Trump reiterates that he wants to end the Afghanistan war and ‘bring our troops back home’

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President Donald Trump has vowed to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan but he did not provide a timeline for the withdrawal.

"In Afghanistan, the determination and valor of our warfighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are underway," the president said during Tuesday's State of the Union speech. "I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them totally innocent. It is also not our function to serve other nations as law enforcement agencies."

"These are warfighters, the best in the world, and they either want to fight to win or not fight at all," Trump continued. "We are working to finally end America's longest war and bring our troops back home!"


It was not clear whether the president's comments indicate that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is close to securing an agreement with the Taliban that would include withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

In September the president suspended peace negotiations with the Taliban after the group claimed credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Since then, the Taliban has offered a vague promise to reduce violence in Afghanistan as part of a peace agreement. U.S. negotiators have stressed that the Taliban must eventually abide by a ceasefire. The Afghan government has been excluded from the peace negotiations.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described the military situation in Afghanistan as a "strategic stalemate," in which the Taliban cannot overthrow the Afghan government as long as U.S. troops and allied remain in the country.

Milley has deployed to Afghanistan several times. In 2013, he said that Afghan troops and police had been "very, very effective in combat against the insurgents every single day."

Yet the Washington Post revealed in December that top U.S. government officials have privately admitted that the war was going badly.

Now retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan in 2015, "If we are doing such a great job, why does it feel like we are losing?"

The president's latest comments about Afghanistan are consistent with his repeated promises to end the U.S. military's comment to the Middle East and Southwest Asia, he has not yet withdrawn all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria.

Indeed, the president has changed course several times in Syria. He announced in December 2018 that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from the country – prompting then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign in protest – but then he reversed himself.

And in October it appeared that most U.S. troops would leave Syria after Turkey's invasion, but the president agreed to leave a smaller U.S. force in the country to protect oilfields.

Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

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.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

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A U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk crew chief with the New Jersey National Guard's 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion stands for a portrait at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 3, 2020 (Air National Guard photo / Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.

Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.

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A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.

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