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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

New Rules to Streamline Procedures for Support Organizations to Gain Access to Installations

  • February 18, 2015
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The Army plans to issue new rules shortly to streamline the process for nonprofits providing support to military personnel and their families to gain access to its installations. The executive order the Army plans to release stems from two memos recently issued by the defense secretary directing senior military leaders and installation commanders to implement uniform procedures to ease access for military support organizations and veterans service organizations. The new rules will expedite much of the paperwork that accompanies a written request from military support organizations for access to an installation, said Carla Coulson, director of Army Installation Services …

VA Contemplates Holding Exercise to Trim Unneeded Facilities

  • February 18, 2015
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During a Capitol Hill hearing on its fiscal 2016 budget request, the Veterans Affairs Department last week broached the possibility of conducting a BRAC-like exercise that would allow it to shed hundreds of aging hospitals and clinics it no longer needs. “VA cannot be a sound steward of the taxpayers’ resources with the asset portfolio that we’re currently carrying,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “No business would carry such a portfolio. Veterans deserve much better. It’s time to close the VA’s old substandard and underutilized infrastructure …

Carter Pledges to Fight for Service Members, Build Force of the Future

  • February 18, 2015
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Ashton Carter was formally sworn in Tuesday as defense secretary, providing the former deputy defense secretary almost two years to tackle a number of thorny national security crises. “If anyone is made for this job, if there’s a job description that fits a person, this is the guy that fits the job description,” Vice President Joe Biden said before administering the oath of office to Carter at the White House. Carter, 60, also served as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics under Obama. In a message to the DOD workforce, Carter laid out three priorities for his tenure: Helping the president make the best possible national security decisions for protecting the nation …

Ft. Bragg Airlift Wing Scales Down Activity with End of Reprieve in Sight

  • February 18, 2015
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The reprieve awarded Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill could end in a matter of months, with an Air Force report justifying its proposal last year to relocate the unit’s 12 C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft and inactivate the wing expected shortly. A provision in the annual policy bill sponsored by then-Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) forced the Air Force to temporarily postpone its planned deactivation of the 440th, an Air Force Reserve unit based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Field. The unit is continuing to fulfill its requirements to support airborne and special operations units at Fort Bragg at the same time it is losing dozens of airmen and officials are developing plans to inactivate the 440th …

Task Force Lima Urges Unified Effort to Promote State’s Facilities

  • February 18, 2015
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The Ohio Federal Military Jobs Commission last week visited Task Force Lima, the support organization for the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in northwestern Ohio, as part of an initiative to protect and attract military employment in the state.
After visiting each of the state’s military facilities the commission now will start drafting a report to Gov. John Kasich and lawmakers, reported limaohio.com. The task force recommended the report call for a statewide approach to any effort undertaken to protect Ohio’s military installations from a future base closure round. “I think what we’re looking for is the opportunity to … present a united front of Ohio interests,” said Lima Mayor David Berger …

Maryland Governor Proposes Exempting Military Pensions from Income Tax

  • February 18, 2015
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In an effort to make Maryland more welcoming to veterans, new Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wants to fully exempt military pensions from state income tax.
Currently the state exempts only the first $5,000 of military pensions from taxation. About 53,000 retirees in Maryland receive military pensions, which average $28,000 a year, reported the Baltimore Sun. “People who put their lives on the line every day kind of earned a tax break,” Hogan told reporters last week after addressing a crowd of veterans at an American Legion post. The governor acknowledged, however, that getting the General Assembly to approve his legislative proposal would be challenging …

Army Housing Partners Intent on Minimizing Impact of Benefits Cut

  • February 16, 2015
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Family housing developers at Army installations are trying to absorb the one percent reduction in basic allowance for housing imposed starting this fiscal year so that military families won’t need to make up the difference out-of-pocket. Slowing the growth in the BAH so it covers only 99 percent of rental costs was one of the few cost-saving reforms Congress included in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. To absorb the extra cost, developers are looking for ways to operate more efficiently, said Ivan Bolden, chief of the privatization and partnerships division of the Army’s office of the assistant chief of staff for installation management …

Army Cuts Would Be Widespread under Sequestration, Odierno Says

  • February 16, 2015
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Few installations will be spared from further reductions in personnel if Congress and the White House fail to strike a deal to lift the Budget Control Act spending caps, Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, told reporters last week from the Navy port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “If [sequestration] continues, we’re going to have to reduce the size of the Army further,” he said, reported Stars and Stripes. “It would be across the entire Army, and just about every installation in every state would be affected.” The second round of restructuring the Army is now contemplating will shrink the service by at least 40,000 soldiers to an end strength of 450,000 by fiscal 2020. Officials are considering cuts that will slash the force by 70,000 soldiers, however; that larger reduction is expected if the statutory spending caps remain in place much longer …

Reporting to Duty, Carter Will Face Numerous Priorities

  • February 16, 2015
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Ashton Carter, who is scheduled to be sworn in as the next defense secretary Tuesday morning, will have an array of foreign crises to deal with, calling into question his ability to reach a breakthrough with Congress to loosen the statutory cap on defense spending. “One thing we know for sure about Ash Carter’s tenure as defense secretary is that it will be fleeting,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. “Whatever plans he may have for spurring innovation or reforming processes, the reality is that his schedule will probably be captured by bigger issues such as [the Islamic State] and Ukraine …

North Carolina Governor to Create Military Affairs Department

  • February 16, 2015
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North Carolina will create a department of military and veterans affairs to improve services for active-duty personnel and veterans, as well as to promote the state’s military bases, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said during his State of the State address earlier this month. “At a time when so many servicemen and women are coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq through North Carolina, as I mentioned before, we must have an efficient and well-coordinated process in place to meet the needs of active-duty personnel and veterans,” McCrory said Feb. 4. “These services are right now scattered across many areas of state government with no accountability, causing delay, frustration, and sometimes poor customer service …

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