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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Hagel Plans to Stay for Duration of President’s Term

  • November 10, 2014
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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to remain at his post for the remainder of the Obama presidency, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday. “The secretary is fully committed to his job as defense secretary and leading this department, and he looks forward to doing that through the remainder,” Kirby told reporters. The press secretary’s comments followed a report by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about speculation that Hagel would leave before the end of 2016, reported Politico. “Administration officials speculate that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may leave well before the president’s term ends; a likely replacement would be former undersecretary Michèle Flournoy, who was nearly picked for the job in 2013,” Ignatius wrote last week.
Hagel was sworn in as defense secretary in February 2013.

Omnibus Spending Bill Will Not Come out until December

  • November 10, 2014
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An omnibus spending bill needed to keep the government running through next Oct. 1 likely won’t be released until early December, according to House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing. The fiscal 2015 spending measure likely would be released the week of Dec. 8, reported the Hill. The timing would give lawmakers very little time to debate and vote on the legislation, as the existing continuing resolution runs out Dec. 11. Of course, lawmakers could pass another short-term stopgap measure to give themselves more time to clear an end-of-the-year omnibus …

Obama Required to Explain Order Blocking Chinese Investment in Wind Farms, Judge Rules

  • November 10, 2014
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The Obama administration needs to explain why it moved in September 2012 to prohibit a Chinese company from acquiring four wind farms located near a Navy training facility in north central Oregon, a federal judge ruled last week. The order by a U.S. judge for the District of Columbia also requires the president to justify withholding any information from Chinese-owned Ralls Corp. on grounds of executive privilege. It does not, however, require the federal government to disclose classified information. Judge Amy Jackson’s order followed a ruling in July by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Obama had violated the company’s constitutional due process rights when he blocked the firm’s purchase of the wind farms …

New River Crossing to Jump Start Development outside Offutt AFB

  • November 10, 2014
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A ballot measure approved last week by residents of Bellevue, Neb., gives the city a new tool to promote economic development which could benefit neighboring Offutt Air Force Base. The measure allows Bellevue to spend up to $750,000 annually on activities such as building infrastructure, purchasing land, issuing loans and awarding grants, reported the World-Herald News Service. The initiative, led by the local chamber of commerce, is intended to stimulate development along Highway 34 which runs south of Offutt. A new bridge over the Missouri River connecting Nebraska and Iowa along Highway 34 opened last month. Communities on the Iowa side of the river also are trying to attract development triggered by the new river crossing. Many employees at Offutt live in southwest Iowa communities, so development on either side of the river would benefit the installation.

Congressional Leaders Favor Omnibus

  • November 9, 2014
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Congressional leaders from both parties attending a White House lunch Friday agreed that lawmakers should advance an omnibus spending bill during the lame duck session to wrap up fiscal 2015 appropriations, reported the Hill. “There were areas of significant agreement I think — the agreement that we want to do an omnibus and wanted to do that hopefully by Dec. 11 — completing the funding for this year’s operations of funding,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” Appropriators in both chambers have been pushing to move a package of the 12 individual spending bills, and staffers have been laying the groundwork for an omnibus over the past months …

Expansion of Ft. Monroe Monument Could Link Distinct Parcels

  • November 9, 2014
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The commonwealth of Virginia may be interested in connecting the two parcels that make up the Fort Monroe National Monument, according to recent comments from the office of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Governor McAuliffe believes a contiguous national monument at Fort Monroe would be an enormous historical and economic asset to Hampton Roads and the commonwealth as a whole …

Army Hotel Privatization Initiative Reaches Five-Year Milestone

  • November 9, 2014
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InterContinental Hotels Group last week celebrated five years as the hotel operator for the billion dollar Privatization of Army Lodging (PAL) program. Over the past five years, IHG has brought 77 Army lodging facilities into the IHG Army Hotels portfolio across 39 installations in the United States through three separate phases. This year, IHG has opened 1,300 guest rooms on Army posts. The firm expects to brand an existing 2,000 guest rooms on two posts by the end of 2015 …

First Lady, Madagascar Penguins Team up for Veterans Day

  • November 9, 2014
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First Lady Michelle Obama sends the “Penguins of Madagascar” on a top-secret mission to teach elementary and middle-school students about the many ways America’s military veterans can contribute to the nation. The six-minute video debunks the myths many Americans hold about veterans returning from duty. The video supports the GotYour6 campaign, an initiative focused on empowering veterans and shifting public perceptions of veterans through media. A recent study sponsored by GotYour6 reveals the contradictory perceptions Americans have of veterans. It finds that people’s views can be altered, partially through the support of the entertainment industry. “Not only does portraying veterans in a more neutral, asset-based role on television and film strengthen impressions of veterans and represent the most credible approach, it also holds the potential to engage the public in a new conversation about supporting returning veterans through opportunity rather than charity,” the study concludes.

Team Protecting Georgia Bombing Range Tapped for Inaugural Nancy Natoli Élan Award

  • November 9, 2014
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The team of military, state and nonprofit organizations responsible for protecting a bombing range in southeastern Georgia from encroachment has been awarded the inaugural Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team — Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast — has helped conserve more than 30,000 acres used for training by Marine Air Corps Station Beaufort, S.C., as well as Navy, Air Force and Army units from more than a dozen installations …

Pentagon Spending on Path to Bust Budget Caps, CBO Finds

  • November 6, 2014
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Pentagon spending is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 1.2 percent over the next 15 years, resulting in a 20 percent increase in the defense budget by 2030, according to a report released Thursday by the Congressional Budget Office. The largest components of the DOD budget would grow by different amounts, however. The cost of operation and support, which accounts for about two-thirds of the department’s FY 2015 budget, would rise steadily through 2030, with average growth of 1.1 percent a year in real terms and cumulative growth of 18 percent. The growth in operation and support — which includes compensation for the department’s military and civilian employees, military health care, and various operation and maintenance activities — would occur despite a 6 percent decrease in the size of the military …

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