President Donald Trump reportedly has a message for the troops: I want you on that wall. I need you on that wall.
Multiple inside sources tell the Washington Post that Trump, frustrated that the new bipartisan budget bill he signed didn't fund his proposed border wall with Mexico, has recently fixated on the idea that the Department of Defense could spare some cash to build the futuristic fence. In fact, he's discussed it on multiple occasions, the sources say.
Here's one occasion:
After floating the notion to several advisers last week, he told Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the military should pay for the wall in a meeting last Wednesday in the White House residence, according to three people familiar with the meeting. Ryan offered little reaction to the notion, these people said, but senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.
Here's another occasion:
In another such interaction with senior aides last week, Trump noted that the Department of Defense was getting so much money as part of the $1.3 trillion spending package that the Pentagon could surely afford the border wall, two White House officials said.
"Two advisers," the Post reports, "said that 'M' stood for military."
Needless to say, the idea hasn't picked up any momentum. And with good reason: Even if the slightly busy military establishment was willing to part with a couple (or hundred) billion dollars for the cause, a new allocation would require action from Congress. And if Paul Ryan shrugging off the plan wasn't ominous enough, here's what Senate Minority Leader (and old Trump phone-chat buddy) Chuck Schumer told the Post:
"First Mexico was supposed to pay for it, then U.S. taxpayers, and now our men and women in uniform? This would be a blatant misuse of military funds and tied up in court for years. Secretary Mattis ought not bother and instead use the money to help our troops, rather than advance the president’s political fantasies."
On the other hand, a dreamer can dream! And if there's anything Defense Secretary James Mattis has taught us, it's that the commander-in-chief he has a soft spot for certain dreamers in his midst.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."