• Defense Bill Keeps Effort to Build East Coast Missile Site Moving Ahead0

    Deployment of a potential site to host ground-based interceptors to protect the East Coast would be accelerated under the conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The legislation would require the Missile Defense Agency director to choose a preferred location to build an East Coast missile defense site within 30 days after the draft environmental impact statements now under way are published, reported Defense News. Those studies are expected to be completed by January 2016. The measure also would require DOD to submit a plan to expedite the deployment time for a potential third missile site by at least two years …

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  • Stewardship of Longleaf Pine Forests at Ft. Stewart Eases Training Constraints0

    Intense management of the 26,000 acres of longleaf pine forest at Fort Stewart, Ga., has helped to maximize the amount of space available for training while eliminating the number of training days lost due to wildfires. Another benefit of the care taken to preserve the dwindling amount of longleaf forest in the South is the success achieved in protecting the red-cockaded woodpecker. The post’s forests are home to 430 breeding groups of the endangered bird, triple the number living there more than two decades ago, reported the Savannah Morning News. Tim Beaty, director of Fort Stewart’s fish and wildlife branch, has led the stewardship effort, which relies on prescribed burns. Burns allow the pines to regenerate and also provide open areas that allow the sun to reach the forest floor, a prerequisite for the hundreds of plant species in the understory to flourish …

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  • Defense Committees Appear Open to Eliminating Support for Commissaries7

    Defense officials may be disappointed that the conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill rejects the administration’s proposal to slash federal funding for commissaries in the near-term, but a provision added in the House-Senate conference requiring the department to draw up a plan for eliminating taxpayer support for military grocery stores and exchanges indicates that lawmakers may be closer to embracing the cost-cutting reform than previously believed. The report, which calls for the Pentagon to craft a comprehensive plan for achieving “budget neutrality” for commissary and exchange benefits by the end of fiscal 2018, is primarily directed at military grocery stores since only 3 percent of the budget for exchanges is supplied by Congress …

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  • Local Support Groups Launch Effort to Oppose Budget Cuts0

    The community-based support groups for Fort Polk, La., and Fort Campbell, Ky., on Monday announced a campaign to fight budget-driven cuts in the Army’s force structure. The two groups, Fort Polk Progress and Friends of Fort Campbell, are hoping to gain the support of other Army communities as well. “The goal of our newly-formed coalition is to not only meet our fellow Army community leaders, but to exchange ideas and to find a consensus around protecting active-duty Army force structure,” said Jim Durrett, mayor of Montgomery County, Tenn. …

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  • Southeast Leaders Discuss Uncertainty Facing Defense Communities at ADC Forum0

    Speakers at ADC’s Defense Community Regional Forum in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday discussed a variety of ways communities can prepare for impacts at local installations stemming from statutory spending caps, force structure reductions and a looming BRAC round. Mike Cooper, president of ADC and chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, told attendees it was a precarious time for DOD and defense communities. While an installation such as Fort Bragg likely is safe from a potential closure, its host community shouldn’t get “fat, dumb and happy,” said John Robinson, managing partner of the D.C.-based The Roosevelt Group. Robinson encouraged communities, or the state, to invest local monies in infrastructure projects needed by the installations they host …

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