This photo sure makes it look like the US Army is part of the Rebel Alliance

Mandatory Fun

In a Galaxy — err, I mean, on a military base far, far away, soldiers are standing in solidarity with galactic freedom fighters.

Sitting at the top of an Army press release from March 2019, regarding the East Africa Response Force's deployment to Gabon, the photo seems, at first glance, just like any other: Soldiers on the move.

But if you look closer at the top right, you'll find something spectacular: A Rebel Alliance flag.


U.S. Soldiers assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF), deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, prepare to depart for Libreville, Gabon, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Amy Picard

Is this the real reason for the creation of the Space Force? It's unclear. But when asked by Task & Purpose if U.S. Africa Command was a part of the Rebel Alliance, Air Force Col. Chris Karns, spokesman for AFRICOM, didn't come right out and say it — assumedly taking a page out of Princess Leia's book, when she declined to divulge such information to Darth Vader at the beginning of A New Hope.

But Karns did make it clear that evil wouldn't stand a chance against their "forces."

"USAFRICOM and the East Africa Response Force certainly supports restoring order," Karns said. "And if groups like al-Shabab or other terror groups are on the wrong side of our forces then it will be a very bad day for them."

It was unclear why the flag was flying, or who put it there, though Karns said he suspects it was raised by "someone with intent to bring a light moment of morale to an otherwise very serious business and mission."

There are many similarities between the origins of the Rebel Alliance and the U.S. Army. Both were formed to push back against tyranny; both were made up of a rather ragtag bunch — mostly people who weren't trained soldiers. So is it any surprise that the Army would show support for their galactic brothers and sisters?

I think not. May the (U.S.) Forces be with you.

(The News & Observer courtesy photo / Richard Stradling)

Seventy-five years ago Wednesday, Fred Reidenbach was aboard a Navy patrol craft loaded with radio gear, helping to coordinate the landing at Iwo Jima, a volcanic island the U.S. military hoped to use as a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan.

Reidenbach was a 22-year-old sergeant with the 4th Marine Division from Rochester, New York, and recalls that it was cold that day. The Marines were issued sweaters, heavy socks and 2.5 ounces of brandy to steel them for the task ahead: dislodging 21,000 Japanese soldiers from heavily fortified bunkers and tunnels. Reidenbach wasn't a drinker but didn't have trouble finding someone to take his brandy.

"I passed it on to somebody who liked it better than me," he said.

Read More
Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

Read More
In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

Read More
A U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk crew chief with the New Jersey National Guard's 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion stands for a portrait at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 3, 2020 (Air National Guard photo / Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.

Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.

Read More
A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.

Read More