Stop What You’re Doing And Read These Stories That Got Missed In The Insane News Cycle


Beloved readers: The U.S. military has been such a target rich environment for stories as of late that covering the Pentagon has felt like drinking from a firehose. Just when the news gods seemed to be finished with their coke binge, Kanye West proposed to President Trump that he replace Air Force One with a hydrogen-powered iPlane that may or may not exist in real life.

Your humble Pentagon correspondent has spent this last week like a dog chasing after a car. This reporter has a notebook full of news tidbits that may not rise to the level of Kanye’s iPlane, but they are interesting nonetheless.

That’s why this Pentagon Run-Down is dedicated to stories that may have been lost in the crazy news cycle. So sit back, relax, turn off the lights. Let’s make some magic happen.

Neller Describes Having Marines As His Bosses: FML

Marines yield a lot of influence in the Trump administration. Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are both legendary Marine veterans, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.

But when Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller was asked recently how his job is affected by having Marines in key senior leadership positions, he tilted his head back and laughed as if he had just been told a good joke.

“I find it interesting that everybody seems to think that because Gen. Kelly is over at the White House and the secretary of defense is a Marine and chairman is a Marine that we get a pass,” Neller said at an Oct. 10 Defense Writers Group breakfast. “I think it goes the other way because they know who we are and what we do. I think it makes it more difficult – in many ways. But at the same time, there is a certain understanding of the culture and the organization.”

Mattis has ordered the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force to get at least 80 percent of their fighter aircraft ready to fly by Oct. 1, 2019 – a miracle on the order of Jesus providing enough fish and loaves for his disciples.

“Secretary Mattis in my experience – and I’ve worked for him several times – he’s operationally, obviously, a very competent guy,” Neller said. “He understands what he wants. He’s very clear. He said 80 percent. Roger that. So we’ll see how we do – and I’m sure if we don’t make it, we’ll hear about it.”

Navy Blackballs Blue Nail Polish

For female sailors, blue nail polish is forbidden fruit – akin to putting your hands in your pockets. So when a September Navy administrative message did not include blue in the list of proscribed nail polish colors, some sailors took to social media to celebrate their new freedom.

But the festivities were short-lived because the Navy updated its uniform regulations shortly thereafter to make crystal clear that blue nail polish remains a scarlet letter.

NAVADMIN 233/18 provided general policy guidance, whereas the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations (NAVPERS 15665I) provides more policy specifics,” a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose. “Navy Uniform Regulations has been updated to include blue as well as other colors (white, black, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, hot pink, grey, glitter, striped, or any sort of pattern/decorative) as examples of unauthorized nail polish colors while in uniform.”

While all of that is informative, it begs the question: Why is the Navy going to such lengths to determine which colors of nail polish are too decorative for sailors? If the Navy were to allow sailors to paint their nails blue, would that allow the Chinese to capture Hawaii or the Russians to send an aircraft carrier up the Potomac?

“All sailors are expected to maintain a neat and professional appearance while in uniform,” a service spokesman said in an email. “The Navy prohibits the wear of any non-conservative, faddish or conspicuous nail polish color that would diminish the professional appearance of sailors in uniform.”

Mattis Channels Eminem

Defense Secretary Mattis has become the one thing rarer than a Chief Warrant Officer 5: An original member of the Trump cabinet who hasn’t quit or been fired. (Mattis is also rarer than unicorns, but we already knew that).

Shortly after Nikki Haley announced on Oct. 9 that she was resigning as ambassador to the United Nations, a reporter asked Mattis what it is like to be “one of the last few original cabinet members standing.”

“The team is doing very well,” he replied. “I will just tell you I won't see you Thursday morning because I'm having breakfast with the secretary of state and the national security adviser. It's a close relationship. I'm having lunch tomorrow with the president. The beat goes on, things are going fine.”

While “The Beat Goes On” is the name of a song by Sonny and Cher, it is also a key lyric in Eminem’s 2002 hit single “Lose Yourself.”  It is highly unlikely that Mattis was aware that he was quoting Eminem. If he had, perhaps he would have dropped a chiasmus by saying something like, “I make other people vomit mom’s spaghetti on their sweaters.”

And somewhere in the distance, Gen. Neller would nod knowingly.

Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 13 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P;, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.


Chief Mass Communication Spc. Keith DeVinney sleeps between exercises during Fleet Combat Camera Pacific's Winter Quick Shot 2013 combined field training exercise in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa, Calif., Feb. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair)

(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who experience sleep problems during basic combat training may be more likely to struggle with psychological distress, attention difficulties, and anger issues during their entry into the military, a recent study suggests.

"These results show that it would probably be useful to check in with new soldiers over time because sleep problems can be a signal that a soldier is encountering difficulties," said Amanda Adrian, lead author of the study and a research psychologist at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"Addressing sleep problems early on should help set soldiers up for success as they transition into their next unit of assignment," she said by email.

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The Armed Forces Service Medal has a green, blue and yellow ribbon and a bronze medal featuring a torch like that held by the Statue of Liberty. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."

The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.

There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.

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Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

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Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

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U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)

U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

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