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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Air Force Divestment Strategy Postpones Some Aircraft Retirements

  • February 9, 2015
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Force structure changes included in the Air Force’s fiscal 2016 budget request would affect installations in 17 states, with the largest impacts at bases with A-10 units, officials said last week. The FY 2016 budget would continue the strategy proposed last year by the Air Force to phase out a number of weapons systems, but will postpone the retirement of some systems by several years “to retain critical capability in the near term while positioning the service to support a leaner, more modern force in the future,” according to a press release. “We are investing in nuclear, space, ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], the Guard and Reserve, and have discontinued our personnel downsizing programs,” said Secretary Deborah Lee James …

Anniston Officials Ponder Prospects for Depot in Next BRAC

  • February 9, 2015
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Although it’s still not clear when the Pentagon will hold another BRAC round, officials in northeastern Alabama would like to hold onto Anniston Army Depot, especially after losing Fort McClellan in an earlier round. The depot already is contending with a declining workload since the military’s drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan. Five hundred workers lost their jobs in 2012, and last week 190 temporary workers were let go, reported the Anniston Star. Despite the drop in personnel, officials are confident the depot would survive the next round of base closures. Even in the absence of a large ground war, the facility is needed to refurbish weapons and equipment in peacetime, they say. Also, the Army needs to maintain a surge capacity in the event a war breaks out …

Lawmakers Criticize Navy for Delays in Transferring NAS Willow Grove

  • February 9, 2015
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Two congressmen from Philadelphia’s northern suburbs last week called on the Navy to transfer former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove to the community in a timely manner as repeated delays are threatening to jeopardize the community’s prospects for turning the installation into a mixed-used development anchored by a town center. Reps. Patrick Meehan and Brendan Boyle said delays conveying the 862-acre base were hindering the reuse project’s ability to attract real estate and business investment, and hampering local planning for school and transportation needs, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re now 10 years into” the base’s decommissioning, said Meehan. “You’re leaving the local redevelopment authority in a very difficult position of having to make calculations … on all of the other issues that are impacted by that …

Death of Mississippi Congressman Leaves Opening on Milcon Panel

  • February 9, 2015
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Mississippi Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R), who served on the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, died Friday from complications from brain cancer. He was 56. Nunnelee was elected to this third term last November; he also had been assigned to the Agriculture and Energy-Water Appropriations panels. He was one of the new generation of appropriators more interested in eliminating federal spending than securing a share of federal spending for his district …

City, County Support Expansion of Tinker AFB for KC-46A Depot

  • February 8, 2015
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A ceremony last week at Tinker Air Force Base marked a collaboration among the Air Force, Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County to purchase a former rail yard on the west side of the installation for a depot maintenance facility for the military’s next-generation aerial refueling aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus. Oklahoma City contributed $23.5 million, Oklahoma County $12.5 million and the Air Force $8 million to acquire the 158-acre site from BNSF Railway. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, which needed a new site to accommodate KC-46A depot operations, selected the rail yard partially because it would allow the Air Force to link up property that was disconnected from the base …

Ft. Bragg’s Value Rests on Community Ties, Strategic Necessity, Local Officials Tell the Army

  • February 8, 2015
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Fayetteville, N.C., leaders and other officials underscored the strategic importance of Fort Bragg, along with the community’s long-standing support for the post and its personnel during an Army listening session attended by an estimated 450 people last Thursday. The meeting, the 15th of 30 the Army will hold across the country, was intended to gather input for its second round of restructuring which will eliminate up to 70,000 active-duty troops. Many of the 21 speakers touched on the economic ties between Fort Bragg and the surrounding region. Local governments and the state have invested more than a billion dollars to improve roads near the post …

Cost of Veterans Tuition Benefit in Texas Balloons following Court Decision

  • February 8, 2015
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The cost of a program providing veterans and family members free tuition and fees to public universities in Texas could approach $2 billion annually under one estimate after a federal court ruled in January it was unconstitutional for the state to limit the benefit to veterans who joined the military while living in Texas. The short-term impact of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. could be a sharp rise in the program’s annual cost to $750 million, but if veterans start moving to Texas to take advantage of the decision, it could cost universities $2 billion annually in tuition, reported the Houston Chronicle. The decision makes the program financially unsustainable, state Sen. Jane Nelson said last week. “We’ve created a monster,” said state Sen. Charles Schwertner …

Number of Active-Duty Soldiers Falls below Half Million

  • February 8, 2015
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The end strength of the active-duty Army fell below 500,000 for the first time in a decade, and now stands at 498,642 soldiers. Over the past year, the regular Army shrunk by 24,331 soldiers, reported Army Times. By the end of September, forces are due to drop to 490,000. The budget request released last week by the Obama administration calls for the Army’s end strength to decline to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016. Officials have said the force will need to shrink to a size of 450,000 and, possibly, to 420,000 if the existing statutory caps on defense spending remain in place through fiscal 2021. The figures, compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center, show that as the Army entered 2015 its reserve components had a combined strength of 547,007 soldiers — 349,881 in the National Guard and 197,126 in the Army Reserve.

New York Congresswoman Named Readiness Panel Vice Chair

  • February 8, 2015
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Rep. Elise Stefanik, a freshman Republican from Upstate New York, was named vice chair of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee last week, as part of an effort by Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to get committee members more deeply involved in national security issues during the 114th Congress. Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has one major installation in her district, Fort Drum. “From this position, I will be able to work to undo the damaging effects that the sequester is having on our military readiness as well as bring a strong voice to protect and strengthen the interests of Fort Drum. I look forward to working closely with Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman on these important issues …

House Budget Chairman Shows No Interest in Lifting Defense Cap

  • February 5, 2015
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At a hearing Wednesday on the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request, House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) offered no indication he would like to exceed the statutory spending caps for either defense or domestic programs. Price blasted the White House proposal for jeopardizing the remaining $541 billion in discretionary spending cuts scheduled to be imposed by the Budget Control Act through FY 2021, reported CQ. “In order to increase spending across the board, the president’s budget would unravel bipartisan agreements that have secured a modicum of spending restraint in recent years,” he said. “At the end of the day, a proposal that never balances and ignores key drivers of the nation’s debt is not a serious plan …

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