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.
(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford)
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
Hailed as a hero for knocking a shooter off his feet in a UNC Charlotte classroom, Riley Howell was posthumously awarded two of the military's highest honors in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina this week.
Howell, 21, and classmate Ellis "Reed" Parlier, 19, died when a gunman opened fire in their classroom in the Kennedy building on April 30.
(Islamic State Group/Al Furqan Media Network/Reuters)
CAIRO (Reuters) - After losing territory, ISIS fighters are turning to guerrilla war — and the group's newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.
In recent weeks, IS's al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.