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Vice President Mike Pence stands during a dignified transfer for U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin who died in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Department of Defense identified the three U.S. special operations service members that were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, which was publicly announced Tuesday.

The service members, who were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel, were identified as: Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Va., Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Wash., and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Penn. Their deaths bring the number of total U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2018 to 13.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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