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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

White House Veto Threats Signal Budget Showdown

  • April 28, 2015
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Veto threats issued Tuesday by the White House on two appropriations bills scheduled to go to the House floor this week, including the military construction–veterans affairs measure, leave uncertain how fiscal 2016 spending measures will go forward this year. The two statements from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicate President Obama would not sign any spending bills that follow congressional Republicans’ plan to stick to the statutory spending caps while providing relief only to the Pentagon by stashing tens of billions of additional dollars in its war account. “The president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto H.R. 2029 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments we need for our economy to compete in the future,” according to the statement of administration policy on the milcon spending bill. OMB issued the same veto threat for the energy-water measure …

Smith to Introduce BRAC Authorization Amendment Again

  • April 28, 2015
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For the second consecutive year, Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to offer an amendment to the annual defense policy bill approving a new round of base closures. As Smith did last year, he plans to introduce the amendment when the committee marks up the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill today, but withdraw it in the hopes of receiving a vote on the House floor, reported CQ Roll Call. Last year, however, the House Rules Committee blocked Smith’s proposal from receiving a vote when the House debated the measure. In addition to authorizing a BRAC round in 2017, the amendment is expected to include some reforms to the base closure process. For instance, it would require the defense secretary to certify that base closures would result in net savings within six years …

Protection for Sage Grouse Could Jeopardize Training Facilities, House Committee Says

  • April 28, 2015
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Language in the House version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill would bar the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from increasing federal protection for the greater sage grouse, over concerns that listing the grassland bird as threatened or endangered would restrict the use of military training grounds and firing ranges in the western United States. A decision by the wildlife service to list the greater sage grouse likely would restrict military access to training grounds and firing ranges, reduce the number of exercises and limit the number of overflights and ground movements, the Army and Air Force has said, reported Stars and Stripes. The grouse’s habitat encompasses parts of 11 western states. Energy development and other activities threaten the black and brown bird by reducing the sagebrush it relies on for cover …

Policy Bill Would Trim Headquarters Spending, Personnel

  • April 28, 2015
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The Defense Department would need to cut the budget and personnel at its headquarters by 20 percent and save $10 billion over five years, under the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill the House Armed Services Committee marks up today. The provision calls for the defense secretary to develop a plan for streamlining DOD management headquarters by requiring an accurate baseline accounting of headquarters budgets and personnel, and more specific information on actual and planned reductions in management headquarters. “The committee notes that the department has already claimed the savings associated with these reductions in the budget requests provided since the 20 percent goal was established in 2013,” according to a summary of the bill language …

American Water Upgrades Utilities at Hill AFB

  • April 28, 2015
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After being awarded a $288 million utilities privatization contract for Hill Air Force Base in January 2014, American Water has launched an initiative to invest $3.6 million in its first three contract years to upgrade water and wastewater systems at the installation in northern Utah. “The first year efforts include a major upgrade to one of our wells, as well as other replacements and infrastructure improvements,” Mark Persico, primary contracting officer representative for the contract, told Air Force Civil Engineer Center Public Affairs. “Over the next two to three months, projects include work on three sewage lift stations, 1,900 linear feet of sewer line, 13 pressure-reducing valves and replacement of 10 fire hydrants …

Armed Services Chair Remains ‘Deeply Skeptical’ of BRAC Request

  • April 28, 2015
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Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, reiterated his opposition to the Pentagon’s request to conduct a BRAC round in 2017, in a fact sheet accompanying the chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The document acknowledges that DOD has expressed concerns that excess basing capacity is a financial drag on the department, as well as that its most recent capacity analysis is more than a decade old and does not reflect the probable future force posture. The fact sheet indicated, though, that Thornberry would remain extremely reluctant to approve a new round until the military’s roles and missions are better defined …

Texas Mayors Urge Lawmakers to Include $150M in Budget for Installations

  • April 28, 2015
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A coalition of defense communities in Texas is asking the state Legislature to include $150 million in the next two-year budget to support military installations. The money would be allocated to the Texas Military Preparedness Commission for grants to help communities enhance installations. The request, which represents only one-tenth of 1 percent of the nearly $150 billion that the state’s 15 installations bring to the Texas economy is “a very small price to pay to protect the military mission and jobs at Texas military installations,” wrote the Texas Mayors of Military Communities. “If state investment is going to make a difference in a future BRAC outcome, funding for projects is needed during the FY 2016-2017 biennium …

BRAC Needed to Help Army ‘Right-Size’ Its Infrastructure, Halverson Says

  • April 27, 2015
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With the size of the Army’s active-duty force steadily dropping, the service needs to conduct a new round of base closures so it can eliminate unneeded infrastructure and direct its funds toward modernizing the infrastructure it does need, Lt. Gen. David Halverson, commander of Installation Management Command and assistant chief of staff for installation management, said last week. “In time, just putting off the health of your installations is degrading, and that’s a fine balance,” Halverson said at an Association of the U.S. Army breakfast, reported Army News Service. “You can do it for one year, you can do it for two years, but overall, you will not be able to modernize the capability that we need and so those are the decisions we have to look at now …

Authorization Bill Rejects Air Force Plan to Retire A-10 Fleet

  • April 27, 2015
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For the second straight year, the House Armed Services Committee has proposed reversing the Air Force’s plan to retire its fleet of A-10 close air support aircraft. Instead, the committee would provide $683 million to keep the aircraft flying, according to the chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The Air Force has said retiring the A-10 would save $4 billion and that other aircraft can perform the close air support mission. Many lawmakers, though, dispute the claim that other aircraft can replace the Warthog …

Joining Forces Receives Industry Pledge to Hire, Train 90,000 Veterans, Spouses

  • April 27, 2015
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A group of technology and energy companies have committed to hire or train 90,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years, First Lady Michelle Obama announced last week during an event marking the fourth anniversary of the Joining Forces initiative. When the effort to raise awareness among all Americans about the service, sacrifice and needs of military families initially was launched, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and spouses. Now, less than four years later, “America’s businesses have continued to race past my husband’s initial goal, and together, those businesses who answered the president’s call have hired or trained more than 850,000 veterans and military spouses,” the first lady said …

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