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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Downsizing Has an Upside for Energy Efficiency

  • February 10, 2015
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Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, learned about several initiatives that are improving sustainability at Fort Campbell, Ky., during a visit last week. The relocation of the post’s Noncommissioned Officer Academy moved the school from an aging facility dating from World War II to a newly renovated building that is more energy efficient and cheaper to maintain, reported the Fort Campbell Courier. “They were in old World War II wood buildings that were failing,” Hammack said. “We were able to move them to something that was a lot better …

Bipartisan Agreement over Raising Spending Caps Amounts to Little More than ‘Happy Talk’

  • February 9, 2015
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, along with President Obama, have found common ground on the need to raise the statutory cap on fiscal 2016 defense spending, but until Republicans and Democrats start to agree on how to pay for extra spending for the Pentagon, the much-needed relief will remain a mirage. Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said she is “surprised by all the ‘good news’ stories about a higher defense budget.” “Sure, both sides want a higher defense topline, but that’s where the agreement stops,” Eaglen told Defense News. “Neither party has any indication or inclination about how this ends up …

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.

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