Metro-East News

Scott Air Force Base celebrates 99th birthday

Two days ago Scott Air Force Base marked the 99th anniversary of the lease signing of Scott Field, which later became known as Scott AFB, from the U.S. War Department. More than 620 acres of land was to be the stage for an aviation station that would support World War I training efforts. Flight training quickly necessitated the development of aeromedical evacuation airplanes, which is a part of Team Scott’s current missions today.

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In the wake of the massacre at a Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub, a group of former senior military officials and veterans, including Gens. David Petraeus and Stanley McCrystal, continue to generate interest for a veteran-focused gun law initiative, according to Stars and Stripes.

The initiative, Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, is spearheaded by Capt. Mark Kelly, a former Navy combat pilot and astronaut whose wife, Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., was the target of an assassination attempt in 2011.

The couple jointly formed Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control advocacy group in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings in 2013 that left 27 dead, most of them children.

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CIA Director John Brennan will tell Congress on Thursday that Islamic State militants are training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for their territorial losses, according to ABC News.

In remarks prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan says the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, has been working to build an apparatus to direct and inspire attacks against its foreign enemies, as in the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels — ones the CIA believes were directed by IS leaders.

“ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West,” Brennan said.

The terrorist group probably is working to smuggle them into countries, perhaps among refugee flows or through legitimate means of travel, according to Brennan.

Brennan also noted the group’s call for followers to conduct so-called lone-wolf attacks in their home countries. He called last week’s attack in Orlando a “heinous act of wanton violence” and an “assault on the values of openness and tolerance” that define the United States as a nation.

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ABC News is also reporting that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has told NATO allies America will take a new look at its plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, a British official says, a fresh indication that U.S. involvement in the country is not waning in the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The American reassurance to NATO allies comes on the heels of Obama’s decision last week to give the military wider latitude to support Afghan forces against the Taliban, both in the air and on the ground.

Far from ending the two wars he inherited from the Bush administration, Obama is wrestling with an expanded set of conflicts as his presidency nears an end, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Libya and Syria, with no end in sight. In Afghanistan, a Taliban resurgence has upset Washington’s exit strategy, which called for troop reductions from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2016.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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