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Hundreds of Russian mercenaries now in Venezuela, US admiral says
Hundreds of Russian mercenaries are in Venezuela to prop up the "illegitimate regime" of President Nicolas Maduro, who has announced his intention to go to North Korea to break out of the isolation imposed by the U.S. and its allies, Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, said Friday at a breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C.
"Certainly strange friends," Faller said of the recent expressions of mutual support between Maduro and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, "but it would not surprise me and we are concerned about that relationship."
"Very soon, we will go soon" to North Korea to meet with Kim on military and economic cooperation, Maduro said on Venezuelan state TV Wednesday. His announcement followed on a visit last month by a Venezuelan delegation to North Korea.
The outreach to North Korea fit a pattern in Maduro's efforts to maintain power, Faller said. Those efforts have continued despite the internal corruption of Maduro's regime and crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S. that have forced an estimated four million Venezuelans to flee the country.
The Trump administration has backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó, and recognized him as the legitimate president, but Maduro has remained in office with support from Russia, Cuba, China, Iran and now, it seems, North Korea, Faller said.
"Russia, China and Iran -- they're there, they're present, and they're working for their national interests in ways that are counter to long-term stability of the region," Faller said. "Russia, I'm convinced, is out to make the United States look bad [in South America] at every turn of the corner."
China has focused on spreading economic influence in Latin America and worldwide, Faller said, and the "future of this globe depends on how we can reconcile that competition.
"But right now, in this hemisphere, that competition is strong, and in the area of values and access and influence it borders on conflict," he said.
Southern Command has limited capabilities, but is working with regional partners to counter "what Maduro's done in his country, how he's driven it into the ground with his cronies along with the interventionist assistance of Russia, China, Iran," Faller said. "And now we see liaison with North Korea."
To back Maduro, Russia has "deployed nuclear-capable bombers" for fly-bys in the region, and Russia has "deployed their most advanced warship that's capable of firing nuclear cruise missiles," Faller said.
He referred to a June visit to the region of the guided-missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, which made a port stop in Cuba.
In addition, there are hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Venezuela, along with a "significant amount of Russian arms and Russian arms support," Faller said.
"The palace guard around Maduro is Cuban, nearly 100% of the presidential guard are now Cuban, so there's thousands of Cubans and hundreds of Russians" in Venezuela, Faller said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.