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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/us/military (Page 12)

3 Marines killed in Afghanistan ID’d, included FDNY firefighter

Westlake Legal Group 3-marines-killed-in-afghanistan-idd-included-fdny-firefighter 3 Marines killed in Afghanistan ID'd, included FDNY firefighter fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 5c0f7268-efa8-55ae-a838-d1f294cecfdd

The three U.S. Marines killed on Monday in an IED blast in Afghanistan while in a convoy near Bagram Airfield were identified and included a firefighter from New York.

The Taliban suicide bombing killed Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31.

THE LATEST: AFGHAN OFFICIALS SAY 20 TROOPS KILLED BY TALIBAN

Slutman was a 15-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department who served in the reserves. He had a wife and three daughters.

“Through this trying time, we will remember Chris for the father, husband, brother, son, and friend that he was, the moral character he displayed daily, and the courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad,” the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department wrote on Facebook said on Facebook.

Hines was from York, Pa., and Hendriks was from Locust Valley, N.Y.

All three were from the 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.

Several others were injured in the attack.

There are about 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts — facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over almost half the country and also the Islamic State affiliate, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed “caliphate” has crumbled in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months. The Taliban have refused to meet with the Afghan government, which they view as a U.S. puppet.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Bagram Airfield is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19099159689961 3 Marines killed in Afghanistan ID'd, included FDNY firefighter fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 5c0f7268-efa8-55ae-a838-d1f294cecfdd   Westlake Legal Group AP19099159689961 3 Marines killed in Afghanistan ID'd, included FDNY firefighter fox-news/world/conflicts/afghanistan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/us-marines fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 5c0f7268-efa8-55ae-a838-d1f294cecfdd

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Veteran US firefighter, an ‘American hero,’ identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast

Westlake Legal Group veteran-us-firefighter-an-american-hero-identified-as-one-of-three-marines-killed-in-afghan-bomb-blast Veteran US firefighter, an 'American hero,' identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast Greg Norman fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article 14f071fd-4caf-5672-b271-064c846562f1

One of the three U.S. service members who died this week following a suicide bombing in Afghanistan – each of whom officials revealed to Fox News on Tuesday were Marines – is a longtime New York City and volunteer firefighter known by his superiors for his “courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman was identified Tuesday as one of those killed in yesterday’s Taliban-claimed attack near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

“Through this trying time, we will remember Chris for the father, husband, brother, son, and friend that he was, the moral character he displayed daily, and the courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad,” Chief Oleg Pelekhaty of Landover, Maryland’s Kentland Volunteer Fire Department – where Slutman also served for 19 years – posted on Facebook.

“We ask for your thoughts and prayers for his firehouse brothers, his fellow Marines, his friends – but most of all, his family,” Pelekhaty added, noting that Slutman first joined the department in 2000 and rose through its ranks to become a captain and life member.

VIDEO: MOTHER OF NAVY SEAL KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN SHARES HER SON’S STORY

Westlake Legal Group christopher-slutman Veteran US firefighter, an 'American hero,' identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast Greg Norman fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article 14f071fd-4caf-5672-b271-064c846562f1

Christopher Slutman was hailed by his colleagues during his career with the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, left, and the New York City Fire Department, right. (Courtesy Kentland Volunteer Fire Department/FDNY)

During his 15-year career in New York City, Slutman was honored for bravery after pulling an unconscious woman out of a burning apartment in the Bronx borough, the FDNY said Tuesday in a statement obtained by Fox News.

“This unquestionably is an example of the measure of this man,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Christopher Slutman is an American hero, a New York hero, and we mourn his loss today.”

Slutman is the 1,152nd member of the department to “make the Supreme Sacrifice in the line-of-duty,” the FDNY added, and the fourth to die while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since U.S. military operations began there in 2003.

“Firefighter Slutman bravely wore two uniforms and committed his life to public service both as a New York City Firefighter and as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” added Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.

Union president Gerard Fitzgerald also called Slutman a “distinguished firefighter who had a profound impact on both of his firehouses, Ladder Companies 27 and 17.”

“Together, all firefighters grieve the loss of our brother, Christopher, who dedicated his life to protecting the people of this city, and our nation,” the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York leader said.

Westlake Legal Group christopher-slutman-kentland Veteran US firefighter, an 'American hero,' identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast Greg Norman fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article 14f071fd-4caf-5672-b271-064c846562f1

The Kentland Volunteer Fire Department says Slutman rose through the ranks during his 19-year career “to become a Wagon Driver, Captain, but most of all – he was a fireman.” (Courtesy Kentland Volunteer Fire Department)

U.S. officials told Fox News on Tuesday that all three servicemembers who died in the attack and all three that were wounded were Marines. An Afghan contractor previously believed to have been killed in the same blast is actually alive, they added, and has been undergoing treatment at Bagram Airfield.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the suicide bombing Monday as a “disgusting terrorist act.

“U.S. service members have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan to keep us safe and no cowardly act of terror will impede our efforts to achieve peace,” he said in a tweet.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The identities of the other two deceased Marines, as of midday Tuesday, have not yet been released.

There are an estimated 14,000 American troops currently serving in Afghanistan.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group christopher-slutman Veteran US firefighter, an 'American hero,' identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast Greg Norman fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article 14f071fd-4caf-5672-b271-064c846562f1   Westlake Legal Group christopher-slutman Veteran US firefighter, an 'American hero,' identified as one of three Marines killed in Afghan bomb blast Greg Norman fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article 14f071fd-4caf-5672-b271-064c846562f1

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3 American soldiers, 1 US contractor killed in Afghanistan

Westlake Legal Group 3-american-soldiers-1-us-contractor-killed-in-afghanistan 3 American soldiers, 1 US contractor killed in Afghanistan RAHIM FAIEZ fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fc0b0732-9cc0-5b15-b329-27d39a4b9859 Associated Press article

Three American service members and a U.S. contractor were killed when their convoy hit a roadside bomb on Monday near the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, the U.S. forces said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission said the four Americans were killed near the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, while three others were wounded in the explosion. The base in Bagram district is located in northern Parwan province and serves as the main U.S. air facility in the country.

The wounded were evacuated and are receiving medical care, the statement said. It added that in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the names of service members killed in action were being withheld until after the notification of next of kin.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they launched the attack and that one of their suicide bombers detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the NATO base. The conflicting accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

On Tuesday, local officials said at least five Afghan civilians were wounded in the commotion after the attack on the American convoy. Four were passers-by and the fifth was a driver of a car going down the road, said Abdul Raqib Kohistani, the Bagram district police chief. Abdul Shakor Qudosi, the district administrative chief in Bagram, said American soldiers opened fire immediately after their convoy was bombed.

Monday’s U.S. fatalities bring to seven the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, underscoring the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-wrecked country even as Washington has stepped up efforts to find a way to end the 17-year war, America’s longest.

There are about 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts — facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over almost half the country and also the Islamic State affiliate, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed “caliphate” has crumbled in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months. The Taliban have refused to meet with the Afghan government, which they view as a U.S. puppet.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have agreed to take part in an all-Afghan gathering later this month in Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office. But the Taliban say they will not recognize any government official attending the gathering as a representative of the Kabul government, only as an individual Afghan participant.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-12367ffde7484a7aa5783db8f07df6d4 3 American soldiers, 1 US contractor killed in Afghanistan RAHIM FAIEZ fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fc0b0732-9cc0-5b15-b329-27d39a4b9859 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-12367ffde7484a7aa5783db8f07df6d4 3 American soldiers, 1 US contractor killed in Afghanistan RAHIM FAIEZ fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fc0b0732-9cc0-5b15-b329-27d39a4b9859 Associated Press article

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Cousin: Upstate NY burial likely for remains of WWII airman

Westlake Legal Group cousin-upstate-ny-burial-likely-for-remains-of-wwii-airman Cousin: Upstate NY burial likely for remains of WWII airman fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc CHRIS CAROLA b44906d9-0dcb-5128-9b86-70b517887943 Associated Press article

A relative of a New York airman whose remains were identified more than 75 years after he died in World War II says his reburial will likely be in a rural upstate cemetery.

Wayne Rogers told The Associated Press on Monday that the family would like to inter the remains of his first cousin, Vincent J. Rogers Jr., in the family plot in a cemetery in Willing, New York. Details of the reburial are still being worked out with Pentagon officials.

Vincent Rogers was 21 when he and six other men were killed when their B-24 bomber crashed after taking off from an airfield on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa in January 1943.

The Pentagon announced last week that Vincent Rogers’ remains had been identified after being located in 2017.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-159a5440fa3b4538aacfd464e016c577 Cousin: Upstate NY burial likely for remains of WWII airman fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc CHRIS CAROLA b44906d9-0dcb-5128-9b86-70b517887943 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-159a5440fa3b4538aacfd464e016c577 Cousin: Upstate NY burial likely for remains of WWII airman fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc CHRIS CAROLA b44906d9-0dcb-5128-9b86-70b517887943 Associated Press article

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Acting appointments help Trump avoid saying ‘You’re hired’

As President Donald Trump looks to reshape the executive branch, he’s avoiding the words “You’re hired.”

Trump’s choice of Kevin McAleenan as acting replacement for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spotlights the president’s increasing reliance on a once-obscure federal statute that governs how to fill vacant federal posts. It also raises fresh questions about his reliance on temporary appointments for key security roles. The reality-star president, who once made staff churn into prime-time television, has overseen massive turnover in just two years in office. But he’s shown little concern for creating uncertainty about the leadership of some of the country’s most important agencies.

Disordered departures have become the rule in the Trump administration, with aides and even Cabinet officials pushed out at a record pace, often with no clear replacement plan in place. And when he does have a plan, Trump has made a habit of taking the creative route, going around in-place deputies to select other officials he believes are more loyal or amenable to his agenda.

Officials with “acting” titles abound in key roles, from the secretary of defense to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and even the White House chief of staff. And when Linda McMahon’s resignation as Small Business Administrator takes effect later this week, that agency will be led by yet another acting official. Trump has announced his intention to nominate Jovita Carranza, the current treasurer of the United States, for the role.

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 gives a president wide berth to fill openings across the executive branch and he’s used it without restraint to re-jigger the succession plans of the Departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs. But in selecting McAleenan, Trump will have to go even further. The agency’s undersecretary of management, Claire Grady, is technically next in line for the job. She will need to resign — or more likely be fired — in order for McAleenan to assume the acting position under the act.

Allowing individuals to fill roles in an acting capacity allows the White House to avoid Senate confirmation battles. Trump has seen several high-profile nominations founder, and others that have become distracting political fights.

“I like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that?” Trump said in January, facing questions about acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. “I like acting. So we have a few that are acting. We have a great, great Cabinet.”

But it also serves as a “run around Congress,” said the Brookings Institution’s Darrell West. “He’s worried that he would not be able to get all of these people through the U.S. Senate, even though Republicans still control the Senate.”

West added: “It makes the administration look chaotic and not really in control of what it is doing, but Trump seems comfortable with that and he seems willing to live with that reality.”

White House officials acknowledged that the roster of “actings” was not ideal, saying Trump’s haste to make personnel changes, even without establishing succession plans, reflected his experience in the private sector. Some suggested it marked Trump’s wariness to hire the wrong people.

But the president has struggled to attract top-tier talent since even before taking office, in part because he has maintained a loyalty test that has kept away many qualified Republicans who were critical of his candidacy during the presidential campaign.

Shanahan assumed the post in December after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over the president’s Syria withdrawal plans and Trump has not named a permanent replacement. Mulvaney has been acting in the role since January, after the departure of chief of staff John Kelly.

At the Interior Department, David Bernhardt is serving in an acting capacity while his nomination to fill the role full time is pending before the Senate. The Office of Management and Budget is led by Russell Vought, while Mulvaney is at the White House.

“White House jobs and administration jobs are uber temporary because they’re very difficult,” said Matt Schlapp, a White House ally and chairman of the American Conservative Union. That’s especially true for those who work for a Republican and especially Trump, Schlapp added, citing negative press and heightened media scrutiny.

Additional “actings” fill posts at the sub-Cabinet level.

Trump last week suddenly rescinded the nomination of acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement director Ron Vitiello to lead the agency permanently. And the Federal Aviation Administration has been led by an acting administrator, Daniel Elwell, since January 2018. Trump didn’t nominate a permanent replacement until last month in the wake of a pair of aviation disasters.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said at the Homeland Security Department alone at least 10 top positions are filled in an acting capacity.

“The purge of senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security is unprecedented and a threat to our national security,” she said.

On Capitol Hill Trump’s use of acting officials has drawn scrutiny from within his own party as well, both over concerns that Trump was usurping their authority and that the instability could make the nation less safe.

“I don’t know what his rationale is, but it’s bound to create more challenges,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the chamber. “They’re not subject to Senate confirmation when they’re in acting, and I think we need some more certainty, more predictability would be good.”

___

AP writers Jill Colvin, Lisa Mascaro and Tracy Brown contributed.

Westlake Legal Group 6b18104f-ContentBroker_contentid-f4e7f4a982ba41aa99fe3634db91be8b Acting appointments help Trump avoid saying 'You're hired' ZEKE MILLER fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fb137a18-323c-56ef-8072-3c15abc73c2c Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group 6b18104f-ContentBroker_contentid-f4e7f4a982ba41aa99fe3634db91be8b Acting appointments help Trump avoid saying 'You're hired' ZEKE MILLER fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fb137a18-323c-56ef-8072-3c15abc73c2c Associated Press article

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Trump avoids ‘you’re hired’ with acting appointments

Westlake Legal Group trump-avoids-youre-hired-with-acting-appointments Trump avoids 'you're hired' with acting appointments ZEKE MILLER fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6c92d9db-1461-52b3-818a-56334b57da17

As President Donald Trump looks to reshape the executive branch, he’s avoiding the words “you’re hired.”

Trump’s choice of Kevin McAleenan as acting replacement for Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spotlights the president’s increasing reliance on a once-obscure federal statute that governs how to fill vacant federal posts. It also raises fresh questions about his reliance on temporary appointments for key security roles.

The reality-star president, who once made staff churn into prime-time television, has overseen massive turnover in just two years in office. But he’s shown little concern over creating uncertainty about the leadership of some of the country’s most important agencies.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-f4e7f4a982ba41aa99fe3634db91be8b Trump avoids 'you're hired' with acting appointments ZEKE MILLER fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6c92d9db-1461-52b3-818a-56334b57da17   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-f4e7f4a982ba41aa99fe3634db91be8b Trump avoids 'you're hired' with acting appointments ZEKE MILLER fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6c92d9db-1461-52b3-818a-56334b57da17

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US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organization

Westlake Legal Group us-labels-elite-iran-force-a-foreign-terrorist-organization US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organization MATTHEW LEE fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 083c9e15-440a-52bc-9f3e-3375a4ac5356

The United States on Monday designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization, an unprecedented declaration against a foreign government that may prompt retaliation and make it harder for American diplomats and military officers to work with allies in the region.

It is the first time that the U.S. has designated an entity of another government as a terrorist organization, placing a group with vast economic resources that answers only to Iran’s supreme leader in the same category as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump said in announcing the measure.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the designation is intended to increase pressure on Iran, isolating it further and diverting some of the financial resources it uses to fund terrorism and militant activity in the Middle East and beyond. But, in addition to the potential for Iranian retaliation, it complicates a delicate balance for U.S. personnel in at least two key countries.

Pompeo said the move is part of an effort to put “maximum pressure” on Iran to end its support for terrorist plots and militant activity that destabilizes the Middle East. Speaking to reporters, he rattled off a list of attacks dating to the 1980s for which the U.S. holds Iran and the IRGC responsible, beginning with the attacks on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

No waivers or exceptions to the sanctions were announced, meaning U.S. troops and diplomats could be barred from speaking with Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who have dealings with Guard officials or surrogates. Such contact occurs now between U.S. officials in Iraq who deal with Iranian-affiliated Shiite militias and in Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement is in parliament and the government.

The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies had raised concerns about the impact of the designation if the move did not allow contact with other foreign officials who may have met with or communicated with Guard personnel. Those concerns have in part dissuaded previous administrations from taking the step, which has been considered for more than a decade.

The Justice Department said Monday it would prosecute violations but officials declined to say how broadly they would interpret the provision barring “material support” to the IRGC. A strict interpretation would leave hundreds of European companies and executives at risk for U.S. travel bans or criminal penalties in addition to limiting American officials’ ability to deal with foreign counterparts who have links to the guard.

The designation “raises the question of whether a non-U.S. company or individual could be prosecuted for engaging in commercial transactions with an Iranian company controlled by the IRGC,” said Anthony Rapa, an international trade and national security attorney with Kirkland and Ellis.

Critics of the hardline policy also see it as a prelude to conflict.

“This move closes yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran,” said Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council. “Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable.”

National Security Action, a group made up of mainly former Obama administration officials, said it would put U.S. troops at risk while jeopardizing the 2015 nuclear accord with which Iran is still complying.

“We need to call out today’s move for what it is: another dangerous and self-defeating tactic that endangers our troops and serves nothing but the Trump administration’s goal of destroying the Iran deal,” it said.

The designation could also open hundreds of foreign companies and business executives to U.S. travel bans and possible prosecution for sanctions violations.

The IRGC is a paramilitary organization formed in the wake of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution to defend the government. The force answers only to Iran’s supreme leader, operates independently of the regular military and has vast economic interests across the country. The U.S. estimates it may control or have a significant influence over up to 50% of the Iranian economy, including non-military sectors like banking and shipping.

Iran has long been designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the U.S. and the State Department currently designates more than 60 organizations as “foreign terrorist organizations.” But none of them is a state-run military.

Iran immediately responded to the designation with its Supreme National Security Council designating the U.S. Central Command, also known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as terrorist, and labeling the U.S. a “supporter of terrorism.”

The Council denounced the U.S. decision as “illegal and dangerous” and said the U.S. government would be responsible for all “dangerous repercussions” of its decision. It defended the IRGC, which has fought Islamic State fighters, as being a force against terrorism.

American military commanders were planning to warn U.S. troops remaining in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region of the possibility of retaliation. Aside from Iraq, where some 5,200 American troops are stationed, and Syria, where some U.S. 2,000 troops remain, the U.S. 5th Fleet, which operates in the Persian Gulf from its base in Bahrain, and the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, are potentially at risk.

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, and the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Nathan Sales, said the decision was reached after consultation with agencies throughout the government but would not say in a news conference if the military or intelligence concerns had been addressed.

“Doing this will not impede our diplomacy,” Hook said, without elaborating. He noted that the U.S. has at various times had contact or even formal negotiations with members of groups that are subject to sanctions.

Reaction from those who favor tougher engagement with Iran was quick and welcoming.

“Thank you, my dear friend, US President Donald Trump,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a tweet, a day before what could be a close election. “Thank you for answering another of my important requests that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the action an “overdue” but essential step that should be followed by additional sanctions.

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the designation “ends the facade that the IRGC is part of a normal military.”

And, the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called it “an imperative for Middle East security, peace, and stability, and an urgent and necessary step to end war and terrorism throughout the region and the world.”

___

Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-7a706c5c1b0949de882441dc9af104d5 US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organization MATTHEW LEE fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 083c9e15-440a-52bc-9f3e-3375a4ac5356   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-7a706c5c1b0949de882441dc9af104d5 US labels elite Iran force a foreign terrorist organization MATTHEW LEE fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 083c9e15-440a-52bc-9f3e-3375a4ac5356

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Operation Healing Forces aids America’s warriors

Westlake Legal Group operation-healing-forces-aids-americas-warriors Operation Healing Forces aids America's warriors Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article af7f7fc5-5c18-57a5-8e80-77b73b4efc34
Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6023092371001_6023098270001-vs Operation Healing Forces aids America's warriors Lucas Tomlinson fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military fox news fnc/us fnc article af7f7fc5-5c18-57a5-8e80-77b73b4efc34

For nearly two decades, U.S. special operations forces have been leading the war against terrorism. They are deployed to over 100 countries worldwide.

Since 2012, Operation Healing Forces has helped injured operators and their spouses recover, and in some cases return to the battlefield — after a week-long retreat at luxury destinations around the country.

Gary Markel, a successful Florida businessman and part owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, founded Operation Healing Forces after watching injured service members scuba diving on TV.  He was so moved, he felt compelled to act.

“It’s a bonding and healing retreat — very therapeutic where none of the couples know each other when they come to the location,” said Markel in an interview with Fox News.

“The retreats range from Key West, Florida to Hilton Head to Virginia Beach to Vail to Los Angeles to New England, he added.  “I still donate my yacht, but most of our generous donations come from people that have luxury vacation homes as well as several resorts that have agreed to support cause as well.”

Those resorts include The Greenbrier, Beaver Creek, The Sea Pines Resort and Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.

The charity has expanded from 10 week-long retreats to nearly 40 this year, helping some of the nearly 15,000 wounded special operators.

THE MOTHER OF A NAVY SEAL KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN SHARES HER SON’T STORY

Nearly three-quarters of participants are active-duty special operations forces.

Markel’s brother, Tony, joined his brother a few years ago.

“The reality is the way wars are being fought these days these are the guys that are really out there protecting the front lines and putting their lives at risk,” said Tony Markel.  “The special operators are special and we think it’s a wonderful way to repay the sacrifices that they make on our behalf.”

“The divorce rate in the special ops community is horrendous given the pressure of the number of deployments,” he added. “We’re trying to concentrate on keeping those marriages solid.”

One couple from the special operations community – a recipient of one of the week-long retreats in Arizona – praised the work of Operation Healing Forces.

“I don’t want to say that our marriage was broken or on the rocks but our marriage was not thriving,” said Heather Mizerek. “It gave us the time to focus on us.”

Mizerek credits Operation Healing Forces for helping her husband, Vince, transition out of the military.

“My favorite thing was we went on a hot air balloon ride in the middle of the desert,” she described. “They set up this beautiful dinner in the desert, while the sun is going down a string lights. It was awesome.”

Former Marine Corps special operator Vince Mizerek deployed to combat multiple times. A traumatic brain injury during a training accident in 2017 cut his career short.  The former staff sergeant said he struggled with the transition.

“Operation healing forces is more than just a charity, it was a bonding experience. It was the reintegration of family,” said Vince. “The challenges that you face overseas or are completely different than the normal everyday challenges that you face here — dropping the kids off at school helping them with homework – it’s almost so simple it’s hard for you.”

For the Markel brothers, the joy comes at the end of the week-long retreat when the special operations families learn who has sponsored their luxury retreat.

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“The initial reaction is I can’t believe somebody would do this for us. Well, of course, our response is we can’t believe what you do for us,” said Tony Markel.

“Operation Healing Forces gave us some friends from our retreat that we never would have made before. They gave us the resources,” added Heather Mizerek.

“Everybody in the military are heroes. We just feel that the special ops community is that cut above. It’s a pleasure to help them out,” added Gary Markel.

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US declares Iran force a foreign terrorist organization

The United States on Monday designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization, an unprecedented declaration against a foreign government that may prompt retaliation and make it harder for American diplomats and military officers to work with allies in the region.

It is the first time that the U.S. has designated an entity of another government as a terrorist organization, placing a group with vast economic resources that answers only to Iran’s supreme leader in the same category as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump said in announcing the measure.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the designation is intended to increase pressure on Iran, isolating it further and diverting some of the financial resources it uses to fund terrorism and militant activity in the Middle East and beyond. But, in addition to the potential for Iranian retaliation, it complicates a delicate balance for U.S. personnel in at least two key countries.

No waivers or exceptions to the sanctions were announced, meaning U.S. troops and diplomats could be barred from contact with Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who interact with Guard officials or surrogates.

The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies had also raised concerns about the impact of the designation if the move did not allow contact with other foreign officials who may have met with or communicated with Guard personnel. Those concerns have in part dissuaded previous administrations from taking the step, which has been considered for more than a decade.

Critics of the hardline policy also see it as a prelude to conflict.

“This move closes yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran,” said Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council. “Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable.”

National Security Action, a group made up of mainly former Obama administration officials, said it would put U.S. troops at risk while jeopardizing the 2015 nuclear accord with which Iran is still complying.

“We need to call out today’s move for what it is: another dangerous and self-defeating tactic that endangers our troops and serves nothing but the Trump administration’s goal of destroying the Iran deal,” it said.

The designation could also open hundreds of foreign companies and business executives to U.S. travel bans and possible prosecution for sanctions violations.

It blocks any assets that IRGC entities may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from any transactions with it. When it takes effect next week, it will allow the U.S. to deny entry to people found to have provided the Guard with “material support” or prosecute them for sanctions violations. That could include European and Asian companies and businesspeople who deal with the Guard’s many affiliates.

“It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC,” Trump said. “If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.”

The IRGC is a paramilitary organization formed in the wake of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution to defend the government. The force answers only to Iran’s supreme leader, operates independently of the regular military and has vast economic interests across the country. The U.S. estimates it may control or have a significant influence over up to 50% of the Iranian economy, including non-military sectors like banking and shipping.

Iran has long been designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the U.S. and the State Department currently designates more than 60 organizations as “foreign terrorist organizations.” But none of them is a state-run military.

Iran immediately responded to the designation with its Supreme National Security Council designating the U.S. Central Command, also known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as terrorist, and labeling the U.S. a “supporter of terrorism.”

The Council denounced the U.S. decision as “illegal and dangerous” and said the U.S. government would be responsible for all “dangerous repercussions” of its decision. It defended the IRGC, which has fought Islamic State fighters, as being a force against terrorism.

American military commanders were planning to warn U.S. troops remaining in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region of the possibility of retaliation. Aside from Iraq, where some 5,200 American troops are stationed, and Syria, where some U.S. 2,000 troops remain, the U.S. 5th Fleet, which operates in the Persian Gulf from its base in Bahrain, and the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, are potentially at risk.

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, and the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Nathan Sales, said the decision was reached after consultation with agencies throughout the government but would not say in a news conference if the military or intelligence concerns had been addressed.

“Doing this will not impede our diplomacy,” Hook said, without elaborating.

Reaction from those who favor tougher engagement with Iran was quick and welcoming.

“Thank you, my dear friend, US President Donald Trump,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a tweet, a day before what could be a close election. “Thank you for answering another of my important requests that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the action an “overdue” but essential step that should be followed by additional sanctions.

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the designation “ends the facade that the IRGC is part of a normal military.”

And, the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called it “an imperative for Middle East security, peace, and stability, and an urgent and necessary step to end war and terrorism throughout the region and the world.”

Pompeo said the move is part of an effort to put “maximum pressure” on Iran to end its support for terrorist plots and militant activity that destabilizes the Middle East. Speaking to reporters, he rattled off a list of attacks dating to the 1980s for which the U.S. holds Iran and the IRGC responsible, beginning with the attacks on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

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Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.

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Nielsen says she still supports Trump’s border goals

Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday she still shares President Donald Trump’s goal of securing the border, a day after she resigned as Homeland Security secretary amid Trump’s frustration and bitterness over a spike in Central American migration.

Trump announced on Sunday in a tweet that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department. The decision to name a top immigration officer to the post reflects Trump’s priority for the sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Nielsen had traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday with Trump to participate in a roundtable with border officers and local law enforcement. There she echoed Trump’s comments on the situation at the border, though she ducked out of the room while Trump spoke. As they toured a section of newly rebuilt barriers, Nielsen was at Trump’s side, introducing him to local officials. She returned to Washington afterward as Trump continued on a fundraising trip to California and Nevada.

But on Sunday, she wrote in her resignation letter that “it is the right time for me to step aside.” She wrote that she hoped “the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”

Nielsen told reporters outside her Alexandria, Virginia home Monday that she continues to support the president’s goal of securing the border.

“I will continue to support all efforts to address the humanitarian and security crisis on the border,” she said in her first public remarks since the surprise resignation, thanking the president “for the tremendous opportunity to serve this country.”

Nielsen had grown increasingly frustrated by what she saw as a lack of support from other departments and increased meddling by Trump aides on difficult immigration issues, according to three people familiar with details of her resignation. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

She went into the White House on Sunday to meet with Trump not knowing whether she’d be fired or would resign. She ended up resigning, though she was not forced to do so, they said.

Though Trump aides were eyeing a staff shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security and had already withdrawn the nomination of another key immigration official, the development Sunday was unexpected.

Still, it was unclear how McAleenan would immediately assume the role. The agency’s undersecretary of management, Claire Grady, is technically next in line for the job, and she will need to resign — or more likely be fired — in order for McAleenan to assume the post.

“The president works very well with Kevin McAleenan. He’s done an incredible job in the administration and we expect that relationship and the work to continue,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters Monday.

He cited McAleenan’s “extensive” knowledge of immigration issues and said the change in leadership would hopefully lead to “massive changes” at the border.

Nielsen is the latest person felled in the Trump administration’s unprecedented churn of top staff and Cabinet officials, brought about by the president’s mercurial management style, insistence on blind loyalty and rash policy announcements.

She was also the highest profile female Cabinet member, and her exit leaves DHS along with the Pentagon and even the White House staff without permanent heads. Patrick Shanahan has held the post of acting defense secretary since the former secretary, Jim Mattis, was pushed out in December over criticism of the president’s Syria withdrawal plans. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has held his post since January, following John Kelly’s resignation last year.

McAleenan has helped shape many of the administration’s policies to date and is considered highly competent by congressional leaders, the White House and Homeland Security officials. But it’s unclear if he can have much more of an effect on the issues at the border. The Trump administration has bumped up against legal restrictions and court rulings that have hamstrung many of its major efforts to remake border security.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was critical of Nielsen, saying she spent her tenure “championing President Trump’s cruel anti-immigrant agenda,” and he called McAleenan’s appointment “deeply disturbing.”

“He cannot be trusted as Acting DHS Secretary based on his record of prioritizing Trump’s harmful policies that undermine national security and the economy, and hurt vulnerable families and children at the border,” Castro, a Texas Democrat, said in a statement.

Tensions between the White House and Nielsen have persisted almost from the moment she became secretary, after her predecessor, Kelly, became the White House chief of staff in 2017. Nielsen was viewed as resistant to some of the harshest immigration measures supported by the president and his aides, particularly senior adviser Stephen Miller, both on matters around the border and others like protected status for some refugees.

Once Kelly left the White House, Nielsen’s days appeared to be numbered, and she had expected to be pushed out last November.

During the government shutdown over Trump’s insistence for funding for a border wall, Nielsen’s standing inside the White House appeared to rise. But in recent weeks, as a new wave of migration has taxed resources along the border and as Trump sought to regain control of the issue for his 2020 re-election campaign, tensions flared anew.

The final straw came when Trump gave Nielsen no heads-up or opportunity to discuss his decision to pull the nomination of acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ron Vitiello — a move seen as part of a larger effort by Miller, an immigration hardliner, and his allies at the White House to clean house at the department and bring in more people who share their views, the people said.

Nielsen had wanted to discuss the move with Trump during their visit to the border Friday, but when there was no time, she asked for the meeting Sunday. She walked into it prepared to resign, depending on what she heard. The people described mounting frustrations on both sides, with Trump exasperated at the situation at the border and Nielsen frustrated by White House actions she felt were counterproductive.

Arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed recently. Border agents are on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry at the southern border in March, more than half of which are families with children. A press conference to announce the most recent border numbers — scheduled to be held by McAleenan on Monday — was postponed.

Nielsen dutifully pushed Trump’s immigration policies, including funding for his border wall, and defended the administration’s practice of separating children from parents. She told a Senate committee that removing children from parents facing criminal charges happens “in the United States every day.” But she was also instrumental in ending the policy.

Under Nielsen, migrants seeking asylum are waiting in Mexico as their cases progress. She also moved to abandon longstanding regulations that dictate how long children are allowed to be held in immigration detention and requested bed space from the U.S. military for 12,000 people in an effort to detain all families who cross the border. Right now there is space for about 3,000 families, and facilities are at capacity.

Nielsen also advocated for strong cybersecurity defense and said she believed the next major terror attack would occur online — not by planes or bombs. She was tasked with helping states secure elections following Russian interference during the 2018 election.

She led the federal agency since December 2017 and was this administration’s third Homeland Security secretary. A protege of Kelly’s, he brought her to the White House after Trump named him chief of staff.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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This story corrects the month in which border agents are on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry to March, not this month.

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