Here are five news stories and events to start your week, from the editors at Military.com:
1. Mattis Confirmation Hearing
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis will appear 9:30 a.m. Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense under President-elect Donald Trump. Sen. John McCain, the panel's chairman, has praised the former head of Central Command and said he'll receive bipartisan support. However, Mattis will require a waiver from a law that prohibits a military member from holding the position for at least seven years after retirement. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has said she opposes granting Mattis a waiver to emphasize the importance of civilian leadership of the department (the issue is the subject of a separate hearing Tuesday). While beloved by troops and especially Marines, Mattis may face tough questions from senators for his previous statements on women in combat and post traumatic stress disorder.
2. Carter Talks PTSD After Airport Shooting
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter withheld comment Sunday on the Iraq war veteran charged with the Fort Lauderdale shootings while stating that post traumatic stress was a major and ongoing problem for the military. "The mental wounds are very real" for many returning troops in the 15 years of war since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Carter said on NBC's "Meet The Press" program. "I can't say" what may have motivated the Fort Lauderdale shooter or comment on his mental stability, the secretary said, but "the so-called invisible wounds" of combat were conditions "we do take seriously." Family members of 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, an Army National Guard veteran of Iraq, have said Santiago returned from Iraq a different person and was deeply distraught over witnessing the deaths of two friends from an improvised explosive device.
3. US Marines Returning to Afghanistan
Marines are heading back to the Taliban hotbed of Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Marine Corps confirmed late last week. About 300 Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force will deploy as advisers and trainers for the Afghan National Army and police -- marking a return to the site of the Corps' major battles within the country. The deployment comes at the request of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of the ongoing NATO-led Resolute Support mission, which began after most combat forces pulled out at the end of 2014. As Military.com previously reported, this upcoming deployment has been discussed by key Marine Corps personnel for months. The as-yet unnamed battalion will come from within 6th Marine Regiment, out of the Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Division.
4. Trump Advisers to Talk Foreign Policy
Watch for possible fireworks 11:45 a.m. Tuesday when the Trump administration's designee for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general, meets with his Obama administration counterpart, Susan Rice, at the U.S. Institute of Peace to discuss foreign policy as part of the organization's "Passing the Baton" conference. The event is part of a daylong conference featuring foreign policy heavyweights, from the current secretary of state, John Kerry, to a former one, Madeleine Albright. Also slated to speak is KT McFarland, Trump's deputy national security adviser designee, as part of a panel called "America's Role in the World," and Jack Keane, a retired Army general and chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, as part of another titled "Unpredictable Instability: Managing the New Normal."
5. Surface Navy Symposium
U.S. Navy leaders and naval surface warfare enthusiasts will gather this week near Washington, D.C., for the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium. The event is scheduled to take place Tuesday through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Speakers include service officials such as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft, as well as lawmakers such as Rep. Bradley Byrne, a Republican from Alabama whose district includes the Austal shipyard that builds the Independence-class of trimaran Littoral Combat Ships. Watch for interesting debate during the shipbuilding panel 10:15 a.m. Thursday. Trump wants to expand the fleet to 350 surface ships and subs -- yet even the Navy's more modest plan faces increasing budget scrutiny.
-- Hope Hodge Seck and Richard Sisk contributed to this report.