Tagged: history

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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

1ST BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: 326th BEB provides diverse combat enablers

While most battalions have one primary role in its support of the brigade combat team, brigade engineer battalions provide multiple critical functions to enable combat operations.

Soldiers from 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, showcased their unit’s versatility during a weeklong field training exercise, March 12-Friday, at Fort Campbell’s training area.

The FTX prepared the battalion to better integrate into brigade-level combined arms training events. The FTX also certified certain elements on their mission essential tasks.

“The 326th BEB is the most unique battalion within the Bastogne brigade,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Zimmer, 326th BEB commander, who often compares his battalion to a multipurpose tool. “Each tool performs a different function, and this is how our battalion supports the brigade.”

Those tools include six companies from which there are two engineer companies, a signal company, a military intelligence company, a forward support company and a headquarters and headquarters company.

Soldiers from A and B engineer companies conducted engineer qualification tables, Sapper missions focused on reconnaissance, mobility and counter mobility, and survivability operations.  “We have an area reconnaissance lane, and a complex obstacle breach lane, a route reconnaissance lane, and a complex obstacle emplacement lane where they are actually emplacing a deliberate crater and an 11-row wire obstacle,” said Capt. Benjamin Speckhart, A Co., 326th BEB commander.

The Soldiers of C Company, the signal company, performed retransmission and networking training, and sling load operations to hone their military occupational skill-specific and air assault skills.

The Soldiers of D Company, the military intelligence company, consists of three platoons – the unmanned aircraft system platoon that operates the RQ-7 Shadow UAS, a multi-function platoon that has signal and human intelligence capabilities, and an information collection platoon that, with the brigade intelligence section, analyzes information from all reconnaissance assets for Bastogne. The Soldiers conducted aerial reconnaissance missions in support of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, and 326th BEB’s platoon defensive live-fire exercises,

The forward support Soldiers of E Company increased their lethality during the platoon defensive live fire as well as conducted sling load operations to certify day and night aerial resupply missions. Additionally, the maintenance platoon conducted recovery operations, the field feeding section cooked and served meals for more than 500 Soldiers during the week, and the distribution platoon supported the entire battalion with fuel and ammo.

During the defensive live-fire exercise, the chemical reconnaissance platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company conducted decontamination training to increase the knowledge and skills for Soldiers throughout the battalion.

“We’re training on how to properly decontaminate equipment and vehicles so that in the case we are attacked, we can set up a decon line and get them back to the battle,” said Spc. Thomas Rivera, a CBRN specialist. This training is important because there are countries who are experimenting with chemicals, and there’s a history of chemicals being used, so I feel it is our responsibility to actually make sure everybody is prepared for such an attack.”  

0

The US military wants AI to dream up weird new helicopters

AI can already dream up imaginary celebrities[1], so perhaps it can help the Army imagine revolutionary new engine parts or aircraft, too.

That’s the goal of a new project from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)[2], the research wing of the US Defense Department. DARPA wants entrants to rethink the way complex components are designed by combining recent advances in machine learning with fundamental tenets of math and engineering.

AI is increasingly being used to imagine new things, from celebrity faces[3] to clothing[4] (see “The GANfather: The man who’s given machines the gift of imagination[5]”). The systems being used to conjure up new ideas are still in their early stages, but they show a path forward.

Machine learning is also already used in some areas of design and engineering, but the DARPA project aims to apply it more broadly, and to the crucial task of determining function and form. “We are using very few computational tools,” says Jan Vandenbrande, the DARPA program manager in charge. “It’s very artisan.”

Recommended for You

One project selected for funding by DARPA is D-FOCUS, from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and PARC, the research company spun out of Xerox.

D-FOCUS doesn’t come up with new designs from scratch but offers up alternatives to existing designs. If the early phase of the design process is automated, a human designer can explore more design options and compare trade-offs with each option before committing to a potentially very expensive plan, says Johan de Kleer, the PARC lead on the project.

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Under the DARPA challenge, software has to come up with designs for machines that can solve classic engineering questions, like how to transport water uphill.

Using hard-coded laws of physics along with functional requirements provided by a human designer, D-FOCUS can explore potential design concepts. For the moving-water-uphill problem, for instance, the system suggested using the Leidenfrost effect—a phenomenon where water droplets on a very hot surface create a thin layer of vapor beneath themselves, causing a repulsive force that makes the water hover above the surface. The researchers admit that this concept is largely impractical, but it is the type of out-there thinking that can push designers to come up with innovative designs.

DARPA has a long history of backing early technologies. The DARPA Grand Challenge[7] was the first long-distance competition for driverless cars, back in 2004, and it kicked off the current boom in self-driving technology. More recently, DARPA funded an Explainable AI (XAI)[8] program to develop new AI systems that were easier for humans to understand.

Mike Haley, Autodesk’s senior director of machine intelligence, says AI could expand design beyond boundaries imposed by the bias and groupthink that humans can succumb to. “We are going to think beyond our brains and come up with ideas that we would have never come up with before,” Haley says. “It’s like having the world’s most wonderful mentor.”

References

  1. ^ dream up imaginary celebrities (www.technologyreview.com)
  2. ^ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (www.darpa.mil)
  3. ^ celebrity faces (www.technologyreview.com)
  4. ^ clothing (www.technologyreview.com)
  5. ^ The GANfather: The man who’s given machines the gift of imagination (www.technologyreview.com)
  6. ^ Manage your newsletter preferences (www.technologyreview.com)
  7. ^ DARPA Grand Challenge (www.darpa.mil)
  8. ^ Explainable AI (XAI) (www.darpa.mil)
0

Poisoning of Russian ex-spy puts spotlight on Moscow's secret military labs

During his last run for the presidency, in 2012, Russian leader Vladimir Putin startled U.S. military experts with a mysterious pledge to develop novel kinds of weapons to counter the West’s technological edge. Armies of the future, he said, would need weapons “based on new physical principles” including “genetic” and “psychophysical” science.

“Such high-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons,” Putin said in an essay published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s newspaper of record, “but will be more ‘acceptable’ in terms of ­political and military ideology.”

Exactly what Putin meant — and how any “genetic” weapon could square with international treaties outlawing chemical and biological warfare — remains uncertain. But what is now clear is that Putin’s words unleashed a wave of activity across a complex of heavily guarded military and civilian laboratories in Russia.

Since the start of Putin’s second term, a construction boom has been underway at more than two dozen institutes that were once part of the Soviet Union’s biological and chemical weapons establishment, according to Russian documents and photos compiled by independent researchers. That expansion, which includes multiple new or refurbished testing facilities, is particularly apparent at secret Defense Ministry laboratories that have long drawn the suspicions of U.S. officials over possible arms-treaty violations.

[Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses[1]]

Russian officials insist that the research in government-run labs is purely defensive and perfectly legal. But the effort has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of allegations of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Both were sickened by exposure to Novichok[2], a kind of highly lethal nerve agent uniquely developed by Russian military scientists years ago.

“The big question is, why are they doing this?” said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. In a newly released book[3], “Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia[4],” ­Zilinskas and co-author Philippe Mauger analyze hundreds of contract documents and other records that show a surge in Russian research interest in subjects ranging from genetically modified pathogens to nonlethal chemical weapons used for crowd control.

The analysis also tracks a simultaneous rise in sensationalist Russian claims that the United States is itself pursuing offensive biological weapons. Reports posted on state-sponsored news sites and amplified over social media have accused U.S. scientists of being behind recent outbreaks of the Zika virus as well as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that began in 2014. In each instance, U.S. federal agencies marshaled a sizable response to counter or contain the outbreaks.

Such baseless claims could be viewed as part of a deliberate effort to “explain to their own people why they need to do this research,” Zilinskas said in an interview.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to answer written questions but forwarded a March 13 statement by Vassily A. Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Nebenzia denied any involvement by the Kremlin in the March 4 nerve-agent attack and suggested that it was the United States and Britain, not Russia, that were continuing to conduct illegal research to create “new toxic substances.”

[Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack[5]]

The research by Zilinskas and Mauger appears to bear out long-held concerns by the State Department, which has sharply criticized Russia in recent years over a lack of transparency in its military-related biological and chemical research. Since 2012, State Department officials have issued a series of reports faulting Moscow for refusing to open its military research laboratories to outside inspectors, and for failing to provide proof that it destroyed the highly lethal arsenals created by Red Army scientists in the years before the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state for international security and arms control during the Obama administration, said that even before Putin, U.S. officials questioned whether the Kremlin had owned up to its past “fully and transparently.” But over the past six years, official distrust has grown as Moscow has embraced a more aggressive foreign policy that includes intimidation of Russia’s neighbors and an unabashed support for a Syrian dictator who uses nerve agents to kill his own people.

“Moscow’s full-throated defense of Syrian use of chemical weapons[6] — and, especially, its apparent use of chemical agents in targeted assassinations — only add to the concerns,” Countryman said.

Cold War pathogens

When the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991, the Russian Federation became the heir to history’s most dangerous arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

During the Cold War, Soviet leaders spent vast sums to create weaponized versions of 11 different pathogens — including the microbes that cause anthrax, smallpox and the plague — while also experimenting with genetically altered strains. They created new classes of chemical toxins, such as Novichok, reportedly used in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.

[What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots[7]]

A fourth-generation nerve agent more deadly than VX, Novichok is the stuff of legend. Russia denies that it ever researched or manufactured such nerve agents, but it arrested a former Soviet weapons scientist[8] on charges of divulging state secrets after he published details about Soviet Novichok production in newspaper articles and a memoir.

The Soviet program was motivated in part by competition with the United States. Washington maintained its own stockpile of nerve agents during the Cold War and manufactured biological weapons until 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon dismantled the program. But the Kremlin pressed ahead, convinced that the Pentagon was continuing bioweapons research in secret. Finally, in 1992, newly installed Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of the secret program to U.S. officials and reported that all Soviet bioweapons had been destroyed.

In the years immediately following the Cold War, securing and dismantling Soviet weapons of mass destruction united Americans and Russians in a common cause[9]. The United States helped Russia build incinerators for destroying its chemical weapons, and it sponsored programs that paired former Soviet bioweapons scientists with Western companies to keep them employed during the country’s economic transition.

[Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack[10]]

Such U.S.-Russian technical cooperation began to wane after Putin’s election as president, and it collapsed after the Russian strongman won a second term in 2012. Yet, even during the Yeltsin years, Russia refused to grant ­access to key weapons sites, including four biodefense laboratories run by the Russian military and perpetually sealed off from outside visitors, former U.S. officials said.

“We were always curious: Were they embarrassed to let us in because of the shape of their labs? Or were they hiding something?” said Laura Holgate, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on preventing biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.

Holgate allowed that Russia’s reluctance also may have reflected a “paranoia about what the U.S. might be learning” about the country’s military capabilities. In any case, she said, it became clear over time that Putin intended to preserve some Soviet-era capabilities for use in very specific situations. One of these was assassination — the killing of the Kremlin’s opponents using methods that were dramatic, yet allowed Moscow to plausibly deny culpability. Another was crowd control: the use of controversial “knockout” chemicals to incapacitate individuals involved in hostage standoffs and other mass disturbances.

Officials familiar with Russia’s program said the expanded activity at military labs may be partly aimed at honing those capabilities, giving Putin a variety of tools for dealing with adversaries while seeking to avoid the most flagrant violations of Russia’s treaty obligations.

“That would be in line with behavior that we’ve been seeing for years,” Holgate said.

Satellite evidence

Whatever the explanation, the buildup is striking. Data collected by Zilinskas and Mauger includes contract documents, ­Russian-language reports and aerial imagery that shed light on a dramatic expansion at the four secret Defense Ministry laboratories and numerous government-run civilian research centers across the country.

At one military complex at Yekaterinburg — the scene of an accidental release[11] of anthrax spores in 1979 that is said to have killed 100 workers and townspeople — satellite images show clusters of newly built, warehouse-size industrial buildings dotting a walled campus. Renovations can be observed in older buildings that in Soviet times were factories for mass-producing bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.

At the 33rd Central Research Test Institute at Shikhany — formerly a “closed” Russian military city on the Volga River in southwest Russia — records point to a recent spending spree for specialized equipment such as freeze-drying machines used in microbial production. Lab officials are shown soliciting bids for repairs to a wind tunnel, the type used in testing aerosolized bacteria and viruses, as well as upgrades to an area of bermed storage pens that the researchers say are probably intended for open-air testing involving explosives.

Wind tunnels and outdoor testing facilities can be used legitimately to develop defenses against biological and chemical attacks. Indeed, the Pentagon employs similar equipment at its biodefense research facilities in Maryland and Utah. But Zilinskas and Mauger say the Russian expansion invites a higher level of scrutiny in light of the explicit calls by Russian leaders for work on novel kinds of weapons, including “genetic” ones.

After Putin’s essay in 2012, several senior military officials, including the defense minister at the time, Anatoly Serdyukov, publicly endorsed Putin’s appeal for new kinds of weapons and promised to start building them, the researchers note. Serdyukov specifically pledged to incorporate “genetic” research in creating Russia’s next-generation arsenals.

“We noted the numerous high-level calls for the development of biotechnology-based weapons in Russia, without further specification,” Zilinskas and Mauger write. At minimum, the vagueness of such statements potentially opens the door for any military official or “ambitious scientist” to lobby for a chance to develop a new kind of weapon — with the implicit blessing of top Russian officials, they write.

“When taken in conjunction with the [military’s] apparent support for the development of ‘genetic’ weapons, these statements erode normative barriers toward biological weapons in Russia,” the authors say.

Anton Troianovski in Moscow contributed to this report.

Read more:

With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West[12]

The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad[13]

Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case[14]

References

  1. ^ Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ exposure to Novichok (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ book (www.rienner.com)
  4. ^ Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ Syrian use of chemical weapons (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ former Soviet weapons scientist (www.voanews.com)
  9. ^ a common cause (armscontrolcenter.org)
  10. ^ Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ accidental release (nsarchive2.gwu.edu)
  12. ^ With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Poisoning of Russian ex-spy puts spotlight on Moscow's secret military labs

During his last run for the presidency, in 2012, Russian leader Vladimir Putin startled U.S. military experts with a mysterious pledge to develop novel kinds of weapons to counter the West’s technological edge. Armies of the future, he said, would need weapons “based on new physical principles” including “genetic” and “psychophysical” science.

“Such high-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons,” Putin said in an essay published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s newspaper of record, “but will be more ‘acceptable’ in terms of ­political and military ideology.”

Exactly what Putin meant — and how any “genetic” weapon could square with international treaties outlawing chemical and biological warfare — remains uncertain. But what is now clear is that Putin’s words unleashed a wave of activity across a complex of heavily guarded military and civilian laboratories in Russia.

Since the start of Putin’s second term, a construction boom has been underway at more than two dozen institutes that were once part of the Soviet Union’s biological and chemical weapons establishment, according to Russian documents and photos compiled by independent researchers. That expansion, which includes multiple new or refurbished testing facilities, is particularly apparent at secret Defense Ministry laboratories that have long drawn the suspicions of U.S. officials over possible arms-treaty violations.

[Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses[1]]

Russian officials insist that the research in government-run labs is purely defensive and perfectly legal. But the effort has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of allegations of Moscow’s involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Both were sickened by exposure to Novichok[2], a kind of highly lethal nerve agent uniquely developed by Russian military scientists years ago.

“The big question is, why are they doing this?” said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. In a newly released book[3], “Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia[4],” ­Zilinskas and co-author Philippe Mauger analyze hundreds of contract documents and other records that show a surge in Russian research interest in subjects ranging from genetically modified pathogens to nonlethal chemical weapons used for crowd control.

The analysis also tracks a simultaneous rise in sensationalist Russian claims that the United States is itself pursuing offensive biological weapons. Reports posted on state-sponsored news sites and amplified over social media have accused U.S. scientists of being behind recent outbreaks of the Zika virus as well as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that began in 2014. In each instance, U.S. federal agencies marshaled a sizable response to counter or contain the outbreaks.

Such baseless claims could be viewed as part of a deliberate effort to “explain to their own people why they need to do this research,” Zilinskas said in an interview.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to answer written questions but forwarded a March 13 statement by Vassily A. Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Nebenzia denied any involvement by the Kremlin in the March 4 nerve-agent attack and suggested that it was the United States and Britain, not Russia, that were continuing to conduct illegal research to create “new toxic substances.”

[Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack[5]]

The research by Zilinskas and Mauger appears to bear out long-held concerns by the State Department, which has sharply criticized Russia in recent years over a lack of transparency in its military-related biological and chemical research. Since 2012, State Department officials have issued a series of reports faulting Moscow for refusing to open its military research laboratories to outside inspectors, and for failing to provide proof that it destroyed the highly lethal arsenals created by Red Army scientists in the years before the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state for international security and arms control during the Obama administration, said that even before Putin, U.S. officials questioned whether the Kremlin had owned up to its past “fully and transparently.” But over the past six years, official distrust has grown as Moscow has embraced a more aggressive foreign policy that includes intimidation of Russia’s neighbors and an unabashed support for a Syrian dictator who uses nerve agents to kill his own people.

“Moscow’s full-throated defense of Syrian use of chemical weapons[6] — and, especially, its apparent use of chemical agents in targeted assassinations — only add to the concerns,” Countryman said.

Cold War pathogens

When the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991, the Russian Federation became the heir to history’s most dangerous arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

During the Cold War, Soviet leaders spent vast sums to create weaponized versions of 11 different pathogens — including the microbes that cause anthrax, smallpox and the plague — while also experimenting with genetically altered strains. They created new classes of chemical toxins, such as Novichok, reportedly used in the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.

[What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots[7]]

A fourth-generation nerve agent more deadly than VX, Novichok is the stuff of legend. Russia denies that it ever researched or manufactured such nerve agents, but it arrested a former Soviet weapons scientist[8] on charges of divulging state secrets after he published details about Soviet Novichok production in newspaper articles and a memoir.

The Soviet program was motivated in part by competition with the United States. Washington maintained its own stockpile of nerve agents during the Cold War and manufactured biological weapons until 1969, when President Richard M. Nixon dismantled the program. But the Kremlin pressed ahead, convinced that the Pentagon was continuing bioweapons research in secret. Finally, in 1992, newly installed Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of the secret program to U.S. officials and reported that all Soviet bioweapons had been destroyed.

In the years immediately following the Cold War, securing and dismantling Soviet weapons of mass destruction united Americans and Russians in a common cause[9]. The United States helped Russia build incinerators for destroying its chemical weapons, and it sponsored programs that paired former Soviet bioweapons scientists with Western companies to keep them employed during the country’s economic transition.

[Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack[10]]

Such U.S.-Russian technical cooperation began to wane after Putin’s election as president, and it collapsed after the Russian strongman won a second term in 2012. Yet, even during the Yeltsin years, Russia refused to grant ­access to key weapons sites, including four biodefense laboratories run by the Russian military and perpetually sealed off from outside visitors, former U.S. officials said.

“We were always curious: Were they embarrassed to let us in because of the shape of their labs? Or were they hiding something?” said Laura Holgate, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on preventing biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.

Holgate allowed that Russia’s reluctance also may have reflected a “paranoia about what the U.S. might be learning” about the country’s military capabilities. In any case, she said, it became clear over time that Putin intended to preserve some Soviet-era capabilities for use in very specific situations. One of these was assassination — the killing of the Kremlin’s opponents using methods that were dramatic, yet allowed Moscow to plausibly deny culpability. Another was crowd control: the use of controversial “knockout” chemicals to incapacitate individuals involved in hostage standoffs and other mass disturbances.

Officials familiar with Russia’s program said the expanded activity at military labs may be partly aimed at honing those capabilities, giving Putin a variety of tools for dealing with adversaries while seeking to avoid the most flagrant violations of Russia’s treaty obligations.

“That would be in line with behavior that we’ve been seeing for years,” Holgate said.

Satellite evidence

Whatever the explanation, the buildup is striking. Data collected by Zilinskas and Mauger includes contract documents, ­Russian-language reports and aerial imagery that shed light on a dramatic expansion at the four secret Defense Ministry laboratories and numerous government-run civilian research centers across the country.

At one military complex at Yekaterinburg — the scene of an accidental release[11] of anthrax spores in 1979 that is said to have killed 100 workers and townspeople — satellite images show clusters of newly built, warehouse-size industrial buildings dotting a walled campus. Renovations can be observed in older buildings that in Soviet times were factories for mass-producing bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.

At the 33rd Central Research Test Institute at Shikhany — formerly a “closed” Russian military city on the Volga River in southwest Russia — records point to a recent spending spree for specialized equipment such as freeze-drying machines used in microbial production. Lab officials are shown soliciting bids for repairs to a wind tunnel, the type used in testing aerosolized bacteria and viruses, as well as upgrades to an area of bermed storage pens that the researchers say are probably intended for open-air testing involving explosives.

Wind tunnels and outdoor testing facilities can be used legitimately to develop defenses against biological and chemical attacks. Indeed, the Pentagon employs similar equipment at its biodefense research facilities in Maryland and Utah. But Zilinskas and Mauger say the Russian expansion invites a higher level of scrutiny in light of the explicit calls by Russian leaders for work on novel kinds of weapons, including “genetic” ones.

After Putin’s essay in 2012, several senior military officials, including the defense minister at the time, Anatoly Serdyukov, publicly endorsed Putin’s appeal for new kinds of weapons and promised to start building them, the researchers note. Serdyukov specifically pledged to incorporate “genetic” research in creating Russia’s next-generation arsenals.

“We noted the numerous high-level calls for the development of biotechnology-based weapons in Russia, without further specification,” Zilinskas and Mauger write. At minimum, the vagueness of such statements potentially opens the door for any military official or “ambitious scientist” to lobby for a chance to develop a new kind of weapon — with the implicit blessing of top Russian officials, they write.

“When taken in conjunction with the [military’s] apparent support for the development of ‘genetic’ weapons, these statements erode normative barriers toward biological weapons in Russia,” the authors say.

Anton Troianovski in Moscow contributed to this report.

Read more:

With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West[12]

The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad[13]

Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case[14]

References

  1. ^ Putin: Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ exposure to Novichok (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ book (www.rienner.com)
  4. ^ Biosecurity in Putin’s Russia (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ Britain’s top diplomat accuses Putin of being behind nerve-agent attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ Syrian use of chemical weapons (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ What is Novichok? Russia’s nerve agent has Soviet roots (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ former Soviet weapons scientist (www.voanews.com)
  9. ^ a common cause (armscontrolcenter.org)
  10. ^ Key allies back Britain in blaming Moscow for chemical attack (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ accidental release (nsarchive2.gwu.edu)
  12. ^ With Putin’s reelection, expect rising tensions with the West (www.washingtonpost.com)
  13. ^ The long, terrifying history of Russian dissidents being poisoned abroad (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ Putin vows retaliation for British sanctions over poisoning case (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Troopers attend 1st Past and Present Garryowen Reunion

KEMPNER — More than 400 past and present troopers of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen,” gathered Saturday night for a first-of-a-kind Past and Present Garryowen Reunion at the Kempner Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

The unit, which was established July 28, 1866, is part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and is most well-known for its participation in the Battle of Little Big Horn under the command of Lt. Col. George A. Custer and for its victory against a vastly superior force during the Vietnam War at the IA Drang Valley under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore — a victory later portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers.”

The unit’s history, stretching from the troopers’ bravery during the Indian Wars through countless victories in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and into actions in Iraq during the War on Terror, prompted current and former members of the unit to bring everyone together to help foster the deep pride shared by the unit’s alumni in the newest generation of “Garryowen” troopers.

“I love this. I think this is great,” said Sgt. Janna M. Trevino, a combat medic with the squadron’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. “It’s inspiring. A lot of us are new to a (cavalry) unit and have no idea how the cavalry is run. To see all of these veterans and see everyone get together is great — it makes us want to stay motivated and positive while we do our work.”

Trevino, who sang the national anthem at the start of the ceremonies, said watching the interaction between young soldiers and the alumni troopers who served as far back as the Korean War was amazing.

“This is a very fast-paced unit. … The camaraderie is different. This is the type of stuff we need,” she said, adding that she would love to do something similar and more often in order to help foster a sense of pride for the unit within the newest troops who had never served with “Garryowen” before.

“The new privates who have just gotten here have got to experience this,” Trevino said. “Being able to see people who have so much experience in the military. … This is just so great.”

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, III Corps and Fort Hood commander and a former “Garryowen” commander, even sent a video to the troopers from the Middle East, where he currently command Operation Inherent Resolve — the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State.

“I am even more proud I can hold my head high and say that I am a Garryowen trooper, just like you,” Funk said in the video. “All Garryowen troopers have one thing in common — tenacity, the single most important trait of a trooper. That fixed resolve not to quit when things get tough.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, a former command sergeant major for the squadron and the 14th sergeant major of the Army, also offered some words of encouragement for all the troopers at the event, both past and present.

“My time in 1/7 Cav for me was the most pivotal and most memorable part of my military career,” he said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘do you miss the Army?’ Hell no, I do not. What I do miss is you. It’s that blood we shared over in Iraq and unfortunately the lives we lost and those who suffer from the visible wounds of war and those who suffer from invisible wounds.

“I just want to tell each and every one of you, thank you for helping to shape my life and for teaching me one of the most important things — that honor is the most important value,” Chandler added. “It’s what makes Garryowen, the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, the pride of not only the 1st Cavalry Division, but as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the United States Army.”

Plans have already begun for the 2019 reunion, which will occur once the unit returns from an upcoming deployment to Europe with the 1st Brigade.

0

Troopers attend 1st Past and Present Garryowen Reunion

KEMPNER — More than 400 past and present troopers of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen,” gathered Saturday night for a first-of-a-kind Past and Present Garryowen Reunion at the Kempner Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

The unit, which was established July 28, 1866, is part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and is most well-known for its participation in the Battle of Little Big Horn under the command of Lt. Col. George A. Custer and for its victory against a vastly superior force during the Vietnam War at the IA Drang Valley under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore — a victory later portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers.”

The unit’s history, stretching from the troopers’ bravery during the Indian Wars through countless victories in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and into actions in Iraq during the War on Terror, prompted current and former members of the unit to bring everyone together to help foster the deep pride shared by the unit’s alumni in the newest generation of “Garryowen” troopers.

“I love this. I think this is great,” said Sgt. Janna M. Trevino, a combat medic with the squadron’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. “It’s inspiring. A lot of us are new to a (cavalry) unit and have no idea how the cavalry is run. To see all of these veterans and see everyone get together is great — it makes us want to stay motivated and positive while we do our work.”

Trevino, who sang the national anthem at the start of the ceremonies, said watching the interaction between young soldiers and the alumni troopers who served as far back as the Korean War was amazing.

“This is a very fast-paced unit. … The camaraderie is different. This is the type of stuff we need,” she said, adding that she would love to do something similar and more often in order to help foster a sense of pride for the unit within the newest troops who had never served with “Garryowen” before.

“The new privates who have just gotten here have got to experience this,” Trevino said. “Being able to see people who have so much experience in the military. … This is just so great.”

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, III Corps and Fort Hood commander and a former “Garryowen” commander, even sent a video to the troopers from the Middle East, where he currently command Operation Inherent Resolve — the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State.

“I am even more proud I can hold my head high and say that I am a Garryowen trooper, just like you,” Funk said in the video. “All Garryowen troopers have one thing in common — tenacity, the single most important trait of a trooper. That fixed resolve not to quit when things get tough.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, a former command sergeant major for the squadron and the 14th sergeant major of the Army, also offered some words of encouragement for all the troopers at the event, both past and present.

“My time in 1/7 Cav for me was the most pivotal and most memorable part of my military career,” he said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘do you miss the Army?’ Hell no, I do not. What I do miss is you. It’s that blood we shared over in Iraq and unfortunately the lives we lost and those who suffer from the visible wounds of war and those who suffer from invisible wounds.

“I just want to tell each and every one of you, thank you for helping to shape my life and for teaching me one of the most important things — that honor is the most important value,” Chandler added. “It’s what makes Garryowen, the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, the pride of not only the 1st Cavalry Division, but as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the United States Army.”

Plans have already begun for the 2019 reunion, which will occur once the unit returns from an upcoming deployment to Europe with the 1st Brigade.