Lucas Tomlinson

President Trump is expected to formally nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be his permanent defense secretary as soon as next week, two administration officials tell Fox News. This, after an internal Pentagon investigation concluded that the acting defense secretary did not show any bias in favor of his former employer, aerospace giant Boeing.

Shanahan worked at Boeing for over 30 years before coming to the Pentagon as then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s deputy at the start of the Trump administration.

Shanahan’s nomination had been held up by the White House since the Pentagon inspector general opened an investigation into Shanahan’s conduct following a report in Politico days after taking over for Mattis alleging Shanahan called Boeing-rival Lockheed Martin’s advanced F-35 program “f—ed up” and said the company didn’t know how to run a defense program following years of cost overruns and delays to the fifth-generation fighter jet.

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Shanahan has been serving as acting defense chief since the president forced Jim Mattis to leave the job early following his resignation in December.

Shanahan faces a potentially contentious confirmation hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate in order to assume the role as defense secretary.

President Trump found an early supporter and point man in Shanahan for the creation of a sixth branch of the military, the Space Force.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Shanahan spoke about his urgency in developing the new branch.

“We have a $19 trillion economy that runs on space.  Our military runs on space.  It is vitally important,” said Shanahan. “[The] Chinese and Russians are deploying capability to put our economy and our military at risk in the time of crisis.”

Asked for comment a spokesman for the acting defense secretary would not answer the question directly if Shanahan was expecting to be nominated next week.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan remains focused SOLELY on the Department, on our global military options, on our servicemembers, civilians, and their families,” said Army Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino.

A defense official added Shanahan will be “ready for a confirmation hearing, should he be nominated.”

Jennifer Griffin, Kevin Corke and Chad Pergram contributed to this report

Source: Fox News National

It was a turning point in the war, just four months after Pearl Harbor, and gave the nation hope.

Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, died last week at the age of 103. He was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead bomber that launched the surprise counter-attack over Japan in April 1942.

“How we were selected to go on that raid I don’t know,” said Cole in an interview with the American Veterans Center in 2014.

The raid was a virtual suicide mission: 16 bombers with 80 men on board taking off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, 650 miles east of Japan, to bomb Tokyo and break the will of the Japanese.

Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole, seated front, was presented a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Doolittle Raiders in April 2015.

Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, seated front, was presented a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Doolittle Raiders in April 2015. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, File)

The B-25 Mitchell bombers flew without fighter escort. The lumbering bombers had to be modified to take off on the short, pitching flight deck. Typically the bombers would need 3,000 feet of runway to take off on land, but at sea, they had only 500 feet on the carrier.

While inflicting only minimal damage, the raid boosted morale back home in the United States and changed the course of the war.

Three Doolittle Raiders were killed. Eight were captured by the Japanese. Four survived years of solitary confinement.  All but one of the bombers crash-landed in China. The Raiders thought they would be court-martialed, not honored.

Asked how he became Doolittle’s co-pilot on the famous mission, Cole said it was fate.

MARINE RUNNING BOSTON MARATHON FOR FALLEN COMRADES CRAWLS ACROSS FINISH LINE

“It was strictly by luck,” he said. “The 17th group got transferred to Columbia, South Carolina. They had put a note up on the board wanting volunteers for a dangerous nation. I had [to] put my name there.”

Two months after the raid, mission commander Brig. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle received the nation’s highest valor award, the Medal of Honor, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Oval Office.

Cole received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Doolittle Raiders agreed to meet every year until only two remained. In 2013, they uncorked a bottle of vintage cognac from 1896 — the year of Doolittle’s birth — for a final toast.

Thursday, a grateful nation will say goodbye to the last Doolittle Raider. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and the Air Force’s top officer, Gen. David Goldfein are to fly down to San Antonio, Texas, for the memorial.

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Lt. Col. Richard Cole will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery if Congress intervenes, according to officials.

Three years ago, the Air Force said it would name its new B-21 bomber — The Raider — in honor of the legendary Doolittle Raiders.

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The U.S. military said Monday it had killed the second in command of a Somalia-based ISIS affiliate in an airstrike over the weekend.

In a statement, U.S. Africa Command said Abdulhakim Dhuqub died in the Bari region of Somalia, an area which includes the tip of the Horn of Africa peninsula.

The statement referred to Dhuqub as ISIS-Somalia’s “second in command” and responsible for the “daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning, and resource procurement.”

ISIS MEMBER TASKED WITH ‘BRINGING IN MIGRANTS,’ NEWLY OBTAINED TERROR GROUP DOCUMENTS SHOW

Africa Command said the strike killed only Dhuqub, and also destroyed a vehicle.

“We continue to work with our Somali partners to keep pressure on the al-Shabaab and ISIS Somalia terror networks,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command’s director of operations. “When it supports the strategy, we use precision airstrikes to target those who plan and carry out the violent extremist activities that put Somalis at risk.”

Not much is known about Dhuqub; his name does not appear on the State Dept.’s Reward for Justice website normally reserved for top terrorists and there is not much information publicly available online. ISIS-Somalia is a relatively small terrorist group consisting of roughly 125 fighters, according to officials.

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The strike took place days after Somalia’s prime minister Hassan Khayre visited the White House and the Pentagon.

The U.S. military has launched 31 airstrikes in Somalia this year, following a record-setting 47 last year. In 2017, President Trump authorized the military to conduct offensive strikes in Somalia against Al Qaeda-linked Shabab fighters as well as the ISIS affiliate.

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For nearly two decades, U.S. special operations forces have been leading the war against terrorism. They are deployed to over 100 countries worldwide.

Since 2012, Operation Healing Forces has helped injured operators and their spouses recover, and in some cases return to the battlefield — after a week-long retreat at luxury destinations around the country.

Gary Markel, a successful Florida businessman and part owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, founded Operation Healing Forces after watching injured service members scuba diving on TV.  He was so moved, he felt compelled to act.

“It’s a bonding and healing retreat — very therapeutic where none of the couples know each other when they come to the location,” said Markel in an interview with Fox News.

“The retreats range from Key West, Florida to Hilton Head to Virginia Beach to Vail to Los Angeles to New England, he added.  “I still donate my yacht, but most of our generous donations come from people that have luxury vacation homes as well as several resorts that have agreed to support cause as well.”

Those resorts include The Greenbrier, Beaver Creek, The Sea Pines Resort and Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.

The charity has expanded from 10 week-long retreats to nearly 40 this year, helping some of the nearly 15,000 wounded special operators.

THE MOTHER OF A NAVY SEAL KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN SHARES HER SON’T STORY

Nearly three-quarters of participants are active-duty special operations forces.

Markel’s brother, Tony, joined his brother a few years ago.

“The reality is the way wars are being fought these days these are the guys that are really out there protecting the front lines and putting their lives at risk,” said Tony Markel.  “The special operators are special and we think it’s a wonderful way to repay the sacrifices that they make on our behalf.”

“The divorce rate in the special ops community is horrendous given the pressure of the number of deployments,” he added. “We’re trying to concentrate on keeping those marriages solid.”

One couple from the special operations community – a recipient of one of the week-long retreats in Arizona – praised the work of Operation Healing Forces.

“I don’t want to say that our marriage was broken or on the rocks but our marriage was not thriving,” said Heather Mizerek. “It gave us the time to focus on us.”

Mizerek credits Operation Healing Forces for helping her husband, Vince, transition out of the military.

“My favorite thing was we went on a hot air balloon ride in the middle of the desert,” she described. “They set up this beautiful dinner in the desert, while the sun is going down a string lights. It was awesome.”

Former Marine Corps special operator Vince Mizerek deployed to combat multiple times. A traumatic brain injury during a training accident in 2017 cut his career short.  The former staff sergeant said he struggled with the transition.

“Operation healing forces is more than just a charity, it was a bonding experience. It was the reintegration of family,” said Vince. “The challenges that you face overseas or are completely different than the normal everyday challenges that you face here — dropping the kids off at school helping them with homework – it’s almost so simple it’s hard for you.”

For the Markel brothers, the joy comes at the end of the week-long retreat when the special operations families learn who has sponsored their luxury retreat.

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“The initial reaction is I can’t believe somebody would do this for us. Well, of course, our response is we can’t believe what you do for us,” said Tony Markel.

“Operation Healing Forces gave us some friends from our retreat that we never would have made before. They gave us the resources,” added Heather Mizerek.

“Everybody in the military are heroes. We just feel that the special ops community is that cut above. It’s a pleasure to help them out,” added Gary Markel.

Source: Fox News National

Three US troops and 1 contractor were killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Monday near Bagram Air Base, the Pentagon announced. Three U.S. service members were also wounded in the blast.

Those hurt were evacuated and are receiving care, the Pentagon said. The names of those killed are being held back for 24 hours until the notification of next of kin has been completed, as per U.S. Department of Defense policy.

The violence follows recent signs of support of US outreach to the Taliban.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says he supports U.S. efforts to pursue a cease-fire with the Taliban, who effectively control half of Afghanistan and refuse to negotiate with his government. Abdullah Abdullah shares power with President Ashraf Ghani in a U.S.-brokered unity government. Abdullah spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Abdullah says the Taliban could take part in elections and even compete for the presidency if they renounce violence. He says Afghans want peace, but “they don’t want to live the way that the Taliban want them to live.”

The Taliban have held talks with a U.S. envoy in recent months while continuing to carry out daily attacks on Afghan forces. The insurgents dismiss the Afghan government as a U.S. puppet.

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This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

Increased fighting in Libya has forced the U.S. to temporarily relocate a number of its troops from the country as conditions deteriorate, officials said Sunday.

U.S. Africa Command said in a news release that a contingent of U.S. forces supporting U.S. Africa Command has pulled out due to “security conditions on the ground.”

“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command. “Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy.”

RIVAL LIBYAN FORCES SAY THEY HAVE CAPTURED TRIPOLI AIRPORT

Waldhauser did not provide details on the number of U.S. troops that have been withdrawn or on how many remain inside the country. Photos and videos posted to Twitter appear to show some of the U.S. troops evacuating near Tripoli.

Officials have told Fox News that hundreds of American troops had been in Libya in recent years helping the U.N.-backed government combat Islamic State and Al Qaeda militants.

Troops also protect diplomatic facilities in the wake of the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, that killed 4 Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

A renegade Libyan general has started an assault on the capital of Tripoli in recent days, targeting the airport located outside the city.

Libyan militia commander General Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, in August 2017.

Libyan militia commander General Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, in August 2017. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Fighting was underway Sunday at the international airport about 15 miles from central Tripoli, after the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, claimed to have seized the area. The airport was destroyed in a previous bout of militia fighting in 2014. Hifter said his forces had launched airstrikes targeting rival militias on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Libya has been gripped by unrest since the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed long-ruling dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and in recent years has been governed by rival authorities in the east and in Tripoli, in the west, each backed by various armed groups.

GERMAN AID GROUP SAYS 64 MIGRANTS RESCUED AT SEA OFF LIBYA

The rival militias, which are affiliated with a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, said they had also carried out airstrikes that slowed Hifter’s advance. At least 23 people, including civilians, have been killed on both sides since Thursday.

The Interior Ministry of the Tripoli-based government said in a statement to the Associated Press that at least 9 people, including a physician, were killed. It said at least 55 fighters and a civilian were wounded.

Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Hifter’s forces, said Saturday that 14 troops had been killed since the offensive began.

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The fighting has displaced hundreds of people, the U.N. migration agency said. The U.N. mission to Libya has called for a two-hour cease-fire on Sunday in parts of Tripoli to evacuate civilians and wounded people.

The LNA is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia. It answers to the authorities based in eastern Libya, who are at odds with the U.N.-backed government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

U.S. Air Force nuclear-capable bombers flew a training mission near Scandinavia, sending a clear message to Moscow.

Five B-52 bombers flew over the Norwegian Sea Thursday, according to a statement from U.S. Air Force Europe, in a training flight reminiscent of those from the Cold War.

“The flights also allowed aircrews to conduct theater familiarization and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of our military forces. U.S. Strategic Command regularly tests and evaluates the readiness of strategic assets to ensure we are able to honor our security commitments,” the statement said.

AIR FORCE SQUADRONS SHOWCASE ‘OVERWHELMING COMBAT AIRPOWER’ DURING ELEPHANT WALK

Flights of this nature using long-range bombers have steadily increased over the past five years since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

The American bombers joined Norwegian F-16 fighter jets in the training flight Thursday, according to the Air Force.

The large flight was coordinated in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe 

The large flight was coordinated in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)

STRANGERS WHO ATTENDED AIR FORCE VETERAN’S FUNERAL ‘CAME TOGETHER AS AMERICANS’, SAYS ORGANIZER

Earlier this month, a task force of six B-52 bombers deployed to the England recently from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana

Late last year, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier—USS Harry Truman– launched aircraft north of the Arctic Circle for the first time in 30 years.

During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy regularly sent aircraft carrier strike groups to the Norwegian Sea to simulate attacks on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, where a large concentration of Russian military bases are located.  U.S. and NATO air force fighter jets regularly joined the training missions as well.

“Training with NATO allies like Norway enhances the capabilities and readiness of the alliance,” the Air Force said.

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Recently, Russian fighter jets have intercepted American bombers flying over the Baltic Sea, but all interactions have been safe and professional, according to the Pentagon.

Source: Fox News World

The U.S. Air Force is grounding its B-1B bombers over a mechanical issue with the plane’s “drogue chute.” It’s the second time in almost a year and a half in which a temporary stand-down order was announced for the planes.

The problem is with the parachute feature connected with the pilot’s ejection seat.

Reports said a routine inspection by airmen on one aircraft found a rigged "drogue chute" incorrectly installed. That raised concerns that the issue could affect other planes.

Currently, there are 62 B-1B Lancer bombers in the branch’s flight inventory. It is also referred by its nickname, the “Bone.”

The grounding should only last a “few weeks,” and no more than a month, according to officials.

AIR FORCE SQUADRONS SHOWCASE ‘OVERWHELMING COMBAT AIRPOWER’ DURING ELEPHANT WALK

The plane has been used extensively in Operation Inherent Resolve against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, launching long-range cruise missiles. It is not a nuclear bomber, but  rather deploys conventional weapons.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer taking off from Nellis Air Force Base in 2006. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, File)

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer taking off from Nellis Air Force Base in 2006. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, File)

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In June 2018, the U.S. fleet was grounded for safety reasons for about three weeks due to an issue with the ejection seat system.

There are currently no B-1 bombers flying overseas, according to defense officials. They are predominantly housed at two domestic bases: Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.

Source: Fox News National

Democratic lawmakers fought back against the Defense Department on Tuesday over its plan to shift up to $1 billion in military funds to pay for 57 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, with the head of the House Armed Services Committee calling it "unbelievably irresponsible."

The Pentagon notified Congress late Monday that it had authorized the transfer of funds under a federal law allowing it to "construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of Federal law enforcement agencies."

Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said in a statement that Congress had entrusted the Defense Department with the ability to redirect a limited amount of funds "to give them additional flexibility to manage day-to-day operations. DoD’s recent notification of its intent to use that process to reprogram $1 billion without Congressional approval is a violation of that trust."

During a hearing with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other Pentagon leaders, Smith sent a letter from the committee to the Defense Department denying its formal request to shift the money. The panel doesn’t have the legal authority to block the transfer but could make changes in the law to block any funding shifts in the future.

HOUSE DEMS FAIL TO OVERRIDE TRUMP VETO IN FIGHT OVER BORDER EMERGENCY DECLARATION

"You are not asking for our permission," Smith told Shanahan. "Now you understand the result of that likely is that the appropriations committee will no longer give the Pentagon reprogramming authority."

In response, Shanahan told lawmakers that he knew using funds for the border wall ran the risk of losing the lawmakers’ trust.

"We said, ‘Here are the risks, longer-term, to the department,’" the acting secretary said. "And those risks were weighed and then, given a legal order from the commander-in-chief, we are executing on that order."

One congressional aide told Fox News that the Pentagon redirecting the money over the objections of lawmakers was "breaking decades-long tradition on Capitol Hill."

David Norquist, the department’s budget chief, told lawmakers the money to pay for the construction in the Yuma and El Paso border sectors will come from an Army personnel account. That branch of the service was short of its 2018 recruiting target by over 6,000 new soldiers.

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Shanahan had intended to use funds from an existing Pentagon counter-narcotics account toward the border barrier, but officials told Fox News on Tuesday that there was only approximately $85 million in that account.

The Pentagon last week sent to Capitol Hill a list of more than 400 military construction projects, totaling about $13 billion, that might be tapped for wall funding. But Shanahan has said that any money for military housing or barracks would not be touched, as well as any projects that will have contracts awarded before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. When those projects are removed, about 150 remain, totaling about $4.3 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Two American warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday to send a message to the Chinese government ahead of high-level trade talks between the two nations.

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur and U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf sailed through the strait, a body of water separating Taiwan from mainland China that is approximately 100 miles wide and is considered a hot spot for any potential conflict.

Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the Navy 7th Fleet, said in a statement that the ships had conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit March 24-25 [local time] in accordance with international law. The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The transit marked the third time in three months that the U.S. sailed warships through the strait, which is officially considered international waters. However, China has considered Taiwan its own territory to be brought under its control — by force if needed — and has monitored foreign military activity in the waterway closely.

Beijing has considered control over Taiwan a matter of national pride, as well as a key to its access to the Pacific, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warned last month that the military threat from China was increasing "every day."

APPLE’S TIM COOK, IN CHINA, SAYS HE’S BULLISH ON GLOBAL ECONOMY

"The Chinese side has been closely monitoring the U.S. warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday. "We are well aware of the whole process. We have also made complaints with the U.S."

Geng said the U.S. needed to abide by previous commitments to China "so as not to avoid damage to China-U.S. relations and peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait."

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The transit came days before a high-level American delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to arrive in China for the eighth round of trade negotiations aimed at resolving a long-running dispute.

The trade dispute escalated last year after the U.S. made several complaints, including that China was stealing U.S. trade secrets and was forcing companies to give them technology to access its market. Trump imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, about half what the United States buys from that country. China retaliated with tariffs on about $110 billion of U.S. items.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World


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