Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told President Donald Trump on Jan. 2, 2019, that the military is planning border security enhancements, suggesting that the deployment of active- duty troops to backstop Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could be extended past the Jan. 31, 2019 deadline.

“We’re doing additional planning to strengthen the support that we’re providing to Kirstjen and her team,” Shanahan said in a reference to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.


“We’ve been very, very closely coupled with Kirstjen,” he said in brief remarks at a White House Cabinet meeting presided over by the president. “The collaboration has been seamless.”

Shanahan, seated next to Trump during the meeting, said the border troops are conducting daily operational training and focusing on the “restoration of fences,” as well as “building out additional mileage for the wall.”

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

In his only public remarks on his first full day as acting secretary, Shanahan said, “The Army Corps of Engineers is dialed in on doing this cost-effectively and with the right amount of urgency as to where we can build additional stand-up walls quickly and then get after the threat.

“The threat is real. The risks are real. We need to control our borders,” Shanahan said in remarks that echoed those of Trump on the need for border security enhancements, including major extensions of existing border walls.

Days before the November 2018 midterm elections, the military — on Trump’s orders — began deploying active-duty troops to southern border states to support CBP against a population of migrants streaming north, many of whom said they were seeking political asylum from violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

A total of 5,900 active-duty troops eventually were deployed to the border, according to U.S. Northern Command. The active-duty personnel were in addition to about 2,100 National Guard troops who had been on the border since April 2018.

The active-duty service members had an initial withdrawal date of Dec. 15, 2018. In early December, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the number of active-duty troops on the border would be reduced, but those remaining would have their deployments extended to at least Jan. 31, 2019.

In an informal session with Pentagon reporters in December 2018, Mattis estimated the cost of the active-duty deployment was about million through mid-December.

On Dec. 21, 2018, Northern Command said that about 2,600 active-duty troops remained on the border, including 1,200 in California, 700 in Arizona and 700 in Texas. Late December 2018, Pentagon officials speaking on background said it was unclear whether those troops would be extended past the Jan. 31, 2019 deadline.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Soldiers from various Engineering Units install concertina wire Nov. 5, 2018, in Texas.

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

The troops’ presence could also be affected by any proposed resolution to end the partial government shutdown, now in its 13th day.

Homeland Security is one of several departments whose appropriations were not passed in the last Congress, resulting in border patrol agents working without pay. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs both have their budgets fully funded and are not affected by the shutdown.

At Jan. 2, 2019’s Cabinet meeting, Trump praised the active-duty troops’ contribution to border security, and he was adamant that the government shutdown would continue until House and Senate Democrats agree to more funding for the wall.

“The military’s been fantastic. We’ve been working with Pat Shanahan. So much has been done. The Army Corps of Engineers has been fantastic,” Trump said. But he added that border security can’t be assured without the wall.

In areas where the wall has been erected, “nobody’s coming through,” Trump said.

“We want to finish it; we want to complete it. You can’t have a partial wall,” he said, because “people come through” the areas where the wall is absent.

In the areas where the wall is present, “you can’t get through unless you’re a world-class pole vaulter on the Olympic team,” Trump said.

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

Articles

US sending 600 more troops to Iraq to bolster drive on Mosul

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment
Soldiers board their plane for deployment at Libby Army Airfield. | US Army photo by Gabrielle Kuholski


The U.S. was preparing to send 600 more troops to Iraq for the long-awaited offensive to drive the Islamic State from the stronghold of northwestern Mosul, where ISIS fighters were expected to use mustard gas to blunt the attack, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The official announcement was expected to come later in the day the additional troops, who were expected to operate as trainers and enablers mostly out of the logistics hub for the offensive at the Qayyarah West airfield about 40 miles southeast of Mosul.

Earlier this week, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said that ISIS was “dead set” on using chemical weapons to defend Mosul. Last week, a shell fired by ISIS near U.S. troops in Qayyarah was initially thought to contain blistering mustard gas but later tests showed that it was not a chemical weapon.

Army Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, also said that ISIS was attempting to turn Mosul into a “living hell” for the attacking force by setting out extensive fields of improvised explosive devices and even filling trenches with oil.

The troops would be in addition to the 4,647 currently authorized for Iraq by President Obama and were requested by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

In a statement, Abadi said “American President Barack Obama was consulted on a request from the Iraqi government for a final increase in the number of trainers and advisers under the umbrella of the international coalition in Iraq,” Reuters reported.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A former Apple engineer stole Silicon Valley tech for China

A federal court has charged a former Apple engineer with stealing trade secrets related to a self-driving car and attempting to flee to China.

Agents in San Jose, California, arrested Xiaolang Zhang on July 14, 2018, moments before he was to board his flight.

Zhang is said to have taken paternity leave in April 2018, traveling to China just after the birth of a child.


MIGHTY HISTORY

3 historic wars that are still technically alive today

International diplomacy is a sort of constantly evolving, tangled mess. So much so that, in some cases, we could technically still be at war with a country that we’re now allied with. For instance, America never ratified the treaty that ended World War I, but invading Germany to finally settle the century-old grudge match would get fairly complicated since it’s now a NATO member. Here are three wars that we never bothered to wrap up on paper (but please don’t try to go fight in them):


Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

U.S. Army infantrymen fight during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I.

(U.S. Army)

America never agreed to the final terms of World War I

Yup, we’ll just go ahead and knock out this one that we hinted at in the intro. America signed, but never ratified, the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.

Oddly enough, though, this wasn’t because of issues with the lay of the land in Europe as the war closed, or even land claims or military restrictions around the world. The actual issue was that American President Woodrow Wilson wanted to establish the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, and he used the treaty to do it.

But isolationists in Congress didn’t want America to join the league, and so they shot down all attempts to ratify the treaty at home. And America only officially adopts treaties when ratified, not signed, so America never actually agreed to the final terms of World War I.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Gurkha troops march to escort Japanese prisoners of war at the end of World War II in 1945.

(Imperial War Museums)

Japan and China never made peace after World War II

There are a number of still-simmering tensions between combatants from World War II, including the Kuril Islands Dispute between Russia and Japan.

(This author even once made the error of saying that Russia and Japan were still at war, which is only sort of right. While the two countries never agreed to a treaty ending the conflict, they did agree to a Joint Declaration in 1956 that had a similar effect. Essentially, it said they couldn’t yet agree to a treaty, but they were no longer fighting the war.)

But there was an Allied country that never reached peace with Japan: China. And China arguably suffered the worst under Japanese aggression. But, because of the civil war in China at the time, there were two rival governments claiming to represent China, and no one could agree on which government to invite. So China didn’t take part in the peace process at all.

So China and Japan never technically ended their hostilities, and Japan’s almost-peace with Russia is not quite finished either.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula in 2015.

(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The Koreas are, famously, still at war.

The ongoing state of conflict on the Korean Peninsula is probably the most famous issue on this list. The Korean War sort of ended on July 27, 1953, when the United Nations and the Delegation of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers signed the Korean Armistice Agreement which instituted a truce between North and South Korea.

But, importantly, no national government agreed to the armistice or the truce. The militaries involved essentially agreed to stop killing each other, but the larger governments never came together to hash out the real peace. And this is a problem since the two countries have a much more tense relationship than any other group on this list.

America and Germany are not suddenly going to revert back to 1918 and start killing each other again. But South and North Koreans at the border still sometimes shoot at one another, and people have died in border clashes.

Articles

VA awards $300 million in grants to help end veteran homelessness

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment
Creative commons


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today awarded approximately $300 million more in grants under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to help thousands of very low-income Veteran families around the nation who are permanently housed or transitioning to permanent housing. The SSVF grant program provides access to crucial services to prevent homelessness for Veterans and their families.

SSVF funding, which supports outreach, case management and other flexible assistance to prevent Veteran homelessness or rapidly re-house Veterans who become homeless, has been awarded to 275 non-profit organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  These grants, key elements of VA’s implementation of the Housing First Strategy, enable vulnerable Veterans to secure or remain in permanent housing.  A list of SSVF grantees is located at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

“Since 2010, the Housing First Strategy has helped cut Veteran Homelessness nearly in half,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “Housing First is why 360,000 Veterans and family members have been housed, rehoused or prevented from falling into homelessness over the last five years. SSVF helps homeless Veterans quickly find stable housing and access the supportive services they – and their families – need.”

Grantees will continue to provide eligible Veteran families with outreach, case management, and assistance obtaining VA and other benefits, which may include health care, income support services, financial planning, child care, legal services, transportation, housing counseling, among other services.

Grantees are expected to leverage supportive services grant funds to enhance the housing stability of very low-income Veteran families who are occupying permanent housing.  In doing so, grantees are required to establish relationships with local community resources.

In fiscal year (FY) 2015, SSVF served more than 157,000 participants and is on track to exceed that number in FY 2016.  As a result of these and other efforts, Veteran homelessness is down 47 percent since the launch of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in 2010.  Also since 2010, more than 360,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly re-housed, or prevented from falling into homelessness by VA’s homelessness programs and targeted housing vouchers provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Today’s grant recipients successfully competed for grants under a January 15, 2016, Notice of Fund Availability.  Applications were due February 5, 2016.  The funding will support SSVF services in FY 2017, which starts October 1, 2016, and ends September 30, 2017.

For more information about the SSVF program, visit www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How a troop trying to kill himself accidentally saved the President

On Apr. 4, 1951, a Navy inductee burst into the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, blood gushing from his nose, doubled over in pain. There was no trauma, but the soon-to-be sailor could barely walk and was covered in blood. The doctors began to suspect poison was the culprit – and they were right.


The name of the would-be recruit was not recorded in the literature, but he was slated to join the Army during the Korean War. But he soon regretted his decision and tried to shirk his duties by shuffling off his mortal coil. His preferred method of self-inhumation was poison: rat poison.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Proving that US troops can and will eat anything.

The man had been so desperate not to deploy that he would rather have offed himself with rat poison. Eventually, while taking the load of rat poison he thought it would require to kill an adult male, his senses returned to him, and he decided that would not be the best course of action. It took him more than four days to realize that rat poison wasn’t going to kill him, but it was going to be a very painful experience. That’s when he went to the hospital.

How did he manage to survive a dose of poison that should have easily killed its intended target? The toxic substance he used was Warfarin, an agent derived from a notorious poison affecting livestock. Warfarin decreases the body’s ability to clot blood, and the colorless, odorless substance is used to kill rats and vampire bats by forcing internal bleeding.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

I’m suddenly okay with that.

Warfarin is in the powerful family of anticoagulants found accidentally by farmers who wondered why their livestock suddenly bled to death after eating slightly spoiled sweet clover. It turns out mold can reprogram a certain chemical in the clover. While the anticoagulant kills animals, it keeps humans from clotting in seriously life-threatening situations, like surgery and World War II – which is exactly how the substances in the clover were first used.

Researchers at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation derived more versions of the anticoagulants based on the chemical in sweet clover. One of them proved mighty useful in killing rats. That compound was dubbed “warfarin.” While America began to use it in pest control substances, researchers kept testing its blood-related properties. So when the sailor stumbled into the hospital with a belly full of Warfarin, the team was able to reverse the effect by dosing him with Vitamin K.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Attempted suicide is some hardcore skating.

And now that there was a tested, effective antidote, the team could go to work researching the effects on Warfarin on humans. On top of preventing fatal blood clots throughout the human body, they found the drug could restore blood flow in stroke victims. The FDA soon approved its use for treating blood clots. But the true test came after President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack.

He was in Denver in 1955 visiting friends and family when he suffered the attack. Doctors were concerned that errant blood clots throughout his body could soon cause a stroke, killing or incapacitating the 34th President. They gave him the newly-approved Warfarin, saving the President’s life and allowing him to serve two terms in the White House.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

“President Nixon” would just have to wait.

Because one depressed would-be sailor attempted suicide using rat poison and doctors were able to give him an antidote, thousands of tests were able to be conducted on the efficacy of the dangerous drug. Warfarin has since saved countless cardiovascular patients in the United States and abroad, including the man that led the United States into its mid-20th Century Golden Age.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The experimental rifle that almost changed World War II

In 1928, the Army asked itself how it could make its rifles, and therefore its riflemen, more lethal in case all those building tensions in Europe and Asia eventually boiled over and triggered a new world war. After years of study and design, they came up with a rifle design that some leaders thought would be capable of tipping battles, but it never saw combat.


Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Pedersen rifle patent

It started in 1928 when the Army created a “Caliber Board” to determine what the most lethal size would be for a rifle round. Their eventual conclusion would be familiar to anyone who carried an M16 or M4. While .30-caliber and larger rounds were great for hunting animals, they passed too quickly and easily through humans. The board decided that a smaller round, preferably .276 inches or smaller, would be best.

This decision was no surprise to John Douglas Pedersen, a well-known weapon designer with an experimental rifle chambered for .276-caliber that featured a delayed-blowback mechanism and a 10-round clip.

This allowed the weapon to fire reliably, and it allowed infantrymen and cavalrymen to maintain a high rate of fire. A demonstration of the weapon pleased senior Army leaders, and they asked when they could take prototypes to the field for testing.

But the Pedersen did have some drawbacks. The weapon was very precisely machined, and even small errors could throw off its operation. Also, its rounds had to receive a thin coating of wax to guarantee that they’d properly feed through the weapon. Finally, its clips could only be fed in one direction into the rifle, meaning riflemen reloading under fire would have to be careful to get it right.

So, other weapon designers thought they had a chance to win the Army’s business. Other .276-caliber designs entered competition, including the Garand.

The Garand could take a beating, was easier to manufacture, and didn’t need lubricated rounds. The Pedersen was still the frontrunner in many eyes, but the Garand posed a real threat to it.

Shooting a .276 Pedersen PB Rifle

www.youtube.com

Shooting a .276 Pedersen PB Rifle

An even greater blow to the Pedersen was coming. As the move to a .276-caliber continued, the Army Ordnance Department was putting up fierce resistance. The department didn’t want to have to set up the whole new supply chain, get the new tools, or prepare the new stockpiles of ammunition required to support the switch.

The Ordnance Department argued, successfully, to Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur that the change would be expensive and present logistics challenges. MacArthur ordered that any new rifle had to use the .30-caliber ammunition already in use by the Army.

Most of the competitors, including Pedersen, didn’t think they could re-configure their weapons quickly to accept the larger ammunition, but the Garand team could. They quickly swapped in new parts, and entered a .30-caliber Garand and it won the competition, going on to become the M1 Garand of World War II legend.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

A U.S. Marine with his trusty M1 Garand in World War II.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

But it’s easy to imagine an alternate history where the Pedersen or the .276-Garand went into production instead. The .30-caliber ammunition and older weapons would’ve still seen action, sent forward with Free French, British, and Russian forces under the Cash-and-Carry system and then Lend-Lease.

Meanwhile, American troops would’ve carried a slightly lighter rifle and much lighter rounds, giving them the ability to more quickly draw their weapons and the ability to sustain a higher rate of fire with the same strain on individual soldiers and the logistics chain.

And, best of all, more lethality per hit. The .30-caliber rounds, the same size as 7.62mm, are more likely to pass through a target at the ranges in which most battles are fought. But .276-caliber rounds are more likely to tumble a time or two after hitting a target, dispersing their energy in the target’s flesh and causing massive internal bleeding.

So, if the 1928 Ordnance Board and the modern minds behind 5.56mm and the potential 6.8mm weapons were right, each successful rifle hit by American soldiers was more likely to cause death or extreme wounding.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army veterinarians help wounded dog after suicide blast

Military Working Dogs, or MWDs, play a huge role in the defense of the United States — and when one of them is injured, the Veterinary Medical Center Europe plays a huge role in getting them back in the fight.

Recently, while on patrol with his handler in Afghanistan, MWD Alex, assigned to the 8th MWD Detachment, 91st Military Police Battalion, Fort Drum, New York, was injured in an attack by a suicide bomber. Following care in Bagram, Afghanistan, Alex was medically evacuated to VMCE for further treatment.


Like many of their human counterparts, when an MWD is injured while deployed, they are often medically evacuated to Germany. Service members are transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for care, and MWDs are transported to VMCE for comprehensive veterinary care.

According to Maj. Renee Krebs, VMCE deputy director and veterinary surgeon, when Alex arrived in Germany, he had a fractured left tibia, shrapnel wounds, and multiple other fractures below and above his shin bone.

On the day he arrived, Krebs performed surgery to stabilize Alex’s leg, “which worked pretty well,” she said. “But his other wound, particularly the one over his ankle, started to get worse and worse every day despite appropriate medical therapy and pain management.”

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Maj Renee Krebs, Veterinary Medical Center Europe Deputy Director and Veterinary Surgeon, greets Alex, Military Working Dog from the 91st Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, prior to surgery.

(U.S. Army photo by Ashley Patoka )

Alex’s wound over his ankle was getting so bad that it would likely require up to six months of reconstructive and orthopedic surgery. And because of bone and tissue loss, he was also at a very high risk for infection.

In addition to this, Krebs said that Alex was “not using the limb as well as he had been the first week or so after surgery — it was getting more painful. And he began to develop some behavioral problems, centered on some of the things we had to do when we were treating him.”

Krebs said some of the behavioral problems included aggression and snapping when the team would move him to the table to do treatments.

“I spoke to a behaviorist about it and she thought he was having some post-traumatic stress disorder-type acute episodes,” Krebs said. “So we changed the way we were managing him, but he was still getting worse, so in the interest of allowing him to move on with his life and improve his quality of life, we went with amputation.”

Krebs said that had they not performed the amputation, it was likely that Alex would have still ended up losing his leg if they had gone with the option of three to six months’ of wound management.

“The risk was very high. It was a very guarded prognosis to begin with that he would ever have normal return of function to the leg, and I knew if I amputated his leg he would be functional as a pet or regular dog probably within a week — so it seemed like the best option for him.”

Alex was described as relatively calm by Krebs, and during his time at the VMCE, the staff learned more about him, enabling them to cater to his needs and ensure he was comfortable.

“MWDs run the gamut from very high strung, very nervous and needing to be restrained because they have so much energy and are so anxious, to being very mellow,” Krebs said. “Alex was sort of a strange combination — he was relatively calm, but there were things that you knew if you did them he was going to get angry, like touching his tail.”

At Alex’s home unit, Sgt. First Class David Harrison, kennel master for the 8th MWD detachment at Fort Drum, said Alex always felt like an old soul to him.

“[Alex has] the experience of a career soldier, and always carried himself in a way which always made trainers and handlers just believe he was focused on the mission at hand,” Harrison said. “He carries the ability to simply be a fun-loving dog who values his rapport with his handler as much as he enjoys executing his duties.”

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Military Working Dog Alex is recovering well following leg amputation surgery, after suffering extensive wounds in a suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army photo by Ashley Patoka )

Even while recovering from his injury and going through surgery, Alex was teaching those around him some important lessons.

“It’s tragic what happened,” said Spc. Landon DeFonde, MWD handler with the 8th MWD detachment at Fort Drum, who has been with Alex for his recovery in Germany. “But it just goes to show how selfless and resilient these animals are. For him to go through that blast and still be as strong as he is and kind and gentle towards people, it really amazes me that what they are capable of living through and surviving through. It definitely teaches me resiliency.”

But these lessons don’t just come when an injury happens, as the relationship between MWD and handler is one that both benefit from over the course of their pairing.

“The relationship between handlers and their partners is a relationship I’ve always found difficult to put into words,” Harrison said. “It’s a familial bond, but it almost goes deeper in some ways. The co-dependent nature of the business puts handlers in a position where they have to give more trust to their canine than most put in fellow humans. It’s not always a comfortable or easy process, but once they reach the point where they independently trust each other while working in tandem, the connection the team develops is unparalleled.”

DeFonde, who has been a MWD handler for three years, shares similar sentiments.

“It is truly incredible how selfless one can be and I think it shows the true side and caring side of humans — how much compassion and care we can show another living being — it is really special,” said DeFonde. “It is really amazing how we interact and how we can combine to create such a strong and powerful team.”

Alex will head back to the states at the end of August 2018 where he will continue his recovery. Due to his injury, his home station kennel will submit a medical disposition packet to allow Alex to retire and be adopted.

“I’ve built a bond with Alex—- not as deep as his handler’s,” DeFonde said. “But it is always hard to say goodbye. Dogs do come and go — that is part of the job, but I am just really happy I was able to come over here and help him recover and then get him back to the states and get him to see his handler.

“I’ve always heard the saying, humans don’t deserve dogs because of how kind they are, and I 100 percent agree. You could not ask for a more selfless companion.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US special operations forces may be stretched to the limit

The US military’s growing reliance on special-operations units from its service branches may be straining those forces to a breaking point.


The US currently has around 200,000 troops deployed abroad. Roughly 8,600 of them — about 4% — are special-forces operators. They are deployed on missions ranging from training and advising to assaults and raids against enemy positions.

As of the beginning of 2017, US operators were deployed to 70% of the worlds countries, according to US Special Operations Command, or SOCOM.

The large number of deployments have officials in the Pentagon and Congress worried that members of the special-forces community may lose their edge on the battlefield.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment
A U.S Naval Special Warfare Operator observes a Ukrainian SOF Operator during a weapons range in Ochakiv, Ukraine during exercise Sea Breeze 17, July 18, 2017.

Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees voiced their concerns at the Special Operations Policy Forum November 15th in Washington, DC.

“I do worry about overuse of SOF,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, referring to special-operations forces. “They are increasingly an organization of choice because SOF is very effective.”

“How many missions can you send them on? How many times can they do this? I think that’s what we don’t know,” added Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The operational tempo is so incredible,” said Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The idea that you would have within six years, multiple deployments, some people every six months to deploy, that in and of itself causes lots of consequences,” he added. “And we haven’t seen a break in those deployments.”

Also Read: US special forces struggle to keep up this pace

Lawmakers have proposed a number of solutions. Among them are providing operators with more resources to deal with potential physical and mental-health issues; giving the train, advise, assist roles to more conventional units; and trying to delegate some of the diplomatic aspects of special-operations missions to diplomatic professionals, like those in the State Department.

The most obvious fix — increasing the amount of operators in the military — faces two problems. First, the US military is having difficulty bringing in new recruits, and second, simply adding more soldiers into the ranks of elite units may require lowering standards, which that could decrease their lethality.

“We cannot sacrifice quality for quantity,” said Reed. Nonetheless, lawmakers from both parties agree that increasing operator numbers is a good first step.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment
Photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Cantrell

Some branches of the military are looking for ways to bring in more personnel as well. Last month, the Army announced it would be increasing bonuses for soldiers, and the force is likely to maintain some flexibility in its recruiting standards. (A report earlier this month cited an Army memo saying the force would offer waivers for some mental-health conditions; the Army disputed the report, saying the change was only administrative, and rescinded the memo.)

SOCOM is also reportedly investigating the possibility of using nutritional supplements, and perhaps even performance-enhancing drugs, to push the abilities and endurance of its forces beyond current human limits.

SOCOM leaders have emphasized that their units are still capable of conducting current operations and handling threats around the world. However, the fear of wear and tear is increasing, and most officials seem to agree that it is never to early to address the issue.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia thanks Trump for the CIA tip that foiled a terror attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned President Trump Dec. 16 to thank him for a CIA tip that helped thwart bombings in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin and the White House said — letting Trump show the benefit of better relations despite the ongoing Russia collusion probe, one expert said.


Putin expressed gratitude for the CIA information. The Kremlin said it led Russia’s top domestic security agency to a group of suspects that planned to bomb St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and other sites.

“The information received from the CIA proved sufficient to find and detain the criminal suspects,” the Kremlin said.

Also Read: Goodbye Ivan! US expels 35 Russians, shutters 2 spy stations over hacking allegations

Putin extended his thanks to the CIA. Trump then called CIA Director Mike Pompeo “to congratulate him, his very talented people, and the entire intelligence community on a job well done!”

“President Trump appreciated the call and told President Putin that he and the entire United States intelligence community were pleased to have helped save so many lives,” a White House statement said. “President Trump stressed the importance of intelligence cooperation to defeat terrorists wherever they may be. Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together.”

The Kremlin said Putin assured Trump that “if the Russian intelligence agencies receive information about potential terror threats against the United States and its citizens, they will immediately hand it over to their U.S. counterparts.”

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment
Putin and Trump meet in Hamburg, Germany. July 7, 2017. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin.)

Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute said, “Donald Trump was on the record for the better part of his campaign about wanting to have a better relationship with Russia. The trouble is that credible allegations of interference in the 2016 election have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to improve relations with Russia without being accused of being too close to the Russians.

“This is an example of him taking advantage of an incident like this to call attention to the potential for better relations, but for many Americans the concern of Russian interference in the 2016 election is greater,” Preble said.

The CIA’s tip to Russia comes even as Russia-U.S. ties have plunged to their lowest level since the Cold War era — first over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine, more recently over allegations that Moscow interfered in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO war games are focused on Russia and the extreme cold

Trident Juncture, taking place between Oct. 25 and Nov. 7, 2018, in and around Norway, is just one of NATO’s military exercises in 2018.

But officials have said the 50,000 troops, tens of thousands of vehicles, and dozens of planes and ships on hand make it the biggest NATO exercise since the Cold War.


NATO leaders have stressed it’s strictly a defensive exercise, but it comes amid heightened tensions between NATO and Russia, and Moscow has made its displeasure well known.

What’s also clear is that as the US and NATO refocus on operations in Europe, they’re preparing to deal with a foe that predates the alliance and the rival it was set up to counter.

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

German infantrymen board a MV-22B Osprey during Trident Juncture 18 at Vaernes Air Base, Norway, Nov. 1, 2018.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Cody J. Ohira)

“So when I was back in the States a couple weeks ago doing a press conference on Trident Juncture, people asked me the question, ‘Why in the world would you do this in October and November in Norway? It’s cold,'” Adm. James Foggo, who heads the Navy’s 6th Fleet and is overseeing Trident Juncture, said in an Oct. 27, 2018 interview.

“That’s exactly why,” he added. “Because we’re toughening everyone up.”

The US military maintained a massive presence in Europe during the Cold War. The bulk of it was in Germany, though US forces, like the Marine Corps hardware in secret caves in Norway, were stationed around the continent.

In the years after the Cold War, however, the emphasis on major operations in Europe — and the logistical and tactical preparations they entail — waned, as operations in the desert environments of the Middle East expanded.

In recent years, the US and NATO have taken a number of steps to reverse that shift, and with that has come renewed attention to the challenges of cold-weather operations.

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Belgian and German soldiers from the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force train for weapons proficiency in Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture, Oct. 30, 2018.

(PAO 1 German/Netherlands Corps)

“The change is all of us are having to recapture the readiness mindset and ability to fight full-spectrum in all conditions across the theater,” said Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe before retiring as a lieutenant general at the end of 2017.

“The Marines used to always be in Norway. They had equipment stored in caves,” Hodges said.

“I cannot imagine Hohenfels or Grafenwoehr without freezing” weather, he added, referring to major Army training areas in Germany. “It’s either freezing there or completely muddy.”

“We used to always do that” kind of training, Hodges said, but, “frankly, because of the perception and hope that Russia was going to be a friend and a partner, we stopped working on those things, at least the US did, to the same level.”

In mid-October 2018, US Marines rehearsed an amphibious assault in Iceland to simulate retaking territory that would be strategically valuable in the North Atlantic. That assault was practice for another landing to take place during Trident Juncture, where challenging terrain and weather were again meant to test Marine capabilities.

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US Marines during Trident Juncture 18 near Hjerkinn, Norway, Nov. 2, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kevin Payne)

“Cold-weather training, we’ve had training before … we got underway. Just being here is a little different,” said Chief Petty Officer David Babil, a senior ramp marshal overseeing the Corps’ amphibious-landing exercise in Alvund, Norway. “You’ve just got to stay warm. The biggest difference is definitely the weather, but other than that we train how we fight, so we’re ready 24/7.”

Chances for unique training conditions are also found ashore.

“The first consideration is the opportunity to employ the tanks in a cold-weather environment,” said 1st Lt. Luis Penichet, a Marine Corps tank platoon commander, ahead of an exercise that included a road march near Storas in central Norway.

“So once the conditions start to ice over and or fill with snow, one thing we are unable to train in Lejeune is to cleat the tanks and drive them in those type of conditions,” Penichet added. “So we have the possibility to replace [tank tread] track pads with metal cleats to allow us to continue maneuvering. So that is one benefit of operating in the environment like this.”

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US Marines in a Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle from the USS New York perform an amphibious landing at Alvund, Norway, during Trident Juncture 18, Oct. 30, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tanner Seims)

“Everything is more difficult in the cold, whether it’s waking up in the morning or even something as simple as going from your tent to the shower,” said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Kyle Davis, the camp commandant at Orland Airfield at Brekstad, on the central Norwegian coast.

The US Defense Department recently extended the Marine Corps deployment in Norway, where Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has emphasized that the Corps is trying to prepare for a potential “big-ass fight” in harsh conditions.

But US personnel aren’t the only ones who see the benefits of training at the northern edge of Europe.

“To my surprise, it wasn’t actually much of a change in our equipment,” said 1st Lt. Kristaps Kruze, commander of the Latvian contingent at the exercise, when asked about how the weather affected his gear.

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(US Marine Corps photo)

“That just proves that our equipment is not only capable of withstanding temperature in Latvia, but also capable of withstanding harsh winters also in Norwegian territory,” Kruze said in an interview in Rena, near Norway’s border with Sweden, as Trident Juncture got underway.

“During Trident Juncture, since we are in Norway, we have to deal with the cold weather,” Sgt. Cedric, a French sniper, said in Rena, as French, Danish, British, and German troops conducted long-range sniper training.

“For a sniper, cold weather requires to be more careful when shooting. It can affect the shooting a lot,” Cedric said. “Also, when we are infiltrating, we need to make sure we conserve energy and stay warm once we are in position.”

Integrating with NATO forces in the harsh conditions was particularly important for troops from Montenegro, which is NATO’s newest member.

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Italian army soldiers face off against members of the Canadian army in a simulated attack during Trident Juncture in Alvdal, Norway, Nov. 3, 2018.

(Photo by MCpl Pat Blanchard)

“As you can see there is much snow and its temperature [is in] the very low degrees,” Lt. Nikola Popovic, an infantry platoon commander from Montenegro, said in Folldal, in the mountains of central Norway.

“Because we are a new NATO member, a new ally, we are here to prepare ourselves for winter conditions, because this is an exercise in extreme winter conditions,” Popovic said.

The temperature was the biggest surprise, he added, “but we are working on it.”

NATO countries in the northern latitudes, like Norway, as well as Sweden and Finland, which are not members but partner closely with the alliance and are at Trident Juncture, have no shortage of cold-weather experience.

“They live there so they do it all the time,” Hodges said.

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A Canadian army BvS 10 Viking nicknamed “Thor” on a mountainside near Alvdal, Norway, during Exercise Trident Juncture 18, Nov. 4, 2018.

(NATO photo by Rob Kunzing)

“This is about the US having to relearn” how to operate in those kind of conditions, Hodges added.

Fighting in that kind of environment requires military leaders to consider the affects on matters both big and small, whether that’s distributing lubricant for individual machine guns or the movement of thousands of troops and their heavy gear across snow-covered fields and on narrow mountain roads.

“It affects vehicle maintenance, for example. It affects air operations. It’s not just about individual soldiers being cold,” Hodges added. “It’s all of your systems have to be able to operate, so you have to practice it and take those factors into consideration.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

These images of U.S. troops in tight spaces will make you sweat

A space is confined if it has a limited or restricted entry or exit point.

“Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And the US military trains for all different kinds of scenarios in such spaces.

Here’s what they do.


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Air Force Joseph Chavez from the 120th Airlift Wing, Montana Air National Guard performs a confined space rescue on Feb. 13, 2017.

(US Air Force photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Senior Airman Jada Lutsky, a fuel system specialist with Pennsylvania Air National Guard, dons a respirator during a confined spaces rescue exercise on Feb. 24, 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Members of the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company enter a manhole and extract simulated patients during a training exercise on Aug. 1, 2018.

(Department of Defense photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Army Spc. Ridwan Salaudeen, 758th Firefighter Detachment, climbs through a confined space at Fort McCoy, Wis. on Aug. 9, 2017.

(US Army photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

An Army Reserve soldier navigates his way through a building collapse simulator at Fort McCoy, Wis. on Aug. 13, 2018.

(US Army photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Marine Cpl. Seth White, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense specialist, crawls through an underground tunnel while wearing a Level-C hazmat suit on Oct. 3, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo)

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Army Reserve Spc. Alex Thompson, 376th Engineer Firefighter Detachment, crawls through a tube for training at Fort McCoy, Wis. on Aug. 13, 2018.

(US Army photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Army Reserve Brett Lehmann, 376th Engineer Firefighter Detachment, crawls through a tube for confined space familiarization training at Fort McCoy, Wis. on Aug. 13, 2018.

(US Army photo)

Pentagon prepares to extend southern border deployment

Army Reserve Pvt. Kenneth Collins, 376th Engineer Firefighter Detachment, pulls himself from a confined space familiarization tube at Fort McCoy, Wis. on Aug. 13, 2018.

(US Army photo)

And the whole thing seems pretty grueling.

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

Military Life

8 stores that let you know you’re near a military base

Military installations are built to be self-sustaining. Many have their own water and power supplies, housing facilities, and enough entertainment options to keep troops on the installation. Just off-post, however, you’ll always find the same selection of stores that easily let anyone on TDY know that they’ve found the right place.


Many of these shops are helpful and offer troops better deals than they’d find on-post. Others, however, cater to a troop’s less-than-helpful needs. It’s not to say that all shops off-post are sketchy — but plenty of them are.

Here’s just a handful of the shops that thrive off of having a huge population of troops just a stone’s throw away.

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It’s more than likely that any given Marine has the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattooed on them — but not all tattoos are the same. Don’t be the guy with the worst in the platoon.

(Courtesy Photo)​

Tattoo parlors

Troops love to show off their ink. Plenty of tattoo parlors around military installations are home to masterful artists who approach each job with pride. They take their labor of love seriously and put their best work forward for America’s war fighters.

And then there’re the parlors that offer dirt-cheap ink that won’t cut deeply into a young, dumb boot’s beer money. Remember, you’ll get exactly what you paid for.

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The chances of you getting spotted at one of the thirty-seven now-open liquor stores is slim.

(Courtesy photo)

Liqour stores

Since military installations are exempt from sales taxes, it would make sense that buying highly taxed items, like liquor, almost exclusively at the Class 6 (on-post liquor store) is a no-brainer.

But those lines are long and no one wants to run into their first sergeant while you’re both carrying a bottle of Evan Williams on a Tuesday night.

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“You’re trying to sell me a vintage poncho liner used by Gen. Mattis himself? Best I can do is .”

(Courtesy Photo)

Pawn shops

Troops are constantly moving between installations and, along the way, they may want to shed a few household goods. Conversely, they may not want to spend the extra cash on buying something new if they know they won’t have it for long.

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Do you want to get made fun of for buying a car at 35% interest rate? Because that’s exactly how it happens.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

Used-car dealerships

In the military, everyone needs a car to get around. When troops come back with some extra “play money” they earned on deployment, they’ll upgrade their ride.

Many used-car dealerships aren’t as altruistic as they seem. If the only selling point they have going for them is that “E-1 and above are approved,” then you know that you’re about to get hammered on interest rates.

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Which kinda defeats the purpose of having a privately owned weapon, but whatever.

(Photo by Michael Saechang)

Gun shop

Military and gun cultures go hand in hand. So, it makes sense that gun shops find a happy home just off-base.

Not to burst any bubbles among the lower enlisted who live in the barrack, but personally owned firearms and weapons are prohibited in living quarters — rules are rules. So, if you want one, you’ll need to store it in the unit’s arms room and hope you can convince the armorer to come in when you want to go hunting.

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That, and their lines are a lot shorter when you’re scrambling to get back within regs after a 4-day weekend.

(Photo by Joe Mabel)

Nail salons/barber shops

In the civilian world, nail salons are plenty. Barber shops are also plenty. But you won’t find the two mixed as often as you do near military bases.

Sure, it’s more expensive than on-base options, but sometimes it’s worth it. Especially if you want a haircut that says, “maybe I’m an officer, maybe I’m just a specialist.”

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Who knows? Maybe you’re buying the exact poncho liner that “went missing?”

(Photo by William Murphy)

Military surplus stores

These stores almost always claim first dibs outside of the main gate. Here, you’ll always find a good deal on something that you’re trying to avoid getting a statement of charges for. Why pay the to Uncle Sam because someone took your poncho liner when you can buy and immediately turn in a one found at the surplus store?

Now, we’re not openly accusing any military surplus stores of unintentionally fencing stolen, military gear, but some of the shadier ones are the go-to spots for blue falcons.

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By going to a payday loan spot, you’re essentially paying to avoid getting help from the people trying to help you.

(Photo by Pvt. Yoo, Jinho)

Payday loan offices

There’s a silver lining to most of the places on this list, especially if they’re owned and operated by veterans of the installation they service. Then there are the payday-loan scammers that prey on troops like vultures in a desert.

There are far too many alternatives available to troops that don’t involved being nickeled-and-dimed to death in the name of scrounging up a few quick bucks. If you are really hurting for cash, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your commander and see what options are available through your branch’s version of an emergency relief fund.