Tag Archives: Army

Army Secretary’s Comments on Equality Spark Debate Over Female Draft Registration

At Monday’s Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington D.C., Secretary of the Army John McHugh said during a panel on women in combat roles that the pursuit of a gender-neutral military will eventually push Congress to consider whether women should also be required to register for Selective Service.

If we find ourselves as a military at large where men and women have equal opportunity, as I happen to believe they should, serving in combat positions at least on a formal basis … then ultimately the question of extending the selective service requirements to women as well will have to at least be discussed,” said Sec. McHugh according to Politico.

Sec. McHugh suggested that the American public was not quite ready to have that “pretty emotional debate and discussion“, but that “if your objective is true and pure equality then you have to look at all aspects” and that female draft registration “will be one of those things… that will have to be considered.

[RELATED: Ret. Army General Suggests Segregating ‘Radicalized’ Americans From ‘Normal Community’]

McHugh’s comments come at a time when military leaders are evaluating which combat roles will be opened to women. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is set to finalize the new policies on January 1.

Current law requires that men register for the draft within 30 days of turning 18.

Military.com notes that the subject of female draft registration was also discussed earlier this year at the Aspen National Security forum in Colorado. At the event, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said that she supports mandatory selective service for women. Retired Navy Admiral and ex-SEALs commander Eric Olson reportedly said that if women are to serve in combat roles, they should also be required to register for the draft.

The website of the U.S. Selective Service System says, “Selective Service law as it’s written now refers specifically to ‘male persons’ in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law… The Selective Service System, if given the mission and modest additional resources, is capable of registering and drafting women with its existing infrastructure.

Prior to his retirement, former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul introduced several unsuccessful bills that would have repealed the Selective Service mandate altogether. While introducing one such bill in January of 2003, Paul said, “In 1999, then-Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, in a speech before the National Press Club, admitted that ‘Today, with our smaller, post-cold-war Armed Forces, our stronger volunteer tradition and our need for longer terms of service to get a good return on the high, up-front training
costs, it would be even harder to fashion a fair draft’… In fact, in 1993, the Department of Defense issued a report stating that registration could be stopped ‘with no effect on military mobilization and no measurable effect on the time it would take to mobilize, and no measurable effect on military recruitment.’ Shutting down Selective Service will give taxpayers a break without adversely affecting military efforts. Shutting down Selective Service will also end a program that violates the very principals of individual liberty our nation was founded upon.

One prisoner exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl has made suspicious communications

One of the five prisoners exchanged for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May 2014, is reportedly being investigated for making suspicious phone calls to Afghanistan over the past few months.

According to CNN, this is the first known time one of the five detainees who were released has been suspected of attempted to make contact with any militant groups in the Middle East, but this one instance has raised the question of whether the other four will follow suit.

All five former detainees are said to be in Qatar, where their communications have been monitored by a U.S. intelligence program for months. The program in question is saying they have evidence showing the former detainee in question had “reached out” to militant groups and encouraged further militant activity.

However, one official told NBC News the former detainee had called family members in Afghanistan and there is no evidence showing the phone calls were to members of any militant group in the area. This official also added the content of the phone calls contained no “threatening activity or planning.”

No matter what the content of the suspected phone calls, the governments of Qatar and the U.S. are working together on this new issue.

Rear Admiral John Kirby had an interview on the show ‘Erin Burnett Out Front,’ where he said, “We have a strong security partnership with Qatar, and are in constant dialogue with Qatari government officials about these five detainees and we are confident that we would be able to mitigate any threat of re-engagement by any of these members.”

The Pentagon released a statement saying they would not comment on cases involving the detainees. The statement also said, according to the Daily Mail, “we take any incidence of re-engagement very seriously, and we work in close coordination through military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic channels to mitigate re-engagement and to take follow-on action when necessary.”

More illegal immigrants to be able to serve in military

A policy adopted by the Department of Defense in 2008 which allows a number of illegal immigrants to serve in the US armed forces for the first time in decades, has been extended by two years.

The program is known as the Military Ascensions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI, and is open to immigrants who do not hold a proper visa.  The caveat though is these individuals had to come to the US with their parents before they were 16.  Those eligible must also meet the requirements for the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals policy, which was adopted by the Obama administration in 2012.  Requirements range from having no criminal record to have graduated high school or working towards a GED.

When it was adopted, MAVNI was meant to target immigrants who can comprehend and understand foreign languages such as Chinese, Persian, Pashto, and Arabic.  However one insider revealed to the Daily Mail, out of the 3 million people who might apply for the military, the administration is unsure how many of those have the language skills to meet the basic requirements.

“We’re just not sure how many within that existing population of DACA would have the linguistic skills to qualify,” said a defense official according to USA Today. “These are kids who entered the country at a fairly young age and have basically grown up in the United States, so the limit of their language talents would probably be the language that they received at home.”

The MAVNI program has only been open to a small number of illegal immigrants, but the cap has been raised to 1,500 recruits, according to the Military Times.  The program has one large incentive for illegal immigrants and that is a path to citizenship upon the completion of their service.

One important note though is the military branches are not required to accept MAVNI recruits, and since the program’s inception, many of those who have qualified for the program have been accepted into the Army.  The Air Force has accepted a small number of these recruits while the Navy and Marine Corps have not accepted any MAVNI recruits.

Ground troops might be needed to combat ISIS according to Pentagon official

After President Obama said the US would not send troops to fight ISIS in the Middle East, the top military official in the US has said if the current strategy were to fail, American ground troops would be needed to stop the growing threat of the Islamic State.

Army General Martin Dempsey gave testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee saying, according to ABC News, “To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president.”

Gen. Dempsey also said he believes the current strategy of forming an international coalition with nations from the West and Middle East is the appropriate response at this time.  If there was a direct threat to the US though, Gen. Dempsey said, according to the BBC, “I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces.”

One instance where US ground troops may be required to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the area would be in the retaking of the second largest Iraqi city, Mosul.  “It could very well be part of that particular mission to provide close combat advising or accompanying for that mission,” said Gen. Dempsey.  “But for the day-to-day activities that I anticipate will evolve over time, I don’t see it to be necessary right now.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also spoke to the committee saying the initial plan to keep current airstrikes focused in Iraq would expand to Syria, according to the LA Times.  Hagel said, “targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria, including its command and control, logistics capabilities and infrastructure.”

As of now, the US has conducted over 160 airstrikes against ISIS and the Islamic State in order to help ally forces on the ground in Iraq.

Fort Hood shooter writes to ISIS, wants to become ‘citizen’

Nadal Hasan, the former Army psychiatrist responsible for the shooting at Fort Hood resulting in the death of 13 people, has written a letter to ISIS from prison, asking to become a citizen of the Islamic State’s caliphate.

The letter is two pages long, according to CNN, and addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and the self-proclaimed caliph, i.e. religious ruler, over ISIS controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.  The letter is then signed by Hasan alongside the abbreviation SoA which stands for “Soldier of Allah.”

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,” wrote Hasan, according to FOX News.  “It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

Hasan was born in America and raised as a Muslim.  He was sentenced to death by a military court for the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009.  Along with the 13 who were killed at Fort Hood, over 30 others were injured during the attack.  According to the Hill, Hasan is currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Hasan is not the first American to be drawn to ISIS.  Douglas McCain of Minnesota was reportedly killed fighting for the terror group earlier this week.  The Obama administration has said they believe at least 100 Americans have joined and are currently fighting for ISIS.

Shooter at Virginia Army base injures self, no others

Early Monday morning, Fort Lee in Virginia went on lockdown as a single shot was heard from inside the Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters.

Fort Lee, an Army base about 130 miles south of Washington DC, went on lockdown at about 9 a.m. but after 50 minutes, the “all clear” was given.

Upon investigation from first responders inside the base, a female soldier turned a gun on herself, fired the single shot, and injured only herself.  According to a post from the Fort Lee Facebook page, “Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are on scene and investigating the incident.”

One official, according to FOX News, described the shooter as “disgruntled,” however, the identity of the shooter has yet to be released.

This shooting comes only four months following the most recent shooting at Fort Hood, and new protocols for active shooters were announced only days ago at Fort Lee in response to the Fort Hood shooting.  According to ABC News, it is unclear at this time whether or not these new protocols were used in this event.

As of right now, Army officials are investigating the shooting, while the shooter has been transported to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.  Her condition is unknown as of now.

Army officials are expected to give a statement on the shooting later in the day.

Sgt. Bergdahl to be questioned on his capture

After returning to duty just a few weeks ago, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will start being questioning today in San Antonio, Texas,  by U.S. Army investigator Major General Kenneth Dahl.

The investigation surrounds the circumstances of Sgt Bergdahl’s capture in 2009, which resulted in his release in May in exchange for five Taliban detainees.

The BBC reports Sgt. Bergdahl has hired civilian lawyer Eugene Fidell, a Yale law professor, to aid in his defense.

Fidell has said Sgt. Bergdahl, who is currently not facing any charges, “will be as co-operative as possible with General Dahl.”  However, Fidell has declined to speculate as to what Sgt. Bergdahl will say to the investigating general.

Many people have surmised Sgt. Bergdahl intentionally left his post in 2009 which led to his capture by Taliban forces.  According to CNN, a fact-finding investigation held by the Army in the months after Sgt. Bergdahl’s capture, found he had “deliberately and of his own free-will,” left his outpost and fellow soldiers while on duty in Afghanistan.

Newsmax has also reported several members of Sgt. Bergdahl’s former unit have hinted Sgt. Bergdahl was either absent without leave or had abandoned his post in Afghanistan.

Military attorney Greg Rinckey, who has heard and handled similar cases to Sgt. Bergdahl’s, has stated the meeting between Sgt. Bergdahl and Gen. Dahl will not be adversarial, but rather informal.

“This … general is going to be talking to Sergeant Bergdahl, asking him several questions with his lawyer present,” Rinckey said according to Newsmax.  “It is really not an interrogation, it’s more of an interview.”

After the investigation of Sgt Bergdahl, Gen. Dahl will likely follow-up with fellow members of Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit and his superiors before making recommendations up the chain of command.  Depending on his findings, Gen. Dahl can either, according to NBC News, say he found no wrongdoing and recommend no further action on the case, or recommend a court-martial which could ultimately result in the death penalty.

Rinckey said, because of the questionable circumstances and general lack of clear insight of the case, he does not believe the death penalty would be considered if Sgt. Bergdahl were to face a court-martial.

Updated: Ft. Hood Shooter Was In Program For Returning Soldiers In Need Of “Complex Medical Care”

Updated: It now appears that Lopez is not the man in the Kileen Daily Herald photo from 2010, also identified as Ivan Lopez, part of the the 1st Battalion Warrior Transition Brigade. Though, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley did say that Lopez was being treated for mental health issues

“We do know that this soldier had behavioral health and mental health issues and was being treated for that,” said Milley.

Original Story:

Over the next few days we will learn much more about the man authorities have identified as the Ft. Hood shooter.

Four people are confirmed dead and at least 14 people are injured following Wednesday nights shooting at the army post.

The shooter has now been identified as 34 year-old Ivan Lopez. Early reports indicated there may have been two shooters. Reports also indicate the shooting began as a dispute between soldiers.

What do we know about Ivan Lopez? At this point, not much but Specialist Lopez appears to have been part of the 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade. This is a brigade Ft. Hood describes as a place for mental and physical healing for soldiers returning from combat.

According to Ft. Hood’s website, “The Warrior Transition Brigade provides command and control, primary care, and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army. We ensure the each Service Member receives the appropriate medical care and administrative processing that is needed to return to duty.”

In this photo from the Killeen Daily Herald in 2010, Spc. Ivan Lopez was photographed as he ties a fly during an instructional class at Fort Hood.

Photo CTSY KDH Steven Doll
Photo CTSY KDH Steven Doll This picture does not appear to be the correct Ivan Lopez

The Fort Hood Herald refers to the Warrior Transitional Brigade as a program that “accepts Soldiers injured in combat, those with chronic medical conditions, those who are seriously ill, those with mental or emotional conditions, and Soldiers injured during training or off duty.”

The soldiers who are moved over to the WTB are in need of serious care.

“When Soldiers require at least six months of complex medical care, their doctors can put in a packet for them to be moved over to the WTB, where the Soldier’s only mission will be to heal and prepare for transition.”

As we have reported, with the tens of thousands of men and women returning home from combat, there are serious mental health issues that these soldiers are facing from PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, etc. These issues are very serious and something the American people must demand are dealt with.

With military veterans making up 50% of the homeless population in America, we owe this generation more than to just continually send these men and women off to war and while we spend billions in tax dollars looking for the next field of combat, lawmakers are cutting the costs of treating our soldiers.

House of Cards: Highly ranked Army general pleads guilty to multiple sex crimes, Senate reacts

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina, March 17, 2014– At a Fort Brag military court the United States reached a deal with defense attorneys of U.S. Army brigadier general Jeffrey Sinclair Sunday. The United States agreed to drop charges of sexual assault and two other charges, which would have forced him to register as a sex offender, in exchange for a plea deal.

Sinclair has been charged with forcible sodomy according to allegations by a female U.S. Army captain, which could have landed the Army veteran to life in prison.

The Army captain accused Sinclair of forcing her to engage in oral sex when she tried to break off a former relationship with him. According to the accuser, Sinclair threatened to kill her if she tried to report him.

Sinclair will plead guilty to “mistreatment” of one accuser, a junior Army officer, his lawyer said.

According to the Reuters report:

Sinclair already had pleaded guilty this month to [additional] military crimes of having an adulterous affair, asking junior female officers for nude photos and possessing pornography on his laptop while deployed in Afghanistan. Those offenses carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and possible dismissal from the Army.

Sinclair is expected to enter his plea today. Military prosecutors are withholding comment for now.

Last week the Senate unanimously (97:0) passed a bill cracking down on how the U.S. Defense Department manages cases of sexual misconduct. It has moved to the House where it is likely to pass. The bill was sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) attempted to push a competing bill by filibuster, which she argued went further than the one that passed. The filibuster failed.

Gillibrand’s bill would have taken the prosecution of sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and transferred it to the Judge Advocates General Corps. She argued that roughly a quarter of all sexual assault cases are perpetrated by someone in the chain of command, making reporting obviously difficult. Of the estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact in 2012, only 3,000 were reported and 300 prosecuted.

A report from National Center for Victims of Crime validates Gillibrand’s claims. According to the report, men are more likely to experience some form of unwanted sexual contact than women. Men are also three times as likely not to specify the incident.

Not all were satisfied with the outcome of the Senate vote.“Service members deserve a professional and unbiased justice system equal the system afforded to the civilians they protect. It is a travesty that this very practical, conservative measure, supported by a substantial majority of the Senate and 60% of Americans was blocked by a procedural filibuster,” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect our Defenders, said of Gillibrand’s bill in an interview with TIME.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook and on Twitter.

US Soldiers Allegedly Told That Christians & Tea Party Members Are “Radical” Threats

According to a Fort Hood soldier, Islamic terrorism was barely mentioned during an October 17 pre-deployment briefing on “radical” groups “tearing the country apart.”

Rather, the meeting allegedly focused on Christians and Tea Party supporters who were labeled as radical terrorists and American enemies. The soldiers were apparently told that individuals who support these groups may be punished under military regulations, and that pro-lifers are extremists who promote “radicalization.”

“They said that evangelical Christians protesting abortions are the mobilization stage and that leads to the bombing of abortion clinics,” said the soldier who spoke out.

He said, “I was very shocked and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from family to fight for, were being taken away.”

“Our community is still healing from the act of terrorism brought on by Nidal Hasan – who really is a terrorist,” he continued. “This is a slap in the face. The military is supposed to defend freedom and to classify the vast majority of the military that claim to be Christian as terrorists is sick.”

The soldier would not release his name, out of fear of retaliation.

He said, “My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church. Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who is a part of the Tea Party movement?”

Mike Berry is an attorney with the Liberty Institute who is representing the soldier. Berry said on Fox News, “The American public should be outraged that the U.S. Army is teaching our troops that evangelical Christians and tea party members are enemies of America and that they can be punished for supporting or participating in those groups. These statements about evangelicals being domestic enemies are a serious charge.”

Although a second soldier seconded the allegations regarding the Ford Hood briefing, officials deny the charges.

Tom Rheinlander, the public affairs director at Fort Hood, wrote in a statement, “The allegations you are asking about were brought to the attention of the Fort Hood leadership immediately and a (sic) inquiry is occurring. At this time, initial information gathered about the training and what you claim occurred is not substantiated by unit leadership and soldiers present at this training venue.”

If Ford Hood officials did indeed attack religious liberties with such statements, they must be held accountable for their actions.

How can we prevent future incidents like this from happening? If there had been a camera in the room, there would be no dispute about what occurred during the briefing. Still, there is a fine line between transparency and a camera-monitored society where Big Brother is always watching.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Serve In The Military? Want A Tattoo? Not So Fast… Say Bureaucrats

As reported before by Kristin Tate at BenSwann.com Washington DC bureaucrats are trying to implement a 24 hours waiting period of people to get tattoos in the state. It seems there is renewed interest across the country on tattoos.army1

As reported by the Stars & Stripes military newspaper, the new rules do not regulate whether or not military members can have tattoos, but where they can be placed. Tattoos below the knee, below the elbow, or above the neck line will not be allowed.

Many tattoo shop owners and artists worry about the economic impact. Especially those shops which are located near military bases.

Once the new rules are signed, it will take about 1-2 months before they go become enforceable policy.

The new regulations cover things such as tattoos, grooming, and uniforms and apply only to army soldiers. Other branches of the military have their own grooming and appearance rules.

New recruits will not be allowed to have tattoos in the designated areas. Furthermore, the content of the tattoo now is an issue. If the tattoo is declared racist, sexist or extremist then they will not be accepted for service regardless of where the tattoo is. Current soldiers will be grandfathered in.

Soldiers are also getting new uniforms.