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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Ceremony Marks Demolition of Aging Housing at Ft. Hood

  • April 8, 2015
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Fort Hood’s garrison commander took the first ceremonial swipe with an excavator on Tuesday as installation officials celebrated the beginning of an 18-month effort to demolish 518 residences built in 1953 and 1954 to house enlisted families. The project is part of a larger plan to modernize the post’s housing, reports the Killeen Daily Herald. Since assuming responsibility for family housing at Fort Hood in 2001, Lend Lease Public Partnerships has built 232 single-family homes and 974 duplexes, and renovated more than 1,600 units. Not counting the homes slated for demolition, the installation has 5,351 homes for families …

Mississippi Lawmakers Approve Limited Funding for Project Supporting Columbus AFB

  • April 8, 2015
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The Mississippi Legislature has approved a bond bill allowing the state to borrow $2.25 million to fund the extension of a recreational path from the city of Columbus to Columbus Air Force Base, enough to start the project but well short of the $25 million measure House lawmakers passed in February. “I had high hopes,” state Rep. Jeff Smith (R) told the Columbus Dispatch. “In the back of my mind, I was always worried we’d get nothing. The main thing we were able to get was the House and Senate to understand we would be back every year [asking for more funding]. We knew all along it would be a multi-year project, and we will be coming back next year …

McCain to Seek Sixth Senate Term

  • April 7, 2015
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John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Tuesday he will run for a sixth term in the Senate, paving the way for Congress’ most ardent defense hawk to remain at the helm of the chamber’s Armed Services Committee beyond 2016. McCain, who will be 80 on Election Day in 2016, likely will face a more conservative opponent in the Republican primary but with his long-standing popularity and strong fundraising ability, it will be difficult to topple him, reported Stars and Stripes. “The reality is I think it is going to be very hard to push him out,” said Gordon Adams, a professor of foreign policy at American University …

Garrison Commanders Grapple with Budget Constraints

  • April 7, 2015
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At a two-day conference for Army garrison commanders and command sergeants major last month, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, addressed the challenge of running an installation amid tight fiscal constraints. “We have to weigh risks daily,” Hammack said. “What’s acceptable loss? Compare loss of life to buildings that decay a little faster … grass that grows a little higher? Gen. Halverson and I are okay with the grass growing higher if it means that the troops are trained, ready and properly equipped …

Army Completes Disposal of Kansas Ammo Plant through Auction

  • April 7, 2015
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A New York investment firm last week completed the purchase of a 10-acre parcel at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant after submitting the winning bid in an auction conducted by the General Services Administration. Cornwall Specialty Trading purchased the tract, which contains the plant’s former 67,000-square-foot administration building, for $282,777. The transaction marks the completion of the Army’s disposal of the 14,000-acre facility in southeastern Kansas that was shuttered following the 2005 BRAC round. The Great Plains Development Authority is the major property owner with 7,000 acres. The facility’s munitions manufacturer, Day & Zimmermann, purchased 4,000 acres to continue operations at the plant. Production, however, has been shut down, Ann Charles, assistant director of the authority, told 360. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism holds the title to the remaining 3,000 acres. Charles said the authority will help Cornwall market its parcel as part of its efforts to market the Great Plains Industrial Park. The LRA also will provide caretaker services for the investment firm’s parcel.

Feds Expand Initiative to Train Service Members for Jobs in Solar Industry

  • April 7, 2015
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Hill Air Force Base will be one of 10 installations to participate in a partnership between the defense and veterans affairs departments to train transitioning service members for jobs in the solar industry, President Obama announced on Friday during a visit to the base located north of Salt Lake City. The Solar Ready Vets initiative will train service members how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes, according to a White House fact sheet. The intensive, six-week course will prepare participants for careers as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors and other solar-related occupations …

Navy Issues Impact Statement for Training Facilities on Marianas

  • April 7, 2015
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The Navy on Monday released a draft environmental impact statement for the construction of live-fire ranges, training courses and maneuver areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) needed to support the realignment of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. “Establishing unit and combined level [range training areas] in the CNMI would support ongoing operational requirements, changes to U.S. force structure, geographic repositioning of forces and U.S. training relationships with allied nations,” according to the April 6 Federal Register notice. The Navy’s preferred alternatives for the training facilities are on the islands of Tinian and Pagan …

Carter Reaffirms Administration’s Commitment to Asia-Pacific

  • April 6, 2015
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The United States is entering a new stage in its pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region, with the Obama administration devoting increased attention to that sphere, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday during a speech at Arizona State University. One component of the shift is military, with DOD’s newest and most capable weapons systems going first to the region. When movements are completed, 60 percent of the U.S. fleet will be in the Pacific-Indian Ocean area, Carter said. U.S. Marines already have a rotational presence in Australia and U.S. and Filipino authorities are working on ways to strengthen military-to-military cooperation …

Reliance on War Funding Account Allows Congress, DOD to Postpone Defense Reforms

  • April 6, 2015
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The ability of Congress and the Pentagon to stash spending in the military’s war funding account and sidestep the statutory spending limits sabotages the budget caps’ role in forcing officials to confront difficult decisions, a panel of experts said Friday at an event hosted by the Stimson Center. The department’s overseas operations account is “a budgetary disaster which leads you to expect resources to continue to be available when they probably will not be,” said Gordon Adams, who managed national security budgets at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration …

Texas Communities Await Verdict on Sequestration, Army Downsizing

  • April 6, 2015
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Local officials throughout Texas are increasingly alarmed about the prospect that stringent caps on Pentagon spending first imposed in 2013 will remain in place through the end of the decade. Already, defense communities in Texas have been hurt by the furlough of civilian workers, the loss of active-duty personnel and attrition in civilian personnel, reported the San Antonio Express-News. On the immediate horizon is an Army determination expected this summer on how it will allocate the elimination of up to 70,000 active-duty troops by fiscal 2020. Forts Hood and Bliss, and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston potentially could lose thousands of soldiers and civilian workers, but advocates for each of those posts believe the strong level of support provided by their host communities should shield them from the worst cuts …

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