2:09 PM, Jun 26, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
A top commander in southwest Asia reminded U.S military personnel stationed in Muslim countries in the Middle East of the restrictions placed on them during Ramadan. According to a report by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. John Quintas, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander in Southwest Asia, said that the U.S. is "committed to the concepts of tolerance, freedom and diversity." But he added that soldiers should "become more informed and appreciative of the traditions and history of the people in this region of the world... [R]emember we are guests here and that the host nation is our shoulder-to-shoulder, brothers and sisters in arms, risking their lives for our common cause to defeat terrorism."
During the 30-day religious celebration of Ramadan, even non-Muslims are expected to obey local laws regarding eating, drinking, and using tobacco in public. Violators can be fined up to $685 or receive two months in jail. A spokesperson for United States Central Command [CENTCOM] said that "we are not aware of any specific instances of anyone being arrested" for such violations.
\For military personnel outside of U.S.-controlled areas, the only exceptions for the rules are for those "performing strenuous labor." Such personnel are "authorized to drink and consume as much food as they need to maintain proper hydration and energy." It is unclear what constitutes "strenuous labor" or whether additional exceptions might be made during a heatwave affecting some areas of the region that has taken hundreds of lives.
When asked if the restrictions were new or simply a continuation of past policy, a CENTCOM spokesperson replied:
There has been no change in policy... [W]hile the US does not have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the UAE, it is common practice to ensure all Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines deployed to Muslim countries are culturally aware that during the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims do not consume anything from sunrise to sunset as a pillar of their faith. Commanders throughout the AOR create policies to ensure their subordinates respect the laws and culture of our hosts at all times.
The report on CENTCOM's website is accompanied by the following graphic urging military personnel to "respect Ramadan."
6:44 AM, Sep 30, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
President Obama was counting strokes on the golf course at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia last Saturday, but the day before a $91,318.76
10:03 AM, Aug 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Can the United States maintain a "limited" military force in Iraq to stop the Islamist militants targeting ethnic minorities in that country? At Politico, Philip Ewing notes how difficult that strategy may be for President Barack Obama:
2:19 PM, Aug 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
Back in the day when it was fashionable for the press to criticize the president and senior military officials for mismanaging a war--that is, from 2003 to 2009--such stories often focused on the colonels, majors, and captains who saw firsthand the practical problems with their superiors' approach and who pushed hard to change policy based on that hard-fought experience.
"So he's a bad father?" "Yes!"9:42 AM, Jun 5, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough got in a heated debate with colleague Chuck Todd Thursday morning over whether the father of recently released POW Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl should be subject to criticism over his actions. Scarborough criticized the Obama administration for including Bob Bergdahl in a Rose Garden announcement on Saturday to announce the release of Bowe in exchange for five Taliban officials who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay.
“Joe, Joe, let's not. Don’t criticize the parents,” Todd replied. “Don’t criticize the parents in here."
1:21 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
A U.S. Army soldier goes missing at night from a remote post on the edge of enemy territory. Depressed and anxious, he has expressed doubts about the U.S. mission and disillusionment with the war. He allegedly leaves behind a note recording these doubts. There are some reports that he consumes alcohol before he disappears. He crosses enemy lines and is detained by hostile forces who subsequently publicly announce his conversion to their anti-American cause.
The soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl's platoon speak up.
3:45 PM, Jun 2, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
The Obama administration is facing mounting questions about the controversial prisoner swap that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from jihadists in Pakistan in exchange for the transfer and ultimate release of five senior Taliban commanders previously held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
1:22 PM, Jun 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Six American soldiers died in their search for Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant freed by the Taliban in exchange for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Time magazine's Mark Thompson provides the names, photos, and stories of the men who did not return from their mission: staff sergeant Clayton Bowen, private first class Morris Walker, staff sergeant Kurt Curtiss, second lieutenant Darryn Andrews, staff sergeant Michael Murphrey, and private first class Matthew Martinek.
7:00 AM, Jun 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Several men who served with Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan say Bergdahl deserted in 2009 before being captured by the Taliban. Bergdahl's release this weekend as part of an exchange with the U.S. for five top Taliban operatives who were being held in Guantanamo Bay has prompted those servicemen to speak out. Jake Tapper at CNN reports:
Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By GARY SCHMITT and THOMAS DONNELLY
America’s chattering classes seem at last to have awoken to the fact that the U.S. military ain’t what it used to be. Even the New York Times allows that “the Pentagon’s proposals to reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels” could “seem unsettling to a nation that prides itself on having the world’s most capable military.” It could also unsettle the world, and most of all those allies who rely on the United States to keep a variety of dangers at bay.
The Army is making great strides reforming ROTC, and it's a task too important to be neglected.5:00 PM, Feb 11, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Army’s venerable Reserve Officer Training Corps program is finally getting rebooted.
7:17 AM, Oct 3, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The partial federal government shutdown is certainly serving to illuminate the stark divide between what everyday Americans care about—being free to visit monuments to American heroes on the National Mall, watching the Air Force-Navy football game—and what the modern Democratic party cares about—forcing other people to buy health insurance against their will.