The commander of U.S. Central Command testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he was as surprised as anyone else when President Donald Trump tweeted in December that U.S. forces would be leaving Syria.
"I was not aware of the specific announcement," Gen. Joseph Votel said in response to a question from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). "Certainly we are aware that he expressed a desire and an intent in the past to depart."
On Dec. 19, Trump tweeted that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency," before following up with a video claiming that the troops have "won" against ISIS and they were "coming home." The New York Times and Washington Post reported that some 2,000 U.S. forces were ordered to conduct a rapid withdrawal.
But the senior commander of those troops, Votel, didn't even get a courtesy calI: "I was not consulted," he said. The decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria was the catalyst for then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation.
Besides Votel being left out of the loop at the time, the Commandant of the Marine Corps previously admitted to his Marines that he had "no idea" on specifics regarding the troop withdrawal. Since then, the decision to withdraw troops from Syria has been slowed down to a "deliberate and coordinated" departure, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
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."
U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)
MUSCAT/KABUL (Reuters) - Even before any peace push-related drawdowns, the U.S. military is expected to trim troop levels in Afghanistan as part of an efficiency drive by the new commander, a U.S. general told Reuters on Friday, estimating the cuts may exceed 1,000 forces.