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Did An Ill-Advised Stand-Down Order Cost Lives In Orlando?
Officer Brandon Cornwell of the Belle Isle, Florida, police department was conducting a traffic stop in a suburb of Orlando on June 12 at 2 a.m. when a call came out on his radio reporting shots fired at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The club was a straight shot from Cornwell’s location — after hitting every green light along the way, he was able to make it to the scene within 38 seconds, he revealed in an interview with the Washington Post.
Cornwell, a 25-year-old Iraq veteran and former National Guardsman, was one of the first responders to arrive on scene, and reveals the initial courageous response of officers reacting to the terror attack that left 49 dead, 53 wounded, and a nation stunned. He spoke with The Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen at Belle Isle’s City Hall in the presence of his police chief who occasionally interrupted to stop Cornwell from offering too much detail.
Cornwell described arriving on scene and arming himself with his police-issued assault rifle.
“There was tons of people running out of the club,” he told the Post. “I grabbed my assault rifle and ran toward the club. At this point the shooter is still actively shooting inside.”
Cornwell and five other officers broke a window and crawled into the dark club. He said they were inside Pulse within two minutes of arriving on scene. He described the chaotic scene, “trying to locate exactly where the shooter was — we kept hearing people scream and shots fired.”
Cornwell and the group of officers followed the sounds of screaming and gunfire to the bathroom area, where they believed the shooter to be holed up. The team, tactically positioned behind a bar, aimed their rifles at the bathroom, and received orders to wait there.
“We just basically stayed there, waited for movement, and we just held our position until SWAT got there,” said Cornwell. “Once SWAT got there they told us to retreat, that they’d take over because we were not really in tactical gear — we were just in our police uniforms.” Cornwell estimates that it took 15 to 20 minutes, “maybe longer” for the SWAT team to arrive.
In the aftermath of the shooting, experts have questioned whether that order to stand down was the best response to the crisis.
Chris Grollneck, a former police officer and expert on active-shooter response and domestic terrorist attacks, told Politico that in an active-shooter scenario, once two or more officers are on scene, they should go after the shooter. It’s called the Active Shooter response protocol, and it was developed after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
“Being a policeman is a dangerous job. That’s why they give policemen guns. Everybody inside that club did not have a gun. When the police were ordered out, no one had a gun except the gunman.”
Orlando police have claimed that once the shooter, later identified as Omar Mateen, was inside the bathroom, they shifted from an active-shooter protocol to dealing with a barricaded person. Grollneck told Politico that justification doesn’t hold water. The shooter had already demonstrated his intent to kill, and SWAT would wind up having to go in and take him out, but it wouldn’t be until three hours after officers were poised to do that within minutes.
Mateen would later tell authorities via phone that he was armed with explosive devices, but Grollneck said even if police had that information when they ordered the stand-down, it shouldn’t have mattered.
“Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. There’s reports the guy has a suicide vest or possible bombs. Now we know it’s a terrorist attack …” Grollneck said. “ ... do you not go in to give him time to activate the bomb that could kill 100,000 people outside? Or do you go in and take the chance immediately at the risk of 300 people?
“The leadership of the Orlando Police Department failed the people inside the club,” Grollneck said bluntly. “... this was risk-adversity by supervisors.”
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.