spitfire wings are properly shaped and a rear-view mirror, improvised from a soup ladle and a car mirror, sits over the cockpit in a nearly picture-perfect imitation of the real thing.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
(Image: YouTube/EAA)

The rear-view mirror cost DeFord an estimated $12 — not bad when original mirrors from World War II sell for $300.

There are even stand-ins for the four 20mm cannons that gave the Spitfire its deadly punch.

DeFord tells his story in the video below. Cut to 3:09 to see the bird in flight:

MIGHTY CULTURE

This wounded sailor earned herself 8 gold medals

On August 5, 2014, Master Chief Raina Hockenberry, 41, was a senior chief midway through a deployment in Afghanistan. She was helping train Afghan forces. While leaving an Afghan military camp in Kabul, a rogue Afghan gunman opened fire. Hockenberry sustained bullet wounds in her stomach, groin, and tibia. This is where the story could’ve ended Hockenberry’s military career. But Hockenberry’s running life theme is never giving up.


Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Hockenberry celebrates after winning gold in the 50 meter freestyle at the 2018 DoD Warrior Games.

(Master Sgt. Stephen D. Schester)

According to The Navy Times, while she recovered at Walter Reed medical center she immediately asked for a laptop so she could continue to contribute.

“Being in the hospital, you’re a patient and you lose who you are. That laptop was huge. It gave me my identity back. It gave me something to focus on. I was useful again.” Hockenberry said, “My identity was Senior Chief Hockenberry.”

Hockenberry doesn’t take all the credit for staying engaged during the early stages of her recovery process. She extended her gratitude to the junior enlisted service members surrounding her at Walter Reed, “Every time I wanted to quit, there always seemed to be some junior sailor popping in saying, ‘Hey senior, you going to PT?”

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

One of the injuries sustained by Hockenberry.

(Dennis Oda/The Star)

Despite the complications from her injuries sustained in battle, Hockenberry takes part (and kicks ass) in multiple athletic competitions. Such as the Invictus Games, or the Warrior Games (a competition for wounded, sick, or injured troops). Just last year she set 4 new swimming records en route to 8 gold medals in the latter.

She will be returning with high hopes again this year.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Hockenberry receiving the George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award at 53rd USO Armed Forces Gala.

(Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Lewis)

Nowadays, when Hockenberry isn’t dominating the Warrior Games, she serves on board of the USS Port Royal, in Hawaii—and she’s grateful to be back.

“Today, I’m just another sailor,” She added, “Granted, I’m a master chief and that’s awesome, but I do drill, I do general quarters, I’m up and down ladder wells. I do what every other sailor does.”

Hockenberry serves as a beacon for other service-members who are battling injuries every single day. Hockenberry’s advice is simple, “You’ve got to fight for what you want,” she said. “If you really want it, there’s so many in the Navy who will help you, you just have to ask.”

She acknowledges the road to recovery is not linear, and that while injuries change how you interact with the world, they do not define the afflicted, “”You don’t have to be perfect. I don’t walk perfect, I sure don’t swim perfect. But that’s okay […] The four gentlemen I went with have all been through the gamut and now have productive lives. It’s just an injury. It’s not your life.”

Hockenberry set up “Operation Proper Exit” in 2016 as a way to bring soldiers wounded in action back to the place where they sustained their injuries, in order to give soldiers proper closure.

Hockenberry will be honored as the Sailor of the Year at the Service Members of the Year ceremony on July 10th.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy pilot lost in C-2 crash ‘flew the hell out of that airplane’

A Navy lieutenant who lost his life while working to save his passengers in a C-2 Greyhound crash Nov. 22 may be recommended for an award, an official said Nov. 27.


Lt. Steven Combs, the pilot of the aircraft, was one of three sailors who died when the aircraft crashed Nov. 22 in the Pacific Ocean en route to the carrier Ronald Reagan from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Eight other sailors, including the co-pilot, were rescued from the water.

Combs managed to execute a landing on the water, giving the four aircrew and seven passengers the best opportunity to get clear of the aircraft and reach safety. The difficulty of such a landing with the cargo aircraft was compounded by high seas, which by some reports reached 10 to 12 feet, said Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Dylan Mills directs the crew of a C-2A Greyhound from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano)

“They did not have a lot of notice that they were going to have to ditch just miles from the carrier,” Flanders told Military.com. “To use the words of his co-pilot who told us, ‘[Combs] flew the hell out of that plane.'”

Flanders added that the possibility of a posthumous award for Combs in light of his actions was under discussion.

Combs, who was commissioned in 2011 and reported to Fleet Logistics Squadron 30 in 2015, had served aboard Ronald Reagan as a detachment assistant operations officer and administrative officer, according to a Navy release. During his career, he had logged more than 1,200 flight hours and 100 carrier-arrested landings.

Navy personnel were able to rescue the eight survivors within an hour of the C-2 going down southwest of Okinawa. On Nov. 25, the Navy identified those lost as Combs, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment), Airman Matthew Chialastri, and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso.

Multiple sources have reported that engine failure is suspected as a cause of the crash, though an investigation is still underway.

Read More: US Navy searches for 3 missing sailors after plane crashes en route to USS Ronald Reagan

“Clearly there was something amiss with the aircraft and basically they were not close enough to the carrier to try to bring it in,” Flanders said.

On Nov. 25, the Ronald Reagan held a memorial service to commemorate the lives of Combs, Chialastri, and Grosso.

Capt. Michael Wosje, the commander of the Reagan’s Carrier Air Wing 5, paid special tribute to the fallen pilot.

“The loss of one of our pilots weighs heavily on the entire Carrier Air Wing Five team. Lt. Combs will always be remembered as a hero,” Wosje said, according to a news release. “I am proud to have flown with him.”

The commander of the carrier, Capt. Buzz Donnelly, also honored the sailors who died.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Matthew Chialastri, Steven Combs, and Bryan Grosso (l to r) were killed in the C-2 Greyhound crash on November November 22nd. (Image from U.S. Navy)

“The loss of these crew members hits across the entire ship with great significance,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “On behalf of the entire crew of USS Ronald Reagan, I extend heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to the families and friends of the three shipmates we lost.”

Less than a week after the tragic crash, the Navy has not moved to suspend or pause flight operations for the aging Greyhound, the service’s carrier onboard delivery platform for personnel and logistics.

Flanders noted that the current batch of the aircraft, C-2A(R), which began flying for the Navy in the mid-1980s, has an almost unprecedented safety record. There has been only one previous fatality — a tragic 1988 mishap in which an individual walked into the aircraft’s prop arc.

“This mishap was the first of its kind in several decades,” Flanders said of the most recent crash.

The Greyhounds now flying for the Navy recently underwent a service-life extension program that was completed in 2015. The transports are set to be retired and replaced by Navy-variant CMV-22 Ospreys in the mid-2020s.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea snubs Trump on returning Korean War dead

North Korean officials did not show up to meet US officials to discuss returning the remains of US soldiers killed in the Korean War on July 12, 2018, and it’s essentially a slap in the face to President Donald Trump.

When Trump made history by meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June 2018 under the stated aim of denuclearizing the rogue state, Trump didn’t get many concrete promises out of Pyongyang.

But one thing Kim agreed to in writing was “recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”


“The repatriation of the Korean War remains is significant in that it partially closes a painful chapter in US-Korea relations,” Benjamin Young, a North Korea expert from George Washington University told Business Insider. “It’s significant from a historical perspective and is symbolic. “

But North Korea did not immediately repatriate any bodies. By blowing off the meeting, as South Korea’s Yonhap News reported, North Korea has shown it can be difficult even over symbolic gestures of kindness.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Thousands of 100-year-olds asked Trump to get the bodies back?

After the summit, Trump really pressed the idea that returning the bodies was a significant achievement by making some dubious claims.

Trump said “thousands” of parents of Korean War soldiers asked him to get the remains back, but the Korean War took place from 1950-1953, meaning those parents would have been born around the 1920s, and approaching 100 years old today; it seems likely this figure includes surviving relatives of the deceased who are still seeking closure.

Later in June 2018, he claimed 200 bodies had been returned, but provided no evidence. North Korean officials have said they have identified the remains of about 200 US soldiers, so it’s unclear why North Korea would still be meeting if it had returned the bodies.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un inspects Chunghung farm in Samjiyon County.

(KCNA)

North Korea sticking it to Trump

North Korea’s latest snub follows Kim Jong Un electing to go to a potato farm rather than meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean media bashing the US’s stance on denuclearization as “gangster-like.”

While Trump likely played up the demand by living US parents of Korean War veterans for their remains, returing the bodies would undoubtedly improve relations and build trust.

Kim has not agreed to take any steps towards denuclearization, and there’s ample signs that North Korea has continued to pursue nuclear weapons.

But Kim did agree to bring back the bodies. Sending the bodies back would demonstrate that North Korea can be trusted to some degree, and cost Pyongyang nothing in terms of military posture.

North Korea called for a US general to negotiate with them the return of the remains of US soldiers as soon as July 15, 2018, Yonhap reported.

If North Korea drags its feet on making good on an explicit promises to deliver a symbolic and kind gesture, it doesn’t bode well for the larger goal of denuclearization.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

US Navy Super Hornets ‘buzz the tower’ during filming for ‘Top Gun’

Two F/A-18 Super Hornets tore past an air traffic control tower at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada June 2109 during filming for the “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the classic 1980s fighter jet flick.

Kyle Fleming, who captured the spectacular flyby on video, told The Aviationist that it was necessary to recreate the iconic “buzz the tower” scene from the first “Top Gun” film.


Here’s the scene from the 1986 film starring Tom Cruise, who will reappear in the sequel.

Top Gun: ‘It’s Time to Buzz the Tower’

www.youtube.com

A public affairs spokesman for NAS Fallon confirmed to Business Insider that Paramount Pictures was out at the air base from June 10 through June 28, 2019, filming air operations using both in-jet and external cameras.

The spokesman explained that while he say what they were doing, he couldn’t detail how the footage would be used in the film. Paramount Pictures media relations division could not be reached for comment.

Production of the new film started in 2018.

The sequel scheduled for release summer 2020 will see Cruise again play the role of hotshot pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, now a Navy captain who is expected to be mentoring a new class of pilots, including the son of his deceased naval flight officer Lt. j.g. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Civil War vet’s grave is Underground Railroad site

Former slave and Civil War veteran Reddy Gray died on Sep. 4, 1922, when he was 79 years old. He was buried in Baltimore’s Loudon Park National Cemetery — the first VA burial site included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Gray’s experience is representative of African Americans who risked travel through the Underground Railroad to find freedom, but his story is significant for the wealth of information gleaned from public records. His life is a reminder of the fight for civil rights that began in the 1860s to continues today.


Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Deed of Manumission and Release of Service,” 1865.

Gray went by Reddy, short for Redmond, Redman or Reverdy. Born at Loch Raven, Maryland, to John and Lydia Talbott Gray, he was enslaved by the Thomas Cradock Risteau family in Baltimore County from birth to until the middle of the Civil War. Likely a field worker or carriage driver, he resisted servitude by escaping in March 1863. It is not clear what happened, but Gray’s “Deed of Manumission and Release of Service” retroactively corresponds with his enlistment. President Abraham Lincoln had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and the U.S. Army was recruiting black soldiers.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

U.S. Army, Gray Muster-Out record, 1865.

Gray enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops at Baltimore City on March 23, 1864. His Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Infantry, fought in Virginia at the Sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, and in the expeditions and capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington in North Carolina. Reddy mustered out in Wilmington on Dec. 4, 1865, and that record remarks, “slave when enlisted.”

His life after the Civil War shows personal accomplishment and community involvement. He learned to read and write. He returned to Baltimore and had four children, including son Redmond, with second wife Susan Gray, who worked as a laundress. In the army he suffered from rheumatism, for which he received a disability pension in 1890; however, he worked as a manual laborer doing light work like trimming lawns or gathering rags and as a carriage driver.


Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Reddy Gray Burial Site Certificate of Acceptance, NPS 2018.

As “Redmond” Gray, he appears in the Baltimore Sun, Sep. 15, 1894, as judge for a running race at the “Colored People’s Fair” in Timonium, Maryland; and a few years later as a member of the Colored-Odd Fellows. Reddy (also Reverdy) Gray is honored with his name on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Other black soldiers who found their freedom through the Underground Railroad are buried at Loudon Park National Cemetery along with Gray, but their stories are not so easily documented.

The Network to Freedom program is managed by the National Park Service, per the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998. Loudon Park National Cemetery was one of the 14 original national cemeteries established under the National Cemetery Act of July 17, 1862; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

The Resilient Life: Why we should all use humor to just keep going

About this time last year, I wrote a review of Ryan Manion’s podcast, The Resilient Life. Now, after so many hectic months of extended quarantine, I’m revisiting The Resilient Life as it discusses using humor as a tool to aid in these trying times – a subject of great use to myself and anyone else who finds it hard to get up and be productive when so many temptations keep us from being our best and most productive selves.

The Resilient Life’s 31st episode invites actresses Elizabeth Alderfer and Kelli Goss to talk with Ryan about working on a comedy centered around military life. The now-airing sitcom, The United States of Al, follows an Afghan translator (the titular Al) as he moves to Ohio with his friend – a recently divorced Marine dealing with PTSD – and his sister, who lost her fiancé. As I read the premise of the show, I had the same thoughts as Ryan as disclosed on the latest episode of her podcast: this doesn’t exactly spell comedy. However, as Ryan, Elizabeth and Kelli point out in their latest episode: this seemingly dark premise is what makes the show so exceptional. It uses humor as a device to tackle real-world issues – especially those that primarily affect military families and remain unexposed to the American public. The United States of Al’s raw, yet lighthearted, take on dealing with rough times praises the unsung heroes of the American military while simultaneously using humor to inspire strength to build resilience – the exact mission of Ryan’s podcast, book and work as the head of the Travis Manion foundation.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

Ryan discusses this strength found through humor on her latest episode with an anecdote about her brother’s funeral. Ryan’s brother, Travis Manion, was killed in combat in Iraq in 2007. At his funeral, and to Ryan’s dismay, guests were laughing at a joke. “How could anyone be laughing at a time like this?” she thought. Coming to her aid, though, was her uncle. “You’re gonna laugh again,” he reassured her. The ability to find humor in dark moments is hard to come by and feels unnatural, but essential to building resilience. This is what makes United States of Al a perfect topic for The Resilient Life; it is necessary for everyone who deals with the struggles presented by military life to laugh in the face of fear, danger and uncertainty. Even in times of tragedy, it is essential to keep going; to find humor and joy in the most trying situations. How else can we live such a life? This is the resilience that Ryan teaches, and it is perfectly portrayed through The United States of Al’s unfailing ability to interweave moments of tragedy and uncertainty with those of levity. We will all, indeed, laugh again.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
The cast of United States of Al. Courtesy of CBS.

Kelli and Elizabeth discuss this further as they delve into the research required to perform their roles. An element of military life that was surprising to both of them was the uncertainty and loneliness so common in military families – deployments, being stationed in unfamiliar places, and through any other obstacle the lifestyle throws at you. In The United States of Al, a military wife has to give birth without her husband present. She always has to be prepared for the possibility that he may not return home safely. The show’s humor combined with discussion of this dark topic not only teaches resilience but also brings to light the unspoken struggles of military spouses and families. In this way, The United States of Al accurately portrays these struggles while simultaneously praising military families for their resilience through tough times and the ability to keep families connected despite challenging circumstances. Additionally, it reiterates the idea that military families share the struggles that soldiers take on. This is not only a valiant task, but also one that requires the strength and resilience to just keep going. 

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
The cast of United States of Al. Courtesy CBS.

As told by Elizabeth and Kelli, it is sometimes difficult for actresses in comedy to feel like they’re making a positive impact. The United States of Al, though, is a different story. Because it accurately portrays real issues – those of Afghan translators, military families and soldiers – through comedy, which is highly consumable to the American public, it raises awareness to these struggles and encourages viewers to consider a new perspective. Additionally, it teaches us to laugh during the low points of life – to just keep going. According to Ryan, this is what the resilient life is all about: “Not every day is gonna be good and some days are gonna be crappy, but you just gotta keep going. That’s what builds resilience,” she shared. After watching deep and complicated issues dealt with through comedy in The United States of Al and listening to the inspiring words of Ryan, Elizabeth and Kelli through the latest episode of The Resilient Life, I am not only more empathetic toward the unsung heroes of the military but also able to laugh at that which scares me. The sitcom and the podcast both play roles in normalizing and destigmatizing military life in America. And that’s what Ryan’s mission is all about.

Listen to the latest episode of The Resilient Life here.

Watch The United States of Al here.

Featured photo: United States of Al, courtesy of CBS.

https://www.cbs.com/shows/united-states-of-al/
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Warrior Games create an amazing community for recovery

We Are The Mighty had the great privilege of attending the 2016 DoD Warrior Games to support wounded warriors as they competed with their fellow servicemembers.


The DoD Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Each year, a different branch of the U.S. Armed Forces hosts the Warrior Games — and this year the Army invited the athletes to compete at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The Warrior Games has athletes representing the Army; Navy; Air Force; Marine Corps; SOCOM and the United Kingdom, competing across several events: sitting volleyball; track and field; archery; wheelchair basketball; shooting and swimming.

Comedian and veteran advocate Jon Stewart emcee’d the Opening Ceremony.

“You are not alone, none of us here are alone,” said Rocky Marciano of Team SOCOM. “This has been a ten-day therapy session for me and I love it.”

Adaptive sports programs have proven to be an excellent form of rehabilitation for service members, providing these wounded warriors with an incredibly supportive community that focuses on performing at a high level despite injuries and illnesses.

The United Kingdom’s participation has been particularly impactful since they’ve been invited to the Warrior Games for the past four years. Brian Seggie of Team UK remarked, “If we’re on the same side, we should not only fight on the same side, we should recover together as well.”

This remarkable community is made possible by the efforts of each branch’s Wounded Warrior program, dedicated sponsors like Deloitte who bring in dozens of volunteers, enthusiastic family and friends and the incredible attitudes of each and every servicemember with the determination to keep moving forward.

The 2017 DoD Warrior Games will be hosted by the Navy in Chicago.

MIGHTY TRENDING

It’s official: President orders Pentagon to create space command

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the establishment of a space command that will oversee the country’s military operations in space.

Trump signed the one-page memorandum on Dec. 18, 2018, directing the Department of Defense to create the new command to oversee and organize space operations, accelerate technical advances, and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space, including satellites.


The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable, or even destroy satellites on which U.S. forces rely for navigation, communications, and surveillance.

The new command is separate from Trump’s goal to create an independent space force, but could be a step in that direction.

Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vice President Mike Pence said: “A new era of American national security in space begins today.”

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Space Command will integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military, Pence said, adding that it will “develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will enable our war fighters to defend our nation in this new era.”

It will be the Pentagon’s 11th combatant command, along with well-known commands such as Central Command and Europe Command.

Space Command will pull about 600 staff from existing military space offices, and then add at least another 1,000 over the coming years, the Associated Press quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying.

Its funding will be included in the budget for fiscal year 2020.

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

Lists

7 gin cocktails to revive your ‘Dunkirk Spirit’

“Dunkirk Spirit” is a phrase spoken in the United Kingdom when discussing that certain ability to press through harrowing circumstances with a gritty determination and a matching grin, inspired by the Allies who came together in Dunkirk during World War II.


More importantly, it’s also the name of a particular brand of gin.

We like any excuse to drink, but this brand also gives back to veterans.

Since it’s gin, we decided to get a little fancy — and you should, too. Try one of these cocktails and let us know what you think:

1. The Dunkirk 75

This comes straight from Dunkirk Spirit themselves, and is a winning version of a French 75, if you ask me.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Dunkirk Spirits puts their delicious twist on the French 75.

2. Dunkirk GT

Dunkirk Spirit’s® own Dunkirk GT is a classic gin and tonic, which, according to Winston Churchill, “saved more Englishman’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the empire.”

I don’t know about all that, but I do know you need to have one if you’ve never tried it.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
The gin is the star of the show here, but make sure your tonic water is fine.

3. The Barrel Roll

Dunkirk Spirit® fashioned this tipple while imagining the WWII spitfire airplane barrel rolling. We approve of the barrel rolling.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

4. Dunkirk Martini

Another Dunkirk Spirit® concoction, the Dunkirk Martini is not for communists. If you’re looking for the Churchill, leave the Vermouth and take the gin.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

5. The Gunny St. Angel

The cooling Gunny St. Angel was sent to us by Rose St. Angel out of Atlanta, GA. An otherwise simple recipe, the muddled cucumber will be the most work.

Peeled and quartered, drop your cucumber and mint into your glass and smash it up. Carry on.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
For those with an aversion to mint, try basil!

6. The D.I. Collins

If you MUST order this from a bar as opposed to making your own at home, feel free to call it the D.I. Collins, and then just smirk when the bartender asks what that is.

*Kidding. Don’t smirk at bartenders. Rude.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
What you’d get if old Tom Collins joined the military.

7. NCO’s Canteen Cup

The classic Pimm’s Cup is made better with the NCO’s Canteen Cup. How? It’s got extra gin.

Pimm’s is a gin-based liquor, so a Pimm’s cup generally doesn’t have gin added to it. But go big or go home. Or just reduce the amount of Pimm’s to one ounce.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin based liquor, and a Pimm’s cup doesn’t come with the extra gin. The NCO’s Canteen Cup is the perfect answer.

Articles

Here’s how US fifth-generation aircraft would fare in a war against China

A recent report from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, written by Maj. Gen. Jeff Harrigian and Col. Max Marosko of the US Air Force, gives expert analysis and never before seen detail into how the US’s fifth-generation aircraft would fare in a war with China.


The report starts with a broad overview of fifth-generation capabilities and their roles in the future of air combat, and it concludes with a hypothetical war in 2026 against an unnamed nemesis after “rising tensions in a key region abroad.”

However, the locations mentioned in the scenario are all in the Western Pacific and clearly seem to indicate the rival is China, whose advanced radar and missile capabilities make for very interesting challenges to the US Air Force’s force structure.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
F-35s and F-22s fly in formation. | US Air Force

As the scenario takes place ten years in the future, it is assumed that all the kinks with integrating fifth generation fighters into the force have been ironed out, and that the F-35 and F-22 work seamlessly to aid legacy aircraft via datalink.

In the opening stanza of such a conflict, the Air Force officials say that the US would send its F-35s and F-22s to a wide range of bases across the Pacific, leveraging the US’s vast network of bases and allies with some of the valuable warplanes.

Such a step denies China’s ability to land a “knockout blow” as they normally could, because typically US jets stay stationed at larger bases, presenting a more attractive target. Also, by this time, the US’s fifth-generation aircraft can find airfields on their own, without the help of air traffic controllers, allowing the force to be further spread out to present less target-rich areas.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
The US would avoid large masses of airpower in the event of a conflict with China. | US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth

Additionally, regional allies like Australia, who also fly the F-35, can quickly fill in for US airmen in a pinch. A US F-35 can land on an Australian airfield and receive much the same maintenance as it would at its home base, the officials claim.

With the Pacific now a patchwork of small units of F-35s and F-22s, the Chinese would seek to leverage their impressive electronic warfare capabilities, but the officials contend that the fifth-gens would weather the storm.

“Heavy radar and communications jamming confront US and coalition forces, but fifth generation aircraft leverage their networked multi-spectral sensors to detect and target enemy aircraft, while supporting a common operating picture through data links and communication architectures,” the Air Force officials write.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
China’s military installations in the South China Sea create a huge area that could possibly be turned into an air identification and defense zone. | CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Meanwhile, legacy platforms like F-16s, F-18s, and F-15s provide a critical layer of defense closer to the US mainland. China’s formidable surface-to-air missile capabilities keep these older, more visible fighters off the front lines until the stealthier platforms, like the F-35, F-22, B-2, and the upcoming B-21 do their job.

The officials recognize the need for the fifth-gen fighters to strike quickly and get out of the heavily contested air spaces. Destruction of many of the US and allied airfields is expected, however the versatile fifth-gens continue to switch up locations as China depletes their supply of ballistic and cruise missiles on low-yield targets.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Some of China’s road-mobile missile batteries. | AUS Airpower

Some of China’s road-mobile missile batteries. AUS Airpower

Many of China’s SAM batteries are road mobile, so fifth-gen fighters will have to use their geo-location and electronic warfare capabilities to seek and destroy these sites.

The onboard sensors in the fifth-gens will provide vital leeway for the fighters to make decisions on the go.

From the report:

“Aircraft take off with minimal information—little more than a general target area that may be more than 1,000 miles away. On the way to target, the fifth generation aircraft receive minimal tanker, threat, and target information, but sufficient updates to enable them to ingress, identify, and prosecute targets successfully before returning to operating airfields.”

Loses of US and allied airfields and troops would naturally follow in such a conflict, however the forces are integrated and use the same platforms, so they can quickly fill in for each other in the event of loses.

All the while, F-35s and F-22s whittle away at China’s air defenses, gradually lowering the threat level from high to moderate. Eventually, the bulk of the US Air Force’s fleet —legacy fighters— can operate in the area with acceptable rates of survivability.

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan
Once the fifth-gens pave the way for legacy fighters, it’s curtains. | US Air Force photo by Jim Hazeltine

And that’s it. Once F-16s are flying over Beijing, the conflict is essentially settled. In the moderately contested airspace, fifth generation jets can essentially data-link with legacy fighters and use them as “armada planes,” leveraging their increased capability to carry ordinance to eliminate whatever remains of China’s air defenses.

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