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Pentagon claims with a straight face that the US mission in Syria isn’t all about the oil (It is)
Top defense officials tried to convince reporters on Thursday that the U.S. military's mission to protect oil fields in eastern Syria isn't just about the oil.
"The mission is the defeat of ISIS," said Navy Rear Adm. William Byrne, Jr., vice director of the Joint Staff. "The securing of the oil fields is a subordinate task to that mission. The purpose of that task is to deny ISIS the revenues from that oil infrastructure."
Let's back up for a minute. On Oct. 13, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that most U.S. troops were withdrawing from Syria because Turkey's invasion of Kurdish territories had gone further than expected.
Everything changed six days later when President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States had "secured the Oil" in eastern Syria, prompting the U.S. military to deploy Bradley fighting vehicles around Deir ez-Zor.
Trump has tweeted or otherwise commented since then that U.S. troops in Syria are securing the oil fields. For example, the president used the word "oil" 23 times when he announced the death of ISIS founder and former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Oct. 27.
"The oil is, you know, so valuable for many reasons," Trump said. "It fueled ISIS, number one. Number two, it helps the Kurds, because it's basically been taken away from the Kurds. They were able to live with that oil. And number three, it can help us because we should be able to take some also.
"And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly. Right now, it's not big. It's big oil underground, but it's not big oil up top, and much of the machinery has been shot and dead. It's been through wars. But — and — and spread out the wealth."
But on Thursday, defense officials insisted that protecting the Syrian oil fields was merely a means to an end, namely to keep ISIS from having an income.
To wit: All profits from the oil's sale is going to the Syrian Democratic Forces, not the United States, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a news briefing. The SDF are using that money to keep up operations against ISIS.
When reporters repeatedly asked what legal basis the United States has to control the Syrian oil fields, Hoffman said that Trump has the authority to order U.S. troops to protect the oil fields as part of military operations against ISIS.
"All of our operations in Syria are done under the commander in chief's authorities with regard to protecting Americans from terrorist activity including [defeat ISIS]," said Hoffman, who accused reporters of trying to "decouple" the oil field mission from the fight against ISIS.
"Just to be clear, we've been in this area with the same mission of preventing ISIS from getting those oil fields for the last four years," Hoffman said later in the briefing. "This is not a new mission. Everybody seems to believe that has changed. That is not the case. This authority has been in place for years and we believe it's consistent with the president's authority and the desire to prevent ISIS from obtaining funds from which to be able to conduct terrorist operations around the globe."
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.