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John Vandiver

US continues building troop presence in Saudi Arabia

U.S. forces are continuing to deploy to Saudi Arabia as part of a planned troop buildup aimed at deterring Iranian aggression in the region, President Donald Trump said in a letter sent to Congress this week.

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EUCOM restricts troops’ travel to West Bank, Jerusalem’s Old City

U.S. European Command has issued an order restricting travel to Israel’s West Bank, which includes the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, citing security concerns after the U.S. reversed its policy on Israeli settlements.


Airman who called in airstrikes while under fire receives Silver Star

An airman who stepped into the line of fire in Afghanistan after his unit was ambushed by the Taliban 12 years ago has been awarded America’s third-highest medal for valor.


NATO's alleged 'brain death' is on the agenda as allies prepare for talks

America’s top representative to NATO on Tuesday blasted comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that the 70-year-old alliance is “experiencing brain death,” saying an attempt to divide members is “not even rational.”


US transfers patrol boats to Ukraine as military aid takes center stage during impeachment hearings

The two retired Coast Guard vessels were formally handed over to Ukraine at a ceremony in the port of Odessa on Wednesday — the same day that U.S. diplomats testifying in an impeachment hearing in Washington said delays in U.S. military aid have raised doubts about the Trump administration’s commitment to Ukraine.


Navy says it never got a Trump order to stop patrols in Black Sea

The Navy said it never received an order to halt warship maneuvers in the Black Sea earlier this year, despite testimony in a congressional impeachment hearing that President Donald Trump asked for the cancellation after he heard about it on television.


Germany will meet NATO defense spending target by 2031, defense chief says

Germany will hit NATO defense spending targets by 2031, seven years after the goal set by the alliance for members to spend at least 2% of economic output on their militaries, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday.


Incoming senior enlisted leader brings blunt talk, high standards to the job

After 29 years in the Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez is poised to become the military’s top enlisted service member, capping a career that has included long stints as a special operator in Afghanistan.


Fake US soldiers ‘verboten’ at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie amid reports they harassed tourists

Actors dressed as U.S. soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin have been banned from the iconic Cold War location because of their aggressive and abusive way with tourists, city officials said.


Robotic mules to lighten the load for Army’s infantrymen

The Army has awarded a $162.4 million contract to General Dynamics Land Systems to produce 624 Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport systems. The systems would reduce each soldier’s weight burden by more than 100 pounds when operating in support of a rifle squad.


Foreign fighters transiting through Turkey could help Islamic State to regenerate, US report warns

Turkey remains a transit point for foreign fighters looking to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which could help the terrorist group to reorganize and regain influence, a U.S. report on global terrorism says.


US Air Force expands mission out of Niger hub

Located in the remote Saharan desert town of Agadez, Nigerien Air Base 201 is intended to give AFRICOM a deeper reach into spots where militants operate, including Libya.


US military team heads to Montenegro to counter cyberthreats ahead of 2020 elections

American service members will work alongside Montenegrin cyber defenders “to counter malicious cyber actors on critical networks and platforms,” the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro said.


Russia launches air defense drills in Egypt in sign of growing influence in region

The exercises come one week after President Vladimir Putin held a summit for African leaders in Sochi focused on enhancing Russia’s role across the continent, ranging from trade and weapons sales to military partnerships.


Air crew stays at Trump's seaside resort were in line with rules, Air Force says

Air Force crews staying at President Donald Trump’s Scotland golf resort during flight layovers did not violate any service rules, according to a military review into whether taxpayer dollars were misused when commanders lodged at the seaside hotel.


US will send mechanized units to Syria’s oil fields, Esper says

The U.S. will send armored reinforcements into Syria to guard oil fields that President Donald Trump says also could serve as a safe area for Kurds who aided the Americans before Turkey’s incursion into formerly Kurdish-held Syrian territory.


Esper wants European allies to send troops to the Gulf to counter Iran

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday that he wants allies in Europe to send forces to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to reinforce U.S. military movements aimed at countering Iran.


Army in Stuttgart launches ‘surge’ to resolve more than 1,700 housing issues

A “surge” is underway at the Army garrison in Stuttgart to clear a huge backlog of home repair work orders and appease military community members who often must wait months for basic repairs, officials say.


5G security, Syria top the agenda at NATO gathering of defense ministers

NATO will require members to protect civilian telecommunication systems, including fifth-generation services, and ensure they function in wartime, the alliance’s secretary-general said ahead of a two-day meeting of defense ministers in Brussels.


Europe, Russia should set up security zone in Syria, German defense minister says

A new approach is needed after the withdrawal of American troops and a push by Turkey into Syria diverted Kurdish fighters from the battle against the extremist group, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.


Army to deploy Israeli-made tank protection system in Europe next year

The Army has received an Israeli-made system that protects tanks from anti-armor missiles and will test it next year for the first time during the “Defender Europe” exercises.


Lithuania says statement about accepting US nuclear weapons is fake

A “press release” swirling on social media that claims the U.S. plans to build a military base and transfer nuclear bombs from Turkey to the Baltics is a hoax, said Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry, which launched an investigation Friday into the origins of the phony report.


Army special operators look to counter disinformation, cyberwarfare in new strategy

Trends like climate change, urbanization and rapid technological advances will test Special Forces soldiers in new ways, according to a new U.S. Army Special Operations Command Strategy.


Army Chief of Staff McConville pitches longer tours for families

The Army’s current approach — where most soldiers move every three years — was the product of an “industrial age” personnel management system, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.


Space Command sending experts worldwide as US advantage erodes, top officer says

Teams of experts will aim to incorporate space concerns, such as the ability of adversaries to jam GPS communication satellites and directed energy threats, into how the military trains and operates.


US reviewing plans to move nuclear weapons from Incirlik, report says

The U.S. State and Energy departments were examining plans for potentially moving weapons that are roughly 250 miles from the Syrian border, The New York Times reported Monday.


Kick Turkey out of NATO? It wouldn't be easy

Even if there was consensus inside NATO about kicking Turkey out, the 70-year-old military alliance faces this key obstacle: no mechanism exists in NATO’s founding charter for revoking a state’s membership.


Airstrikes devastated ISIS camps in Libya, defense official says

A series of recent airstrikes in Libya against Islamic State targets were delivered to “devastating effect,” eliminating roughly one-third of the group’s already weakened fighting force in the country, a defense official said Thursday.


Senators ready ‘far-reaching’ sanctions against Turkey for fighting US-backed Kurds in Syria

The bipartisan legislation would ban military assistance to Turkey and prohibit the sale of any equipment to the Turkish armed forces, such as weapons and spare parts used by Turkey’s air and ground forces.


Army in Europe sets new air conditioning policy after scorching summer

Garrison commanders in Europe now have the authority to approve the use of portable air conditioning units in base family housing, eliminating the need to seek higher command backing, according to a new Army policy.


Lawmaker sounds alarm over possible US withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned in a letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien that leaving the 17-year-old accord would be a “reckless action” and “only benefit Russia.”


Thousands of troops to take part in largest US-led exercise in Europe since the Cold War, EUCOM says

Defender Europe-20, which will take place in 10 nations, will resemble the massive “Reforger” drills held during the Cold War era.


Army headquarters in Poland gets a new name but mission remains the same

“Mission Command Element” is now known as 1st Infantry Division (Forward).


Joint US-Turkey patrols continue in Syria as Turkey threatens invasion

The U.S. and Turkey conducted their third joint ground patrol in Syria on Friday even as disagreements between the two NATO allies over how to operate in the area have brought threats from Turkish leaders to launch a unilateral military intervention on its southern border.


Advocacy group accuses US military of civilian deaths in Somalia

Three men killed in a March airstrike were farmers, not terrorists belonging to the al-Shabab militant group, Amnesty International said in the report released Monday.


One servicemember injured in Somalia attack, AFRICOM says

One U.S. servicemember was injured when militants attacked a base used by American forces in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command said Tuesday, revising an earlier statement that said there were no U.S. casualties when al-Shabab fighters launched an assault on Baledogle Military Airfield.