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US Army preparing biggest European deployment in years

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The US Army is planning its biggest deployment of troops to Europe in 25 years, with 20,000 troops slated to take part in a massive force projection exercise at a time of increasingly adversarial relations with Russia.

General Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US ground forces in Europe, said 20,000 US-based troops will deploy next year to Europe where they will join some 9,000 other US soldiers already stationed there.

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Some 37,000 troops will then take part in exercises across 10 European countries from May to June, he told reporters at the Pentagon.

The US-based forces will begin flowing in February, moving 13,000 pieces of equipment, including tanks, artillery and transport vehicles, across 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers), he said.

That will be a daunting logistical challenge as railroads in former Soviet countries have smaller gauges than western European countries and their bridges are not built to carry the weight of a 70-ton Abrams tank.

The Defender-Europe 20 exercise, as it is dubbed, marks a strategic turning point after years of US military cutbacks in post-Cold War Europe.

While Cavoli did not single out Russia as the focus, he said its annexation of Crimea in 2014 changed everything.

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The aim is to “demonstrate the US military’s ability to quickly deploy a large force to support NATO and respond to any crisis,” he said.

“Our ability as an army to project power is absolutely fundamental to anything that we would get done,” he said.


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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