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New Pentagon policy will bar most transgender people from serving
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department signed a memo on Tuesday that would enforce limitations on transgender people serving in the military, a policy that has been the subject of court challenges.
The policy will take effect on April 12 and will bar most transgender individuals from serving if they require hormone treatments or transition surgery.
The memo, signed by David Norquist, currently the No. 2 official at the Pentagon, will allow service secretaries to issue waivers on a case-by-case basis.
President Donald Trump announced in July 2017 a ban on transgender people serving in the military. He later accepted Pentagon recommendations to limit the ban to individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, defined as "those who may require substantial medical treatment," and allowing some exceptions.
A series of court challenges had put the policy on hold. But the U.S. Supreme Court in January lifted lower-court rulings that had blocked the policy, allowing it to go into effect.
Trump's decision to bar many transgender troops reversed a landmark 2016 policy of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, to let transgender people for the first time serve openly in the armed forces and receive medical care to transition genders.
The decision prompted a stern rebuke from Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Tuesday.
"The President's revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender servicemembers is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation," she said in a statement.
She also said that Trump's position represented prejudice, not patriotism.
Trump cited military focus and medical costs for rolling back the policy.
A 2016 Pentagon-commissioned study found that any impact on cost or military readiness from having transgender troops would be marginal. It estimated there were around 2,450 transgender troops at the time.
Advocates for transgender people criticized the Trump policy. "The Trump administration is determined to bring back 'don't ask, don't tell,' a policy that forced service members to choose between serving their country and telling the truth about who they were," Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center LGBT-rights think tank, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Peter Cooney)
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
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.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.