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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Authorization Bill Places Pentagon on Path toward ‘Hollow’ Military

  • May 12, 2014
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By voting to block most of the Pentagon’s proposals for coping with stringent spending caps imposed through fiscal 2021, the House Armed Services Committee last week could jeopardize the military’s readiness while raising questions as to how DOD will meet the mandated budget limits starting in FY 2016. “When we are told we can’t reduce infrastructure, we can’t retire weapons systems, we can’t change pay, compensation, health care, what’s left … is readiness and modernization,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters over the weekend. “So we are going to have to raid our readiness accounts and our modernization account …

House Language Could Provide Head Start for BRAC Authorization, Conger Says

  • May 12, 2014
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Language approved by the House Armed Services Committee last week calling for a comprehensive assessment of the need for additional base closures and realignments could provide the Pentagon a jump on a new BRAC round, according to John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment. “They have given us the preamble pieces,” Conger told American Forces Press Service. “All of which take time and if we execute them, all will allow a BRAC authorization on a shorter timetable.”

Army to Test for Hazardous Vapors outside Ft. Gillem

  • May 11, 2014
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The Army shortly will begin a vapor intrusion study outside Fort Gillem’s northern and southern borders to determine whether vapors generated by groundwater contaminants have seeped into nearby homes. The tests are being conducted at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with the Army’s planned transfer of the post, located outside of Atlanta, reported the Clayton News Daily. “What we’re trying to do is make sure there are no health risks with the groundwater contamination coming off of the installation,” Owen Nuttall, the Army’s site manager and environmental coordinator for the post, said last week. Officials previously confirmed the groundwater beneath the neighborhoods north and south of Gillem became contaminated from landfills on the post. Samples will be taken during the summer and winter with a small canister that will be placed on residential properties for three days.

Report Needed on DOD Efforts to Sustain Services during Utilities Disruptions, Panel Says

  • May 11, 2014
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The House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the status of the military’s effort to maintain mission readiness during long-term disruptions of electricity, and water and wastewater services from civilian utility systems, according to report language accompanying the panel’s portion of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. While the subcommittee is encouraged that DOD is focusing on the potential of disruptions in utilities, “it is not clear what efforts the department is undertaking to ensure and promote energy security across its installations …

Joint Chiefs Split over Wisdom of Slashing Commissary Subsidy

  • May 11, 2014
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In a break from the support for the administration’s budget request typically expected from senior Pentagon leaders, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. John Amos during a Senate hearing last week criticized the plan to reduce annual federal subsidies for military grocery stores by $1 billion over three years. The plan is projected to cut average savings for shoppers from 30 percent to 10 percent. “That’s a 66 percent drop in savings for my Marines. I don’t like that,” Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee, reported Stars and Stripes. “The commissary issue itself is radioactive …

New Jersey Panel Tasked with Promoting, Fortifying State’s Bases

  • May 11, 2014
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New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno (R) on Friday launched a statewide Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, a move designed to ensure the long-term growth and viability of the state’s military bases and Coast Guard installations. The task force’s primary objectives will be to organize a broad-based coalition — including elected officials at the local, state and federal level, as well as industry leaders, veterans and concerned citizens — to promote the state’s military installations; assist in the “economic fortification” of the state’s bases by leveraging the resources of the New Jersey Partnership for Action to help retain and attract missions to New Jersey …

Hagel ‘Not Pleased’ with Committee Votes to Ignore DOD’s Cost-Saving Proposals

  • May 11, 2014
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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was not pleased by the House Armed Services Committee’s markup last week of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill, press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Friday. The panel overturned a variety of cost-saving proposals from the Pentagon’s latest budget request, including plans to hold a new BRAC round, trim the size of the Army and restructure the National Guard, retire the Air Force’s A-10 fleet and scale back military compensation. “I can tell you that the secretary was certainly not pleased …

Legislature Approves Taxing District for Stratford Engine Plant Reuse

  • May 9, 2014
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The Connecticut General Assembly has passed legislation creating a special taxing district around the former Stratford Army Engine Plant, boosting the effort to transform the site into a mixed-use redevelopment. The measure, passed Wednesday in the Senate and last week in the House, would make it easier for developers to issue bonds to fund infrastructure upgrades, including roads, water and sewer lines, and sidewalks, reports the Connecticut Post. The taxing district would have the power to set and collect taxes to pay for the improvements …

Federal Scoring Rules Need to Be Revisited, Robyn Says

  • May 8, 2014
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Dorothy Robyn, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, makes the case for reforming the way the federal government treats real estate leases and public-private ventures for budgetary purposes, in a commentary in the Washington Post. “The budgetary rules that govern investment in these assets are a blunt instrument that does serious collateral damage. Reforming these rules would allow the government to shrink its real estate footprint, modernize its legacy infrastructure for the 21st century and save billions of dollars …

Committee Rejects Army Plan to Restructure National Guard

  • May 8, 2014
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The House Armed Services Committee Wednesday night voted to block the Army’s plan to shift almost 200 Apache attack helicopters from the National Guard to the service’s active component. The amendment to the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill was proposed by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and passed by a voice vote with support from both sides of the aisle, reported the Hill. Following the vote, the committee passed the underlying defense policy bill early Thursday morning …

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