- Soldier Killed In Eastern Afghanistan Identified
- An Arlington National Cemetery Worker Carried A 96-Year-Old WWII Vet To Visit His Wife’s Grave
- A Belligerent Interview With The Ex-Marine Penman Of Grunt Life
- The War In Afghanistan Is (Still) Going Terribly
- Here’s How 10 Of The Largest And Most Important Tank Battles In History Played Out
- Report: John Kelly Stopped Trump From Pulling US Troops Out Of South Korea
- An Air Force Investigator Was Browsing Reddit And Ended Up Saving An Airman’s Life
- The White House Knew Ronny Jackson Had Issues And Covered It Up
- New Study Says Shoulder-Fired Weapons Are Hazardous For The Brain
- WWII Marine Gets His Dying Wish: To Meet Up With A Fellow Guadalcanal Veteran
- Disabled American Vets Living Overseas Are Getting Screwed Out of Healthcare
- Israel Is Stomping On Iran — And It Could Bring One Of The Worst Wars The Middle East Has Ever Seen
- From CIA Counterterror Officer To Beat Cop In Georgia
- The Future of Warfighting? Pulse Mortars, Exploding ‘Roaches’ And Open-Market Air Support
Posted: 01 May 2018 01:28 PM PDT
The Pentagon has identified the American soldier killed on April 30 in eastern Afghanistan as Spc. Gabriel D. Conde.
Conde, 22, was an airborne infantryman who was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, officials said on Tuesday. He was taking part in the U.S. counter-terrorism mission in eastern Afghansitan when he was killed by enemy small arms fire in Tagab district.
Originally from Loveland, Colorado, Conde enlisted in the Army in August 2015 and deployed to Afghanistan in September 2017, according to the Army.
Another U.S. service member was wounded during the combat operation and listed in stable condition at Bagram Airfield's hospital. Several Afghan security force members were killed and wounded as well.
"My thoughts and those of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan are with the families and friends of our fallen and wounded service members," Army Gen. John Nicholson, who leads U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, said in an April 30 statement. "Their valiancy in battle, and that of the brave Afghan partners they fought alongside, will endure in our hearts and history."
Posted: 01 May 2018 01:00 PM PDT
Two anonymous volunteers at Arlington National Cemetery are being lauded for their compassion on social media, after photos were posted of them carrying a 96-year-old North Carolina vet to visit his wife’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery.
The vet was George Boone, who served as a B-25 pilot during World War II and became a prisoner of war when he was shot down over Romania in 1943, reported WTTG Fox.
He was at the cemetery in Washington DC with his son, Jon, visiting the grave of his wife, Alma, who died in 2007, the station reported. In their rush, the two forgot Boone’s wheelchair, said Fox News.
George Boone figured that 70 yards away was the closest he could get to his late wife’s gravesite, but then two observers stepped up to help him, reported CNN. The couple was married 56 years, according to WTTG Fox. His wife was eligible to be buried in the cemetery as a military spouse.
The two made a chair out of their arms and lifted Boone all the way to his wife’s resting place, where they held him up for 10 minutes while he paid his respects, CNN reported. The male volunteer then carried the veteran back to the car on his own, CNN reported.
One was an employee of the cemetery and the other was a volunteer, reported WTTG.
Jon Boone’s photos of his father being carried piggyback has prompted hundreds of responses on social media.
“Human kindness and decency triumphs again.,” posted Sonja Reddick of Euless, Texas, on Facebook.
“That’s about a picture of America if there ever was one,” posted Martin Braspennix.
“Compassion is very much alive in this country,” said Thomas Anderson on Facebook.
©2018 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The post An Arlington National Cemetery Worker Carried A 96-Year-Old WWII Vet To Visit His Wife's Grave appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 12:41 PM PDT
In his Iraq War memoir Eat the Apple, Marine infantry veteran Matt Young offers readers a meditation on grunt life and war that's crass, reflective, candid, and self-deprecating.
Inspired by Young's three pumps to Iraq between 2005 and 2009, the memoir provides an alternative to the mainstream narrative surrounding America's men and women at war. Unlike those tried and tested war stories that'll earn you a free beer and a hearty "thank you for your service" from patriotic civilians, the stories in Eat the Apple are likely to earn you a disgusted side-eye and a not-so-polite request that you leave the bar.
Task & Purpose had a chance to chat with Young about belligerent ex-Marine shit: playing hot-potato with a piss-filled water bottle that has an MRE heater stuffed inside; the boot uniform of the day; how it's kind of fucked up that we can't talk honestly about why we wanted to go to war; and angry screeds by that one Facebook veteran who wants you to know he qual'd with iron sights on the range. (Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.)
Task & Purpose: I'm familiar with the saying "Eat the apple. Fuck the Corps," but why did you choose it for the title?
Matt Young: I kind of like the meaning behind it, which is kind of like: Take your enlistment, your four years, or whatever you're doing in your time there, and really embrace it and digest it; then when it's done, toss it and move on. And I just kind of like the irreverence of it. I think that's how a lot of infantry Marines and four-year enlisters end up feeling. There's a lot of anger and being disgruntled at the Corps. I think that saying encompasses a broad feeling amongst grunts.
T&P: What reactions have you gotten from other Marines or guys you served with?
MY: I've had a bunch of vets reach out to me and tell me the honesty of it is helping them. That's better than any praise I've gotten, because it feels like it's having an individual impact on people, so that's pretty awesome. But I did get the crusty old-man veterans who want me to be taken back into the military and court martialed or thrown into the brig, because they've got this particular image of the military that I've upset. I talk a lot about manhood and masculinity in the book, and when you start to touch that subject, it gets it going with a lot of guys, especially older men. That's who I've gotten a lot of flak from.
T&P: I'm not surprised to hear that the "Old Corps" guys took issue with it — the ones who are always commenting that "back in my day we shot with iron sights."
MY: Exactly, yeah. I don't know why, but it feels like some older vets don't want anyone to change their perception or how people perceive them. What, people aren't going to offer you drinks in bars anymore because I wrote a book? Get out of here.
If that's the reason you want to celebrate your service, for one, you probably need to reevaluate how you think about what you did, and you need to make room for other people's stories. You can't just have special operators running in and shooting Osama Bin Laden. There are other stories to be told.
T&P: Do you think that veterans and probably Americans at large are honest about the actual reasons people join the military or want to go to war?
MY: I think getting at a more detailed explanation for why people join and what their motivations are behind it can help us understand — that's where the divide starts between civilians and the military.
You have this assumption that you're joining the military because you're patriotic, because you want to go defend freedom. But I never felt [that] by going to Iraq I was defending freedom. I think by the time we got there and you see how bombed out and destroyed that country was: In what way is Iraq a danger to the U.S. right now? There's no possible way I'm defending someone's freedom in the middle of America by going to Iraq and handing out bags of rice or going on snatch-and-grabs in the middle of the night.
T&P: In the book, you talk about this idea of coming of age at war and wanting to be the guy with the thousand yard stare who can answer that question, "what's it like to kill someone." Why is it important to pull back the curtain and explain that maybe people don't just join up to fight terrorists or defend freedom?
MY: Giving people that narrative that this is who you are, this is who you're supposed to be, this is how you're supposed to act when you come home, it keeps people at arm's distance. When you're coming back from war and people are buying you drinks in bars and telling you "Thank you for your service and for protecting our freedom," you start to believe that narative, and you kind of overlay it onto your own, and your own motivations become twisted. And it becomes really hard, because society wants you to be a certain way, and you feel you have to be. And that's really tough; at least, it was for me as a young man.
T&P: Did you ever pull any pranks, or just do stupid shit while deployed?
MY: (Laughs.) When we were right outside of Fallujah, we were living in fighting holes that we'd dug into the side of a hill. It was super boring. We would take MRE heaters and we'd put 'em in bottles, and somebody would pee in the bottle. And we'd throw them back and forth between the fighting holes in the worst game of hot potato ever created — until the piss bottle would explode.
I think that's how humor works at war. Everything else was so horrible that anything you can do that distracts becomes funny, especially if you're willing to self-deprecate…
It disrupts that narrative. You're not the SEAL Team Six guy: You're the jackass with the helmet that's too big, the flak jacket that has too much shit on it, and you're trying to kick in a door and you can't because it opens out, and somebody comes up and opens it then goes in without you because you're a dumbass and you're trying to open a door wrong.
T&P: What's the dumbest, bootest thing you ever did?
MY: I have two tattoos. One says "USMC" on my forearm, and I have "Devil Dog" written on my other forearm in old English writing, and that lasted in the fleet for about two months before I got ragged on so hard that I got it covered up with a half sleeve.
And then there's, like, the backpacks and stuff. Buying a supermoto go bag and going down to Oceanside for the weekend.
T&P: Right, right. Like your tucked-in polo or undershirt and sneakers. The boot uniform.
MY: Yeah, with my awesome high-and-tight.
T&P: And the dog tags, for sure, like everyone doesn't already fucking know you're a Marine.
MY: I once saw somebody put their dog tags in their sneakers. That was probably one of the most boot things I saw: a pair of Converse All-Stars with a dog tag on the left lower lace. I was like oh, Jesus.
T&P: That's sounds like a photo on Terminal Lance.
MY: It's like, who hurt you?
The post A Belligerent Interview With The Ex-Marine Penman Of Grunt Life appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 12:04 PM PDT
The war in Afghanistan, America’s first and most enduring foray into the Forever Wars, continues to go poorly, according to a quarterly report to Congress from the Special Inspector General Report for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published on April 30. And while the Pentagon seems convinced that the tide is definitely turning (any minute now!), here’s how the first few months of 2018 have shaped up:
Read the full report from SIGAR below:
Posted: 01 May 2018 11:45 AM PDT
The tank is one of the most important weapon systems on the battlefield. Few weapons strike enemy soldiers with the fear that a fully loaded tank rolling towards them does.
After their trial by fire on the fields of Europe in World War I, tanks have become a necessity for any army that wants to be considered a serious foe.
In the one hundred years since its invention, tanks have been the winning factor in a number of battles. Entire wars have depended on their successful use.
Take a look at how 10 of the biggest tank battles in history went down.
Battle of Cambrai: November 20 – December 8, 1917
The Battle of Cambrai was the first time tanks were used on a large scale for a military offensive. The objective was to take the commune of Cambrai, an important supply point for the Germans at the heart of the Hindenburg Line, in order to reduce the pressure on the French.
Nineteen British divisions were assembled for the battle, including 476 tanks and five horsed cavalry divisions.
The initial attack on November 20th was met with huge success. The British had torn through four miles of German defenses and captured up to 7,500 prisoners with low casualties.
But by the end of the day, more than half of the tanks were out of action due to mechanical failure. The German Army launched a massive counterattack, and brutal trench warfare ensued.
By the end of the battle, almost all the British gains were lost, over 100 tanks were lost or destroyed, and both sides suffered around 40,000 casualties each.
Battle of Hannut: May 12 – 14, 1940
The Battle of Hannut was fought during the Battle of Belgium, Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Low Countries. It was part of the Wehrmacht’s thrust into the Ardennes region and was meant to tie down the French First Army.
It was both the largest tank battle of the campaign and the largest battle in armored warfare history at the time. Over 600 German tanks and 25,000 soldiers squared off against 600 French and Dutch armored vehicles and around 20,000 soldiers.
The battle was technically inconclusive. Some of the French First Army was able to fight their way through the Germans to reunite with their British comrades at Dunkirk, but they had lost well over 100 of their tanks and armored vehicles.
German losses were much lighter, with only around 50 tanks lost. While the French SOMUA S35 tank was considered as one of the best at the time, German tactics and communication technology made the Wehrmacht better.
Battle of Raseiniai: June 23 – 27, 1941
The Battle of Raseiniai was a large tank battle fought at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. The battle was fought in Lithuania, then part of the Soviet Union’s Northwestern Front.
Some 240 German tanks from the 4th Panzer Group were tasked with destroying almost 750 Soviet tanks of the 3rd and 12th Mechanized Corps.
Despite their numerical advantage over the Wehrmacht, the result of the battle was an utter catastrophe for the Soviets. Some 700 Soviet tanks and their crews — almost the entirety of the Soviet Union’s deployed mechanized units on the Northwestern Front — were destroyed, damaged, or captured.
A large part of the German victory was due to their use of airpower. The Luftwaffe was unchallenged during the battle, and the close tank formations of the Soviets were easy targets for Ju 88 aircraft.
Battle of Brody: June 23 – 30, 1941
The Battle of Brody is the largest tank battle in history, according to some historians.
Also fought during the beginning stages of Operation Barbarossa, the battle saw some 1,000 German panzers of the 1st Panzer Group’s III Army Corps smash into 3,000 Soviet tanks from the six mechanized corps of the Soviet 5th and 6th Armies.
Again outnumbered, the Wehrmacht proved that superior training, tactics, communication technology, and air support make all the difference.
The exact number of casualties is not known, but estimates put Soviet tank losses at somewhere between 800 to over 1,000. The Wehrmacht also suffered heavy casualties, with anywhere between 200 to 350 tanks destroyed.
“This, in fact, is the biggest tank battle in World War II, and sparsely a word has been written on it,” according to David Glantz, a historian of the Eastern Front and Soviet military.
Second Battle of El Alamein: October 23 – November 11, 1942
The Second Battle of El Alamein saw two legendary generals, Britain’s Bernard Montgomery, and Germany’s Erwin Rommel — who was nicknamed the “Desert Fox” — fight for the fate of North Africa.
North Africa had been a battleground since Fascist Italy’s invasion of Egypt in 1940. Germany’s Afrikakorps had to step in to prevent their defeat in 1941 and were able to push the British all the way into Egypt.
They were stopped at the First Battle of El Alamein, which, though technically a stalemate, did prevent the Afrikakorps from rolling through the rest of Egypt, and by extension the Middle East.
Montgomery assembled a force for a counterattack, including around 190,000 men and over 1,000 tanks. Rommel commanded a force of 116,000 German and Italian soldiers, and 540 tanks.
After days of hard fighting in the Egyptian desert, Montgomery was victorious. Five hundred German and Italian tanks, almost all of Rommel’s force, were destroyed or captured.
With the Americans launching Operation Torch in November 1942, the tide against the Germans began to turn in North Africa.
Battle of Prokhorovka: July 12, 1943
The Battle of Prokhorovka took place during the larger Battle of Kursk. It was long thought to be the largest tank battle in history, but according to the book Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943 by Valeriy Zamulin, a Russian military historian, that is not the case.
But that is not to say it was small or insignificant. The battle saw over 600 Soviet tanks from the 5th Guards Tank Army smash head-on into around 300 German tanks from the II SS-Panzer Corps.
The fighting was some of the most intense in the history of armored warfare. The Soviets lost around 400 tanks, more than half of their force. German tank losses were smaller by comparison, up to 80 tanks and assault guns destroyed.
The Germans were unable to take Prokhorovka, and although it was not destroyed (the original goal of the Soviets), the II SS-Panzer Corps was exhausted, and prevented from continuing their offensive.
Thus, the momentum swung to the side of the Soviets, who eventually won the Battle of Kursk
Operation Goodwood: July 18 – 20, 1944
Operation Goodwood was a British offensive that was part of the Battle for Caen, one of the main inland targets that was part of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy. The goal was to break through to Caen so that it could be liberated.
The British had mustered as many as 1,100 tanks for the battle. The Wehrmacht had only around 370 tanks at their disposal, but they included the fearsome Tiger and Tiger II tanks.
The battle did not go the way the British intended. Their casualties were 5,000 men and 250 to 300 tanks destroyed. German losses were 75 tanks destroyed, mostly by airstrikes.
Operation Goodwood did cause some controversy. Montgomery claimed that all the objectives were achieved and that the mission was a success. But the British had only managed to penetrate roughly seven miles or so East of Caen.
But Goodwood did draw valuable German tanks away from the Western part of Caen, where the Americans were making their push to the city.
Battle of Chawinda: September 17 – 22, 1965
The Battle of Chawinda was one of the largest tank battles fought since World War II. It was part of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, fought over control of Jammu and Kashmir.
After the Pakistani Army’s attempt to foment an insurgency (Operation Gibraltar) was discovered and subsequently foiled, India retaliated with an outright attack along the Pakistani border.
The Indian military had planned to take the city of Sialkot, an important railway hub and central part of the Grand Trunk Road, so that they could use it as a beachhead for further operations into Pakistan.
But the Indian force of 80,000 to 150,000 soldiers and 230 tanks was met outside of their objective at Chawinda by a Pakistani force of 30,000 to 50,000 men and 132 tanks.
After more than a day of intense fighting, a UNSC resolution was signed and an unconditional ceasefire was implemented. India lost anywhere between 29 to 129 tanks, whereas Pakistan lost up to 44 tanks.
Battle of the Valley of Tears: October 6 – 9, 1973
The Battle of the Valley of Tears was fought between Israel and Syria during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The war had started on the holiest day in Judaism, when Syrian soldiers supported by 1,400 tanks crossed the border and invaded the Jewish state.
Just one Israeli armored brigade, roughly 100 or so tanks and armored vehicles stood in the way of the Syrian 7th Division, a force of 1,400 tanks, including 400 T-62s, at the time the most modern Soviet tank in the field.
The Israelis were manning British and American-made Centurion tanks, known for their good gunner sights. Unable to call in effective air support, the Israeli defenders dug in and fought off wave after wave of Syrian tank attacks.
Some Syrian tanks broke through, causing the Israeli tanks to turn their turrets backwards to destroy them. But one by one, the Israeli Centurions were knocked out.
But on the fourth day of the fighting, Israeli reinforcements arrived, and the Syrians were forced to withdraw. Almost all of Israel’s tanks were destroyed, but they gave far more than they got — Syrian armored vehicle losses were around 500, around 250 of which were tanks.
Battle of 73 Easting: February 26 – 27, 1991
The Battle of 73 Easting saw American and British tanks go up against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard Tawakalna Division. Saddam had been warning his people that the “mother of all battles” was on the horizon, and the battle of 73 Easting was certainly part of it.
The main part of the battle was fought between the U.S. 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and Iraq’s 18th Mechanized Brigade and 37th Armored Brigade.
The ensuing battle saw the Iraqi forces be completely decimated. Over 160 tanks and armored personnel carriers were destroyed, damaged, or captured by U.S. forces. Up to 1,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed or wounded, and over 1,000 more were taken prisoner.
U.S. losses were just six killed, 19 wounded, and one Bradley infantry fighting vehicle destroyed. Historian and author Rick Atkinson described the battle:
“Here could be seen, with almost flawless precision, the lethality of modern American weapons; the hegemony offered by AirLand Battle doctrine, with its brutal ballet of armor, artillery, and air power; and, not least, the élan of the American soldier, who fought with a competence worthy of his forefathers on more celebrated battlefields in more celebrated wars.”
Read more from Business Insider:
The post Here’s How 10 Of The Largest And Most Important Tank Battles In History Played Out appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 10:06 AM PDT
President Donald Trump wanted to withdraw all American troops from the Korean Peninsula earlier this year but White House Chief of Staff John Kelly talked him out of it, NBC News reports.
The post Report: John Kelly Stopped Trump From Pulling US Troops Out Of South Korea appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 09:51 AM PDT
A special agent for the Air Force recently ended up saving an airman’s life — all due to the fact that he was browsing Reddit.
Special Agent Charles Woomer discovered an anonymous post on Reddit on April 24 asking how the military’s life insurance policy would pay out if “something” were to happen before he or she separated from the military in less than a week.
Some in the thread were concerned, according to the Air Force. While they couldn’t do much other than words, Woomer was able to contact Reddit and Google to track the airman down.
Fortunately, the unidentified airman was found and confronted by his or her leadership at Fort Gordon, Ga., and was taken for treatment at a nearby medical facility. It turned out the airman had run out of his medication from a previous diagnosis of depression.
As the Air Force notes, he or she would have left behind a spouse and two kids.
So what are we to make of this? This story has a happy ending, and I hope, this airman will continue to get the help that he or she needs.
I guess for me, it’s that we all can do a small part in creating more of these good stories. If you see something like this on Reddit or Facebook, and you know the person, call them up immediately.
Perhaps they are in a dark place, or just need someone to talk to — and it could be the difference between them keeping on or becoming another sobering statistic.
If you or a veteran you know is in crisis, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The post An Air Force Investigator Was Browsing Reddit And Ended Up Saving An Airman’s Life appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 09:02 AM PDT
To hear President Donald Trump hear it, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson is a fine naval officer and physician with no blemishes on his record, and his candidacy to run the Department of Veterans Affairs was scuttled by "vicious rumors" from scheming liberal politicians.
There are a lot of problems with Trump's narrative, but another issue was revealed Monday, and it may be the biggest of all: One of the key accusations against Jackson — that he publicly disclosed personal medical information of a high-profile patient without her knowledge, in violation of federal law — comes not from a liberal senator or an outside interest group, but the wife of Vice President Mike Pence.
And the White House knew about it months before Jackson was put forward to run VA.
According to internal documents obtained by CNN and brought to light yesterday, Jackson "may have violated federal privacy protections" for Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence "and intimidated the vice president’s doctor during angry confrontations over the episode."
At issue was a medical emergency last September that required Pence to be transported from Camp David to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Jackson reportedly took control of the second lady's health care without notifying her doctor, then proceeded to brief White House staff on her condition without her consent.
The second lady and her physician were understandably unhappy, and Jackson called the doctor in for an after-action… which reportedly turned into a dressing-down. Pence's doctor wrote it up thus:
“This meeting summoned by Dr. Jackson appears to have been in retribution for me verbalizing concerns over the protection of the SLOTUS’ medical information and his inappropriate involvement in the decision-making process of her care, which is consistent with previous behavior that I have received from him in the past,” the memo says, referring to the second lady of the United States. “This unprofessionalism fosters a negative command climate that removes any opportunity for open, professional discussion.”
Subsequently "Karen Pence asked her physician to direct the vice president’s top aide, Nick Ayers, to inform White House chief of staff John Kelly about the matter," according to CNN. "Subsequent memos from Pence’s doctor suggested Kelly was aware of the episode."
Why does any of this matter, now that Jackson — who's served as physician to three presidents — has not only withdrawn from the VA nomination but agreed to leave his post as White House doctor?
Because, whatever the merits of the accusations against Jackson, the White House knew he had problems, not just of the kind highlighted by critical senators, but with the Republican vice president's family — and it chose to conceal that fact from the American public in trumpeting Jackson for the VA job.
All to replace a widely respected and deeply qualified VA secretary, David Shulkin, with someone who would supposedly be beyond corruption or reproach.
Last week, just a day before the piling accusations against Jackson sunk his nomination, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders went to bat for him in no uncertain terms. "Dr. Jackson's record as a White House physician has been impeccable," she said, claiming that "he has received more vetting than most nominees." In the Trump administration's investigations, she said, "Jackson received unanimous praise from dozens of witnesses and the investigations revealed no areas of concern."
Pressed by a Fox News reporter, Sanders doubled down. "A very thorough investigation and vetting process has taken place," she said. "None of those [allegations] had come up."
We now know that's not true. Karen Pence's doctor noted in the memos, obtained by CNN, that "Jackson 'expressed anger' that White House officials — including Kelly — were aware of the physician’s concerns over his involvement in the medical situation involving the second lady." The next day, "Jackson said that Kelly was 'good with him and everything' — and Jackson urged the doctor to let the matter go." Jackson instructed the doctor to "let things go … if I am to succeed in my career."
That's textbook toxic leadership — and the White House knew. More to the point, John Kelly, the retired four-star Marine general who runs Trump's daily affairs, knew. And they pushed Jackson's nomination anyway, while concealing the charges by Pence's physician. (Imagine how the Pences must feel about all this.)
So where do we all go from here, with a White House full of people willing to conceal the truth from the American people when veterans' care is on the line? There's now word that Trump is thinking about a new VA secretary nominee: John Kelly.
You can't make this junk up. But if you could, there might be a job in this administration for you.
The post The White House Knew Ronny Jackson Had Issues And Covered It Up appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 08:27 AM PDT
Service members risk brain damage when operating shoulder-fired heavy weapons like the AT4, LAW, and Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security.
Have you ever suffered a concussion after firing a shoulder-fired weapon? Give us your take via email or in the comments below.
The post New Study Says Shoulder-Fired Weapons Are Hazardous For The Brain appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 07:52 AM PDT
The internet: The home of trolls, angry comment sections, fake news, and Nigerian prince email scams. With all this going on it can sometimes feel like the world wide web is a mostly nasty place beyond redemption.
And then social media goes and connects two World War II veterans of the same battle… AND TOTALLY REDEEMS ITSELF.
A few weeks ago, Washington Post Editor Andrew deGrandpre shared on Twitter a message from the New York American Legion, which explained that a 96-year-old veteran currently in hospice care had a final request of speaking with someone else who fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Former Sgt. Bill Hession, a Purple Heart recipient who was shot three times and stabbed with a bayonet during the campaign, was “fixated on talking to someone that [had] this specific shared experience,” his hospice caregivers said.
deGrandpre’s tweet said simply, “do your thing, Twitter,” and 9,000+ retweets later, it seems to have done the trick.
Former Sgt. Harold Berg became aware of the post, and immediately hopped on a plane to New York City and then headed to Hession’s home in Rockland County, N.Y, according to CNN.
Berg, who also received the Purple Heart in that same battle, came into the room where Hession was sitting in a chair. The first thing he said: “Dag gally, a leatherneck!”
The men were able to share stories of the battle and talk about their lives. Berg told him his wife of 71 years had died two years previous, while Hession said he had been married for 55 years before his wife had passed. Hession also recounted his wounds during combat, to which Berg replied, “Boy, you’re lucky to be here.”
But words don’t really do it justice. You really need to watch the video:
The post WWII Marine Gets His Dying Wish: To Meet Up With A Fellow Guadalcanal Veteran appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 07:00 AM PDT
Do you know that there are approximately 28,000 disabled Veterans who live outside of the U.S. who are excluded from receiving health care from the VA? Many of these Veterans are classified by the VA as 50% or more disabled. If they resided in the U.S., they could be entitled to non-service connected disability health care from the VA at no cost (depending upon their financial status); but because they live overseas they are flatly denied. The question is "Why?"
A group of laws known as "Title 38" originally authorized the VA to provide health care to only Veterans with service connected disabilities (regardless of where they lived). This general restriction was modified in 1996 to provide non-service disability health care for Veterans living in the U.S. but not for Veterans living outside of the U.S. Section 1724 of Title 38 specifically prohibits the VA from providing non-service disability health care to expat veterans.
Some argue that Veterans who have decided to live abroad have deserted their country and don't deserve non-service disability health care from the VA. That is a tough opinion to change, but let me say this. In the 21st century with modern communications it doesn't matter where in the world a person lives. An American is an American is an American no matter in what country he/she resides. Most expat Veterans continue to pay U.S. taxes, many vote regularly via absentee ballot and with the help of the Internet, stay better informed than many stateside Veterans.
Others argue that fraud would run rampant if the VA paid for non-service disability health care outside of the U.S. However, the facts simply do not support that contention. Military retirees living abroad use TriCare for their medical coverage – a form of health care insurance earned by their years of service; no rampant fraud experienced there.
Also, the FMP (Foreign Medical Program run by the VA) already pays for foreign health care directly related to service-connected disabilities that is incurred abroad; no rampant fraud experienced there.
So why aren't disabled expat Veterans treated in the same manner as disabled stateside Veterans? Section 1724 of Title 38 is a horse and buggy era law and many, both inside and outside of the VA, agree that it should be repealed; but getting Congress to act is another story. "Budget constraints" is what most in Congress use as their defense for not acting but we all know that extending well-earned benefits to 25,000 disabled expat Veterans isn't even going to cause a small blip on the Congressional budget radar screen.
One of the largest groups of Americans who decide to live abroad are Veterans. Many have spent a considerable part of their military service abroad; some speak two or more languages and have grown accustomed to life overseas, particularly in the developing world. Living back home in America may even seem boring and slow once they leave the service. And of course, the cost of living overseas, including health care, is substantially less than the U.S.
Making the location of where you place your boots at night a condition of VA health care benefit eligibility is shameful at best; cruel and deceitful at worst. When we raised our hands and swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, there was no legal small print in our oath.
I now ask Congress to erase the legal small print in their oath to us; repeal Section 1724 of Title 38 and treat disabled expat Veterans fairly no matter where they place their boots at night.
Ken Adams is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Thailand. He served 3 years in the U.S. Army as a Terrain Analyst assigned to CICV in Saigon in 1969 and to the 64th Engineering Detachment at IFFV HQ in Nha Trang in 1970. The VA has classified him as 70% disabled, primarily due to Ischemic Heart Disease more likely than not caused by exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
The post Disabled American Vets Living Overseas Are Getting Screwed Out of Healthcare appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 05:30 AM PDT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israeli intelligence had obtained a trove of “secret” documents outlining a clandestine nuclear program in Iran.
On Sunday, Syria got rocked by a missile attack that appeared to ignite a munitions depot hard enough to register as a 2.6 magnitude earthquake and is believed to have killed dozens of Iranians. Experts say the strike was most likely carried out by Israel.
Though Tehran has denied that Iranians died in the strike, a more aggressive posture toward Iran by Israel could bring about a major clash that experts say might lead to the biggest war the Middle East has ever seen.
The perpetrator of Sunday’s attack hasn’t been confirmed. Israel rarely takes credit for strikes within Syria, though it maintains that it will strike at any Iranian activity there that it deems a threat.
With an estimated 20,000 to 70,000 Shiite Iranian-aligned fighters and tens of thousands of rockets in Syria, that’s a lot of activity for Israel to monitor.
Israel’s air force appears to be repeatedly battering Iran and Syria
Jonathan Schanzer, an expert on Iran and Syria at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Israel is picking up the pace of strikes and moves against Iran — and staring down the barrel of a massive confrontation.
“For some time, it really did look like the Israelis were holding back,” Schanzer told Business Insider. “They seemed reticent to engage. They didn’t want to expose themselves in the skies over Syria.”
But after an air battle in February among Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian forces — in which Israel said it downed an Iranian drone and much of Syria’s air defenses but lost an F-16 fighter jet— Israel appears to be going much harder.
Israeli forces “appear to have broken a seal of sorts,” Schanzer said, adding that Israel may see a “window” as Syria’s air defenses are vulnerable.
Both Iranian and Israeli sources cited in recent news reports have predicted retaliation to the strike on Sunday.
But before any such answer could be made, Israel dropped what it characterized as a massive cache of dirt on Iran.
‘A psychological operation’
Netanyahu said at a press conference on Monday that Israeli intelligence had about 100,000 documents, videos, and photographs showing that Iran had lied about its nuclear ambitions, and he accused it of cheating on the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Schanzer said: “Spies steal documents all the time, but this was a huge cache. And usually, spy agencies keep it quiet after the intelligence is lifted. Not so with the Israelis — they are broadcasting this, making it as much a psychological operation as a revelation about Iran’s nuclear mendacity.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has signaled the U.S. is revisiting the Iran nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that Trump would withdraw from the 2015 deal “if we can’t fix it” and assured Netanyahu that the U.S. was “deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East.”
“The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself,” Pompeo added.
Iran’s ability to retaliate against Israel is limited.
Diplomatically, Iran doesn’t have much leverage. Though Iran is allied with Russia, Russian air defenses in Syria seem uninterested in protecting Iranian targets from suspected Israeli strikes.
Iran’s main leverage over Israel is its influence with Hamas, a Palestinian group active in the already boiling Gaza Strip on Israel’s border, and its nearby fighters and rocket stockpiles.
“There are things that Iran can do very quickly to make things miserable for the Israelis,” Schanzer said.
With Israel on the sidelines of the civil war in Syria, where over 70 countries have bombed or contributed to bombing efforts, the feud heating up between Jerusalem and Tehran could erupt into a fight that could rock the Middle East.
Read more from Business Insider:
The post Israel Is Stomping On Iran — And It Could Bring One Of The Worst Wars The Middle East Has Ever Seen appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 04:00 AM PDT
The new issue of the New Yorker has a good piece on Patrick Skinner, who did just what the headline you just read says he did.
The article states that, "over the years he came to believe that counterterrorism was creating more problems than it solved, fuelling illiberalism and hysteria, destroying communities overseas, and diverting attention and resources from essential problems in the United States."
Here's how Skinner summarizes his views: "'We write these strategic white papers, saying things like 'Get the local Sunni population on our side. Cool. Got it. But, then, if I say, 'Get the people who live at Thirty-eighth and Bulloch on our side,' you realize, man, that's fucking hard—and it's just a city block. It sounds so stupid when you apply the rhetoric over here."
An interesting side comment from Skinner: "People thank cops for their service, but they should be thanking McDonald's workers. They're way more likely to have a gun in their face than I am."
The post From CIA Counterterror Officer To Beat Cop In Georgia appeared first on Task & Purpose.
Posted: 01 May 2018 04:00 AM PDT
Editor’s note: Not long ago, the British Army approached August Cole, author of the 2015 E-ring cult thriller Ghost Fleet and former director of the Atlantic Council's Art of the Future project, with a question: What will the operating environment look like in the 2030s?
The result is "Automated Valor," a short story running in Proceedings, the monthly magazine published by the US Naval Institute. The story puts the reader in the command capsule of a 3-D printed Marathon HSFV as British Commonwealth Legion soldiers take on Chinese People's Liberation Army forces in a dispute over a port in Djibouti. One element largely absent from the war theater: the United States. "I'm not saying America will retreat from the world stage," Cole told Task & Purpose, "but I think it's possible."
The story is crammed with enough future-tech gadgetry to make a DoD procurement specialist swoon — from on-board AI (with a flexible leadership style tailored to each crew) to artillery-delivered bot swarms — but what gets Cole's work onto the must-read lists of top military brass are his predictions about the context in which these wars will be fought: In "Automated Valor," air support is purchased on the open market in real time, as are situational awareness services. Wide adoption of e-citizenship gives the British Empire a global jumpstart. Augmented reality fields are easily hacked, and the ability to maintain what Cole calls "cognitive camouflage" may be the most critical factor on the battlespace.
A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal who still writes straight analysis on occasion, Cole has found that given the speed of change, his pivot to fiction has actually made his work more influential among war planners. "You write a white paper, you don't know how many people are going to read it," he says, noting that his Atlantic Council colleague Max Brooks calls such documents "printed Ambien."
"Automated Valor" is more like a jolt of Provigil, albeit with an dystopian hangover awaiting us when the excitement wears off. "The crew is living Black Mirror minute by minute," Cole says.
Check out an excerpt of "Automated Valor" below, and read the whole story at Proceedings. -Aaron Gell
Port De Djibouti, Djibouti Free Trade Zone—April 2039
Sticky's seat began vibrating, a resonant warning from deep inside the British Commonwealth Legion high-speed fighting vehicle, a Marathon HSFV. Then the gunner felt the closing Chinese bot swarm almost in her teeth—as if the sound were coming from her and the crew, not a fast-approaching enemy.
"Move, move, move!" she shouted. The closer the threat, the more her harness tightened, shielding her behind the combat couch's blast-resistant wings. It felt as if somebody were hammering her coffin lid down while she was paralyzed but still alive. This particular fear was a well-worn track for the 24-year-old private. To suppress the panic, she angrily gloved a salvo of 30 thumb-sized diverters skyward. She quickly followed them with a pair of four-inch pulse-mortar rounds. Those would float gently down on parachutes, shorting out anything electronic within a five-meter radius until they exhausted their batteries. Her haptic suit pinched her to let her know it was overkill for the incoming threat, but it still felt right. She could answer for it when she wasn't as worried about dying—whenever that day might come.
"Steady all. Shift to position Delta-6," said Churchill— the Marathon's commander—in a comfortingly steady voice. The eight-wheeled vehicle crabbed sideways, swaying slightly as it always did when the castering wheels moved it laterally. Down a muddy side street for a few more seconds, then a surge forward as each wheel's electric motor spooled up.
The 28-year-old driver and mechanic, who went by "C" and was born in Krakow, Poland, had his hands calmly on the controls on either side of him, ready to take over in an instant if need be. C was the team troubleshooter. His physical bulk nearly kept him out of Marathons—he barely fit into the combat couch—but the personnel algorithms kept selecting him for deployment. Churchill and the crew were part of the British Commonwealth Legion's Third Medium Combat Team. The 3-MCT, an all-Legion unit, was deployed to Djibouti as part of the British Army's Second Special Purpose Brigade Combat Team.
The hull vibration eased as the artillery-delivered swarm fouled itself on Sticky's countermeasures. She began to breathe again, looking over at JoJo, 32, a staff sergeant and the onboard integrationist, who nodded his head to a beat nobody else could hear. It was against regulation, but Churchill tolerated JoJo's powered-up audio implants so long as they only played music stored on the bio-memory woven around his left collarbone. JoJo still liked the Venezuelan hip-hop he grew up with. His eight years in the Commonwealth Legion, testified to by the ivy-like facial tattoos that spread after each deployment, had Churchill thirstily drawing knowledge from him. It was their first deployment in this particular Marathon, 3-D printed on HMS Centurion four months ago on the calm waters of the Persian Gulf.
There was little to say at a moment like this. Talking just got in the way of communication. Everybody on board was acutely attuned to the snaps and cracks, whirs and grinding that passed for a kind of dialogue between human and machine. Their Marathon, with its high-energy laser main gun and a menagerie of small antipersonnel and antiarmor bots, was supposed to occupy a blocking position alongside a joint American and Kenyan armored force. They were four days in, trying to prevent a quasi-civilian Chinese resupply convoy from reaching the People's Liberation Army infantry and PLA Marines occupying the port district in Djibouti City. But, as often happened, the Marathon had been rerouted mid-mission by an order conjured out of the digital ether and relayed to them by Churchill.
Then the Marathon was falling, before the hull bottomed out and bit concrete. JoJo centralized the view for the three Commonwealth Legion soldiers inside the HSFV's command capsule: They were now two stories underground in a parking garage beneath a 15-story apartment building, dust motes swirling like snow. To squeeze into the area, the Marathon's turret folded flat against the rear hull deck and its dynafoam tires softened, allowing the six-ton Marathon to slam its way into a concealed position beside a burned-out panel truck whose side door, spilling out wiring and looted pipes, gaped like a corpse's mouth. Between its current position and the likely path of approaching infantry was a massive crater, at least ten meters across, caused by a driverless–car bomb of some kind.
Sticky's right glove tickled, and she saw that she was being prompted to deploy a shield-web. She did so with the flick of her pinkie. A tennis-ball-sized container dropped off the side of the Marathon and split into three disks. They rolled in front of the vehicle before popping open and ejecting a faintly visible tangle of tacky, silvery line. The web stuck to the cracked ceiling and the detritus that covered the floor. The debris—car tires, a refrigerator door, shell casings—was proof of fighting inside the garage not long ago. Like all garages, this one made for a valuable impromptu redoubt. Back and forth the pucks rolled, weaving a nearly invisible web that would inhibit, if not stop, the approaching bots.
"Mate, can you reach Granite Two and Three?" Sticky asked JoJo.
Alex Jay Brady for Proceedings
In support of the light Marathons deployed in the port area, two regular British Army tank platoons from the King's Royal Hussars, a heavy combat team, protected a logistics point near the airport. The Royal Hussars drove heavily evolved Challenger 3 tanks, successors to the 70-ton brutes that were the dominant armored vehicle at the start of the 21st century. In each platoon of four, one tank was conventionally crewed by just two soldiers, while three ran autonomously under low-profile turrets that looked like storks' beaks.
"Negative on the heavies," said Churchill. "Can't risk comms. We get in enough trouble, they'll get here soon enough."
"No way," said JoJo. "Hours away. Days even. When was the last time they made a difference, anyway? Get in the way every time. This one time in Malaysia . . ."
"Staff Sergeant," said Churchill.
"Copy that, sir," said JoJo.
The HSFV's recirculation fans kicked on as vents closed to further conceal their presence. Sticky lifted her goggles and rubbed her eyes, carefully adjusting the headband-like fabric around the crown of her head. She stretched her jaw, shifting her helmet earbuds. As she did this, Churchill said, "Rollers out." Churchill deployed half a dozen rollers, balls that functioned as both scouts and mines, inflating and deflating to scoot up, over, and around the rubble. . . .
To read the rest of "Automated Valor," visit the Proceedings website at www.usni.org/proceedings/automatedvalor.
■ Mr. Cole is a writer and analyst whose fiction and research explores the future of conflict. He is the co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War (2015) and has written numerous short stories exploring artificial intelligence, robotics, and information operations in warfare. He also edited the Atlantic Council's War Stories from the Future (2015) anthology. This story was commissioned by the British Army Concepts Branch to stoke dialogue and debate about force development and military operations in the 2030s. He has previously written about the future of war in the May 2016 Proceedings, and spoke on the topic at West 2018.
■ Ms. Brady is a freelance concept artist living in Cambridge, England. Her work has appeared in the game Battlefield: Hardline and the film Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the forthcoming movies Captain Marvel and Niell Blomkamp's Gone World, both to be released in 2019.
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