It's Time For 'The Long March' To Come To A End

The Long March

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel Mehaffey carries his gear to the rendezvous point after parachuting 10,000 feet during parachute training operations Aug. 13, 2018 at Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Jamin M. Powel)

Here's a letter I sent last week to the fine people who run Task & Purpose. We'll be wrapping things up over the next week or so.—Tom


Paul, Jared and Zach—

Having had time to reflect over the last couple of weeks, I have decided it is time for me to stop writing the Long March column.

The primary reason is that has been taking too much time away from my main job, which is writing books. Moreover, my current book project is a work of history that takes place in the 18th century, so there's little of the overlap with column topics that I had when writing previous books. I spend most of my book-writing time mentally far away, and find myself thinking less about current events than I once did. The result is that the column is becoming more of an effort for me to produce.

I was already thinking about ending it when the news arrived that James Mattis was leaving the Pentagon. That nailed it. His departure marks the end of an era for me. That is, for the last 25 years, I have known every defense secretary and the people around them, and could provide value from that personal knowledge. But it is unlikely I will be familiar with the new crowd coming in.

So the time feels right to end it. As for the question of when to close it down, I still have about a dozen guest columns to run. To fulfill my obligation to the people who wrote them, I'd like to get them published, so I'd like to continue the column it until at least mid-January. After that, it is up to you. I don't want to leave you hanging, so please let me know if you want me to take it longer.

I have no major complaints about Task & Purpose, and I wish you and the site well. I will continue to be a fan, and aim to remain in touch.

With appreciation,

Tom

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

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Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

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A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

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Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

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Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Oscar Temores and his family. (GoFundMe)

When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.

Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.

"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."

That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.

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