military

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

Following a federal court ruling, the Pentagon has confirmed it will allow openly transgender individuals to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Trump administration had resisted that deadline in court, seeking to have its ban on new transgender troops reinstated — but on Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly upheld an earlier decision to temporarily block President Trump's ban.

The hulking C-17 is the pack mule of the United States military, designed to lift and transport troops, tanks and even helicopters. Every American C-17 pilot is trained at the Altus Air Force Base in southwestern Oklahoma, where flight instructor Adam Bergoo says a key lesson is how to fly close to the ground.

"That's one of our military missions, is to fly low-level, because that basically reduces the risk of detection, and getting shot at by the bad guys," he says.

Transgender members of the U.S. military would be subject to removal at Defense Secretary James Mattis' discretion — and the service would bar transgender people from enlisting, under new White House guidelines for the Pentagon. President Trump announced the ban via a tweet last month.

Rough details of the guidelines were confirmed by NPR's Tom Bowman after the White House plan for the Pentagon was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Pentagon is pushing Congress to help it save $2 billion a year by shutting down more military bases. But Congress hates the idea, and has spent more than a decade avoiding it.

Facebook

Jacob Eleazer woke up today expecting an average day. He put on his tan khakis, brown shoes and gray polo, got in the car and drove to work. But not long after he walked in, messages from concerned friends and family members started flooding his phone. He checked the messages, and was shocked to see a series of tweets from President Donald Trump saying that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the military.

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 you're facing a major life change, it helps to talk to someone who has already been through it. All Things Considered is connecting people on either side of a shared experience, and they're letting us eavesdrop on their conversations in our series Been There.

Kara Dethlefsen lined up early on a recent morning for the food pantry at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. She and her husband, both active-duty Marines, took turns holding their 4-month-old daughter.

"We most like to get the avocados, lemons, some vegetables to cook up," says Dethlefsen, 27, who first heard about the pantry from an on-base nurse after giving birth.

While the political world continues to focus on the machinations of congressional investigations about Russia (which won't have conclusions drawn for months, if not longer) and where health care goes from here, there's another, arguably more important story going on — ramped-up military engagement.

Here's the New York Times Thursday:

In the kitchen of a vacation rental in southern California, family pictures form a collage on the refrigerator.

On closer inspection the photos are of multiple families, and many of the women in the photos are sitting together around the kitchen table nearby. The photos are from their weddings or pictures of children. This is a typical, makeshift family scrapbook at an American Widow Project retreat.

Pages