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Trump's raid on military construction funds for his border wall will screw over critical Air Force projects, report says
An Air Force assessment indicates that the Trump administration's decision to reroute funding from dozens of the service's planned military construction projects "poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces," NBC News reports.
The internal report, obtained by NBC News on Friday, details how the Trump administration's September move to reprogram $3.6 billion in Defense Department funding for military construction projects to erect a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border impacts 51 specific Air Force projects out of 127 identified by the Pentagon.
Those projects include repairs and replacements that the service deemed critical to addressing safety and security concerns at various installations around the world, per NBC News, including:
- An entry control point at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey at which the main gate is "degrading and not properly configured to provide proper protection for pedestrian and vehicle passage" among an increase in security breaches following the start of U.S. military operations against ISIS in neighboring Syria in 2014.
- New facilities at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for the storage of more than $1 billion in munitions, one of the largest stockpiles in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's area of responsibility.
- Critical repairs for boiler at Eielsen Air Force Base in Alaska that provides all electricity and heat for the base, the failure of which would "bee devastating to facilities and the missions housed by them within hours."
In March, a pair of internal memos authored by then-Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicated that the "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment of Marine Corps personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border posed an "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.
As Task & Purpose previously reported, the Trump administration is diverting funding from a total of 127 projects both in the U.S. and overseas, including $400 million form 10 projects related to Hurricane Maria recovery and more than $700 million in projects meant to help deter Russia in Europe.
When reached for comment, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek reassured NBC News that "these projects are still very important, and we continue to be committed to our allies and partners."
But speaking to reporters following his February emergency declaration, Trump had claimed that the billions in funding he planned on diverting from the Pentagon budget wasn't going to be used for anything "important" anyway.
"We had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military," Trump said at the time. "Some of them haven't been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important."
"I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for," he added. "I said, 'What are you going to use it for?' And I won't go into details, but it didn't sound too important to me."
Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.
The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.
Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.
Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.
The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty
Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.
Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:
Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.
In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.
On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.
Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.
After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.
- 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
- Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
- Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
- Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
- Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.
In a kind of odd man-versus-nature moment, a Russian navy boat was attacked and sunk by a walrus during an expedition in the Arctic, the Barents Observer reported Monday.
The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.