15 October, 2018 07:30

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, October 15, 2018 which is I Love Lucy Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National Pug Day and International Day of Rural Women.
This Day/Weekend in Legion History:

  • Oct. 15, 1926: The team from American Legion Cook Post 321 of Yonkers, NY, defeats Pocatello, Idaho, by a score of 23-6 in the first American Legion Baseball World Series in Philadelphia. More than 1,100 spectators attend. The cost of running the world series, however, leads to a two-year hiatus until adequate funding can be obtained.
  • Oct. 15, 1926: At the 8th American Legion National Convention in Philadelphia, Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing and Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France receive an honor bestowed upon no one else – election as honorary commander of The American Legion. “Legionnaires, it is a great pleasure to be here, and I want you all to know you can always count on me as one of you, as standing shoulder to shoulder, as we did together during the war," Pershing tells the crowd after receiving the recognition.
  • Oct. 15, 1953: An American Legion committee is approved to study the feasibility of a special fund for children’s programs after former American Legion Department of Arkansas Commander Dr. Garland Murphy, Jr., offers to the national organization fractional rights to 10,000 acres of oil-rich land he owns in the Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota. In return, Murphy asks that proceeds from the contribution be used solely to serve children. Out of this contribution is born the American Legion’s Child Welfare Foundation.

This Day in History:

  • 1917: Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, is executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris. She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay. In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.
  • On this day in 1863, the C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, sinks during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crewmembers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Long War Journal: Taliban confirms meeting with US delegation in Doha
BY tjoscelyn | @thomasjoscelyn
In a statement released today, the Taliban confirms that its representatives met with a team of American negotiators in Doha on Oct 12.
The Americans’ stated goal for the nascent talks is to have the Taliban reach a political settlement with the Afghan government. However, the Taliban recently rejected Afghanistan’s elections, calling for attacks to disrupt them. And the Taliban has consistently rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s government as illegitimate.
The group does not mention the current Afghan government in its message today. Nor does it say that Ghani had any representatives at the talks.
Instead, the jihadists again refer to themselves as representatives of the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” — the regime they seek to resurrect across Afghanistan.
The Taliban lists members of its “negotiation team” from “the Political Office of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” as “the respected” Al Haj Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai (the “head” of the office), Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi (the “deputy” of the political office) and other members, including Shahabuddin Delawar, Qari Deen Muhammad Hanif, Al Haj Muhammad Zahid Ahmadzai and Muhammad Sohail Shaheen.
These men met with a US delegation led by Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, who was recently appointed as the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation. According to the State Department, Khalilzad is visiting Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as part of an effort “to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.”
In August, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada blasted President Ashraf Ghani and his government.
Akhundzada did bless “direct dialogue” with the Americans, so long as the US accepts the “ground realities of Afghanistan” and deals with the “core issue,” meaning the inevitability of Taliban rule. He stressed that the talks would be focused on bringing an “end” to the “occupation of Afghanistan and nothing more.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Taliban
leader demands US withdraw from Afghanistan, blasts government as ‘corrupt regime’
.]
The Taliban employs similar themes in its message today, focusing on the presence of American and “foreign forces” in Afghanistan.
The organization says that the Oct. 12 meeting in Doha was “a discussion about ending occupation and working towards finding a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict.”
“The representatives of the Islamic Emirate identified [the] presence of foreign forces as the greatest obstacle obstructing true peace and solving problems, adding that Afghanistan is an Islamic country and has its own Islamic values and culture,” the Taliban’s statement continues. “Keeping that in mind, efforts must be made towards a true and intra-Afghan solution. At the end both sides agreed to continue holding meetings in the future.”
The Political Office of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Doha office was opened in June 2013, after the Obama administration signed off on the move as part of a gambit to jumpstart previous attempts at negotiations. The opening of the Taliban’s political office added to tensions with the Afghan government at the time. The jihadists were not supposed to advertise themselves as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” in Doha, but they did just that.
The IEA is the name of the Taliban’s authoritarian regime, which ruled over Afghanistan prior to the US-led invasion in Oct. 2001. The Taliban has consistently referred to itself as the IEA in the years since, as the group hopes to resurrect its regime throughout much, if not all, of the country.
On opening day in June 2013, the Taliban unfurled a sign that read the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” This offended the Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai, as it seemingly legitimized the Taliban’s government. The US had promised that the Taliban wouldn’t refer to itself in such a manner at the Doha office. The Americans also wanted the Taliban to read a statement renouncing al Qaeda and international terrorism at the time. No such statement was read in June 2013, or in the years since then.
In its new statement confirming the talks in Doha, the Taliban again referred to its presence as the “Political Office of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” — the same name it wasn’t supposed to use more than five years ago. There is nothing in the Taliban’s message today, or in any other statement by the group, implying a separation from al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda continues to back the Taliban-led insurgency. Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri argues that the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be the “nucleus” of a new, global Islamic caliphate. Zawahiri has pledged his fealty to Akhundzada.
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which was established in Sept. 2014, continues to embed its fighters within the Taliban-led insurgency. AQIS says that one of its principal missions is to resurrect the IEA. [For more, see FDD’s Long War Journalreport: Al
Qaeda’s alliance with the Taliban ‘remains firm,’ UN says
.]

Wash Examiner: Paul Ryan: Give Trump’s Afghanistan strategy a chance to succeed
by Travis J. Tritten
| October 12, 2018 11:35 AM

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday said he was “heartened” by progress and urged patience on President Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan following a two-day fact-finding tour of the country.
Afghan special forces and their commando troops have suffered significant casualties, but they are persevering against the Taliban following a decision by Trump last year to send an additional 4,000 troops to assist, Ryan said.
The speaker made the trip with Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the House Armed Services chairman, to assess the new strategy as the war enters its 18th year. The two lawmakers traveled to three military camps in the country and met with senior leaders including Gen. Scott Miller, the new commander of U.S. forces there, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“After this visit, it is clear to me that the president’s South Asia strategy must be given an opportunity to succeed,” Ryan said. “Fighting terrorism in this region remains in our nation’s vital interest and it is clear the current momentum of our military campaign is underpinning our diplomatic efforts to set the conditions for reconciliation.”
Trump announced in August 2017 he would send additional troops after months of internal debate within the administration. The extra forces, as well as a regional approach applying pressure on Pakistan, is aimed at forcing the Taliban into a peace agreement.
Over the past year, the country has seen an uptick in violence and Taliban forces have staged major attacks on provincial centers. The group waged a dayslong siege in August on the city of Ghazni that resulted in tough fighting with Afghan forces backed by U.S. troops.
Afghan officials have estimated about 30-40 members of the Afghan security forces are killed per day on average, according to a recent New York Times report.
When confronted with a report that 500 were killed in August, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the figures sounded about right but denied that the losses are unsustainable and that the U.S. might be on the verge of losing a war of attrition.
“The Afghan Army has taken severe casualties over the last year and a half. They’ve stayed in the field fighting,” Mattis said during a rare press gaggle late last month.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 following the al Qaeda terror attacks of 9/11. As the war has continued, the U.S. has also worked for more than a decade to secure the country by building up army and national police forces controlled by the government in Kabul.
10 News: Filipino World War II veterans receive Congressional Gold Medals
Amber Bjorstrom
7:53 PM, Oct 14, 2018
7:53 PM, Oct 14, 2018
LINCOLN PARK (KGTV) – Filipino World War II veterans who fought under the American flag were honored at a luncheon in Lincoln Park on Sunday.
The event took place at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation on Euclid Avenue.
More than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers served the United States during the war, but their service was unrecognized for decades.Thatchanged when the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 was passed and then signed into law by President Obama in 2016.
The veterans were honored with a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) for their service and sacrifice during World War II. A CGM is the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
A total of 61 veterans were honored, with many family members accepting the honor for vets who have passed away. Ten living veterans were present to receive their medals.

VOA: Venezuelan Doctors on US Navy Mission to Help Compatriots
October 12, 2018 6:32 PM

MIAMI —
A dozen Venezuelan doctors volunteered to join the USNS Comfort as the Navy hospital ship visits three South American countries that are struggling to cope with a flood of migrants from crisis-wracked Venezuela.
The doctors all live in the United States, but they wanted to help fellow Venezuelans who have fled widespread shortages of food and medicine amid an economic collapse that has pushed millions of people into poverty.
"This is like a Band-Aid" that will provide only temporary relief, said Dr. Marco Bologna, a cardiologist who now lives in Florida, where he is a member of the Venezuelan American Medical Association. "But it is the right thing to do and it helps us to do something for our country."
The Comfort has been described as a threat by Venezuela’s socialist government and it will not visit that country during its 11-week tour of Latin America. The ship sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, on Thursday.
It will spend several days at two Colombian ports, one of which is just a one-hour drive from the border with Venezuela. The ship will also dock at ports in Ecuador and Peru, two other nations that are now home to hundreds of thousands of struggling Venezuelans. It will wrap up its tour in the Central American country of Honduras.
U.S. officials said the itinerary was designed with several local needs in mind, including the plight of Venezuelan migrants who are desperately seeking health care. A report published this month by a group of Venezuelan civil society groups estimated 20,000 doctors have left Venezuela since 2012.
"Each of the countries that we will spot was closely consulted. We have worked closely with them to ensure that we are providing the right care, at the right time, and at the right locations," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Steven Poullin, director of operations at the U.S. Southern Command. "Obviously one of the factors that we considered was the Venezuelan crisis and the opportunity to treat Venezuelan migrants."
750 patients a day
According to the United Nations, 1.9 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015. The most recent migrants have little money for transport and many have been trying to reach their destinations on foot, in perilous journeys that can take several weeks.
The Venezuelan American Medical Association said it has been working with the Southern Command for several months to prepare the mission. It said more than 1,000 civilian doctors applied to serve on the ship, but there were spots for only a dozen volunteers on board the vessel, whose crew of 300 is made up mostly of Navy personnel.
One of the applicants who got left out was Gabriel Pinedo, a Venezuelan doctor who now delivers mail in Orlando, Florida, because he hasn’t been able to have his degree validated in the United States.
Pinedo said he is currently applying for asylum in the U.S. and his lawyer told him that it would not be wise to leave the country. "It is frustrating not to be able to go," he said. "I already saw myself there."
The Comfort is equipped to attend to 750 patients a day during its South American journey and doctors on the ship will be able to perform 20 surgeries a day.
Sanctions on Venezuela
The ship’s visit to South America comes just weeks after the U.S. put financial sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s wife. President Donald Trump has described Maduro as a dictator and said that "all options" are on the table when it comes to restoring democracy in Venezuela, including military intervention.
Venezuela’s government allowed a Chinese hospital ship to visit the country in September, but it has refused humanitarian aid from Western countries, arguing that such offers are just ploys for meddling in the country’s affairs.
The Venezuelan doctors on the Comfort said they would like to see officials open a "humanitarian channel" that would allow medicine and food to be delivered into the country regularly.
"What we are doing here has a limited scope," said Dr. Rafael Gottenger, a plastic surgeon on the mission. "But it is good to be able to help your people."
Military Times: Pentagon reveals cyber breach of travel records
By:Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press 2 days ago
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Friday said there has been a cyber breach of Defense Department travel records that compromised the personal information and credit card data of U.S. military and civilian personnel.
According to a U.S. official familiar with the matter, the breach could have affected as many as 30,000 workers, but that number may grow as the investigation continues. The breach could have happened some months ago but was only recently discovered.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the breach is under investigation, said that no classified information was compromised.
According to a Pentagon statement, a department cyber team informed leaders about the breach on Oct. 4.
Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department is still gathering information on the size and scope of the hack and who did it.
"It’s important to understand that this was a breach of a single commercial vendor that provided service to a very small percentage of the total population" of Defense Department personnel, said Buccino.
The vendor was not identified and additional details about the breach were not available.
“The department is continuing to assess the risk of harm and will ensure notifications are made to affected personnel,” said the statement, adding that affected individuals will be informed in the coming days and fraud protection services will be provided to them.
Buccino said that due to security reasons, the department is not identifying the vendor. He said the vendor is still under contract, but the department "has taken steps to have the vendor cease performance under its contracts."
Disclosure of the breach comes on the heels of a federal report released Tuesday that concluded that military weapons programs are vulnerable to cyberattacks and the Pentagon has been slow to protect the systems. And it mirrors a number of other breaches that have hit federal government agencies in recent years, exposing health data, personal information, and social security numbers.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office in its Tuesday report said the Pentagon has worked to ensure its networks are secure, but only recently began to focus more on its weapons systems security. The audit, conducted between September 2017 and October 2018, found that there are “mounting challenges in protecting its weapons systems from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.”
In 2015, a massive hack of the federal Office of Personnel Management, widely blamed on China’s government, compromised personal information of more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees, including those in the Pentagon. It also likely occurred months before it was discovered and made public, and it eventually led to the resignation of the OPM director.
Also that year, hackers breached into the email system used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, affecting several thousand military and civilian workers.
The Defense Department has consistently said that its networks and systems are probed and attacked thousands of times a day.

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