military

President Donald Trump speaking to supporters in Circleville.
Nick Evans / WOSU

Thousands of Trump supporters swelled the Pickaway County fairgrounds on a chilly Saturday, even as Ohio State held its first football game of the season. The president’s visit to Circleville was part of a last minute swing through four battleground states.

The U.S. is planning to withdraw nearly half of the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq, according to a senior U.S. military official.

CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East, says that the U.S. will reduce its troop levels in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 and that the cuts will be made this month.

He said the decision reflects confidence in Iraqi security forces.

The Pentagon ordered the closure of the venerable military newspaper Stars and Stripes on Friday. But hours later, President Trump tweeted that he wouldn't allow that to happen "under my watch."

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

President Trump is vehemently defending himself against allegations that he has privately disparaged veterans for their military service during his time in office even as his campaign has sought to showcase his support for those in uniform.

The characterization of Trump as a commander in chief who privately denigrates veterans even while he publicly lavishes praise upon them and claims them as part of his voting base is freighted with political risk ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

In a slap at a longtime ally frequently reviled by President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Wednesday that the U.S. plans to withdraw roughly a third of the 36,000 American forces stationed in Germany.

Nearly 5,600 of the 11,800 troops to be removed from Germany would be sent to other NATO allies in Europe, including Poland. Another 6,400 would return to the U.S., although they or similar units would be redeployed to other European countries on what Esper described as a "rotational" basis.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a defense appropriations bill that calls for renaming U.S. military bases that honor Confederate officers — a provision that President Trump has threatened to veto.

The Senate's 86-14 vote to approve the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is more than enough to override a veto, should the president follow through on his threat. The vote comes days after the House passed a similar version of the $741 billion bill.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday unveiled a policy change that effectively blocks the public display of the Confederate battle flag at all U.S. military installations without specifically naming that controversial banner.

Esper's announcement follows a lengthy internal debate as well as recent bans on displaying the flag by both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.

The U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January "was unlawful and arbitrary under international law," a U.N. human rights investigator says, calling the drone strike in Baghdad a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

The investigator also says the U.S. has not produced any proof to back its claim that the attack was justified by the need to stop an imminent attack.

President Trump is escalating his fight with Congress over a broad bipartisan effort to rename military installations named for figures from the Confederacy, threatening to veto an annual defense bill if it includes the provision.

The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which already includes the provision backed by most members of the Senate panel. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers is looking to add the change as part of ongoing negotiations for its version of the defense legislation.

Updated 4:37 p.m. ET

President Trump said Wednesday that reports of Russia paying bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill U.S. troops and coalition forces in Afghanistan is a hoax, even as his administration continues to brief members of Congress on the matter.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

The political squall over alleged Russian bounties targeting U.S. troops strengthened on Tuesday amid potent new reports and deepening partisan rancor about what Washington should do next.

The day began with criticism by House Democrats of President Trump after a briefing at the White House on the allegations, which left the lawmakers calling for more information directly from the intelligence community.

Updated at 9:51 p.m. ET

Members of Congress in both parties demanded answers on Monday about reported bounties paid by Russian operatives to Afghan insurgents for targeting American troops.

The stories appeared to have taken even the most senior lawmakers off guard, and they said they wanted briefings soon from the Defense Department and the intelligence community.

From Richmond to Seattle, cities are taking a fresh look at – and sometimes taking a sledgehammer to – statues of slave owners. U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals are under scrutiny, and the Marine Corps has banned Confederate flags. Some veterans would like to see this momentum help change the gender-exclusive motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Updated at 3:46 p.m. ET

Members of Congress put themselves on a collision course with the White House on Thursday over the politics of America's Confederate legacy.

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment that would create a commission charged with renaming Army installations that bear Confederate names and removing their Confederate symbols.

A bipartisan team of House members, both veterans, proposed something similar.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. has made history.

The Senate unanimously confirmed the four-star general as the U.S. Air Force's chief of staff in a 98-0 vote, making him the first African American to lead a U.S. military service.

His historic confirmation comes as the United States is grappling with its history of racial injustice and systemic mistreatment of black communities by law enforcement.

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