Tagged: face

0

Face of Defense: Guardsman Takes Army Values to Heart


ARLINGTON, Va. —

An infantryman with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, takes the Army values to heart. [1]

“We’re supporting the mission on the ground and making that difference,” said Army Sgt. Stephen Caldwell, adding that he loves being a part of a larger team.

“Being a fire team leader, providing fire superiority and taking over the objectives — it’s an adrenaline rush to say the least,” he said.

Monitoring Threats

In his civilian job, Caldwell is a watch analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he monitors potential national threats that could pose harm to physical structures, cyber networks and the environment.[2]

“We have situational awareness on pretty much anything,” he said.

And, regarding his infantry duties, Caldwell said good radio communications provide a tactical edge for his unit.

“It’s communication that makes everything run and I love the challenge,” he said, adding the radio makes him feel like a double threat on the battlefield.

“A single radio has the power to change the outcome of an engagement,” Caldwell said.

Before working at DHS, he spent four years working at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s joint operations center. The experience there laid the groundwork for his current DHS job, Caldwell said.

“It gave me an understanding of what affects critical infrastructures,” he said. “Just seeing it from a technical standpoint helped me understand what is needed at the national level with DHS, as far as the cause and effect of things.”

Caldwell said he has also found crossovers from the military side, as well.

Communication

“Great communication is key when a situation is developing and when you need to put something out to leadership so they can make a judgment call,” he said. “Camaraderie is a big thing on our teams, and it keeps me motivated when taking on a new task.”

Whether he is in his civilian or military role, Caldwell said he likes to learn and grow, making it a point to move laterally within DHS and absorb all the new information he can along the way.

“Complacency kills, so I take the time in learning new things outside of my normal skill set,” he said. “It makes for more excitement on a daily basis.”

That eagerness to learn — along with being highly competent and having a strong commitment to the homeland security mission — makes Caldwell an asset, said Matt Vaughn, a program manager in the section where Caldwell works at DHS.

“He’s a real go-getter, and you never have to tell him [to execute a task] twice,” Vaughn said. “He gets it. He does it, and it’s always done well.”

Training, Teamwork

While Caldwell said training and teamwork have been the backbone of his success with the South Carolina Army National Guard and the DHS, he is furthering his personal and professional growth by attending school for intelligence studies at the American Military University.

“Education helps me relay my thoughts in a productive way, helping me better connect with soldiers,” he said.

But education has not been the only source of learning for Caldwell.

He was a self-described “gung-ho kid” when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He said the experience of working with his fellow soldiers in a deployed environment taught him the importance of thinking in a more critical and tempered way.

“I learned that even though you can’t control everything, you still have to remain mission focused,” Caldwell said. Following that mindset, he added, requires not making “emotional decisions.”

He said he tells new soldiers that taking on new tasks will help them stand out – such as becoming a “double threat” by learning the ins and outs of radio communication.

“Always be willing to learn something new,” Caldwell said. “Once you start to do that you fall into a pattern as that soldier with a can-do attitude.”

References

  1. ^ South Carolina Army National Guard (www.scguard.com)
  2. ^ Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
0

Face of Defense: Guardsman Takes Army Values to Heart


ARLINGTON, Va. —

An infantryman with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, takes the Army values to heart. [1]

“We’re supporting the mission on the ground and making that difference,” said Army Sgt. Stephen Caldwell, adding that he loves being a part of a larger team.

“Being a fire team leader, providing fire superiority and taking over the objectives — it’s an adrenaline rush to say the least,” he said.

Monitoring Threats

In his civilian job, Caldwell is a watch analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he monitors potential national threats that could pose harm to physical structures, cyber networks and the environment.[2]

“We have situational awareness on pretty much anything,” he said.

And, regarding his infantry duties, Caldwell said good radio communications provide a tactical edge for his unit.

“It’s communication that makes everything run and I love the challenge,” he said, adding the radio makes him feel like a double threat on the battlefield.

“A single radio has the power to change the outcome of an engagement,” Caldwell said.

Before working at DHS, he spent four years working at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s joint operations center. The experience there laid the groundwork for his current DHS job, Caldwell said.

“It gave me an understanding of what affects critical infrastructures,” he said. “Just seeing it from a technical standpoint helped me understand what is needed at the national level with DHS, as far as the cause and effect of things.”

Caldwell said he has also found crossovers from the military side, as well.

Communication

“Great communication is key when a situation is developing and when you need to put something out to leadership so they can make a judgment call,” he said. “Camaraderie is a big thing on our teams, and it keeps me motivated when taking on a new task.”

Whether he is in his civilian or military role, Caldwell said he likes to learn and grow, making it a point to move laterally within DHS and absorb all the new information he can along the way.

“Complacency kills, so I take the time in learning new things outside of my normal skill set,” he said. “It makes for more excitement on a daily basis.”

That eagerness to learn — along with being highly competent and having a strong commitment to the homeland security mission — makes Caldwell an asset, said Matt Vaughn, a program manager in the section where Caldwell works at DHS.

“He’s a real go-getter, and you never have to tell him [to execute a task] twice,” Vaughn said. “He gets it. He does it, and it’s always done well.”

Training, Teamwork

While Caldwell said training and teamwork have been the backbone of his success with the South Carolina Army National Guard and the DHS, he is furthering his personal and professional growth by attending school for intelligence studies at the American Military University.

“Education helps me relay my thoughts in a productive way, helping me better connect with soldiers,” he said.

But education has not been the only source of learning for Caldwell.

He was a self-described “gung-ho kid” when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He said the experience of working with his fellow soldiers in a deployed environment taught him the importance of thinking in a more critical and tempered way.

“I learned that even though you can’t control everything, you still have to remain mission focused,” Caldwell said. Following that mindset, he added, requires not making “emotional decisions.”

He said he tells new soldiers that taking on new tasks will help them stand out – such as becoming a “double threat” by learning the ins and outs of radio communication.

“Always be willing to learn something new,” Caldwell said. “Once you start to do that you fall into a pattern as that soldier with a can-do attitude.”

References

  1. ^ South Carolina Army National Guard (www.scguard.com)
  2. ^ Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
0

Face of Defense: Guardsman Takes Army Values to Heart


ARLINGTON, Va. —

An infantryman with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, takes the Army values to heart. [1]

“We’re supporting the mission on the ground and making that difference,” said Army Sgt. Stephen Caldwell, adding that he loves being a part of a larger team.

“Being a fire team leader, providing fire superiority and taking over the objectives — it’s an adrenaline rush to say the least,” he said.

Monitoring Threats

In his civilian job, Caldwell is a watch analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he monitors potential national threats that could pose harm to physical structures, cyber networks and the environment.[2]

“We have situational awareness on pretty much anything,” he said.

And, regarding his infantry duties, Caldwell said good radio communications provide a tactical edge for his unit.

“It’s communication that makes everything run and I love the challenge,” he said, adding the radio makes him feel like a double threat on the battlefield.

“A single radio has the power to change the outcome of an engagement,” Caldwell said.

Before working at DHS, he spent four years working at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s joint operations center. The experience there laid the groundwork for his current DHS job, Caldwell said.

“It gave me an understanding of what affects critical infrastructures,” he said. “Just seeing it from a technical standpoint helped me understand what is needed at the national level with DHS, as far as the cause and effect of things.”

Caldwell said he has also found crossovers from the military side, as well.

Communication

“Great communication is key when a situation is developing and when you need to put something out to leadership so they can make a judgment call,” he said. “Camaraderie is a big thing on our teams, and it keeps me motivated when taking on a new task.”

Whether he is in his civilian or military role, Caldwell said he likes to learn and grow, making it a point to move laterally within DHS and absorb all the new information he can along the way.

“Complacency kills, so I take the time in learning new things outside of my normal skill set,” he said. “It makes for more excitement on a daily basis.”

That eagerness to learn — along with being highly competent and having a strong commitment to the homeland security mission — makes Caldwell an asset, said Matt Vaughn, a program manager in the section where Caldwell works at DHS.

“He’s a real go-getter, and you never have to tell him [to execute a task] twice,” Vaughn said. “He gets it. He does it, and it’s always done well.”

Training, Teamwork

While Caldwell said training and teamwork have been the backbone of his success with the South Carolina Army National Guard and the DHS, he is furthering his personal and professional growth by attending school for intelligence studies at the American Military University.

“Education helps me relay my thoughts in a productive way, helping me better connect with soldiers,” he said.

But education has not been the only source of learning for Caldwell.

He was a self-described “gung-ho kid” when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He said the experience of working with his fellow soldiers in a deployed environment taught him the importance of thinking in a more critical and tempered way.

“I learned that even though you can’t control everything, you still have to remain mission focused,” Caldwell said. Following that mindset, he added, requires not making “emotional decisions.”

He said he tells new soldiers that taking on new tasks will help them stand out – such as becoming a “double threat” by learning the ins and outs of radio communication.

“Always be willing to learn something new,” Caldwell said. “Once you start to do that you fall into a pattern as that soldier with a can-do attitude.”

References

  1. ^ South Carolina Army National Guard (www.scguard.com)
  2. ^ Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
0

Face of Defense: Guardsman Takes Army Values to Heart


ARLINGTON, Va. —

An infantryman with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, takes the Army values to heart. [1]

“We’re supporting the mission on the ground and making that difference,” said Army Sgt. Stephen Caldwell, adding that he loves being a part of a larger team.

“Being a fire team leader, providing fire superiority and taking over the objectives — it’s an adrenaline rush to say the least,” he said.

Monitoring Threats

In his civilian job, Caldwell is a watch analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he monitors potential national threats that could pose harm to physical structures, cyber networks and the environment.[2]

“We have situational awareness on pretty much anything,” he said.

And, regarding his infantry duties, Caldwell said good radio communications provide a tactical edge for his unit.

“It’s communication that makes everything run and I love the challenge,” he said, adding the radio makes him feel like a double threat on the battlefield.

“A single radio has the power to change the outcome of an engagement,” Caldwell said.

Before working at DHS, he spent four years working at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s joint operations center. The experience there laid the groundwork for his current DHS job, Caldwell said.

“It gave me an understanding of what affects critical infrastructures,” he said. “Just seeing it from a technical standpoint helped me understand what is needed at the national level with DHS, as far as the cause and effect of things.”

Caldwell said he has also found crossovers from the military side, as well.

Communication

“Great communication is key when a situation is developing and when you need to put something out to leadership so they can make a judgment call,” he said. “Camaraderie is a big thing on our teams, and it keeps me motivated when taking on a new task.”

Whether he is in his civilian or military role, Caldwell said he likes to learn and grow, making it a point to move laterally within DHS and absorb all the new information he can along the way.

“Complacency kills, so I take the time in learning new things outside of my normal skill set,” he said. “It makes for more excitement on a daily basis.”

That eagerness to learn — along with being highly competent and having a strong commitment to the homeland security mission — makes Caldwell an asset, said Matt Vaughn, a program manager in the section where Caldwell works at DHS.

“He’s a real go-getter, and you never have to tell him [to execute a task] twice,” Vaughn said. “He gets it. He does it, and it’s always done well.”

Training, Teamwork

While Caldwell said training and teamwork have been the backbone of his success with the South Carolina Army National Guard and the DHS, he is furthering his personal and professional growth by attending school for intelligence studies at the American Military University.

“Education helps me relay my thoughts in a productive way, helping me better connect with soldiers,” he said.

But education has not been the only source of learning for Caldwell.

He was a self-described “gung-ho kid” when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He said the experience of working with his fellow soldiers in a deployed environment taught him the importance of thinking in a more critical and tempered way.

“I learned that even though you can’t control everything, you still have to remain mission focused,” Caldwell said. Following that mindset, he added, requires not making “emotional decisions.”

He said he tells new soldiers that taking on new tasks will help them stand out – such as becoming a “double threat” by learning the ins and outs of radio communication.

“Always be willing to learn something new,” Caldwell said. “Once you start to do that you fall into a pattern as that soldier with a can-do attitude.”

References

  1. ^ South Carolina Army National Guard (www.scguard.com)
  2. ^ Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
0

Face of Defense: Guardsman Takes Army Values to Heart


ARLINGTON, Va. —

An infantryman with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, takes the Army values to heart. [1]

“We’re supporting the mission on the ground and making that difference,” said Army Sgt. Stephen Caldwell, adding that he loves being a part of a larger team.

“Being a fire team leader, providing fire superiority and taking over the objectives — it’s an adrenaline rush to say the least,” he said.

Monitoring Threats

In his civilian job, Caldwell is a watch analyst with the Department of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he monitors potential national threats that could pose harm to physical structures, cyber networks and the environment.[2]

“We have situational awareness on pretty much anything,” he said.

And, regarding his infantry duties, Caldwell said good radio communications provide a tactical edge for his unit.

“It’s communication that makes everything run and I love the challenge,” he said, adding the radio makes him feel like a double threat on the battlefield.

“A single radio has the power to change the outcome of an engagement,” Caldwell said.

Before working at DHS, he spent four years working at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s joint operations center. The experience there laid the groundwork for his current DHS job, Caldwell said.

“It gave me an understanding of what affects critical infrastructures,” he said. “Just seeing it from a technical standpoint helped me understand what is needed at the national level with DHS, as far as the cause and effect of things.”

Caldwell said he has also found crossovers from the military side, as well.

Communication

“Great communication is key when a situation is developing and when you need to put something out to leadership so they can make a judgment call,” he said. “Camaraderie is a big thing on our teams, and it keeps me motivated when taking on a new task.”

Whether he is in his civilian or military role, Caldwell said he likes to learn and grow, making it a point to move laterally within DHS and absorb all the new information he can along the way.

“Complacency kills, so I take the time in learning new things outside of my normal skill set,” he said. “It makes for more excitement on a daily basis.”

That eagerness to learn — along with being highly competent and having a strong commitment to the homeland security mission — makes Caldwell an asset, said Matt Vaughn, a program manager in the section where Caldwell works at DHS.

“He’s a real go-getter, and you never have to tell him [to execute a task] twice,” Vaughn said. “He gets it. He does it, and it’s always done well.”

Training, Teamwork

While Caldwell said training and teamwork have been the backbone of his success with the South Carolina Army National Guard and the DHS, he is furthering his personal and professional growth by attending school for intelligence studies at the American Military University.

“Education helps me relay my thoughts in a productive way, helping me better connect with soldiers,” he said.

But education has not been the only source of learning for Caldwell.

He was a self-described “gung-ho kid” when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He said the experience of working with his fellow soldiers in a deployed environment taught him the importance of thinking in a more critical and tempered way.

“I learned that even though you can’t control everything, you still have to remain mission focused,” Caldwell said. Following that mindset, he added, requires not making “emotional decisions.”

He said he tells new soldiers that taking on new tasks will help them stand out – such as becoming a “double threat” by learning the ins and outs of radio communication.

“Always be willing to learn something new,” Caldwell said. “Once you start to do that you fall into a pattern as that soldier with a can-do attitude.”

References

  1. ^ South Carolina Army National Guard (www.scguard.com)
  2. ^ Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
0

Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Homeland Security Promises to Prosecute 100 Percent of Illegal Immigration Cases

In a major policy shift, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are promising to prosecute everyone suspected of illegally entering the United States. The new approach will separate thousands of children from their parents when they are arrested, which critics called inhumane.

“We need legality and integrity in our immigration system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference in San Diego on Monday.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said as a protester with a bullhorn interrupted his remarks.

Politico reported Monday[1] that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo on Friday directing the department to refer all suspected border crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. Illegally entering the country has typically been treated as a civil matter in which the immigrant is subject to deportation. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

Border Patrol agents were told of the new policy over the weekend, said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because he or she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

“At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’ Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted,” the official said.

One of the biggest changes in the 100 percent prosecution policy will be the separation of families accused of illegally crossing the border together. Children, who cannot be held in criminal detention, will be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents are in custody. Previously, families caught entering the country illegally were most often quickly released together to await civil deportation hearings.

The 100 percent prosecution policy “is yet another solution in search of a problem,” said Jeremy McKinney, national secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association[2]. ”Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero. There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries. But the numbers are not unusual and the (federal immigration enforcement) infrastructure is there to enforce our country’s immigration laws. Devoting our finite resources to achieve misdemeanor convictions, especially when it results in the separation of mothers from their children, is, at best, bad public policy, and, at worst, unlawful selective prosecution.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it used a tough prosecution approach against parents in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector between July and November 2017, after the West Texas and New Mexico border region saw a surge in families and unaccompanied children. Homeland Security said illegal crossings by family units dropped by 64 percent after the aggressive prosecution began, then began to rise again after the program was “paused.”

Andre Segura, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said that is a simplistic analysis. “Crossings can vary depending on a number of factors, what’s going on in home countries—there are a lot of different factors,” he said.

The Washington Post, which first reported[3] the plans to arrest parents who bring their children into the country illegally, said jailing parents would deter others from attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.

Sessions reinforced that message at his San Diego news conference. “I have to say our goal is to have the whole world know that this border is not open. Don’t come unlawfully. Don’t put yourself or your family through such a stressful thing,” Sessions said.

The ACLU’s Segura said immigration policy requires multiple approaches. “Immigration policies should not be set based on deterrence alone. If this is, in fact, deterring people from fleeing violence and coming here for refuge, that is an enormous problem.”

Thomas Homan, the outgoing head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, also spoke at the San Diego news conference and said police separate families all the time when making arrests.

“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they’re arrested for a crime. We are a law enforcement agency. We are enforcing the criminal laws,” Homan said. “So I want to make this perfectly clear. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Entering the United States without permission and proper documents has long been a misdemeanor, but previous policies allowed many of those apprehended to go through the administrative deportation process rather than face criminal charges.

The new policy applies to people who enter the country without permission, such as coming in at an area other than a port of entry. It would not apply to people who surrender at ports of entry to seek asylum.

Criminal prosecutions for violating immigration laws spiked during President Obama’s first term, reaching nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2013, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University[4]. Such prosecutions declined in Obama’s second term and in President Trump’s first year in office, with fewer than 60,000 prosecutions in fiscal year 2016.

Sessions last week announced that the Justice Department was assigning 35 additional U.S. attorneys to the Southwest to handle additional immigration cases. That includes eight new prosecutors for the Southern District of Texas, which has the highest number of immigrant apprehensions along the border, and six in the Western District of Texas.

During his news conference, Sessions once again pointed to an increase in undocumented immigrant apprehensions in recent months. He said the number of apprehensions on the Southwest border tripled in April compared to the same month a year ago. However, Customs and Border Protection statistics show that the number of apprehensions over the past twelve months is 23 percent below the prior twelve-month period. Apprehension levels are less than half the levels of a decade ago.

0

Trump's transgender military ban 'worse than don't ask, don't tell,' advocates say

The Trump administration released two documents on Friday outlining the president’s ban on transgender people serving in the military[1]. While LGBTQ-rights advocates say this new measure is even more discriminatory than the now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they also note that recent court rulings prevent the ban from actually taking effect.

The administration’s first document, a memo[2] signed by the president, stated that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”

 President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on March 23, 2018 in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The second document[3], titled “Department of Defense Report and Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons,” lays out the specific policy recommendations regarding trans individuals serving U.S. military. The 46-page report stated that the department had concluded “accommodating gender transition could impair unit readiness,” “undermine unit cohesion” and “lead to disproportionate costs.”

“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House said in a statement[4] released on Friday.

“CATEGORICAL BAN”

The new report states “nothing in this policy precludes service by transgender persons who do not have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and are willing and able to meet all standards that apply to their biological sex.”

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), disagreed, claiming such a policy constitutes a “categorical ban” of transgender people from the military by requiring service members to live as their sex assigned at birth.

“It means you can’t be transgender,” Minter said. “This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in its justification … It would be as though the government had tried to justify the DADT policy by saying that you can serve in the military if you say you will stop being gay.”

With DADT, which was ended in 2011, “the government never went so far as to say that being lesbian or gay is not a legitimate identity and [lesbians and gays] should undertake therapy to become straight, but that is what this report is saying about transgender people,” according to Minter.

He argued the ideas in the plan “have zero medical credibility” and are “lifted whole from anti-transgender propaganda put out by right-wing groups.”

“PANEL OF EXPERTS”

A federal judge issued a court order[5] on Tuesday requiring that the Department of Justice disclose the names of the military experts the Trump administration consulted regarding its transgender military ban. On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a response[6] to the judge’s order, stating the administration chooses “not to identify” those consulted.

The Justice Department “is coming close to defying court orders,” Minter said. “They do not want to disclose what lay behind this process.”

An article published by Slate[7] on Saturday, which cited multiple unnamed sources, claimed that Trump’s “panel of experts” included several people with histories of opposing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, including Vice President Mike Pence[8]; anti-transgender activist Ryan T. Anderson[9]; and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins[10]. NBC News has not independently verified Slate’s findings.

Friday’s report addressed the findings and recommendations of a 2016 study commissioned by the Department of Defense and conducted by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank. That report found no reason to prevent the enlistment and service of openly transgender individuals. The new report stated the Pentagon had “reached a different judgment on these issues” than RAND and the previous administration, adding that the issue is “more complicated.”

Natalie Nardecchia, senior attorney at LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, slammed Friday’s report and said the previous administration “did a real report and did a real analysis … and then they enacted a policy.”

“That is the way it’s supposed to work, and this is the very opposite,” she said of the Trump administration’s findings.

“NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT”

Minter said the new policy is “as bad as it could be.” However, he said it has “no immediate impact,” because “federal courts have already issued orders saying the ban cannot be enforced.”

On Friday, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn echoed Minter’s assessment, saying the announcement of a new policy would have no immediate practical effect on the military, because the Pentagon is obliged to continue to recruit and retain transgender people in accordance with current law.

Minter said he does not expect any impact on currently enlisted soldiers or those attempting to enlist in the near future. However, because of what he called the plan’s “complete repudiation of transgender identity,” Minter said transgender troops may face additional stigma.

 Nicolas Talbott Courtesy of Nicolas Talbott

Nicolas Talbott, a 24-year-old transgender recruit from Lisbon, Ohio, said for now his enlistment process continues to advance.

“It’s going great,” he told NBC News. “I’m working with a wonderful recruiter, and at this moment we are waiting to … schedule a date for my physical exam and written test.”

Talbott said Friday’s documents were discouraging and felt like “another bump in the road,” but he said this just “reaffirms the fight is not over.”

“I am very optimistic that I’m going to get into the U.S. Air Force,” Talbott said. “There is nothing about being transgender in any way, shape or form that impacts an individual’s ability to serve.”

Nardecchia, agreed, saying “there is no medical or scientific support for presuming that transgender people are unfit.” Gender dysphoria, she added, “is a fully treatable condition that only some transgender people experience.”

“LEGALLY IRRELEVANT”

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), NCLR and Equality California brought four different lawsuits before federal courts last year in attempts to block the transgender military ban. The courts issued preliminary injunctions, which prevent even this newly released implementation plan from taking effect.

Late last year, two different federal courts rebuffed the administration’s efforts to delay the enlistment of transgender troops, and the Justice Department declined to appeal those decisions[11]. Openly transgender troops began to enlist on January 1.

“Anything that the government comes forward with now is legally irrelevant,” Nardecchia said, adding that the burden is on the government to demonstrate a persuasive justification to stop allowing transgender troops to serve openly.

Nardecchia called Friday’s report “reverse engineering” in an attempt by the government to provide the courts with a valid justification for the ban.

“WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING”

On Tuesday, Nardecchia and other attorneys from Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, which together represent nine transgender service members, will seek a permanent injunction against the ban.

“We are asking for the court to grant a summary judgment — without going to trial — and to permanently prevent the ban from going into law,” she explained.

Nardecchia said she doesn’t know when the court might hand down a decision, but she’s “optimistic.”

“We will keep fighting until we get a final judgment,” she added.

The release of the new transgender military policy, according to Minter, is good for LGBTQ advocates fighting the ban. “We now know exactly what we have to rebut in the court,” he said.

Minter is working on a separate case from Nardecchia, Doe v. Trump. The lawsuit, which was filed by NCLR and GLAD, was the first to challenge the ban.

“We are proceeding with discovery, which is all the more important now,” he said. “Where did they come up with these discredited views? What was this process? Who was involved?”

Minter expects the government — as it did in its refusal to disclose its “panel of experts” — to appeal any decision not in its favor.

“Eventually it is likely that it will reach the Supreme Court,” he said of the transgender military ban.

FOLLOW NBC OUT[12] ON TWITTER[13], FACEBOOK[14] AND INSTAGRAM[15]

References

  1. ^ ban on transgender people serving in the military (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ memo (www.lambdalegal.org)
  3. ^ document (www.lambdalegal.org)
  4. ^ statement (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ court order (www.washingtonblade.com)
  6. ^ filed a response (www.washingtonblade.com)
  7. ^ published by Slate (slate.com)
  8. ^ Mike Pence (www.nbcnews.com)
  9. ^ Ryan T. Anderson (thinkprogress.org)
  10. ^ Tony Perkins (www.glaad.org)
  11. ^ declined to appeal those decisions (www.nbcnews.com)
  12. ^ NBC OUT (www.nbcnews.com)
  13. ^ TWITTER (twitter.com)
  14. ^ FACEBOOK (www.facebook.com)
  15. ^ INSTAGRAM (www.instagram.com)
0

God of War Combat Team Talk Versatile Encounters & Throwable Axe

God of War Combat

While there are definite similarities to previous games in the series, God of War has substantial changes when it comes to combat. From the throwable axe to Kratos’ son, Atreus, who is valuable as both a distraction and a weapon, there’s plenty of nuance that players will have to get used to.

I had the pleasure of talking to three members of the action game’s combat team: Lead Gameplay Designer Jason McDonald, Combat Designer Kate Salsman, and Lead Systems Designer Vince Napoli. Check out my interview below to learn more about God of War‘s combat system.

Tyler Treese: With my hands-on time with the game, what really impressed me was how every encounter felt unique in that it never felt like filler content. What went into designing the combat exchanges, and making sure they never felt cookie cutter in design?

Jason McDonald, Lead Gameplay Designer: Yeah, I mean a big part of this game was trying to make sure that the enemies had nuance. That you could play the same character multiple times and have fun depending on how many respawn or where they are. So for example, like for the Draugr in a roof pass area, you’ll see some up high, which kind of emphasize the ranged abilities. You’ll see guys spawn near pits where you can knock them out the arena, you’ll see the heavy guys come in and that kind of forces your strategy to change. There are ones that have the kind of arm fire power that throw the fireballs at you, that’ll change everything up. So, what we try to do is just make sure that encounter to encounter we do something that kind of puts an emphasis on a different set of Kratos’ abilities so you can have that variety you’re talking about.

You talked about the range of abilities, which is certainly something the series has had in the past, but it feels like there’s more of a focus on it here and there’s more dimensions to the range of attacks like the axe. Can you discuss designing those and what it took to come up with that the axe?

Jason McDonald: Throwable axe, you say? Well, this is the guy that came up with idea and kind of iterated upon.

Vince Napoli, Lead Systems Designer: I mean we knew that we wanted a closer camera, so we knew that was going to kind of really change everything. We went how do we integrate sort of that camera feel into the gameplay and sort of how do we modernize action games and kind of combine a little bit of shooter elements? I think right from the get go it was like, “Okay, we want ranged and melee to kind of be hand in hand,” and that’s when we started having the ability to just kind like recall [the axe]. The fact that you can trip enemies and then bring it back and hit them on the way back, or if enemies have shields you can hit them from behind. Combining that with the punching, we basically sort of found our niche where it’s basically a ranged melee game, which is usually really tough to do.

God of War Combat

I felt like there was a lot of freedom in combat because even a mistake can be advantageous. Since you can recall the axe. Were all the mechanics designed with that in mind of letting the player have that sort of freedom?

Vince Napoli: Yeah. I mean that’s why we wanted to really emphasize the ability to throw the axe and leave it. Basically be able to, not only impale enemies but leave it stuck in the world. You can line up enemies and kind of recall it through all of them. Even objects or breakables that you can hit with it. That was the idea. If we can make the axe fully sandbox playable then the amount of stuff that you kind of come up with. I mean, early on [director] Cory [Barlog] kind of fell in love with the recalling through enemies, and once we knew that was in there we’re like, “OK, well this has to stay and we have to even create like the witch and other characters to kind of deal with it in really clever ways too.”

Jason McDonald: And that close camera perspective helps us too because the fact that you can’t see enemies behind you and there’s that nuance to it. Wherever you’re evading, wherever you’re moving around and you end up in different places and environment almost every single time you play. So, even if you’re playing the same counter over and over, it usually doesn’t act in the same way because the way of the enemy’s moving. Where you move changes all of your opportunities, whether they’re going to take a pit or a wall or anything else like range or your melee. It keeps changing enough which feels good,

The series is definitely known for its boss encounters. We’re still seeing that huge scale and size here, but it’s very different due to the perspective change. How difficult was it implementing such dangerous enemies while still staying true to the new style of combat?

Jason McDonald: Yeah, it was a challenge. Like this game is definitely a fresh start for us to kind of just start from the beginning and go “OK, you know, with Cory’s new narrative and new kind of overall direction of the game, like what can we do to just make everything feel different and make everything still retain the same God of War feel before but from this new perspective?” So because of that, it’s like a tuning how large an enemy could even be before it gets too annoying to look up at him, or how many enemies can attack you from all directions, or what you should be targeting. We’ve made significant effort to kind of apply that to every new design.

God of War Combat

Cory stated that it took awhile for the combat to really come together, and really feel satisfying. Can you talk about the challenges of development and how far it’s come?

Jason McDonald: Well, he’s wrong. Like it was perfect [whole team laughs] right down to everything. Yeah. I mean I think the first thing was just trying to figure out what was going to be the details of this game. You know, we knew that we’re going to try to bring the camera close. We did that right away and the first instinct was well we shouldn’t do this, you know, because we had the same old behavior pattern that we have for the enemies and things like that. So we were playing with that, with that close camera perspective and just seeing that OK this isn’t really working too well, maybe we should just go back to what we did before and we actually started doing that, like three iterations of like little internal play tests. We would start bringing the camera back and start changing things and then then it got so far back that were like, OK, now this is looking exactly like the older games.

So, what can we do now? So what we did is we actually brought [the camera] way in and we brought it in closer than we even started to try to not do this hybrid thing, which is kind of far. We just went in close and we got a lot of people to play it and try to see like, “OK, from this perspective, like what do you think?” And like he was saying, once we added the axe throw capability that really worked really well for that perspective. It allowed Kratos to handle enemies at distance and close ranges like he used to do in the past. It just started to take off from there once we started just actually battling the problem of, “OK, what do you need to do?” That’s when all this stuff started to become more important because now that you’re right down in there, you can kind of really get the depth perception of those. I would just do this is right next to the wall and take advantage of that, and all that decision making started to take off.

Vince Napoli: It also turned the corner to you when the son became [a part of gameplay]. I don’t know how much you use him in combat, but he’s actually like a massive tool that you have. He’s got a lot of abilities and a lot of behaviors that aren’t really accustomed to a lot of the enemies. Once we realized that with this limited camera perspective, having another character that can draw agro, protect you, call things out, or on command interrupted people and stun them was huge. So like once that tool came online, all of a sudden the cameras and stuff didn’t really become a hindrance. It became part of the gameplay of using him correctly. Like how well can you manipulate him just as well as your own character? I think that was like a big step.

God of War Combat

Atreus is definitely helpful dealing with the witch, which was one of the more difficult encounters I had. Tell me a bit about designing that fight because it’s such a different encounter compared to what you face early on?

Kate Salsman, Combat Designer: Well, we tried to design her as more of an enforcer character who enforces a certain mechanic in the game. And so up to that point you’re mostly spent fighting Draugr s and you’re using your light and heavy attacks and axes, but to actually encounter an enemy where, “OK, that doesn’t work now, now I have to use another mechanic to fight her.” It’s kind of interesting and trains you to start considering other strategies and combat.

So, we had a lot of iteration time early on because initially we were like, “OK, she dodges most of the time but not all the time.” And that could be confusing. So, we ended up going more towards the route of “OK, she’s an on/off type, a tight mechanic where unless you use the son to break her armor with his command arrows, then you just can’t hit her. So that becomes really interesting once you start seeing her with the Draugr in the other fight because it just forces you to change up your strategy.

Can you talk about the design because it kind of teaches the player without going into an in your face tutorial because you’re organically teaching that player to use that mechanic. How important that is to the overall game design?

Kate Salsman: I will say that, she’s kind of the first creature that teaches you, “Okay, I really do need to use the son arrows.” I mean before, he’s helpful in distracting enemies, but with her it kind of teaches you, “OK, this mechanic really is important,” and I will say that. We can only speak about what’s [in the demo] at this time, but using the son is important.

Jason McDonald: Right at the beginning of the game we do kind of throw lots of tutorials at you because we want to make sure that you understand how this new God of War plays. So throughout the game we try to do things like that revenant where you know, naturally the son becomes more important, sometimes more of a forced importance and it kind of reminds you that he’s there. What we find is when people play the game and they fight her, it’s like if they maybe stopped using Atreus for awhile, they remember it right when you fight her and then after that they’re using it. And again it kind of creates this pacing where sometimes you might just be enjoying what he’s doing in the background and not really engaging with them as much, but then once you encounter characters like that, you start engaging with them and more, and then you start naturally engaging even more after that.

God of War is such a popular franchise and it has a very passionate fan base. And since you’re rocking the boat a lot with this sequel, some of the fans have been displeased. Do you feel like once they get their hands on it, they’ll feel that like there is still that God of War DNA in it and that the combat feels familiar? Because I definitely felt that when I was playing that like there were moments where it was like, “Oh yeah, this is totally God of War.” Like there’s a new wrapping and I think it plays better than past games but a sense of familiarity is definitely there.

Jason McDonald: That’s fantastic, and that’s exactly what I expect everybody to feel now. When you see the trailers and you see the kind of perspective, it’s understandable that you would look at that and go “Well no other games look like that. So how is this game going and be like, what is this game?” So I think that through four plus years of effort, we’ve been trying to make sure that with this new storytelling, with this new narrative, new mythology, like everything that’s new in this game, that it still has that God of War DNA. As the game continues, you’ll just see more and more of that.

Were there any other action games that had an influence on the design, and figuring out the new camera?

Jason McDonald: I don’t think so. The main thing that drew us to make decisions in this game, was just really getting to this new direction that Cory was bringing to the series. Like you really wanted to get up close and personal and you really wanted to get close to Atreus. So like he wanted all of these things in order to do that. Like I was saying, when we started playing with the camera distances and having a far back and close and whatever, and then we just ended up kind of gravitating to decisions that just helped with the core design philosophy of just like right up there, up and close brutality. Atreus right nearby at all times and always going with that.


We’d like to give a major thank you to Jason, Vince, Kate and the team at Santa Monica Studio for letting us see God of War early. For even more coverage, check out our hands-on preview[1] of the opening hours, and read our interview with director Cory Barlog[2].

Disclosure: Travel and accommodation was provided by Sony for the trip.

References

  1. ^ hands-on preview (www.playstationlifestyle.net)
  2. ^ our interview with director Cory Barlog (www.playstationlifestyle.net)