Tagged: john

0

White House Proposes Shifting Kansas Bio-Defense Lab From Homeland Security To USDA

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security has had authority over the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-defense Facility[1], or NBAF, under construction on the campus of Kansas State University.

The 2019 federal budget[2] released this week proposes transferring authority over the facility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The transfer wouldn’t happen until the facility operational, scheduled for 2022[3]. But officials say the USDA will work closely with DHS long before the lab opens.

“USDA would begin (staffing) up the operations of NBAF by learning how to operate the facility during the commissioning process, purchasing equipment and hiring employees,” DHS spokesman John Verrico said in an email.

NBAF is to replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center[4] in the Long Island Sound.  For over half a century, the lab was operated by USDA for the study of foreign animal diseases. It was the only place in the country with a large-animal bio-containment facility capable of studying live foot-and-mouth disease virus, which is highly contagious among cattle and sheep. The labs at NBAF will expand research on foot-and-mouth and have the capacity to do experiments on large numbers of livestock at one time.

In 2002, with the passage of the Homeland Security Act[5], authority of the lab at Plum Island was transferred to the newly- formed DHS.

Lawmakers and some officials are saying it’s too early to know the impact of placing the Plum Island’s replacement back under the oversight of USDA.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, whose district includes NBAF, sits on the House Agriculture and Science and Technology committees. He said he’s focused on making sure the facility is built on schedule and has adequate funding.

“While the proposal to move operational control to USDA is new, we have always expected USDA to play a major role in the research underway at the facility,” Marshall said in an email.

But one scientist who’s been intimately involved with biosecurity research says it’s a mistake to move the Level 4 bio-containment lab away from Homeland Security.

Daniel Gerstein oversaw operations at Plum Island while it was under DHS. He says Homeland Security and agriculture officials had a strong working relationship — even developing the first licensed foot-and-mouth vaccine[6].

But prioritizing homeland security in animal disease research may be more important today than ever, he says.

“If you had some sort of deliberate attack, you’d certainly want to have your Department of Homeland Security involved.”

References

  1. ^ National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (www.dhs.gov)
  2. ^ 2019 federal budget (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ scheduled for 2022 (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ Plum Island Animal Disease Center (www.dhs.gov)
  5. ^ Homeland Security Act (www.dhs.gov)
  6. ^ first licensed foot-and-mouth vaccine (veterinarynews.dvm360.com)
0

Frustrated Military Tribunal Judge Indefinitely Halts Cole Bombing Case

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WASHINGTON — A deeply frustrated military judge on Friday halted the effort to use a military tribunal to prosecute a Guantánamo Bay detainee accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole, bringing the already troubled case to an indefinite standstill.

The judge, Col. Vance Spath of the Air Force, suspended pretrial hearings in the death penalty case against the detainee, a Saudi named Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, after nearly the entire defense team quit late last year in a dispute over whether their attorney-client communications were subject to monitoring. The lawyers defied his orders to return, citing ethical obligations.

“I am abating these proceedings indefinitely,” Colonel Spath said, according to a transcript[1]. “I will tell you right now, the reason I’m not dismissing — I debated it for hours — I am not rewarding the defense for their clear misbehavior and misconduct. But I am abating these procedures — these proceedings indefinitely until a superior court orders me to resume.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, said it was “unknown when pretrial hearings will begin again.”

The Miami Herald first reported[2] Colonel Spath’s decision.

Mr. Nashiri was arraigned in 2011 in a case that centers on a ship attack that killed 17 sailors. His is one of two capital cases in the military commissions system, alongside the attempt to prosecute five detainees who were arraigned in 2012 on charges of aiding the Sept. 11 attacks. Both cases have been stuck in pretrial hearings.

When the Bush administration created the military commissions system in 2001, a debate erupted that was centered on individual rights. Proponents saw the tribunals as a means for meting out swift justice to terrorists, while human rights advocates feared that they would run roughshod over fair-trial protections.

As the years have passed, however, the focus has shifted to effectiveness. While the commissions system has achieved several convictions through plea deals, it has struggled to get contested cases to trial, and has been costing taxpayers about $100 million a year for three cases covering seven defendants. (Its third pretrial case is against an Iraqi detainee who was arraigned in 2014[3]; he is not facing capital charges.)

By contrast, civilian court prosecutors have routinely gotten terrorism cases to trial relatively quickly and won harsh sentences. On Friday, for example, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a Qaeda terrorist known as Spin Ghul[4] to life in prison[5] for killing two American service members in Afghanistan and for plotting to bomb an American embassy in West Africa; he was convicted last March after a civilian court trial.

According to the transcript in the Cole case, Colonel Spath said the events that had led to its derailment “have demonstrated significant flaws within the commissions process,” and he accused defense lawyers of trying to block the system rather than working within it.

Citing his 26 years working in the regular court-martial system, he also described himself as “shaken” by the experience and portrayed Mr. Nashiri’s onetime defense lawyers as pursuing a “revolution to the system” by defying judicial orders.

Earlier this week, he had weighed having[6] United States marshals seize two of Mr. Nashiri’s former lawyers — both civilian employees of the Pentagon — to force them to appear by video link from Virginia after they failed to comply with subpoenas, but decided against it.

On Friday, he argued that in his efforts to get Mr. Nashiri’s defense lawyers back to work on the case, “I’m not ordering the Third Reich to engage in genocide — this isn’t My Lai.” And he said he was weighing imminent retirement.

The latest trouble began in June, when Mr. Nashiri’s defense team discovered something in a room where they talked with their client. The details remain classified, but after Colonel Spath rejected the notion that there was a problem and tried to proceed, the civilians on Mr. Nashiri’s defense team quit in October, saying they had an ethical conflict.

That left only a junior, uniformed defense lawyer, Lt. Alaric Piette of the Navy. Lieutenant Piette has continued to appear in court but has not participated, arguing that he was unqualified and that the presence of a “learned counsel,” or death penalty specialist, is necessary — a contention Colonel Spath rejected.

Colonel Spath in November declared Brig. Gen. John Baker, who oversees military commissions defense lawyers, in contempt of court for refusing to order the two civilian Pentagon employees to resume work on the case. The general argued that he had the authority to dismiss them without the judge’s consent — another contention Colonel Spath rejected.

Colonel Spath ordered General Baker confined to a trailer and fined him, but after several days, Harvey Rishikof, a former civilian Pentagon official who was then the so-called convening authority overseeing the commissions system, freed the general and overturned the fine[7], although he left the contempt finding in place.

In doing so, Mr. Rishikof also recommended that the military build or designate a “clean” facility to provide confidence that “the attorney-client meeting spaces are not subject to monitoring.” (This month, Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, abruptly fired Mr. Rishikof without explanation[8].)

On Thursday, Colonel Spath questioned Paul S. Koffsky, a senior civilian Pentagon lawyer who oversees the office of military commissions defense lawyers. Mr. Koffsky told the judge[9] that he only writes performance appraisals and does not tell defense lawyers what to do, and had not read the filings about the confidentiality dispute, a transcript shows[10].

“We need action from somebody other than me, and we’re not getting it,” Colonel Spath said on Friday, adding, “We’re going to spin our wheels and go nowhere until somebody who owns the process looks in and does something.”

Richard Kammen, a civilian defense lawyer who had been the death penalty specialist for Mr. Nashiri before quitting, said: “We’re certainly gratified that ultimately Judge Spath reached the correct decision that the case needs to stop. This should have happened months ago.”

Lieutenant Piette said that he expected the case to resume this year, probably without Colonel Spath as the judge. In the meantime, he said, he would try to take death penalty courses and get caught up on years of rulings in the case.

“I’m cautiously pessimistic,” he said. “Things happen here that don’t go on in normal courts, and this is one. A judge just called ‘time out’ for no clear legal reason. I don’t know how it will play out, but it will probably somehow be worse.”

Dave Philipps contributed reporting from Colorado Springs.

Follow Charlie Savage on Twitter: @charlie_savage[11].

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References

  1. ^ transcript (www.documentcloud.org)
  2. ^ Miami Herald first reported (www.miamiherald.com)
  3. ^ an Iraqi detainee who was arraigned in 2014 (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ sentenced a Qaeda terrorist known as Spin Ghul (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ life in prison (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ had weighed having (www.miamiherald.com)
  7. ^ freed the general and overturned the fine (www.documentcloud.org)
  8. ^ abruptly fired Mr. Rishikof without explanation (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ told the judge (www.documentcloud.org)
  10. ^ transcript shows (www.documentcloud.org)
  11. ^ @charlie_savage (twitter.com)
0

A significant minority of Americans say they could support a military takeover of the US government


Starlings pass in front of the Washington Monument and the Marine One helicopter, as President Trump returns to the White House on Dec. 21, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

With the administration planning a military parade[1] in the capital and three former generals occupying key posts in the Trump administration, some observers are concerned about the militarization of American politics — or what Larry Summers has called “the Argentinization[2] of U.S. government.” One buttress of civilian control is the public’s commitment to the constitutional order. Presumably few Americans would tolerate a full-fledged breach from civilian rule.

Or is that so? Our research finds that, in fact, substantial numbers of U.S. adults say they would embrace ruptures in the constitutional order, which is in keeping with Bright Line Watch findings that experts believe that measures of U.S. democracy have declined[3] under President Trump.

[Trump may put 5 military officers in top posts. That’s unprecedented.[4]]

Here’s how we did our research

We analyzed survey data collected by Vanderbilt’s Latin American Public Opinion Project[5] (LAPOP). The U.S. survey of the AmericasBarometer uses online interviews with web-based national samples of about 1,500 respondents. Since 2010, LAPOP has asked, “Some people say that under some circumstances it would be justified for the military of this country to take power by a coup d’état (military coup). In your opinion would a military coup be justified under the following circumstances?” The possible answers have included “when there is a lot of crime” and “when there is a lot of corruption.” LAPOP has also asked respondents whether they “believe that when the country is facing very difficult times it is justifiable for the president of the country to close the Congress and govern without Congress?”

The LAPOP surveys were conducted in March 2010, April 2012, late June and early July 2014, and May 2017.

A significant minority of Americans would support a military takeover or shutting of Congress in the right circumstances

In 2010, 30 percent to 35 percent of Americans said a military takeover was justified if there were widespread corruption or crime. In 2017, that dropped to roughly 25 percent holding these opinions. These views are not confined to supporters of one or the other of the major parties. In 2017, about 25 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans said they favored a military intervention if the country faced rampant crime or corruption. The figure below shows the average support for a military coup when there is widespread corruption.

However, the proportion of respondents who said that “very difficult times” would justify closing Congress increased from 9 percent of respondents in 2010 to nearly 15 percent in 2017. In 2017, roughly 11 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of Republicans were in favor of shutting Congress down during difficult times.

Independents express the strongest support for uninterrupted civilian rule. But even among them, more than 1 in 5 say they would support a military takeover in response to corruption or crime. More than 1 in 10 say they would support closing Congress during difficult times.

U.S. public opinion on these questions resembles that of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay[6], countries with a history of military coups and dictatorships.


Since the United States hasn’t faced such ruptures in democracy, we wondered whether Americans understand what a military coup is and what “closing Congress” would mean. To find out, researchers at LAPOP tested several alternative wordings[7] of these questions, which clarified that the military would be taking over the U.S. government and explained that that constituted a coup. Opinions remained roughly the same.

[This map shows where more Americans are willing to support free speech[8]]

Why are Americans ready to undercut democracy?

What could be behind this? Partisanship is one factor, we found. Supporters of the sitting president’s party are more likely to support closing Congress, maybe because they imagine that would strengthen the president. When Democrat Barack Obama occupied the White House, more Democrats than Republicans were willing to consider closing Congress. By contrast, in 2017, 25 percent of Republicans and only 10 percent of Democrats supported the idea of closing the legislative branch.

But that’s not the whole picture. As you can see in the figure below, Americans have become less satisfied with U.S. democracy over the past decade — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. In 2006, when LAPOP asked respondents how satisfied they were “with the way democracy works in the United States,” a large majority said they were satisfied or very satisfied. Over just 10 years, that proportion declined sharply. Today, just half of all Americans are satisfied with our democracy.

What does this mean for democratic stability?

Public revulsion toward democratic breaches is neither necessary nor sufficient to protect democracy. Many other factors help push democracies into authoritarianism, including economic decline and elites tolerating leaders’ anti-democratic actions, according to participants at a conference[9] organized by Bright Line Watch[10] at Yale University in October.

What’s more, what people say in surveys and how they respond in reality are not necessarily the same. The AmericasBarometer survey asked about hypothetical events. We hope that were a real coup or legislative takeover underway, U.S. citizens would tolerate it less than they might imagine in answering a survey.

Still, public opinion takes cues from political parties and governmental leaders. And political leaders, meanwhile, watch out for what they believe constituents will and will not accept. Even if the proportion of Americans who would support a military takeover hasn’t increased over the past decade, the proportion disappointed in democracy has — and they might well shift into believing that it’s time to let the generals give it a try.

[White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades[11]]

Hondurans’ satisfaction with their democracy declined precipitously[12] in the late 2000s, leading up to a military coup in 2009. In 2009, a large majority of Hungarians[13] were also dissatisfied with their democracy and allowed Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party to erode democratic institutions[14]. The fact that more and more Americans are dissatisfied with our democracy is cause for concern and vigilance.

Germán Feierherd is postdoctoral associate at Yale University’s Program on Democracy and Bright Line Watch.

Noam Lupu is associate professor of political science and associate director of LAPOP at Vanderbilt University.

Susan Stokes is John S. Saden Professor of Political Science at Yale University and a co-founder of Bright Line Watch.

References

  1. ^ planning a military parade (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ Argentinization (twitter.com)
  3. ^ declined (brightlinewatch.org)
  4. ^ Trump may put 5 military officers in top posts. That’s unprecedented. (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ Latin American Public Opinion Project (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  6. ^ Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  7. ^ several alternative wordings (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  8. ^ This map shows where more Americans are willing to support free speech (www.washingtonpost.com)
  9. ^ conference (macmillan.yale.edu)
  10. ^ Bright Line Watch (brightlinewatch.org)
  11. ^ White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades (www.washingtonpost.com)
  12. ^ declined precipitously (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  13. ^ majority of Hungarians (www.pewglobal.org)
  14. ^ erode democratic institutions (foreignpolicy.com)
0

A significant minority of Americans say they could support a military takeover of the US government


Starlings pass in front of the Washington Monument and the Marine One helicopter, as President Trump returns to the White House on Dec. 21. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

With the administration planning a military parade[1] in the capital and three former generals occupying key posts in the Trump administration, some observers are concerned about the militarization of American politics — or what Larry Summers has called “the Argentinization[2] of U.S. government.” One buttress of civilian control is the public’s commitment to the constitutional order. Presumably, few Americans would tolerate a full-fledged breach of civilian rule.

Or is that so? Our research finds that, in fact, substantial numbers of U.S. adults say they would embrace ruptures in the constitutional order, which is in keeping with Bright Line Watch findings that experts believe that measures of U.S. democracy have declined[3] under President Trump.

[Trump may put five military officers in top posts. That’s unprecedented.[4]]

How we did our research

We analyzed survey data collected by Vanderbilt’s Latin American Public Opinion Project[5] (LAPOP). The U.S. survey of the AmericasBarometer uses online interviews with web-based national samples of about 1,500 respondents. Since 2010, LAPOP has asked, “Some people say that under some circumstances it would be justified for the military of this country to take power by a coup d’état (military coup). In your opinion would a military coup be justified under the following circumstances?” The possible answers have included “when there is a lot of crime” and “when there is a lot of corruption.” LAPOP has also asked respondents whether they “believe that when the country is facing very difficult times it is justifiable for the president of the country to close the Congress and govern without Congress?”

The LAPOP surveys were conducted in March 2010, April 2012, late June and early July 2014, and May 2017.

A significant minority of Americans would support a military takeover or shutting of Congress in the right circumstances

In 2010, 30 percent to 35 percent of Americans said a military takeover was justified if there were widespread corruption or crime. In 2017, that dropped to roughly 25 percent holding these opinions. These views are not confined to supporters of one or the other of the major parties. In 2017, about 25 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans said they favored a military intervention if the country faced rampant crime or corruption. The figure below shows the average support for a military coup when there is widespread corruption.

However, the proportion of respondents who said that “very difficult times” would justify closing Congress increased from 9 percent of respondents in 2010 to nearly 15 percent in 2017. In 2017, roughly 11 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of Republicans were in favor of shutting Congress down during difficult times.

Independents express the strongest support for uninterrupted civilian rule. But even among them, more than 1 in 5 say they would support a military takeover in response to corruption or crime. More than 1 in 10 say they would support closing Congress during difficult times.

U.S. public opinion on these questions resembles that of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay[6], countries with a history of military coups and dictatorships.


Because the United States hasn’t faced such ruptures in democracy, we wondered whether Americans understand what a military coup is and what “closing Congress” would mean. To find out, researchers at LAPOP tested several alternative wordings[7] of these questions, which clarified that the military would be taking over the U.S. government and explained that constituted a coup. Opinions remained roughly the same.

[This map shows where more Americans are willing to support free speech[8]]

Why are Americans ready to undercut democracy?

What could be behind this? Partisanship is one factor, we found. Supporters of the sitting president’s party are more likely to support closing Congress, maybe because they imagine that would strengthen the president. When Democrat Barack Obama occupied the White House, more Democrats than Republicans were willing to consider closing Congress. By contrast, in 2017, 25 percent of Republicans and only 10 percent of Democrats supported the idea of closing the legislative branch.

But that’s not the whole picture. As you can see in the figure below, Americans have become less satisfied with U.S. democracy over the past decade — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. In 2006, when LAPOP asked respondents how satisfied they were “with the way democracy works in the United States,” a large majority said they were satisfied or very satisfied. Over just 10 years, that proportion declined sharply. Today, just half of all Americans are satisfied with our democracy.

What does this mean for democratic stability?

Public revulsion toward democratic breaches is neither necessary nor sufficient to protect democracy. Many other factors help push democracies into authoritarianism, including economic decline and elites tolerating leaders’ anti-democratic actions, according to participants at a conference[9] organized by Bright Line Watch[10] at Yale University in October.

What’s more, what people say in surveys and how they respond in reality are not necessarily the same. The AmericasBarometer survey asked about hypothetical events. We hope that were a real coup or legislative takeover underway, U.S. citizens would tolerate it less than they might imagine in answering a survey.

Still, public opinion takes cues from political parties and governmental leaders. And political leaders, meanwhile, watch out for what they believe constituents will and will not accept. Even if the proportion of Americans who would support a military takeover hasn’t increased over the past decade, the proportion disappointed in democracy has — and they might well shift into believing that it’s time to let the generals give it a try.

[White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades[11]]

Hondurans’ satisfaction with their democracy declined precipitously[12] in the late 2000s, leading to a military coup in 2009. In 2009, a large majority of Hungarians[13] also were dissatisfied with their democracy and allowed Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz Party to erode democratic institutions[14]. The fact that more and more Americans are dissatisfied with our democracy is cause for concern and vigilance.

Germán Feierherd is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University’s Program on Democracy and Bright Line Watch.

Noam Lupu is associate professor of political science and associate director of LAPOP at Vanderbilt University.

Susan Stokes is John S. Saden Professor of Political Science at Yale University and a co-founder of Bright Line Watch.

References

  1. ^ planning a military parade (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ Argentinization (twitter.com)
  3. ^ declined (brightlinewatch.org)
  4. ^ Trump may put five military officers in top posts. That’s unprecedented. (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ Latin American Public Opinion Project (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  6. ^ Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  7. ^ several alternative wordings (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  8. ^ This map shows where more Americans are willing to support free speech (www.washingtonpost.com)
  9. ^ conference (macmillan.yale.edu)
  10. ^ Bright Line Watch (brightlinewatch.org)
  11. ^ White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades (www.washingtonpost.com)
  12. ^ declined precipitously (www.vanderbilt.edu)
  13. ^ majority of Hungarians (www.pewglobal.org)
  14. ^ erode democratic institutions (foreignpolicy.com)
0

Former Homeland Security official calls out agency for publishing 'accusations' in press releases

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a series of “press releases” panning various bipartisan immigration amendments Thursday, on the same day senators made moves to debate elements of a framework that provides permanent protections for certain undocumented immigrants and secures the border.

Ultimately on Thursday, the Senate failed to pass any amendments to move forward on immigration. Senators neither approved bipartisan proposals nor the framework set forth by the Trump administration that included “four pillars” to change the immigration system.

The open debate on the Senate floor comes months after the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary work authorization and deportation relief for immigrants who came to the country as children and became undocumented or entered the country without inspection. In September 2017, President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a bill granting permanent protections for these young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Published prior to the Senate votes, the five DHS press releases all strongly criticized the immigration system and called for strong border security measures. One press release[1] panned an immigration proposal put out by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-ND), and Susan Collins (R-ME) as an amendment that “destroys” the ability of Homeland Security that could create “amnesty” for “illegal aliens” and “criminals.” Another press release[2] claimed that kids and families “are flooding the border” because of legal loopholes that allow them to be reunited with family members while waiting for their court proceedings. Others called for a border wall[3] to “make America safe again,” an end to family migration and the “reckless” diversity visa lottery[4], and the elimination of so-called sanctuary cities[5], again, to “make America safe again.” A press release[6] published Wednesday said another immigration proposal from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) would “increase illegal immigration” and “give a pathway to citizenship to convicted alien felons.”

All the press releases contain numerous inaccuracies and half-truths about the citizenship process. Criminals, for example, can never apply for citizenship in part because immigrants applying for the naturalization process have to answer dozens of questions about their background including whether they’ve ever been convicted of crimes. Those forms also require people to provide documentation of any arrests. Lying on these forms could be punishable by a prison sentence.

The press statements were not well received by people familiar with the DHS agency. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also proposed his own bill that failed to get enough votes during open debate on Thursday, released his own statement[7] criticizing the DHS press statement.

“It’s highly unusual — I’ve never seen something like that before — I think it’s highly unhelpful,” a former DHS official told ThinkProgress on background. “The other parts… that raised a lot of questions in my mind: there’s no attribution. Normally, a press release when we put it out, we say ‘it’s a statement from the Secretary [of Homeland Security].’”

The former DHS official questioned the utility of publishing a press releases that read like a “screed” based on the length alone and the lack of attribution, especially since the DHS agency itself has a legislative affairs staff “whose job is to communicate” concerns about congressional bills, amendments, and other pieces of legislation. The individual also expressed surprise and frustration over the citation of old reports to support a claim made by the White House over potential diversity visa fraud.

“Making this public serves no good purpose,” the former official said. “If DHS has concerns, then they should communicate that through the normal legislative channels — not by a press release.”

“Press releases — unless something is put into quotations in the release — are supposed to be about fact,” the individual lamented. “This is full of accusations [and] opinions that are cited as quotes. It’s one thing for the Secretary or the head of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] to say, ‘it eviscerates the authority of the Department of Homeland Security,’ but to put that down as fact doesn’t meet the normal standard of being in a press release.”

The former DHS official also expressed disappointment over how the president had “moved the goalpost. This was supposed to be about finding a solution to DACA.”

In January, the president told a group of lawmakers that he was willing to sign whatever they put in front of him and “take the heat” to pass a bipartisan framework. Instead, the Trump administration has doubled down hard on its harsh rhetoric against immigrants with one senior administration official characterizing Graham as “a problem” during a White House background call Thursday.

As of Thursday, many more DACA recipients are left without a permanent solution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would end debate[8] on immigration reform on Friday.

References

  1. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  2. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  3. ^ called for a border wall (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ an end to family migration and the “reckless” diversity visa lottery (www.dhs.gov)
  5. ^ the elimination of so-called sanctuary cities (www.dhs.gov)
  6. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  7. ^ statement (www.lgraham.senate.gov)
  8. ^ would end debate (thinkprogress.org)
0

Former Homeland Security official calls out agency for publishing …

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a series of “press releases” panning various bipartisan immigration amendments Thursday, on the same day senators made moves to debate elements of a framework that provides permanent protections for certain undocumented immigrants and secures the border.

Ultimately on Thursday, the Senate failed to pass any amendments to move forward on immigration. Senators neither approved bipartisan proposals nor the framework set forth by the Trump administration that included “four pillars” to change the immigration system.

The open debate on the Senate floor comes months after the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary work authorization and deportation relief for immigrants who came to the country as children and became undocumented or entered the country without inspection. In September 2017, President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a bill granting permanent protections for these young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Published prior to the Senate votes, the five DHS press releases all strongly criticized the immigration system and called for strong border security measures. One press release[1] panned an immigration proposal put out by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-ND), and Susan Collins (R-ME) as an amendment that “destroys” the ability of Homeland Security that could create “amnesty” for “illegal aliens” and “criminals.” Another press release[2] claimed that kids and families “are flooding the border” because of legal loopholes that allow them to be reunited with family members while waiting for their court proceedings. Others called for a border wall[3] to “make America safe again,” an end to family migration and the “reckless” diversity visa lottery[4], and the elimination of so-called sanctuary cities[5], again, to “make America safe again.” A press release[6] published Wednesday said another immigration proposal from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) would “increase illegal immigration” and “give a pathway to citizenship to convicted alien felons.”

All the press releases contain numerous inaccuracies and half-truths about the citizenship process. Criminals, for example, can never apply for citizenship in part because immigrants applying for the naturalization process have to answer dozens of questions about their background including whether they’ve ever been convicted of crimes. Those forms also require people to provide documentation of any arrests. Lying on these forms could be punishable by a prison sentence.

The press statements were not well received by people familiar with the DHS agency. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also proposed his own bill that failed to get enough votes during open debate on Thursday, released his own statement[7] criticizing the DHS press statement.

“It’s highly unusual — I’ve never seen something like that before — I think it’s highly unhelpful,” a former DHS official told ThinkProgress on background. “The other parts… that raised a lot of questions in my mind: there’s no attribution. Normally, a press release when we put it out, we say ‘it’s a statement from the Secretary [of Homeland Security].’”

The former DHS official questioned the utility of publishing a press releases that read like a “screed” based on the length alone and the lack of attribution, especially since the DHS agency itself has a legislative affairs staff “whose job is to communicate” concerns about congressional bills, amendments, and other pieces of legislation. The individual also expressed surprise and frustration over the citation of old reports to support a claim made by the White House over potential diversity visa fraud.

“Making this public serves no good purpose,” the former official said. “If DHS has concerns, then they should communicate that through the normal legislative channels — not by a press release.”

“Press releases — unless something is put into quotations in the release — are supposed to be about fact,” the individual lamented. “This is full of accusations [and] opinions that are cited as quotes. It’s one thing for the Secretary or the head of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] to say, ‘it eviscerates the authority of the Department of Homeland Security,’ but to put that down as fact doesn’t meet the normal standard of being in a press release.”

The former DHS official also expressed disappointment over how the president had “moved the goalpost. This was supposed to be about finding a solution to DACA.”

In January, the president told a group of lawmakers that he was willing to sign whatever they put in front of him and “take the heat” to pass a bipartisan framework. Instead, the Trump administration has doubled down hard on its harsh rhetoric against immigrants with one senior administration official characterizing Graham as “a problem” during a White House background call Thursday.

As of Thursday, many more DACA recipients are left without a permanent solution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would end debate[8] on immigration reform on Friday.

References

  1. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  2. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  3. ^ called for a border wall (www.dhs.gov)
  4. ^ an end to family migration and the “reckless” diversity visa lottery (www.dhs.gov)
  5. ^ the elimination of so-called sanctuary cities (www.dhs.gov)
  6. ^ press release (www.dhs.gov)
  7. ^ statement (www.lgraham.senate.gov)
  8. ^ would end debate (thinkprogress.org)
0

79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trains for Kosovo mission with Task Force Warhawg

Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo.
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL[1]
Soldiers from the Cal Guard's 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural.
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the Cal Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[2]
Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo.
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[3]
79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[4]
Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo.
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[5]
Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[6]

CAMP MCGREGOR, N.M. – Soldiers from the California Army National Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) successfully completed a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) on Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, in preparation for an upcoming nine-month security and stabilization mission in Kosovo.

On Jan. 23, the Soldiers from Headquarter and Headquarters Company (HHC), 79th IBCT, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they completed finance, medical, and dental processing. They then headed 30 miles north to Camp McGregor, where they conducted Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) training, a staff exercise (STAFFEX), and the MRX, which simulated the duties and roles they would perform as a brigade staff once in Kosovo.

“This is a great training opportunity for the Brigade to prepare and train for peace support operations in Kosovo,” said Maj. Edwin Rodriguez, the Brigade Operations Officer. “The training at Camp McGregor enables the Brigade staff to shape and establish common operating procedures typically found among multinational staffs in Kosovo.”

The 5th Armored Brigade 1st Battalion, 360th Infantry Regiment, also known as Task Force Warhawg, commanded by Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci, conducted the training at Camp McGregor.

“Task Force Warhawg trains and validates post-mobilized National Guard and Reserve units across the armed forces in preparation for worldwide deployment,” Paolucci said. “The purpose of the MRX was to train and prepare the 79th for a final validation exercise at JMRC (Joint Multinational Readiness Center) at Hohenfels, Germany.”

Paolucci said the 79th came together as a brigade staff during the MRX and is well positioned to successfully complete the validation exercise at JMRC and then take on the role of the command element for Multinational Battle Group — East (MNBG-E) in Kosovo.

MNBG-E is a composite brigade, consisting of U.S. Army active duty, National Guard, and Reserve elements, as well as units from several NATO-member nations.

“This is a peacekeeping operation,” Paolucci said of the mission in Kosovo. “We are there at the request of the government of Kosovo to assist in providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout their country.”

Now that the 79th has completed training at Camp McGregor, they head to Hohenfels for the final validation exercise.

“The brigade validation at JMRC affords the staff the ability to bridge multinational interoperability functions with our European partners,” Rodriguez said.

Once the validation exercise is completed, the 79th will arrive in Kosovo in March and relieve the 39th IBCT of the Arkansas National Guard.

“This mission is important in ensuring that peace is maintained in the Balkans,” said Col. Nick Ducich, Commander of 79th IBCT. “Our Soldiers are well trained professionals and are looking forward to assisting the institutions of Kosovo toward stability and sustainability while strengthening our enduring relationships with allies and partners.”

Kosovo was a province of Serbia until 1999, when it became a protectorate of the United Nations following the Kosovo War. Kosovo Force (KFOR), a multinational NATO peacekeeping force, was formed to bring safety and stability to the province, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo’s independence is not recognized by a number of states, including China, Russia, and India.

The U.S. Army National Guard has been a major contributor of troops to the KFOR mission, which is the longest peacekeeping mission in NATO history. California Army National Guard Soldiers have participated in several KFOR rotations. The 79th IBCT will be part of the 24th rotation of U.S. troops into Kosovo.

Sgt. Marc Brakefield, the Brigade’s Civil Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, is no stranger to deploying. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and to Kosovo in 2009-10.

“I love it,” Brakefield said of deploying. “I love the camaraderie, the learning aspect of working with Soldiers from different backgrounds and roles. I’m very excited to see how Kosovo has changed since I was last there.”

RELATED LINKS

References

  1. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  2. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  3. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  4. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  5. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  6. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
0

79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trains for Kosovo mission with Task Force Warhawg

Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo.
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL[1]
Soldiers from the Cal Guard's 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural.
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the Cal Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[2]
Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo.
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[3]
79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[4]
Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo.
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[5]
Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[6]

CAMP MCGREGOR, N.M. – Soldiers from the California Army National Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) successfully completed a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) on Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, in preparation for an upcoming nine-month security and stabilization mission in Kosovo.

On Jan. 23, the Soldiers from Headquarter and Headquarters Company (HHC), 79th IBCT, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they completed finance, medical, and dental processing. They then headed 30 miles north to Camp McGregor, where they conducted Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) training, a staff exercise (STAFFEX), and the MRX, which simulated the duties and roles they would perform as a brigade staff once in Kosovo.

“This is a great training opportunity for the Brigade to prepare and train for peace support operations in Kosovo,” said Maj. Edwin Rodriguez, the Brigade Operations Officer. “The training at Camp McGregor enables the Brigade staff to shape and establish common operating procedures typically found among multinational staffs in Kosovo.”

The 5th Armored Brigade 1st Battalion, 360th Infantry Regiment, also known as Task Force Warhawg, commanded by Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci, conducted the training at Camp McGregor.

“Task Force Warhawg trains and validates post-mobilized National Guard and Reserve units across the armed forces in preparation for worldwide deployment,” Paolucci said. “The purpose of the MRX was to train and prepare the 79th for a final validation exercise at JMRC (Joint Multinational Readiness Center) at Hohenfels, Germany.”

Paolucci said the 79th came together as a brigade staff during the MRX and is well positioned to successfully complete the validation exercise at JMRC and then take on the role of the command element for Multinational Battle Group — East (MNBG-E) in Kosovo.

MNBG-E is a composite brigade, consisting of U.S. Army active duty, National Guard, and Reserve elements, as well as units from several NATO-member nations.

“This is a peacekeeping operation,” Paolucci said of the mission in Kosovo. “We are there at the request of the government of Kosovo to assist in providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout their country.”

Now that the 79th has completed training at Camp McGregor, they head to Hohenfels for the final validation exercise.

“The brigade validation at JMRC affords the staff the ability to bridge multinational interoperability functions with our European partners,” Rodriguez said.

Once the validation exercise is completed, the 79th will arrive in Kosovo in March and relieve the 39th IBCT of the Arkansas National Guard.

“This mission is important in ensuring that peace is maintained in the Balkans,” said Col. Nick Ducich, Commander of 79th IBCT. “Our Soldiers are well trained professionals and are looking forward to assisting the institutions of Kosovo toward stability and sustainability while strengthening our enduring relationships with allies and partners.”

Kosovo was a province of Serbia until 1999, when it became a protectorate of the United Nations following the Kosovo War. Kosovo Force (KFOR), a multinational NATO peacekeeping force, was formed to bring safety and stability to the province, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo’s independence is not recognized by a number of states, including China, Russia, and India.

The U.S. Army National Guard has been a major contributor of troops to the KFOR mission, which is the longest peacekeeping mission in NATO history. California Army National Guard Soldiers have participated in several KFOR rotations. The 79th IBCT will be part of the 24th rotation of U.S. troops into Kosovo.

Sgt. Marc Brakefield, the Brigade’s Civil Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, is no stranger to deploying. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and to Kosovo in 2009-10.

“I love it,” Brakefield said of deploying. “I love the camaraderie, the learning aspect of working with Soldiers from different backgrounds and roles. I’m very excited to see how Kosovo has changed since I was last there.”

RELATED LINKS

References

  1. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  2. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  3. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  4. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  5. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  6. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
0

79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trains for Kosovo mission with Task Force Warhawg

Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo.
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL[1]
Soldiers from the Cal Guard's 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural.
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the Cal Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[2]
Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo.
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[3]
79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[4]
Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo.
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[5]
Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[6]

CAMP MCGREGOR, N.M. – Soldiers from the California Army National Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) successfully completed a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) on Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, in preparation for an upcoming nine-month security and stabilization mission in Kosovo.

On Jan. 23, the Soldiers from Headquarter and Headquarters Company (HHC), 79th IBCT, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they completed finance, medical, and dental processing. They then headed 30 miles north to Camp McGregor, where they conducted Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) training, a staff exercise (STAFFEX), and the MRX, which simulated the duties and roles they would perform as a brigade staff once in Kosovo.

“This is a great training opportunity for the Brigade to prepare and train for peace support operations in Kosovo,” said Maj. Edwin Rodriguez, the Brigade Operations Officer. “The training at Camp McGregor enables the Brigade staff to shape and establish common operating procedures typically found among multinational staffs in Kosovo.”

The 5th Armored Brigade 1st Battalion, 360th Infantry Regiment, also known as Task Force Warhawg, commanded by Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci, conducted the training at Camp McGregor.

“Task Force Warhawg trains and validates post-mobilized National Guard and Reserve units across the armed forces in preparation for worldwide deployment,” Paolucci said. “The purpose of the MRX was to train and prepare the 79th for a final validation exercise at JMRC (Joint Multinational Readiness Center) at Hohenfels, Germany.”

Paolucci said the 79th came together as a brigade staff during the MRX and is well positioned to successfully complete the validation exercise at JMRC and then take on the role of the command element for Multinational Battle Group — East (MNBG-E) in Kosovo.

MNBG-E is a composite brigade, consisting of U.S. Army active duty, National Guard, and Reserve elements, as well as units from several NATO-member nations.

“This is a peacekeeping operation,” Paolucci said of the mission in Kosovo. “We are there at the request of the government of Kosovo to assist in providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout their country.”

Now that the 79th has completed training at Camp McGregor, they head to Hohenfels for the final validation exercise.

“The brigade validation at JMRC affords the staff the ability to bridge multinational interoperability functions with our European partners,” Rodriguez said.

Once the validation exercise is completed, the 79th will arrive in Kosovo in March and relieve the 39th IBCT of the Arkansas National Guard.

“This mission is important in ensuring that peace is maintained in the Balkans,” said Col. Nick Ducich, Commander of 79th IBCT. “Our Soldiers are well trained professionals and are looking forward to assisting the institutions of Kosovo toward stability and sustainability while strengthening our enduring relationships with allies and partners.”

Kosovo was a province of Serbia until 1999, when it became a protectorate of the United Nations following the Kosovo War. Kosovo Force (KFOR), a multinational NATO peacekeeping force, was formed to bring safety and stability to the province, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo’s independence is not recognized by a number of states, including China, Russia, and India.

The U.S. Army National Guard has been a major contributor of troops to the KFOR mission, which is the longest peacekeeping mission in NATO history. California Army National Guard Soldiers have participated in several KFOR rotations. The 79th IBCT will be part of the 24th rotation of U.S. troops into Kosovo.

Sgt. Marc Brakefield, the Brigade’s Civil Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, is no stranger to deploying. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and to Kosovo in 2009-10.

“I love it,” Brakefield said of deploying. “I love the camaraderie, the learning aspect of working with Soldiers from different backgrounds and roles. I’m very excited to see how Kosovo has changed since I was last there.”

RELATED LINKS

References

  1. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  2. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  3. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  4. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  5. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  6. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
0

79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trains for Kosovo mission with Task Force Warhawg

Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo.
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Two UH-60 Black Hawks from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, flew Soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team over Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Feb. 9 as part of training for a stabilization and security mission in Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL[1]
Soldiers from the Cal Guard's 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural.
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from the Cal Guard’s 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team painted a mural on a Jersey barrier at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, during their stay on the camp in February for a training exercise in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. From left, Col. Nick Ducich, Staff Sgt. John Tucker, Maj. Michael Kappelmann, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McKindley, Staff Sgt. Jorge Baca and Sgt. Sarann Chum. Tucker, Baca and Chum painted the mural. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[2]
Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo.
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Nick Ducich, center, commander of the Cal Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is briefed by his staff at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, on Jan. 31 during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) in preparation for a deployment to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[3]
79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Nick Ducich instructs his staff during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[4]
Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo.
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Task Force Warhawg commander Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci evaluates and gives guidance at the conclusion of the Combined-arms Rehearsal on Feb. 12. The 79th brigade staff now heads to Camp Hohenfels for a final validation exercise before deploying to Kosovo. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[5]
Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico.
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Greg Schulman, the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team medical officer, briefs the command during a Combined-arms Rehearsal Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico. (Photo Credit: Capt. Jason Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL[6]

CAMP MCGREGOR, N.M. – Soldiers from the California Army National Guard 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) successfully completed a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX) on Feb. 12 at Camp McGregor, New Mexico, in preparation for an upcoming nine-month security and stabilization mission in Kosovo.

On Jan. 23, the Soldiers from Headquarter and Headquarters Company (HHC), 79th IBCT, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they completed finance, medical, and dental processing. They then headed 30 miles north to Camp McGregor, where they conducted Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) training, a staff exercise (STAFFEX), and the MRX, which simulated the duties and roles they would perform as a brigade staff once in Kosovo.

“This is a great training opportunity for the Brigade to prepare and train for peace support operations in Kosovo,” said Maj. Edwin Rodriguez, the Brigade Operations Officer. “The training at Camp McGregor enables the Brigade staff to shape and establish common operating procedures typically found among multinational staffs in Kosovo.”

The 5th Armored Brigade 1st Battalion, 360th Infantry Regiment, also known as Task Force Warhawg, commanded by Lt. Col. Rob Paolucci, conducted the training at Camp McGregor.

“Task Force Warhawg trains and validates post-mobilized National Guard and Reserve units across the armed forces in preparation for worldwide deployment,” Paolucci said. “The purpose of the MRX was to train and prepare the 79th for a final validation exercise at JMRC (Joint Multinational Readiness Center) at Hohenfels, Germany.”

Paolucci said the 79th came together as a brigade staff during the MRX and is well positioned to successfully complete the validation exercise at JMRC and then take on the role of the command element for Multinational Battle Group — East (MNBG-E) in Kosovo.

MNBG-E is a composite brigade, consisting of U.S. Army active duty, National Guard, and Reserve elements, as well as units from several NATO-member nations.

“This is a peacekeeping operation,” Paolucci said of the mission in Kosovo. “We are there at the request of the government of Kosovo to assist in providing a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout their country.”

Now that the 79th has completed training at Camp McGregor, they head to Hohenfels for the final validation exercise.

“The brigade validation at JMRC affords the staff the ability to bridge multinational interoperability functions with our European partners,” Rodriguez said.

Once the validation exercise is completed, the 79th will arrive in Kosovo in March and relieve the 39th IBCT of the Arkansas National Guard.

“This mission is important in ensuring that peace is maintained in the Balkans,” said Col. Nick Ducich, Commander of 79th IBCT. “Our Soldiers are well trained professionals and are looking forward to assisting the institutions of Kosovo toward stability and sustainability while strengthening our enduring relationships with allies and partners.”

Kosovo was a province of Serbia until 1999, when it became a protectorate of the United Nations following the Kosovo War. Kosovo Force (KFOR), a multinational NATO peacekeeping force, was formed to bring safety and stability to the province, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo’s independence is not recognized by a number of states, including China, Russia, and India.

The U.S. Army National Guard has been a major contributor of troops to the KFOR mission, which is the longest peacekeeping mission in NATO history. California Army National Guard Soldiers have participated in several KFOR rotations. The 79th IBCT will be part of the 24th rotation of U.S. troops into Kosovo.

Sgt. Marc Brakefield, the Brigade’s Civil Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, is no stranger to deploying. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and to Kosovo in 2009-10.

“I love it,” Brakefield said of deploying. “I love the camaraderie, the learning aspect of working with Soldiers from different backgrounds and roles. I’m very excited to see how Kosovo has changed since I was last there.”

RELATED LINKS

References

  1. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  2. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  3. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  4. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  5. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)
  6. ^ View Original (www.army.mil)