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Tom Bowman

A debate has broken out at the Pentagon and in Congress over a proposal to dismantle an 8-year-old program that gives fast-track citizenship to immigrant soldiers who were recruited because they have critical skills in languages and medicine.

More than 4,000 immigrant soldiers recruited through the program — mostly from China and South Korea — are serving in uniform, including on overseas tours. Another 4,000 recruits have enlisted and are awaiting training.

When President Donald Trump selected retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary, it was a rare choice. No recently retired general had been selected for the top Pentagon job since George Marshall, some 66 years earlier.

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U.S. Marine artillerymen are now in place on Syrian soil, north of the last stronghold of the Islamic State. A force of local Kurdish and Arab fighters is moving south, continuing to isolate the city of Raqqa.

They're in the opening stages of a major military operation that officials say could last into the fall.

What comes next is expected to have huge implications not only for the fate of ISIS but also for the relationship between Turkey and Russia, as well as the geographic outlines of the future Syrian state.

It will be very complicated.

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A new year and a new president could mean a new phase in the war against the Islamic State. Donald Trump promised to defeat that group many times throughout his campaign. Here's what he said back in September.

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Donald Trump announced his choice to be defense secretary.

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DONALD TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis...

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TRUMP: ...As our secretary of defense.

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's planned choice for National Security Adviser, is perhaps best known to the American public for his fiery speech at the Republican National Convention in the summer, when he spoke to chants of "lock her up," a reference to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and joined in himself.

It was a strange position for someone who was a career military officer and a registered Democrat from Rhode Island.

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