May 14, 2018

News Briefs – May 14, 2018

California’s National Guard begins Border Patrol training

California National Guard troops have started training with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to be camera operators, radio dispatchers, intelligence analysts and fill other support roles to free up more agents to patrol the Mexican border.
Maj. Kimberly Holman told The Associated Press May 3 that some of the 250 troops who volunteered for the call to help Border Patrol agents started their on-the-job training Thursday after meeting their Border Patrol supervisors in San Diego. Depending on their jobs, some could begin officially working as soon as May 13.
Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to contribute 400 troops to the National Guard’s deployment to the Mexican border to help go after drugs, guns and criminal gangs — not immigrants
Holman says troops volunteered for the mission to keep California safe. AP

Source: Trump considering Army veteran for VA secretary

President Donald Trump is considering an Army veteran who is a Republican member of Congress for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary. It is part of a lengthening search for a nominee following the abrupt firing of David Shulkin in March.
A White House official says Rep. Brian Mast of Florida is among the list of candidates for the job serving 9 million veterans.
Mast is the first member of Congress to open a lawmaker office in a VA facility, setting up shop in the West Palm Beach VA to meet with veterans. He was wounded when serving in Afghanistan in 2010, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs.
Trump is seeking a nominee to lead the VA after White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination. AP

Iraqi forces capture five top IS leaders in cross-border raid

The U.S.-led coalition says Iraqi forces in coordination with U.S.-backed Syrian forces have captured five senior Islamic State group leaders.
In a May 3 statement, coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon called the arrest a “significant blow to Daesh,” using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
IS fighters no longer control significant pockets of territory inside Iraq, but do maintain a grip inside Syria along Iraq’s border.
The U.S.-led coalition supported Iraqi ground forces and Syrian fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in the more than three- year war against IS.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the raid, saying those arrested were the “five most wanted” IS “leaders.”
None of the statements from the president or the coalition named the individuals. AP

Philippines to launch first missile-firing assault vessels

The Philippine navy chief says the country’s first-ever missile-firing assault vessels will be launched in about three months, likely for territorial defense, anti-insurgency operations and deterrence.
Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a news conference May 3 that the navy also plans to acquire torpedoes and submarines under a modernization program to bolster the security of the archipelago and combat piracy and other cross-border crimes.
Empedrad said the Israeli-made short-range missile systems are being installed in three multipurpose attack seacraft which were acquired earlier. He said the navy is finalizing plans where to deploy the vessels, which would possibly include western Palawan province and Zamboanga Peninsula in the south.
The underfunded Philippine military is among the most ill-equipped in Asia, although it faces many national security and territorial threats. AP

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