We live in a busy world with a lot of information being thrown at you. Don’t feel overwhelmed. OpsLens will give you a weekly briefing on the major stories you need to know about and cut out all the extra information that isn’t important. Here’s your weekly briefing on what’s going on in national security and military news.
U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
The Defense Department on Friday released the name of the soldier who was killed on Thursday in Afghanistan. Spc. James Slape, 23, died Thursday in Helmand Province from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device attack.
Slape was from Morehead City, North Carolina and was assigned to the 60th Troop Command of the North Carolina Army National Guard. He was deployed in support of Operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel.
The incident is under investigation but the Washington Post has reported that Slape, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician, was killed while helping fellow soldiers who had been wounded in an IED attack. Slape was reportedly killed by a secondary device as he assisted other soldiers.
According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, eight U.S. military members have been killed and 76 wounded in Afghanistan so far in 2018.
Mike Pompeo Visits East Asia
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left on Friday for a three-day visit to East Asia, where he’ll visit China, Japan, and North Korea.
While much of the focus of this trip will be on North Korea, Pompeo’s visit to China on Monday will be watched closely. Tensions have been mounting between the U.S. and China in recent weeks over trade, election interference, and military posturing in the South China Sea.
Pompeo’s visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday centered on the reassurance of the United States’ commitment to Japanese interests in dealing with North Korea. Japan has been worried that a deal between Washington and Pyongyang to limit the range of North Korean ballistic missiles would still leave Japan in range of shorter-range missiles.
In North Korea, Pompeo is expected to meet with Kim Jong Un in anticipation of another summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.
U.S. Destroyer and Chinese Warship Nearly Collide in South China Sea
A Chinese warship came perilously close to colliding with a United States Navy destroyer in the South China Sea on Sunday.
The U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73) was sailing near the disputed Spratly Islands when it was forced to maneuver out of the way to avoid a collision with the Chinese ship, which reportedly came within 45 yards of the Decatur.
According to an official statement released on Monday by Pacific Fleet Deputy Spokesman Commander Nate Christensen: “At approximately 0830 local time on September 30, a PRC LUYANG destroyer approached USS DECATUR in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea. The PRC destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for DECATUR to depart the area. The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR’s bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including the South China Sea. As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”
Former Green Beret Awarded Medal of Honor
A former United States Army Special Forces medic and current U.S. Secret Service special agent was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008.
Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II received the nation’s highest award for valor from President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the White House on Monday afternoon. He is the third living soldier to receive the Medal of Honor in the last three years. He was awarded a Silver Star for his actions a decade ago but the award was upgraded as part of a military-wide Department of Defense reexamination of thousands of awards given out since 9/11.
Inspired to enlist after the September 11th attacks, he joined the Army in 2002 and became a Green Beret two years later. Shurer was serving with 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan in 2008 when he and his team conducted an operation to kill or capture a high-value target in the Shok Valley. The team was attacked by small-arms fire, machine gun fire, and rocket-propelled grenades.
According to a White House statement, Shurer ran through enemy fire to treat a soldier who had been hit in the neck by shrapnel, then treated and stabilized four more wounded soldiers before evacuating cohorts, carrying and lowering them down the mountainside while using his body to shield them from enemy fire and debris.
Shurer, who is married and has two kids, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. He started chemotherapy treatments in March 2017. To help him and his family, a GoFundMe page was set up shortly after Shurer received his diagnosis.
Navy Veteran Arrested for Sending Ricin to the Pentagon
A former United States Navy sailor has been arrested for sending packages filled with ricin to the Pentagon. William Clyde Allen III, 39, was arrested on Wednesday and taken into custody, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Melody Rydalch.
Allen spent four years in the Navy as a damage-control fireman apprentice from 1998 to 2002.
Ricin is derived from castor beans, the base of a deadly toxin, and can be harmful if ingested. The envelopes of castor seeds were addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, defense officials said.