The U.S. military has ordered contractors in eastern Afghanistan to leave base as part of coronavirus prevention measures, forcing the closure of Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and other nonessential services.
Take the recent news that Washington intends to remove some 9,500 U.S. troops from Germany. The relatively minor reduction, with the open possibility that some personnel would stay in Europe but move to Poland, was nonetheless met with hysteria by a noticeable portion of the commentariat. The decision was assessed as a “colossal” and “disastrous mistake.”
“The United States’ military presence in Germany is mutually beneficial to both nations, and bolsters the transatlantic alliance. It’s also an invaluable hub for U.S. military operations,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said in a statement Tuesday.
“We’re putting the number down to 25,000 soldiers,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Germany’s delinquent,” Trump added. “They’ve been delinquent for years, and they owe NATO billions of dollars, and they have to pay it. So we’re protecting Germany, and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense.”
D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) sent a letter to Trump Friday requesting he withdraw all “extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence,” noting that she had ended the state of emergency in the distinct related to the demonstrations.
On Monday night, both Mr. McCarthy and the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. James C. McConville, pressed Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, to increase his forces’ presence in the city, according to a senior Defense Department official.
An Army official declined to comment, saying that the investigation was continuing.
A national pushback against police violence and law enforcement excess continued Friday, as Minneapolis voted to ban chokeholds, National Guardsmen deployed in the nation’s capital were ordered to disarm, and protests following the death of George Floyd stretched into an 11th day.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) ended nightly curfews for Minneapolis and St. Paul, the epicenter of the protests over the killing of George Floyd, which had been in place for a week. The decision follows similar moves in other places where curfews have ended, including Washington, L.A. County and pockets of Southern California, along with much of the Bay Area.
Move would cut 9,500 American service members from Germany, where 34,500 are permanently assigned, amid strains between two key NATO allies
He initially ordered them home on Wednesday after a night of more peaceful protests in the nation’s capital, but reversed course later in the day and planned to keep them in the area for another 24 hours after further analysis, the official said.
The second reversal comes as White House aides made clear their irritation with Esper for declaring his opposition to deploying active-duty troops to quash recent unrest just two days after President Donald Trump threatened to do so. Officials say the Defense secretary is on thin ice with the president.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday demanded that President Trump provide a list of the agencies involved in deploying law enforcement officers around Washington, D.C., in response to the crowds of demonstrators protesting police brutality.
Some officers policing protests in the city in recent days have been seen without any identifying labels on their uniforms, raising questions about which law enforcement agencies they represent.
They were dressed in mixed riot gear, with helmets and face masks, shields and guns loaded with crowd control agents.
As thousands across the US take to the streets for another day of protests demanding justice for George Floyd, more than 17,000 members of the National Guard are standing ready to support local law enforcement.
That represents approximately the same number of active duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
As of Monday, nearly half of the US has activated guard members to respond to civil unrest.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have deployed troops in Washington, D.C., officials announced Monday, as President Trump mobilized the military in the capital city to address the protests over George Floyd’s death.
CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan posted on Twitter that the law enforcement’s personnel has been sent to the National Capital Region “to assist law enforcement partners.”
Governors in nearly a dozen states plus the District of Columbia have now activated the National Guard amid protests and riots that have broken out in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody earlier this week.
States calling for Guard asistance were California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington state.
Civil liberties advocates sounded the alarm Friday after reporting indicated Customs and Border Protection has been flying an unmanned Predator drone over Minneapolis as the city continues to roil with protest over the police killing of George Floyd earlier this week
The drone flown over Minneapolis is an unarmed version of the aircraft.
The drone was first spotted on a flight tracking tool by members of the ADB-S Exchange, a community of flight watchers who use open-source flight data to monitor America’s skies. Presumably, the drone is surveilling protests there, though CBP did not respond to a request for comment about what the drone is doing there.
More than 500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers arrived in Minneapolis and surrounding areas as protests erupted for a third night over the death of a black man while in police custody.
From New York City to Denver and other cities, protesters demanded justice for George Floyd after his arrest and death Monday in Minneapolis.
In den USA mehren sich die Anzeichen, dass auf Druck von Präsident Donald Trump der Zeitplan für den Abzug von Truppen aus Afghanistan bis zur US-Präsidentenwahl im November beschleunigt werden soll. Im Pentagon würden derzeit entsprechende Pläne erarbeitet, berichtet die Washington Post.
The Pentagon is expected to try to persuade a commander in chief who has made clear his desire to end America’s involvement in what he has criticized as “endless wars” — and who has regularly surprised the military with his decisions.
President Trump has apparently confirmed reports from earlier in the week that he wants to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan in time for Election Day. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump was keen on a plan to bring forces home by November because it would likely give a boost to his campaign.
The new measures reportedly have the backing of the United States, according to The Times of Israel.
Israel’s envoy, Danny Danon, made the demands during a video press briefing, adding that the UN Security Council must be immediately informed if Lebanon moves to block any of the new measures.
„There is concern from a variety of places that we could leave Afghanistan,“ one senior U.S. official said, pointing to concerns voiced by U.S. allies, members of Congress and U.S. military officials.
„The international coalition forces had departed the base and the K1 base now is under full control of the Iraqi forces,“ the office said.
On the other side, a U.S.-led coalition spokesman said in a tweet that the troops departed the compound inside K1 airbase in coordination with the Iraqi government, asserting that the coalition troops will support Iraq from fewer places with fewer troops.
The two sides have been speaking in recent days over Skype, officials have said, as the coronavirus pandemic has curbed international travel.
“#USNSMercy will be getting underway #TODAY in support of the nation’s #COVID19 response efforts. As announced by @realDonaldTrump, the ship will head to Los Angeles,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday tweeted Monday.
According to new documents and interviews with military experts, the various plans – codenamed Octagon, Freejack and Zodiac – are the underground laws to ensure government continuity. They are so secret that under these extraordinary plans, „devolution“ could circumvent the normal Constitutional provisions for government succession, and military commanders could be placed in control around America.
„We’re in new territory,“ says one senior officer, the entire post-9/11 paradigm of emergency planning thrown out the window. The officer jokes, in the kind of morbid humor characteristic of this slow-moving disaster, that America had better learn who Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy is.
The United States would then be placed under the authority of Terrence O’Shaughnessy, a four-star general and former fighter pilot who is the designated “combatant commander”, according to Newsweek.
General O’ Shaughnessy, 56, leads the US Northern Command (Northcom), a military authority responsible for homeland defence, created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The military is the best logistical organization in the nation. If there are ventilators being produced anywhere in the country, we need to get them to New York. Not weeks from now or months from now, in the next 10 days.“
“Why are they at their bases? Why are they not being allowed to serve?“ de Blasio said. “I guarantee you, they’re ready to serve. But the president has to give the order.“
Centcom commander Gen. Frank McKenzie says that the plan is to shift combat duties to US special forces.
(September 18, 2007)
“Generals lie, Soldiers die,” chanted pro-testers when general David Petraeus appeared before a Congressional committee in Washington on 10 September.
Petraeus’s mission? To provide military cover for Bush’s cynical tactic of playing for time.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday afternoon welcoming recent steps towards ending the conflict in Afghanistan. All 15 members supported the resolution, tabled by the United States, which endorses a joint US-Afghan declaration on peace and an agreement signed between Washington and the Taliban.
Hundreds of troops are heading out of the country as previously planned and will not be replaced.
Announcement of the June 29-30 donors conference came during an EU foreign ministers meeting in Zagreb that addressed two related refugee crises. The first involved the roughly 1 million Syrians hoping to cross Turkey’s now-closed borders to safety, following an uptick in fighting in Idlib.
The U.S. currently has around 6,000 military personnel in Africa. Although some experts say a repositioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. officials share French concerns about relieving pressure on militants in Africa.
EU TO HOST SYRIA DONOR CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS ON JUNE 29-30, WILL ALSO INVITE GOVERNMENTS INVOLVED IN CONFLICT – BORRELL
#Ankara #Greece #Idlib #Erdogan #Europe
NATO member countries, particularly Europeans, must act together to provide support to Turkey to confront the difficulties arising from the Syrian conflict, James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, has said at the International Idlib Conference in Istanbul.
He was responding to a question during regarding Washington’s views about concrete military support to Turkey.
BOWMAN: Right. The U.S. and Europe actually want Bashar al-Assad removed. He killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in a civil war. And they don’t want Assad to gain more strength by having access to millions of dollars from the oil. And Russia is Syria’s main ally. The U.S. ally in this ongoing ISIS fight, the Kurds, are using proceeds from the oil to continue their operations. And to make this even more politically convoluted, the Kurds are selling the oil to the Syrian government.
Sgt. Dan McKnight, Afghanistan war veteran and founder of BringOurTroopsHome.US, Saturday praised President Donald Trump’s announcement of a peace agreement with Taliban forces that could lead to total withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan some time next year. The announcement came a day after McKnight blasted Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for attempting to publicly undercut Trump’s efforts.
The United States signed a deal with the Taliban on Saturday that sets the stage to end America’s longest war — the nearly two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11 attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, vexed three White House administrations and left mistrust and uncertainty on all sides.
The joint Saudi–US joint exercise titled “Marine Defender” kicked off in the Persian Gulf on Sunday.
The United States wants Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to defer his second-term inauguration over concerns it could inflame an election feud with his political rival and jeopardize U.S.-led peacemaking efforts, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
European Union foreign ministers agreed to revive a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce the internationally backed arms embargo on Libya, a move likely to encounter stiff challenges given the recent arms buildup by regional powers in the North African country.
Mr. Stoltenberg briefed the Coalition on the decision in principle by Allied ministers to enhance NATO’s training mission in Iraq. As a first step, this will consist of NATO taking on some of the Global Coalition’s current training activities in the country.
Mr. Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO’s work in Iraq is helping strengthen the Iraqi armed forces and institutions to ensure ISIS cannot return, and Iraq no longer requires support.
He briefed on the Allied decision to enhance #NATO’s training mission in #Iraq. #MSC2020.
Read more: http://bit.ly/2UUFLb5
„The challenge that Pompeo’s facing in Africa is explaining the contradictory messages coming from Washington,“ said Witney Schneidman, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative. „It’s the lack of attention that’s been paid. It’s the fact that (former national security adviser John) Bolton rolled out this Africa strategy 14 months ago, and since then, very little has been accomplished where many other nations have moved forward.“
One European diplomat said there was agreement among the bloc’s 27 members to strengthen U.N. monitoring of the embargo, but not on the issue of dispatching naval assets.
The diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Austria has objected to putting naval ships back into the Mediterranean, and issue that would likely come up at the annual Munich Security Conference over the weekend.
NATO is ready to expand its military training effort in Iraq, the alliance’s top civilian official said Wednesday, but the Iraqi government is not yet ready to approve the move.
The Canada-led operation was launched in 2018 but suspended last month after a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad Airport killed Iran’s top general and Iraq’s government and lawmakers demanded that foreign troops leave. U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has demanded that U.S. allies do more in the Mideast.
Speaking to the AFP on condition of anonymity, the senior Malian army officials said soldiers had left the northern city of Gao en route to Kidal. „There is no problem for now,“ he said.
The Iron Man Battalion will deploy 550 soldiers from Charles City, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Oelwein, and Waterloo. The mission involves security and force protection in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The deployment is expected to last around a year.
Choreographed sword fights, such as those traditionally performed in Gulf Arab countries, may look like clashes between deadly enemies but in fact require close coordination between the participants.Many Arabs believe the conflict between the US and Iran in Iraq is similar.
„If the U.S. steps back from Africa too far, China and Russia will fill the void to our detriment,” he said in his written testimony to the Senate. “Violent extremist organizations will be able to grow unchecked, some will ultimately threaten the homeland, and we will lose opportunities for increased trade and investments with some of the fastest growing economies in the world.”
“The tempo is coming back,” Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie Jr., who heads U.S. Central Command, said during a visit to a constellation of tiny American outposts in eastern Syria.
American troops in Syria, like those in neighboring Iraq, shifted their focus from anti-extremist operations to force protection after a Jan. 3 strike in Baghdad killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most influential military figure.
The Iraqi President, Barham Salih, met with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, in Davos on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics, including the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq.
Eight European Union member states have decided to set up a naval surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced Monday after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.
“A decrease in our investment now may result in the need for the United States to reinvest at many more times the cost down the road,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) wrote in letter to Esper last week.
A source close to the Iraqi government told Al-Monitor, “Abdul Mahdi has told Kurdish officials the Kurdistan region is part of the Iraqi federal state, thus they must abide by the Iraqi parliament’s decision to eject US forces from Iraqi soil once the decision is put into practice.“
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, added, “Abdul Mahdi also told the Kurds his government soon will try to reach an agreement with the US on how to implement the Iraqi parliament’s decision. Kurds should cooperate with Baghdad in this regard. No foreign forces are allowed to stay in Iraq under any pretexts.“
The United States has about 5,000 troops in Iraq leading the fight against ISIS. There are also about 800 U.S. troops fighting ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, about 14,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan helping Afghan forces fight the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism operations against groups such as ISIS.
Outside of combat zones, the United States has also deployed about 14,000 more troops throughout the Middle East since the summer in an effort to deter Iran.
On Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi phoned Pompeo to urgently request that Washington enact a US troop “withdrawal mechanism” in Iraq. American troops are in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi government had just voted to revoke that invitation.
The State Department responded with a statement titled “The US Continued Partnership with Iraq,” in which it essentially said that the US would not abide by the request of its Iraqi partners because the US military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and that as such it is „our right“ to maintain „appropriate force posture” in the region.
After decades of an enduring cycle of violence, Iraqis are hardened to conflict. But many say they have little vested interest in the latest tit-for-tat between the US and Iran.
The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.
In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi asked the United States to send a delegation to Iraq to set up a mechanism for U.S. troop withdrawal from the country, a statement from the prime minister’s office said Friday.
The request followed a vote by the Iraqi parliament to expel thousands of U.S. troops, a direct consequence of a U.S. drone attack that killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and nine companions in Baghdad a week ago.
Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Forat news agency reported that the alliance took the decision on Tuesday to move its command center from the Iraqi capital Baghdad to Kuwait City.
The Qatar-based and Arabic-language al-Jazeera news network, citing a report published by German DPA news agency, later confirmed the account.
Germany is moving some of its military personnel from Iraq to neighbouring countries over security concerns, the government told lawmakers, days after the killing of a top Iranian military commander in a US drone strike.
About 30 of the 120 German soldiers in Iraq who mainly train Iraqi security forces will be redeployed to Jordan and Kuwait, the government told parliament in a letter on Monday.
Our own sources in Baghdad confirmed that the letter was genuine and that they too had seen it.
One source said their understanding of the US position was that a partial withdrawal or repositioning of some troops to Kuwait was taking place.
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday afternoon when asked about the vote by Iraq’s parliament to end U.S. troop presence in the country.
A statement on Sunday from Operation Inherent Resolve said the US-led coalition was “fully committed” to protecting its bases in the light of “repeated rocket attacks” from pro-Iranian militias over the past two months.
“This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh [Isis], and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the coalition said.
In an extraordinary session, the lawmakers voted with majority in favor of passing a law requiring the government to cancel the request for assistance from the international coalition to fight Islamic State (IS) group due to the end of military operations and war in Iraq.
“I oppose the dispatch of SDF troops based on vague legal grounds,” Tamaki said.
Parliamentary resolutions are nonbinding to the government, but Abdul-Mahdi had earlier urged parliament to take urgent measures and end the presence of foreign troops as soon as possible.
“I’m not supporting another war in Iran. We have already lost too many lives in the Middle East,” said Wes Frenell, a protester. “Invested trillions of dollars that can be used domestically to improve the lives of people here. We don’t need to buy bombs to kill people,” he said.
„Maybe they won’t change the government’s mind but it will help organize the working class here in America and make them realize that they should be treated better and when we work together we can make a difference,“ Lee said.
Amid rising tensions with Iran, the Navy is scrapping an exercise with Morocco as it redirects amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Middle East, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Friday.
Despite the heightened tension in the region, Maas said he wanted to continue Germany’s deployment of around 120 troops in Iraq under the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve.
Mr. Sanders’s speech on Friday also indicated how he might use foreign policy to separate himself from other senators who are running for president: He pointed out that he has voted against all of Mr. Trump’s military budgets, a distinction that Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar cannot claim.
The killing of General Suleimani, intended as a shot against Iran, could accelerate an Iranian objective: pushing the United States military out of Iraq.
We must end our involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. We must bring our troops home from Afghanistan.
The United States has already dispatched about 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East since May.
Turkey’s parliament passed a motion that authorizes the government to send Turkish troops to Libya for a one-year deployment at their emergency session on Jan. 2.
Five thousand U.S. troops are already stationed in Iraq assisting the country’s security forces. U.S. forces in the region number around 60,000 troops.
„At the direction of the Commander in Chief @POTUS, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the @82ndABNDiv to the @CENTCOM area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq,“ Esper tweeted.
Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor reacts to U.S. airstrikes on Iran-backed militia.
The angry demonstrations at the American embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday are just the latest installment in a deepening confrontation between the US and Iran for influence in Iraq.
It’s a struggle that dates back to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the emergence of a Shia-dominated state in Iraq. But in light of the Trump administration’s campaign of maximum economic pressure against Iran, it has reached a new and potentially dangerous pitch.
“We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the embassy,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.
President Trump made a brief stop at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., in the morning, leaving after less than an hour.
Despite pressure from Syria and Russia, Akar confirmed once again that Turkey will not abandon its military positions inside Idlib and will be sticking to its commitments underlined by the Sochi deal.
All these developments come before a scheduled meeting between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 8 in Istanbul for the inauguration of the TurkStream pipeline. For many in Ankara, escalation in Idlib is not totally irrelevant to the developments in Libya where Turkey and Russia support the opposite camps.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyo’s plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.
Interior Minister of the UN-backed government of Libya Fathi Bashagha on Thursday revealed that a Turkish-Tunisian-Algerian alliance was formed to support the Libyan government.
„Since there is an invitation (from Libya) right now, we will accept it,“ Erdogan told members of his AK Party. „We will present the motion to send troops [to Libya] as soon as parliament resumes.“
„God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation“ from the Tripoli-based GNA, he said.
France and Qatar signed an agreement allowing France to deploy and station military forces within Qatar.
The Netherlands said on November 25 that it would join Denmark and France in the European naval mission, reported the NLTimes. The Netherlands said it would deploy a navy ship to the Persian Gulf for six months but said it would play an “observing” role. Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden are also expected to join the European coalition, the Tehran Times reported.
Iranian military spokesman General Abolfazl Shekarchi said the joint maneuvers, which are aimed at promoting regional security, will extend as far as the Sea of Oman. The drill is seen as a response to recent U.S. maneuvers with its regional ally Saudi Arabia, in which China also participated.
Ankara ready to defend government in Tripoli in latest policy to inflame tensions with US, EU, Greece and Middle East countries