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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Number of Active-Duty Soldiers Falls below Half Million

  • February 8, 2015
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The end strength of the active-duty Army fell below 500,000 for the first time in a decade, and now stands at 498,642 soldiers. Over the past year, the regular Army shrunk by 24,331 soldiers, reported Army Times. By the end of September, forces are due to drop to 490,000. The budget request released last week by the Obama administration calls for the Army’s end strength to decline to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016. Officials have said the force will need to shrink to a size of 450,000 and, possibly, to 420,000 if the existing statutory caps on defense spending remain in place through fiscal 2021. The figures, compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center, show that as the Army entered 2015 its reserve components had a combined strength of 547,007 soldiers — 349,881 in the National Guard and 197,126 in the Army Reserve.

New York Congresswoman Named Readiness Panel Vice Chair

  • February 8, 2015
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Rep. Elise Stefanik, a freshman Republican from Upstate New York, was named vice chair of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee last week, as part of an effort by Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to get committee members more deeply involved in national security issues during the 114th Congress. Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has one major installation in her district, Fort Drum. “From this position, I will be able to work to undo the damaging effects that the sequester is having on our military readiness as well as bring a strong voice to protect and strengthen the interests of Fort Drum. I look forward to working closely with Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman on these important issues …

House Budget Chairman Shows No Interest in Lifting Defense Cap

  • February 5, 2015
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At a hearing Wednesday on the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request, House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) offered no indication he would like to exceed the statutory spending caps for either defense or domestic programs. Price blasted the White House proposal for jeopardizing the remaining $541 billion in discretionary spending cuts scheduled to be imposed by the Budget Control Act through FY 2021, reported CQ. “In order to increase spending across the board, the president’s budget would unravel bipartisan agreements that have secured a modicum of spending restraint in recent years,” he said. “At the end of the day, a proposal that never balances and ignores key drivers of the nation’s debt is not a serious plan …

BRAC Cleanup Funding to Continue Long-Term Decline under FY’16 Request

  • February 5, 2015
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Funding to clean up installations closed during the first five BRAC rounds would fall 20 percent to $251.3 million in fiscal 2016, under the president’s new budget proposal. The request would continue a sharp drop in funding for past base closure rounds since FY 2013, when Congress allocated $759.6 million for cleanup and other closure costs. The FY 2015 omnibus spending bill approved in December provided $315 million for past BRAC cleanups. That allocation, however, represented a $45 million increase over the president’s budget request, and lawmakers may be inclined to boost the administration’s request again for FY 2016 …

Carter Could Gain Senate Confirmation within a Week, McCain Says

  • February 5, 2015
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Ashton Carter, President Obama’s nominee to become the next defense secretary, could be confirmed by the Senate by the end of next week. On Thursday, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he hoped the panel could vote on the nomination by next Tuesday. If, as expected, the panel reports Carter’s nomination favorably, the full Senate could take it up by Thursday, McCain said, reported the Hill. The chairman added that he doubts information requests from committee members to the Obama administration about Guantánamo Bay will postpone the votes. The fast-track timeline McCain described followed a smooth confirmation hearing for Carter the previous day.

State Designates Ft. Monmouth as Quarantine Center, Raising Questions from Local Officials

  • February 5, 2015
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State lawmakers and local officials on the board of the Fort Monmouth LRA are wondering how the closed installation was selected by New Jersey to serve as the backup quarantine center for travelers flying to Newark Liberty International Airport from West Africa who may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority was not consulted before the state reached a six-month agreement with the Army to quarantine travelers at the post who are at risk of contracting Ebola but have not yet displayed symptoms, reported the Asbury Park Press. “This lease was imposed on [the authority] by the executive branch and was not vetted at a public meeting or voted on by the entire board,” according to a statement from Monmouth County Freehold Lillian Burry and the mayors of the three towns that surround Fort Monmouth …

New Orleans Considered Model for Ending Veteran Homelessness

  • February 5, 2015
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New Orleans appears to have set a high bar for eliminating homelessness among veterans when it announced last month that it had gone a step beyond ending chronic homelessness. The city said it had reached a point at which it could ensure “every homeless veteran who can be located is placed in permanent housing or in temporary housing with an identified permanent housing placement” within 30 days. It achieved a “zero” level of veteran homelessness by relying on a “housing first” approach, which emphasizes moving the homeless into permanent housing quickly even if it means lowering the barriers to entry …

Carter Eases through Nomination Hearing

  • February 4, 2015
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Ashton Carter’s nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday to be the next defense secretary was largely tension-free and may be quickly followed by a vote on his candidacy by the full Senate next week. “We will talk to the majority leader to see if we can’t get your nomination to the floor so that you can get to work,” Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at the end of the day-long hearing, reported CQ. Carter told the panel he hopes to get rid of the statutory caps on defense spending and find a way with Congress out of the “wilderness of sequester …

Colorado Springs Comes out to Shield Ft. Carson from Army Restructuring

  • February 4, 2015
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An overflow crowd made up of Colorado Springs residents and leaders showed up Tuesday afternoon to support Fort Carson at an Army listening session before officials determine how to shrink the service’s end strength by 70,000 soldiers by fiscal 2020. The Army is considering eliminating up to 16,000 personnel — almost all soldiers — from the post by the conclusion of a second round of restructuring intended to cut the service’s end strength to 420,000. The meeting is “not a BRAC hearing,” moderator Ed Anderson, a retired three-star general, emphasized at the outset of the session, which lasted three-and-one-half hours. Brig. Gen. Roger Cloutier, the Army’s director of force management, said “not a single decision has been made …

Budget Proposal Calls for Pause in Marine Corps Drawdown

  • February 4, 2015
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The fiscal 2016 budget request released Monday would retain the active-duty end strength for the Marine Corps at 184,000 for at least one year before dropping to 182,000. The pause is needed to assess “the impact of the four-year drawdown on small unit leaders in the face of a continued high operational tempo,” according to the budget. The number of Marines has been shrinking as the military withdraws from Afghanistan. Overall, the budget requests $24 billion for the Marines’ base budget, a $1.6 billion increase, and seeks to return the Marines Corps to its core mission as an expeditionary, emergency response force …

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