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Military Prepares To Receive First Transgender Recruits On Jan 1 As Trump’s Ban Flounders In Court
The Trump administration is requesting more time to appeal a judge’s block on President Donald Trump’s plan to bar transgender people from military service, the Associated Press reports. If the request is denied, there’s a good chance transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the military and serve openly beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
In October, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the military to open its ranks to transgender troops on Jan. 1 after she concluded that a lawsuit filed against the ban would easily prevail and issued a preliminary injunction, according to The Washington Post.
On Nov. 28, Kollar-Kotelly denied a motion from the administration requesting that the deadline be delayed. Government lawyers then turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking a judge on Dec. 7 to temporarily hold the Jan. 1 requirement until their appeal is resolved.
President Donald Trump announced his proposal to bar transgender people from serving in the military via Twitter on July 26, saying that the ban was necessary to ensure the armed forces remained “focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” citing “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption that transgender in the military would entail” as justifications.
The tweets were followed by a presidential directive to prohibit military recruitment of transgender people and force those already serving out of the armed forces. The plan, set to take effect in March 2018, drew backlash from Democrats and civil rights groups, and, in August, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of six transgender active-duty troops, arguing that the ban violated their Fifth Amendment Rights to equal protection.
Kollar-Kotelly ruled in favor of the ACLU on Oct. 30, stating that the Trump administration’s policy “does not appear to be supported by facts.” As The Washington Post notes, the injunction — which will hold until the lawsuit is resolved or dismissed — “effectively reverts Trump’s policy to the one issued under” President Barack Obama’s administration.
“There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all,” Kollar-Kotelly said in the preliminary injunction. “In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.”
In June 2016, Obama allowed transgender troops to serve openly and receive related medical treatment and also ordered the Pentagon to establish a policy for allowing transgender people to enlist within a year. The decision was made after a Pentagon-commissioned study concluded that transgender troops would have “little impact” on military operations, according to The Washington Post.
The Obama administration’s timeline was extended earlier this year by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said the Pentagon needed until Jan. 1 to evaluate how recruiting transgender troops would impact “readiness and cohesion.” In August, after Trump announced his intent to reverse Obama’s decision, Mattis formed a panel of experts to review the policy and come up with recommendations for how best to implement the new plan. He was given a Feb. 21 deadline.
The Department of Justice highlighted the Pentagon’s ongoing review of the policy in a statement released after Kollar-Kotelly’s October ruling.
“Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the President ordered, and because none of the Plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service,” the statement read.
The Associated Press reports that the government has asked that the judge decide whether or not to approve the deadline extension by Dec. 11. Meanwhile, the military is “taking steps to be prepared” for accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1, a Pentagon spokesman told The Washington Post on Dec. 6.
On Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Army families had the opportunity to tell senior leaders exactly what was going on in their worlds — an opportunity that is, unfortunately, all too rare.
A new documentary series about Clint Lorance pits the infantry officer convicted of murder against his former soldiers
The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.
A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).
But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.