The Pentagon Is Making A List of Iraqis Who Should Be Exempt From Travel Ban

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis speaks during the 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance at the Pentagon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2017.
DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

The Pentagon is compiling a list of Iraqi citizens who have worked with the U.S. military and recommending that they be exempt from President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from Iraq and six other predominantly Muslim countries, according to the U.S. military.


The move could potentially shield tens of thousands of Iraqi interpreters, advisers and others who have assisted the American military from the president’s controversial executive action that blocked visitors from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday that the list will include names of individuals who have “demonstrated their commitment” to helping the United States.

Related: What Trump’s Travel Ban Means For Iraqi Interpreters Who Served Alongside US Troops »

“Even people that are doing seemingly benign things in support of us — whether as a linguist, a driver, anything else — they often do that at great personal risk,” he said. “So people who take these risks are really making a tangible signal of support to the United States and that’s something that will, and should be, recognized.”

The list would not require any changes to the president’s order, but rather serve as guidance to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House in implementing the new policy.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer later pushed back against blanket exemptions.

“We recognize that people have served this country, we should make sure that in those cases they're helped out,” he said. “But that doesn't mean that we just give them a pass.”

Trump, who signed the order at the Pentagon on Friday, did not consult Defense Secretary James N. Mattis or Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. on the temporary suspensions of entry to visitors from the seven nations, according to U.S. officials.

The executive action put the U.S. military in a difficult position because it works closely with the Iraqi government on a range of issues, including the fight against the Islamic State, which necessitates travel between the two countries.

For instance, Iraqi military pilots train to fly F-16 fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. It’s not clear those pilots, who are active in the fight against the Islamic State, could arrive in the U.S. for the training.

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© 2017 Tribune Co. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

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U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

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