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US Marines may return to Afghanistan to advise ground forces

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During a Marine Corps Association and Foundation awards event in November 2016, Love remarked, “There is change in the air…There is a new mission we’ve picked up in the Marine Corps. We are going to repurpose the infantry regiments against a new mission back in some familiar territory in Afghanistan, a province we’ve been to before and a location we’ve been to before.”

The new mission he’s referring to entails Marines advising police forces and the Afghan National Security Forces. Previously Marines had served in the southwest Taliban stronghold of Helmand, while a team of advisers also worked in  Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital.

Love told Military.com that the service  has “had advisers in Afghanistan ever since we concluded our major operations there, so the Marine Corps is going to pick up another one of those advisory missions that the Army’s been doing…So the Army has been doing it, and the Marine Corps is going to go in and take over one of their teams for them,” he said.

Colonel Martin Wetterauer, commander of the 8th Marine Regiment reiterated Love’s statements saying, “Second Marine Division regiments are going back to Afghanistan in April,” and that, “Sixth Marines is going to be put against the southwest mission.”

The unit, to be called Task Force South West, will reportedly consist of Marines from the II Marines Expeditionary Force, with Brig. Gen. Roger Turner Jr. at the helm.

Currently there are about 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan, a marked change from the 5,000 US President Barack Obama envisioned on the campaign trail in an effort to scale back Washington’s ground forces. The service was also a key element in Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan in 2009.

The troops are primarily tasked with assisting and advising Afghan forces in key areas of the 13-year war, including Jalalabad, Kandahar Bagram and Kabul. In some areas Daesh has joined forces with the Taliban, taking advantage of a void left when NATO and US troops were withdrawn.

Andrew Wilder, of the US Institute of Peace remarked, “When you go from 100,000 troops down to about 10,000, there should be no surprise that there’s a consequence in the security situation.”

Washington’s strategy behind swelling the numbers of Marines is not clear.

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Army

US Army tests more breathable hot weather uniforms

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USAF Pararescue Jumbers (PJs) men on IED response

US Army uniform officials will begin evaluating a new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform (IHWC) in January 2018 by issuing troops in Hawaii thousands of lighter uniforms that are more suited to the Pacific theater’s sweltering environment.

The development of new, more breathable uniforms follows another Army effort when between March and August the service fielded 9,000 pairs of new Jungle Combat Boots to combat teams with the 2nd and 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii.

Until now, troops with the 25th Infantry trained in tropical environs wearing Hot Weather Combat Boots and Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) that were designed for a desert climate.

Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, an assistant product manager for Extreme Weather Clothing and Footwear, told Military.com that this January “is going to be huge,” explaining that soldiers “are going to be pure-fleeted in the [Operation Camouflage Pattern] with jungle boots in a hot weather combat uniform.”

Made by Source America, the new uniforms will have a 57 percent nylon/ 43 percent cotton blend, which Ferenczy says will give them “greater airflow” and make them dry faster than the ACU’s 50/50 nylon blend.

He noted, “It adds a little bit more strength which allows us to make it a lighter blend or a thinner weave… so it should dry a little quicker” and that “there are also architectural differences between the ACU uniform and this one.

Ferenczy described the forthcoming uniforms as having less layers of fabric, which helps it dry quicker since it can’t hold much moisture, with better flexibility as well. He also said there will be no breast pockets since the soldier’s gear usually covers the uniform when they’re in the field, so the Army decided to remove that extra layer as it winds up retaining heat and moisture.

The service removed back pockets from the uniform pants for the same reason, and a pocket for identification cards has been added inside the waistband. Instead of a zipper, the IHWC’s blouse will have a button-down front, and a button-down flap at the top of the pocket will replace the side zipper that’s usually placed on the shoulder.

Ferenczy said, “Every design feature on this uniform came straight out of the horse’s mouth,” and that the designers have worked closely with Hawaii’s Jungle Operations Training Center. In January, the $14 million program expects to issue about 20,000 sets of uniforms to Hawaii’s 2nd and 3rd BCTs with another 10-12,000 sets coming in March.

Once troop from the 25th have trained in the new Jungle Uniforms, Ferenzcy’s team will are planning to return in April or May to get feedback and make whatever necessary adjustments are required.

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Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta just gave away his Medal of Honor

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Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta just gave away the highest valor award a soldier can receive. So he clearly doesn’t need another medal in any form. Nevertheless, the Medal of Honor recipient deserves a salute for presenting his award to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team during an event in early July.

The commander in chief bestowed Giunta with the MOH in 2010 for his actions three years earlier during an enemy ambush while serving with the 173rd in Afghanistan. Giunta received the Medal of Honor in 2010 for his actions in October 2007 when he was a team leader with Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Then a specialist, Giunta was conducting a patrol with his team in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan when they were ambushed by the enemy, according to his citation for the medal. Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire to help his injured squad leader find cover. His body armor and secondary weapon were struck with enemy fire as he performed first aid on the squad leader.

Using grenades to provide cover, Giunta and his team made it to other wounded soldiers who had been separated from the squad. Giunta then realized one soldier was still missing. He discovered two insurgents carrying the wounded soldier away. He engaged the enemy, killing one insurgent and wounding the other. Then he gave medical aid to the wounded U.S. soldier he had rescued.

Since 2010, the award weighed heavily on his shoulders. When troops receive the Medal of Honor for acts of valor, they usually credit their fellow service members. No recipient in recent times has been more adamant that the award wasn’t his alone:

“The medal [Medal of Honor] should go to the guy on the right of me and the guy on the left of me,” he said after he received it.

Soldiers praised him for showing true military leadership. This act is more than an NCO’s leadership. It is a legacy. It is Giunta’s legacy to the soldiers to the right of him, to the left of him, and to all those at the 173rd who will follow after him, and see what one humble man can do.

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