WADI SHADIYA, JORDAN (Sept. 2, 2019) A light armored vehicle 25 with Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires its main gun during Exercise Eager Lion 19. Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command’s largest and most complex exercise, is an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adam Dublinske)
U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Fleet Week New York, Sailors with the USS New York (LPD) 21, Coast Guardsmen and members of the Royal Canadian Navy pose for the photo at Times Square in New York City, NY, May 22, 2019. Fleet Week NY is an opportunity for the American public to meet their Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard service members and experience America’s sea services firsthand. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jered T. Stone)
U.S. Air Force Maj. Garrett Schmitz, pilot for the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, performs aerial maneuvers with an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 16, 2019. Air Combat Command pilots must complete rigorous training and receive certification from four levels of United States Air Force leadership before they can earn the title of Demonstration Team Commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock)
Air Force color guard presents the colors during Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s Farewell Ceremony during her farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, May 21, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Wayne Clark)
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 22, 2019) Gaya, an explosive detection dog with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), sits during a five phases of aggression drill aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The Marines and Sailors of the 11th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies, and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)
Soldiers aboard M1A2 Abram Tanks from 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division move out, as part of an Initial Ready Task Force (IRTF) exercise, at Johanna Range, Poland, May 20, 2019. An IRTF is a no-notice, rapid-deployment exercise designed to test a unit’s ability to alert, marshal, and deploy forces and equipment for contingency operations or an emergency disaster. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Thomas Mort)
An Airman piloting an F-35A Lightning II completes aerial refueling courtesy of Airmen from the 28th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker, April 26, 2019 over an undisclosed location. The F-35 is on its first deployment to the Middle East as part of the inaugural demonstration of the fighter’s next generation combat capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is staged on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 30, 2019. Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and more than 200 Airmen deployed here in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission. During the BTF mission 37 sorties were flown for a total of 171 hours, with eight of the missions including F-22 Raptor integration. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)
ARABIAN SEA (May 17, 2019) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the Wasp-class Amphibious Assault Ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) sail alongside as the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) and Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG) conduct joint operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. The ABECSG and KSGARG, with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, are prepared to respond to contingencies and to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Released)
The 64th Aggressor Squadron out of Nellis AFB, NV, recently released its much-hyped GHOST paint scheme, mimicking the Russian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-57. Check out a timelapse video of the paint job below!
Two F-35B Lightning II, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, left, an F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to VFA 41, fly in formation over the Arabian Sea, Dec. 14, 2018. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting integrated operations in the Arabian Sea to ensure stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor D. Loessin)
On Andersen Air Force Base United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress taxis to runway to take off for participate in Valiant Shield on September 17, 2018. Valiant Shield is a U.S. only, biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integration of joint training in a blue-water environment among U.S. forces. This training enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. (U.S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Darienne Slack)
President Trump is expected to announce a withdrawal of almost half of all US Service Members currently deployed to Afghanistan over the coming months. This decision has drawn sharp criticism from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill both.
US Military Commanders and Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree the Afghan Military needs years of additional training and support until it will be able to successfully defend its territory. Even today, the Taliban still controls parts of the country.
President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, resigned in protest partially over this decision, in addition to other differing viewpoints. His interim acting replacement is slated to be a former Boeing executive with no military or diplomatic experience prior to his appointment to Deputy Secretary of Defense by the President in 2017.
There are also concerns over whether allies and US troops on the ground were notified of the force reduction prior to the President’s tweet.
U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopter, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, flies in formation for the 25th Infantry Division Review over Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, December 21, 2018. The Division’s activation date is October 1, 1941. Due to a robust training schedule in October, the Division is celebrating its birthday from December 17-21 with the culminating event being the Division Review at historic Weyand Field. More than 11,000 Tropic Lightning Soldiers will take part in the Division Review. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Morales)
James Mattis Resignation Letter
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability Within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
James N. Mattis