5 Things To Start Your Week: February 19, 2018

Defense Secretary Mattis said he's "not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military."
Defense Secretary Mattis said he's "not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military."

Here are five news stories and events to start your week, from the editors at Military.com:


From Richard Sisk at Military.com: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis isn't backing down on a new Pentagon policy that requires troops to be deployable within 12 months, or face separation.

"'You're either deployable, or you need to find something else to do. I'm not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military," Mattis told reporters traveling with him on his way home Saturday from a week-long trip to Europe.

Defense Department officials have said there will be numerous exceptions to the new rules forcing out service members unable to deploy for 12 consecutive months -- including waivers for those wounded in combat and those who are pregnant -- but Mattis is firm on the overall concept."

When all troops aren't required to meet this requirement to be deployable, he said, some service members are forced to deploy more often, placing an undue burden on them and their families.


The New York Times does a deep dive on the tragic ambush in Niger in October 2017, using helmet camera footage to portray the final moments of the four Army Green Berets killed in the attack. The story uses the incident as a lens through which to view the 'endless war' on terror that began 16 years ago and continues in remote corners of the world.

From the New York Times: "Four months later, tough questions remain unanswered about the chain of decisions that led to American Special Forces troops being overwhelmed by jihadists in a remote stretch of West Africa.

How did a group of American soldiers -- who Defense Department officials insisted were in the country simply to train, advise and assist Niger's military -- suddenly get sent to search a terrorist camp, a much riskier mission than they had planned to carry out? Who ordered the mission, and why were the Americans so lightly equipped, with few heavy weapons and no bulletproof vehicles?

More broadly, the deaths have reignited a longstanding argument in Washington over the sprawling and often opaque war being fought by American troops around the world. It is a war with sometimes murky legal authority, one that began in the embers of the Sept. 11 attacks and traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was expanded to Yemen, Somalia and Libya before arriving in Niger, a place few Americans ever think of, let alone view as a threat."


Military.com reporter Oriana Pawlyk will be reporting on-site from the AFA Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida this week. The theme of the event is "Innovation: The Warfighter's Edge." An audience of airmen and industry professionals will hear from speakers including Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein, and Air Combat Commander Gen. James "Mike" Holmes, among others, about the state of innovation in the Air Force and how the service aims to maintain its competitive edge amid global power competition.


From Richard Sisk:

"A scathing report by VA Inspector General Michael Missal earlier this week charged that [VA Secretary David Shulkin's chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, who resigned last week] doctored emails to Department of Veterans Affairs ethics officials to justify payment of the $4,132 airfare for Shulkin's wife, Dr. Merle Bari, on a trip last July to Denmark and London.

Several Republicans and Democrats on the Veterans Affairs Committees of the House and Senate have urged that the IG's report be referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation.

In another sign that his job could be in jeopardy, Shulkin was summoned to the White House Thursday to meet with Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general whose own position has come into question in the uproar over spousal abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter."


Via Military.com: "Armed with shiny new skis and with more robust packs on the way, infantry Marines may soon be making routine trips to Alaska to train in harsh cold weather conditions, a possibility that signals a major departure from the desert training environments of recent years.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller confirmed to Military.com in a December interview that the service was exploring ways to add an Alaska location to the currently limited array of options for cold weather training.

Neller declined to provide many specifics about how often Marines might travel to Alaska to train or who might be eligible for such training, but mentioned that the Army already maintained a cold weather training facility in Alaska, the Northern Warfare Training Center in Black Rapids.

'The one thing Alaska has now is land and space,' Neller said. '[The Army has] put a lot of money into their training facilities up there, so we're looking at how we can take advantage of that ... particularly in line with mountain operations and cold weather.'"

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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