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On March 8, 1965, the United States sent its first combat troops into Vietnam to thwart the expansionist threat of communism in Indochina during the height of the Cold War. The end result of this decision would be a long, divisive political battle in our country over the use of our military abroad and the deaths of over 58,000 Americans overseas.
Of the many things troubling about this hotly debated conflict, the fact that at least 416 of those deaths occurred before March 8, 1965, raises questions about those who died in combat before “combat troops” were ever supposed to be there. Today, 51 years later, a similar battle over semantics is playing out throughout our country and desperately needs to be addressed.
The same way “advisors,” not “combat troops,” were sent to Vietnam before 1965 as a way to quell public fears of military intervention and ensure that “American boys” weren’t doing what “Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves,” we are currently being ensured that there will be no “boots on the ground” in the wars against Islamic terrorism; we’re simply there to train their fighters to do what they ought to be doing for themselves.
But, like Vietnam, many of our troops are still very much in harm's way; the only difference is that today they are spread all across the globe.
Despite President Obama’s repeated assurance that there will be no boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, this is not the case. When asked last month whether U.S. troops would be participating in combat operations, Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top general in Iraq, told reporters, “The decision as to whether or not … something is on or off the table is not my decision. That's really, at the end of the day, that's my commander in chief's. So, you know, all of us in uniform are … preparing various options. The president will decide.”
We currently have at least 50 special operators in Syria that were sent to “focus more on advising local…rebels who are fighting the Islamic State,” and “will not play a direct combat role.” There are at least 3,700 U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq “who provide training for the Iraqi security forces.”
Combined with the nearly 10,000 troops still currently serving in Afghanistan, America is very much a country at war with boots on the ground in numerous countries. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Over the past few years alone, it has been reported that the U.S. Special Operations Command has served in at least 134 countries “where they were either involved in combat, special missions, or advising the training foreign forces.” And as recently as this past October, Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, an Army Delta Force commando, was killed during a rescue mission in Iraq. Although the mission “was conducted as part of the U.S. training and advisory mission” there, the dangers that faced him and other troops are apparent and all too frequent. Other dangers, however, are much less visible.
As we’ve seen in Afghanistan, it’s easy to forget that young women and men are still putting themselves in harm's way to serve their country honorably in very hostile locations throughout the world. This grows even easier when media coverage of this war diminishes and an actual dialogue about the problems our current warfighters face doesn’t exist, which is why it is so important to not blur the lines between what an “advisor” does, or whether or our troops are on a “combat mission” or not.
We owe it to U.S. troops to support whatever they do, and that gets harder to do if you don’t think they are in harm’s way.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.