TIME ebola

Military Prepares 30-Person Ebola Team For U.S.

Ebola-California-Preparedness
Doctors and staff participate in a preparadness exercise on diagnosing and treating patients with Ebola virus symptoms, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Reed Hutchinson—AP

"They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals"

The U.S. military is forming a 30-person medical team to prepare to respond to additional cases of Ebola in the United States, the Pentagon announced Sunday.

The “expeditionary medical support team” will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

“In response to a request from the Department of Health and Human Services—and as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States—Secretary Hagel today ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” Kirby said.

The team will begin specialized training in infection control and the use of personal protective equipment within the next week, at Fort Sam Houston.

“Upon conclusion of training, team members will remain in a ‘prepare to deploy’ status for 30 days, available to be sent to other [contiguous United States] locations as required,” Kirby said. “They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals.”

Up to 4,000 American troops are being deployed to assist in responding to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, but they are not involved in direct patient care.

The Pentagon team formation follows last week’s Ebola diagnosis of a second health care professional in Dallas, the third confirmed case of the virus in the United States, causing public concern about the spread of the disease to reach new heights.

The virus is only spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those who are symptomatic with the disease.

U.S. officials say they are confident they can stop the spread of the disease in the U.S. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health reiterated that the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is minimal.

“There aren’t absolutes. Nothing is completely risk-free,” he said. “But the relative risk of things, people need to understand, is very, very small.”

TIME India

India Successfully Tests Its First Nuclear-Capable Cruise Missile

The weapon is called Nirbhay, which means fearless

India’s first indigenously developed nuclear-capable cruise missile was successfully test-fired on Friday at the Integrated Missile Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha.

The Nirbhay, which means fearless in Hindi, has been dubbed “India’s answer to America’s Tomahawk” and can strike targets more than 400 miles away, according to NDTV.

Although India already had tactical and ballistic missiles in its military arsenal, including the 180-mile BrahMos cruise missile that it developed jointly with Russia, the new weapon is a significant step forward in terms of range and capability.

Nirbhay’s ability to fly at tree level makes it difficult to detect by radar, and it can also hover near targets and strike from any direction.

An unnamed official said that the missile was fired just after 10 a.m. local time from a mobile launcher, according to the Times of India.

“Flight details will be available after data retrieved from radars and telemetry points, monitoring the trajectories, are analysed,” the official said.

This was Nirbhay’s second planned test, after an initial one slated for March 2013 had to be aborted when the projectile deviated from its intended course.

TIME Military

U.S. Military Action Against ISIS Deemed ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’

US Department of Defense (DOD) shows an aircraft launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf on Oct. 13, 2014.
US Department of Defense (DOD) shows an aircraft launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf on Oct. 13, 2014. Joshua Card—EPA

Pentagon chose the name to "reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S."

The operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria was finally given a name on Wednesday. U.S. Central Command has deemed the U.S. military actions against Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria “Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to the Department of Defense, the name is “intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.”

Since strikes began on Aug. 8, the operation has gone without a name, but the Pentagon announced Wednesday all actions against ISIS since that time will be considered a part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

And yet, military officials seemingly weren’t always in favor of the operation’s new moniker. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in October that the name had been rejected by military officials, who said the name wasn’t the right fit for the effort. One unnamed officer was quoted as saying, “It is just kind of bleh.”

TIME LGBT

U.S. Marine Suspected in Killing of Transgender Woman in Philippines

Friends and relatives of Filipino transgender resident Jeffrey Laude look on alongside his coffin and photograph in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014.
Friends and relatives of Jeffrey Laude, a Filipino transgender woman who went by Jennifer, look at her coffin in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014. Jay Directo—AFP/Getty Images

He's being held on a warship pending the investigation

A United States Marine suspected of killing a Filipina transgender woman he met in a local bar will remain in U.S. custody, officials said Tuesday.

The suspect, whom the military has not named because formal charges have not been filed, is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is being held on the USS Peleliu warship while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Philippine National Police conduct a joint investigation. Three other marines considered possible witnesses are also being held on the ship.

The strangled body of Jennifer Laude, 26, a Filipino national whose birth name is Jeffrey, was found shortly before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 11 at a hotel in Olongapo City, according to the Marine Corps Times. Her head had reportedly been pushed into the toilet and two used condoms were found in a trash can in the room. ABS CBN News, a Philippine news outlet, reported that Laude’s body was found less than an hour after she checked into the hotel with a male “foreigner” with “close-cropped” hair.

The suspect was in the Philippines for a longstanding joint military exercise between U.S. Marines and their Filipino counterparts that ended Oct. 10. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, has ordered that the five ships and the marines to remain in port in the Philippines while the investigation is ongoing, according to spokesman Chuck Little. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the U.S. “will continue to cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspesect of the investigation.”

The case has provoked outrage among transgender activists in the Philippines and the U.S. and renewed criticism over a 1998 pact between the two nations that requires American service members to be held in U.S. custody during criminal proceedings. In 2006, an American soldier convicted of raping a Filipino woman by a local court stoked similar anger.

“The U.S. Navy says they are going to cooperate with national law, but they haven’t turned him over to the Philippine authorities,” says Geena Rocero, a Philippines native who founded the trans advocacy organization Gender Proud. “He is still inside the ship.”

TIME Innovation

Check Out These Army Figurines in Yoga Poses

Let G.I. Joe help you find your inner Zen

lost-at-e-minor_logo

This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Apparently, soldiers of war are now finding peace – not with guns, but with yoga poses! ‘Yoga Joes’ is an action figure concept by San Francisco-based Dan Abramson, in which he takes the classic green army men and makes them do yoga poses.

“I made Yoga Joes in the spirit of getting more people to try yoga. More unexpected folks are reaping the benefits of yoga today, from professional athletes, to children, to military men and women returning from wartime,” says Abramson. “I’m hoping people pass Yoga Joes around as an inexpensive gift to friends and loved ones, who might like to give yoga a shot.”

Some of the yoga poses included in the toy collection are Downward-facing Dog, Warrior Two, Cobra Pose, Child’s Pose, Meditation Pose, and Tree Pose. You can find out more about the Kickstarter project here.

(via Design Taxi)

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Women can’t thrive in a society where anything other than “no” means “maybe.” Consent laws are an important step, but we need a change in culture.

By Amanda Taub in Vox

2. Jokes aside, the palace intrigue behind Kim Jong Un’s mysterious absence could contain valuable intelligence.

By Gordon G. Chang in the Daily Beast

3. As we fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, global donor organizations should build a recovery plan for the aftermath.

By the editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor

4. That self-parking feature on your new car might help military vehicles avoid enemy fire.

By Jack Stewart at the BBC

5. The next wave of satellite imaging will redefine public space.

By the editors of New Scientist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Military

U.S. Says Turkey OKs Use of Bases Against Militants

Turkey Syria
Thick smoke, debris and fire rise following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

(AREQUIPA, Peru) — Turkey will let U.S. and coalition forces use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, American defense officials said Sunday.

But progress in negotiations with Turkey — including Ankara’s agreement to train several thousand Syrian moderate rebels — may not be enough to stop the massacre of civilians in Syria’s border town of Kobani, where intense fighting continues.

The Obama administration had been pressing Ankara to play a larger role against the extremists, who have taken control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, including territory on Turkey’s border, and sent refugees fleeing into Turkey.

U.S. officials confirmed Saturday that Ankara had agreed to train Syrian moderate forces on Turkish soil. A Turkish government official said Sunday that Turkey put the number at 4,000 opposition fighters and said they would be screened by Turkish intelligence.

Also Sunday, officials confirmed that Turkey agreed to let U.S. and coalition fighter aircraft launch operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria from Turkish bases, including Incirlik Air Base in the south. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the U.S. wanted access to the Turkish bases.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private talks between the Americans and Turks.

As fighting continued in the Kurdish town of Kobani, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the tenuous situation. Speaking in Cairo, Kerry said the defense of Kobani does not define the international counterterrorism strategy.

Islamic State militants have taken parts of Kobani, Kerry indicated, but not all of it. The United Nations has warned of mass casualties if the border town falls.

“There will be ups and there will be downs over the next days as there are in any kind of conflict,” Kerry said at the conclusion of an international aid conference for the Gaza Strip.

Elaborating on a theme the Obama administration has zeroed in on in recent days, Kerry said the U.S. has been realistic about how quickly it will prevail against the Islamic State militants. Officials have spoken of years of counterterrorism efforts ahead.

U.S. and coalition aircraft have been bombarding the territory in and around Kobani for days, launching airstrikes on dozens of locations and taking out militants, weapons and other targets.

The enclave has been the scene of heavy fighting since late last month, with heavily armed Islamic State fighters determined to deal a symbolic blow to the coalition air campaign.

U.S. Central Command said warplanes from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes on four locations in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, including three in Kobani that destroyed an Islamic State fighting position and staging area.

Beyond the training and bases, there are other issues the U.S. hopes Turkey will agree to. U.S. officials have not said what all of those would be because discussions are continuing.

Earlier Sunday, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, made clear the U.S. has not asked “the Turks to send ground forces of their own into Syria.”

American officials are “continuing to talk to the Turks about other ways that they can play an important role. They are already essential to trying to prevent the flow of foreign fighters” and prevent extremists from exporting oil through Turkey. “So Turkey has many ways it can contribute,” Rice told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hagel spoke by telephone Sunday with Turkey’s defense minister, Ismet Yilmaz, and thanked him for his country’s willingness to assist in the fight.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Hagel “noted Turkey’s expertise in this area and the responsible manner in which Turkey is handling the other challenges this struggle has placed upon the country, in terms of refugees and border security.”

Turkey and other American allies are pressing the U.S. to create a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory, and seeking creation of a secure buffer on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. A “safe zone” would require Americans and their partners to protect ground territory and patrol the sky.

Hagel has said American leaders are open to discussing a safe zone, but creating one isn’t “actively being considered.”

Alongside Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Kerry said at a news conference in Cairo that Kobani is “one community and it is a tragedy what is happening there.”

The primary focus of the fight against the Islamic State group has been in Iraq, where the U.S. is working to help shore up Iraqi Security Forces, who were overrun in many places by the militants. In Syria, the U.S. is starting by going after the extremists’ infrastructure and sources of revenue.

In the meantime, Kerry said, the Islamic State group “has the opportunity to take advantage of that particular buildup, as they are doing. But I’d rather have our hand than theirs.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has estimated it would require hundreds of U.S. aircraft and cost as much as $1 billion a month to maintain an area in Syria safe from attacks by the Islamic State group and Syria’s air force, with no assurance of a change in battlefield momentum toward ending the Syrian civil war.

“Do I anticipate that there could be circumstances in the future where that would be part of the campaign? Yeah,” Dempsey told ABC’s “This Week.”

TIME Military

Ex-Blackwater Chief Urges Hired Guns to Take on ISIS

Blackwater Founder & XE Worldwide Chairman Erik Prince Interview
Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Andrew Harre—Bloomberg/Getty Images

If Obama won’t send in troops, he says, time to send in mercenaries

The man who founded and ran Blackwater—the company that sent thousands of private workers into Afghanistan and Iraq—says President Barack Obama should hire a mercenary corps to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

“The American people are clearly war-fatigued,” writes Erik Prince, now the chairman of Frontier Services Group, a company that provides logistical support for much of Africa. “If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job.”

Some Americans might be willing to write private fighters a check (Prince himself has reportedly been linked to developing a mercenary force for the United Arab Emirates). But Blackwater—which earned more than $1 billion in Iraq—shows the dangers inherent with subcontracting out war. Its guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007; a jury continues to deliberate the fate of four ex-employees implicated in the shooting.

One of its top officials in the Iraqi capital allegedly threatened to kill a State Department employee who had questions about its contracts with the U.S. government. And U.S. military officers routinely grumbled about the lack of “unity of command” that Blackwater’s presence in Iraq created. But that wouldn’t be a problem if there were no U.S. troops around.

Prince sold Blackwater Worldwide in 2010. The company changed its name to Xe a year before he sold it, and changed it again, to Academi, in 2011. In June, Academi merged with rival firm Triple Canopy to form Constellis Holdings, Inc. Constellis’ board includes John Ashcroft, attorney general under President George W. Bush, Bobby Ray Inman, a retired admiral and former director of the National Security Agency, and Jack Quinn, counselor to President Bill Clinton.

Prince echoes many U.S. military officers when he says “the President’s current plan seems half-hearted at best.” Air power will not be able to go into Syrian towns like Kobani—which ISIS has been fighting to take for three weeks—and root them out. The militants increasingly are taking cover among civilians, knowing that the U.S. and its allies will not obliterate buildings where innocent civilians may be mixed in among the jihadists.

“Clearing operations ultimately fall to the foot soldier,” Prince writes, but those available aren’t capable of what needs to be done. The Iraqi army “is demonstrably inept after billions spent on training and equipping them.” The Kurds—including those defending Kobani—“now find themselves outgunned, under-equipped, and overwhelmed.”

Prince, a one-time Navy SEAL, doesn’t think much of the way his old service is waging the campaign:

Unfortunately, the DOD has mastered the most expensive ways to wage war, adding only very expensive options to the president’s quiver. Flying off of an aircraft carrier in the north end of the Persian Gulf may be a great demonstration of carrier air power suitable for a high tempo war, but the costs will quickly become staggering, far higher than they need be for what will quickly become a counter-insurgency effort.

The U.S., he implies, could save money by contracting out the ground war he believes is needed. “The private sector has long provided nations around the world with innovative solutions to national defense problems in a variety of ways, from the kinetic to the background logistical support necessary to keep militaries humming,” he writes. “If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team.”

The Pentagon could hire such personnel “for their combat skills in armor, artillery, small unit tactics, special operations, logistics, and whatever else may be needed,” he adds. “A competent professional force of volunteers would serve as the pointy end of the spear and would serve to strengthen friendly but skittish indigenous forces.”

Prince warns whatever gains the U.S. has achieved in the wars it has fought since 9/11 hang in the balance:

Defeat [in Iraq] was already snatched from the jaws of victory by the rapid pullout of US forces in 2009. Afghanistan will likely go the same way after never truly defeating the Taliban. Now the danger of a half-baked solution in Iraq is that if ISIS isn’t rightly annihilated, they will portray their survival as a victory over the forces of civilization; thus, there is no room for half-measures. The longer ISIS festers, the more chances it has for recruitment and the danger of the eventual return of radical jihadists to their western homelands.

TIME ebola

General: Expect ‘Mass Migration’ to U.S. if Ebola Comes to Central America

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Marine General John Kelly, chief of U.S. Southern Command on March 13, 2014 in Washington D.C. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

It’ll be “Katie bar the door,” Marine General John Kelly says

The Pentagon’s top commander in South America has warned that if Ebola surfaces in Central America or the Caribbean, there will be a stampede of people heading north across the Rio Grande to the U.S. to escape the disease.

“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Marine General John Kelly, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, said Tuesday. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”

According to a Pentagon news summary of Kelly’s comments at the National Defense University in Washington, the four-star general said “there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.” He made his comments the day before Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital after arriving in the U.S. from Liberia.

The disease also can be ferried into the U.S. by human smuggling networks, he added, recalling what a U.S. embassy worker told him about a trip the diplomat made to the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border where he saw a group of men “waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north.” Kelly said the embassy official asked the men where they were from and where they were bound.

“They told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week. They were on their way to the United States—illegally, of course,” Kelly said. They “could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Like Pakistan, Turkey nurtured a militant movement next door. Will ISIS enter Turkey as the Taliban made a new home in Pakistan?

By Michael M. Tanchum and Halil M. Karaveli in New York Times

2. Look homeward: America should form a new North American partnership with Canada and Mexico to tackle global challenges.

By Nicholas Burns in the Boston Globe

3. Protestors in Hong Kong and around the world can bypass government censorship with “mesh networks.”

By Gareth Tyson in the Conversation

4. Early childhood development can dramatically change a child’s life and future. Massively scaling up investment in youth could close the income and skills gaps, and accomplish much more.

By the Brookings Institution

5. Rural America has the nation’s fastest rising child poverty rate. To overcome it, we must confront the weaknesses in our economic recovery.

By the Rural Family Economic Success Action Network

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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