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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Army Cuts Cover Small Facilities, Overseas Locations

  • July 15, 2015
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The Army has provided additional information about where the 40,000 military personnel it is eliminating as its shrinks its active-duty end strength to 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2018 will come from. About 2,300 of the positions will come from personnel based overseas, including 699 coming from Europe, 533 from South Korea and 71 from Japan, reported Stars and Stripes. Cuts at the 30 U.S. installations that were the focus of last week’s announcement about the service’s latest force reduction accounted for less than 20,000 personnel. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said an additional 746 positions will be eliminated from over 300 small installations across the United States, some representing just a single position at a recruiting office …

Lawmakers Bicker over Housing Allowance Reforms during House-Senate Conference

  • July 15, 2015
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Lawmakers attempting to work out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill on Tuesday largely focused on differences in how the House and Senate versions addressed DOD reforms intended to reduce the cost of the basic allowance for housing (BAH). House members criticized the Senate measure for embracing the changes proposed by the department, reported CQ Roll Call. DOD proposed slowing the rate of increase in the BAH over the next several years until rates cover only 95 percent of service members’ out-of-pocket costs. Last year, leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached a compromise allowing the BAH to cover only 99 percent of rental and utility costs …

Fort Bragg Airlift Unit Earns Yearlong Extension, Air Force Says

  • July 15, 2015
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Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing earned a reprieve until at least fall 2016 as a direct result of efforts by North Carolina’s congressional delegation to save the Air Force Reserve unit based at Pope Field. The 440th, which flies C-130 aircraft to support airborne units based at Fort Bragg, had been slated to be inactivated in September in a belt-tightening move. A spokesman for Air Force Reserve Command said multiple provisions in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill would mean the Air Force would need more time before it could eliminate the airlift wing, reported the Fayetteville Observer. Under an amendment sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in the Senate version, the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Operations Command would need to certify that the loss of the 440th would not harm training before the unit could be deactivated …

Local Officials Prepare for Cutbacks at Ft. Hood

  • July 15, 2015
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After learning last week that Fort Hood would lose 9 percent of its military population as the Army continues to downsize, officials in central Texas began to address the likely impacts. On Monday, a spokesperson for Killeen said the city had taken into account the pending personnel cutbacks and had budgeted accordingly. “There will absolutely be an impact. Everybody is being conservative,” spokesperson Hillary Shine told KXXV. The school district could experience a drop in enrollment and associated funding from the federal government, but the school system had not yet come up with an estimate of the likely changes …

Education Overhaul Calls for Tracking Military Kids’ Performance

  • July 15, 2015
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Language in the House and Senate versions of legislation to overhaul the No Child Left Behind law would require states for the first time to track the academic progress of military children.
Tracking the performance of military children in school would help policymakers assess whether the nation’s education laws are working, said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who sponsored an amendment in committee in April to add a military child identifier to the Senate bill. The House passed its version of the bill replacing the current K-12 education law last week; the Senate is debating its measure this week. Both versions contain language requiring states to collect data on military children …

How Low Can the Army Go?

  • July 14, 2015
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Last week’s news that the Army would shrink its active-duty end strength by 40,000 soldiers to a level of 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2018 elicited sharp criticism from lawmakers about the dangers posed by the reduction and warnings from top Pentagon officials about the risk associated with further cuts. Outside experts, including retired military officers, have conflicting views as to whether the Army can be trimmed from its current size without jeopardizing its ability to fulfill its missions, according to an analysis by CQ. A force of 450,000 is the floor for maintaining “some ability to actually do any kind of stabilization operation” abroad for multiple years with multiple rotations of troops, Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told CQ. It’s a “really naive viewpoint” to believe the armed forces will not engage in another extended ground campaign …

Community Support for Military Families, Veterans Will Need to Evolve, Carter Says

  • July 14, 2015
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Communities will need to find new ways to support military families and veterans as the military adapts new strategies and personnel policies, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the National Association of Counties’ annual conference in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday. Carter mentioned two changes the military is considering as it designs new personnel policies to build and retain the Force of the Future. “Transition out of the military will look different than it did 70 years ago, or, for that matter, 10 years ago,” he said, reported DOD News. “It’ll mean that in the future, some might only serve for a time, while others may spend 25 years moving back and forth between national service and other opportunities …

Following Cuts at Ft. Benning, Chamber Launches Campaign to Overturn Budget Caps

  • July 14, 2015
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The Greater Columbus (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce is launching an initiative to eliminate the statutory caps on defense spending which prompted the Army last week to outline how it would eliminate 40,000 troops, including 3,400 at Fort Benning, by the end of fiscal 2018, the chamber said Monday. The chamber will pursue an aggressive campaign through a variety of elements, including public service ads on TV, radio and billboards; a website that will have updates, articles and videos; and an online petition in support of Fort Benning. The effort is intended to protect the post and the surrounding region from future cutbacks spurred by the Budget Control Act limits, as well as highlight its unique assets …

Fate of Pilot Test of Commissary Privatization Still up for Grabs

  • July 14, 2015
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A Senate effort to torpedo a provision in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization directing DOD to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program appears to have been unsuccessful, leaving the issue to be settled in conference. During its debate of the annual policy bill last month, the Senate passed an amendment intended to strip out the language calling for the pilot. The amendment would have required the department to assess the costs and benefits of privatizing military grocery stores prior to launching the test. But because of the procedure employed to pass the amendment, the original language remains in the measure …

Defense Bill Conference Talks on Fast Track

  • July 14, 2015
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Members of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are hoping to finish talks by next week. Many issues remain unresolved, but committee leaders are sufficiently optimistic that conferees will continue to makes steady progress that a vote by the House has been tentatively scheduled for July 24, reported CQ Roll Call. Committee members had been scheduled to meet at the subcommittee level last week to reconcile the two versions of the legislation, but those talks were cancelled due to floor votes. Those negotiations will continue this week …

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