Army Secretary nominee sides with Trump on cancelling meeting with the Taliban

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Jeff Starts A Twitter Beef With The Taliban

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he agreed with President Donald Trump's decision to cancel his meeting with the Taliban.

McCarthy, speaking at his nomination hearing on Thursday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). about the White House's "abrupt end" to peace talks, and if the administration's "policy of conducting diplomacy through Twitter" has made it more difficult for the Army in Afghanistan.


"With respect to the talks being ceased, I think it was clear that national command authority felt that they did not have the conditions appropriate to enter the next phase of negotiations," McCarthy said. "So I think it was the right decision to step back from the table and try to look at how do you get to a framework to bring a political end-state to the conflict."

Any lingering hopes that a peace agreement might be possible between the U.S., the Afghan government and the Taliban went up in flames on Monday when Trump said that as far as he was concerned, peace talks are "dead." This came two days after he announced on Twitter that he had planned to hold a private meeting at Camp David with "major leaders" of the Taliban, but cancelled — and called off negotiations — after the Taliban continued attacks in Afghanistan.

A total of 19 U.S. service members have died supporting operations in Afghanistan so far in 2019, of which 16 have been killed in combat and three were non-combat fatalities. One of those non-combat deaths was a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, who was declared dead after falling overboard.

In April, the Defense Department initially announced that Air Force Staff Sgt. Albert J. Miller, who was killed in a non-combat incident in Qatar, was supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel at the time of his death. One month later, the Air Force re-designated him as a casualty of the U.S-led mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria because he was in the Operation Inherent Resolve area of responsibility when he died, an Air Force official said.

It took two hours on Thursday for McCarthy to be asked about Afghanistan — which was better than Defense Secretary Mark Esper's confirmation hearing, during which the topic never came up — emphasizing just how not-pressing the war is for Congress, almost two decades in.

McCarthy added on Thursday that it's "clear we're going to have to have an advise-and-assist capability" in Afghanistan, as well as a counterterrorism capability, until there's "a much greater maturity and strength within the Afghan government."

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

Walruses rest on an ice floe off Wrangel Island, part of the Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve in the Arctic Ocean (Itas-TASS/Yuri Smityuk via Getty Images)

In a kind of odd man-versus-nature moment, a Russian navy boat was attacked and sunk by a walrus during an expedition in the Arctic, the Barents Observer reported Monday.

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The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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