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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon

House approves defense bill authorizing Space Force, 12 weeks of paid family leave for feds

Westlake Legal Group Capitol-Building-iStock House approves defense bill authorizing Space Force, 12 weeks of paid family leave for feds Nick Givas fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/science/air-and-space fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 00318170-6f37-53a1-ae3c-9e7820386005

The Democrat-controlled House passed a $738 billion Pentagon defense package on Wednesday that allocated 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees and authorized the creation of President Trump‘s sought-after “Space Force.”

The measure was passed by a final vote of 377 to 48 following several weeks of negotiation between the House and Senate, The Associated Press reported.

Certain House Democrats reportedly sought a more liberal bill that would have blocked Trump from using Pentagon funds to fulfill his campaign promise of a southern border wall. Those same members also expressed concerns about the rising deficit and national debt.

Congressional Republicans compromised on parental leave and were able to gain authorization for the building of Trump’s Space Force, which would consolidate existing personnel under a new branch of the Air Force. The bill also includes a 3.1 percent military pay raise and a repeal of the widow’s tax on military death benefits.

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP PLAN TO SPEND MILLIONS IN MILITARY FUNDS ON BORDER WALL CONSTRUCTION

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., declared victory for Democrats and told The Associated Press that he had proudly presided over an expansion of America’s welfare state.

“I was able to get them to enthusiastically support the largest expansion of the social welfare state since the Affordable Care Act — the widow’s tax and paid parental leave,” Smith said.

“That was an enormous accomplishment, OK? I got them to do things that they never wanted to do,” he added.

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Despite not receiving the $7.2 billion he sought for the construction of his southern border wall, President Trump is expected to sign the measure when it passes the Senate sometime next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group Capitol-Building-iStock House approves defense bill authorizing Space Force, 12 weeks of paid family leave for feds Nick Givas fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/science/air-and-space fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 00318170-6f37-53a1-ae3c-9e7820386005   Westlake Legal Group Capitol-Building-iStock House approves defense bill authorizing Space Force, 12 weeks of paid family leave for feds Nick Givas fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/science/air-and-space fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 00318170-6f37-53a1-ae3c-9e7820386005

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Pentagon to evaluate legality of putting troops at US-Mexico border

The Pentagon‘s independent investigations office announced Tuesday that it will evaluate the legality of the Trump administration’s use of the military at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general (IG) of the Defense Department who had served as the Justice Department IG for 11 years, said his probe will assess several aspects of the military’s border mission, which some in Congress call a misuse of the military.

Under federal law, the military may not be used for domestic law enforcement purposes. The Trump administration’s view is that the troops are in a national security role at the southern border.

Westlake Legal Group Glenn-Fine-Getty Pentagon to evaluate legality of putting troops at US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1002f92a-9cb9-57bc-9570-c7280fe09f76

Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general, announced Tuesday that his probe will assess several aspects of the military’s border mission, which some in Congress call a misuse of the military. Fine said he will look at what the troops are doing at the border, what training they received for the mission, and whether their use at the border is legal. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

AFRICAN MIGRANTS HEADING TO US-MEXICO BORDER IN RECORD NUMBERS IN 2019

In a letter to Fine in September, 33 House members urged an investigation into what they called the “misuse and politicization” of the military at the border.

Fine said he will look at what the troops are doing at the border, what training they received for the mission, and whether their use at the border is legal.

For more than a year, several thousand active-duty troops have been stationed along the border to perform various missions.

The troops have erected wire barriers, assisted with border surveillance and performed other functions in support of the Department of Homeland Security.

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Also Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Trump administration from using $3.6 billion earmarked for the military to fund border wall construction.

The Trump administration is expected to appeal Tuesday’s decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114141497001_6114138772001-vs Pentagon to evaluate legality of putting troops at US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1002f92a-9cb9-57bc-9570-c7280fe09f76   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114141497001_6114138772001-vs Pentagon to evaluate legality of putting troops at US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/immigration/border-security fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 1002f92a-9cb9-57bc-9570-c7280fe09f76

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Who is Admiral Ken Braithwaite? Trump’s choice for Navy secretary has distinguished career

President Trump nominated Rear Admiral Kenneth Braithwaite to assume the position of Navy secretary after the Pentagon ousted Richard Spencer on Sunday amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the handling of a high-profile Navy SEAL case.

Trump had clashed with the Navy over its plan to convene a review board that could have led to the loss of SEAL Edward “Eddie” Gallagher’s Trident pin. The president said Gallagher will retire with the pin, and he’s chosen Braitwaite to replace Spencer.

The current U.S. ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy rear admiral, Braithwaite served on the Pentagon’s Trump transition team and was nominated by the president to his current role in 2018, after the post had been vacant for nearly two years.

In his capacity as ambassador, Braithwaite scrimmaged with Norway in September after Trump expressed his displeasure that the country’s defense spending was at 1.62 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) — below the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries’ pledge to spend at least 2 percent. Trump repeatedly has called on Oslo to boost its defense expenditures, noting how geographically, Russia is not far away.

Westlake Legal Group Kenneth-John-Braithwaite Who is Admiral Ken Braithwaite? Trump's choice for Navy secretary has distinguished career Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2ce54393-8a5d-57a4-a386-afd7a7ee3d30

President Trump nominated Rear Admiral Kenneth John Braithwaite as the new Navy secretary Sunday.

“Norway is both a founding member of NATO and a key member of the alliance, and is financially capable of meeting these commitments,” Braithwaite said. “I have emphasized that it is important for Norway to show leadership and reach the two-percent goal well before 2024.”

Braithwaite, if confirmed, would report directly to the president and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to oversee all aspects of the Navy. He himself graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984 with a degree in political science. He later earned a Master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995.

Braithwaite trained as a naval aviator, and after 21 years of military service, was the first of his class to earn a flag rank.

In his first assignment in 1986, he flew anti-submarine missions as a member of Patrol Squadron 17, stationed at Naval Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii tracking Soviet submarines throughout the Northern and Western Pacific regions. After a two-year stint in Naval aviation, Braithwaite became a public affairs officer and rose to chief of public affairs for Naval Base Philadelphia in 1990.

He initially went to work on legislative affairs on Capitol Hill, including strategic communications and public affairs. His job titles included special assistant in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs and director of public affairs aboard the aircraft carrier USS America, before leaving active duty and joining the reserves in 1993.

He assumed command of the Naval fleet tasked with providing support to the joint task force commander at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Oct. 2001.

Braithwaite deployed overseas several times in the Navy reserves. In 2003, he served a naval support role as part of the fleet involved in the initial invasion into Iraq.

A portion of his command supported the naval operations to capture the port of Umm Qasr in March 2003, which marked the first military confrontation during the Iraq War to regain control of a key port that played an important role in the shipment of humanitarian supplies to Iraqi civilians.

He later deployed to assist with relief efforts after a major 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

Aside from his naval service, Braithwaite also served as the executive and state director to Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2000.

A successful businessman, he also served in executive positions at ARCO, a prominent American oil company, and Ascension Health in Washington, D.C.

In March 2007, Braithwaite was named the senior vice president of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and executive director of its Delaware Valley Healthcare Council lobbying group, which represented more than 50 acute-care hospitals and 50 other facilities providing health-care services to Southeastern Pennsylvania. That same year, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral.

Although Braithwaite’s tenure in the Navy and public service has been seen as relatively free of controversy, he slammed then-President George W. Bush’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as “draconian” in 2008.

Braithwaite retired from the Naval Reserve in 2011 as a highly decorated rear admiral, his last post as vice chief of information and head of Naval Reserve public affairs.

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He’s married with two children. His father, Kenneth J. Braithwaite Sr., served in World War II and was shot in the head soon after storming Normandy Beach on D-Day, but survived.

Trump announced the nomination Sunday on Twitter, writing: “Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy. A man of great achievement and success, I know Ken will do an outstanding job!”

Westlake Legal Group Kenneth-John-Braithwaite Who is Admiral Ken Braithwaite? Trump's choice for Navy secretary has distinguished career Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2ce54393-8a5d-57a4-a386-afd7a7ee3d30   Westlake Legal Group Kenneth-John-Braithwaite Who is Admiral Ken Braithwaite? Trump's choice for Navy secretary has distinguished career Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 2ce54393-8a5d-57a4-a386-afd7a7ee3d30

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Navy Secretary threatened to resign over Trump’s request, but not top SEAL commander: officials

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer threatened to resign if the Navy was not allowed to go through with an administrative review board next month to determine if Eddie Gallagher could remain a SEAL, multiple Navy officials confirmed to Fox News.

Earlier Saturday, The New York Times reported that along with Spencer, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Commander Rear Adm. Collin Green also threatened to resign if the Navy carries out the request of President Trump to restore Gallagher’s rank to chief petty officer after he was demoted last summer. Gallagher was found not guilty of murdering an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter during a 2017 deployment to Iraq but was convicted of posing for a photo with the dead corpse.

However, officials say that The Times was inaccurate in reporting that Green threatened to resign over the Gallagher disagreement. Only Spencer — not Green — made such a threat, they said.

Westlake Legal Group Green-Spencer-US-NAVY-REUTERS Navy Secretary threatened to resign over Trump's request, but not top SEAL commander: officials Morgan Phillips Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc article 8a59ca8c-d0d6-5e8f-8460-5aae4c7b828c

Collin Green, Richard Spencer 

Gallagher was found not guilty of murdering an ISIS militant during the same deployment to Iraq. His case and trial made international headlines and caught the attention of President Trump, who tweeted on Wednesday in support of Gallagher.

“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Trump said.

TRUMP DECLARES NAVY WILL NOT TAKE AWAY EDDIE GALLAGHER’S SEAL TRIDENT, AS ATTORNEY BLASTS ADMIRAL

“This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!” he added. The Trident pin signifies membership of the elite SEAL force.

Spencer, a political appointee and civilian, has threatened to resign because he wants to see the process play out formally inside the Pentagon, according to officials.

“A tweet is not a written order,” one official said about the president telling the SEALs over Twitter this week not to remove Gallagher from the SEAL teams and take his Trident pin away.

However, Spencer denied threatening to resign at a defense conference in Halifax, Canada, according to reporters present.

“I’m still here, I did not threaten to resign, we’re here to talk about external threats and Eddie Gallagher is not one of them,” Spencer said during a panel on the Arctic.

TRUMP GRANTS CLEMENCY TO 2 ARMY OFFICERS ACCUSED OF WAR CRIMES, RESTORES RANK TO NAVY SEAL EDDIE GALLAGHER

There is concern at the Pentagon that the president is micromanaging the military justice system, according to multiple officials who asked not to be identified, this following the president’s recent pardons issued to two Army officers, as well as ordering Gallagher’s rank be restored.

Officials say the president should not be deciding who can or cannot be a Navy SEAL.

On Nov. 15, Trump granted clemency to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, six years after he was found guilty of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire and kill three men in Afghanistan. His supporters say they killed Taliban fighters. However, nine members of his unit testified against him, saying the men were innocent.

Trump also granted clemency to Maj. Matt Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, and said the murder charges will be dropped against him. Golsteyn was charged in the 2010 premeditated murder of a suspected Taliban bomb maker. His trial was expected to begin next month.

On Thursday, Gallagher’s laywer Tim Parlatore appeared on “Fox & Friends” and called out Green, whom he said is exhibiting cowardice and hubris in holding a board review of Gallagher.

“If Admiral Green really wants to do this, he shouldn’t try and put people in the middle to put the blame on them,” Parlatore said. “He shouldn’t be a coward like that. He should stand up and do it himself.”

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“There’s been some who say that he shouldn’t have his rank restored but all of them cite reasons that show that they haven’t paid any attention to the case whatsoever,” Parlatore added. “His rank was taken away for something that… — nobody else in the history of the SEAL teams or the military has ever had general court-martial conviction for a photo like this.”

Fox News’ Nick Givas and Melissa Leon contributed to this report. c

Westlake Legal Group Green-Spencer-US-NAVY-REUTERS Navy Secretary threatened to resign over Trump's request, but not top SEAL commander: officials Morgan Phillips Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc article 8a59ca8c-d0d6-5e8f-8460-5aae4c7b828c   Westlake Legal Group Green-Spencer-US-NAVY-REUTERS Navy Secretary threatened to resign over Trump's request, but not top SEAL commander: officials Morgan Phillips Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc article 8a59ca8c-d0d6-5e8f-8460-5aae4c7b828c

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US, South Korea postpone joint military exercise criticized by North Korea

BANGKOK — The United States and South Korea on Sunday said they were postponing a joint military air exercise that North Korea has criticized as provocative.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his South Korean counterpart made the announcement in Bangkok, where they were attending an Asia defense ministers’ conference.

Esper told reporters he did not consider the postponement a concession to North Korea.

NORTH KOREA WARNS OF ‘BIGGER THREAT AND HARSH SUFFERING’ OVER NUCLEAR TALKS DEADLINE

“We have made this decision as an act of goodwill to contribute to an environment conducive to diplomacy and the advancement of peace,” Esper said.

“We have made this decision as an act of goodwill to contribute to an environment conducive to diplomacy and the advancement of peace.”

— Mark Esper, U.S. defense secretary

As recently as Friday, when Esper was in Seoul to consult with South Korean officials, there was no word on postponing the military air exercise, which had been called Vigilant Ace.

Westlake Legal Group AP19321197997751 US, South Korea postpone joint military exercise criticized by North Korea ROBERT BURNS fox-news/world/world-regions/south-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/politics/defense fnc/world fnc d1be508e-c7e6-55a5-8a79-49be61794990 Associated Press article

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, right, and South Korea defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo address reporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. Esper and his South Korean counterpart announced Sunday that U.S. and South Korea are postponing a joint military air exercise that North Korea has criticized as provocative. (Associated Press)

Seoul and Washington had scaled back the exercise recently and changed the name, but North Korea strongly objected, calling it evidence of a lack of interest in improving relations.

The North has demanded accommodations before it will agree to resume nuclear negotiations.

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the exercise had been put off pending further consultations between Seoul and Washington. No new date has been set.

“I see this as a good-faith effort by the United States and the Republic of Korea to enable peace … to facilitate a political agreement, a deal if you will, that leads to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Esper said.

“I see this as a good-faith effort by the United States and the Republic of Korea to enable peace … to facilitate a political agreement, a deal if you will, that leads to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

— Mark Esper, U.S. defense secretary

He said Seoul and Washington encourage North Korea “to demonstrate the same goodwill” as it considers decisions on its own military training, exercises and testing.

He also urged the North to return to the negotiating table “without precondition or hesitation.”

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Esper said that even without the planned exercise of South Korean and American air forces, both militaries “will remain at a high state of readiness” for potential combat.

The U.S. has about 28,000 troops in South Korea.

Westlake Legal Group AP19321197997751 US, South Korea postpone joint military exercise criticized by North Korea ROBERT BURNS fox-news/world/world-regions/south-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/politics/defense fnc/world fnc d1be508e-c7e6-55a5-8a79-49be61794990 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group AP19321197997751 US, South Korea postpone joint military exercise criticized by North Korea ROBERT BURNS fox-news/world/world-regions/south-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/secretary-of-defense fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/politics/defense fnc/world fnc d1be508e-c7e6-55a5-8a79-49be61794990 Associated Press article

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US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8

All U.S. troops leaving Syria as part of the withdrawal plan recently announced by President Trump will be stationed in western Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday.

In addition, the U.S. military will continue its efforts to prevent a resurgence by Islamic State group (ISIS) terrorists, he said.

“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal,” Esper told reporters while flying to the Middle East from Washington, according to the Associated Press, “but that’s the game plan right now.”

“Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

— Defense Secretary Mark Esper

MITCH MCCONNELL SAYS TRUMP’S SYRIA WITHDRAWAL IS A ‘GRAVE’ MISTAKE

The U.S. departure from Syria will take “weeks not days,” Esper said, and involve both aircraft and ground convoys as about 1,000 troops relocate, Reuters reported.

Esper’s comments were the first specific details on where American troops will go as they leave Syria, according to the AP. Fox News reported last week that President Trump said only that troops would be redeployed “in the region.”

The 55-year-old Pentagon chief, who assumed the office permanently July 23 after serving as acting defense secretary for about three weeks following the departure of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops from Syria into western Iraq, the AP reported.

TRUMP SAYS US TROOPS IN SYRIA TO BE WITHDRAWN, REDEPLOYED IN REGION

Esper, who previously served as Army secretary, did not rule out the possibility that U.S. forces relocated to Iraq could still conduct counterterrorism missions inside Syria. But he said those details will be worked out over time.

The U.S. defense chief was traveling as a fragile cease-fire, negotiated by the U.S. and Turkey, was underway in Syria – but according to Reuters some Turkish military vehicles crossed into Syria on Saturday, and Turkish officials claimed aboyt 14 “provocative attacks” had been launched from the Syrian side.

In Iraq, U.S. troops were heading to a country that has seen violent political protests in recent week, leading to more than 100 deaths, Reuters reported.

Trump ordered the withdrawal of most of the U.S. troops in Syria after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish fighters that Turkey views as terrorists.

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Critics of the president say the plan amounts to an abandonment of the Kurds, who have helped the U.S. military combat ISIS, but Trump argued that the Kurds have not always been the pro-American allies their supporters claim them to be.

“They’re not angels, if you take a look,” Trump said Wednesday. “They did well when they fought with us. They didn’t do so well when they didn’t fight with us.”

Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats, accompanied by one Republican, traveled to Syria neighbor Jordan on Saturday, where they held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other Jordanian leaders about the Syria situation. Results from those talks were not immediately known early Sunday in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094498192001_6094500292001-vs US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, defense chief Esper says fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 8fa4b29e-bb6f-5f48-9719-8b6e2e67e8b8

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Rebecca Grant: Pence trip to Turkey vital to get cease-fire in Turkish invasion of Syria and repair US-Turkey relations

Westlake Legal Group AP19289670683583 Rebecca Grant: Pence trip to Turkey vital to get cease-fire in Turkish invasion of Syria and repair US-Turkey relations Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f1650e6a-70c9-59f4-ab3f-a2a96f4f9132 article

Relations between the U.S. and our NATO ally Turkey have hit a dangerous new low, following Turkey’s invasion of an area in northeastern Syria that was controlled by Kurdish forces until President Trump ordered a small contingent of American troops withdrawn earlier this month.

Trump’s decision to pull back was not easy, but it looks to have been the most feasible step he could take out of a poor set of military options baked in years ago.

Trump has sent Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien to Turkey on an important mission to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to try to arrange a cease-fire between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria and to patch up U.S.-Turkish relations.

TRUMP WARNS ERDOGAN IN LETTER: ‘DON’T BE A TOUGH GUY. DON’T BE A FOOL!’

Turkey is an important strategic ally that straddles the border between Europe and Asia and controls the access of NATO nations to the Bosporus straits that lead from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and Russia.

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The straits are narrower than the Hudson River around Manhattan. If a U.S. Navy destroyer wants to tail the Russians into the Black Sea it has to travel through the Bosporus.

Turkey is the bulwark of NATO’s southern flank and home to important U.S. military assets. Sophisticated American missile defense radar watches Iran. And the U.S. Air Force operates a major base at Incirlik.

The New York Times reported this week that up to 50 American nuclear bombs have been stored at the Incirlik base. Storing the tactical nuclear weapons that fit on fighter jets enhanced NATO’s deterrence policy, and showed real trust. The Pentagon won’t confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons.

TURKEY HOLDING 50 US NUCLEAR BOMBS ‘HOSTAGE’ AT AIR BASE, REPORT SAYS

For all these reasons, the U.S. can’t afford a complete break in relations with Turkey, despite Turkey’s move into Syria. The idea of going even further and having U.S. troops engage in combat with Turkish forces in Syria to defend the Kurds is almost unthinkable and would have disastrous consequences, driving Turkey into the arms of its neighbor Russia.

This is why the U.S. and European Union nations are issuing stern statements about Turkey’s cross-border operation in Syria, but applying only minor sanctions that amount to a slap on the wrist.

Keep in mind that Turkey has launched several cross-border offensives into Syria since the 1990s to disrupt threats from groups like the PKK – the Kurdish Workers Party, a nasty brew of Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries mashed up with terrorists.

Some Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq have long sought independence – or more recently the more modest goal of greater autonomy – to create a Kurdistan homeland straddling the borders of the three nations. Turkey is determined to prevent that from happening.

Turkey’s cross-border offensives against Kurdish forces in Syria in 2016 and 2018 were barely noticed due to the ongoing battles between the U.S.-allied Kurdish forces and the ISIS terrorist group.

Few Americans are aware of the major Turkish incursions of the 1990s into Syria or the terrorist bombings inside Turkey by Kurdish separatists that prompted the Turkish response. Typically, NATO policy was to turn a blind eye.

Above all, the U.S. military was never supposed to get into Turkey’s border mess.

That all changed in 2014 when ISIS seized territory to create a caliphate in areas of northern Syria and Iraq inhabited by Kurds, driving to within 20 miles of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad.

The crunch came in the fall of 2014 in the Syrian town of Kobani on the border with Turkey. ISIS launched an all-out offensive and Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Syria rallied to defend the town against ISIS.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry dithered, then pounded out an emergency deal to send in massive US airpower and arm the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, to battle ISIS forces. At one point, Turkey permitted military supplies for Kurds in Kobani to go through Turkish territory.

The U.S. arming of the YPG and other groups had one objective: to defeat ISIS. Some alliances spring from sharing a common enemy. Defeating ISIS was a task that brought in over 70 nations – including Turkey – at its peak.

Success at Kobani had another consequence. Overnight in 2015 – with advice from U.S. special operations forces – the YPG renamed itself the Syrian Democratic Forces and enlisted Arab and other Syrian groups.

“With about a day’s notice they declared they were the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Army Gen. Tony Thomas, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, told an Aspen Institute Forum moderated by Catherine Herridge of Fox News in July 2017. The name change “gave them a little bit of credibility,” he said.

Political demands followed, to the point where “they were asking for things I couldn’t give them,” Thomas recalled.

American policy from Obama to Trump was to defeat ISIS. That was it. As far as I can tell, neither Obama nor Trump ever intended to create a sovereign political entity out of the Syrian Kurdish fighting groups.

In summer 2017, Trump gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis approval to send a few hundred additional U.S. forces into Syria to accelerate the defeat of ISIS. With this help, the Syrian Democratic Forces (the renamed Kurdish fighters) captured Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS caliphate. Mattis began winding down arms sales to the SDF and taking back heavy equipment.

With the ISIS fight on the ground over, Turkey fumed.

“Turkey has legitimate security concerns over insurgency inside its borders,” Mattis said in January 2018. Still, the Trump team juggled the hot potato, continuing cleanup operations on ISIS enclaves along the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

The low point came this summer when Turkey purchased a Russian S-400 air defense system and the U.S. kicked Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program.

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America never planned to keep forces in Syria or to crash its relations with Turkey. In August, U.S. and Turkish forces were dismantling former YPG sites. About U.S. 50 elite special forces troops were there. A separate bare-bones U.S. military base remained in the south of Syria. France had forces there too, dependent on US logistics and the cover of US airpower deployed to the region.

By the way, Russian propaganda has been stirring in Kurd affairs at least since 1948, according to a CIA report from that year. And we know that now Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trolls are playing up the U.S.-Turkey split to embarrass the U.S. and NATO, which is pretty easy to do this time.

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Russia’s glee is all the more reason why the U.S. and Turkey need to find a way forward. Or cede Russia the Black Sea.

You may have heard that the U.S. relationship with the Kurds and Turkey is complicated. Now you know why.

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Westlake Legal Group AP19289670683583 Rebecca Grant: Pence trip to Turkey vital to get cease-fire in Turkish invasion of Syria and repair US-Turkey relations Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f1650e6a-70c9-59f4-ab3f-a2a96f4f9132 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19289670683583 Rebecca Grant: Pence trip to Turkey vital to get cease-fire in Turkish invasion of Syria and repair US-Turkey relations Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/turkey fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f1650e6a-70c9-59f4-ab3f-a2a96f4f9132 article

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Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57

Nearly a week after the U.S. announced its decision to pull out troops from northern Syria to make way for a Turkish incursion, Kurdish forces in the country have reportedly agreed to a new deal with Damascus in a desperate bid to face off against Ankara’s offensive.

The New York Times reported that the deal– which was announced Sunday evening– would enable President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to attempt to regain a foothold in the country’s northeast. The Kurdish fighters had few options after the United States abandoned them, and it had been anticipated they would turn to Assad’s government for support.

“An agreement has been reached with the Syrian government — whose duty it is to protect the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty — for the Syrian Army to enter and deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to help the SDF stop this aggression” by Turkey, the SDF said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported that the deal was reached after three days of negotiations between the Kurdish forces, Russian envoys and Damascus.

JIM HANSON: US MUST DO THIS TO PREVENT ISIS RESURGENCE 

Over the past five days, Turkish troops and their allies have pushed their way into northern towns and villages, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 125 miles. The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.

On Sunday, at least nine people, including five civilians, were killed in Turkish airstrikes on a convoy in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian Kurdish officials.

President Trump’s decision to essentially give Turkey a green light to advance on the country has been widely criticized as abandoning the Kurds, who were instrumental in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Trump insisted that his decision stems from making good on his promise to get the U.S. out of years-long wars.

“Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change. Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made,” Trump said in a tweet.

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Late Sunday, Syrian TV broadcast from the northern town of Hassakeh where residents took to the streets to celebrate the announcement of cooperation between the Syrian government and the Kurds, and many vowed to defeat the Turkish invasion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57

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Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57

Nearly a week after the U.S. announced its decision to pull out troops from northern Syria to make way for a Turkish incursion, Kurdish forces in the country have reportedly agreed to a new deal with Damascus in a desperate bid to face off against Ankara’s offensive.

The New York Times reported that the deal– which was announced Sunday evening– would enable President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to attempt to regain a foothold in the country’s northeast. The Kurdish fighters had few options after the United States abandoned them, and it had been anticipated they would turn to Assad’s government for support.

“An agreement has been reached with the Syrian government — whose duty it is to protect the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty — for the Syrian Army to enter and deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to help the SDF stop this aggression” by Turkey, the SDF said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported that the deal was reached after three days of negotiations between the Kurdish forces, Russian envoys and Damascus.

JIM HANSON: US MUST DO THIS TO PREVENT ISIS RESURGENCE 

Over the past five days, Turkish troops and their allies have pushed their way into northern towns and villages, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 125 miles. The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.

On Sunday, at least nine people, including five civilians, were killed in Turkish airstrikes on a convoy in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian Kurdish officials.

President Trump’s decision to essentially give Turkey a green light to advance on the country has been widely criticized as abandoning the Kurds, who were instrumental in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Trump insisted that his decision stems from making good on his promise to get the U.S. out of years-long wars.

“Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change. Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made,” Trump said in a tweet.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Late Sunday, Syrian TV broadcast from the northern town of Hassakeh where residents took to the streets to celebrate the announcement of cooperation between the Syrian government and the Kurds, and many vowed to defeat the Turkish invasion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094524722001_6094539796001-vs Kurdish forces announce deal with Damascus after US pullout fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/world fnc Edmund DeMarche article 8f3be43e-2363-5a5c-bcfc-47d91f3b7f57

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Erdogan senior adviser denies Turkey fired at American troops in northern Syria

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094386640001_6094381183001-vs Erdogan senior adviser denies Turkey fired at American troops in northern Syria Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 5bf337cf-322e-5013-a675-de2e9b1ee9ec

A senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Fox News on Saturday that Turkey didn’t fire on American soldiers in northern Syria days after launching an offensive, contrary to what the Pentagon stated Friday.

“That’s another lie,” Gulnur Aybet told Fox News’ Leland Vittert.

“We did not fire on American soldiers. […] That was a lie that was spun by the YPG,” she said, referring to the largely Kurdish militia that forms the bulk of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic forces.

TRUMP PULLS BACK TROOPS FROM NORTHERN SYRIA AHEAD OF TURKISH ASSAULT, PENTAGON OFFICIALS ‘BLINDSIDED’

The Pentagon said Friday that U.S. troops near the border town of Kobane in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkish positions. The area where the explosion occurred is an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present there, according to the Pentagon. No American troops were injured.

Aybet firmly denied that Turkey fired on U.S. troops. She claimed Turkey was “returning fire that was fired at our territory by the terrorists of that region. We were very careful not to fire on the American observation post there.”

President Trump announced Sunday that the U.S. would pull all troops from northeast Syria, clearing the way for a Turkish air and ground offensive. Erdogan’s troops launched an assault on Wednesday and ground forces invaded later that day.

Erodgan’s adviser told Vittert that Turkey is “very disappointed [the U.S. is] still working with the YPG.”

TURKEY’S SYRIA INVASION: MEMBER OF US SPECIAL FORCES SAYS, ‘I AM ASHAMED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY CAREER’

Turkey views the United States’ support of the Kurds and YPG as “an ill-conceived policy to arm one terrorist group to fight another,” Aybet said. Turkey considers the YPG equivalent to the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party — a Kurdish far-left political group that is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S.

“I think President Trump is absolutely right in wanting to bring home U.S. troops,” Aybet told Vittert. “I think it’s very unfair they’re hostage to this ill-begotten policy [of] arming one terrorist group to fighter another,” referring to the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region. The Kurds have detained thousands of ISIS prisoners in the area. After Turkey launched its military operation, many analysts questioned what would happen to the terrorist fighters, and whether the Kurds would be able to keep them emprisoned or they would be released.

TRUMP CALLS TURKEY ASSAULT ON SYRIA A ‘BAD IDEA’ AS KURDS REPORT CIVILIAN DEATHS

According to Aybet, Turkey has two objectives in northeast Syria: clear the YPG from the border region and ensuring the return of between one and two million Syrian refugees.

According to the war-monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 74 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Wednesday, as well as 21 civilians and 49 Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Robert Gearty contributed to this report.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094386640001_6094381183001-vs Erdogan senior adviser denies Turkey fired at American troops in northern Syria Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 5bf337cf-322e-5013-a675-de2e9b1ee9ec   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6094386640001_6094381183001-vs Erdogan senior adviser denies Turkey fired at American troops in northern Syria Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/syria fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 5bf337cf-322e-5013-a675-de2e9b1ee9ec

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