Five Things to Know, Feb. 19, 2024
(Jorge LeBaron/U.S. Navy)

Five Things to Know, Feb. 19, 2024

1.   U.S. maritime forces on Saturday conducted five self-defense strikes targeting Iranian-backed Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, U.S. Central Command announced Sunday. CENTCOM successfully conducted strikes against three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, one unmanned underwater vessel (UUV) and one unmanned surface vessel (USV). It was the first observed Houthi employment of a UUV since attacks began in Oct. 23, according to CENTCOM.

2.   Two young citizen-soldiers who became close friends after enlisting in the Army Reserve were remembered at funerals in southeast Georgia on Saturday, nearly three weeks after they died in a drone attack while deployed to the Middle East. A service for 24-year-old Sgt. Kennedy Sanders was held in the packed 1,200-seat auditorium of Ware County Middle School in Waycross. A similar welcome marked the final homecoming for Sgt. Breonna Moffett, 23, in Savannah. Moffett’s funeral at a Baptist church was scheduled for the same time Saturday as Sanders' service 100 miles (161 kilometers) away.

3.   The mother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday was denied access to a morgue where his body was believed to be kept after his death in an Arctic penal colony, and Navalny’s allies accused authorities of trying to hide evidence. Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said that the Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigation agency, informed Lyudmila Navalnaya that the cause of her son’s death remained unknown and that the official probe had been extended. “They lie, buy time for themselves and do not even hide it,” Yarmysh posted on X, formerly Twitter.

4.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off growing calls to halt the military offensive in Gaza, vowing to “finish the job” as a member of his War Cabinet threatened to invade the southern city of Rafah if remaining Israeli hostages are not freed by the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel’s government has not publicly discussed a timeline for a ground offensive on Rafah, where more than half the enclave’s 2.3 million Palestinians have sought refuge. Retired general Benny Gantz, part of Netanyahu’s three-member War Cabinet, represents an influential voice but not the final word on what might lie ahead.

5.   Every day a lone bugler stands at the World War I Memorial across the plaza from a statue of Army Gen. John Pershing. The bugler salutes the American flag, lifts a simple brass instrument without valves or keys, and sounds the 24 distinctive notes of taps — the universal call sounded at dusk at U.S. military installations across the world. To commemorate Presidents Day on Monday, the nonprofit Doughboy Foundation will recognize the 1,000th time that taps is performed since the memorial opened three years ago at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. across from the White House visitor center.