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The Navy Just Called Bulls--t On Reports That A US Warship Is Lurking In Syrian Waters
As the world waits to see if President Donald Trump will launch military strikes against Syria, you can count on the media to provide you with nuanced, well-sourced stories that provide context…. Oh, who are we kidding: It’s like watching pigs in shit.
One of the most egregious offenders so far has been CNN Turk, which reported that the destroyer USS Donald Cook is lurking off the Syrian coast, ready to retaliate against a Syrian chemical weapons attack with 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles. CNN Turk also reported that the ship had been buzzed at least four times by Russian aircraft. The story has been aggregated by other media outlets.
On the surface, the story looked like a blatant OPSEC violation. Citing “Pentagon offcials,” CNN Turk did practically everything except tell the Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah where best to hit the Donald Cook with their anti-ship missiles, or at least disrupt their mission.
But according to the Pentagon officials Task & Purpose spoke with, the CNN Turk story is full of more holes than Osama bin Laden’s body.
“There are elements of that story that are just simply not true,” said Navy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks, who called the reporting that the ship had been buzzed by Russian aircraft “competely bogus.”
The Donald Cook is also not in Syrian waters, Speaks told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.
While it is public knowledge that the destroyer recently made a port call to Cyprus, the Navy has been intentionally vague about where the ship is now, a policy that extends to all deployed ships to protect their crews and missions. Speaks declined to say whether the Donald Cook, or any other ship, would be part of possible missions against Syria.
The Navy can confirm when ships leave port on routine deployments, such as Wednesday’s planned departure of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group from Norfolk, Virginia, but the sea service never says specifically where ships are headed, he said.
“We have been careful to not get too specific in talking about at sea locations to preserve some strategic ambiguity, and I think we’ve done that,” Speaks said. “We’ll always have reports that we have to deal with that are poorly sourced or just outright false, but I think we’ve been pretty careful to ensure both OPSEC and that we preserve strategic space for the [defense] secretary and the president, in any type of response.”
Speaks also refused to say how many Tomahawk cruise missiles the Donald Cook might be carrying. He added that he has no idea where CNN Turk’s information came from, because no one in the Navy has told media that the ship has 60 Tomahawks.
When asked if the CNN Turk story rises to the level of an OPSEC violation, Speaks said the onus is on the Navy – not the media – to avoid publicizing sensitive information.
“I would never characterize what you guys do as an OPSEC violation,” Speaks said. “Only we can commit OPSEC violations. Reporters don’t. You guys just report.”
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.