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Pentagon to transfer $1.5 billion to border wall from Afghan forces and other areas
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion to build more than 80 miles (130 km)of barriers on the border with Mexico, U.S. officials said on Friday, including taking about $600 million from an account meant for Afghan security forces.
The latest move was opposed by congressional Democrats, who also criticized a March transfer of $1 billion in military money to fund Republican President Donald Trump's wall.
"The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness," Shanahan said in a statement.
Shanahan said that the U.S. military had more than 4,000 service members on the border, along with 19 aircraft.
All 10 Democrats on Senate appropriations subcommittees that handle defense, veterans affairs and related spending, wrote to Shanahan to oppose the decision. "We are dismayed that the Department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members," they said.
A U.S. official said the latest transfer would include $604 million from funds for the Afghan security forces, which are struggling to hold territory against Taliban militants.
The United States had appropriated $4.9 billion in support for those forces this year. The official said the money was taken from that account because they found savings in contracts.
"It took less money to meet the policy commitment than we thought," another U.S. official said, adding this was not the first time money had been reprogrammed from the account.
The United States is in talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year-long war. U.S. and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their sixth round of peace talks on Thursday with "some progress" on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw.
But there is concern that overstretched Afghan forces could crumble if U.S. troops leave.
The remainder of the money will come from a chemical demilitarization program, a retirement account, funds for Pakistan and Air Force programs.
Lawmakers have hinted they may respond by putting new restrictions on the Pentagon's authority to move money around, as it has done in the past to deal with natural disasters.
Immigration is a signature issue of Trump's presidency and re-election campaign. He declared a national emergency in order to redirect funding to build a border wall without Congress' approval, and his fellow Republicans in Congress sustained his veto of legislation that would have stopped it.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali, additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio, James Dalgleish and Jonathan Oatis)
On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.
As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.
Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.
"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.