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US troops definitely want to keep deploying to Afghanistan, enlisted leaders say
President Donald Trump wants U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, but top noncommissioned officers from the services and combatant commands maintain that troops are still eager to go there and to other combat zones.
The general attitude in the ranks on risky deployments is "quite the opposite" of what many might believe, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Metheny, the top noncommissioned officer for the NATO Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
"They're disappointed when you have to tell them about the force caps" on the estimated 14,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan, Metheny said at Pentagon briefings Wednesday by senior NCOs on a range of issues.
The opportunity to deploy is also a factor in recruiting and retention, he said, pointing to what he said is a 108% retention rate for those serving in Afghanistan.
Other senior enlisted leaders at the briefings echoed Metheny, stating that the chance to deploy overseas in the nation's defense is a motivating factor for those who join.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said troops in Afghanistan are committed to bringing stability to a region in turmoil, even after 18 years of war. "They're still executing the mission they've been given," he said.
"The threat of combat or the threat of injury or death is always a concern" in any war zone deployment, he said, "but I think the men and women who choose to serve, it's because they look and see the great work that the men and women are doing serving in the military."
"When that Coastie got on top of that submarine -- there are going to be young men and women out there that say, 'I want to do that,' or when they see sailors doing freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea or the Taiwan straits, Troxell said.
Deployments are also a plus for the National Guard, said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kepner, senior enlisted adviser to the National Guard Bureau.
"The biggest question I get from our young men and women today is not, 'Will I have to go downrange?'" Kepner said. "It's, 'Deployments are not going to stop, are they, Sergeant Major?'"
Marine Sgt. Maj. Troy Black said that acceptance of risk is one of the attractions of the Marine Corps.
"They want to come serve their country, and the risk of it is just part of the deal," said Black, who took over the role of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on Friday.
Troxell backed up Black, stating, "Every young man and woman that I run into -- they want to go to the places that we've been going to in the past years like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and places like that, even though there's that inherent risk all the time."
The enlisted leaders spoke after Trump restated in blunt terms his frustration with the progress of the war in Afghanistan and his desire to broker a peace deal with the Taliban to speed the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
At an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump called the war in Afghanistan "ridiculous" and said lengthy overseas engagements are turning the U.S.
armed forces into the world's "policemen."
"I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people," Trump said. "If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone in 10 days. And I don't want to do -- I don't want to go that route."
"So we're working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves," he said. "Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we're policemen right now. And we're not supposed to be policemen."
This article originally appeared on Military.com
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Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.