U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams
The White House on June 26 alleged that the Syrian government is preparing for an imminent chemical weapons attack against rebel targets that would “result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” calling it an act for which President Bashar al-Assad and his military “will pay a heavy price” should they proceed.
When reached for comment by Task & Purpose, U.S. Central Command released a cryptic statement: "For this matter, we have no information to add to what has already been stated."
The surprise statement appears to have caught even the Department of Defense off guard. Several Pentagon officials reached by BuzzFeed News said they “not only did not know where the potential chemical attack would come from, but they had no idea that the White House would release its statement.”
The shot across the bow to the Assad regime came just over a week after an F/A-18E Super Hornet downed a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber that targeted coalition forces engaged in combat with ISIS militants as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The shootdown, the latest in a series of violent clashes between U.S.-backed and Assad-aligned forces in the war-torn country, has sent tensions in the regions to an unprecedented high.
In April, President Donald Trump ordered two U.S. Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the USS Ross and USS Porter, to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat military air base southeast of the city of Homs in response to the Syrian military’s alleged used of chemical weapons against rebels in the country’s northern Idlib governorate.
At the time, U.S. officials told reporters that Trump “had been deeply shaken by graphic photos of Syrian children gasping for breath and dying as a result of the chemical weapons” deployed by Assad forces, the New York Times reports.
The U.S. government appears to be girding itself for an inevitable clash not just with Syria, but with regional allies Russia and Iran. Writing on Twitter on June 26, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley echoed the White House’s statement. “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.”
Despite this strong rhetoric, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this alleged chemical weapons attack — and members of the defense and intelligence community appear in the same boat. In a curt response to an inquiry from the New York Times, Director of National Intelligence spokesman Brian Hale borrowed a page from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s press briefing playbook: “We are letting the statement speak for itself.”
U.S. Army General Jospeh Votel, head of Central Command, visits an airbase at an undisclosed location in northeast Syria, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Stewart
AIRBASE IN NORTHEAST SYRIA (Reuters) - The commander of U.S.-backed forces in Syria called on Monday for about 1,000 to 1,500 international forces to remain in Syria to help fight Islamic State and expressed hope that the United States, in particular, would halt plans for a total pullout.
Let's talk about love – and not the type of love that results in sailors getting an injection of antibiotics after a port call in Thailand. I'm talking about a deeper, spiritual kind of love: The Pentagon's passionate love affair with great power competition.
Nearly a decade ago, the Defense Department was betrothed to an idea called "counterinsurgency;" but the Pentagon ditched COIN at the altar after a Jody named Afghanistan ruined the romance. Now the U.S. military is head over heels in love with countering Russia and China – so much so that the Pentagon has named a cockroach "The Global War on Terrorism" after its ex so it could be fed to a Meerkat.
Homes at Fort Benning undergo lead paint removal as the U.S. Army mobilizes to protect residents against lead poisoning hazards in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S., September 10, 2018. (Reuters/Andrea Januta)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deeply troubled by military housing conditions exposed by Reuters reporting, the U.S. Army's top leadership vowed on Friday to renegotiate its housing contracts with private real estate firms, test tens of thousands of homes for toxins and hold its own commanders responsible for protecting Army base residents from dangerous homes.
In an interview, the Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said Reuters reports and a chorus of concerns from military families had opened his eyes to the need for urgent overhauls of the Army's privatized housing system, which accommodates more than 86,000 families.
The secretary's conclusion: Private real estate firms tasked with managing and maintaining the housing stock have been failing the families they serve, and the Army itself neglected its duties.