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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Sierra Vista Continues to Struggle following Cutbacks at Ft. Huachuca

  • May 3, 2015
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The impact of the loss of thousands of military and civilian personnel at Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona over the past several years continues to hobble the city of Sierra Vista, according to a presentation at the annual Sierra Vista Economic Outlook luncheon. Including the employment of defense contractors, the area lost about 4,000 jobs over the last five years stemming from cutbacks at the installation. “In recent years, Fort Huachuca has been the primary reason for the county-wide economic downturn, and that’s due to cuts in defense and war-related spending,” said Robert Carreira, director of the Center for Economic Research at Cochise College …

Veterans Strengthen Communities’ Civic Fabric, Survey Finds

  • May 3, 2015
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Contrary to the prevailing stereotype of veterans as having difficulty coping when they re-enter civilian society, a new survey reveals that veterans have greater civic involvement than non-veterans. Veterans are three times as likely as non-veterans to be involved in civic groups, and are more likely to vote, contact public officials and help neighbors than their counterparts who did not serve in the military, according to the study. “It’s important for all of us to provide counterpoints to the misconceptions we have been told for years and years,” said Army veteran Chris Marvin, managing director of nonprofit Got Your Six …

GOP Plan to Rely on OCO Funds to Boost Defense Spending Survives House Vote

  • April 30, 2015
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The House on Thursday passed the fiscal 2016 military construction-veterans affairs spending bill, after a bipartisan effort to bar the use of funds from DOD’s overseas contingency operations account for non-war spending nearly upset Republicans’ plans to rely on the department’s war account to sidestep the statutory caps on the defense budget. Instead, Republican leaders were able to overcome support for three amendments introduced by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that would have collectively eliminated $532 million in military construction funding allocated through the OCO. Appropriators added the funds to the department’s war account, which isn’t subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps, as part of the GOP strategy to use the OCO as a relief valve for defense spending that doesn’t fit under the $523 billion cap on national security funds …

Panel Votes to Rescue A-10 Fleet before Completing Authorization Bill Markup

  • April 30, 2015
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After more than 18 hours of deliberations, the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning approved the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill by a 60-2 vote. The legislation, which authorizes $523 billion in national security spending and $89 billion in funding for DOD’s overseas contingency operations account, now heads to the House floor later this month, reported the Hill. The measure rejects a number of cost-cutting reforms proposed by the Pentagon, including a request to hold a BRAC round in 2017, plans to trim support for commissaries and housing allowances for troops, and retiring the A-10 close air support jet …

Milcon Spending Bill includes Missile Site, BRAC Amendments

  • April 30, 2015
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House lawmakers approved two amendments of interest to defense communities — one that would provide funding for an East Coast missile defense site and one that would prohibit a new BRAC round — as part of the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill the chamber approved Thursday. Language allocating $30 million for the planning, design and construction of an East Coast missile defense site was offered by freshman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y), whose district includes Fort Drum. Last year, the Defense Department said it would prepare environmental impact statements at four locations, including Fort Drum, N.Y., to determine a potential site to host ground-based interceptors to protect the East Coast …

BRAC Needed Now, Bipartisan Coalition of Defense Experts Tells Congress

  • April 30, 2015
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Citing rising threats around the globe and a military force declining in size and capability, a bipartisan coalition of 38 defense experts is urging congressional leaders to close unneeded bases, right-size the civilian workforce and modernize military pay and benefits. “Too much of the defense budget is currently consumed by institutional inefficiencies, some of which are mandated by law,” the experts wrote in an open letter to the defense committees and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “As the U.S. military shrinks, it must reduce its inventory of physical infrastructure. Smaller budgets can no longer support paying for the operation of unnecessary facilities,” the letter states …

Obama Defers Judgement on Key Military Compensation Reforms

  • April 30, 2015
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President Obama is withholding judgement on the most controversial recommendations of an independent panel to update military pay and benefits, he told Congress Thursday. One of the most significant reforms urged by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission would transform the existing pension plan that only pays benefit to personnel serving at least 20 years to a hybrid system that would allow troops serving at least two years to invest in a 401(k)-type plan. Interestingly, the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning approved language adopting the commission’s recommendation as part of its fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill …

House Votes on Milcon Spending Bill Held up over Reliance on OCO Funds

  • April 29, 2015
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House Republicans postponed debate on the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill on Wednesday evening partially over fears that lawmakers would adopt amendments barring the use of funds from DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to escape the statutory cap on defense spending. A series of amendments introduced by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) would have effectively eliminated $532 million in military construction funds allocated through the OCO, reported CQ Roll Call. Appropriators added the funds to the department’s war account, which isn’t subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps, as part of the GOP strategy to use the OCO as a relief valve for defense spending that doesn’t fit under the $523 billion cap on national security funds. But Van Hollen and Mulvaney called the shift of funds from DOD’s base budget to the OCO a “gimmick” to evade the caps …

Committee Postpones Debate over BRAC

  • April 29, 2015
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One of the most prominent supporters of the Pentagon’s request to conduct a new round of base closures withdrew an amendment Wednesday during deliberations over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill that would have authorized a BRAC round in 2017, as the Obama administration has requested. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, intends to bring up the amendment on the floor when the House debates the authorization bill. The legislation marked up Wednesday explicitly bars DOD from carrying out a new BRAC round. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, and full Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) oppose the administration’s request for additional base closures, citing the overwhelming challenge of reopening a base once it is shuttered …

Army Dismantles Aviation Brigade Based in Germany

  • April 29, 2015
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The Ansbach, Germany-based 12th Combat Aviation Brigade will lose about 1,900 personnel and an estimated 2,850 family members as part of the Army’s aviation restructuring initiative in Europe, defense officials said Wednesday. The moves, which also include the relocation of 25 Apache attack helicopters from Germany, will force the department to maintain aviation capabilities in Germany using a continuous rotation to augment the remaining aviation assets and personnel …

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