Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Wednesday, January 8, 2020 which is Argyle Day, Show and Tell Day at Work, War on Poverty Day and World Typing Day.
Today in History:
- On January 8, 1877, Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse and his men—outnumbered, low on ammunition and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves—fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.
- On January 8, 1959, a triumphant Fidel Castro enters Havana, having deposed the American-backed regime of General Fulgencio Batista. Castro’s arrival in the Cuban capital marked a definitive victory for his 26th of July Movement and the beginning of Castro’s decades-long rule over the island nation.
- One of the most widely ridiculed and memorable gaffes in the history of the United States Presidency occurred in Japan on the evening of January 8, 1992, when President George H.W. Bush vomits on the Prime Minister of Japan.
- On January 8, 1867, African American men gain the right to vote in the District of Columbia despite the veto of its most powerful resident, President Andrew Johnson. The Republican-controlled senate overrode Johnson by a vote of 29-10 three years before a constitutional amendment granted the right to vote to all men regardless of race.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Stripes.com: Iran fires more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops, Pentagon says
- Military Times: No US casualties in Iran missile strike, preliminary reports say
- Military.com: People Are Panicking About Military Draft, Stop-Loss and IRR Activation. Here’s the Reality
- Military.com: Esper: US Won’t Start a War with Iran, But Would Finish One
- Military Times: Study results on new Agent Orange diseases not expected until ‘late 2020’ says VA secretary
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Stripes.com: Iran fires more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops, Pentagon says
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: January 7, 2020
WASHINGTON — American troops deployed at two Iraqi military bases were targeted Tuesday evening by more than a dozen ballistic missiles launched by Iran in retaliation for the United States killing a top Iranian general, the Pentagon announced.
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and [anti-Islamic State] coalition personnel at al Asad and Irbil,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear late Tuesday whether the strikes resulted in American or other casualties. Pentagon officials said damage assessments at the bases had begun after the 5:30 p.m. EST attack.
“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” Hoffman said. “As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.”
Late Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet: “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to tweets by Press TV, an Iranian state-owned news organization. The IRGC is a wing of the Iranian military closely tied to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It conducts unconventional warfare and has been blamed by U.S. officials for recent provocations in the Middle East, including strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and commercial shipping vessels.
Iran’s State TV said the operation’s name was “Martyr Soleimani,” saying the IRGC’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” the IRGC said. It also threatened Israel.
Martyr Soleimani is a reference to the American drone strike Jan. 3 that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, at the international airport in Baghdad.
Adding to the chaos and overall jitters, at least 170 people aboard a Ukrainian airplane were killed when it crashed outside Tehran early Wednesday, state TV reported. The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport and mechanical issues were suspected to be the cause, the report said.
Before news of the crash surfaced, the Federal Aviation Administration barred U.S. pilots and carriers from flying over areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace. The region is a major East-West travel hub and home to Emirates airline and Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel.
U.S. officials in recent days have said killing Soleimani — whose force trained and coordinated proxy forces across the Middle East including in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen — was necessary to at least temporarily thwart an impending attack that the Iranian general was planning against Americans. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday such an attack could have come within days, but he and other top officials have declined to provide evidence publicly of Soleimani’s plans.
Trump ordered Soleimani’s death amid rising tensions in recent weeks that have included a deadly rocket attack by an Iran-backed militia that killed a U.S. civilian contractor at an Iraqi base in Kirkuk and wounded four American troops. Iraqi militiamen supported by Iran also attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week.
Trump has repeatedly warned Iran not to retaliate for Soleimani’s death. He vowed Tuesday afternoon to strike back if they did.
“If Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly,” Trump said Tuesday from the Oval Office, adding the United States was prepared for an Iranian attack.
The Ain al Asad air base is in Iraq’s western Anbar province. It was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon did not say which Iraqi base in Irbil was attacked.
Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the Pentagon during the Iranian attacks and called Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and national security officials, according to a defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the attacks. Esper and Milley went to the White House on Tuesday evening to brief Trump and Pence further on the attacks and discuss the situation, the defense official said.
Esper also called several senior congressional members to update them on what had happened, while other senior Defense Department officials made calls to regional and NATO allies to discuss the attack, according to the defense official.
Earlier Tuesday, Esper urged the Iranian regime to “de-escalate” and return to the negotiating table to avoid further violent confrontation between the two nations.
“What happens next depends on them,” Esper said. “I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form – either through their proxies … and, or by their own [Iranian military] hand. We will respond appropriately to whatever they do.”
Stars and Stripes reporter Corey Dickstein contributed to this story. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Military Times: No US casualties in Iran missile strike, preliminary reports say
Shawn Snow and Howard Altman
8 hours ago
Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, but preliminary reports suggest there are no U.S. casualties yet, two sources with direct knowledge of actions on the ground told Military Times Tuesday night.
The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command have not provided a formal battle damage assessment.
A U.S. defense official told Military Times that Iran shot 15 missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops from inside Iran Tuesday night — 10 missiles hit al-Asad airbase, one missile hit Erbil International Airport in in the north, and four missiles failed in flight.
Iran signaled Tuesday night that there will be no more strikes targeting U.S. troops unless the U.S retaliates.
An American commando housed aboard the Iraqi base in Irbil said the threat was now over, but told Military Times that the al-Asad air base was hit hard.
“One [missile] apparently hit just off the airfield in Irbil and Asad is getting punished," the source said. “Waves coming in five-minute intervals of 4-5 missiles at the airfield.”
Iran declared Tuesday that it had started its retaliatory strikes for the U.S. strike that killed revered Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” the Pentagon said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
Videos from the Alahad TV network, a television station associated with an Iran-backed militia known as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, has posted videos allegedly showing celebrations in the Iranian city of Mashhad following the Iranian ballistic missile strike. Military Times has not verified the authenticity of the videos.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday night: “The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
A defense official, speaking on background late Tuesday, said that despite reports that Camp Taji in Iraq was also hit with rocket fire, the defense official said he was “not aware” of any attacks on that base.
In addition to meeting with President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top leaders in the Pentagon over the course of Tuesday evening. Esper also made a series of phone calls to “senior” congressional members, as well as joining Pentagon officials in calling “regional and NATO allies” to “get their input and their feedback,” according to the defense official on background.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. against retaliating for the Iranian strike and threatened that "it will face a more painful and crushing response,” Iran state-run media Fars News Agency reported.
The IRGC also said that "all the U.S. allied states where the terrorist army has a base, any territory that becomes the origin of any hostile and aggressive action against the Islamic Republic of Iran in any way will be targeted,” Fars reported.
Former CENTCOM commander retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel told Military Times that even with the current missile barrage launched by Iran, he does not foresee a major ground war.
“A major maneuver war between Armies … not very likely in my view,” he said in an email. "If you mean continued asymmetric attacks, rockets, missiles, etc — that is more likely and thus more concerning.”
For years, Votel, who served as commander of Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command prior to taking the reigns at CENTCOM, says that the current strife is something “we all hoped we would not have to experience “ and that it is “anyone’s guess on how this plays out. But perhaps with a strong and direct response to our strike, Iran is hoping to de-escalate.”
Phillip Smyth, a research fellow with the Washington Institute, said Iran’s attack against American troops was a major escalation.
The Pentagon said it was working on a battle damage assessment.
“Launching a ballistic missile from Iran at an American target is quite the signal to send. This may just be one of a number of different responses that the Iranians engage in,” Smyth said.
It’s unknown at this time what type of ballistic missile was fired by Iran. Iran has a vast array of missiles, with some capable of hitting Israel and Eastern Europe.
The Shahab 1 and Qiam missiles boast ranges of 300 km and 800 km respectively and may have been in range to strike the Iraqi bases.
The Pentagon said Tuesday that the DoD had taken appropriate measures to safeguard service members and that bases in Iraq had been on high alert in expectation of a retaliatory strike by Iran.
There are roughly 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
7 Jan 2020
Military.com | By Gina Harkins
The day after a U.S. airstrike took out a prominent Iranian general in Iraq, the Selective Service System’s website crashed.
"World War III" was trending on Twitter. Young people on social media were wondering whether ignoring that fine print on their federal student loan applications was going to land them in boot camp.
"We fat guys are safe. For now," one person joked on Twitter.
Some apparently flooded the Selective Service’s website to see if they’d registered for the draft.
"Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time. If you are attempting to register or verify registration, please check back later today as we are working to resolve this issue," the Selective Service tweeted Friday. "We appreciate your patience."
Veterans were musing about orders coming down to pluck them out of the Individual Ready Reserve. Others worried stop-loss orders, which have required some troops to stay in uniform beyond their end of contract date, would be making a comeback. One person said stop-loss orders "kept military families in turmoil" after 9/11.
Military.com checked in with a military personnel expert and historian to help cut through the confusion and find out what is — and what isn’t — likely when it comes to the draft, stop-loss and recalling veterans to service.
1. The Draft Isn’t Coming Back Without an Act of Congress.
The authority to draft men into the military ran out in 1973. Now, Congress would have to pass a measure to bring it back and the president would need to sign it into law, said Debra Wada, a former Army manpower leader serving as vice chair of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service.
Congress tasked the commission with looking at a host of issues concerning the Selective Service, including whether it’s needed anymore and if women should be required to register.
"The House and Senate would both have to pass a piece of legislation and, as we’ve seen in the last couple of years … I’ll let people make their own personal determination of whether that is likely to happen," she said.
2. Registration Doesn’t Mean You’re Headed to War.
Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to register for the Selective Service. Failing to do so comes with lifelong penalties, such as a prohibition from getting federal jobs and ineligibility for some student loans.
Most men who register do so through "passive means," Wada said, such as getting a driver’s license or applying for federal student aid. Drafting these individuals into the military would not only take that act of Congress to put the policy back into place, but would also require their number to be called during a lottery system.
Wada added that her commission found evidence of a lot of confusion and misinformation about the draft. Having the Selective Service’s website crash as misinformation spread online indicates that more clarity is needed on the registration process, she added. That’s one of the topics she and the other members of the commission have been weighing.
"Maybe we can help educate the American public as to what selective service is and the differences between the registration portion of it and then the actual draft itself," Wada said.
3. The Draft Would Be a Last-Resort Option.
Richard Kohn, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies war and the military, said any proposal to reinstate the draft is likely to be "one of the most unpopular proposals presented to the Congress in many years."
If the U.S. were facing a serious threat that required large numbers of ground troops, Kohn said it’s possible support for a draft could grow. But the U.S. is "nowhere near that now," he added, even after Iran vowed retaliation for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
The military also lacks the infrastructure to train a bunch of new recruits, Kohn said.
Wada’s committee hasn’t decided whether it’ll recommend the Selective Service remain in place, but she describes the draft as a "break glass in case of emergency" option.
4. Stop-Loss Orders Are Possible, But Likely Not for Everyone.
In times of conflict, the military has been able to hold onto some troops past their contractually agreed-to separation dates.
The measure is called a stop-loss order, which leaders have used after 9/11, during the Gulf War and in other recent times of conflict.
Wada, who served as the Army’s assistant secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs from 2014 to 2017, said the orders remain a "tool in the toolbox." The reason military leaders are likely to turn to those forces before tapping veterans in the IRR or calling for a draft, she said, is because they’re the most ready of the bunch.
"You want to keep the people who currently have the skill sets and have been training," Wada said.
Unless there’s a massive war though, Kohn said it’s likely the Defense Department would only turn to troops in certain specialties, such as those serving in intelligence or surveillance units.
5. An IRR Recall Would Also Likely Target Certain Specialties.
That’s also likely to be the case should military leaders ever turn to the IRR to bulk back up, Wada said. Those in the IRR have left active service, but aren’t assigned to any sort of drilling Reserve units.
Wada said military leaders are likely to leverage other military personnel first, though, before turning to the IRR. And it would likely only be to fill shortages in certain communities.
They might need cyber warriors, for example, she said, to combat the types of threats coming from a country such as Iran.
"But they would call up the Reserves and the National Guard before they call up the people in IRR," she added.