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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Change in Housing Allowance Applies to Families Living On-, Off-Base

  • January 27, 2015
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Military families living in on-base privatized housing as well as those living off base will be affected by Congress’ move to slow the growth in the basic allowance for housing (BAH) so it covers only 99 percent of rental costs. The change, enacted as part of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill, means that families moving into privatized housing will pay rent that is one percent higher than their BAH. “The basic premise is that whatever is happening to everybody in town, whatever added burden they’re bearing whether it’s one percent [of average rental costs] out of pocket or absent renter’s insurance, then people on base will bear the same burden …

Buckley AFB Well Positioned for Next BRAC, Commander Says

  • January 27, 2015
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The numerous assets of Buckley Air Force Base, located outside of Denver, should shield it in a future BRAC round and, possibly, help it attract new missions, the commander of the installation’s 460th Space Wing said last week during his state of the base speech. Buckley’s focus on global missile detection using satellites, its strategic western location and its availability of land for development make it a candidate for growth, Col. John Wagner said, reported the Aurora Sentinel. “I’m not concerned about a closure, I’m really trying to figure out how we can adequately accommodate expansion, because we can absorb more missions and more people, but we want to do it smartly …

SunZia Transmission Line Gains Federal Approval despite Local Opposition

  • January 26, 2015
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With the full support of the Defense Department, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Saturday announced her agency had granted final approval to a 515-mile, high-voltage transmission line from New Mexico to Arizona that crosses the northern tip of White Sands Missile Range. Last year, DOD and the Bureau of Land Management reached a compromise calling for the developer of the SunZia project to bury five miles of the line to eliminate conflicts with training and weapons testing on White Sands’ northern extension. On Saturday, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, joined Jewell at Sandia National Laboratories to signal the Pentagon’s stance that the project would not interfere with operations at the missile range …

European Consolidation May Not Put BRAC Request over the Top, Past DOD Officials Say

  • January 26, 2015
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The consolidation of DOD’s military facilities in Europe announced earlier this month can be expected to bolster the department’s case for conducting a new BRAC round, but likely won’t be sufficient to convince lawmakers to grant the request, say several former Pentagon officials. “I think [the changes in Europe] will help some in terms of persuading Congress to give BRAC authority,” former DOD Comptroller Robert Hale told Stars and Stripes. “It was a reason in the past to deny BRAC authority. But I have to be candid and say I don’t think it will be enough …

FY’16 Budget May Propose Ending Requirement for Commissary Goods to Be Discounted

  • January 26, 2015
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The Pentagon is considering requesting Congress eliminate the requirement that commissary items be sold “at reduced cost,” as part of a package of fiscal 2016 budget proposals intended to reduce the cost of operating military grocery stores. The legislative change would be far-reaching and could end the commissary benefit for military families, reported the Navy Times. Commissaries now offer military families an average savings of about 30 percent over off-base groceries. Eliminating the requirement would help the Defense Commissary Agency meet a DOD mandate to identify $322 million in annual savings. Such a change, however, would result in DOD operating its commissaries closer to the way its exchanges are run …

Army Communities Pull out All the Stops ahead of Listening Sessions

  • January 26, 2015
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The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance is asking area residents to wear green when Army officials visit next week to hear public comments about Fort Carson before the service deliberates over a second round of restructuring intended to shave its end strength to 420,000. The post could lose a maximum of 16,000 soldiers over the two rounds. “The Army is sending out some pretty significant officials,” Andy Merritt, who oversees military affairs for the alliance, told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “We certainly want to be able to make sure those guys go back with a positive view of what is going on here …

Ohio Lawmakers, Installation Officials Discuss BRAC Scenarios

  • January 26, 2015
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Four Ohio lawmakers met with military officials on Friday to gather input for a plan to defend, and possibly enhance, the state’s installations in a future round of base closures. “What is our assessment of our vulnerabilities and opportunities as we look to the future and the possibility of decreased defense spending and another possible Base Realignment and Closure,” said Rep. Mike Turner. “How does it happen? What is the scope? How do we play the best hand to make sure that Ohio wins …

Air Force Refines Encroachment Program

  • January 25, 2015
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Recent moves by the Air Force are helping to bolster its encroachment management program, including issuing new guidance for a comprehensive initiative to limit incompatible development outsides its installations and establishing the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) as the program office for the service-wide effort. In October, officials assigned the center’s planning and integration directorate the task of providing reach-back support to installations, major commands and direct reporting units on all aspects of encroachment, AFCEC reported. “The overall purpose of the AFEM [Air Force encroachment management] program is to reach across the entire installation community to solve problems and preserve the Air Force mission capability,” said Charles Cyr, chief of the directorate’s regional development planning branch …

South Sound Stands up for JB Lewis-McChord

  • January 25, 2015
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More than 500 residents from many of the 15 communities that surround Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., made the case for shielding the installation from further cuts during a listening session the Army held last week to gather public input before it decides how to shrink the service’s end strength by 70,000 soldiers by fiscal 2020. The installation located at the south end of Puget Sound already suffered the loss of about 5,000 soldiers during a previous round of Army downsizing. Now officials are considering eliminating up to 11,000 additional personnel during a second round of restructuring intended to cut the service’s end strength to 420,000. More than 60 people offered comments during the three-hour session. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) highlighted the support the state provides military personnel and their families as well as veterans …

Ohio Air Station Sees Community Partnerships as Key to Sustainment

  • January 25, 2015
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In an attempt to leverage limited federal funding, officials at Youngstown Air Reserve Station in northeast Ohio are considering forming partnerships with a variety of local entities, including Kent State University at Trumbull, Mercy Health System and neighboring municipalities. “It’s about taxpayer dollars in this day of dwindling budgets, we have to make sure we’re the most economically capable, viable and integrated small base out there,” said Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander …

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