Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Troops Assigned To The US Border Mission Are Bored As Hell
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The American military's support mission along the US-Mexico border has sparked a lot of debate, with critics questioning aspects of the mission's legality, necessity, and short- and long-term implications.
The Department of Defense has yet to disclose an overall cost estimate of the deployment, which is expected to involve over 7,000 active-duty troops from across the US.
With the main migrant caravan still hundreds of miles from the closest point on the border, it remains unclear just how long troops will be deployed there.
The New York Times reported they may have to wait until at least Thanksgiving to return home, and while the deployed troops were careful not to discuss politics with reporters, the prospect of spending another holiday away from home for the mundane missions along the border could dampen spirits.
According to The Times, that is not the only issue with troop morale.
Photos taken at Base Camp Donna, in Texas, showed soldiers playing cards and football, resting on cots, and eating ready-to-eat meals, or MREs. The camp appeared almost desolate.
There is no dining facility on base, and showers were installed shortly before the report's publication on Saturday. Electricity is scarce, according to The Times, and is used only to power "lights and communication gear" — making it harder for soldiers to charge their cellphones and personal electronics.
Soldiers' tents are not fitted with electricity or air-conditioning, despite reports of heat exhaustion.
The Times likened the atmosphere to the early years in Afghanistan. Rep. Anthony G. Brown, a Maryland Democrat and Iraq War veteran, said a key difference is that in Afghanistan the soldiers have a mission.
Brown said that even on holidays, that mission, a sense of purpose, helped troops maintain morale. Along the border, it seems, that purpose is missing.
While some of the troops spend their days constructing barbed-wire fences, others are just trying to make their bases livable, according to The Times. Many are performing the same tasks as previously deployed National Guard units.
"When you send a soldier on a dubious mission, with no military value, over Thanksgiving, it doesn't help morale at all," Brown told The Times.
Mark T. Esper, the US Secretary of the Army, has defended the deployments, saying that border support is not a waste of time or military resources.
"We all recognize that one of the many missions of the military is defense of the homeland and security of our borders," he told The Times.
Outside the fences, the "invasion" President Donald Trump sent them to defend against — the caravan of migrant families fleeing from violence — inches forward, still some hundreds of miles in the distance.
More from Business Insider:
- Trump doesn't understand the military's 'proper use and role,' a Marine Corps veteran and former DHS spokesman says
- The US Navy wants to launch new missiles and drones from its most advanced attack subs to take on next-level adversaries
- Trump is sending thousands of troops to the border with Mexico — here's everything we know so far
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.