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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Oregon Delegation Presses Pentagon to Transfer Chemical Depot

  • January 20, 2015
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Oregon’s congressional delegation is urging DOD to go ahead with an existing proposal to transfer thousands of acres at the former Umatilla Chemical Depot to the site’s local redevelopment authority at no cost, after learning the Army is reconsidering the plan. “We are writing to express our strong concerns about reports that the U.S. Army may seek to charge the communities around Umatilla to receive property as part of the ongoing Base Realignment Closure (BRAC) process at the Umatilla Army Depot,” Sens. Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley (D) and Rep. Greg Walden (R) said in a letter sent last week to Defense Secretary Charles Hagel. “If accurate, this would be a terribly disappointing development in a process that has otherwise been a model for transfers under the BRAC process …

Colorado LRA Narrows List of Consultants to Prepare Reuse Plan

  • January 20, 2015
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The LRA for the Pueblo Chemical Depot has selected three nationally known firms as finalists to craft a reuse plan for the Colorado site. The finalists are: Burns & McDonnell; Matrix Design Group; and Weston Solutions. The contract with PuebloPlex will call for the winning firm to assess the infrastructure on 16,000 acres of the 23,000-acre property that was declared surplus in 2013. The firm also would perform an economic analysis of Pueblo County, identify available buildings and provide a market analysis to determine how much the assets are worth. The LRA plans to interview each consultant teams on Jan. 29, with a final selection scheduled for Jan. 30, reported the Pueblo Chieftain. The Army will retain control of about 7,000 acres at the depot until it finishes destroying mustard-agent weapons that have been stored there for about 60 years.

Decision to Expand Training Area over Northern Plains Would Bolster Ellsworth AFB

  • January 19, 2015
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The Air Force on Friday approved a plan to expand military training airspace over parts of four states in the northern Plains, a move that would enhance the military value of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., but that has been opposed by lawmakers in other states over the impact of low-level flights on agriculture and the safety of general aviation. The Air Force’s proposal would more than triple the area of the 28,000-acre Powder River Training Complex, which is located over portions of the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. “After nearly nine years working with the Air Force on this important expansion project, I’m pleased we’ve entered the final step to ensuring our Air Force pilots and personnel have the adequate airspace to perform the critical training they need in conditions that more closely resemble combat missions,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) …

Thornberry Hopeful Lawmakers Will Relax Spending Cap

  • January 19, 2015
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Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was optimistic Congress would relax the stringent cap on defense spending for fiscal 2016, but at the same time offered no clear strategy for achieving that aim. “I think we will find some way to improve the situation and I think we definitely should,” Thornberry told CQ last week. “And I really believe that most Republicans and Democrats in the House also agree with that — that there needs to be a fix to sequestration,” he said. The chairman acknowledged, however, that it is not clear how the two parties could strike a deal to lift the defense spending cap in the 2011 Budget Control Act …

Three Republicans Added to House Milcon Spending Panel

  • January 19, 2015
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The GOP lineup for the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee will feature three new members, including the chairman, Charlie Dent (Pa.). The other two new Republican members are David Joyce (Ohio) and David Jolly (Fla.). Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) announced the GOP rosters for each of the 12 subcommittees last week. Dent’s district stretches from Harrisburg to Allentown, and includes Fort Indiantown Gap, an active National Guard Training Center which serves as the headquarters for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The Republican roster for the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee includes: Charlie Dent (Pa.), chairman; Alan Nunnelee (Miss.); Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.); Tom Rooney (Fla.); Martha Roby (Ala.); David Joyce (Ohio); and David Jolly (Fla.).

LRA Completes Demolition of Aging Facilities at Former New York Air Base

  • January 19, 2015
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More than 30 years after the federal government shuttered Hancock Air Force Base located outside of Syracuse, N.Y., the economic development organization responsible for turning it into Hancock Airpark has finished demolishing aging military infrastructure at the site that it has no plans to reuse. Last month, demolition crews finished the removal of 85 buildings containing more than 200 apartments, reported Syracuse.com. CenterState CEO had considered renovating the housing but never was able to obtain funding to go ahead, said Lori Dietz, CenterState’s vice president of operations. The state funded the $2.4 million demolition …

Louisville Mayor Prescribes Comprehensive Plan to End Veteran Homelessness

  • January 19, 2015
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Louisville, Ky., is in the midst of a far-reaching effort to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year. Fifteen local agencies already have raised $10 million for the initiative, which calls for substance abuse counseling, debt management, funding for housing needs and many other services to help homeless veterans get back on their feet, reported WDRB. Mayor Greg Fischer believes the effort will find permanent housing for 360 homeless veterans. The initiative, Rx: Housing Veterans, is part of the national campaign to end veteran homelessness called Zero 2016. “It’s not just a hand-out but a hand-up to a better quality of life, a better way of life and you know what? It’s just the right thing to do,” said Kentucky Veterans Affairs Commissioner Heather French Henry. “They served us; it’s time for us to serve them.”

Air Force Confirms Intention to Ask Congress for BRAC Authorization

  • January 15, 2015
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Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James on Thursday acknowledged DOD would be asking Congress to hold another BRAC round as part of the fiscal 2016 budget request. James, who was delivering a “State of the Air Force” briefing at the Pentagon along with Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, also told reporters that the new budget would ask to retire fleets of aging aircraft, including the A-10 Warthog, as it did last year. “We are going to be asking the Congress of course to eliminate sequestration, we will renew that call, as well as to allow us to get rid of excess base infrastructure. We’ll be renewing that as well. And we will once again ask for the authority to divest some of our older aircraft in order to free up money to plow back into people, readiness, and modernization …

Army Planners Look Ahead to Looming BRAC Round

  • January 15, 2015
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The Army is banking on a new round of base closures to eliminate excess infrastructure, and plans to craft a strategy for realigning and closing installations so it is ready when the next BRAC is authorized, according to the 2025 vision and strategy document the Army’s office of the assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment released recently. “While DOD has not yet been given the authority to execute another round of BRAC inside the United States, it is expected to be authorized in the near term as it is the best and proven way to address excess and shortfalls in facility requirements in a cost-effective and fair manner …

Senate Armed Services Announces Complete Lineup

  • January 15, 2015
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The Senate Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee will feature three new Republicans and one new Democrat, Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) announced this week. Former full committee ranking member James Inhofe (Okla.), newly elected Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Mike Rounds (S.D.) were added on the Republican side. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) is the only new Democrat on the panel which is responsible for BRAC; installations; environmental programs; training, logistics and maintenance; contracting and acquisition policy; and business and financial management. As reported last week, the main surprise on the panel is that Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who had been the chair in the 113th Congress, decided not to serve as the ranking member on any of the Armed Services’ subcommittees. Instead, she will be the ranking member on the Homeland Security Appropriations panel …

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