Tagged: official

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

US, S. Korea Military Exercises Could End Outreach to Nuclear North

SEOUL — 

The resumption of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, which were postponed until after the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics end in late March, could also mark the end of the current diplomatic outreach to North Korea.

The annual joint exercises include the Key Resolve strategic simulation drill, where U.S. and South Korean troops and military assets are deployed to respond to potential North Korean threats, and field exercises called Foal Eagle. Past drills involved nearly 20,000 American troops, 300,000 South Korean forces, and an array of bomber aircrafts, fighter jets and warships.

Needed deterrence

Military leaders deem these conventional exercises to be essential to maintain defense readiness and deterrence against the growing North Korean nuclear threat. It is also standard practice for every country in the world to conduct ongoing training for soldiers that are continually being drafted or deployed.

“All militaries train. The Korean People’s Army in North Korea trains. The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) trains in China. That’s what militaries do,” said North Korea security analyst Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer in international relations with Troy University in Seoul

North Korea has called these joint exercises threatening rehearsals for invasion.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in negotiated a delay in this year’s exercises to ensure the safety of the winter Olympics games being held close to the inter-Korean border. North Korea’s participation in the Olympics has also been accompanied by a pause in its missile launches and nuclear tests. In the year prior, Pyongyang conducted numerous provocative tests, after publicly setting the goal to develop a functional nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile that can target the U.S. mainland.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, looks on.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, looks on.

In response, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has led an international effort to impose harsh sanctions on the North that cut off much of its income, including banning its lucrative coal and mineral exports.

Freeze for freeze

Moon’s diplomatic outreach has enacted what is basically a temporary “freeze for freeze” proposal, suspending both the U.S.-South Korea joint drills and North Korean provocations that China and Russia have been advocating to reduce regional tensions.

Washington has so far rejected any proposals to further suspend conventional military exercises that it argues are defense oriented and legal under international law, while it says North Korea’s nuclear program threatens its neighbors and the world.

There is, however, speculation that Washington and Seoul may try to reduce the size and scope of the exercises to make them less threatening to the North, perhaps by eliminating decapitation simulations that practice targeting leadership in Pyongyang, or excluding U.S. nuclear capable bombers from participating in the drills.

“The question is what level of the exercises is adequate for military preparedness and for robust deterrence purposes, and how do you calibrate it in a way that is nonthreatening,” said Pinkston.

In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, three U.S. aircraft carriers USS Nimitz, left top, USS Ronald Reagan, left center, and USS Theodore Roosevelt, left bottom, participate with other U.S. and South Korean navy ships.
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, three U.S. aircraft carriers USS Nimitz, left top, USS Ronald Reagan, left center, and USS Theodore Roosevelt, left bottom, participate with other U.S. and South Korean navy ships.

But Pyongyang has warned it would respond to the resumption of the joint drills, possibly by resuming provocative nuclear and missile tests, even if it means triggering further sanctions.

“The North Korean authority must do its own calculation about gains and losses about such an action in protest to the resumption of the military exercises. So it is all up to Kim Jong on government,” said Bong Young-shik, a political analyst with the Yonsei University’s Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Olympic engagement

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on Monday said restarting the drills would be a “provocative act” that would undermine Pyongyang’s recent efforts to “defuse tension and create a peaceful environment.”

Moon’s Olympic engagement efforts with the North, including marching together at the opening ceremony and fielding a unified women’s hockey team, has reduced inter-Korean tensions and brought about an invitation from the North Korean leader to host the South Korean president in Pyongyang for a leaders summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets members of the high-level delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which visited South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets members of the high-level delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which visited South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics.

By participating in the Olympics, Pyongyang also embarked on what critics called a “charm offensive,” meant to improve its threatening image and weaken support for economic sanctions imposed for its continued nuclear violations.

Moon’s diplomatic outreach, however, has so far been unable to bring Washington and Pyongyang into direct talks to resolve the nuclear standoff. The U.S. will not engage in official negotiations until the North agrees to give up its nuclear program, which Pyongyang refuses to do, insisting that its nuclear weapons are needed to prevent a U.S. invasion.

“History does not give me much confidence that this will lead anywhere, especially when the bargaining position of the U.S. side is that the North does have to give up its weapon nuclear weapons and parts of its missile program,” said regional security analyst Grant Newsham with the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies in Tokyo.

The Trump administration recently indicated a willingness to support Moon’s efforts and engage in exploratory talks. U.S. officials on Tuesday said Vice President Mike Pence, who led the U.S. Olympic delegation at the Olympics opening ceremony, was planning to meet with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader at the games, but North Korea canceled the meeting at the last minute.

However the vice president also clarified that the U.S. “maximum pressure” approach, which includes increasing economic sanctions and maintaining the credible threat of military force as well, would remain in place until the Kim government agrees to give up its nuclear weapons.

Lee Yoon-jee in Seoul contributed to this report.

0

Mattis faces deadline today on the military's transgender policy

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis faced a Wednesday deadline[1] to provide President Donald Trump guidance on transgender service members, as news reports surfaced revealing that the president initiated the ban last summer without consulting his top general.

“Things are at a very confusing moment right now,” said Shannon Minter, who is representing transgender personnel in two of the four federal lawsuits[2] challenging Trump’s ban.

“When President Trump issued his official memorandum[3] [in August of 2017] he ordered Mattis in that memo to provide the president with a written plan on how to implement the plan by Feb 21. So we’ve all been waiting, It’s obviously an important recommendation on exactly how the plan would be implemented.”

Mattis was directed to have the Pentagon study whether transgender personnel negatively impacted readiness and provide the White House guidance on whether Trump’s July ban should be reversed.

“The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted,” Trump said in the August 2017 memo.
[4]

As of midday Wednesday the Pentagon had not issued guidance, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. David Eastburn.

“The secretary has his recommendation for the President but has not provided it yet. When he’s ready to provide it, he will,” Eastburn said.

The guidance is not expected to be made public, several defense officials told Military Times.

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It was not clear if on that date the White House would also make Mattis’ February recommendations public. In addition, parts of Trump’s August directive have already been overturned in the courts, further muddying what exactly the transgender policy will be.

In the August memo, Trump also directed that no new transgender recruits be allowed to enlist in the military, upending earlier direction from Mattis that set a six-month delay that expired Jan. 1. Multiple federal courts have also ruled against that limitation, and transgender personnel were allowed to join the military as of Jan. 1, 2018.

In a statement issued in late December as the Jan. 1 ban expired, the Justice Department pointed to the anticipated guidance, supported by a study Mattis directed last August, as reason not to further pursue that angle of the ban.
[6]

The courts are still weighing in on the wider issue of whether any restrictions on transgender service are constitutional. In the two federal cases that Minter is involved with, administration attorneys have pointed to the anticipated policy from Mattis as a reason for delay. The cases are also in a heated discovery phase where attorneys for the transgender plaintiffs are trying to determine on what basis Trump made his July decision, and in consultation with whom.

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

On Wednesday BuzzFeed reported on emails it obtained that it said showed that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford was not consulted and caught off guard by the tweet, In subsequent memos to service members and in Congressional testimony Dunford has repeatedly said[7] “any individual who meets the physical and mental standards … should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.”

Dunford spokesman Air Force Col. Pat Ryder would not confirm whether the emails BuzzFeed obtained were authentic, stating that “because there is ongoing litigation regarding DoD policy on transgender accessions, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time on questions related to actual or alleged internal DoD correspondence.”

Meanwhile, the first new transgender recruits are getting closer to enlisting, Minter said. Nicolas Talbott,[8] 24, is one of the plaintiffs Minter is representing. Talbott has completed all of the medical paperwork necessary, including verification that he has had 18 months of stability after transitioning to a male.

“Next step is to schedule the MEPS,” Minter said.

References

  1. ^ Wednesday deadline (www.militarytimes.com)
  2. ^ in two of the four federal lawsuits (www.militarytimes.com)
  3. ^ official memorandum (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ Trump said in the August 2017 memo. (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ This young man is transgender, and ready to enlist Jan. 1 (www.militarytimes.com)
  6. ^ Mattis directed last August, (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ Dunford has repeatedly said (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ Nicolas Talbott, (www.militarytimes.com)
0

Mattis faces deadline today on the military's transgender policy

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis faced a Wednesday deadline[1] to provide President Donald Trump guidance on transgender service members, as news reports surfaced revealing that the president initiated the ban last summer without consulting his top general.

“Things are at a very confusing moment right now,” said Shannon Minter, who is representing transgender personnel in two of the four federal lawsuits[2] challenging Trump’s ban.

“When President Trump issued his official memorandum[3] [in August of 2017] he ordered Mattis in that memo to provide the president with a written plan on how to implement the plan by Feb 21. So we’ve all been waiting, It’s obviously an important recommendation on exactly how the plan would be implemented.”

Mattis was directed to have the Pentagon study whether transgender personnel negatively impacted readiness and provide the White House guidance on whether Trump’s July ban should be reversed.

“The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted,” Trump said in the August 2017 memo.
[4]

As of midday Wednesday the Pentagon had not issued guidance, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. David Eastburn.

“The secretary has his recommendation for the President but has not provided it yet. When he’s ready to provide it, he will,” Eastburn said.

The guidance is not expected to be made public, several defense officials told Military Times.

Sign up for the Good News
All positive stories about the military
Thanks for signing up!

It was not clear if on that date the White House would also make Mattis’ February recommendations public. In addition, parts of Trump’s August directive have already been overturned in the courts, further muddying what exactly the transgender policy will be.

In the August memo, Trump also directed that no new transgender recruits be allowed to enlist in the military, upending earlier direction from Mattis that set a six-month delay that expired Jan. 1. Multiple federal courts have also ruled against that limitation, and transgender personnel were allowed to join the military as of Jan. 1, 2018.

In a statement issued in late December as the Jan. 1 ban expired, the Justice Department pointed to the anticipated guidance, supported by a study Mattis directed last August, as reason not to further pursue that angle of the ban.
[6]

The courts are still weighing in on the wider issue of whether any restrictions on transgender service are constitutional. In the two federal cases that Minter is involved with, administration attorneys have pointed to the anticipated policy from Mattis as a reason for delay. The cases are also in a heated discovery phase where attorneys for the transgender plaintiffs are trying to determine on what basis Trump made his July decision, and in consultation with whom.

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

On Wednesday BuzzFeed reported on emails it obtained that it said showed that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford was not consulted and caught off guard by the tweet, In subsequent memos to service members and in Congressional testimony Dunford has repeatedly said[7] “any individual who meets the physical and mental standards … should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.”

Dunford spokesman Air Force Col. Pat Ryder would not confirm whether the emails BuzzFeed obtained were authentic, stating that “because there is ongoing litigation regarding DoD policy on transgender accessions, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time on questions related to actual or alleged internal DoD correspondence.”

Meanwhile, the first new transgender recruits are getting closer to enlisting, Minter said. Nicolas Talbott,[8] 24, is one of the plaintiffs Minter is representing. Talbott has completed all of the medical paperwork necessary, including verification that he has had 18 months of stability after transitioning to a male.

“Next step is to schedule the MEPS,” Minter said.

References

  1. ^ Wednesday deadline (www.militarytimes.com)
  2. ^ in two of the four federal lawsuits (www.militarytimes.com)
  3. ^ official memorandum (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ Trump said in the August 2017 memo. (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ This young man is transgender, and ready to enlist Jan. 1 (www.militarytimes.com)
  6. ^ Mattis directed last August, (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ Dunford has repeatedly said (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ Nicolas Talbott, (www.militarytimes.com)
0

Mattis faces deadline today on the military's transgender policy

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis faced a Wednesday deadline[1] to provide President Donald Trump guidance on transgender service members, as news reports surfaced revealing that the president initiated the ban last summer without consulting his top general.

“Things are at a very confusing moment right now,” said Shannon Minter, who is representing transgender personnel in two of the four federal lawsuits[2] challenging Trump’s ban.

“When President Trump issued his official memorandum[3] [in August of 2017] he ordered Mattis in that memo to provide the president with a written plan on how to implement the plan by Feb 21. So we’ve all been waiting, It’s obviously an important recommendation on exactly how the plan would be implemented.”

Mattis was directed to have the Pentagon study whether transgender personnel negatively impacted readiness and provide the White House guidance on whether Trump’s July ban should be reversed.

“The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted,” Trump said in the August 2017 memo.
[4]

As of midday Wednesday the Pentagon had not issued guidance, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. David Eastburn.

“The secretary has his recommendation for the President but has not provided it yet. When he’s ready to provide it, he will,” Eastburn said.

The guidance is not expected to be made public, several defense officials told Military Times.

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It was not clear if on that date the White House would also make Mattis’ February recommendations public. In addition, parts of Trump’s August directive have already been overturned in the courts, further muddying what exactly the transgender policy will be.

In the August memo, Trump also directed that no new transgender recruits be allowed to enlist in the military, upending earlier direction from Mattis that set a six-month delay that expired Jan. 1. Multiple federal courts have also ruled against that limitation, and transgender personnel were allowed to join the military as of Jan. 1, 2018.

In a statement issued in late December as the Jan. 1 ban expired, the Justice Department pointed to the anticipated guidance, supported by a study Mattis directed last August, as reason not to further pursue that angle of the ban.
[6]

The courts are still weighing in on the wider issue of whether any restrictions on transgender service are constitutional. In the two federal cases that Minter is involved with, administration attorneys have pointed to the anticipated policy from Mattis as a reason for delay. The cases are also in a heated discovery phase where attorneys for the transgender plaintiffs are trying to determine on what basis Trump made his July decision, and in consultation with whom.

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

In this July 29, 2017, photo, transgender U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen, near Regensburg, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

On Wednesday BuzzFeed reported on emails it obtained that it said showed that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford was not consulted and caught off guard by the tweet, In subsequent memos to service members and in Congressional testimony Dunford has repeatedly said[7] “any individual who meets the physical and mental standards … should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.”

Dunford spokesman Air Force Col. Pat Ryder would not confirm whether the emails BuzzFeed obtained were authentic, stating that “because there is ongoing litigation regarding DoD policy on transgender accessions, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time on questions related to actual or alleged internal DoD correspondence.”

Meanwhile, the first new transgender recruits are getting closer to enlisting, Minter said. Nicolas Talbott,[8] 24, is one of the plaintiffs Minter is representing. Talbott has completed all of the medical paperwork necessary, including verification that he has had 18 months of stability after transitioning to a male.

“Next step is to schedule the MEPS,” Minter said.

References

  1. ^ Wednesday deadline (www.militarytimes.com)
  2. ^ in two of the four federal lawsuits (www.militarytimes.com)
  3. ^ official memorandum (www.militarytimes.com)
  4. ^ Trump said in the August 2017 memo. (www.whitehouse.gov)
  5. ^ This young man is transgender, and ready to enlist Jan. 1 (www.militarytimes.com)
  6. ^ Mattis directed last August, (www.militarytimes.com)
  7. ^ Dunford has repeatedly said (www.militarytimes.com)
  8. ^ Nicolas Talbott, (www.militarytimes.com)
0

China Shows Off Air Force in Direct Challenge to India Military Power in Asia

The Chinese military has published photos of recent air force drills that at least one expert quoted in ruling party media identified Tuesday as a direct message to neighboring India.

Tensions between the two Asian powers have once again risen after they threatened to come to blows[1] over a border dispute last summer. Officials have swapped provocative words in recent months, reigniting a potential crisis as rhetoric turned into military preparations. In the latest move, China’s armed forces, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), published Friday rare images of Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 fighter jets landing in Tibet, the western region that borders India, after exercises that Chinese military expert and commentator Song Zhongping linked to recent escalations.

Related: Russia and China could soon become more powerful than the U.S., and Valentine’s Day is to blame[2]

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now[3]

“Strengthening the 3.5-generation fighter jets or even stationing more advanced fighters in the Western Theater Command has been urgent for the PLA,” Song told Chinese Communist Party organ The Global Times[4] in an article then posted to the official China Military Online[5].

“With India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theater Command,” he added.

ChinaJ10Tibet

A Chengdu J-10 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the People’s Liberation Army Western Theater Command taxies on the runway during an aerial combat training exercise in western China on February 13. Chen Qingshun/China Military Online

Song noted that such upgrades to China’s defenses have often been first implemented in its southern and eastern commands. The western command, however, has received more attention as the rivalry with India heated up.

China and India have long quarreled over stretches of territory along their shared border and this even exploded into a war between the two in the early 1960s. One region, known as Doklam or Donglang, which borders India’s Sikkim State, Chinese Tibet and the Ha Valley of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, revived hostilities last summer[6]. India argued that Chinese construction near the trilateral border area last June threatened Bhutan’s claim to the region and deployed troops to confront the Chinese military in the area.

The standoff lasted nearly a month and a half and was believed to have resolved after both sides withdrew. Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen shaking hands with his Indian counterpart Nehru Modi on the sidelines of the September 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China. This detente, however, has been undermined by recent statements from both sides claiming they won last summer’s dispute and could take on the other in a future fight.

During a regular press[7] conference[8] Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang criticized a visit earlier that day by Modu to the nearby disputed Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claimed as part of southern Tibet. Geng said China was “firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the disputed area” and would “lodge stern representations with the Indian side.”

ChinaSpringFestivalSoldiers

Soldiers assigned to a brigade of the People’s Liberation Army 78th Group Army conduct a combat readiness training exercise in full battle gear during the 2018 spring festival holiday, in northeastern China, on February 15. China and India have long quarreled over stretches of territory along their shared border. Liu Yishan/China Military Online

The Chinese military has also used recent remarks from Indian generals to justify its own urgent transformation into a force fully prepared to fight a war between states[9]. Xi’s ongoing, massive bid to revolutionize his armed forces had the dual purpose of modernizing China’s military power and streamlining it to make it capable of protecting not only Chinese borders but also Chinese interests abroad[10]. Xi has also sought tight ties with Pakistan[11], a crucial Chinese economic ally—and India’s longtime foe.

Following last week’s air force drills in Tibet, the Chinese military continued training through the week-long Chinese New Year, or spring festival, holiday. The Chinese navy and army were also pictured conducting maneuvers aimed toward realizing Xi’s goal of preparing his armed forces to handle any external threat.

References

  1. ^ threatened to come to blows (www.newsweek.com)
  2. ^ Russia and China could soon become more powerful than the U.S., and Valentine’s Day is to blame (www.newsweek.com)
  3. ^ Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now (subscription.newsweek.com)
  4. ^ The Global Times (www.globaltimes.cn)
  5. ^ China Military Online (english.chinamil.com.cn)
  6. ^ revived hostilities last summer (www.newsweek.com)
  7. ^ a regular press (www.fmprc.gov.cn)
  8. ^ conference (www.fmprc.gov.cn)
  9. ^ prepared to fight a war between states (www.newsweek.com)
  10. ^ Chinese interests abroad (www.newsweek.com)
  11. ^ tight ties with Pakistan (www.newsweek.com)
0

Russia, Pakistan Form Anti-Terror Military Cooperation Commission

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — 

Russia and Pakistan plan to establish a commission on military cooperation to counter the Islamic State threat in the region, accusing the United States of downplaying the terrorist group’s dangerous “proliferation” in Afghanistan.

“We have confirmed Russia’s readiness to continue boosting Pakistan’s counterterrorism capacity, which is in the entire region’s interests,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday in Moscow.

Speaking to reporters along with his Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Asif, the Russian official said fighting terrorism is one of the priority areas of cooperation between the two countries. He said joint military exercises between Russian and Pakistani special forces, which began in 2016, will continue this year.

FILE - A two-week-long joint exercise, DRUZBA 2017, between special forces of Pakistan and Russia armies is held in Minralney Vody, Russia.
FILE – A two-week-long joint exercise, DRUZBA 2017, between special forces of Pakistan and Russia armies is held in Minralney Vody, Russia.

Lavrov raised Moscow’s “very serious suspicions” about efforts the NATO-led coalition is undertaking in Afghanistan to curb the threat.

According to Russian and Pakistani data, he said, thousands of IS terrorists are present in northern and eastern Afghan border regions and they continue to grow in number. This is increasing the risk of the “terrorists’ penetration” into Central Asia and Russia.

Russian claims

“But we are alarmed because unfortunately, U.S. military and NATO coalition in Afghanistan try to silence or deny these facts to give an impression that it [IS] is not a serious threat,” noted Lavrov.

Russia and neighboring Iran are increasingly accusing the United States of being behind the rise of the Afghan branch of IS. They allege IS fighters fleeing Syria and Iraq are also finding refuge in the war-shattered country.

FILE - People protest against an Islamic State-claimed attack on a shrine earlier this year, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2017.
FILE – People protest against an Islamic State-claimed attack on a shrine earlier this year, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2017.

Lavrov said Moscow is also waiting for “clarifications” from the U.S.-led coalition about “flights of unmarked helicopters” to Afghan areas that are either controlled by insurgents or host militant bases.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Asif shared Lavrov’s concerns about what he said is “unchecked proliferation of Daesh” in Afghanistan.

“But there is absolutely no acknowledgment, real acknowledgement, by Kabul and Washington of such a large presence of Daesh or the proliferation of Daesh in Afghanistan. … They are a threat to Central Asia, Pakistan, China and ultimately to Russian Federation. … So, this is something, which is very alarming,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

The number of IS terrorists, Asif said, has surpassed even some Taliban groups operating in Afghanistan because of the arrival of militants from the Middle East.

Washington vehemently rejects as “rumors” charges that it is supporting IS activities in Afghanistan, and maintains that sustained military operations in partnership with Afghan forces against the terrorist group have significantly degraded and reduced the terrorists in the country.

U.S. officials, in turn, denounce Moscow’s overt ties with the Taliban, saying it gives legitimacy to the insurgency and undermines years of efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Afghan peace pledge

Lavrov and Asif also pledged to work closely to promote a peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, alleging the U.S.-led military mission has failed to secure the country. They said illegal opium poppy production, which is directly feeding insecurity, has also increased “manyfold.”

“There are monumental failures in Afghanistan and there is an effort to scapegoat Pakistan … for these failures. We have rejected these baseless allegations. We cannot fight others’ wars on our soil,” said Asif.

FILE - Pakistani protesters burn posters of U.S. President Donald Trump in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2018. Pakistan has expressed disappointment at the U.S. decision to suspend military aid to Islamabad.
FILE – Pakistani protesters burn posters of U.S. President Donald Trump in Lahore, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2018. Pakistan has expressed disappointment at the U.S. decision to suspend military aid to Islamabad.

He was referring to the Trump administration’s accusations the Taliban and its allies are waging insurgency in Afghanistan from their sanctuaries in Pakistan and with covert support of its military. U.S. and Afghan officials have been demanding that Islamabad take “decisive” action against the militants.

Pakistani officials deny any links to insurgents and say security forces have uprooted all terrorist bases. They, in turn, allege militants who have fled counterterrorism operations have found refuge on the Afghan side of the long, porous border between the two countries and plot terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

Washington has suspended military aid to Pakistan and relations continue to deteriorate as U.S. officials maintain there is no evidence the country is taking action against insurgents on its soil, including those linked to the dreaded Haqqani network.

Pakistan’s closeness with Russia and the cementing of traditionally strong ties with neighboring China stem from the growing U.S. pressure, say analysts.