Showing posts with label USArmy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USArmy. Show all posts

October 4, 2017

An Army Guy Coming Out Story

May 7, 2017

Trump’s Homophobic Sec of Army Mark Green Withdraws

As Rachel noted on the show the other day, Green has quite a colorful record of strange beliefs, including arguing that being transgender is a “disease,” promoting creationism, criticizing public health-care programs for interfering with Christian evangelism, and raising some very strange concerns about Victoria’s Secret catalogs.
As rumors swirled this week that Green was simply too radical to be confirmed, he insisted that the chatter was baseless and that his meetings with senators were going smoothly.
That turned out to be untrue. Green is now out and Trump will need to look for yet another person to serve as Army Secretary.

More background (NYT and Boston Globe):

Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army, abruptly withdrew his name for the post Friday night after concluding it would be too difficult to untangle himself from his business ties, two government officials said.

Viola is an owner of the Florida Panthers hockey club and a majority shareholder in Virtu Financial and Eastern Air Lines, among other business interests. This week The New York Times reported Viola had been negotiating to swap his stake in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, an airline with government contracts.   

If his nomination had continued, he would have faced certain scrutiny for potentially becoming a government official who benefits from federal contracts. The Army secretary post requires Senate confirmation.

The Trump administration did not announce his withdrawal, which was first reported Friday by The Military Times, but a senior administration official and a Pentagon official separately confirmed his decision, which the White House accepted Friday. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Viola is a 1977 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he last served in the Army Reserves at the rank of major. He remained connected to the military through donations to West Point, including to the academy’s Combating Terrorism Center.

A former Pentagon official and close friend said Viola was devastated over having to withdraw from what he described as a lifelong dream job. But the former official said Viola felt he was unable to sell his interest in some of his holdings because doing so could have destroyed those companies. His decision followed weeks of negotiations between his lawyers and the government as they sought to find a solution.

Ultimately, they could not.

Viola has a net worth of almost $1.8 billion and is a co-founder of Virtu.  
In an episode unrelated to the finances of Viola, it was recently revealed that he was involved in an altercation in August: He was accused of punching a concessions worker at a racehorse auction in Saratoga Springs, New York. No charges were brought against him.


May 3, 2017

Anti Gay, Racist Trump’s Army Sec Nominee in trouble with Sen.McCain Over Anti Muslim Remarks

 Trump really went deep into the racist well to pull Mark Green

Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that Army secretary nominee Mark Green’s past comments about gays and lesbians and Muslims are “very concerning” and that Green must explain himself to the committee.

“There’s a lot of controversy concerning his nomination,” McCain, whose committee will be responsible for holding Green’s confirmation hearing, said in a brief interview with USA TODAY. “We are getting some questions from both Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee. I think there are some issues that clearly need to be cleared up.”

Asked whether he was bothered about Green’s remarks, McCain said, “Of course. Some of the comments that have been attributed to him obviously are very concerning.”

Asked which comments he found troubling, McCain said, “a broad variety — concerning the Muslim faith, concerning the LGBT community, other issues according to the comments he has made in the past.”

No date has been set for Green’s confirmation hearing, McCain said, because his nomination hasn’t yet been formally submitted to the committee. “But when his nomination is (formally) submitted, we will give him an opportunity to respond to these questions that have been raised,” McCain said.

Meanwhile, a political adviser to Green denied a CNN report that his nomination was in jeopardy and that he might withdraw as soon as this week.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” said Darren Morris, who was the campaign manager for Green’s now-suspended campaign for governor of Tennessee.

Morris called the report “wishful thinking” by groups opposed to Green and said Green is in Washington this week meeting with senators and preparing for his confirmation hearing.
Green, an Iraq war veteran and West Point graduate who was deployed three times overseas, has come under fire from numerous advocacy groups since President Trump announced last month he would nominate him to be Army secretary.

Green, who was the first person to interrogate Saddam Hussein following the former Iraqi dictator’s capture, currently is a Republican state senator from Tennessee whose conservative philosophy lines up closely with the Tea Party.

Multiple LGBT groups have denounced Green’s nomination, calling him “a social issues warrior” who has worked to undermine LGBT rights at every turn. One of the groups, GLAAD, has released audio from a radio program in which Green, discussing his sponsorship of a bill that would have forced transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their legal sex rather than their actual gender, said his responsibility as a state senator was to “crush evil.”

Others have pointed to Green’s sponsorship of legislation that would allow mental health practitioners to refuse to treat LGBT patients and his support for a bill that would effectively bar transgender high school and college students from using public restrooms.

“If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you transgender is a disease," Green said at a Chattanooga Tea Party event last September.

In addition to his record on LGBT issues, Green is facing opposition from a couple of Muslim groups — Muslim Advocates and the Council on American-Islamic Relations — for comments he has made that the organizations consider derogatory toward the Islamic faith and its followers. 

Army secretary nominee Mark Green draws opposition from military academics, ex-Pentagon official

Three dozen House Democrats urge Senate to reject Trump's pick for Army secretary
President Trump nominates Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green for Army secretary
At the Chattanooga event, Green said he doesn’t believe students should learn about Muslim beliefs and religious practices and claimed erroneously that Muslims don’t believe Jesus “was born from a virgin.”

Last week, nearly three dozen House Democrats sent a letter asking the Senate to reject Green’s nomination, arguing he cannot be trusted to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers are able to serve without discrimination or harassment.

A top Pentagon official under former president Barack Obama and a group of 21 current and former faculty members at military service academies, war colleges and other military universities also announced last week they oppose Green’s nomination, citing his history “of extreme statements and actions” which they said pose a “serious threat” to the military’s core values.

Besides McCain, at least three other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee also have raised concerns about Green’s past comments.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Tuesday he is just beginning to examine Green’s record. But, “I have some issues that are of concern,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, King said, “I don’t want to be specific. But I have some concerns, and I will try to follow up.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she has heard of Green’s past comments and plans to review his background before his confirmation hearing. Asked if she found his statements troubling, she said, “Of course. That’s why I want to look at it.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has “serious concerns about Mark Green, particularly his deeply troubling record of supporting policies that are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community,” said the senator’s spokesman, Marc Brumer. “She will look to hear these concerns addressed during his confirmation hearings.”

Green has declined to discuss the criticism with reporters. But in a Facebook post last week, Green blasted his critics for "cutting and splicing my words to paint me as a hater." He wrote that every American has a right to defend his or her country and that he has never considered himself anyone’s judge.

Morris, Green’s political adviser, acknowledged the resistance that pro-LGBT and Muslim advocates have put up since his nomination.

“It’s going to be a tough nomination fight because the first impression too many senators have is the misleading and false attacks against Dr. Green rather than who he really is and the outstanding qualities he brings to the job,” Morris said. “But he will overcome that and be confirmed."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee, declined to discuss Green’s background but said, “I am certain the committee will fairly carefully consider each of the nominees before it.”

Contributing: Reporter Jake Lowary in Nashville

April 11, 2017

Trump’s Choice for New Secretary of Army is a Homophobe

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, pick for Sec of Army

Advocates for gay, lesbian and transgender rights urged the Senate on Monday to reject President Trump’s choice for Army secretary, calling him “a social issues warrior” who has worked to undermine LGBT rights at every turn.

“The administration could not have picked a worse nominee,” said David Stacy, government affairs director of the Human Rights Campaign.

Trump announced Friday he is nominating Mark Green, a former Army officer and Republican state senator from Tennessee, to lead the Army. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of a branch of the military.

Green, 52, is a physician and West Point graduate who is popular among many Tea Party-aligned Republicans. He was deployed three times overseas during his military service and was an Army medic for a special operations team that captured Saddam Hussein. Green wrote a book about the experience.

Gay-rights groups, however, contend he’s one of the most extreme, anti-LGBT politicians in the country and worry that, if confirmed, he would work to roll back the progress that has been made in integrating openly gay men and women in the armed forces since the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on military service.

“We’ve finally ended archaic policies that forced service members and their families to hide who they are and treated them as second class citizens,” said Stephen Peters, the Human Rights Campaign’s press secretary and a military veteran who was discharged under "don’t Ask, don’t tell."

Putting Green in charge of the Army “would send an incredibly dangerous message down the chain of command, a message that undermines the important progress we have made.”

LGBT groups point to Green’s legislative record in Tennessee and his public comments on issues such as same-sex marriage and transgender rights as proof of his “radical and outdated” views.

Vincent Viola withdraws from Army secretary nomination
President Trump nominates Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green for Army secretary

They are particularly incensed about his sponsorship this year of legislation that they’ve labeled the “license to discriminate” bill.

The bill would prevent local governments from taking “discriminatory action” against a company based on the company’s policies related to personnel or employee benefits. This could include either not contracting with a vendor or canceling a current contract.

Hence, a local government would be blocked from ending a contract with a company for the sole reason that it did not have employee protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender workers.

The bill passed the Tennessee Senate but died in the House.

LGBT groups also took exception to a number of comments that Green has made regarding gay-rights issues.

While speaking to the Chattanooga Tea Party in 2016, Green referenced then-president Barack Obama’s federal guidelines allowing public school students to use restrooms and other facilities corresponding to their gender identity.

Green called transgender men and women “guys or gals with question marks” and complained, “The notion that Mr. Obama thinks he can tell the state of Tennessee who can go into a men’s bathroom or a women’s bathroom is absurd.”

In the same speech, Green suggested Tennessee should not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and insinuated that permissive attitudes that legalized same-sex marriage could eventually open the door to using taxpayer dollars for infanticide.

“That’s absurd. Right?” he said. “We would think, ‘Oh, they’ll never get there.’ But 30 years ago, that’s what they thought about two guys getting married. So at what point do you just say, ‘I drew this line in the sand,’ and ‘No!’ ”

Green could not be reached for comment. But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week he is confident of Green’s ability to lead the Army.

“Mark will provide strong civilian leadership, improve military readiness and support our service members, civilians and their families,” Mattis said in a statement issued shortly after Green’s nomination was announced.

LGBT groups began reaching out over the weekend to Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans to let them know about Green’s views, said Stacy, with the Human Rights Campaign.

“We are hearing real concerns,” not only from lawmakers, but also from gay and lesbian military personnel who fear what Green’s nomination could mean for their future, Stacy said.

Contributing: Joey Garrison of the USA TODAY Network-Tennessee

June 3, 2016

The New Gay Secretary of the Army Speaks Out


Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military branch, says he now embraces the historic role that he once felt uneasy about.

"I've gotten used to the fact that this is going to be a part of any time I get a new job or do something," he told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday.
"And when it first happened I was more bothered by it because I didn't quite have the track record that people know now. And I wanted the focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point. And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn't allowed to serve and so chose another route."

"And when it first happened I was more bothered by it because I didn't quite have the track record that people know now. And I wanted the focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point. And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn't allowed to serve and so chose another route."

Fanning's tenure could be a brief one. Technically, he only has eight months of job security since the next president will get to select a new secretary of the Army.

"I think the service secretaries are just amazingly rewarding jobs. That said, January 21st, I imagine myself on a beach someplace," he quipped.

Asked if he would be willing to repeat the arduous Senate confirmation procedure in the next administration for a promotion — to Secretary of Defense — Fanning said it's too soon to imagine the scenario.

“Right now, I can't imagine going through the process again," he said.

Eun Kyung Kim

May 19, 2016

It Happened: The1st Openly Gay Secretary of the Army Gets Confirmed

Eric Fanning
In January of this year, Eric Fanning testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be the next secretary of the Army. The line of questioning from lawmakers was standard for hearings with military officials these days. Is the United States winning the war against ISIS? How long until Iraqi troops regain control of Mosul? What’s the status of the military’s plan to integrate women into combat roles?

As with any job interview, Fanning’s life outside of work didn’t come up. But that omission is what made the Senate’s decision to confirm Fanning as the 22nd Army secretary this week such a historic moment: Fanning is now the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service, and the highest-ranking openly gay Pentagon official in the country’s history.

The Senate confirmed Fanning by unanimous voice vote on Tuesday, eight months after President Obama nominated him to replace John McHugh, who held the position for six years. When McHugh left in November, Fanning was named acting secretary. But Senator John McCain, the Republican from Arizona and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued Fanning should not serve in the job while his confirmation was pending, and he resigned in January, just over a week before his confirmation hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to move Fanning’s nomination forward in March, but it was stalled until this week for reasons unrelated to the job. Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican from Kansas, had placed a hold on Fanning’s nomination as he sought assurances from Obama administration officials that they would not move any Guantanamo Bay detainees to Fort Leavenworth, in his home state. Roberts said Tuesday he had received them from Robert Work, the deputy defense secretary.

“Practically speaking, the clock has run out for the president” to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo, said Roberts in a speech on the Senate floor. Roberts said Fanning “has always had my support for this position.”

“My issue has never been—let me make that very clear—with Mr. Fanning’s character, his courage, or his capability,” he said. “He will be a tremendous leader.”

LGBT groups and their supporters praised the confirmation Tuesday. “Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights organization in the U.S. “History was made today,” said the 83-member Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus in a Facebook post. “We’ve come a long way from don’t ask, don’t tell.” Fanning, on his official Twitter account, @SECARMY, retweeted a congratulatory message from Ellen DeGeneres that read, “5 years & we’re already running the place.”

In 2011, Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that since 1994 banned openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military and forced LGBT service members to hide their sexual orientation.

Fanning has never served in the military, but the Army secretary is a civilian position. Fanning has held several senior positions at the Pentagon, including acting under secretary of the Army, under secretary of the Air Force, and deputy under secretary of the Navy. One of his first jobs in Washington was as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee.

May 16, 2016

Only ONE Senator Stalling Confirmation of Gay Man for Secretary of Army

It's been eight months since President Barack Obama nominated Eric Fanning to become secretary of the Army — the first openly gay man to be recommended to that branch's highest ranking civilian position. 
Since then, he's no closer than he was months ago to a confirmation. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, is holding up Fanning's confirmation because the lawmaker wants Obama to promise not to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military installation. 

Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning USAF

"Let me be very clear on this — as a veteran, a Marine — I support Mr. Eric Fanning for this post," Roberts said on the Senate floor late last month. "If the White House calls and assures me that terrorists held at Guantanamo will not come to Ft. Leavenworth, I will release the hold - immediately."  
White House officials suggested Roberts is grandstanding. 
"It is hard to imagine that Senator Roberts takes this particularly seriously," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in a press briefing last month. "You may recall the last time that anybody has talked about Senator Roberts was when he filmed a video of himself crumbling up the president's plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and throwing it in a wastebasket. So maybe he relishes the opportunity to be before the camera, but it's not apparent that he takes this critically important national security issue all that seriously." 
The standoff stems from the president's announcement of a long-anticipated pitch to Congress in February to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Keeping the prison open, the president said, is "contrary to our values." 

Image: Pat Roberts

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, left, answers a question during a debate with independent candidate Greg Orman listens during a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Hutchinson, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Charlie Riedel / AP

"It's been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security," Obama said from the Roosevelt Room at the White House earlier this year. "It undermines it." 
The administration is weighing 13 locations across the country, including seven existing prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas and six additional sites on current military bases. Officials have said the plan doesn't highlight a preferred site. 
 The response — especially from Republicans in Congress — was swift and critical. 
Roberts who has represented Kansas for nearly two decades, and lawmakers from Colorado and South Carolina has been vocal in objecting to moving Guantanamo detainees to their states. 
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of House Armed Services Committee, sent the president a letter outlining the details he expected to see in any closure plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the chamber floor and said the president was fixed "on one matter by one campaign promise he made in 2008." 
 Obama Submits Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay 3:51
However, Roberts took his opposition a step further. 
"With this hold, I have used one of the tools afforded to me as a U.S. Senator, and I will continue to do everything in my power to fulfill my obligations to protect the national security of the United States. It is what Kansans expect and demand of me," Roberts said on the Senate floor last month. 
In March he introduced a Senate resolution rejecting any efforts to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to American facilities. 
The impasse remains despite the efforts of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee — who calls Roberts a "good friend" — to move the process along, 
Late last month an exasperated McCain took to the Senate floor and begged his colleague to lift his hold. 

Image: U.S. Republican Senator McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem

U.S. Republican Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem January 3, 2014 AMMAR AWAD / Reuters

"It is not fair to the men and the women of the United States Army to be without the leadership of a secretary of the Army," McCain said on the Senate floor. "Mr. Fanning is eminently qualified to assume that role of Secretary of the Army. So I would urge my friend and colleague to allow me to… to not object to the unanimous consent that I am just proposing." 
Roberts remains unmoved. So does the White House. 
"Mr. Fanning is somebody that has extensive experience at the Department of Defense," Earnest told reporters during a briefing last week. "He's served in a number of roles there. And he would bring that experience and that judgment to the secretary's office. The president believes that he is exactly the right person for the job. And its unconscionable for Republicans to continue to block his nomination for no good reason."
Posted as written by by 

September 19, 2015

Pres.Obama NominatesFirst Openly Gay Secretary of the Army

Eric Fanning Historic Gay Under Secretary of the AF Now Nominated as Secretary of the Army

President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services.

Fanning’s nomination is the latest in a series of actions taken by the administration to advance the rights of gays and lesbians throughout the federal government. The Obama administration has overhauled internal policies to provide benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal bench and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Fanning, who must still be confirmed by the Senate, has been a specialist on defense and national security issues for more than 25 years in Congress and the Pentagon. As Army secretary, he would be partnered with Gen. Mark Milley, who took over as the Army’s top general in August. Together the two men would assume responsibility for the Pentagon’s largest and most troubled service.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

The Army, which swelled to about 570,000 active duty troops, has shed about 80,0000 soldiers from its ranks in recent years and plans to cut 40,000 more over the next few years. Those planned cuts would shrink the service to its smallest size of the post-World War II era.
Battered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has had to deal with a spike in suicides as the wars drew to an end and has struggled at times to provide the war wounded with the care they need to heal.

Recently, the Army’s outgoing top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said that tight budgets and the ongoing strain of 14 years of war had badly degraded the Army’s readiness to fight and that only one-third of its brigades were prepared to deploy to a war zone, the lowest readiness rate in decades.

Fanning’s role as Army secretary would give him influence over the generals the Army selects to rebuild the service after a long stretch of counterinsurgency wars in which soldiers dismounted from their tanks and armored vehicles and found themselves leading foot patrols through remote villages.


Much of Fanning’s time in the Pentagon has been overseeing massive ship and aircraft programs. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tapped Fanning last year to oversee his transition team as he moved into the Pentagon’s top job.

Fanning served briefly as acting Air Force secretary and has been acting undersecretary of the Army since June 2015.

“He understands how the Pentagon works and how to get things done in the Pentagon,” said Rudy de Leon, who was deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work” inside the federal government’s largest bureaucracy.

Fanning would play a key role in helping the Army, which has struggled to field new combat systems amid the strain of fighting two wars, to upgrade aging tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. Since 2000, the Army has been forced to cancel virtually all of its major new weapons programs because they ran over budget or didn’t perform as expected.

 LGBT issues are advancing by the day in the United States, and with it, there’s a growing class of Washington power players. Here is 21 of the most influential openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people working in the capital, part of a list as compiled by the National Journal.
New equipment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like special armored vehicles designed to resist blasts from roadside bombs, had to be developed outside of the traditional procurement channels.

“Eric is taking over at a critical time for the Army,” de Leon said “The Army is still living off equipment from the Reagan years.”

Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.

January 26, 2015

Married Army General Coming Out as Gay


A married Army general has said he is planning to come out as gay to highlight what he claims is continuing widespread homophobic discrimination in the armed forces.
The officer, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, would be the most senior member of the forces yet publicly to state his homosexuality. He said bullying and abuse of gay soldiers remained rife and prejudice was found in the highest ranks of the services.

The unnamed general told The Mail on Sunday that he would make a final decision in the coming weeks on whether openly to declare his sexuality. He said that he was one of a number of senior officers in the Army, RAF and Royal Navy who had hitherto kept secret the fact they were gay for fear of damaging their careers. Gay soldiers had fought with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added, and he had met homosexual members of the elite Special Air Service (SAS).

The criticism will be a blow to the Ministry of Defence, which has made countering homophobia in the forces a priority. All three branches of the military – along with MI5 – were listed last week by the gay rights group Stonewall as being among Britain’s top 100 most gay-friendly employers.

The general, who has served for nearly 30 years, said he had decided to come forward after another “very senior officer” told him he believed an admission of homosexuality by a senior officer would be “career suicide”. He said: “The armed forces cannot claim to be an equal opportunities employer when the view persists that any senior officer who announces he is gay will see his or her career go up in smoke.”                                               

He added that there were branches of the Army where he did not think it would “be acceptable for an openly gay man to serve as a commanding officer; the infantry, artillery and the armored corps being examples”.

But he added: “Are the armed forces ready to have a gay Parachute Regiment commanding officer, or Royal Marines or Guards commander? Would the Establishment accept an openly gay commanding officer of the SAS? The forces claim to be equal-opportunities employers but [are not] in my opinion.”

The serving officer, who is the first general to declare his homosexuality, said he told his wife he was gay several years ago and they decided to stay together. He said he had never had a relationship with another serviceman and had kept that part of his life “effectively secret”.
Homosexuality remained illegal in the forces until 2000, with gay and lesbian personnel subjected to investigation by military police and discharged with a criminal record if “outed”.
Since the law changed, the Ministry of Defense has put in place measures to identify and punish homophobic bullying and said it encourages gay and transgender men and women to join up.

According to an estimate by Stonewall, there are likely to be up to 14,000 gay members of Britain’s armed forces. It is, nonetheless, still unusual for a senior officer to declare his or homosexuality. General Tammy Smith is the only openly gay officer of her rank or above in the US Army – five times the size of Britain’s.

The MoD said last night: “The Army has worked tirelessly over the past 15 years to become more inclusive. Our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum is vibrant and offers confidential support, advice and mentoring to any personnel who are considering coming

July 30, 2014

Thousands of American Weapons given to Afghanistan Missing

U.S. forces help train new Kabul police recruits to fire the AK-47 assault rifle on the grounds of the Kabul Military Training Center in this 2009 photo. A newly released report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction finds that the Defense Department has not accurately tracked 747,000 weapons purchased for Afghan National Security Forces.

Neither the American military nor the Afghan government can keep track of hundreds of thousands of weapons provided to Afghan security forces, sparking fears that some could land in the hands of insurgents or terrorist groups, according to a U.S. watchdog.
Of the nearly half a million weapons registered in a U.S. Department of Defense database called OVERLORD, more than 40 percent of the entries had missing or duplicated information, investigators with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report released on Monday.
Another U.S. government inventory database had similarly incomplete information, the report found.
Since 2004 the United States has provided Afghan security forces with more than 700,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment worth about $626 million, SIGAR said. Now however, inconsistencies in the methods used by both the U.S. and Afghanistan to track those weapons have left potentially tens of thousands of weapons unaccounted for.
“Accountability over these weapons within DOD prior to their transfer to Afghan ownership is affected by incompatible inventory systems that have missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records, that may result in missing weapons prior to transfer to the ANSF,” investigators concluded. “However, the problems are far more severe after the weapons are transferred to the ANSF. ANSF record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited.”
As an example, SIGAR noted that the Afghan National Army has 83,184 more AK-47 assault rifles than it needs. The Russian-designed rifles were phased put in favor of NATO weapons to ensure compatibility, but the excess guns were never disposed of, and the Defense Department told SIGAR investigators it doesn’t have the authority to do anything about it.
That issue of excess weapons will only be exacerbated by the planned reduction in the number of Afghan forces, SIGAR argued.
“Without confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, SIGAR is concerned that they could be obtained by insurgents and pose additional risks to Afghan civilians and the ANSF,” the report concluded.
SIGAR recommended that the Defense Department patch the holes in its databases, and work with the Afghan government to try to recover the extra weapons, including by requiring the Afghans to conduct a comprehensive inventory check.
In written responses to the SIGAR report, Defense officials said they are already in the process of combing their two databases into one. They said they are working to make future delivery of weapons contingent on regular inventory check, but that it’s up to the Afghan government to determine how many weapons it needs and what to do with them.
“It is the Afghan government’s responsibility, not DOD’s, to determine if they have weapons in excess of their needs,” Defense officials wrote. “It is premature to speculate on potential ANSF force strength reductions. Weapons that are transferred to the ANSF become property of the Afghan government and under its control.”
Stars and Stripes

January 27, 2014

We Still Have Guys in Afghanistan-Let’s Not forget!

Apache being refueled to take up in the air again.  What goes up there, not always comes down the way it went.  Worrisome!



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