military

Donald Trump Awards Army Medic Ronald J. Shurer II with Medal of Honor

President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday to Army medic Ronald J. Shurer II for his heroic actions in Afghanistan. Shurer was a medic in Afghanistan during the six-hour battle in Shok Valley, and he raced to save the lives of his fellow soldiers by treating their wounds and evacuating them to safety in treacherous territory. Shurer’s Special Forces team was traveling to take out a terror target when terrorists attacked them with snipers, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and machine guns. Trump recounted the story, noting that the medic kept treating the men even after an enemy bullet struck his helmet. He made multiple trips into the fight to defend his fellow soldiers in the special forces, carrying them down a mountain and shielding them with his body. All of the United States soldiers made it out of the valley alive. Shurer currently serves as a member of the Secret Service on the agency’s Counter Assault team. Trump recalled that he recently surprised Shurer and his wife with the news of his decision to award him the Medal of Honor. The president also noted that Shurer was recently diagnosed with cancer. “He’s been fighting it every single day with courage and strength,” Trump said. He called Schurer “the best dad and role model” to his two sons, after which one of the boys told Trump that their father was the “best dad ever.” “We stand in awe of your father’s courage,” Trump added.

Indeed..  A big Army HOOAH!! to former Staff Sergeant Shurer (E-6) for his exemplary service in Afghanistan!  There is more to this story..  SSG Shurer killed several bad guys while trying to get to his Special Forces team members.  That was just getting to them!  Then, he put his body in between the insurgents and his team, and got everyone out alive.  THAT is the definition of courage, folks.  SSG Shurer, who is now a Secret Service Special Agent, is a role model…and rightly earned the Medal of Honor.  Outstanding!!     🙂

Suicide rates up among younger veterans, VA says

The number of suicides among younger veterans has increased “substantially,” according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. (VA). The latest statistics show that 45 of every 100,000 veterans ages 18-34 committed suicide in 2016 – up from around 40 a year earlier. “These findings underscore the fact that suicide is a national public health issue that affects communities everywhere,” the VA said in a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “Our goal is to prevent suicide among all veterans — even those who do not and may never seek care within VA’s system.” The VA found that there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016. Veterans accounted for 14 percent of all suicides in the United States in 2016, yet veterans comprise just 8 percent of the population, the report said, according to the newspaper. In the report, the VA described veteran suicide as an “urgent crisis” that it can’t address by itself. Still, some advocates say the department has not devoted enough resources to this issue. “If any other population of 20 million people were exposed to these threats, it would be considered a public health priority,” Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the newspaper. “There has never been a national call to action.” Last year, the VA’s inspector general found the department’s suicide hotline had routed a high percentage of calls to backup centers, a major flaw the department says it has resolved. On Tuesday, the inspector general also released a report after a veteran killed himself less than 24 hours after his departure from a VA facility in Minnesota. The report accused the facility of not providing followup care for the veteran, who was taken into the hospital over suicidal ideation. “Because many veterans do not use VA services and benefits, we must build networks of support, communication and care across the communities where veterans live and thrive,” the report states. The data was released a day before a scheduled hearing by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. At the Thursday hearing, lawmakers are to discuss veteran suicide prevention efforts. The VA’s confidential Veterans Crisis Line is open 24/7 for vets and those concerned about them. The telephone number is 1-800-273-8255.

US B-52s fly near contested islands amid China tensions

The US Air Force conducted two bomber flights this week into areas considered sensitive by the Chinese military, missions that have come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Earlier this week, US B-52 bombers flew from Guam and transited through the South China Sea, an area where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed features. “That just goes on, if it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday when asked about the bomber flight. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it,” Mattis added. On Tuesday, US B-52s also “participated in a regularly scheduled, combined operation in the vicinity of the East China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told CNN. A US defense official told CNN that the bombers were escorted by Japanese fighter jets and flew in proximity to the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands which China lays claim to. The bombers also flew into the Chinese military’s unilaterally declared Air Defense Identification Zone which extends over the area. The two missions comes amid heightened tensions over a series of issues in the last week. Earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 US elections and the countries are involved in a high profile trade dispute. In the last week, the Chinese government denied a US Navy warship permission to visit Hong Kong, the US sanctioned a Chinese defense entity over its purchase of Russian-made weapons, the State Department approved a military equipment sale to Taiwan and a high-ranking Chinese naval officer canceled a meeting with his American counterpart. “We’re sorting out obviously a period with some tension there, trade tension and all, so we’ll get to the bottom of it but I don’t think that we’re seeing a fundamental shift in anything, we’re just going through one of those periodic points where we got to learn to manage our differences,” Mattis said when asked about the tensions.

Well said, Sec. Mattis.  That’s exactly right.  Nothing really newsworthy about this military flight.  It’s just in the context of the other areas where we’re having some differences with China, that it’s somewhat relevant.

Female who became infantry Marine is getting kicked out for fraternization

Remedios Cruz joined the Marine Corps in 2013 as a supply clerk. One year later, she completed infantry training, and in 2017, made history when she became one of three females to join 1st Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Now, Cruz is awaiting separation from the Marine Corps after pleading guilty to maintaining a romantic relationship with a subordinate. Cruz, 26, eventually married the person, who was a lower-ranking Marine in her unit, according The New York Times. “The biggest mistakes I’ve made in the infantry were from my personal relationships,” Cruz told the Times. “I really want to move on.” Cruz was reduced in rank from sergeant to corporal and restricted to the base after pleading guilty to fraternization as part of a broader plea agreement. The commanding general of 2nd Marine Division will now decide if she will be forced out with an other-than-honorable discharge, according to the Times.

Pentagon suspends $300M in military aid to Pakistan

The Pentagon says it has suspended $300 milllion in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to battle terrorists groups inside its borders. The announcement comes ahead of an expected trip to Islamabad by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. military’s top officer, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In January, the Pentagon suspended nearly $1 billion in aid to Pakistan for what Defense Secretary James Mattis and other top officials said at the time was Islamabad’s failure to take on the Haqqani terrorist network. That network is believed to be holding western hostages, including Kevin King, a U.S. professor from American University in Kabul who was abducted along with an Australian colleague two years ago. King was last seen in a “proof-of-life” video, released last October. At the time of the January announcement, the Pentagon said Pakistan could earn back some of the cash from the U.S. if it did more to stop the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups.

Smart negotiating!  And, kudos to the Trump Administration for playing hardball with Islamabad!  For far too long, we’ve been sending them BILLIONS of our hard-earned tax dollars almost as if we’ve been bribed…and Pakistan has done nothing to reign in the Haqqani network, as well as Taliban, Al Qaeda and other Islamo-wack terrorists being protected within it’s borders.  It’s this dance we’ve been doing with them for over 15 years.  And, nothing has changed.  Time to have a paradigm shift.  And thanks to Trump and Sec. Mike Pompeo, it looks like we finally may be shaking up the relationship a little and putting some over-due pressure on Islamabad to get off their butts and address the elephant in their house.  Excellent!!     🙂

Air Force preps for massive cyberattacks on large weapons systems

The Air Force is massively revving up efforts to defend stealth fighters, nuclear-armed missiles, air-launched weapons and crucial combat networks from crippling wartime cyber attacks by taking new steps with a special unit put together to find and fix vulnerabilities. The service has now solidified key weapons development procedures for its Cyber Resilience Office for Weapons Systems, or CROWS. The concept for the office, established by Air Force Materiel Command, is grounded upon the realization that more and more weapons systems are increasingly cyber-reliant. “CROWS has completed an acquisition language guidebook to support program offices in development of contracting documents ensuring cyber resiliency is baked into acquisition efforts,” Capt. Hope Cronin, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven. This phenomenon, wherein cybersecurity threats continue to rapidly expand well beyond IT and data systems to reach more platforms and weapons systems, is often discussed in terms of a two-fold trajectory. While advanced computer processing, sophisticated algorithms and better networked weapons and fire control bring unprecedented combat advantages, increased cyber-reliance can also increase risk in some key respects. For instance, successful hacking or cyber intrusions could disrupt vital targeting and guidance systems needed for precision weapons, derail computer enabled aircraft navigation and targeting, or even seek to change the flight path of a drone or ICBM. CROWS is also designed to harvest the best thinking when it comes to anticipating potential enemy cyberattacks. By working to “think like and enemy,” CROWS experts work with weapons developers to find vulnerabilities and areas of potential attack. As part of this, the rationale for the effort is to therefore “bake in” cyber protections early in the acquisition process so as to engineer long-term cyber resilience. “CROWS efforts have been successful in identifying the highest risk cyber vulnerabilities and then working with the program offices to develop mitigation solutions to reduce those risks,” Cronin said. The CROWS has also developed multiple cyber training courses and published a cyber assessment methodology to be used in support of testing processes, Cronin added.

Leader of ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan killed in US drone strike, officials say

The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday. The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell said. “I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell said in a statement. The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Orakzai is at least the 3rd ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan killed in the past 2 years. The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014. The killing of Orakzai comes just takes after an audio recording of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently resurfaced, in which he congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout. Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017, and there have been several reports of his death or injury. Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.

Another Islamic wako killed.  Score another one for the good guys!  Excellent!!       🙂