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Author: TriSec    Date: 09/20/2016 09:55:22

Good Morning.

Veering a little off-track to start this morning. Here's something we almost never think about - US Navy ship names.

We're probably familiar with a few of the more famous ones - Enterprise, Nimitz, Constitution...and the infamous - Pueblo, Forrestal, Indianapolis.

Sometimes it seems random, but there's a general pattern for most of these things. Our "Supercarriers" have generally been named after presidents. Submarines are named after Cities or States...and a whole host of lesser vessels are named after all kinds of people, places, and things.

It's generally the Navy Secretary that decides what to name ships after. Usually it's benign, but in this day and age you can't even name a ship without creating controversy.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has raised a few eyebrows with some of the names he has picked for naval ships.

Why, critics questioned, would he name a ship in honor of the late gay rights leader Harvey Milk or after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when there are plenty of military heroes to choose from?

Mabus has said he is honoring people who have shown heroism, just as past Navy secretaries have done. He said he believes that by looking outside the military, at times, for heroes, he can help connect people with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Mabus is officially announcing five new ship names on visits to Mississippi and Massachusetts beginning Saturday. Among the group, a replenishment oiler will bear the name of abolitionist Sojourner Truth.

"I have named ships after presidents. I have named ships after members of Congress who have been forceful advocates for the Navy and Marine Corps," Mabus said in a recent interview. "But I think you have to represent all the values that we hold as Americans, that we hold as a country. And so that's why I've named ships the Medgar Evers, Cesar Chavez, John Lewis, the Harvey Milk. Because these are American heroes too, just in a different arena."

Republican U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, of California, objects to Mabus naming ships after Milk, farm labor leader Chavez and others. He wants ships to be named after service members honored for valor to inspire their crews.

Evers and Lewis were civil rights activists. Lewis is now a Georgia congressman. A measure stalled recently in the House that would have prevented the Navy from naming ships after lawmakers who haven't served in the military or as president.

Retired Vice Adm. Doug Crowder questions naming a ship after Giffords, who survived after being shot during a constituent meeting. It's the secretary's right to name ships, and previous secretaries have made political decisions, but there's an inherent risk in making a string of political statements, said Crowder, who served as a deputy chief of naval operations before retiring in 2010.

"It just doesn't help at all for what the basic sailor or officer thinks of his chain of command, up to the secretary of the navy," he said. "Is it catastrophic? No. But that's the risk you run."

Crowder said he doesn't think a ship should be named after Peyton Manning, either, "to take it to the ridiculous end state to make a point."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, though, argues the names are in sync with the military's embrace of a changing society. Chavez is an iconic name in the Latino community, as Milk's name is in the LGBT community, said Courtney, of Connecticut.

Mabus noted that he's naming nine ships after Medal of Honor winners, including World War II Marine John Basilone.

A naval historian said Mabus follows naming conventions, for the most part.

"He has made some, what people would consider exceptions to the rules, because in his view it was the right thing to do to reach out to different communities in the country," said David Winkler, of the Naval Historical Foundation.

But on to the news at hand.

We'll head back to Iraq next. While we "ended combat operations" long ago now, we never actually left. Over the last few weeks, there's been fighting around Mosul as bad as any we encountered during our time there. Perhaps it's being led by the Iraqis this time, perhaps not. The headline says we're still leading the way.

WASHINGTON (CNN) —Indications are growing that the attack to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and ISIS' last major stronghold in the country, could begin as soon as next month.

Hundreds of US troops have arrived at an air base 40 miles south of Mosul to support Iraq's efforts to liberate that city, a US defense official told CNN.

The US-led coalition to counter ISIS says it carried out four additional airstrikes near Mosul and Qayyarah Friday, destroying eight ISIS fighting positions and damaging a tunnel entrance. Near Qayyarah, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle, a weapons cache and 29 watercraft.

Qayyarah air base was recaptured from ISIS by Iraqi soldiers backed by US airstrikes in July and the American forces operating there will mainly provide logistics, supplies and support for the Iraqi offensive on Mosul. The move brings US personnel closer to the battle and ISIS' defensive lines.

"When the (Iraqi Security Force) is ready to move on in their operations to get after Mosul, we'll be prepared to support that and the airfield will be ready," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon. He added that coalition forces are conducting intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance efforts in the area.

Asked if US forces advising the Mosul operation faced increased risk, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters Thursday that "the secretary (of defense) has made clear that our forces in Iraq are in harm's way. Everyone who is serving there is in a dangerous situation."

The air base is also expected to be rebuilt to allow US and coalition aircraft to operate there, since its proximity to Mosul makes it tactically important.

"This is a partnered effort. This is something we're working from both the land component perspective with the Iraqis and clearly ensuring that, as we begin to put some of our airplanes in there in the future, that it's got the capabilities that we need," Harrigian added, describing efforts to prepare Qayyarah.

The assault could begin as early as October, according to several US officials. The next stage of the effort to retake Mosul will involve attempts to seize towns and villages on the southern outskirts of the city.

Of course, Iraq isn't the only place we've got our fingers in the pie. You probably heard that the US-brokered cease fire in Syria collapsed yesterday. While the reasons are many, it's most likely because of a US-led air raid that went off-kilter. Nice, huh?

The Syrian ceasefire formally ended today, with the Syrian military announcing it was no longer sustainable amid growing rebel strikes. This was seen as all but inevitable since Saturday, when a botched US airstrike killed 83 Syrian soldiers and allowed ISIS to advance into crucial area around the Deir Ezzor Airport.

The ceasefire was already fraying, and the US airstrike effectively obliged Syria and Russia to launch renewed airstrikes against ISIS in the area around Deir Ezzor, if only to try to reclaim some of the territory the US strike cost them around the vital airport.

The truce began last Monday evening, and was a rousing success for the first few days, with no civilian deaths for several days, giving the country a rare period of calm after several years of war. There were some skirmishes reported later in the week, however, and then the US strike, by far the deadliest incident of the week, set off a powderkeg.

US officials are still trying to deal with the narrative surrounding the calamitous attacks, with Australian, British, and Danish warplanes now believed to have participated in some 20 minutes of strikes against the Syrian military base.

US officials are also speculating that the soldiers killed might have also been a battalion of former prisoners, saying that might’ve explained why they “looked like ISIS” to US officials. This is not confirmed, and appears to just be random US comments.

Either way, the attacks dramatically weakened Syrian defenses in the area, and ISIS was quick to take advantage. It also sparked a new row between the US and Russia, as US officials responded to Russia’s call for an emergency UN Security Council meeting with angry condemnation.

We've got one last story to make you feel great about America today. It seems that another one of those fancy LCS thingies has broken down, just days after commissioning.

I hope they kept the receipt this time.

20 comments (Latest Comment: 09/20/2016 19:39:47 by Raine)
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