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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

FY’16 Budget Request Would Offer Healthy Spending Growth for DOD

  • January 27, 2015
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The five-year spending plan the Defense Department plans to release next week along with its fiscal 2016 budget request will exceed the statutory spending caps by $150 billion, amounting to “little more than a wish list,” reported CQ. DOD will request $534 billion for its FY 2016 base budget, topping the 2011 Budget Control Act spending cap by almost $35 billion. The FY 2017 and 2018 budget projections would surpass the caps by $35 billion and $32 billion respectively, according to a source familiar with the proposal. The FY 2016 budget, after adding in the $52 billion the department is seeking for the overseas contingency operations account, represents a $15 billion jump over current year funding …

Race to Add Buffer Space Won’t Help a Base Make Its Case, Experts Say

  • January 27, 2015
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The pressure of a looming BRAC round has prompted many defense communities to expand buffer zones around local installations to protect them from encroachment, but the efforts likely won’t impress Pentagon officials developing closure recommendations, according to several experts. “I think it’s a misguided competition,” Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told the Pensacola News Journal. “A buffer zone may reduce noise complaints, but I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference to the DOD …

Number of Installations Relying on Automated Vetting Systems Grows

  • January 27, 2015
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Installations across all the services have been expanding the automated systems they rely on to conduct background checks on visitors by connecting them to one or more federal databases. Last August, DOD launched a screening system known as the Identity Matching Engine for Security and Analysis and is pushing for more installations to connect to it, reports Military Times. Installations also are starting to link their automated visitor vetting systems to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index, a requirement under defense regulations on security access control. The Army is planning to implement its automated installation entry system at 25 installations by October …

Change in Housing Allowance Applies to Families Living On-, Off-Base

  • January 27, 2015
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Military families living in on-base privatized housing as well as those living off base will be affected by Congress’ move to slow the growth in the basic allowance for housing (BAH) so it covers only 99 percent of rental costs. The change, enacted as part of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill, means that families moving into privatized housing will pay rent that is one percent higher than their BAH. “The basic premise is that whatever is happening to everybody in town, whatever added burden they’re bearing whether it’s one percent [of average rental costs] out of pocket or absent renter’s insurance, then people on base will bear the same burden …

Buckley AFB Well Positioned for Next BRAC, Commander Says

  • January 27, 2015
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The numerous assets of Buckley Air Force Base, located outside of Denver, should shield it in a future BRAC round and, possibly, help it attract new missions, the commander of the installation’s 460th Space Wing said last week during his state of the base speech. Buckley’s focus on global missile detection using satellites, its strategic western location and its availability of land for development make it a candidate for growth, Col. John Wagner said, reported the Aurora Sentinel. “I’m not concerned about a closure, I’m really trying to figure out how we can adequately accommodate expansion, because we can absorb more missions and more people, but we want to do it smartly …

SunZia Transmission Line Gains Federal Approval despite Local Opposition

  • January 26, 2015
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With the full support of the Defense Department, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Saturday announced her agency had granted final approval to a 515-mile, high-voltage transmission line from New Mexico to Arizona that crosses the northern tip of White Sands Missile Range. Last year, DOD and the Bureau of Land Management reached a compromise calling for the developer of the SunZia project to bury five miles of the line to eliminate conflicts with training and weapons testing on White Sands’ northern extension. On Saturday, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, joined Jewell at Sandia National Laboratories to signal the Pentagon’s stance that the project would not interfere with operations at the missile range …

European Consolidation May Not Put BRAC Request over the Top, Past DOD Officials Say

  • January 26, 2015
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The consolidation of DOD’s military facilities in Europe announced earlier this month can be expected to bolster the department’s case for conducting a new BRAC round, but likely won’t be sufficient to convince lawmakers to grant the request, say several former Pentagon officials. “I think [the changes in Europe] will help some in terms of persuading Congress to give BRAC authority,” former DOD Comptroller Robert Hale told Stars and Stripes. “It was a reason in the past to deny BRAC authority. But I have to be candid and say I don’t think it will be enough …

FY’16 Budget May Propose Ending Requirement for Commissary Goods to Be Discounted

  • January 26, 2015
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The Pentagon is considering requesting Congress eliminate the requirement that commissary items be sold “at reduced cost,” as part of a package of fiscal 2016 budget proposals intended to reduce the cost of operating military grocery stores. The legislative change would be far-reaching and could end the commissary benefit for military families, reported the Navy Times. Commissaries now offer military families an average savings of about 30 percent over off-base groceries. Eliminating the requirement would help the Defense Commissary Agency meet a DOD mandate to identify $322 million in annual savings. Such a change, however, would result in DOD operating its commissaries closer to the way its exchanges are run …

Army Communities Pull out All the Stops ahead of Listening Sessions

  • January 26, 2015
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The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance is asking area residents to wear green when Army officials visit next week to hear public comments about Fort Carson before the service deliberates over a second round of restructuring intended to shave its end strength to 420,000. The post could lose a maximum of 16,000 soldiers over the two rounds. “The Army is sending out some pretty significant officials,” Andy Merritt, who oversees military affairs for the alliance, told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “We certainly want to be able to make sure those guys go back with a positive view of what is going on here …

Ohio Lawmakers, Installation Officials Discuss BRAC Scenarios

  • January 26, 2015
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Four Ohio lawmakers met with military officials on Friday to gather input for a plan to defend, and possibly enhance, the state’s installations in a future round of base closures. “What is our assessment of our vulnerabilities and opportunities as we look to the future and the possibility of decreased defense spending and another possible Base Realignment and Closure,” said Rep. Mike Turner. “How does it happen? What is the scope? How do we play the best hand to make sure that Ohio wins …

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