Kit4Combat Blog

0

EU to double funding for military force in West Africa's Sahel region

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is set to double its funding for a multi-national military operation in West Africa’s Sahel region to counter Islamist insurgencies on Friday, EU diplomats said, part of a broader effort to fight militants and people traffickers.

At a donor conference of some 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, military power France hopes to win enough backing to allow a regional force first proposed four years ago to be fully operational later this year.

“There is a direct European interest in restoring stability to the region,” a senior EU diplomat said. “There is a general awareness now that the future of the European Union is also the future of Africa.”

Fears that violence in the arid zone could fuel already high levels of migration towards Europe and become a springboard for attacks on the West have made military and development aid there a priority for European nations and Washington.

The G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, needs more than 400 million euros ($494 million) to be able to meet the demands of its Western backers, up from the 250 million euros it has now.

France, which has more than 4,000 troops in the region, hopes to reach at least 300 million on Friday, as the European Union pledges another 50 million euros to take its contribution to 100 million for the force that has struggled to meet expectations while militants have scored military victories in West Africa.

So far, the United States has pledged 60 million euros to support it. Another 100 million euros has been pledged by Saudi Arabia, 30 million from the United Arab Emirates and 40 million on a bilateral basis by EU member states, separate from the EU’s joint effort.

Separately, France is set to pledge 1.2 billion euros to fund development in the region over the next five years, a 40 percent increase over current levels, an EU diplomat said.

“MORE WEAPONS, MORE SUFFERING”

The deaths of two French soldiers this week in Mali and four U.S. soldiers in October in Niger, where most Americans did not know the United States had forces, has highlighted the security threat in the vast scrublands spanning from Mauritania to Chad.

French President Emmanuel Macron will call for more to be done to support a separate EU train-and-advise mission in Mali, a second EU diplomat said, and is seeking some 50 more EU troops after Belgian soldiers ended their tour in the mission.

France has been frustrated that it is the only EU member with combat troops on the ground, although others have contributed trainers. By training African forces, Paris sees an eventual exit strategy for what is its biggest foreign deployment, diplomats said.

“There’s a lack of EU training troops that we must fill,” a EU diplomat said.

Macron will also call to redouble efforts to broker peace through talks with Tuareg rebels in the desert north.

Tuaregs and jihadists took over northern Mali in 2012 before French forces pushed them back in 2013 in an intervention that alerted Washington to the growing threat in the region.

The G5 Sahel operation, whose command base is in central Mali, is set to swell to 5,000 men from seven battalions and will also engage in humanitarian and development work.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that training soldiers was not the only strategy and called for greater efforts to relieve the roots of the conflict in poverty, poor governance and climate hazards.

“When you add more weapons, you add more suffering,” Patrick Youssef, deputy head of the ICRC’s operations for Africa, told Reuters. “That needs to be accompanied with real measures to alleviate the suffering that is the main reason why this war was created.”

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Nick Macfie

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will meet with Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address another issue: What to do with transgender recruits.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria, the medical term for wanting to transition gender, a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling, and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender military service is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

“We should act”: former top military officials tweet support for gun reform – Vox

Two of America’s most respected former military leaders tweeted out their support for gun reform on Wednesday. Their voices added to a growing chorus of current and former military service members who want gun laws changed after a shooter killed 17 people[1] at a Florida high school last week.

Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Adm. William McRaven — formerly the nation’s top special operations officer — backed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Twitter.

“Our next generation of young Americans are calling for inclusion in finding solutions to keep our children safe,” Dempsey, former President Barack Obama’s top military adviser, tweeted[2] on Wednesday. “I’m proud of them. They are right, they should be heard, we should listen, and we should act.”

About four hours later, McRaven put out his own statement on Twitter: “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenges the laws that have not served them well.”

Those messages are a big deal. These former military officers, especially McRaven, know what it’s like to carry around an assault rifle and kill someone with it. They understand the awesome power and responsibility that comes with wielding a weapon of war. For them to speak out an amplify the message of Parkland’s students could lend more legitimacy to their activism.

And they’re not alone — other military veterans are also increasingly speaking up in favor of gun reform. “We believe in the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms,” Joe Plenzler, a retired 20-year Marine combat veteran who forms part of the online #VetsForGunReform movement, told me, “but we also believe that the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right.”

In other words, Plenzer said, civilians shouldn’t necessarily be entitled to own and operate military-grade weaponry. “We don’t allow people to hunt rabbits with rocket-propelled grenades,” added Plenzler, who also served as an aide to current Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Joseph Dunford and current Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

If seeing former military officials campaign for gun law reform feels new, it’s not. It’s happened again and again after mass shootings — and it appears the current iteration is only heating up.

Some of the nation’s most prominent veterans have openly called for changes to gun laws for years.

Here are a few examples: In 2013, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who commanded America’s elite troops worldwide as well as troops in Afghanistan — came out in support of gun control. “I think serious action is necessary,” he told[3] MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2013.

”Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don’t think that’s enough,” he continued. “The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. And I don’t think we’re a bloodthirsty culture, and so I think we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded troops in Iraq and served as Obama’s CIA director, co-created the gun control advocacy group Veterans Coalition for Common Sense[4] in 2016.

“As service members, each of us swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland,” Petraeus and his co-founder, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, wrote[5] in a statement. “Now we’re asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives.”

And last November, Dr. Dean Winslow, a former Air Force colonel whom President Donald Trump nominated as the Pentagon’s top health affairs official, openly derided the idea of civilians owning assault rifles.

“I’d also like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15,” Winslow said[6] during his own confirmation hearing.

I asked Plenzler why politicians, especially Republicans, who usually support positions of current and former military officials seem to ignore their advice on gun issues. “It’s all about money,” he said, adding that he believes the National Rifle Association’s influence on politicians has blinded American leaders to the risks of civilian ownership of military-grade weapons.

As of now, it seems like the Parkland students have found an audience for their activism. Many who served in uniform want to stand alongside them.

References

  1. ^ 17 people (www.vox.com)
  2. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  3. ^ told (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Veterans Coalition for Common Sense (giffords.org)
  5. ^ wrote (www.cnn.com)
  6. ^ said (www.vox.com)
0

“We should act”: former top military officials tweet support for gun reform – Vox

Two of America’s most respected former military leaders tweeted out their support for gun reform on Wednesday. Their voices added to a growing chorus of current and former military service members who want gun laws changed after a shooter killed 17 people[1] at a Florida high school last week.

Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Adm. William McRaven — formerly the nation’s top special operations officer — backed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Twitter.

“Our next generation of young Americans are calling for inclusion in finding solutions to keep our children safe,” Dempsey, former President Barack Obama’s top military adviser, tweeted[2] on Wednesday. “I’m proud of them. They are right, they should be heard, we should listen, and we should act.”

About four hours later, McRaven put out his own statement on Twitter: “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenges the laws that have not served them well.”

Those messages are a big deal. These former military officers, especially McRaven, know what it’s like to carry around an assault rifle and kill someone with it. They understand the awesome power and responsibility that comes with wielding a weapon of war. For them to speak out an amplify the message of Parkland’s students could lend more legitimacy to their activism.

And they’re not alone — other military veterans are also increasingly speaking up in favor of gun reform. “We believe in the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms,” Joe Plenzler, a retired 20-year Marine combat veteran who forms part of the online #VetsForGunReform movement, told me, “but we also believe that the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right.”

In other words, Plenzer said, civilians shouldn’t necessarily be entitled to own and operate military-grade weaponry. “We don’t allow people to hunt rabbits with rocket-propelled grenades,” added Plenzler, who also served as an aide to current Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Joseph Dunford and current Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

If seeing former military officials campaign for gun law reform feels new, it’s not. It’s happened again and again after mass shootings — and it appears the current iteration is only heating up.

Some of the nation’s most prominent veterans have openly called for changes to gun laws for years.

Here are a few examples: In 2013, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who commanded America’s elite troops worldwide as well as troops in Afghanistan — came out in support of gun control. “I think serious action is necessary,” he told[3] MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2013.

”Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don’t think that’s enough,” he continued. “The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. And I don’t think we’re a bloodthirsty culture, and so I think we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded troops in Iraq and served as Obama’s CIA director, co-created the gun control advocacy group Veterans Coalition for Common Sense[4] in 2016.

“As service members, each of us swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland,” Petraeus and his co-founder, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, wrote[5] in a statement. “Now we’re asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives.”

And last November, Dr. Dean Winslow, a former Air Force colonel whom President Donald Trump nominated as the Pentagon’s top health affairs official, openly derided the idea of civilians owning assault rifles.

“I’d also like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15,” Winslow said[6] during his own confirmation hearing.

I asked Plenzler why politicians, especially Republicans, who usually support positions of current and former military officials seem to ignore their advice on gun issues. “It’s all about money,” he said, adding that he believes the National Rifle Association’s influence on politicians has blinded American leaders to the risks of civilian ownership of military-grade weapons.

As of now, it seems like the Parkland students have found an audience for their activism. Many who served in uniform want to stand alongside them.

References

  1. ^ 17 people (www.vox.com)
  2. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  3. ^ told (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Veterans Coalition for Common Sense (giffords.org)
  5. ^ wrote (www.cnn.com)
  6. ^ said (www.vox.com)
0

“We should act”: former top military officials tweet support for gun reform – Vox

Two of America’s most respected former military leaders tweeted out their support for gun reform on Wednesday. Their voices added to a growing chorus of current and former military service members who want gun laws changed after a shooter killed 17 people[1] at a Florida high school last week.

Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Adm. William McRaven — formerly the nation’s top special operations officer — backed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Twitter.

“Our next generation of young Americans are calling for inclusion in finding solutions to keep our children safe,” Dempsey, former President Barack Obama’s top military adviser, tweeted[2] on Wednesday. “I’m proud of them. They are right, they should be heard, we should listen, and we should act.”

About four hours later, McRaven put out his own statement on Twitter: “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenges the laws that have not served them well.”

Those messages are a big deal. These former military officers, especially McRaven, know what it’s like to carry around an assault rifle and kill someone with it. They understand the awesome power and responsibility that comes with wielding a weapon of war. For them to speak out an amplify the message of Parkland’s students could lend more legitimacy to their activism.

And they’re not alone — other military veterans are also increasingly speaking up in favor of gun reform. “We believe in the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms,” Joe Plenzler, a retired 20-year Marine combat veteran who forms part of the online #VetsForGunReform movement, told me, “but we also believe that the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right.”

In other words, Plenzer said, civilians shouldn’t necessarily be entitled to own and operate military-grade weaponry. “We don’t allow people to hunt rabbits with rocket-propelled grenades,” added Plenzler, who also served as an aide to current Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Joseph Dunford and current Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

If seeing former military officials campaign for gun law reform feels new, it’s not. It’s happened again and again after mass shootings — and it appears the current iteration is only heating up.

Some of the nation’s most prominent veterans have openly called for changes to gun laws for years.

Here are a few examples: In 2013, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who commanded America’s elite troops worldwide as well as troops in Afghanistan — came out in support of gun control. “I think serious action is necessary,” he told[3] MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2013.

”Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don’t think that’s enough,” he continued. “The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. And I don’t think we’re a bloodthirsty culture, and so I think we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded troops in Iraq and served as Obama’s CIA director, co-created the gun control advocacy group Veterans Coalition for Common Sense[4] in 2016.

“As service members, each of us swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland,” Petraeus and his co-founder, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, wrote[5] in a statement. “Now we’re asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives.”

And last November, Dr. Dean Winslow, a former Air Force colonel whom President Donald Trump nominated as the Pentagon’s top health affairs official, openly derided the idea of civilians owning assault rifles.

“I’d also like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15,” Winslow said[6] during his own confirmation hearing.

I asked Plenzler why politicians, especially Republicans, who usually support positions of current and former military officials seem to ignore their advice on gun issues. “It’s all about money,” he said, adding that he believes the National Rifle Association’s influence on politicians has blinded American leaders to the risks of civilian ownership of military-grade weapons.

As of now, it seems like the Parkland students have found an audience for their activism. Many who served in uniform want to stand alongside them.

References

  1. ^ 17 people (www.vox.com)
  2. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  3. ^ told (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Veterans Coalition for Common Sense (giffords.org)
  5. ^ wrote (www.cnn.com)
  6. ^ said (www.vox.com)
0

“We should act”: former top military officials tweet support for gun reform – Vox

Two of America’s most respected former military leaders tweeted out their support for gun reform on Wednesday. Their voices added to a growing chorus of current and former military service members who want gun laws changed after a shooter killed 17 people[1] at a Florida high school last week.

Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Adm. William McRaven — formerly the nation’s top special operations officer — backed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Twitter.

“Our next generation of young Americans are calling for inclusion in finding solutions to keep our children safe,” Dempsey, former President Barack Obama’s top military adviser, tweeted[2] on Wednesday. “I’m proud of them. They are right, they should be heard, we should listen, and we should act.”

About four hours later, McRaven put out his own statement on Twitter: “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenges the laws that have not served them well.”

Those messages are a big deal. These former military officers, especially McRaven, know what it’s like to carry around an assault rifle and kill someone with it. They understand the awesome power and responsibility that comes with wielding a weapon of war. For them to speak out an amplify the message of Parkland’s students could lend more legitimacy to their activism.

And they’re not alone — other military veterans are also increasingly speaking up in favor of gun reform. “We believe in the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms,” Joe Plenzler, a retired 20-year Marine combat veteran who forms part of the online #VetsForGunReform movement, told me, “but we also believe that the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right.”

In other words, Plenzer said, civilians shouldn’t necessarily be entitled to own and operate military-grade weaponry. “We don’t allow people to hunt rabbits with rocket-propelled grenades,” added Plenzler, who also served as an aide to current Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Joseph Dunford and current Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

If seeing former military officials campaign for gun law reform feels new, it’s not. It’s happened again and again after mass shootings — and it appears the current iteration is only heating up.

Some of the nation’s most prominent veterans have openly called for changes to gun laws for years.

Here are a few examples: In 2013, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who commanded America’s elite troops worldwide as well as troops in Afghanistan — came out in support of gun control. “I think serious action is necessary,” he told[3] MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2013.

”Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don’t think that’s enough,” he continued. “The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. And I don’t think we’re a bloodthirsty culture, and so I think we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded troops in Iraq and served as Obama’s CIA director, co-created the gun control advocacy group Veterans Coalition for Common Sense[4] in 2016.

“As service members, each of us swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland,” Petraeus and his co-founder, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, wrote[5] in a statement. “Now we’re asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives.”

And last November, Dr. Dean Winslow, a former Air Force colonel whom President Donald Trump nominated as the Pentagon’s top health affairs official, openly derided the idea of civilians owning assault rifles.

“I’d also like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15,” Winslow said[6] during his own confirmation hearing.

I asked Plenzler why politicians, especially Republicans, who usually support positions of current and former military officials seem to ignore their advice on gun issues. “It’s all about money,” he said, adding that he believes the National Rifle Association’s influence on politicians has blinded American leaders to the risks of civilian ownership of military-grade weapons.

As of now, it seems like the Parkland students have found an audience for their activism. Many who served in uniform want to stand alongside them.

References

  1. ^ 17 people (www.vox.com)
  2. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  3. ^ told (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Veterans Coalition for Common Sense (giffords.org)
  5. ^ wrote (www.cnn.com)
  6. ^ said (www.vox.com)
0

Israeli military investigating Palestinian's death in West Bank confrontation

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A Palestinian man died after a confrontation with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority condemned as a “cold-blooded execution”.

The Israeli military said the man had attempted to attack troops and that it was investigating the incident.

In security camera footage posted on social media and carried by Israeli news sites, soldiers could be seen kicking and striking a man, identified by Palestinian officials as Yassin Omar Serda, after detaining him in the town of Jericho.

In a statement, the military said the man was armed with an iron rod and ran toward the soldiers in an attempt to strike them. The troops, it said, were on a raid to arrest “suspects” in the town.

“In response to the immediate threat, the troops fired toward the assailant and confronted him from close range and were able to stop him,” the military said.

“A knife was also found in his possession. Troops evacuated him to a hospital to receive medical treatment. His death was later announced. The incident is being reviewed.”

The Palestinian Information Ministry said about 20 soldiers had administered a “heavy beating” to Serda, especially on his stomach and back.

“The Information Ministry views (his) martyrdom … shortly after his arrest a cold-blooded execution,” it said.

Serda’s family said it was seeking to have an autopsy performed.

Israeli troops frequently mount raids in the West Bank to detain suspected militants. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

An Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, was sentenced last February to 18 months imprisonment for killing a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank town of Hebron in 2015. He was convicted of manslaughter, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

His trial was one of the most divisive in Israeli history. Supporters argued he was justified in shooting a Palestinian whom they said had intended to kill Israelis. The military said he violated standing orders and that his conduct was unbecoming of an Israeli soldier.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Ori Lewis, Mustafa Abu Ganayeh and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Janet Lawrence

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)