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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Congressman Urges SunZia to Divert Project from Missile Range

  • March 12, 2014
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New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce (R) this week urged the developer of a proposed, 515-mile-long, high-voltage transmission line linking central New Mexico to southeastern Arizona to adopt a route that avoids White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M, after being briefed on the results of a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory. “The MIT Report validates DOD’s concerns that the construction of the above-ground SunZia transmission lines would threaten the defense mission at White Sands Missile Range …

Need for BRAC is Clear, Installation Officials Tell Lawmakers

  • March 12, 2014
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A new round of base closures is needed to avoid wasting money on unneeded facilities, John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday. Equally important, granting DOD the authority to realign and shutter installations also would free up defense funds for other urgent priorities, including readiness and modernization, Conger told lawmakers. The services’ installation chiefs who testified along with Conger all emphasized that they have excess capacity, a disparity that is particularly acute for the Army and Air Force …

Inhofe Demands Clear Spending Plan from Pentagon

  • March 12, 2014
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After defense officials presented conflicting accounts over the past two weeks of what force structure levels are included in their five-year spending plan, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants DOD to clear up the confusion right away. “Everyone knows it’s a dilemma,” Inhofe said. “They’re trying to do something to make the sequestration part of the budget less offensive …

DOD Plan Would Turn Commissaries into Business Enterprise

  • March 12, 2014
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The Pentagon’s proposal to drastically reduce federal subsidies for military groceries would force most stateside commissaries to operate as a for-profit enterprise, according to documents released last week in conjunction with DOD’s fiscal 2015 budget request. The Pentagon is proposing to reduce the annual direct subsidy to commissaries by $1 billion over the next three years; the annual subsidy now totals $1.4 billion. After three years, the lower funding would reduce the average discount for military families from 30 percent to 10 percent, according to senior defense officials. At that point, stateside commissaries would need to cover their operating costs to remain viable, reported Stars and Stripes …

Lawmakers Unlikely to Adjust Sequester Cuts through FY’15

  • March 11, 2014
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With a difficult compromise on spending already achieved in December, Congress is unlikely to offer agencies additional relief from the existing spending caps until fiscal 2016. The bipartisan deal reached late last year reversed $63 billion in discretionary spending cuts across the government over FY 2014 and 2015, reducing the urgency to revisit the caps until the agreement expires on Sept. 30, 2015. At that point, though, serious discussions on a new deal to lift the spending caps could begin …

Air Force Proposes Cutting 500 Aircraft from Fleet

  • March 11, 2014
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The Air Force unveiled a far-reaching plan Monday for shrinking its force structure over the next five years that would eliminate aircraft from all three components, 25 states and the District of Columbia. The five-year plan, part of the Air Force’s fiscal 2015 budget request, calls for eliminating 500 aircraft, with 90 percent coming from U.S. bases. The cuts would retire the entire A-10 and U-2 fleets, and substantially pare down the number of F-15s and MQ-1s, reported Stars and Stripes. The service’s highest priorities are the F-35 fighter, the KC-46 tanker and the new long-range bomber …

Virginia Lawmakers Approve Bill Providing Jobless Benefits for Military Spouses

  • March 11, 2014
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The Virginia General Assembly approved legislation last week granting unemployment benefits to military spouses forced to leave their jobs after their spouse is reassigned. “It means that an individual whose spouse has orders to transfer someplace else doesn’t have to feel as though, ‘OK, I have a choice to stay with my family or keep my job,’” Sen. Mamie Locke (D) told the Virginian-Pilot. “They can feel more comfortable in making that transfer knowing that until they find a job in their new location, they will be able to qualify for unemployment benefits …

Report Addresses Key Hurdles to Renewable Energy Development at Installations

  • March 11, 2014
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A new report published by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) offers an overview of the primary decisions facing companies pursuing development of renewable energy projects at military installations. Renewable Energy for Military Installations: 2014 Industry Review is made up of 12 articles, each written by a separate set of authors. The 54-page report is divided into four sections: policy — addressing state utility regulatory risk; and collaboration among state energy offices and DOD; contracting and finance — the Army’s multiple-award, task-order contract (MATOC); creating successful power purchase agreements; and risk in long-term energy contracts with DOD …

Officials Fight Proposal to Deactivate Airlift Unit at Ft. Bragg

  • March 11, 2014
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Local leaders and elected officials are trying to reverse the Air Force’s proposal to deactivate the 440th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Field, saying the move would jeopardize the responsiveness of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and eliminate more than 1,000 jobs in the Fayetteville, N.C., area. The proposal came last week as part of the Air Force’s fiscal 2015 budget request, which calls for retiring the 440th’s 12 C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft. Without the 440th’s C-130s, Army paratroopers at Fort Bragg would be forced to rely on aircraft from South Carolina, Georgia or New York to train …

Last-Minute Change to DOD’s Spending Plan Complicated Budget Presentation

  • March 11, 2014
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Confounding explanations by top Pentagon officials last week over what force structure levels could be sustained by the department’s five-year spending plan were the direct result of a White House decision earlier this year to approve a budget that exceeded the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Defense officials originally prepared budgets that complied with the spending caps for both its fiscal 2015 request and the future years defense plan (FYDP), the spending projection for the next five years. Sometime early this year — at a very late stage in in the budget process — the White House told DOD to plan for exceeding the spending caps from FY 2016-2019 by $115 billion …

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