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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
In a series of bloody campaigns from 2014 to 2019, a multinational military coalition drove the Islamic State group, often known as ISIS, out of much of the Iraqi and Syrian territory that the strict militant theocracy had brutally governed.
But the Pentagon and the United Nations both estimate that the group still has as many as 30,000 active insurgents in the region. Thousands more IS-aligned fighters are spread across Africa and Asia, from the scrublands of Mali and Niger to the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan, to the island jungles of the Philippines.
I keep track of the loose alliance of various global affiliates and insurgent groups collectively known as the Islamic State. It's part of my research chronicling America's wars in remote lands where I have worked for the CIA and the U.S. Army. I also monitor Islamic State activities around the world for a University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth project I lead called MappingISIS.com
In recent months, the Islamic State group has reconstituted itself in the Syria-Iraq region and continues to inspire mayhem across the globe.
In June, 2018, when a group of Marines noticed a family was being swept along by a powerful rip current at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina they immediately swam out to save them. Now, more than a year later, those Marines have been recognized for their actions.
About 1,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers, 16 helicopters and hundreds of Humvees, heavy equipment and shipping containers are headed to Thailand for the first stop of Pacific Pathways 2020, an Army approach to bulking up in the region with a light but persistent footprint that follows the "places, not bases" mantra of the Pentagon.
This year also will bring similar Pathways four- to five-month troop deployments (but not from Hawaii) to the Philippines and, in a first, an Oceania rotation to locations including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Palau and Yap.
The fall time frame will include another first for the Army: Defender Pacific, in which 8,000 to 10,000 mainland-based soldiers will practice rapidly deploying for 30 to 45 days through the second and first island chains that China defines around the South China Sea.
In 2021 Defender Pacific could jump to 30,000 soldiers rotating through on relatively short notice, Defense News reported. About 85,000 soldiers are assigned to the region.
It's been nearly 20 years since the most recent F-15 fighter jet rolled off an assembly line for the U.S. Air Force, and the service is officially looking to add a fresh variant of the aircraft to its inventory.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The U.S. Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 recovered two bodies from the wreckage site where a U.S. Air Force E-11A aircraft crashed in Ghazni province, Afghanistan on Monday.
The bodies and a flight recorder were recovered during the mission, which was first noted by Connecting Vets radio and then reported by Newsweek. Sensitive military equipment from the plane was intentionally destroyed by the SEALs, according to Newsweek, and U.S. officials have not ruled out an airstrike if they deem that the aircraft's remains still pose a risk.
When officials commemorate an act of heroism, or a tragedy, or both, they almost always cite the numbers.
On Monday, it was the number 40. That's how many years it's been since the Coast Guard suffered the worst peacetime tragedy in its history.
And 23: the number of lives lost aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn after it collided with a passing 605-foot oil tanker in the waters of Tampa Bay.
And, perhaps most poignantly, the number 18. That's how old Seaman Apprentice William Flores was when he heroically went down with his ship. As the Blackthorn capsized, Flores stayed aboard, throwing life jackets to his fellow seamen. He allowed even more jackets to float to escaping crew members by propping open a locker door with his own belt.
Then, the 180-foot cutter sucked Flores into the depths of Tampa Bay.
"He drowned about 15 feet away from me," remembered Jeff Huse, a survivor of the Blackthorn. "I probably floated with one of the life jackets that he tossed out."