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Deportation Fears for More Military Families

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By Debbie Gregory.

With a number of military spouses facing deportation, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would need to look into whether there may be additional protections for them.

While Mattis said he had reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that active duty forces, Reserve, Guard and honorably discharged veterans who are under the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be protected from deportation (as long as they didn’t have any standing court orders or serious felony convictions) it is not known whether those protections would be extended to their spouses.

“I’ll have to check on that and get back to you,” Mattis said.

Numerous military families, both active duty and veteran, are concerned about their undocumented spouses or dependents facing possible deportation.

The last thing deployed service members need to be thinking about is the deportation of their spouses while they are away. To that end, spouses of active-duty troops or veterans have been eligible for “Parole in Place,” or PIP, a relief that allows spouses, children and parents of active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops and veterans who entered the U.S. illegally to remain in the country and pursue a green card.

The law was put in place in 2007 to come to the aid of Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez. Hiraldo entered the U.S. illegally, and Jimenez was killed in Iraq before they could complete her green card request.

In 2006, the couple was granted a deferment of immigration proceedings until Spc. Jimenez returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. However in June of that year, the government announced its intent to deport Hiraldo, despite the fact that her husband was declared missing along with two other soldiers. The case quickly received national attention and the involvement of influential U.S. Senators John Kerry and the late Ted Kennedy.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Quietly Preparing For War with North Korea

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By Debbie Gregory.

The welcome news that North Korea and South Korea will participate in the upcoming Olympics under a unified flag has not alleviated the threat of war for the U.S. military.

Two military drills last month and one in February are designed to ready troops for the possibility of war with North Korea, which has made repeated threats to attack the U.S. with its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles

Contingency planning is part of standard Defense Department training and troop rotations. But the timing of the exercises suggests a focus for what could be on the horizon with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both hope that diplomacy will be the avenue pursued to address Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Following Hawaii’s false alarm of a text alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack, panic underscored the anxiety and uneasiness that most Americans have regarding North Korea.

This is especially true given the rhetoric, name-calling and threats that have been exchanged between the leaders of the two countries.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley called Pyongyang the biggest threat to American national security, and said that Army officers who lead operational units must prepare to meet that threat.

Countries have contingency plans for all kinds of emergencies, so it’s no surprise that Japan and the US drew up a scheme to remove their citizens from harm’s way.

It is unlikely that the Pentagon would launch military action on the Korean Peninsula without first warning Americans and others in the area.

There are 60,000 Japanese citizens living in South Korea, and the Japanese government has started looking into ways to get them out should a crisis with North Korea break out.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Mattis: General Purpose Forces Easing Special Forces Workload

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By Debbie Gregory.

In an effort to ease the strain on the overworked U.S. Special Operations Command (SoCom), Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has devised a plan to shift some mission responsibilities to the conventional forces.

Last year, SoCom forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, deployed to 149 countries around the world. This record-setting number of deployments comes as American commandos are battling a plethora of terror groups in wars and conflicts that stretch from Africa to the Middle East to Asia.

The breakneck pace at which the United States deploys its special operations forces to conflict zones has been unsustainable, prompting Mattis to take advantage of the “common capabilities” the conventional forces have developed.

“I mean, there was a time when the only people who ran drones were the Special Forces,” Mattis said, but the use of drones is now widespread in the conventional force.

Mattis said that what he called “general purpose” troops are already taking on roles normally performed by the Special Forces in some geographic areas.

The Army’s new Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) have trained at Fort Benning, Georgia’s Military Training Adviser Academy and will likely deploy to Afghanistan in the spring.

The Academy offers unique instruction to the NCOs and officers, who learn about the social aspects and cultures of their partner nations, how to work with interpreters, and “the art of negotiation.”

To fill the SFABs, the Army is looking for high-performance Soldiers with a “propensity to learn.” Soldiers must score at least 240 on the Army Physical Fitness Test, with 80 in each category.

Eventually, the Army will have five active SFABs and one in the National Guard. Initially, two will focus on the Middle East, with the additional SFABs concentrating on the Pacific, Africa and possibly Europe.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force Culture Change Pressed By New Secretary

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By Debbie Gregory.

New Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson thinks the Air Force has too much bureaucracy, too many regulations and too many people stuck doing busy work. And she wants to breathe some fresh air into the branch.

The Air Force is currently facing a crisis-level shortage in fighter pilots as well as an aging fleet, and the Rhodes Scholar is looking to improve all aspects of the service branch.

Wilson, 56,  feels that this may happen by relieving airmen of undue bureaucratic and training requirements, which many believe has driven Air Force pilots into commercial aviation.

Wilson’s attitude is: “Let’s not try to tell them how to do everything. Let’s tell them what to do, and let them surprise us with their ingenuity.”

The Air Force has 660,000 airmen, but is struggling to keep up with its demands. Wilson is advocating for adding additional aircraft and people.

The Keene, N.H. native was recruited for the job by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, a science and engineering university where Wilson served as president.

“Heather Wilson is a leader for all seasons,” Mattis said in a statement. “She distinguished herself as an active-duty Air Force officer and as the president of a university. Her experience in Congress and the private sector made her the ideal choice to lead the Air Force.”

Wilson was one of the first women to join the Air Force Academy when classes were opened up to women.  She graduated in 1982 from the Air Force in Colorado Springs. She had secured a slot in flight school, but was surprised to learn she also had been accepted as a Rhodes Scholar.

She earned her doctoral degree at Oxford University. She worked as a planning officer at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and at the Pentagon.

“To me, I work for General Mattis and the United States Air Force, and I am here to serve the Air Force and organize, train and equip the Air Force and make sure it sustain combat operations in air and space,” she said. “My role is to focus on securing that, and that’s what General Mattis has asked me to do. That’s a mission that can and am happy to do.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

What Damage Can North Korea Do?

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By Debbie Gregory.

North Korea has long been a threat to South Korea and Japan. The country’s arsenal of ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponry grows on a daily basis.

For this reason, previous administrations have avoided confrontation with Kim Jong-un’s regime. Indeed, it would be South Korean and Japanese civilians who would take the brunt of Pyongyang’s wrath in the event of war. And of course, the U.S. has military bases and personnel in both countries.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”

President Trump has said he is ready to act, with or without China. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the nation would need some time to act.

War with North Korea would be a humanitarian disaster and a shock for global economy. This is why a diplomatic solution is widely seen as the only solution.

South Korea has numerous nuclear power plant reactors. North Korea has hundreds of missiles which are hard to stop.

If North Korea were to launch such a strike first, the first wave of shells could land with essentially no warning. Additionally, the North could hit the South with chemical or biological warheads.

The U.S. and South Korea both have preemptive strike plans in place should a North Korean nuclear attack appear imminent. While Japan is considering new options, it still relies heavily on U.S. defense.

While Pyongyang’s missiles might have some reliability issues, there are enough of them to do very significant damage to South Korea and Japan. According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, North Korea now fields hundreds of missiles that can reach U.S. forces forward deployed to the Republic of Korea and Japan.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.