Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
LGBT Advocates Liked What They Heard From Mattis
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis faced his confirmation hearing for the post of Defense secretary on Jan. 12, where he was grilled on his positions on women and LGBT service members. But advocacy groups are pleasantly surprised to hear that Mattis pledged that he won’t be undoing the work of his predecessors in making the military a place of equal opportunity.
“We are heartened by General Mattis’ stated commitment during his testimony not to reverse the profound progress we have made in ensuring LGBT service members and their families are able to serve our nation with pride,” American Military Partner Association president Ashley Broadway-Mack and OutServe-SLDN executive director Matt Thorn wrote in a joint statement.
“Frankly, Senator I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” he told Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in his testimony.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, bluntly pressed Mattis on the issue, asking, “Is there something innate in being a woman or LGBT that would cause you to believe that they could not be part of a lethal force?”
Mattis simply replied, “No.”
Much of the initial concern about his stance came from a 2014 speech at the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco, where Mattis said, “The idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success. It would only be someone who never crossed the line of departure into close quarters fighting that would ever even promote such an idea."
He also co-edited a book with Hoover Institution colleague Kori Schake in 2016 on the dangers of imposing social issues on the military, like women in combat and LGBT service members.
However, Mattis suggested his position on the issue has evolved.
“We open the door to all patriots who are eligible and meet the standards, provide them with the training, equipment, and leadership that's central to their success, and ensure all service members are treated with dignity and respect,” he said during his prepared remarks.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.