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Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicates there are no immediate plans to nuke Afghanistan
Despite President Donald Trump's constant reminders that the U.S. military could quickly and decisively win the war in Afghanistan at the cost of millions of innocent lives, the U.S. government is committed to negotiating with the Taliban rather than atomizing them.
Trump has said several times since July that he could simply destroy Afghanistan if he wanted to. Most recently, Trump stated during his Aug. 26 meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that, "I've said we can win that war in a very short period of time, but I'm not looking to kill 10 million people, okay?"
Although the president has insisted that he is not talking about a nuclear option for Afghanistan, it is unclear how else the U.S. military would be able to wipe out 10 million Afghans so quickly.
At Wednesday's Pentagon news briefing, Task & Purpose asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper if the U.S. military retains the right to use nuclear weapons against the Taliban.
"We reserve the right to keep all options on the table," Esper replied. "But, look, clearly we have a plan going forward. The key to resolve this conflict is a political agreement. We're on that path right now. We're hopeful that we can reach some type of conclusion that would result in a political agreement that can get us on the right trajectory."
When Task & Purpose asked if the president is helping ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban by repeatedly bringing up the possibility of killing millions of Afghans, Esper emphasized that the Trump administration is focused on reaching a political settlement with the Taliban that meets U.S. security needs.
"I think this administration is committed to finding a path forward that, again, achieves, certainly a few things: One, of course, being that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States," Esper said. "And secondly, one that results in an intra-Afghan agreement that allows all the stakeholders there in the country to move forward on a different trajectory than what they are on now."
The U.S. military last employed a nuclear weapon during wartime on Aug. 9, 1945. At the time, the United States was the only nuclear power in the world; eight countries are now members of the nuclear club (a ninth country, Israel, has never acknowledged it has nuclear weapons but it is believed to be a nuclear power).
Following Wednesday's Pentagon news conference, arms control expert Kingston Reif tweeted that the United States has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against countries such as Afghanistan, which do not have nuclear weapons and are meeting their obligations as parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The first 11 soldiers were awarded the Expert Soldier Badge on Tuesday after being the first to take the pilot test two years ago during the award's initial testing.
They received the new badge during the Association of the United States Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
The ESB is available to all soldiers who are not combat medics, infantrymen, or Special Forces. To be able to take the test, soldiers have to qualify as "expert" on the M4 carbine or M16 rifle and receive a recommendation from their chain of command, according to the Army. The standards test soldiers' skills over a five-day period, per the Army, and includes events like the Army Combat Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile march, and more.
These Afghan and Iraqi interpreters faced 'life-threatening delays' to get their US visas. They sued the government and won
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe / Radio Free Liberty
When Sakhidad started working as a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan at the age of 19, he hoped his "faithful and valuable" service would earn him a special U.S. immigrant visa and eventual U.S. citizenship.
In 2011, after two years on the job, Sakhidad applied under a special visa program set up by the U.S. Congress to protect persecuted U.S. allies.
He waited four years for his application to be processed. But the U.S. government never finished reviewing his case.
In the spring of 2015, shortly after the closure of the U.S. base where he'd worked for five years, Sakhidad was abducted, tortured, and killed by the Taliban.
They left his body on the side of a road with a note stuffed in his pocket — a threat addressed to his three brothers saying they would also be killed because they had worked for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The first combat wounded veteran to get a penis transplant shares his story: 'It was one of the best decisions I ever made'
With northeast Syria engulfed in the fog of war, the Turks, Russians, and Kurds have all launched their own propaganda campaigns to win the battle over information.
One of the biggest unknowns at the moment involves exactly how many ISIS fighters and their families previously captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces have managed to escape since Turkey invaded Kurdish-held Syria on Oct. 6, 2019.
But while Defense Secretary Mark Esper has blamed Turkey for catalyzing the release of "many dangerous ISIS detainees", a senior administration official was unable to say on Monday exactly how many ISIS prisoners may have escaped.
Based on open source reporting, about 850 women and children affiliated with ISIS are believed to have fled a detainee camp at Ayn Issa and another five ISIS prisoners escaped from a prison at Qamishli, said Caitlin Forrest, director of operations for the Institute for the Study of War think tank in Washington, D.C.
Few things say "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" like a Navy amphibious assault craft absolutely covered with Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters ready to bomb an adversary back to the Stone Age.
That's the logic behind the so-called "Lightning Carrier" concept designed to turn those "Gator Navy" amphibs into ad hoc aircraft carriers — and the Corps appears to be moving slowly but surely into turning that concept into a new doctrine for the new era of great power competition.