30 October, 2018 05:50

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, October 30, 2018 which is Buy a Doughnut Day, National Candy Corn Day, Mischief Night and Haunted Refrigerator Night.

This Day in History:

· 1938: Orson Welles causes a nationwide panic with his broadcast of “War of the Worlds”—a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth. Orson Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably as the voice of “The Shadow” in the hit mystery program of the same name. “War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause.

· On this day in 1991, the so-called “perfect storm” hits the North Atlantic producing remarkably large waves along the New England and Canadian coasts. Over the next several days, the storm spread its fury over the ocean off the coast of Canada. The fishing boat Andrea Gail and its six-member crew were lost in the storm. The disaster spawned the best-selling book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same name.

· On October 30, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally approves National Security Council Paper No. 162/2 (NSC 162/2). The top secret document made clear that America’s nuclear arsenal must be maintained and expanded to meet the communist threat. It also made clear the connection between military spending and a sound American economy.

· 1965: Just miles from Da Nang, U.S. Marines repel an intense attack by successive waves of Viet Cong troops and kill 56 guerrillas. A search of the dead uncovered a sketch of Marine positions written on the body of a 13-year-old Vietnamese boy who had been selling drinks to the Marines the previous day. This incident was indicative of the nature of a war in which even the most seemingly innocent child could be the enemy. There were many other instances where South Vietnamese civilians that worked on or near U.S. bases provided information to and participated in attacks alongside the enemy.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· AP: US helps Syrian partners regroup for ISIS ‘last stand’

· AP: US citizen held 13 months for suspected ties to ISIS is freed

· Stripes: Pentagon will deploy 5,200 troops to border to stop ‘caravan’

· Breaking Defense: White House Slashes DoD Budget– Maybe

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AP: US helps Syrian partners regroup for ISIS ‘last stand’

By: The Associated Press   15 hours ago

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BEIRUT — The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group says it is helping local Syrian partners regroup after a major setback over the weekend as the militants fight for their last pocket in Syria, near the Iraqi border.

Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said Monday the Syrian Democratic Forces are sending new fighters to the front, while the coalition is helping "expedite" their resupply capabilities. He says the militants know this is "their last stand."

Iraq’s state-sanctioned paramilitary groups meanwhile say they are on high alert and ready to confront any militants who try to cross the border.

Taking advantage of bad weather, ISIS militants attacked the Kurdish-led SDF over the weekend, expelling them from areas they had captured in a month of intense fighting in the area.

AP: US citizen held 13 months for suspected ties to ISIS is freed

By: Deb Riechman, The Associated Press   15 hours ago

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. has released a dual American-Saudi citizen who was suspected of working with the Islamic State and detained by the U.S. military for more than a year without charge, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

The ACLU said the identity of the man and the country where he was released are protected by a court order to ensure the safety of him and his family. The New York Times, citing unnamed U.S. officials, said the man was released in Bahrain. The man, who is married and has a young daughter, once lived and studied in Louisiana.

His release followed months of legal wrangling between government lawyers and the ACLU. It has been a test case for how the government should treat U.S. citizens picked up on the battlefield and accused of fighting with ISIS militants.

"This is a victory our client fought for long and hard. The victory sends a strong message that the president cannot take away an American’s liberty without due process, and it shows the continuing importance of judicial review," said his ACLU attorney, Jonathan Hafetz.

The ACLU has argued since October 2017 that the government should either charge or release the man. Negotiations for releasing him began after the ACLU filed an emergency request in June to block the government’s plan to release him in war-torn Syria.

"When I fled violence in Syria, I never imagined that my country would deny me access to a lawyer for nearly four months and imprison me without charge in solitary confinement for over a year," the detainee said in a statement released by the ACLU.

"No one — no matter what they are suspected of — should be treated the way my government treated me. Once I got the chance to stand up for my rights, the Constitution and the courts protected me."

The man, who was detained in Iraq, told his attorneys that he wished to remain anonymous so that he could rebuild his life.

U.S. government officials did not respond to several requests seeking comment.

The government argued in court it could detain the citizen under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which Congress passed after 9/11.

The ACLU, however, argued that those war powers pertain to al-Qaida and the Taliban and don’t apply in the battle against ISIS.

In defense of the detention, U.S. authorities said that when the man surrendered in mid-September to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, he was carrying thumb drives containing thousands of files. There were 10,000 or more photos — some depicting pages of military-style manuals. There were files on how to make specific types of improvised explosive devices and bombs.

The detainee said he had press credentials to do freelance writing about the conflict in Syria, although the FBI hasn’t found any published articles or blogs he authored.

Court documents offered other details about his background.

An individual who met the detainee in July 2005 in New Orleans, where he was studying, told the FBI that he was a "wild and typical" college student, who drank and used marijuana and gambled at Harrah’s casino in the city. The associate said the man lived briefly during 2005 or 2006 in Covington, Louisiana, where he frequented casinos and strip clubs. After an argument with friends about not repaying money he used to gamble, the detainee left the United States for Saudi Arabia.

Between 2006 and 2014 the detainee got married and lived in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, working in various family businesses, including a women’s tailoring shop and a construction company. While his wife was pregnant, he traveled on business to Indonesia, Singapore, China and Malaysia. While in Asia, the government said, the detainee tweeted pro-ISIS messages.

The associate from New Orleans said the man stayed with him briefly in the summer of 2014 when he tried unsuccessfully to get a U.S. passport for his daughter. He said the detainee returned with his wife and child on a second visit to New Orleans in late 2014.

In early 2015, the detainee flew to Athens, Greece, and then to Gaziantep, Turkey, where he paid a smuggler $300 to get him into Syria. He arrived there with $40,000 in his pocket.

The detainee said that three days after he entered Syria he was kidnapped by ISIS militants and imprisoned for seven months. He said he was released only after agreeing to work for ISIS. He spent two months at an ISIS training camp near Mayadin, Syria, before being assigned to a brigade responsible for guarding the front lines in Deir el-Zour province.

He then worked getting fuel for ISIS vehicles, handling brigade expenses and guarding a gate of an oil field. He left the oil field without permission one day and was apprehended by ISIS military police. After another stay in ISIS detention, he worked for ISIS monitoring imams and prayer callers and civilians running heavy equipment.

When he was captured at a checkpoint, he told the American-backed SDF forces that he was “daesh” — another name for ISIS — and said “he wanted to turn himself in and speak to the Americans.” When he surrendered, he was carrying the thumb drives, $4,210, a global positioning device, hats, clothes, a Quran and a scuba snorkel and mask.

Stripes: Pentagon will deploy 5,200 troops to border to stop ‘caravan’

By COREY DICKSTEIN AND CLAUDIA GRISALES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will deploy 5,200 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help curb illegal immigration, officials said Monday following President Donald Trump’s repeated warning that migrants in southern Mexico making their way toward the United States pose a national security threat.

Already Monday, some 800 active-duty troops were on their way to Texas to “harden the southern border,” said Air Force Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy, the chief of U.S. Northern Command. The new crop of troops who will be deployed by Saturday will join the roughly 2,100 National Guard forces already operating – primarily in logistics and background support missions – on the southern border in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

"Our concept of operations is to flow in our military assets with a priority to build up southern Texas and then Arizona and then California to reinforce points of entry to enhance CBP’s ability to harden and secure the border … by providing robust military capabilities," the general said.

The massive deployment – about five times more troops than Pentagon officials indicated they initially planned to send last week – would bring to the border a military force roughly equal to the U.S. military deployment in Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Pentagon has about 5,200 troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, the amount that it has maintained in those countries through the vast majority of the ISIS fight launched in 2014.

Department of Homeland Security officials requested the new deployment of military forces, specifically citing the loosely organized group of some 3,500 Central American migrants now walking by foot in southern Mexico toward the United States. The group made up largely of women and children who have said they seek refugee status remain some 1,000 miles from the U.S. border, according to The Associated Press.

Nonetheless, Trump has repeatedly warned the group posed a national security threat to the United States, and he tweeted Monday it included “Many Gang Members and some very bad people.”

The “Military is waiting for you!” the president also tweeted.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan warned Monday that other similar caravans were being organized in Central America.

“We are preparing for the contingency of a large group of arriving persons intending to enter the United States in the next several weeks,” McAleenan told reporters Monday afternoon in a briefing alongside O’Shaughnessy. “We will not allow a large group to enter the United States in an unsafe and unlawful manner.”

The new deployment will consist largely of engineering, aviation, medical and planning specialists, O’Shaugnessy said. However, it will also include an armed contingent of military police officers, including soldiers of the 89th Military Police Brigade from Fort Hood in Texas.

Despite carrying weapons, the MP forces would not be authorized to conduct law enforcement operations, an activity that would be barred under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. That law bans the use of American military personnel for civilian law enforcement efforts on U.S. soil, outside military installations.

Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration was “looking at a number of different options” when she was asked if the president was considering suspending that act.

O’Shaughnessy seemed to put to rest any speculation that military troops would conduct unprecedented operations at the southern border under the impending deployment.

“Everything we are doing is in line with and in adherence to Posse Comitatus,” the general said.

Like the National Guard members who have been supporting CBP efforts at the border since April, the 5,200 deploying troops are not expected to interact with migrants. Instead, their mission will be largely to support and enable CBP agents to conduct their law enforcement duties.

Among soldiers deploying will be Army Corps of Engineers personnel and three battalions of Army combat engineers who will focus on such operation as building temporary barriers along the border and constructing shelters to house a potential influx of CBP agents, O’Shaughnessy said.

It will also include an influx of military aviation units who will be tasked with ferrying CBP agents along the border with helicopter and airplanes, he said.

McAleenan said the influx of military personnel was necessary to deter migrants from attempting to enter the United States illegally. However, some lawmakers dismissed the new deployment as a political stunt by the White House just a week before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Washington state Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat for the House Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s announcement last week that he would use the military along the southern border was “fundamentally wrong” and a “political act.”

“We should not be militarizing the border, and President Trump has offered no clear idea of what our forces are going to do there,” Smith said Thursday. “We have seen no evidence that it was helpful or effective when he sent the National Guard to the border in April.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has been a vocal opponent of Trump’s immigration policies, voiced his objection Monday to deploying more than 5,000 troops.

“The migrant caravan is full of women and children fleeing violence, poverty, and government repression,” Markey tweeted Monday. “Sending thousands of troops to turn them away as if they are foreign invaders reflects the profound paranoia, fear, and hate fueling this administration’s immigration policies.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday that the move was consistent with actions taken by past presidents.

"A fundamental responsibility of any country’s government is to control who and what comes across its border. Allowing thousands of people to cross America’s southern borders in contravention of our laws is not a sustainable solution to the difficult conditions driving people out of their homes and countries in Central America,” Thornberry said in a statement. “Mexico should secure its own territory and turn this caravan around. At the same time, we must take appropriate steps, as [former] Presidents Obama and Bush did, to carry out the essential duties of a national government.”

Breaking Defense: White House Slashes DoD Budget– Maybe

The White House surprised DoD with a last-minute $33 billion budget trim last week. But it’s far from certain that the cuts will outlive months of haggling between the Trump administration, the Pentagon and Congress.

By Paul McLeary on October 29, 2018 at 2:37 PM

WASHINGTON: Friday’s bombshell that the Trump administration delivered a last-minute order to the Pentagon to shave $33 billion from its 2020 budget request has upended a budget season that already promised plenty of drama.

Before Friday, concerns revolved around the return of budget caps under the Budget Control Act, slated to come back in 2020 if Congress can’t find a workaround like they did in 2018 and 2019.

But with the possible Democratic takeover of the House in next month’s mid-term election there is little certainty about what the funding for the Defense Department will look like in the short-term.

With Pentagon budgeteers ready to put their pencils down at the end of November, the surprise call from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to DoD brass just last week comes “pretty late in the game,” said Todd Harrison, defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

So late, in fact, that the services aren’t going back to rework their budgets to fit the new, White House-ordered top line. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested as much Friday, and it was confirmed to me by a Pentagon official on Monday.

So, while budget numbers will change, it remains unclear how much and what will shift at the margins. While Shanahan was circumspect in this comments announcing the cut last week, he did confirm the $733 budget isn’t going anywhere: “We are not going to reverse course on all of that planning, but we will build two budgets.”

Shanahan mentioned hypersonics as an area that might be ripe for a slowdown in research, which is very surprising because and Artificial Intelligence are the two capabilities that have been mentioned time and again by Pentagon officials as ones they’re most concerned with falling behind Chinese and Russian advancements. But hypersonic research has the disadvantage of having little infrastructure behind it, meaning the program can be slowed without too many knock-on effects.

“It comes down to a judgment call of how fast we modernize,” Shanahan said. “I mean, that’s probably the biggest knob that we have to turn.”

But Shanahan’s mention of delaying research on hypersonic missiles might have been a signal to Congress — which is fully behind pumping more money into the field — that nothing is off the table.

“An often-used strategy in these kinds of situations is to offer up cuts that you know Congress will find unacceptable,” Harrison said, “then it puts the onus on Congress to decide what to cut or how to come up with more funding.”

But just as sequestration is slated to come back in 2020 and 2021, the dip in funding to $700 billion looks like it might be the new normal, as far as the White House is concerned. “It’s not just a one-year drop down,” Shanahan said. “It’s phased. You know, it’s a drop and then held constant over the FYDP,” or the five-year budget plan submitted with each year’s funding request.

Mackenzie Eaglen, defense budget guru at American Enterprise Institute, suggested to me that the arguments over defense spending for 2020 are only just beginning. The Pentagon is likely “hoping that when Congress sees what gets taken out – mostly procurement – they will either add it back in themselves or negotiate with the president for a higher number.”

But there’s risk in gambling. “While this method has proven to be smart politics in the past for some services and their unfunded requirements,” she added, “it doesn’t always work. It definitely didn’t work in 2013 and sequestration kicked in anyway.”

Shanahan appeared to anticipate that the order to trim $33 billion was just the opening salvo in what will be a back and forth between the White House, Pentagon and Congress. “We’ll go back and we will do as directed by the president and give him a $700 billion budget,” Shanahan said. “Then everybody gets to decide how to work with that.”

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