Another Memorial Day has come and gone, but there are many stories related to our military that deserve our attention. This week, we’re giving you “6 Things” that are in the news about the state of our military:
1. Senator John McCain Snuck Into Syria to Meet with Rebel Fighters. Having spent months criticizing President Obama for not doing enough to end the conflict in Syria, Senator John McCain took matters into his own hands. On Monday, he crossed the border between Turkey and Syria to meet with rebel leaders in the civil war-torn country, making McCain the highest-ranking U.S. official to have entered Syria in two years. McCain’s visit was primarily with General Salem Idris, a leader in the Free Syrian Army billed as a moderate that the United States could work with in opposing the official regime. During the meetings, Idris and other Free Syrian Army unit leaders reportedly called on McCain to convince the United States to supply the opposition forces with more heavy weapons, establish a no-fly zone, and conduct airstrikes. The rebels told McCain the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on multiple occasions. Please cancel your long weekend in Damascus.
2. U.S. Drone Suspected of Killing Top Pakistani Militant. It is believed the United States notched another death-by-drone with the killing of the No. 2 commander of the Pakistan Taliban, Waliur Rehman. The Pakistan Taliban is responsible for hundreds of bombings and shootings across Pakistan, including a suicide attack on an U.S. base in the country that killed seven American CIA officials. A $5 million bounty was on Rehman’s head, courtesy of the United States. If confirmed, the drone strike would represent the first in Pakistan since its May 11 elections, during which U.S. drone strikes were hotly debated, and since President Obama’s speech last week, in which he outlined a more restrictive drone policy. Pakistan condemned the strike, but the Pakistan Taliban denies Rehman was killed. Please reconsider criticizing your mother-in-law for “droning on and on,” as your chances for being misunderstood are increasing.
3. U.S. Soldier to Plead Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty. About one year ago, Robert Bales snuck away from his outpost in southern Afghanistan and is charged with attacking two nearby villages, killing 16 Afghan civilians, including children. The killings, deemed among the worst atrocities of this war, sparked global outrage and even forced the United States to halt temporarily its combat missions in Afghanistan. Since then, the Army has been seeking the death penalty against Bales. His lawyer admitted he could not mount an insanity defense on behalf of his client, who is now expected to admit to very specific details surrounding the event. Those details include Bales’ consumption of contraband alcohol and snorting of Valium before the shootings. Please consider this yet another reason to hug your children a little more tightly.
4. Marine Corps Blames Deadly Mortar Training on Human Error. After a two-month investigation, the Marine Corps has determined that an explosion that killed seven Marines in Nevada was caused by human error. In a statement, the Marine Corps explained that the trainees handling one of the mortars did not follow correct procedures. The Marines, as an institution, were also blamed for not ensuring proper training prior to the “live-fire event.” Three officers have been relieved of their duties, but no criminal charges will be filed. Please note that mortars don’t kill people, people who don’t know how to use mortars kill people.
5. Gun Accidentally Fires at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day. An active-duty serviceman brought his gun along with him for his Memorial Day visit to Arlington cemetery. The gun fell out of his car, and when he tried to retrieve it, the gun accidentally fired. The bullet hit the serviceman’s mother in the leg. The shooting occurred just hours before President Obama arrived to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Please shake your head….now.
6. Suicides Among American Troops Rising. The military recently released a report announcing that there have already been 161 suicides among U.S. troops in 2013. At that rate, the epidemic is on pace to rival the rate from 2012, which set a record of one suicide every 17 hours over the course of the year. Experts predict that, with more troops returning from Afghanistan, those figures will only rise. They are also finding a link between traumatic brain injuries and suicide. Please send a prayer, a good thought, a warm wish, or whatever generosity of spirit you roll with, to our returning troops.
Be sure to check back next week for the “6 Things” you need to know right now!