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Is the United States military prepared for war?

The United States is not prepared for war against either Russia or China. This is according to Senator Jon Kyl. The senator opined that the military superiority of the United States is not where it once was and this has left the existing troops unprepared for international threats.

In his report to congress, the senator attributed the unpreparedness to underfunding and budget instability. “The Pentagon needs more funding and more budget stability than it currently receives from Washington,” remarked the senator. He went on to further add, “The congressionally mandated reported by the National Defense Strategy Commission is a sobering analysis that puts the military at its lowest ebb since the end of the cold war.”

The United States defense has never been as fragile as it is at the moment. This puts the American citizens and the American economy at risk and has greatly reduced its global influence. Rival states are challenging America’s position as a global superpower questioning the states ability to defend its interests as well as that of its allies and partners.

Mixed reactions from the President

President Donald Trump has not been doing much to aid the situation. If anything, he continues to send mixed signals in matters state security. In August 2018, the President signed into law a national defense spending plan that would see American troops receive a 2.6 percent pay raise. The spending plan also included provisions for other purchases such as F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Later in October, President Trump proposed the defense budget cuts in a cabinet meeting.

Unlike the U.S., rival countries such as Russian and China are investing heavily in National defense. This gives them a defensive edge when it comes to dealing with International threats. It is not clear as to why the President proposed budget cuts in National defense even in the face of increasing international threats from better prepared rivals.

According to the report by Senator Kyl, China and Russia were singled out as possible threats. The report also noted that the focus on counter terrorism did not give the nation a competitive edge in areas such as cyber operations, missile defense and anti-submarine warfare.

The senator’s report rightly concluded that there is a need for investment in National defense. America cannot afford to take risks with its defense especially not in the wake of increasing international threats.

President Trump bans transgender people from serving in US military

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has announced that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the US military.

It was a series of early morning tweets that set of a firestorm of replies and backlash. More alarming than what was said was the mode of communication used to get the message across — a series of tweets 140 characters at a time, in typical Trump fashion.

President Trump tweeted that after a consultation with military experts, the United States government will not allow or accept transgender people to serve in the military at any capacity. Trump further said the military should be focused on “decisive and overwhelming victory.”

Trump then indicated that transgender individuals would burden the military with medical costs. President Trump has seemingly gone against his promise to be inclusive of all Americans.

Many twitter users were left in disbelief by the President’s announcement, many of them wondering if his tweets were a sort of newsworthy distraction from the investigation being carried out on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his alleged involvement in the US-Russia relations.

It was only last year that former President Barack Obama‘s administration announced that transgender individuals could serve in the military. President Trump’s decision to reverse this law seems to be another step in undoing everything his predecessor has achieved.

Since the ban on transgender individuals was lifted in 2016, the Pentagon was actively trying to determine how to accept new transgender individuals wishing to serve the military.

During President Trump’s election campaign, he actively had support from a popular transgender celebrity, Caitlyn Jenner. In the past few months Jenner expressed her disapproval of President Trump’s actions, with this one being the last break. Jenner tweeted “ There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?” Jenner then reposted a tweet from President Trump is 2016 before the elections where Trump thanked the LGBT community and promised to fight for them while claiming Hillary Clinton would “threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

It seems that one year later, President Trump himself is threatening the freedoms of the transgender community.

As many advocacy groups and celebrities continue to speak out against Trump’s decision, a spokeswoman for the Minister of National Defence in Canada reminded everyone that transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1992 and their position remains unchanged.

President Trump’s tweets have left many people confused and looking to the White House to answer some questions — something Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, seemed unwilling (or unable) to do on the day of the announcement.

What’s next? Will women be banned from the U.S. military? How about immigrants? With President Trump, who knows where the line will be drawn — if it’s drawn at all.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Lest we Forget: remembering and thinking about the future

Cosmo DeClerq, my grandfather, Canada-Belgian SAS
Cosmo DeClerq, my grandfather, Canada-Belgian SAS

My grandfather was a paratrooper during the Second World War. He never spoke to us about his experiences—and, frankly, we never asked. I was too young to understand what he had gone through. I never really knew he was in the military until he passed away and I met some of his colleagues at the funeral.

That’s why it was refreshing to see so many young faces at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony.

Queen’s Park was crowded with young students and families with their children. Most were wearing black overcoats and the bright red of their poppy pins could be seen despite the drizzling rain. There were no whispers among this crowd; no snickers or horseplay. It was the most silent and respectful crowd I’ve seen in a while. The exception was the young girl behind me, who was quietly explaining what was happening for three international University of Toronto students who decided to attend the ceremony. Why? They wanted to learn more about Canadian culture and heritage.

These ceremonies are meant to give us time to remember the past—the men and women who served our country both at home and abroad, who died to protect our freedom and our way of life. But, maybe it can do more. Maybe, it can help us look into the future.

I spent a few minutes after the ceremony speaking with groups of students, most of whom weren’t native to this country. They were all fascinated by the ceremony, and all could relate to this idea of “remembrance.” Some came from war-torn countries, others from Europe, South America, or Asia. One young man was from Japan, and he spoke of the atomic bomb. He felt compelled to come to Queen’s Park and listen to the words spoken by our politicians and military leaders.

And really, what better place to learn about what it means to be Canadian? Our military forces—at least our current military forces—are so diverse. There were men, women, and people of various ethnic and religious values, all marching together as one unit. That’s Canada.

When I decided to write a piece about Remembrance Day for Women’s Post, I automatically thought of the women in service. I think Brigadier-General Lowell Thomson, Commander 4th Canadian Division, said it best when he gave homage to his military upbringing. He said his father was a long-time soldier, but then went on to say that he was the son of a woman who had served “during a time when her service wasn’t recognized.” That’s when I noticed there were very few women in uniform sitting in the crowds. About 600 WWII veterans die a day around the world, so this isn’t surprising. Perhaps most of them ventured to Ottawa to partake in their larger ceremony by the War Memorial. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. As Managing Editor of Women’s Post, I was hoping to speak with them and share their stories.

2015-11-10 16.55.35Instead, looking around the crowds, I noticed the number of young women taking part in the ceremony, specifically a young girl who was leading the cadets through the parade. She was independent, kind, commanding and strong. “If you feel cold, wiggle your toes and fingers. If you feel sick, let me know,” she said slowly while her fellow cadets looked at her nervously. Throughout the ceremony, she addressed her group, told them to stand tall, proud, and smiled when appropriate. She was the prime example of the type of woman younger girls could look up to.

I didn’t understand what Remembrance Day meant until I was a teenager. And even then, I feel like it was my circumstance—the death of a loved one—that suddenly gave me the desire to remember all of those who gave their lives in service. These young people, the cadets, students (international or Canadian native), and children who attended today’s ceremony, are all ahead of the game. I can only hope they truly take away the meaning of remembrance.  Just because the WWII veterans are fading, doesn’t mean their memories should be lost. There will always be war or conflict—it’s the nature of human beings and the sad reality of living in a world where people don’t always agree. But, if we forget where it all began, if we ignore our own history and heritage, there is no way to understand how OUR Canada was shaped. And that understanding is crucial to the future of not only this country, but the world.

And that’s worth a minute of silence, don’t you think?

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