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Marine Commandant: Border deployments aren't hurting readiness, even though I said they would
Deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico hasn't hurt Marine Corps readiness as much as previously reported, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told lawmakers on Tuesday, directly contradicting the "unacceptable risk" to readiness the Corps' top officer had explicitly detailed in a pair of internal memos that leaked last month.
Neller testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee that despite the "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency" posed to Marines by "unplanned/unbudgeted" exigencies detailed in the leaked memos in March, Trump's border deployments hadn't actually affected Marines.
"I personally checked the readiness of every unit [on the border], and with only one exception there was no impact on their actual readiness," Neller claimed, per Defense News. "In fact a couple of units improved their readiness. So to say going to the border was degrading our readiness was not an accurate statement."
"What I tried to articulate was if we didn't get funding for these [unresourced requirements], we would have to look at other sources for money, which could potentially include other exercises, which would eventually affect the readiness of the force," he added.
To be clear: Neller told lawmakers that "to say going to the border was degrading our readiness" is not accurate, as if that claim were coming from someone other than himself. But the general literally mentioned "Unplanned/unbudgeted Southwest Border Operations" and "Border security funding transfers" among a total of nine negative factors that were "imposing unacceptable risk" to the service's combat readiness and solvency in his memo.
I mean, seriously, it's on the first page.
Neller went on to write in the memo that training exercises cancelled to free up Marines for emergency border deployments, despite their paltry monetary cost — Neller told SASC that the border deployment had only drained the Corps of about $6.2 million to date, well below the $3.6 billion to Corps says it needs to repair post-Michael in North Carolina — would also inevitably degrade the Corps' effectiveness.
"Marines rely on hard, realistic training provided bu these events to develop the individual and collective skills necessary to prepare for high-end combat," Neller wrote in his memo. "Although some effects can be mitigated, the experience lost by these units at a critical time in their preparation cannot be recouped."
Neller's comments before lawmakers on Tuesday raise more questions than they answer, but there's another possibility of what's going on here: Neller wanted to make sure the Corps got the resources it needed for hurricane recovery before funneling cash into unplanned budget expenditures like the non-threat at the southwest border.
Indeed, a Pentagon source told Newsweek that Neller authorized the leak because "he didn't want the Marines and families at Camp Lejeune [in North Carolina] to get f***ed" by political jousting in Congress over the Trump administration's fiscal year 2020 budget request. "This is something that you go to the mat over," one Marine general reportedly said in a Pentagon meeting the following week. "Your Marines and their families."
If that was the plan, well, it didn't go amazingly. Neller wrote on Twitter that the Corps "received word that Congress has agreed with the administration's request to reprogram $400 million to help Marines and their families recover from damage inflicted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Which is good, but it's also way below the $3.6 billion the Corps said it needed.
Read Neller's leaked memos:
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'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.