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The history of the US Military dates all the way back to the Continental Army of the revolutionary war. But despite this, the US Military did not officially start until 29th September 1789. This was when congress passed an act that legalised the small contingent already in uniform. Since then, the Military of the United States of America has become the world’s most powerful fighting force. Find out all the facts you need to know about the history of the elite forces here.

It was practically nonexistent in the beginning:

The republican government in the beginning of the US Military believed that “standing armies in times of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican governments and dangerous to the liberties of a free people”. For this reason, the government passed legislation that disbanded the continental army, with the exception of a few dozen troops who guarded munitions at West Point, New York. And Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. The legislation also called on 700 men as part of state militias to deal with potential threats from native Americans and the British.

The Civil War was the bloodiest in US history:

Throughout the first few decades of its existence, the US suffered relatively few combat casualties. This changed throughout the civil war however. The union and confederacy lost at least 618,000 men between them. The losses were due to bullets and disease. Since the civil war, only WWII has come close in terms of American deaths, totally approximately 405,000.

The use of camouflage dates back over a century:

George Washington in 1779 chose Blue as the primary uniform colour of the continental army. This decision stuck until as late the Spanish-American war of 1898. This changed when some US troops in Cuba smeared themselves with mud in order to avoid enemy fire. Soon after this, the army adopted a Khaki summer uniform and a green-brown winter uniform. The traditional blue uniform was kept, but only for special occasions. During World War 1, a team of artists and creatives were put together to design a low-visibility uniform.

How military displays the flag:

Here’s a piece of American flag trivia for you. The US Military paints the flag backwards on their aircraft, putting the stars on the upper right side instead of the left. This gives the impression that the flag is streaming as it would if it were real, flying with the wind instead of against it. This is the same on military uniforms. The flag should always look as though it is going forward with the soldier and never retreating.

The first women to enlist was during World War 1:

During the revolutionary war, women could only be found on battlefields as nurses or seamstresses or cooks. Not allowed to officially serve until the establishment of the Army and Navy Nurse Corps in 1901, women often dressed as men in order to see battle. The first non-nurse women to enlist was in 1917, when they freed up male servicemen by working overseas as clerics or Signal Corps operators. It wasn’t until 1948 when women were allowed to serve in the military during peacetime. Women make up about 16% of the US Army today and will reportedly no longer be excluded from ground-combat units.

Hopefully you’ll be able to impress all of your mates down at the bar with your newfound knowledge of the US military and how it was started.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Russia

Peace Talks – North Korea is Ready for negotiations, but only with Russia

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North Korea will enter negotiation talks with its rhetorical foe, the United States, over its nuclear weapons program and on the so-called “security guarantees” – only if Russia will come to the table. 

During an international conference in the Austrian capital (Vienna), Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, delivered a message to his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, that the reclusive communist regime wants a peace talk with America over its nuclear ambitions.

 “We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations. Our American colleagues, including Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”, said, Lavrov, as reported by the Interfax news agency.

However, there was no immediate response from the state department which has long insisted that the US will only consider direct talks unless North Korea stops testing ballistic missiles and agrees to denuclearize – an expectation that was defied by North Korea. 

In an interview with Russia’s state-run Russian Information Agency (RIA) news agency, Lavrov added that his country is ready to step in because Russia and North Korea have diplomatic relations. 

“We call on partners to focus on solving specific problems of the Korean Peninsula on the basis of negotiations. And for this, it is necessary not to rupture contacts with Pyongyang, but, on the contrary, develop it.” 

However, it seems very unlikely that Lavrov’s offer will convince the US, as Trump has long indicated that he has no plans on negotiating with Kim Jong-un.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”, said Trump on his tweet in October after dismissing a reported effort by Tillerson to pursue back-channel negotiations.

Moreover, aside from deriding the North Korean leader as the “Little Rocket Man”, the US President Donald J. Trump, called him a “sick puppy” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and that the country “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

The amid heightened tension between the US and North Korea reached its peak after the hermit kingdom tested its new and “most powerful” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the “Hwasong-15” missile, November 29 of last year; claiming that it was capable of striking the US mainland – a missile launch that followed the test of what was apparently a hydrogen bomb last September.

This was followed by Trump’s furious tweets, saying that “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The said “Hwasong-15”, as estimated by South Korea’s military, flew ten times as high as the International Space Station and twice as high as any satellite in low orbit after finally landing in the Sea of Japan – 210 kilometres west of Aomori prefecture, in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

It can be remembered that North Korea has also issued an explicit threat to Japan after the country, together with the US, spearheaded the United Nations security council sanctions in response to the regime’s recent nuclear test – saying that, “The four islands of the Japanese archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche.” and “Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”

A cue for the allied countries, Japan and the US, to call on China, North Korea’s sole major ally which accounts for more than 90 percent of trade; to fully implement the UN security council sanctions against the isolated country and other steps to pressure it.

However, although China has agreed to do so and has also been angered by Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests; it also sees that the US, along with South Korea, share responsibility for the rising tensions. Also, speculations are – China won’t pressure North Korea as much as Japan and the US want, primarily because while Xi Jinping does not trust Kim Jong-un, it trusts Trump less. In addition, Japan is China’s major rival – which history can be traced back to the ancient wars up to the recent issues such as the Nanking massacre and territorial disputes.

As of the moment, the US and North Korean positions are currently very far apart – with Washington wanting Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament to be on the table while Pyongyang wants Washington to recognize it as a nuclear weapons power.

“I think the US would be best served by putting aside the focus on denuclearization and instead look at ways to prevent accidents, reduce risks and de-escalate.”, suggested Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America think tank who has played a leading role in peace talks between Iran and North Korea.

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Pakistan

‘No More!’ The Geopolitical Impact of Souring Relations Between the United States and Pakistan

Manak Suri

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Donald Trump Pakistan

A Donald Trump led the United States of America bade farewell to the year 2017 in isolation after the contentious Jerusalem issue saw the rest of the world stand united against them in a historic resolution at the UN. They went away with the promise that this stand against them would be remembered by them when the international body, as well as many other countries, looked towards them in their time of need. Now, the USA still seems unfettered in its approach towards having its way on matters of priority as it looks set on losing a long-standing ally in Pakistan. The issue at hand is of the billions of dollars that Pakistan has received in aid from the US to help fight against terrorism in the middle east and the country’s alleged inaction towards the same.

A New Year Resolution: As it happened

Trump’s first tweet of 2018 went as follows. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Then, on Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced that most of the security assistance to Pakistan will be suspended unless there is decisive action on their part against the various militant groups on its soil. The US has already withheld $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, and this move paints a picture of rapidly deteriorating ties between the two countries that have been allies ever since Pakistan was born in 1947.

In response to the allegations and the remarks, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif has said that the country is “ready to publicly provide every detail of the US aid that it has received.” He also added, “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance.” The Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi also chimed in at the international body earlier in the week, ” We have contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism and carried out the largest counterterrorism operation anywhere in the world.” She added, “We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated.” The tone is clear. Pakistan does not look like it is willing to bow down to Trump and as far as the cut in aid is concerned, it is not easy to estimate exactly what the amount is in question. Current estimates put the figure at over $900 million. It is also important to keep in mind that the aid to Pakistan in question has already been deteriorating over the years.

So is there enough reason for Pakistan to be worried?

It’s then worth a look whether this move by the US is enough in itself to make Pakistan act the way it wants it to. More importantly, how much is Pakistan likely to suffer, if at all, from the announced cut in the aid? Despite, the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s claims that the aid from the US does not amount to much today, experts believe that the cuts will cause short-term problems for the Pakistani military. “It will also be a setback in the long term as China or any other friendly country cannot totally replace the resources that Pakistan needs to keep its military machine well oiled”, says Prof. Hasan Askari Rizvi, a defence analyst and author of ‘Military, State and Society in Pakistan’. As cooperation between the two countries looks increasingly unlikely, critics of Pakistan’s inaction have also called for stripping of the nation’s title as a non-NATO ally and imposition of sanctions to coerce them into following the US vision.

The risks involved with tough measures

It is important to remember however that the US is dealing with a double-edged sword here. In recent years Pakistan has tried to make it clear that it is not as dependent on the US as many would make it seem. Pakistan is still the key to most of the involvement of the United States in Afghanistan since it controls most of the supply lines for the transfer of material into the country. Should Pakistan deny the US access to these lines, the US may face a six-fold increase in costs to over a $100 million in order to move military equipment and personnel into Afghanistan.

The US does not want instability in Pakistan since that could have drastic consequences for the region. Perhaps it is for that reason that they’re still providing Pakistan with non-military aid, albeit more carefully. Neither does Pakistan want a situation where it is completely cut off from the United States for that could deal a severe blow to them in their attempts to portray themselves as a more responsible nation and check India’s power in the subcontinent. However, should the matter at hand take a turn for the worse, the US won’t need a second invitation to pursue a more aggressive approach in the region with more involvement from India and Afghanistan. Pakistan, on the other hand, will almost certainly have the backing of its all-weather ally China in countering the move to maintain a power balance in South Asia when the game is afoot for a new geopolitical competition, with the same old motives.

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USA

Jerusalem Issue Saw The United States Stand Alone

Manak Suri

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US Consulate in Jerusalem

2017 is a year Americans are unlikely to forget very easily and it’s all thanks to one man: Donald J. Trump. They welcomed the year 2017 amid deep controversy following the election of Mr. Trump as the 45th President of the USA. Since then, Mr. Trump has managed to maintain a spot in the headlines every now and then with a number of his decisions sparking several debates. Now, with the New Year looming large, Americans find their government alienated at the forefront of another controversy; the one that has followed the immensely criticized decision by the Trump government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On December 6, Mr. Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also signalling the move of the United States Embassy to the hugely controversial city from Tel Aviv. “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital”, he said of the decision. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” One of the promises made by Trump as part of his campaign was to successfully broker a deal in the Middle East and bring an end to decades of conflict between Israel and Palestine. With the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he seems to be doing anything but fulfilling that promise.

Why is the issue of Jerusalem so contentious?

You may as well ask why the move is being given the attention that it has been receiving and what it means. To put it quite simply, the status of Jerusalem has remained unresolved in the context of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Till the Six-Day War in 1967 Jerusalem was controlled partly by Israel in the west and by Jordan in the east. During the war Israel occupied East Jerusalem, thereby obtaining complete control of the entire city. The Palestinians and the Arab world, along with many others in the international community recognized the move as an illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. Palestine also views East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Moreover, Old City in Jerusalem is an important religious site for Jews, Muslims as well as for Christians. Therefore, Jerusalem’s status has been a contentious issue both historically and religiously.

So where does the rest of the world stand?

What has followed since the decision of the United States is a demonstration by the rest of the world on how far they are willing to go against the US or anyone for that matter to condemn what they believe does not contribute to peace in the world. On December 18, 14 out of 15 members of the United Nations Security Council gave a green signal to a measure “expressing deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” Quite obviously, the US was the only country to veto the measure following which Turkey and Yemen took it upon themselves to call for an emergency session of the 193 members strong United Nations General Assembly.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US would be closely watching and “taking names” of those who voted against them. She went so far as to write to more than 180 countries that any vote in favour of the resolution would be taken personally by the President. Mr. Trump himself suggested withdrawal of billions of dollars of aid to countries who would vote against the US. “Let them vote against us; we’ll save a lot,” he said. “We don’t care.” Even right before the voting took place, Haley threatened that the US would cut funding to the UN over the vote. The talk may have swayed some countries to its side which barely amounted to anything. 128 member countries voted in favour of the resolution and only 9 voted against it. Any consolation that the US received from the vote was 35 abstentions from some of its allies. By not voting at all, they neither criticized the move by the US, nor did they voice their support for the US on the issue, if any.

What the measure explicitly says is that any changes to Jerusalem’s status “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.” In addition, it “calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem”, clearly targeting the US decision to move its embassy to the city.

How have the different parties involved reacted?

Ambassador Haley had the following to say of the result that saw the United States pretty much isolated on yet another international issue: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.” She added, “We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” Regardless of the vote, Haley said the US Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority called Trump’s announcement a “crime” and expressed that he no longer desires the US to broker peace between them ad Israel. In addition, more than 50 countries with a majority of Muslim population signed a statement which declares that the United States has lost its role as a “sponsor of peace” in the Middle East region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, thanked Mr. Trump for his stance on the issue as well as the other countries that voted against the resolution. Also rejecting the measure, Mr. Netanyahu released a statement saying that “Israel rejects the UN resolution and at the same time expresses satisfaction with the high number of countries that did not vote for the resolution.”

The issue remains one which needs to be closely watched to ascertain what the repercussions will be once the decisions and actions of the US, the countries in the Middle East, and Israel play out in their entirety. The United States has already made a move to reduce the contribution of the country to the UN budget. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked, said Nikki Haley of the step, adding that they would look at ways to increase the governing body’s efficiency while protecting their own interests at the same time. At the same time, Guatemala has followed in the United States’ steps by deciding to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. As 2018 approaches, will this prove to be the new year resolution that remains in focus for more than just the first few weeks of the year? At least the Palestinians will hope so.

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