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Pentagon identifies 2 Special Forces soldiers killed in Afghanistan
The Pentagon has identified two Army Special Forces soldiers who were killed on Saturday in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province.
The soldiers, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, were Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, of San Antonio, Texas, and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, of Las Cruces, Nex Mexico. Both were 28 years old.
Gutierrez and Rodriguez, who were both posthumously promoted, were killed in an apparent "insider attack" carried out by an Afghan soldier who opened fire on a combined U.S.-Afghan special operations team that was meeting with district leaders in Nangarhar.
Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, told Task & Purpose in a statement that "current reports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun."
Six other American soldiers were wounded in the attack. It was not yet clear how many casualties were suffered by the Afghan partner force. The incident is under investigation, a DoD statement said.
According to a press release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Gutierrez enlisted in the Army in 2009 as an infantryman and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He graduated from special forces training in 2015, qualifying as a communications sergeant, before being assigned to his current unit. He had completed one previous deployment to Iraq with 2-504.
"Sgt. 1st Class Gutierrez' was a warrior that exemplified selfless service and a commitment to the mission, both values that we embody here in the 7th Special Forces Group," Col. John W. Sannes, 7th Special Forces Group Commander, said in a statement. "Our priority now is to take care of his family and teammates, we will provide the best possible care possible during these trying times."
Rodriguez first joined the Army in 2009. After basic training, he completed airborne and ranger assessment and selection before he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. While with the regiment, he re-classified as a Spanish cryptologic linguist, and he deployed eight times with the 75th Ranger Regiment and twice with 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.
"Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez was selfless and served honorably; he was certainly among the best in our unit," Sannes said. "Here at the Red Empire, we take care of our own, and Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez' family will forever be a part of us, we will assist them in any way we can to help them through these trying times."
With the latest casualties, the U.S. military has so far suffered six deaths of military personnel in Afghanistan in 2020, more than 17 years after American troops first entered the country in Oct. 2002.
As The New York Times reports, the Taliban and the Islamic State's Afghanistan branch "have had a foothold in Nangarhar Province."
Afghanistan's defense ministry issued a statement on Saturday confirming that the gunman who opened fire on U.S. and Afghan troops was wearing an Afghan uniform.
"A high level MoD delegation led by the Chief of the Army Staff Bismillah Waziri is investigating the incident together with the U.S. team in Nangarhar," the statement says.
Insider attacks within the Afghan security forces are nothing new. A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction put into perspective just how common they are — in the last quarter of 2019, there were 33 insider attacks from the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, resulting in 90 casualties.
In 2019 as a whole, 82 insider attacks from ANDSF personnel left 172 dead, and 85 injured.
Jeff Schogol contributed reporting.
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.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
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.
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.
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.