Tagged: force

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

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – International donors have raised half a billion dollars for a multi-national military operation in West Africa’s Sahel region, the EU’s top diplomat said on Friday, as Europe seeks to stop migrants and militants reaching its shores.

At a conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, countries pledged 414 million euros ($509 million) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The European Union, which believes training local forces will avoid risking the lives of its own combat troops, was one of the biggest donors, doubling its contribution to 116 million euros. It paves the way to make the force fully operational later this year.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed that promises had to be followed through on quickly to reach troops, while African leaders said the money so far would only cover the first year of operations.

France, the region’s former colonial power with more than 4,000 soldiers in the region, welcomed the donations after several years of struggling to raise sufficient financing.

The change in sentiment reflected concern that the Sahel could be a springboard for attacks on the West, diplomats said.

“We will continue our offensive alongside the G5 Sahel force to eradicate jihadi terrorist violence across the region,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron said, standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

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

The United States has some 800 troops in Niger, where four U.S. soldiers died in October, but global awareness of the security importance of the vast, desert region remains low.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggled to name the five countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as he arrived at the conference.

(First row L-R) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades take part in a group photo during a High Level Conference on the Sahel in Brussels, Belgium February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

But Germany’s Merkel said the pledges showed the European Union’s commitment to stabilize the arid region: “We cannot only start to fight illegal migration in Libya. We have to start in Mali, Niger, Chad. All of Europe is involved,” she said.

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

About 350,000 people traveled through Niger alone in 2017, mostly hoping to reach Europe but some trying to return home, according to the Red Cross.

Slideshow (13 Images)

TWO OPTIONS: MIGRATE OR DIE

Evoking the desperation young people feel in the impoverished Sahel, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said many had just two options in life: to die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe or to die at the hands of militants.

“We have to act resolutely to change the face of the Sahel region or risk seeing this region of the world fall irreversibly into chaos and violence,” Issoufou told the conference after asking leaders and ministers to stand for a moment of silence for two French soldiers killed this week in Mali.

But Issoufou said the force would still need future financing on an annual basis of around 115 million euros and urged the West to take the fight against militants as seriously as it has taken the threat in Iraq and Syria.

As well as the European Union, pledges have come from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

France is set to spend 1.2 billion euros to fund development in the region over the next five years, a 40 percent increase over current levels, while other countries are expected to provide more aid for farmers, schools and water projects.

The European Union is investing 8 billion euros in development aid in the region, according to EU data.

($1 = 0.8132 euros)

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; and Jean-Baptiste Vey

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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EU to double funding for military force in West Africa's Sahel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – International donors have raised half a billion dollars for a multi-national military operation in West Africa’s Sahel region, the EU’s top diplomat said on Friday, as Europe seeks to stop migrants and militants reaching its shores.

At a conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, countries pledged 414 million euros ($509 million) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The European Union, which believes training local forces will avoid risking the lives of its own combat troops, was one of the biggest donors, doubling its contribution to 116 million euros. It paves the way to make the force fully operational later this year.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed that promises had to be followed through on quickly to reach troops, while African leaders said the money so far would only cover the first year of operations.

France, the region’s former colonial power with more than 4,000 soldiers in the region, welcomed the donations after several years of struggling to raise sufficient financing.

The change in sentiment reflected concern that the Sahel could be a springboard for attacks on the West, diplomats said.

“We will continue our offensive alongside the G5 Sahel force to eradicate jihadi terrorist violence across the region,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron said, standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

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

The United States has some 800 troops in Niger, where four U.S. soldiers died in October, but global awareness of the security importance of the vast, desert region remains low.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggled to name the five countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as he arrived at the conference.

(First row L-R) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades take part in a group photo during a High Level Conference on the Sahel in Brussels, Belgium February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

But Germany’s Merkel said the pledges showed the European Union’s commitment to stabilize the arid region: “We cannot only start to fight illegal migration in Libya. We have to start in Mali, Niger, Chad. All of Europe is involved,” she said.

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

About 350,000 people traveled through Niger alone in 2017, mostly hoping to reach Europe but some trying to return home, according to the Red Cross.

Slideshow (13 Images)

TWO OPTIONS: MIGRATE OR DIE

Evoking the desperation young people feel in the impoverished Sahel, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said many had just two options in life: to die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe or to die at the hands of militants.

“We have to act resolutely to change the face of the Sahel region or risk seeing this region of the world fall irreversibly into chaos and violence,” Issoufou told the conference after asking leaders and ministers to stand for a moment of silence for two French soldiers killed this week in Mali.

But Issoufou said the force would still need future financing on an annual basis of around 115 million euros and urged the West to take the fight against militants as seriously as it has taken the threat in Iraq and Syria.

As well as the European Union, pledges have come from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

France is set to spend 1.2 billion euros to fund development in the region over the next five years, a 40 percent increase over current levels, while other countries are expected to provide more aid for farmers, schools and water projects.

The European Union is investing 8 billion euros in development aid in the region, according to EU data.

($1 = 0.8132 euros)

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; and Jean-Baptiste Vey

References

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

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

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will double its funding for a multi-national military operation in West Africa’s Sahel region to counter Islamist insurgencies, the EU’s top diplomat said on Friday, part of a broader effort to stop migrants and militants.

At a donor conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, former colonial power France looked set to win enough backing to allow the new regional force to be fully operational later this year.

“This is not about charity, this is a partnership,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters, promising a doubling of EU funding to 100 million euros for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The G5 Sahel force 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.

Evoking the desperation young people feel in the impoverished Sahel, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said many had just two options in life: to die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe or to die at the hands of militants.

“We have to act resolutely to change the face of the Sahel region or risk seeing this region of the world fall irreversibly into chaos and violence,” Issoufou told the conference after asking leaders and ministers to stand for a moment of silence for two French soldiers killed this week in Mali.

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

While the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in October in Niger have highlighted the security threat, public awareness is low. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggled to name the five countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as he arrived at the conference.

(First row L-R) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades take part in a group photo during a High Level Conference on the Sahel in Brussels, Belgium February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

France, which has more than 4,000 troops in the region, hopes to reach at least 300 million euros in military aid on Friday to overcome financing problems for the force that was first proposed in 2014, 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.

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

Slideshow (13 Images)

“PRICE OF PEACE”

France is also 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, while other countries are expected to provide more aid for farmers, schools and water projects.

Mogherini said the European Union was spending 8 billion euros in development aid in the region over eight years.

“Peace has no price, peace is made with financial support” Mogherini said.

French President Emmanuel Macron will call for more to be done to support a separate EU train-and-advise mission in Mali, an EU diplomat said, and is seeking 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.

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.

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Janet Lawrence

References

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

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

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – International donors have raised half a billion dollars for a multi-national military operation in West Africa’s Sahel region, the EU’s top diplomat said on Friday, as Europe seeks to stop migrants and militants reaching its shores.

At a conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, countries pledged 414 million euros ($509 million) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The European Union, which believes training local forces will avoid risking the lives of its own combat troops, was one of the biggest donors, doubling its contribution to 116 million euros. It paves the way to make the force fully operational later this year.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed that promises had to be followed through on quickly to reach troops, while African leaders said the money so far would only cover the first year of operations.

France, the region’s former colonial power with more than 4,000 soldiers in the region, welcomed the donations after several years of struggling to raise sufficient financing.

The change in sentiment reflected concern that the Sahel could be a springboard for attacks on the West, diplomats said.

“We will continue our offensive alongside the G5 Sahel force to eradicate jihadi terrorist violence across the region,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron said, standing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

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

The United States has some 800 troops in Niger, where four U.S. soldiers died in October, but global awareness of the security importance of the vast, desert region remains low.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggled to name the five countries of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as he arrived at the conference.

(First row L-R) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades take part in a group photo during a High Level Conference on the Sahel in Brussels, Belgium February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

But Germany’s Merkel said the pledges showed the European Union’s commitment to stabilize the arid region: “We cannot only start to fight illegal migration in Libya. We have to start in Mali, Niger, Chad. All of Europe is involved,” she said.

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

About 350,000 people traveled through Niger alone in 2017, mostly hoping to reach Europe but some trying to return home, according to the Red Cross.

Slideshow (13 Images)

TWO OPTIONS: MIGRATE OR DIE

Evoking the desperation young people feel in the impoverished Sahel, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said many had just two options in life: to die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe or to die at the hands of militants.

“We have to act resolutely to change the face of the Sahel region or risk seeing this region of the world fall irreversibly into chaos and violence,” Issoufou told the conference after asking leaders and ministers to stand for a moment of silence for two French soldiers killed this week in Mali.

But Issoufou said the force would still need future financing on an annual basis of around 115 million euros and urged the West to take the fight against militants as seriously as it has taken the threat in Iraq and Syria.

As well as the European Union, pledges have come from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

France is set to spend 1.2 billion euros to fund development in the region over the next five years, a 40 percent increase over current levels, while other countries are expected to provide more aid for farmers, schools and water projects.

The European Union is investing 8 billion euros in development aid in the region, according to EU data.

($1 = 0.8132 euros)

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; and Jean-Baptiste Vey

References

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