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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."
‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.