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Trump: War Games In South Korea Cancelled. Pentagon: WTF?
The Pentagon is still trying to figure out what President Trump meant when he said on Tuesday that the United States would cancel its war games with South Korea.
Task & Purpose roamed the halls of the five-sided funhouse all day, trying to get clarity on the president’s comments, but it only became apparent that nothing is clear.
After meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump told reporters the United States would no longer hold war games on the Korean peninsula, which he decried as “tremendously expensive” and “very provocative.”
“So under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal, I think it's inappropriate to be having war games,” the president said at a news conference. “Number one: We save money – a lot. And number two: It really is something that I think they very much appreciate it.”
Trump later echoed that sentiment in an interview with ABC News:
Trump did not specify whether the “war games” he referenced include all regularly scheduled training exercises between U.S. and South Korean Forces, including Foal Eagle/Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
“Six and a half hours – that's a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place, and then go back to Guam. I know a lot about airplanes; it's very expensive. And I didn’t like it.”
A spokeswoman for U.S. Forces Korea told Military Times that the command had not been told to cancel this year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which is scheduled for September.
“In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense and/or Indo-Pacific Command,” Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett told the newspaper.
The Wall Street Journal reported in May that the U.S. military agreed not to involve B-52s in the Max Thunder exercise due to concerns raised by the South Korean government. North Korea had specifically objected to the bombers being part of the exercise.
“We fly in bombers from Guam,” Trump said on Tuesday. “I said: ‘Where do the bombers come from?’ ‘Guam. Nearby.’ I said: ‘Oh, great, nearby. Where's nearby?’ ‘Six and a half hours.’ Six and a half hours – that's a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place, and then go back to Guam. I know a lot about airplanes; it's very expensive. And I didn’t like it.”
Officials at the Pentagon, State Department and White House did not respond to T&P;’s questions about which exercises the president was referring to. When the Defense Department issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, it did not mention the war games.
“The Department of Defense welcomes the positive news coming out of the summit and fully supports the ongoing, diplomatically-led efforts with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. “Our alliances remain ironclad, and ensure peace and stability in the region.”
Adding to the confusion: Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., tweeted on Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence told lawmakers that “regular readiness training and training exchanges will continue.”
A White House official told T&P; that Pence was referring to regular readiness training, not semi-annual war games, which would end if North Korea meets its obligations under an agreement.
Until the president explains what he meant, it seems, trying to get clarity on his statements will be as pointless as pearl-diving in the Potomac.
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."