Joseph R. Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States this week. With the capital in full lockdown, the ceremony and parade were observed almost entirely virtually, an eerie start to the new administration. As many predicted, President Biden came out of the gate on day one with a slew of executive orders, reversing Trump policies and setting the tone for the next four years. He also issued 10 executive orders aimed at COVID-19 which promise to usher in an expansive federal management of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the National Guard soldiers who had been deployed to Washington DC — thousands of whom were temporarily deputized as U.S. Marshals — were bumped from the Capitol building to a nearby parking garage while they awaited redeployment.
As Biden entered, Donald Trump returned to his resort in Florida. Despite having conceded the White House, it’s very likely that he will not disappear from the political landscape. His exit from Washington coincided with the NRA’s decision to shutter their New York State charter and relocate to Texas.
With the new administration came a new secretary of defense. General Lloyd Austin, who was confirmed by Congress on Friday, has taken the reins (and hopefully a few cues) from Acting SecDef Chris Miller. Austin, a man known for his reclusive nature and tight-lipped demeanor, talked brass tacks about the impending near-peer contests noting that the budget must meet the demands. It is yet to be seen how Austin will manage the Nation’s defense and what changes will be made during his watch.
SecDef Austin has been handed a menagerie of smoldering hot zones; U.S. troops may have been successfully repositioned from Somalia, but violence from extremist groups like al-Shabaab will no doubt incite further U.S. airstrikes. Nearby nations, like Uganda, are also plagued by extremism and despite recent successes, may require U.S. interventions. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has petitioned the Biden administration for support in Mali and neighboring countries where French forces, as part of Task Force Takuba, continue to suffer casualties.
In the Middle East, Israel and Iran are exchanging blows in a series of proxy clashes across Syria. Iran, which recently announced a uranium enrichment program, continues to fan the flames, despite signs which suggest the Biden Administration — including the new CIA director — will attempt to bring the adversarial country back to the nuclear negotiating table.
The SOFREP team tracked several stories from across the Armed Forces this week: a New York National Guard training exercise ended in tragedy; Marines got equipped with suppressors for their long guns; and Special Operator SFC Joshua Beale was remembered on the anniversary of his death. And, SOFREP Senior Editor Steve Balestrieri reminded us that 30 years on, there is still no cure for the Gulf War Syndrome, a debilitating illness that afflicts hundreds of thousands of veterans of the first Gulf War.
SOFREP Radio had the esteemed honor of hosting Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston this week. SMA Grinston shared his thoughts on a wide range of military matters from the controversial basic training Shark Attack technique to Post Traumatic Stress and military suicide. Don’t miss this exclusive interview with the Army’s most senior enlisted person.
What’s in store for next week? None of us knows. But, as always, we’ll be here to bring you the stories you won’t find anywhere else with insights and analysis from people who have actually been there.
In the meantime,
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