A literal run-down of everything you missed amid Washington's impeachment frenzy

Pentagon Run-Down
General Dynamics' Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW)

It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.

But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.


The most important story that you probably missed is that Nerf is selling a toy mortar. Your friend and humble narrator speaks for all guys when he says: Where was this when I was a kid?

Not to brag, but this reporter had an idea for this exact toy years ago. It was during 7th grade math class – when adolescent Schogol would think about anything other than linear functions – that your friend daydreamed about a mortar that could lob a sand bag from his yard to his neighbor's tree house.

The idea was the sandbag would burst on impact, creating the appearance of a smoke cloud. In retrospect, the projectile would probably have had enough mass to kill anyone on the receiving end, so it's probably for the best that this idea was abandoned.

Real mortar men will probably debate whether the Nerf toy accurately replicates the experience of walking it in, as mortars are indirect fire weapons and the toy is clearly made for direct fire. (This would be a good subject for an analysis piece on War on the Rocks.)

Another piece of news you might have missed is that U.S. Special Operations Command is working on a mechanical third arm that "combines a lightweight modular gyro-stabilization device to enable the operator to engage targets with more accuracy," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins.

When this story posted, your friend and humble narrator suggested calling the Robo Arm "The Stranger," but the idea went the way of the mortar that fires sand bags. (In all fairness, what do you think special operators are doing to do with a third arm? I'm looking at you, Navy SEALs.)

Here's one last bit of important non-impeachment information: the U.S. military continues to operate without a budget. Since the start of the fiscal year, the Defense Department has been funded by a temporary spending measure known as a continuing resolution – the dreaded "CR."

You may be wondering why haven't been seeing many stories about this, and that is because the Pentagon is not saying much beyond: CR bad; budget good. Defense officials have made no effort to explain why Americans should care that Congress cannot do its job and pass the National Defense Authorization Act..

Thankfully, this reporter's esteemed colleague Haley Britzky recently went beyond the Pentagon's empty talking point to show that if Congress fails to pass a defense spending bill this fiscal year, it could mean the Army would lose $597 million for soldiers' salaries, housing allowances, bonuses, and other pays and benefits.

The Pentagon needs to stop complaining that the lack of a yearlong spending measure is limiting how many toys it can buy and start stressing that lawmakers are hurting real people. It's also time for Congress to take a break from the impeachment reality show and fund the military.

Not everything is about Trump.

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Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 14 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at schogol@taskandpurpose.com or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

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The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

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