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Western Iraq Is Like The Bar From ‘Cheers,’ Marine Colonel Tells Reporters
It’s not often that western Iraq evokes memories of long-defunct 1980s sitcoms in warfighters, but when one Marine colonel considers Anbar province, his first thought is... “Cheers.” Yes, the TV show.
Col. Seth Folsom leads Task Force Lion, which is advising and assisting Iraqi security forces in western Anbar province near the Syrian border. Between September and November 2017, the Iraqis liberated the cities of Rihanna, Annah, Al Qaim, and Rawa from ISIS fighters, who either threw down their weapons or fled to Syria, Folsom told Pentagon reporters on Tuesday in a telephone news briefing.
With the end of fighting, thousands of Iraqis who’d left western Anbar province have begun to return — 20,000 have come back to Al Qaim district alone, Folsom said. Iraqi security forces are screening the returning refugees to try to detect possible ISIS sleeper cells, but the border forces are not using biometric technology as part of the process, he said.
Folsom then added that this part of Iraq is a tightly knit community... a bit like a fictional watering hole in Boston.
“Here’s the interesting thing about Al Anbar, especially western Anbar: It’s kind of like the bar at ‘Cheers,’ if anybody remembers that television show,” Folsom explained. “It’s a place where everybody knows your name.”
In a place like Al Qaim, it’s very difficult for somebody to try to enter that city who is not from there. The fabric of western Anbar is composed of many different tribes, and within those tribes, everybody knows everybody. So if you are a malign actor who’s trying to infiltrate his way into the urban center, there’s a good chance that someone is going to figure you out.
Believe it or not, the Iraqis are actually a lot smarter than us in doing that kind of thing. We’ve been monitoring how they’ve been screening people. We’ve been reporting those numbers and so far we have not had a problem with it. It’s actually been a pretty impressive process.
The numbers that are coming in every day give us hope that a place like Al Qaim — which really was the last bastion of ISIS fighter — that it’s going to return to something like normal soon.
“Cheers,” a staple of NBC’s “Must-See Thursday” prime-time offerings, aired from 1982 to 1993. Its 11-season run is considered a high achievement for any sitcom.
The war in Iraq, on the other hand, just entered its 16th season, and is likely to be renewed into the foreseeable future.
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.