Metro-East News

Task force on veteran suicides to hold meeting May 16 in Belleville

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

The Illinois Veterans Suicide Task Force is scheduled to hold its first regional meeting at 10 a.m., May 16 in room 1370 of the Liberal Arts Building at Southwestern Illinois College, 2500 Carlyle Ave., Belleville.

The task force is gathering information from the public on the the causes and potential solutions to the tragedy of veterans suicide. Attendees will be allowed to address the task force in a public forum.

At least 22 military veterans each day take their own lives, according to estimates compiled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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If a conflict ever starts up in outer space, the U.S. government is making sure it’s ready to handle it. With China, Russia, and other countries developing technology that could threaten U.S. national security infrastructure in space, the Pentagon has designated a “principal space adviser” and is working on developing a “Space Fence” to help track debris in the solar system, while agencies across the Defense Department have started participating in “war-game scenarios involving space combat,” according to The Week.

The Washington Post is also reporting that “defense officials are developing ways to protect exposed satellites floating in orbit and to keep apprised of what an enemy is doing hundreds, if not thousands, of miles above Earth’s surface. They are making satellites more resilient, enabling them to withstand jamming efforts. And instead of relying only on large and expensive systems, defense officials plan to send swarms of small satellites into orbit that are much more difficult to target.”

The Pentagon spends $22 billion on space programs and is investing an additional $5 billion in space efforts this year, including $2 billion for what is known as “space control,” which includes its highly classified offensive programs. Pentagon officials declined to discuss the ways in which the United States is preparing to attack other countries in space. But the United States has had the capability to blow up satellites since 1985, when an F-15 fighter pilot fired a missile into space that took out an old military observation satellite.

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The Pentagon is lowering its estimate of the number of people it believes have faced retaliation for making claims of sexual assault, arguing that what might sometimes feel like revenge may actually be an attempt to help, according to Military.com.

The decision, following a year of debate, is likely to face some criticism, particularly from sexual assault survivors who faced social snubs, harassment, job transfers or other actions in the emotional aftermath of an attack.

But what victims may see as vengeful behavior is, in some cases, actions that are meant to help the survivor heal or get them away from their alleged attackers, military officials say. In other cases, social backlash, bullying or other negative social media behavior may be difficult to pinpoint or trace, and even harder to legally punish.

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The Army Special Forces unit that fought its way into the Afghan city of Kunduz after it was seized by the Taliban in October initially did so without proper maps, according to recently declassified documents, according to the Washington Post.

The documents, released last month, were part of a heavily redacted report on the Oct. 3, 2015, bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital that killed between 30 and 42 civilians. The investigation, aside from piecing together why an American AC-130U gunship targeted and destroyed a medical facility, revealed a host of issues that beset a small team of Army Special Forces soldiers and their Afghan counterparts as they pushed into a city held by a large Taliban force.

On Sept. 28, the Taliban, after a series of concerted attacks, seized Kunduz from Afghan security forces. Roughly a day later, and with just 12 hours of planning, a dozen-man Army Special Forces team, known as an Operational Detachment Alpha or ODA, began pushing into the city alongside its Afghan allies. According to the investigation documents, the team was using a “single” 1:50,000 scale map to “plan and conduct operations in the city.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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