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The Marine Neo-Nazi Will Likely Be Thrown Out, We Just Don’t Know How Yet
The Marine Corps wants to kick out a neo-Nazi Marine who assaulted protesters during a white supremacist march last year, but the details of his potential exit — including whether he might enjoy VA benefits — are still up in the air.
Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis will be processed for administrative separation after being found guilty at a June 19 summary court-martial of failure to obey an order or regulation and making a false official statement, according to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. He was sentenced to 28 days of confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month.
Interestingly, Pistolis was not charged with assault, despite having reportedly bragged in an online chatroom about attacking a woman at the Aug. 12, 2017, “Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va. Pistolis' unit announced that he was under investigation after ProPublica reported in May that he was a member of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group.
Emily F. Gorcenski told Task & Purpose that she is one of the protesters whom Pistolis assaulted during the rally, but she was not told about his court-martial ahead of time.
“The Marine Corps have not contacted me regarding the issues of Pistolis or any of the other Marines identified by me as having been involved in Unite the Right," Gorcenski told T&P; on Thursday. “I am unsure to what extent the Corps is delegating investigatory duties to civilian authorities, but I hope that the military would not punt on its duties to protect civilians from all threats, foreign and domestic."
For Pistolis, what happens next will depend on what type of discharge the Marine Corps seeks for him.
With less than six years of experience, he can be administratively separated by the Corps with an honorable or general discharge and he would not have the right to appeal, said retired Marine Lt. Col. Guy Womack, a military defense attorney and legal expert based in Houston.
But if Pistolis' command recommends that he receive an other than honorable discharge — which would also render him ineligible for most veterans' befeits — Pistolis has an “absolute right" to demand an admin board, at which he could fight to stay in the Marine Corps or request a better discharge characterization, Womack told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
“It's kind of like going to a jury trial," Womack said. “It would be a panel of three officers who would look at why he is being discharged. It's like a sentencing proceeding. They would know what he had been convicted of, see whatever evidence the government presents that makes him look bad. He would have an attorney with him – one or two – and he'd be able to present evidence on extenuation and mitigation, showing what a good guy he is and the circumstances were not as a bad as it sounds."
It was not clear on Thursday whether Pistolis had reached a pre-trial agreement with prosecutors, under which he would face a summary court-martial in return for a general discharge.
Because Pistolis faced a summary court-martial, he will not have a criminal conviction on his record whenever he leaves the Marine Corps, Womack said.
Special courts-martial and general courts-martial are true criminal trials, while summary courts-martial are “glorified office hours," under which service members can be sentenced to up to 30 days in the brig, he said.
“If he goes to apply for a gun permit, runs for public office, applies for a job; when they ask, 'Have you ever been convicted of a crime?' the true answer is no, because he's never had a criminal trial," Womack said.
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.