Articles written by Lolita C. Baldor & Robert Burns


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  • Oklahoma bid for Guard exception to vaccine mandate denied

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Nov 28, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday rejected a request by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt that his state's National Guard be exempt from a Pentagon requirement that all military members be vaccinated against COVID-19. Stitt, a Republican, had asked Austin in early November to suspend the mandate for members of the Oklahoma Guard. A spokesman for Stitt, Charlie Hannema, said in response to Austin's rejection letter that the governor "maintains his position" that he is commander in chief of the Oklahoma Guard while they are on T...

  • Milley defends calls to Chinese at end of Trump presidency

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Sep 29, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer told Congress on Tuesday that he knew former President Donald Trump wasn't planning to attack China and that it was his job to reassure the Chinese of that fact in the phone calls that have triggered outrage from some lawmakers. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered a vehement defense of two calls he made to his Chinese counterpart, saying he was responding to "concerning intelligence" that China was worried about a U.S. attack. "I know, I am certain, that P...

  • Pentagon chief urges immediate reduction in Taliban violence

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Feb 19, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first news conference as Pentagon chief, said Friday that progress toward peace in Afghanistan and an end to U.S. military involvement there depends on the Taliban reducing attacks. He said, right now, "clearly the violence is too high." He refused, however, to say when the U.S. will decide if it will meet the May 1 deadline for full troop withdrawal, or if America and its NATO allies will try to renegotiate the peace deal with the Taliban and keep some troops there longer. "We are m...

  • Navy upholds firing of carrier captain in virus outbreak

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Jun 19, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The two senior commanders on a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier didn't "do enough, soon enough," to stem the outbreak, the top U.S. Navy officer said Friday, a stunning reversal that upheld the firing of the ship's captain who had pleaded for faster action to protect the crew. Capt. Brett E. Crozier and Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, commander of the carrier strike group, made serious errors in judgment as they tried to work through an outbreak that sidelined the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam for 10 weeks, said Adm. Mike G...

  • Navy admiral advises reinstatement of fired carrier captain

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Apr 24, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Navy officer has recommended the reinstatement of the aircraft carrier captain fired for sending a fraught email to commanders pleading for faster action to protect his crew from a coronavirus outbreak, officials familiar with the investigation said Friday. Adm. Mike Gilday recommended that Navy Capt. Brett Crozier be returned to his ship, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the results of an investigation that have not yet been made public. If approved, his recommendation would end a d...

  • Esper: US troops, armored vehicles going to Syria oil fields

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Oct 25, 2019

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States will send armored vehicles and combat troops into eastern Syria to keep oil fields from potentially falling into the hands of Islamic State militants, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday. It was the latest sign that extracting the military from Syria is more uncertain and complicated than President Donald Trump is making it out to be. Though Trump repeatedly says he is pulling out of Syria, the reality on the ground is different. Adding armored reinforcements in the oil-producing area of Syria c...

  • Pentagon proposing troop reinforcements in Mideast

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|May 24, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Thursday outlined proposals to the White House that would send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defenses against Iran amid heightened tensions in the region. President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters before the meeting, said he was not convinced more troops are needed but would do whatever is necessary. "We'll see what happens with Iran," Trump said. "I don't think we're going to need them, I really don't, but we're going to have a meeting on it in about an hour. I would certainly s...

  • US officials: Plan may send up to 10,000 troops to Mideast

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|May 23, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it's not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be d...

  • Lawmakers denounce plan to divert military money for wall

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Mar 27, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House lawmakers on Tuesday denounced Defense Department plans to use military funds to pay for President Donald Trump's border wall, telling Pentagon leaders the "unbelievably irresponsible" maneuver will threaten the agency's future ability to shift money around when needed. Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee said there is little support for tapping military construction projects for the wall, about a week after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a list of vulnerable projects t...

  • Mattis outlines strategic hazards facing next Pentagon chief

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS|Dec 23, 2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The extraordinary resignation letter that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis handed to a surprised President Donald Trump was not just a product of two years of accumulating frustration with an impulsive boss, but an outline of the strategic hazards facing the next Pentagon chief. Mattis, who was quietly back at work Friday while stunned Pentagon staff soldiered on around him, implicitly warned in his letter to the president of the threat to the U.S. from allowing alliances to fray and of the risk that disrespecting allies will u...