News Briefs – August 15, 2018


U.S. commando dies after explosion in southern Afghanistan

An Army special forces soldier has died from wounds he received earlier this month in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, the Defense Department said Aug. 13.
Sgt. 1st Class Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion, 36, of Waikoloa, Hawaii, died Sunday at a hospital in Germany. He was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near him while he was on patrol.
Transfiguracion was a staff sergeant when he was wounded but was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class, said Maj. Beth Riordan, spokeswoman for 1st Special Forces Command. He was an engineer assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
Born in the Philippines, Transfiguracion enlisted in the Hawaii National Guard in 2001. He joined the active duty Army in 2008, and later went through special forces training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Transfiguracion deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2008, and then went to the Philippines in 2010 for six months, Riordan said. His latest war tour in Afghanistan started in March.
Among his numerous awards, Transfiguracion received a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his Afghanistan service. It was the second Purple Heart he received during his military career. AP

Pakistan military officers to get training in Russia

Pakistani military officers will receive training in Russian Federation military institutes under a recent agreement signed by Pakistan and Russia.
The deal underscores Pakistan’s increasing reliance on Russia for its military needs amid strained relations with the U.S. It was signed earlier this week during a visit by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin.
The deal comes as local media reported the U.S. has stopped financing military training in the U.S. for Pakistani soldiers — a step that Pakistani Sen. Mushahid Hussain called “wrong and counterproductive.”
Hussain, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, said the U.S. is repeating past mistakes through failed policy of trying to bully and browbeat Pakistan with such shortsighted sanctions.
Media have reported that 66 training slots for Pakistani military officers in U.S. facilities are being abolished. AP

Pentagon chief Mattis defends his reversal on Space Force

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he is satisfied that creating a Space Force as a separate military service is the right way to reorganize the Pentagon’s approach to space.
The move requires approval by Congress, and Mattis says the process will unfold in phases. He suggested there is no rush to create a separate service, even as other related steps are taken to make the Pentagon’s approach more cohesive and efficient.
Mattis spoke to reporters traveling with him Aug. 12 to Brazil, the first stop on a four-nation tour that is his first to South America as defense secretary.
His comments about space were his first since Vice President Mike Pence announced Aug. 9 that the Trump administration would push for creation of the Space Force as a sixth, separate military service by 2020. AP

NASA administrator supports Trump ‘space force’ proposal

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is expressing full support for President Donald Trump’s proposed military “space force,” but says it will have a role separate from NASA.
Bridenstine said Aug. 13 in New Orleans that NASA’s role involves science, space exploration and technology development. He said the agency should remain independent from national security and defense issues.
Bridenstine was touring the Michoud Assembly Center, where workers are putting together major parts of the systems that are planned to return U.S. astronauts to the moon and, eventually, take them to Mars. That includes the 322-foot-tall rocket known as the Space Launch System, and the spacecraft called Orion.
Bridenstine is a former Republican congressman. He was nominated by Trump to head NASA last year and was confirmed by the Senate in April. AP