Up to 5,500 US troops will keep deploying to the southwest border through September 2020

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U.S. Marines Work On The US-Mexico Border Wall

The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.

On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.


Those troops will be a combination of National Guard and active-duty service members, Richardson told reporters during the Association of the United States Army's annual exposition in Washington, D.C.

Richardson said she did not have an estimate for how much the deployments to the border will cost through the end of next September. Once Congress passes a fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, the Pentagon will foot the bill for the continuing border mission.

U.S. troops began deploying to the border last October after President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that a human caravan of Central American asylum seekers contained hundreds of criminals, who wanted to invade the United States.

That November, then-commander of U.S. Army North Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan indicated that the military's mission at the U.S./Mexico border could be over by Christmas, but it has been extended since then.

Stopping immigrants and asylum seekers from entering the United States has been a major priority for the president, who reportedly wanted a snake-filled moat dug along the southern border. Trump has denied wanting such a moat.

But on Nov. 1, 2018, the president told reporters that he wanted U.S. troops to respond to any asylum seekers who threw rocks at them as if they were under fire.

"We will consider that the maximum that we can consider that, because they're throwing rocks viciously and violently," Trump said. "You saw that three days ago — really hurting the military. We're not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We're going to consider it — I told them: Consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I said: Consider it a rifle."

Later that month, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis assured reporters that U.S. troops assisting the border patrol would not be armed. When Task & Purpose asked Mattis what steps the Pentagon was taking to make sure active-duty troops did not shoot anyone — as happened in 1997 — Mattis was dismissive.

"I'm not going to dignify that," Mattis said on Nov. 21. "They're not even carrying guns for Christ's sake."

(Air Force photo / Tech Sgt. Oneika Banks)

Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.

Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.

"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.

Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."

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(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

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MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.

Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.

State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.

North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.

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Screenshot of a propaganda video featuring former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.

The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."

Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.

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