Transgender Troops Get New Hope From Mattis, McCain

news
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., escorts Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis to the hearing room for his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.
AP Images

Two major political developments Sep. 15 — one in the form of a memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis, and the other a bill advanced by former POW Sen. John McCain — have given currently serving transgender troops a temporary reprieve from President Donald Trump's ban, as well as hope for a longer-term guarantee that they can continue serving.


According to the Washington Post, Mattis instructed top military leaders Friday night to permit transgender service members to re-enlist until at least Feb. 21, 2018, when the Pentagon is expected to publish its decision on whether transgender people in the service will be allowed to remain in.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, confirmed the details of Mattis' memo to reporters. “Current transgender members will continue to serve throughout the military and continue to receive necessary medical treatment as prescribed by their medical provider,” he said. “Transgender services members whose term of service expires while the interim guidance is in effect may at the service member’s request, re-enlist under existing procedures.”

Separately on Friday, McCain — the longtime Arizona Republican and Navy veteran who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee — joined a bipartisan group of senior committee members in supporting a bill to block Trump's executive ban on transgender military service.

"When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country," McCain said in a statement released jointly with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sens. Jack Reed and Kirsten Gillibrand. "Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve—including those who are transgender."

While prospects for a congressional vote against Trump on the transgender ban are anything but certain — the Senate bill sponsors have already tried and failed to tack it onto the next defense budget bill — McCain's public stand made clear that if Mattis and his top brass found a way in their February 2018 review to permit transgender service, he'd get the Senate on board with the plan.

"The Senate Armed Services Committee will review the results of the DOD study on accession," McCain added, "and will continue to work closely with our military leaders on any policy changes as we conduct oversight on this important issue.”

WATCH MORE:

The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.

Read More Show Less

A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).

But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.

Read More Show Less

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.

Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.

The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.

The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.

"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.

The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.

Read More Show Less
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney takes questions during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.

Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.

But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.

"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.

Read More Show Less

The Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol that John Browning dreamed up more than a century ago remains on of the most beloved sidearms in U.S. military history. Hell, there's a reason why Army Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, still rocks an M1911A1 on his hip despite the fact that the Army no longer issues them to soldiers.

But if scoring one of the Army's remaining M1911s through the Civilian Marksmanship Program isn't enough to satisfy your adoration for the classic sidearm, then Colt has something right up your alley: the Colt Model 1911 'Black Army' pistol.

Read More Show Less