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Airborne Unit In Alaska Tapped For Afghanistan Deployment
About 1,500 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division in Alaska are deploying to Afghanistan as part of a regular rotation as the war in that country continues its 16th year, the Army announced Friday.
The rotational deployment of less than half of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel replaces another unit and does not signal an increase in troop levels, Army spokeswoman Maria Njoku said Friday.
Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that he needed a few thousand additional troops from the U.S. and NATO allies in order to undo significant gains by militants there. The U.S. troop level in Afghanistan is capped at 8,400 now.
Operation Enduring Freedom, the original Afghanistan mission launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was reflagged Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in 2015 as U.S. forces transitioned to an advise and assist mission with Afghan troops and police in their ongoing counterterrorism campaign.
Alaska-based soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division will deploy to Afghanistan as the security picture there grows more complex. The Islamic State has metastasized in the country and the Taliban has retaken large swaths of strategic territory, including Sangin in Helmand Province last month.
Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO supreme allied commander Europe, told lawmakers March 23 that he was concerned about Russian military contact with the Taliban.
“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late, increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Scaparrotti said.
Reports also surfaced last month of Chinese patrols inside Afghan territory near the narrow border of those countries, further complicating security considerations and signaling greater Chinese interests in the country, Stars and Stripes reported in March.
The Army also said Friday that 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, the Pacific theater’s only airborne unit, will survive a 2015 decision to cut its strength by 2,600 soldiers and become a leaner airborne task force.
The decision was overturned following the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that called for the Army to grow its end strength to 476,000 soldiers and take on emerging mission requirements, Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said Friday. The final decision rests on congressional appropriation outlined in the NDAA, he said.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.
Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.