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We’re all going to die. But does it have to be this week?
Hey, it’s a fair question — and it’s why Task & Purpose offers you an at-a-glance Friday roundup of the good, the bad, and the fucked up more than usual in recent military and diplomatic news ... plus a few pop-culture signs of the apocalypse. Maintain your situational awareness and try not to freak out.
- An engine. Fell off. A B-52. From a strategic bombing squadron. In flight. Don’t worry, it had seven more.
- Air Force advisors are exploring the possibility of connecting U.S. nuclear weapons to an integrated electronic network, because no one watches War Games anymore, I guess.
- Kim Jong Un says North Korea will test an ICBM soon, U.S. experts say it could happen, Donald Trump says it won’t, and the Navy says they just moved an E2C early-warning squadron from Virginia to Japan. This feels like a rejected Tom Clancy plot.
U.S. Marines assigned to the Female Engagement Team (FET), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit practice clearing rooms during an urban operations training exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., Feb. 21, 2016. The FET participated in the training in preparation for a future deployment.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Koby I. Saunders
- The Marines’ first female 0300s joined their infantry unit, the First Battalion, Eighth Marines, on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Thursday. Naysayers doubt women can fully acclimate to life in combat arms, but the service is confident they’ll quickly learn how to grumble about officers and how easy life is for the grunts who enlist after them.
- Remember the offensive to take Mosul from ISIS that experts said would be over by Christmas? No, not Christmas 2015 — that was the old plan. Anyway, the point is, those optimistic observers seem to have misspelled “by next summer, maybe.”
- Half of all the U.S. troop injuries in the fight against ISIS have occurred since that Mosul offensive launched last October. The Pentagon says there are now about 450 American military advisers in Iraq and another 500 in Syria.
- Russian sources say a passenger aircraft on the country’s east coast was recently forced into a steep dive to avoid colliding with a NATO jet. NATO says that’s bogus; the air carrier says the incident never happened and the reports are “complete nonsense.” Which is weird, since Russian reports on air mishaps are normally so accurate.
- Chinese government-controlled media is talking tough about a possible trade war with incoming president Donald Trump. “There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce,” the Communist Party’s newspaper noted, “but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans.” Don’t worry: If we visit, we probably won’t be using the door.
- ISIS now is reportedly using disabled jihadis in wheelchairs to launch suicide bombing attacks, which is pretty much how you’d expect a terrorist group to respond to the rising costs of veteran care.
- Shockingly, President-Elect Donald Trump is still having trouble finding someone willing to be secretary of the VA, which he’s called “the most incompetently run” federal cabinet agency. Why wouldn’t anyone want a thankless job trying to reform a massive, antiquated bureaucracy in which failing is painted as hating the troops?
- A former guard for Queen Elizabeth II claims he almost shot the monarch once, mistaking her for an intruder when she took a midnight stroll on the Buckingham Palace grounds. General Order No. 11 works!
- Duncan Hunter, the vaping Iraq vet and congressman used $600 in campaign funds to fly his pet rabbit on United Airlines. Previously revealed expenses included $1,300 for video games and $300 for food from Jack in the Box (some of which may have been disgusting). Financial impropriety aside, this makes Hunter the most relatable congressman in history.
- Fisher Price just rolled out an exercise bike for 3 to 6-year-olds, because your toddlers are fat sacks of weakness. It’s supposed to be a solution for parents whose kids are glued to their Kindle apps. But throwing little Timmy’s tablet down an elevator shaft is easier, and costs $150 less.
- Also, the Oakland Raiders really could be moving to Las Vegas. Burn it all down.
A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.
Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.
It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.
It all began with a medical check.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
The US military now has to ask the Iraqis for permission before giving close air support to troops in combat
U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.
However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Army Spc. Clayton James Horne died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 17, making him the eighth non-combat fatality for Operation Inherent Resolve so far this year, defense officials have announced.
Horne, 23, was assigned to the 351st Military Police Company, 160th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Ocala, Florida, a Pentagon news release says.
The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).