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This week saw a dramatic escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. As North Korea promised to engulf the U.S. territory of Guam in "enveloping fire", President Trump tweeted that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" should North Korea "act unwisely".

The North's missile and nuclear programs have been shrouded in secrecy for years, but recent tests have shed more light on their capabilities. Here is what's currently known.

North Korean missiles can reach the continental United States.

Five openly transgender members of the U.S. military are suing President Trump and other leaders of the U.S. government over Trump's declaration, over Twitter, that trans people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The suit alleges that Trump's directive is "arbitrary and capricious," unconstitutionally depriving the service members of due process.

The death of Raheel Siddiqui on March 18, 2016, focused a spotlight on alleged hazing in the U.S. Marine Corps. Siddiqui, who was a 20 year-old recruit, had been at boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, for just 11 days before he leapt three stories to his death, according to reported accounts from other recruits.

Jannie Anderson, the author of this essay.
Courtesy of Jannie Anderson

This might come across as whining, but I don't really care.

I deactivated my Facebook account Wednesday after I read that President Trump was kicking all transgender people out of the military. I wanted to step aside and become invisible, but I have something to say, so I came back to write this:

President Donald Trump
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hKraP

Bill Radke talks to reporter Patricia Murphy about what President Trump's tweets on banning transgender people from the military means for people serving in Western Washington.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has announced that the government will not allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, a year after the Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender service members.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, he wrote:

The Pentagon is considering pulling out of a deal it made with thousands of noncitizen recruits with specialized skills: Join the military and we'll put you on the fast track to citizenship.

The proposal to dismantle the program would cancel enlistment contracts for many of the foreign-born recruits, leaving about 1,000 of them without legal protection from deportation.

Kenny Wayne Gunner plays guitar in downtown Bremerton at lunch time
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Earlier this year, the Navy scraped the hull of the U.S.S. Independence to prepare it for dismantlement. That likely released heavy metals into the waters of Puget Sound, which is bad for salmon and orcas. The Navy didn’t get a permit for the work, so environmental groups sued this week.

But in Bremerton? It's going to take more than that to shake this town's love of the Navy.


Memorial Day weekend is a time when a lot of Americans remember those who have served and lost their lives during war — and not all of those individuals were U.S. citizens.

When the Iraq war started, nearly 40,000 members of the military were not U.S. citizens. Army Pfc. Diego Rincon was one of them.

In 1989, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. In 2003, he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He died for his country even though he wasn't a citizen.

Residents of Airway Heights, Washington, have been advised not to drink water from the tap. The advisory came Tuesday from nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, as part of the Pentagon’s program to test and clean water sources near military bases around the country.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right — that is, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

As he prepared to chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on the subject, Tillerson sat down with NPR's Steve Inskeep to explain his approach. The secretary says North Korea has to come to the table willing to talk about giving up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea could reduce a U.S. strike force to a sea wreck if it's provoked, the country's propaganda outlets said Monday, adding to tensions on the Korean Peninsula. With the threat of a nuclear test in North Korea looming and another U.S. citizen reportedly detained there, China's President Xi Jinping is urging President Trump to avoid escalating the situation.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET Saturday

A government spokesman has increased the death toll from Thursday's bombing using the "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan to 94, up from 36.

Ataullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said in a tweet Saturday that 94 ISIS members were killed in the attack on an ISIS underground complex, including four top commanders.

"Fortunately there is no report of civilians being killed in the attack," Khogyani told The Associated Press on Saturday.

A U.S. Navy strike group has been ordered to relocate to the western Pacific Ocean, providing a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula as concerns mount over North Korea's missile program.

The Pentagon announced the deployment late Saturday. In a statement, U.S. Pacific Command spokesman David Benham said the Carl Vinson Strike Group set sail toward the peninsula from Singapore.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the missile strike President Trump ordered against Syria on Thursday "an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext."

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. doesn't want to take military action against North Korea, but "all of the options are on the table" if a serious threat arises. Tillerson made his frank remarks in a visit to South Korea on Friday, a day after saying diplomatic efforts "have failed" to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Tillerson's Asia tour began in Japan and will end in China. The top American diplomat is traveling without a press contingent.

The State Department is running out of visas for Afghans who are in danger because they worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced that it expected the visas to be depleted by June 1 and that "No further interviews for Afghan principal applicants ... will be scheduled after March 1, 2017."

For some high school students, a party habit can lead to to failed classes and even a trip to urgent care. But when they do decide they need to graduate, it may already be too late for them.

But there is an option some families in Washington state have turned to.

Hundreds of Marines are reportedly under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, after a trove of photographs were shared online that show female service members and veterans in the nude. The images were spread via a closed Facebook group with thousands of members.

President Trump's initial budget proposal isn't enough to expand the military in the way he proposed.

Trump campaigned on the need to add tens of thousands more troops to the Army and Marine Corps, field a Navy with 350 warships or more and also to upgrade the Air Force. The $54 billion he's seeking to increase the Defense Department budget this year would represent a funding boost — but not one that would pay for an expansion on the scale Trump endorsed.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

William Owens, whose son William "Ryan" Owens became the first American to die in combat under the Trump administration, says that he refused a chance to meet President Trump and that he wants an investigation into his son's final mission — a raid in Yemen whose merits have been called into question.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his way to the Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day. The Feb. 23 national holiday was once known as Soviet Army and Navy Day, and Shoigu, dressed in the uniform of a general, came to boast about the Russian military's latest achievements.

"We tested 162 types of contemporary and modernized weapons in Syria, which showed a high level of effectiveness," Shoigu said. Only 10 weapons systems performed below expectations, he added.

In April 1991, I met a young U.S. Army captain in the moonscape of southern Iraq. He was frustrated.

Just weeks earlier, the officer and his troops had been part of the wave of U.S. forces that drove Saddam Hussein's Iraqi military out of Kuwait. The Americans kept advancing, pushing some 150 miles into southern Iraq — but then they received orders to halt in place.

An influential Washington state Congress member is among the officials pushing for an investigation into Michael Flynn's actions.

President Trump is defending the Jan. 29 Yemen raid, in which an American Navy SEAL was killed, as a "winning mission." He is also lashing out at Republican Sen. John McCain, who called the raid a "failure."

Trump chastised McCain for talking to the media about it, saying it "only emboldens the enemy," and whacked McCain for not knowing "how to win anymore."

The Defense Department's plan to lease space in Manhattan's Trump Tower is already raising ethical concerns, with critics saying it would give the nation's chief executive another way to profit off his new role.

"It creates the appearance that President Trump, through his businesses, may directly benefit financially from charging the Department of Defense to do its job," says Meredith McGehee, chief of policy, programs and strategy at Issue One, a nonprofit that works to remove money from politics.

A terrorist video released on Friday by the Pentagon to show what it called intelligence gleaned by the recent raid in Yemen actually was made about 10 years ago, it acknowledged.

Defense officials canceled a briefing they had called to discuss the value of the information recovered from Yemen and took the video off the website of the U.S. Central Command. They circulated clips from a video that showed how to prepare explosives without knowing it had already been public.

Rep. Adam Smith
Office of Adam Smith / U.S. House

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith says he’s deeply disturbed by comments made by President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Before they get to work on reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress and the White House might want to take a closer look at the last time they tried it — a $16 billion fix called the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, designed to get veterans medical care more quickly.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

President Trump paid his first presidential visit to the top brass at the Pentagon on Friday afternoon and announced his intention to provide a wide range of new resources for the U.S. military.

"I'm signing an executive action to begin a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States," the president said in a brief ceremony that included the swearing in of the new defense secretary, James Mattis.

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