TIME Military

U.S. Flag Waves Over 10 Army Bases Proudly Named for Confederate Officers

Puts S.C.’s Confederate-flag flap in perspective

It’s tough to top the historical amnesia that has let the Confederate flag fly over the South Carolina capitol for more than half a century. But the U.S. Army certainly can give Columbia’s banner a run for its money: it operates posts named for nine Confederate generals and a colonel, including the head of its army, the reputed Georgia chief of the Ku Klux Klan and the commander whose troops fired the first shots of the Civil War.

It shouldn’t be surprising. Both the Army and the South are tradition-bound entities that revere their past. Each of the posts was named for a Confederate officer long after the Civil War, including many in the first half of the 20th Century when the U.S. military was rushing to open training posts for both world wars. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday there is “no discussion” underway about renaming the posts.

The Army itself stood firm. “Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” Brigadier General Malcolm Frost, the service’s top spokesman, said Wednesday. “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”

What makes all this especially bizarre is that the Army has always been the service with the most African-American troops. More than one of every five soldiers is black, double the Marines’ enlisted share. Every day, thousands of them salute smartly, preparing to defend the nation on soil honoring their race’s oppressors.

DoD

Don’t blame us, the Army seems to say. While the service traditionally solicited possible names from within its ranks, “unsolicited suggestions for names were also submitted from sources outside the military establishment, and political pressure and public opinion often influenced the naming decision,” the Army says in its history of naming Army installations. “As a result, it was common for camps and forts to be named after local features or veterans with a regional connection. In the southern states they were frequently named after celebrated Confederate soldiers.”

No kidding. All 10 of the bases are located in the Confederacy, stretching from Virginia to Texas. And some of the honored officers, frankly, don’t appear to deserve celebration:

Camp Beauregard, La., honors Louisiana native and Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893, West Point class of 1838). It is a major training site for the Louisiana National Guard. Beauregard was the first brigadier general in the Confederate army. Dispatched to defend Charleston, S.C., his troops began shelling Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, launching the Civil War.

Fort Benning, Ga., honors Brigadier General Henry Benning (1814-1875), a Georgia lawyer, politician, judge and supporter of slavery. The Army established Camp Benning, known as the Home of the Infantry, in 1918; it became a fort four years later 1950 (forts generally are bigger, more permanent installations than camps). “In the wake of Lincoln’s election, Benning became one of Georgia’s most vocal proponents of secession,” according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. “On November 19, 1860, he delivered a speech before the state legislature urging immediate secession, ending the speech by saying,`[L]et us do our duty; and what is our duty? I say, men of Georgia, let us lift up our voices and shout, “Ho! for independence!” Let us follow the example of our ancestors, and prove ourselves worthy sons of worthy sires!’”

Fort Bragg, N.C., honors General Braxton Bragg (1817-1876, West Point class of 1837). He waged war ploddingly with frontal assaults, and a lack of post-battle follow-through that turned battlefield successes into post-battle disappointments. “Even Bragg’s staunchest supporters admonished him for his quick temper, general irritability, and tendency to wound innocent men with barbs thrown during his frequent fits of anger,” historian Peter Cozzens has written. “His reluctance to praise or flatter was exceeded, we are told, only by the tenacity with which, once formed, he clung to an adverse impression of a subordinate. For such officers—and they were many in the Army of the Mississippi—Bragg’s removal or their transfer were the only alternatives to an unbearable existence.”

Fort Gordon, Ga., honors Lieut. General John Brown Gordon (1832-1904), one of Lee’s most-trusted officers. The post began as Camp Gordon in 1917; it became Fort Gordon in 1956. It is home to the Army Signal Corps and the service’s Cyber Center of Excellence. “Generally acknowledged as the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1872,” according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia (Gordon denied the charge). “By the time of his death in 1904, Gordon had capitalized on his war record to such an extent that he had become for many Georgians, and southerners in general, the living embodiment of the Confederacy.”

Fort A.P. Hill, Va., honors Virginia native Lieut. General A.P. Hill (1825-1865, West Point class of 1847). The Army created the post six months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today it is a training and maneuver center focused on providing realistic joint and combined-arms training. Hill had a frail physique and was frequently ill, attributes some historians believe are linked to the gonorrhea he contracted while on furlough from West Point (an infection that forced him to repeat his third year). A Union soldier from Pennsylvania shot and killed Hill in Petersburg, Va., a week before the end of the Civil War.

U.S. Army, from Fort A.P. Hill’s website

Fort Hood, Texas, honors native Kentuckian General John Bell Hood (1831-1879, West Point class of 1853). The post began as Camp Hood in 1942, becoming a fort in 1950. It is the largest active duty armored post in the U.S. military. Hood was wounded at Gettysburg, losing the use of his left arm. Despite that, he led his troops in a massive assault during the Battle of Chickamauga, suffering wounds that led to the loss of his right leg.

Fort Lee, Va., honors Virginian General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870, West Point class of 1829), the South’s commanding officer by the Civil War’s end. The War Department created Camp Lee within weeks of declaring war on Germany in 1917. The Pentagon promoted it to Fort Lee in 1950. Just south of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, the post is home to the Army Quartermaster School. Lee was the Confederacy’s most renowned general, and his forces inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on Union soldiers’ at Antietam, Gettysburg and Manassas.

Fort Pickett, Va., honors Major General George Pickett (1825-1875, West Point class of 1846), a Virginia native. Pickett’s 1863 charge at Gettysburg has been called “the high-water mark of the Confederacy” before ending up a Union victory. The charge resulted in a rebel bloodbath. Pickett fled to Canada for a year after the war ended, fearing execution as a traitor. Camp Pickett was dedicated on July 3, 1942, at 3 p.m., 79 years to the day and hour of Pickett’s charge in Gettysburg. It became a fort in 1974 and now is a Virginia Army National Guard installation.

Fort Polk, La., honors Lieut. General Leonidas Polk (1806-1864, West Point class of 1827), an Episcopal bishop born in North Carolina. Established in 1941, the post is now home to the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center, which trains thousands of soldiers annually for overseas deployments. Polk fought bitterly during the Civil War with his immediate superior, General Braxton Bragg, of Fort Bragg fame. Before being killed in action in 1864 during the Atlanta campaign, Polk committed one of the biggest blunders of the war. He sent troops to occupy Columbus, Ky., which led the Kentucky legislature to appeal to Washington for help, ending the state’s brief try at neutrality.

Fort Rucker, Alabama, honors Tennessee native Colonel Edmund Rucker (1835-1924) who was often called “general” but never attained the rank (he was known as “general” after becoming a leading Birmingham, Ala., industrialist after the Civil War). Known today as the Home of Army Aviation, Fort Rucker was originally the Ozark Triangular Division Camp before being renamed Camp Rucker in 1942. It became Fort Rucker in 1955.

TIME Veterans

See Powerful Photos of Wounded Warrior Athletes

More than 600,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have been left partially or totally disabled from physical or psychological wounds received during their service. Ever year, hundreds of Wounded Warriors from every branch of military service compete in a variety of sports over 10 days at the Department of Defense's Warrior Games. What they have in common is the will to overcome

TIME India

India Is Using Its Military Incursions Into Burma to Send a Message to Other Countries

New Delhi wants its neighbors to know it can no longer be pushed around, analysts say

The Indian army’s recent operations against militants along its eastern borders remains largely shrouded in mystery and continued to cause controversy on Thursday, two days after special forces crossed the border into Burma (officially known as Myanmar) and inflicted “significant casualties” at two bases belonging to insurgents there.

The Burmese government denied the operation completely, with a Facebook post from the director of the president’s office reportedly saying that according to their information the operation was performed only on the Indian side of the border.

“Myanmar will not accept any foreigner who attacks neighboring countries in the back and creates problems by using our own territory,” he said, according to Indian local media.

It is still unclear how much of the Indian operation Burma was privy to, but a senior Indian military official had said on Wednesday that authorities from both countries had been in contact about the strikes. The back-and-forth allegations and denials, however, have created a degree of friction between two countries and armies that have generally been on good terms with each other.

“It creates a problem for the Myanmar government,” Rumel Dahiya, deputy director-general of New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, and a former brigadier in the Indian army, said in an interview with TIME.

Dahiya says India’s trumpeting of the operation’s success — a swift retaliation for a militant attack that killed 20 Indian soldiers in the northeastern state of Manipur last week — places the Burmese between a rock and a hard place, no matter whether they admit knowledge of the Indian operation or not. “What do they say?” he said, pointing out that 2015 is also an election year for Burma. “In both cases it creates a bit of a complication for them.”

Instead, Dahiya advocates greater coordination with the Burmese government, with the sharing of military intelligence and the planning of joint operations. “Doing these kinds of things repeatedly would become a problem unless they are on board,” he said.

The indication from the Indian government seems to be that such operations will continue to take place, with Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar saying on Thursday that the Burma operation represents a change in India’s mindset.

“Those who fear India’s new posture have already started reacting,” he said, according to the Times of India, in a pointed dig at the South Asian nation’s contentious neighbor Pakistan. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the 1950s, and the disputed region of Kashmir remains a thorn in both their sides and a hotbed for regional terrorism.

“Pakistan is not Myanmar, and India should not think of repeating such an exercise inside Pakistani territory,” Pakistani interior minister Nisar Ali Khan had warned after the attack.

Many have criticized the Indian government’s “chest-thumping” over the successful covert operation, and although Dahiya also feels it is “definitely not required” he adds that it is part of a larger point that the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to drive home.

“The government is trying to convey a message that you can’t push India around, it’s a big country and it’s a country which can take care of its national interests,” he says, citing the reduction in ceasefire violations on the India-Pakistan border and Modi’s strong response to border infractions by China during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit last year as examples.

The Burma operation probably doesn’t represent the new norm in Indian foreign policy, Dahiya adds, but it does send the signal that “should an eventuality arise where the cost-benefit analysis suggests it is better to do that than being subjected to a major act of terror, then as the Americans say, all options are on the table.”

TIME Military

U.S. Will Send Additional Troops to Iraq for Iraqi Army Training

Iraqi soldiers train 82nd Airborne Camp Taji Iraq
US Army—Reuters Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015.

The government plans to send up to 450 more troops

(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of up to 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq on Wednesday to advise and assist local forces in an effort to reverse the recent gains of the Islamic State.

Under the plan, the United States will open a fifth training site in Iraq, with the goal of integrating Iraqi Security Forces and Sunni fighters. The immediate objective is to retake the city of Ramadi, seized by the Islamic State last month.

Obama made the decision at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and based on advice from Pentagon leaders, the White House said. The U.S. troops will not be used in a combat role.

“These new advisers will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the prime minister,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. The Islamic State extremists have seized sizeable areas of both Syria and Iraq.

The plan is not a change in U.S. strategy, the administration says, but addresses a need to get Sunnis more involved in the fight, a much-cited weakness in the current mission.

Questions remain about the Shiite-led Iraqi government’s commitment to recruit fighters, especially among Sunni tribesmen, to oust the Islamic State from Ramadi and Fallujah, a nearby city the militants have held for more than a year.

Up to now, Iraqi officials have chosen to deploy most U.S.-trained Iraqi troops in defensive formations around Baghdad, the capital.

The new training site will be at al-Taqqadum, a desert air base that was a U.S. military hub during the 2003-2011 war. The additional troops will include advisers, trainers, logisticians and security personnel.

There now are nearly 3,100 U.S. troops in Iraq involved in training, advising, security and other support roles. The U.S. also is flying bombing missions as well as aerial reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions against the Islamic State’s forces, while counting on Iraqi ground troops to retake lost territory.

At a Capitol Hill news conference on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said sending several hundred military advisers to Iraq “is a step in the right direction.” But he repeatedly criticized Obama for not having “an overarching strategy” for dealing with the Islamic State.

Other critics, such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, were dismissive of Wednesday’s decision.

“This is incremental-ism at its best or worst, depending on how you describe it,” McCain said.

The U.S. mission at al-Taqqadum will be more about advising Iraqi forces on operations against the Islamic State militants in Anbar than about providing individual troop training, a U.S. official said. It will be designed to accelerate the integration of Sunni tribes with Iraqi government forces.

The expanded effort also will include delivering U.S. equipment and arms directly to al-Taqqadum, not unilaterally but under the authority of the government in Baghdad. Thus it will not represent a change in the U.S. policy of providing arms only through the central government.

The U.S. already is training Iraqi troops at four sites — two in the vicinity of Baghdad, one at al-Asad air base in Anbar province and one near Irbil in northern Iraq. There is another training center for special operations forces near Baghdad.

The new site amounts to a modest tweak to the existing U.S. approach in Iraq, and illustrates Obama’s reluctance to escalate the fight and reintroduce U.S. soldiers into combat that he had vowed to bring to an end.

“How much of a combat role are we allowing U.S. troops to face on a day-to-day basis?” said Shawn Brimley, who worked at the White House and Pentagon during Obama’s first term and is now executive vice president for the Center for a New American Security. “That’s the debate inside the administration.”

It may be time for Washington to reassess its reliance on working through the Iraqi central government and instead work with individual ethnic groups, he said.

Other analysts stressed that the challenge is greater than simply recruiting and training Iraqi troops.

“U.S. support can help the Iraqi government, but no amount of support can make them win,” said Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former State Department official. “Winning requires the Iraqi government itself to motivate its soldiers and reassure those whom those soldiers seek to protect.”

Baghdad and it’s Shiite-led government has been reluctant to get Sunnis more involved, said Michael Eisenstadt, an Iraq veteran and now senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“They fear once they arm these people they’ll eventually, potentially, turn against the Iraqi government,” he said.

—-

Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this article.

TIME India

Indian Special Forces Cross Border Into Myanmar to Battle Militant Groups

INDIA-UNREST-NORTHEAST
STR—AFP/Getty Images In this photograph taken on June 4, 2015, Indian security personnel stand alongside the smouldering vehicle wreckage at the scene of an attack on a military convoy in a remote area of Chandel district, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of northeastern Manipur's state capital Imphal.

A statement from the army said they had inflicted "significant casualties"

Soldiers from the Indian army conducted an operation against militant groups along the border with Myanmar in the country’s northeast on Tuesday, with special forces allegedly also entering Myanmar to perform “surgical strikes”.

A statement by the army said its offensive had resulted in “significant casualties” among the militants who killed 20 Indian soldiers in the region less than a week ago, Reuters reported.

Carrying out cross-border operations is not common practice for India, and the army only mentioned two areas in its own states Nagaland and Manipur. However, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and a former army colonel, confirmed that Indian forces had crossed over into Myanmar, the Indian Express reported.

Maj. Gen. Ranbir Singh, the Additional Director General for Military Operations, told the Express that the Indians had been in communication with Myanmar authorities regarding the counteraction against the rebel groups.

“There is a history to close cooperation between our two militaries,” Singh said. “We look forward to working with them to combat such terrorism.”

The Indian army has been battling separatist militant groups in its northeastern region for several years, and the attack in Manipur by one such group that killed 20 soldiers using rocket-propelled grenades and explosives last Thursday was termed as one of the worst-ever in the region.

TIME remembrance

See 228,000 Flags Planted for Memorial Day in 1 Minute

The ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery took over 1,000 soldiers 4 hours to complete

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the distinguished Old Guard, honors the nation’s fallen soldiers each year by planting more than 228,000 American flags at every grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The annual “Flags-In” ceremony echoes the origins of Memorial Day traditions, when both Confederate and Union soldiers decorated the graves of their fallen compatriots after the Civil War. The Old Guard has conducted this tradition yearly since 1948.

TIME contributing photographer Brooks Kraft captured this year’s ceremony on Thursday. More than 1,000 soldiers participated in the ritual over a span of four hours at the sprawling Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistan Plans 12,000-Strong Security Force to Safeguard Chinese Workers

A man hangs decorations on a pole next to a banner showing Pakistan's President Hussain, China's President Xi and Pakistan's PM Sharif, ahead of Xi's visit to Islamabad
Faisal Mahmood—Reuters A man hangs decorations on a pole next to a banner showing, clockwise from top left, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on April 19, 2015, ahead of Xi's visit to Islamabad

"Pakistan considers China’s security as our own security"

Chinese engineers traveling to Pakistan to implement the $46 billion infrastructure program signed between the two countries this week will be protected by a special security force of 12,000 men, Pakistani officials said Tuesday.

The security troops will comprise nine battalions of the Pakistani military and six wings of civilian paramilitary forces like the Frontier Corps and Pakistan Rangers that currently guard the country’s borders, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a statement from Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa.

The ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day visit to Islamabad this week, includes $28 billion worth of roads, rail lines and power stations connecting the Pakistani port of Gwadar to Kashgar in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Islamic militant groups are a major threat along many parts of the proposed road link, and a military official said the special security forces will be deployed and distributed where they are needed the most.

“Let me assure you, Mr. President, Pakistan considers China’s security as our own security,” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a speech in parliament on Tuesday.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Military Suicides Aren’t Linked to Deployment, Study Finds

Military soldier with bag in airport, low section
Mike Powell—Getty Images Military soldier with bag in airport, low section

Service members who were not honorably discharged had a 21% higher suicide rate than those with honorable discharges

In certain branches of the military, suicide rates have almost doubled in the last decade. Now, sweeping new research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that the reasons are much more complicated than just deployment. In a comprehensive new study that looked at all 3.9 million members of the U.S. military from 2001-2007—including the Air Force, Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve. Marine Corps and Navy—suicide was not associated with deployment in the U.S.’s two most recent major conflicts: Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Those findings may be counterintuitive, says study author Mark A. Reger, PhD, Deputy Director at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology and chief of research, outcomes, and investigations, but some interesting theories have emerged.

“As the wars went on and deployments were occurring among our service members, the suicide rates were rising at the same time, so it’s very tempting to assume that it must be because of the deployment,” Reger says. But the strongest research from the Vietnam and Gulf War eras shows there’s not a significant difference in suicide rates between those who are deployed and the general population, he says. And that held true for the more recent conflicts. The authors looked at deployment in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations and found no association between deployment and suicide.

MORE: Military Suicides Down Overall, But National Guard Rates Up

He suspects part of the reason is that military members who are chosen for deployment may be among the most mentally fit. Prior to deployment, all service members go through pre-deployment screening to ensure that they’re mentally and physically ready for the challenges. “It is possible that those who deploy are healthier than those who did not deploy,” Reger says, although he adds that they didn’t have data to confirm that.

The authors didn’t look at data related to mental health status, medical status, combat exposure or combat injuries, so they were unable to see if those factors were linked to increase suicide risk. “All of these deserve future study,” Reger says.

Some patterns linked to suicide risk factors did emerge, however. Those who left the military early had a 63% higher suicide rate than people who had not separated from service. People with the fewest years of military service were also most at risk; service members who left the military after just a short stint of less than four years were at higher risk for suicide than those who left after serving four or more years, regardless of whether or not they’d been deployed. The study didn’t look at possible reasons for this, but the authors speculate that difficulty finding work, losing their military identity and having to find new social support may all play a role.

MORE: 22 Veterans Die By Suicide Every Day

Another big risk factor, the study authors concluded, was the nature of a service member’s discharge. Those who were not honorably discharged from the military had a 21% higher suicide rate than those who had an honorable discharge.

Making use of limited resources to prevent suicide is a key objective of the military, Reger says. Based on these findings, it’s possible that targeting prevention efforts more narrowly to those who leave the military early and those with a less-than-honorable discharge may be more efficient and impactful than casting a wide net and focusing prevention efforts on everyone who’s deployed, Reger says.

“I think the entire nation has a responsibility for working with service members and veterans, wherever they end up,” he says. “If our paper has the effect of influencing some of those in the prevention community beyond the military, that would be a good outcome.”

TIME India

At Least 6 Die in Kashmir Landslide

Unseasonal rains have lashed northern India over the past few weeks, destroying crops and raising concerns over safety

Correction appended, March 30

A landslide in Kashmir killed at least six people, authorities said Monday, as unseasonal rains swept northern India and compelled hundreds to flee their homes over fears of flooding.

The landslide took place in a village about 25 miles from Indian-administered Kashmir’s capital city Srinagar, where a section of a hill buried a house where three families were sleeping, Reuters reports.

“The entire house is covered in earth,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a neighbor. “The chance of finding everyone alive is unlikely.”

Around 60 more villagers are trapped in three houses, officials told The Indian Express, and the Indian army has been called in to assist with the rescue efforts.

Meteorologists warned that the torrential rain that has damaged harvests in the region over the past month would persist, although the intensity is expected to reduce. Rural suicides in the region have also reportedly risen during the same period, as winter crops have been destroyed by the rains.

The devastation comes as Kashmiri families are still recovering from the region’s worst-ever flood last September, which claimed over 400 lives and rendered millions homeless.

Correction: The original version of his story incorrectly identified the number of people killed in the landslide. As of March 30, six people were found dead.

TIME Military

Air Force Security No Longer Banned From Saying ‘Have A Blessed Day’

The greeting was briefly changed to "have a nice day"

After a brief hiatus, Air Force security guards at a Georgia Air Force base can once again wish visitors a “blessed day” after a rule change stemming from a complaint was overturned Thursday.

Mikey Weinstein, CEO of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, spoke with officials after receiving comments from 13 service personnel — nine of whom were practicing Christians. He convinced a commander to change the greeting to “have a nice day,” the Air Force Times reports.

News of the rule change at Robins Air Force Base quickly went viral, prompting officials to review the decision and eventually have it reversed.

“The Air Force takes any expressed concern over religious freedom very seriously … ‘have a blessed day’ as a greeting is consistent with Air Force standards and is not in violation of Air Force Instructions,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Weinstein said he plans to consult with lawyers to discern if any of his company’s clients wish to sue over the matter.

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