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Presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e41ELr

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on U.S. missile strikes on Syria (all times Eastern). 

2:50 a.m.

The Russian military says Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems have shot down all 12 cruise missile aimed at a Syrian air base.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that 12 cruise missiles have been launched at the Dumayr air base east of Damascus. It said that Syria’s air defense assets have downed all of them.

The ministry said that altogether more than 100 cruise and air-to-ground missiles were launched by U.S., British and French aircraft and navy ships. It did not mention the overall number of missiles intercepted by Syrian forces.

The Russian military said it hasn’t engaged its air defense assets at its air and naval bases in Syria.

U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Welsh provides security before boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after completing a mission in Chak valley in the Wardak province of Afghanistan on Aug. 3, 2010.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8tkNqR

Steve Coll is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His new book, a sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winner “Ghost Wars,” is “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016.”

A New Jersey Air National Guard member checks the blood pressure of a homeless veteran
Flickr Photo/New Jersey National Guard (CC-BY-ND-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/TDycb7

Kim Malcolm talks with Marine Corps veteran Josh Penner and Navy veteran Rebecca Murch about the potential impact of privatizing healthcare services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

One of the Growlers in the Electronic Attack Squadron 134 based on Whidbey Island.
FLICKR PHOTO/TOMÁS DEL CORO (CC BY 2.0)/HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/RWHRSX

Army veteran Chuck Nelson served in the military for 12 years, fighting in the first Gulf War and later in Somalia.

Today he lives right on the eastern border of Olympic National Park. He moved there for the solitude.


Jeannie Yandel speaks with Ben Blum about his new book "Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family, and Inexplicable Crime." The book tells the story of his cousin, Alex Blum, and how he turned from an Army Ranger to a bank robber.

Lindsay Church started Minority Veterans for America after leaving her position as post commander at Ballard's American Legion.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

When Navy veteran Lindsay Church was elected commander of American Legion Post 40 in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, she looked around the room and saw the future. It didn't look promising.

“Basically what I was seeing was the post was dying,” Church said. 

The Trident nuclear submarine USS Nebraska at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in 2004.
US Navy Photo by Brian Nokell NBK - Bangor

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor went on lockdown for several hours Thursday and deployed a bomb-disposal robot after a man trying to drive onto the nuclear submarine base claimed to have improvised explosive devices with him.

Could Slower Ships Help The Orcas?

Jan 5, 2018

 

This story first appeared at Crosscut.com

To the human eye, big ships cruising along the west side of San Juan Island this summer might have looked like they were traveling in slow motion. To the perceptive ears of killer whales, those same ships might have sounded a little bit quieter.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

A U.S. service member was killed in a "combat engagement" in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on New Year's Day, and four other U.S. service members were injured, according to a U.S. military statement.

The U.S. military did not immediately explain what kind of combat the service members were engaged in at the time or whether they were fighting ISIS or the Taliban.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

Following a federal court ruling, the Pentagon has confirmed it will allow openly transgender individuals to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Trump administration had resisted that deadline in court, seeking to have its ban on new transgender troops reinstated — but on Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly upheld an earlier decision to temporarily block President Trump's ban.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump's would-be ban on transgender service members in the military has been blocked from going into effect for the foreseeable future.

A U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C., decided on Monday that trans members of the military have a strong case that the president's ban would violate their Fifth Amendment rights. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted a preliminary injunction to keep the policy from going into effect while the court case moves forward.

A Navy SEAL testified Wednesday in Fort Bragg, N.C., that he was shot and badly injured during a heavy firefight while searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after Bergdahl walked off his combat outpost in Afghanistan.

The military judge, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, is allowing the testimony of three service members whose injuries are considered a direct result of the searches for Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban and held for five years. He has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in a military operation in Niger on Oct. 4, told ABC's Good Morning America that President Trump "made me cry even worse" when he called to offer condolences last week.

The phone call between the president and Johnson has been a source of controversy for a week now, since Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, revealed details of the conversation.

The Pentagon is tightening the screening process for immigrants who volunteer for military service and slowing their path to U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. military will no longer allow green card holders to enter basic training before the successful completion of a background check. The policy change is intended to improve security vetting of foreign-born recruits.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban after leaving his base in Afghanistan in 2009, has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl was freed in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban detainees.

Bergdahl, a native of Idaho, pleaded guilty before the military judge in the case, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, at a hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Monday, according to The Associated Press.

 


The state of Washington will petition to join a lawsuit that challenges President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee announced on  Monday.

 

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET Thursday

Japanese and South Korean officials have confirmed another missile test by North Korea Friday morning local time. This is the 15th North Korean missile test this year and the first to come after Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet.

Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are being called up to help with the rash of Northwest wildfires. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday because of wildfires, which cleared the way for the activation of the Guard. 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is leaving an Obama-era policy on transgender military service members largely intact, saying he needs input from an expert panel to determine the best way to implement President Trump's ban that would keep transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

Trump barred transgender would-be recruits from signing up, but he gave Mattis discretion to decide the status of transgender people who are already serving.

Kara McDermott for KUOW

Bill Radke talks to Staff Sergeant Patricia King about how President Trump's restriction on transgender individuals from serving in the military affects their lives and jobs. King was the first infantryman to reveal she is transgender. She has been serving in the Army for 18 years and is a recipient of a Bronze Star. 

Transgender members of the U.S. military would be subject to removal at Defense Secretary James Mattis' discretion — and the service would bar transgender people from enlisting, under new White House guidelines for the Pentagon. President Trump announced the ban via a tweet last month.

Rough details of the guidelines were confirmed by NPR's Tom Bowman after the White House plan for the Pentagon was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A heartsick surface Navy is vowing to find answers after a series of incidents that could make the peacetime Western Pacific deadlier for U.S. troops this year than Afghanistan.

The Navy began, as it often does, with accountability: On Wednesday, it fired the three-star admiral whose command in the Western Pacific suffered at least four big accidents this year, two of which may have killed a combined 17 sailors.

An officer aboard the destroyer USS Stethem also was lost overboard near the Philippines on Aug. 1.

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.

Orphans at the Ghenh Rang Orphanage in South Vietnam before Operation Babylift. Julie Davis, who lives in Minneapolis, belies that's her looking at the camera.
Courtesy of Julie Davis

Julie Davis, who was airlifted to Seattle from Saigon in 1975, shares her story. This week marks the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift, the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam. 

I was just a year old when a Boeing 747 airlifted me and hundreds of other babies from Saigon. We headed to Seattle, Houston, Minneapolis.

Thirty years later, I returned to Vietnam to find the orphanage where I had been dropped off just after my birth.

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.

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