Department of France


WEEKLY NATIONAL SECURITY REPORT

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Nation Security Report
Week Ending 30 November 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
President Trump will meet President Xi Jinping of China at the G-20 summit meeting this weekend in Buenos Aires.
 
WASHINGTON, (N.Y. Times)— President Trump is projecting a steely facade as he prepares for
a critical meeting on trade this weekend with President Xi Jinping of China. But behind his tough
talk and threats of higher tariffs is a creeping anxiety about the costs of a prolonged trade war on
the financial markets and the broader economy.
 
US Senate rebukes Russia attack on Ukraine ships, urges Trump to follow suit
(Courtesy of Defense News)  The U.S. Senate has passed a measure which “strongly condemns”
Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian navy in the Kerch Strait — and called on the president to do
likewise.
The upper chamber approved the resolution by unanimous consent late Thursday, hours after
Trump announced on Twitter he was canceling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin
that had been scheduled for Saturday in Buenos Aires. Trump cited Russia’s failure to return
Ukrainian ships and sailors it seized on Sunday.
 
Trump appeared to have made the decision on the way to the G20 summit in Argentina, tweeting:
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have
decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in
Argentina with President Vladimir Putin.
“I look forward to a meaningful summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
 
 
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy Needs More Indian Ocean
(Courtesy of Council on Foreign Relations)
The Donald J. Trump administration has adopted the term Indo-Pacific to describe its larger
strategic area of interest across the pan-Asian region. Fully realizing this strategy’s potential will
require reconciling differences over the boundaries of the Indo-Pacific and what can and should
be done across this enormous geography.
The term’s descriptive value matters strategically. As Australian national-security strategist Rory
Medcalf wrote in 2013, the term Indo-Pacific recognizes deepened connections between the Indian
Ocean region and the Western Pacific. China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean
(e.g., a military base in Djibouti and intensified ties with countries such as Sri Lanka and the
Maldives) illustrates a new reality in this maritime space.
As important, the Indo-Pacific framework inherently places India at the heart, rather than as an
appendage to a concept of Asia focused on East Asia. Indeed, as Carnegie India’s C. Raja Mohan
has written, the concept of Indian centrality revives a colonial-era framework that situated India in
the middle of a larger maritime strategic space. This larger maritime area, described as the
“confluence of the two seas” by Japanese Prime Minister Abe during a 2007 speech to the Indian
parliament, has important implications.
It’s hard not to see India’s inherent relevance in this broader region—a country on the brink of
becoming the world’s most populous; a stable democracy with the world’s sixth-largest economy,
third-largest military by personnel strength, and fifth-largest defense budget; and a commitment to
rule of law and the liberal international order.
The Trump administration has elevated the Indo-Pacific to a top-level regional priority, as
suggested by its placement in the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) [PDF]. The strategy
describes the Indo-Pacific as a region in which “a geopolitical competition between free and
repressive visions of world order is taking place” and where “China is using economic
inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other
states to heed its political and security agenda.”
 
 
While the NSS calls for working in concert with U.S. allies and partners, including boosting
“quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India,” otherwise known as the Quad, the
newly formulated strategy also welcomes India’s rise as a “leading global power” and emphasizes
expanded defense ties with New Delhi. Notably, the framework appears focused on pulling India
more intensively into regional activities to its east but does not necessarily take into account India’s
own interests in the Indian Ocean.
The NSS defines the Indo-Pacific region as stretching from “the west coast of India to the western
shores of the United States”. This section has no reference to Indian Ocean maritime space,
including the area off the east coast of Africa, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. In this light,
the Indo-Pacific described by the Trump administration has a lot more Pacific than it does Indo.
Meanwhile, India’s sense of the region includes the larger maritime space to its west. The members
of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), a minilateral organization India co-created with
South Africa to better institutionalize consultation across this poorly linked area, includes countries
spanning this geography.  
In Search of an Agenda
If the NSS hinted at the challenges across this amorphous region, the Trump administration’s
statements to date have not clarified its plan. Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy speech, delivered
during his November 2017 visit to Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
forum’s CEO summit, provided the highest-level vision of what the strategy intends to cover. He
called for fair and reciprocal trade and infrastructure investment from the World Bank and Asian
Development Bank, and he affirmed the importance of rule of law, individual rights, and freedom
of navigation. Still, the speech relayed no specific indication of how the administration would
support these priorities in any manner that differs from the past, and it did not specify a U.S.
approach to a more comprehensive Indo-Pacific geography.
 
 
Last October’s foreign policy speech delivered by then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ahead of
a visit to India—one of the few policy speeches during his brief tenure—placed heavy emphasis
on working closely with India on defense and security across the Indo-Pacific, as well as providing
alternatives to the “predatory economics” of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, no
specific initiatives have since emerged.  
This issue of “seams,” or arbitrary bureaucratic separations, bedevils Washington’s ability to cover
the Indo-Pacific adequately. This is certainly true within the State Department, where the bureaus
of East Asia and the Pacific, South and Central Asia, Near Eastern Affairs, and African Affairs
would all be required to cover countries in the larger region. Or take the divisions within the
Defense Department’s combatant commands. U.S. Pacific Command covers the Asia Pacific,
Southeast Asia, and the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri
Lanka. But it does not cover Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are part of U.S. Central Command,
nor does it encompass the islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, which are
contained within the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.
For its part, India seeks further coordination with the United States not only on the eastern portion
of the region—Southeast and Northeast Asia—but also to its west, spanning Pakistan, Afghanistan,
the Gulf, the islands of the Indian Ocean, and the eastern coast of Africa. Finding a way to better
integrate India into the larger pan-Asian region to the east, as well as better cooperating on issues
that are of significant concern to India, such as counterterrorism and maritime security to the west,
could go a long way toward creating an Indo-Pacific strategy that aligns with both U.S. and Indian
interests.
 
How to Realize a Fully Indo-Pacific Strategy
First, a compelling Indo-Pacific strategy needs to incorporate an economic through-line that offers
an alternative to China’s expansive regional economic framework. The U.S. withdrawal from the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) eliminated Washington’s proactive model for trade. Both China
and India advocate an alternative trade grouping, the Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP)—an agreement of more limited ambition but whose presence, without the
prospect of U.S. leadership, underscores how the United States has withered its ability to shape
regional trade rules of the road. The Trump administration should reconsider joining the TPP,
especially given the leadership gains it would engender from reengaging with partner countries. A
TPP-rooted economic strategy for the broader region could ultimately incentivize India to join the
trade pact.
Second, and closely related, Washington should champion Indian membership in APEC as a show
of good faith on Indian priorities. India, with a more than $2 trillion economy, has been denied
entry for more than twenty years, and its exclusion makes little strategic sense. Keeping India on
the outside of a multilateral organization vital to economic activity across Asia undermines the
strategic goal of expanding the Asia-Pacific framework to a larger Indo-Pacific region. An APEC
with India included would expand the organization’s geography to more accurately reflect the
centers of economic activity at scale, and it would be a concrete step toward realizing an Indo-
Pacific region.
Third, the Trump administration should develop clear infrastructure investment initiatives with
India, Japan, Australia, and others to provide transparent financing alternatives to China’s BRI, as
Tillerson proposed. This is an excellent idea, but it lacks an implementation strategy. U.S. Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially rejected capital base expansion for the World Bank but
thankfully changed his position, which should permit the United States to partner with other
countries on infrastructure finance within a multilateral framework.
Existing U.S.-India-Japan consultations include a working group on infrastructure, which could
identify opportunities. Tokyo and New Delhi have been working closely on this front through the
Asia-Africa Growth Corridor partnership, whose vision for cross-regional connectivity [PDF] is
designed to link the larger Indian Ocean region via infrastructure development, skills training,
people-to-people exchange, and cooperative projects in areas including agriculture, health, and
disaster management.
Fourth, Washington should take seriously the priorities and suggestions emerging from the IORA
platform. The United States became an IORA dialogue partner in 2012, and it could more actively
rely on the body as a forum for ideas and new Indo-Pacific-wide initiatives. Australia, India, and
Indonesia are active members; the group also includes Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, and
Tanzania; and U.S. allies France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom are dialogue partners.
The IORA has a wide range of focus areas, from maritime security and disaster management to
the blue economy, which comprises economic activity centered on the oceans, and women’s
empowerment, so it should not be difficult to develop test projects amenable to all. 
Fifth, diplomatic coordination should be increased not only among the Quad countries but also
throughout the larger region. It could encompass regional counternarcotics and counterterrorism
efforts or relate to specific political or humanitarian crises, such as those in the Maldives and along
the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Such a framework will require, within the U.S. system, reaching
across bureaucratic boundaries. (The announcement that an Indian defense attaché will be posted
at the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain indicates a move in this direction.)
Successive U.S. administrations have strengthened ties with India and developed strategic
frameworks for a broad U.S.-India partnership. The Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific emphasis
could be its most consequential strategic initiative, building on the work done by the Obama
administration’s U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.
But it will need—very soon—to identify and implement some specific projects for the grand
strategy to become reality.
Quality of Life
 
TRICARE Update
 
This week the Defense Health Agency  (DHA) hosted a MSO/VSO Roundtable to discuss an array
of topics that included Healthcare management reform, FEDVIP open season updates, TRICARE
open season updates, TRICARE Select Copay Analyses, FY18 Defense Health Reprogramming,
and TRICARE mental health care.
The Defense Health Agency’s healthcare management reform initiative seeks to outline specific
options for the Military Health System to more effectively develop and maintain a ready medical
force and medically ready force, while maintaining patient experience, quality of, and access to
care that is consistent with national standards and Identifying near-term and long-term efficiencies
that can generate savings.
The approach to reform is divided into three broad areas:
•      Efficiencies—minimize duplication and variation through enterprise-wide management
•      Infrastructure—orient system towards primary readiness focus
•      Manpower—assure force mix and size supports mission requirements
The targeted savings is $2.5 billion by FY 2023.
 
TRICARE Open Season
 
•      Annual Open Season: 12 November–10 December, 2018
•      2018 has a grace period—through 31 December, 2018
•      Beneficiaries of TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select will have an effective date of
January 1, 2019.
•      Former AD members receive TRICARE termination notices at end of active duty period
•      New retirees receive a mailed letter if they or a family member have not yet enrolled in
TRICARE retiree coverage
•      Newly eligible ADFMs are automatically enrolled
 
DHA provided an analysis of TRICARE copays. They are continuing to explore avenues to address
beneficiary out of pocket concerns for specialty care.  DHA is in the process of collecting baseline
utilization and cost data to validate changes in utilization and costs since January 1, 2018 compared
to 2017. As information is collected, DHA will review potential next steps on ways to address
issues identified in data and through input from stakeholders.
Link to open enrollment for TRICARE Open Season for enrollment in TRICARE Prime or Select:
Link to Federal Benefits Open Season for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program
 
Staff Activities
 
•      This week staff held two meetings with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition to discuss a
potential for affiliation as the Division begins to develop a new podcast program.
•      Wednesday, staff was invited by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to attend the U.S.
– Russia Joint Commission plenum which took place at the National Archives in Washington,
D.C.
•      Friday, staff met with Ambassador Zumwalt for a briefing in preparation for the Far East tour
with the National Commander.
•      Staff work this week to make final preparation for the Far East tour which will kick off this
weekend as the party travels to Hawaii to visit DPAA Headquarters and Pacific Command.  
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made 6 new funeral announcements. Click
on the links to read more:
11/30/18: Soldier Accounted-For From The Korean War (Lindquist, C.)
11/29/18: Tuskegee Airman Accounted For From World War II (Dickson, L.) 
11/28/18: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Foley, W.) 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 November 2018

 

Items of Interest
 
Balangiga Bells Update
 
Conflicting resolutions on the “Bells of Balangiga” were brought before the National Security Commission at the 2018 American Legion National Convention. The Balangiga bells are three church bells taken by the United States Army from the town church of Balangiga in the Philippines as war trophies after reprisals following the Balangiga massacre in 1901 during the Philippine-American War. One church bell is in the possession of the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud, their base in South Korea, while two others are on a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
 
Since the 1990s, there have been several attempts to return the bells to the Philippines by both Filipino and US lawmakers, all of which The Legion resisted. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte called for their return in his 2017 State of the Nation Address, saying the bells belong to the Philippines and are part of the Filipinos' national heritage. Filipinos revere the Balangiga bells as symbols of their long struggle for independence. In early August 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis notified Congress that the department plans to return the Bells to the Philippines this year.
 
After vigorous debate, the National Security Commission agreed that there was now a compelling national security interest in returning the bells and approved Resolution No. 2: Return of Church Bells from F. E. Warren AFB to the Philippines, which was also approved by the convention delegates.
 
A recent article from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative about U.S.-Philippines-China relations contains reference to the issue. Here’s the relevant excerpt:
 
While Duterte has yet to pay a visit to any Western capital two years into his term, his visits to major non-NATO U.S. allies, sending high level delegations to the United States and Australia, participation in major naval exercises, and sustained comprehensive engagement belie the claims that he is dumping the West for China. To date, Duterte has already visited six major non-NATO allies—Jordan, Israel, South Korea, Bahrain, Thailand, and Japan, with three of the six also being fellow U.S. treaty allies.
 
In a remarkable twist in his visit to Israel, the first ever by a Philippine president, he even apologized for insulting former U.S. president Barack Obama following U.S. comments on the Duterte administration’s human rights record ahead of a proposed sideline meeting. The apology came a few weeks after reports came out saying that the Balangiga bells—church bells taken by U.S. soldiers as trophies during a bloody episode of the Philippine-American War more than a century ago—were finally going to be returned to Samar province. Several efforts over past decades have been made to facilitate their repatriation, but their repeated failure has been a source of frustration in the bilateral relationship. Duterte demanded the return of the bells in his second State of the Nation address in 2017, and required their return before he would agree to talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Progress on this thorny issue bodes well for the trajectory of relationship.”
 
The Geopolitical Fallout From the U.S. Midterm Elections
 
Highlights
 
  • The Democrats' newfound control over the U.S. House of Representatives probably won't translate into greater control of the president's foreign trade powers. With vocal critics of Trump's trade policies out of the Senate, the new House will instead try to influence congressional approval for future trade negotiations.
  • The president has significant clout over foreign policy, but Congress can still try to build momentum for heavier sanctions against Russia or measures to rein in Saudi Arabia.
  • Gridlock will dominate some parts of the policymaking process under a divided Congress. The House probably won't be able to go after the tax reform that has already passed, but White House priorities such as immigration reform and additional tax cuts are now likely off the table.
 
The Nov. 6 U.S. midterm elections delivered the mixed result for Congress that had been widely anticipated. The Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives, while the Republican Party's advantage in the Senate widened slightly. The divided control of Congress means that White House policy priorities in some areas will face more resistance from lawmakers, with the inevitable partisan gridlock providing fodder for both parties ahead of the 2020 presidential race. Here's what to expect over the months ahead in terms of the election's most relevant geopolitical implications.
 
Little Change on Trade
A divided Congress will not increase the potential for a stronger check on the trade powers being exercised by President Donald Trump. For the most part, Democratic candidates who campaigned on a message of opposing Trump's trade agenda did not fare well in the election.
 
A number of proposals have been floating in Congress over the past several months that focus principally on curbing presidential authority granted under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, under which Trump has exercised broadly to impose tariffs and quotas in the name of national security. However, those proposals were largely a reaction to Trump's threat to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement without a replacement agreement and to impose auto tariffs on its North American partners. The 11th-hour deal reached on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to supplant NAFTA largely neutralized that threat, robbing momentum from the movement to institute a congressional check. Democrats will gain a stronger presence on the House Ways and Means Committee, but two of the Senate's most vocal critics of the president's trade policy, Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, will not return to their seats.
 
The White House is still holding onto the threat of auto tariffs as a point of leverage in its trade negotiations with the European Union and Japan, but any negative domestic reaction from auto tariffs slapped on partners outside North America will be more muted. The best hope for the European Union and Japan on trade at this point is that a Commerce Department report on auto tariffs, expected to come out by mid-February, will clarify the extent of expected White House action on the auto tariff threat so they can adjust their own negotiating strategies accordingly.
 
House approval will be required to pass implementing legislation for any free trade agreements the White House may negotiate. A Democratic-controlled House will be more forceful in demanding that the White House conduct trade negotiations in line with priorities outlined through the Trade Promotion Authority process, including pushing for high labor and environmental standards. Democrats are not likely to derail approval of the USMCA, but their concerns may weigh on the trade deals that the White House is attempting with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom that would require bipartisan support.
 
The Effects on Foreign Policy
Though Congress generally has limited clout over U.S. foreign policy, there are a few areas where congressional intervention could have an impact.
 
On China: Trump's broad assault on China has largely garnered bipartisan support, as evidenced by Congress' approach to subjecting Chinese trade and investment in the United States, particularly in sensitive sectors like technology, under more oversight and restrictions. Now that some political pressure on Trump has eased with the conclusion of the midterms, and trade negotiations face more obstacles ahead, China will be bracing itself for more tariffs.
 
On Taiwan: Historically, Congress has been more assertive than the White House in pushing pro-Taiwan policy, another area that enjoys bipartisan consensus. As part of its broader competition with China, the White House has shown greater willingness to back Taiwan more prominently, though key Cabinet figures like U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis have advocated avoiding provocations that could result in a Chinese military response. The key congressional hawks on Taiwan policy to watch include Menendez and Senate colleagues Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio and Ed Markey.
 
On North Korea: Similar to Iran policy, the North Korean portfolio remains largely in the executive branch's hands at this stage. As the White House tries to break out of a negotiation impasse with Pyongyang, any attempt to ease sanctions to further the denuclearization process could be met with tight scrutiny from national security hawks in Congress looking for more visible evidence of North Korea's commitment to denuclearization first. One area to watch is whether Congress may eventually try to impose conditions on any easing of sanctions with legislation, thereby hampering the president's personal guarantees to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
 
On Russia: With the Democrats in control of the House, the White House will fall under more scrutiny in the probe to determine the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 national elections — an ongoing thorn in the Trump administration's relationship with the Kremlin. Nonetheless, a U.S. imperative to keep a strong check on Russian aggression abroad and hold Moscow accountable for its cyberwarfare campaigns has drawn bipartisan support. The conclusion of the midterms will now bring legislation to expand sanctions like the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act and the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act back into focus. It will be important to watch whether Congress will continue to incrementally build sanctions (targeting specific individuals and entities) or go for the more aggressive option of sanctioning Russian sovereign debt and bank transactions.
 
On Saudi Arabia: There are few defenders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman remaining in Congress in the wake of the disappearance and apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now that the midterms are complete, Congress will be free to again focus on Saudi Arabia policy and solidify the bipartisan forces needed to pass legislation. A review of the extent of U.S. cooperation with Saudi Arabia in Yemen's civil war will be first up, and the likely result in Congress will at least be some restriction — a vote in March to limit aid for the Saudi war effort narrowly failed despite bipartisan support. Beyond Yemen, moves to sanction Saudi officials, delay or cancel arms deals, or block cooperation on development of a Saudi civilian nuclear program — will require Congress to navigate between the imperatives of maintaining the Saudi alliance and the need to mitigate the excesses of the crown prince's rule. Key Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Chris Murphy, who both won their re-election bids, have backed legislation that seeks to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Newly elected U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, criticized U.S. arms sales to the Saudis throughout her campaign. Another incoming freshman representative, Tom Malinowski, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, has been a strong voice against the U.S. arming Saudi Arabia in its Yemen campaign.
 
On Iran: The current U.S. policies toward Iran likely will not face much in the way of congressional action. Congress is not going to be a significant check to the aggressive sanctions policy underway, as almost every significant aspect of U.S. policy on Iran falls under the purview of the executive branch. The Trump administration has floated the possibility of seeking a treaty with Iran, which would require bipartisan support, but at this point, the prospect of Iran coming to the negotiating table is extremely low.
 
Forcing an Immigration Policy Shift
Democratic control of the House means the Trump administration will find its push for immigration reform virtually dead. House lawmakers will resist the administration's demands for border wall funding along with its proposals to do away with the diversity visa lottery and to shift the focus of the legal immigration system toward awarding permanent residency to those with the highest professional merits.
 
Congress will also now be less likely to agree on federal budget cuts to foreign aid to Central America. Threats to cut aid have been a principal means by which the White House has tried to pressure Central American governments to stop their citizens from crossing the U.S.-Mexican border illegally. Faced with the loss of leverage against those governments, the administration's focus will shift to Mexico. It will press the Mexican government to maintain its policy of arresting and removing migrants detained in southern Mexico.
 
What Will Change for Defense?
Democrats are set to fill some important positions in Congress such as leadership of the House Armed Services and House Appropriations committees. That will put the party's lawmakers in a strong position to challenge the White House over issues they have, on the whole, opposed previously. These include further increases in defense spending, plans to move ahead with the creation of a Space Force military branch, more intervention by the U.S. military abroad and an expansion of the nuclear force.
 
Furthermore, with Congress divided between the two parties, it becomes more likely that political gridlock will interfere with setting defense budgets and a likely return to overreliance on disruptive continuing resolutions, particularly as automatic spending caps are set to return in fiscal 2020. Such a disruptive process will complicate U.S. efforts to seamlessly shift its strategic focus from the global war on terrorism to the unfolding great power competition with China and Russia.
 
Quality of Life
 
TRICARE
 
A reminder to TRICARE beneficiaries that the first ever open enrollment will be held from November 12 – December 10, 2018.  To enroll visit: https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Enroll
Starting in 2019, you will only be able to enroll in or change your Tricare plan during the open enrollment season or within 90 days of a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth or relocation.
 
The program, which covers basic dental care for retired military and their families, will end on Dec. 31. It is being replaced with the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP), which will offer retired military members more choice in dental plans and coverage. Enrollment for these plans will begin Nov. 12 and run through Dec. 10., during the new open enrollment season.
 
Active duty military, retirees and their family members will also be able to sign up for vision plans through FEDVIP in November. These plans will offer beneficiaries more comprehensive coverage than what is currently offered under Tricare. To read more about these changes visit: https://tricare.mil/About/Changes
 
In addition, the DoD has designed infographics specifically targeted to three key audiences:
 
  • Reserve Component Members and Families
  • Active Duty Family Members
  • Retired Service Members and Families

Find these one-stop-shop infographics at this link: https://health.mil/News/Gallery/Infographics
 
Staff Activities
 
  • National Security staff continues planning for the Commander’s upcoming trip to the Far East.
  • On Monday, National Security Assistant Director Jeff Steele attended a book launch at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Author Robert Kagan discussed his new book “The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World” which argues for America's role as an enforcer of peace and order throughout the world--and what is likely to happen if we withdraw and focus our attention inward. More information and archive video of the event is available here.
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Jeff Steele and Senior Legislative Associate Larry Lohmann met with staff from the office of Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) to discussed veterans’ immigration issues and possible solutions. Resolution No. 15: Expedited Citizenship Through Military Service, passed at the 2018 fall meetings was shared with the office.
  • On Thursday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner was invited by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to participate in a Veterans Day celebration at National Counter-intelligence and Security Center.  Mr. Gessner managed a booth and provided information about the American Legion to dozens of veterans working at the campus.  Mr. Gessner was also a distinguished guest during remarks made by the Director of National Intelligence.  The result of the efforts allowed many veterans to sign up for the American Legion’s email letter and informed them of the many programs the American Legion offered and were made aware of the value of becoming a member. 
  • On Friday, National Security staff briefed executive director Louis Celli on where things stand with the planning for the Commander’s upcoming trip to the Far East. Commander Rohan and her husband, Mike, participated, providing valuable feedback from their experience during her tenure as commander.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made 4 new funeral announcements. Click on the links to read more:
 
11/07/18: Funeral Announcement For Marine Killed During World War II (Zehetner, R.)
11/07/18: Funeral Announcement For USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (Armstrong, K.)
11/07/18: Funeral Announcement For Airman Killed During World War II (Natvik, J.)
11/07/18: Funeral Announcement For Marine Killed During World War II (Randall, D.)
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 2 November 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Tokyo pushes forward with Futenma relocation work, defying Okinawa officials
 
An aerial view of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa, Japan.
 
(Courtesy of Stars and Stripes) The Japanese government has restarted construction on a new U.S. military runway that will one day facilitate the relocation and closure of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The move defies Okinawan officials’ repeated attempts to halt work on the project — which will allow landfill work for the runway into Oura Bay off the coast of Camp Schwab at Henoko — that include permit revocations from August.
 
The Okinawa Defense Bureau, which represents Japan’s Ministry of Defense on the island, began putting back floats Thursday morning that mark a “no-entry” boundary around the Oura Bay site, according to agency spokesman Masashi Katsuren. Landfill work is scheduled to follow. The move came a day after Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism sided with Tokyo over the project, which had been approved in 2013 by former Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima.
 
The ministry’s lifting of Okinawa’s permit revocation for the work is not permanent, prefectural officials told Stars and Stripes earlier this week, likely setting the stage for yet another court battle over the project.
 
“We received the official revocation of the prefectural revocation from the Ministry of Land yesterday morning; therefore, we have resumed the construction at the sea this morning,” Katsuren said. “We will put most of our effort on protecting the environment and residents’ safety while resuming the construction.”
 
Okinawa officials — who held emergency meetings throughout Thursday to determine their response to the restart — could not be reached for comment. The relocation plan can be traced back to 1995 as furor erupted on the tiny island prefecture over the kidnapping and rape of an Okinawan girl by two Marines and a Navy corpsman. Locals then demanded that Futenma, which sits in a heavily populated urban area in central Okinawa, be closed because it poses a safety risk. The plan to build the runway at the isolated Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa was decided during bilateral negotiations in 2006.
 
The issue ignited a small but vigorous protest movement — backed by popular support — that has been working to block the project and move Marine air operations totally off the island. Marine officials have said that the helicopters need to be where the Marines are, and the U.S. and Japan have maintained that Henoko is the “only solution” to the Futenma safety quandary.
 
Nakaima signed off on a permit to allow the landfill work in 2013, and construction began in August 2014. He was defeated a few months later by Takeshi Onaga, who ran on a platform of stopping the relocation and ejecting the MV-22 Osprey from the island. Onaga revoked a permit to fill in the sea for the runway, halting work in March 2016. That move was struck down by the Fukuoka High Court the following December. He then filed a district court lawsuit in July 2017 that ended unsuccessfully in March. Plans were made to restart construction on the runway Aug. 17. Onaga vowed one final permit revocation but died suddenly of pancreatic cancer before he could follow through.
 
The central government postponed the landfill work in the wake of his death. The permit was ultimately revoked Aug. 30 by Onaga’s vice-governors who took over until elections could be held Sept. 30. In a move that appeared to be the first administrative step toward a legal showdown, Tokyo appealed to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on Oct. 17 to take up Okinawa’s permit revocation. The same process was followed in 2015 before the courts ultimately sided with Tokyo. Even in defeat, Okinawa must still withdraw its revocation before the work can go on unabated, prefectural officials said.
 
U.S. Ambassador briefed on base transfer opposition
 
(Courtesy of The Japan News)  The newly elected governor of the Japanese island of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, on Wednesday explained to U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty the prefecture’s objection to the planned relocation of a key U.S. base within the prefecture. The meeting with Hagerty, which took place at the envoy’s official residence in Tokyo, was the first for Tamaki since the governor assumed the post. Tamaki emphasized the importance of the Futenma issue. In response, Hagerty said that the United States is aware about it.  
 
Tamaki, the son of an Okinawan woman and a U.S. Marine whom he has never met, won a gubernatorial election last month on a platform of opposition to the construction of a new U.S. Marine base on the island.
 
He met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month, and told him that Okinawans opposed the building of a base at Henoko, in the northern part of the island. Less than three weeks later, Abe’s government issued an injunction allowing construction to proceed.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, Tamaki criticized Japanese land minister Keiichi Ishii’s decision on Tuesday to suspend Okinawa Prefecture’s withdrawal of its approval for landfill work at the Henoko coastal area in Nago, Okinawa, for building a new facility to take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, now in a densely populated area in Ginowan, another city in Okinawa. The decision “will violate local residents’ wish shown in the Okinawa gubernatorial election” on Sept. 30, Tamaki told a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.
 
Quality of Life
 
TRICARE
A reminder to TRICARE beneficiaries that the first ever open enrollment will be held from November 12 – December 10, 2018.  To enroll visit: https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Enroll
Starting in 2019, you will only be able to enroll in or change your Tricare plan during the open enrollment season or within 90 days of a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth or relocation.
The program, which covers basic dental care for retired military and their families, will end on Dec. 31. It is being replaced with the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP), which will offer retired military members more choice in dental plans and coverage. Enrollment for these plans will begin Nov. 12 and run through Dec 10., during the new open enrollment season.
Active-duty military, retirees and their family members will also be able to sign up for vision plans through FEDVIP in November. These plans will offer beneficiaries more comprehensive coverage than what is currently offered under Tricare.
To read more about these changes visit: https://tricare.mil/About/Changes
Will some military retirees miss the boat on new dental coverage?
(Courtesy of Military Times) Are military retirees getting the word about looming changes to their dental coverage, and do older retirees in particular have the tools they need to make that decision?
 
Some advocates are concerned about the upcoming transition from the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, which ends Dec. 31. It’s being replaced by the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), traditionally available to federal civilian employees, retirees and their families. But retirees are not automatically enrolled in the new FEDVIP coverage. They must enroll between Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, or they won’t have coverage on Jan. 1.
 
“My biggest fear is that there are going to be so many retirees who are not going to get the word until they try to go to the dentist,” said Frank Yoakum, a retired Army sergeant major who is executive director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “They’ll find out they have no dental coverage. They missed the boat ... so they have to wait until next year’s open season to make a choice for 2020. They’ll go without dental care for a year.”
 
About 1.6 million beneficiaries are currently enrolled in the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, and another 1.3 million are eligible retirees who aren’t currently enrolled in that program. All of those nearly 3 million beneficiaries are eligible for FEDVIP.
 
DoD and Office of Personnel Management officials have taken a variety of steps to push out the word on social media and other avenues. While Defense Department officials have sent letters and postcards to military retirees about the change, there may be some who didn’t open the mail, or their current address hasn’t been updated in the DoD system, Yoakum said.
 
“I think that train wreck is on its way,” he said.
 
Military retirees also have choices now — everyone has at least 10 dental plan choices available. Military retirees have been used to a one-size-fits-all plan, said Kathy Beasley, a retired Navy captain who is director of government relations for health affairs at the Military Officers Association of America. Making the choice about which option best fits their dental needs and wallet “has been overwhelming for some,” she said.
 
For information about the FEDVIP plans and choices, click here.
 
Yoakum, Beasley and other advocates are concerned that many older retirees who are not computer-savvy may not be able to access the information they need to make those choices.
 
How to compare all those plans
 
Yoakum said older retirees who are EANGUS members want to be able to lay out printed comparisons of plans side by side, to make their decisions. Yoakum said he has been going to the Tricare.benefeds.com site, and plugging in ZIP codes of some members who have contacted him, and mailing the side-by-side comparisons to them. BENEFEDS administers FEDVIP enrollment and premium payment processes.
 
According to an OPM spokesman, retirees can call toll-free 877-888-3337 to request a plan comparison, and BENEFEDS will provide a table based on the retiree’s ZIP code, placed in the mail the day after the phone call. The table will show each plan available, the plan’s phone number and website, and the rate for each plan, specific to the retiree’s ZIP code.
 
However, it was not immediately clear whether the printed plan comparison would also include other features of each available plan, such as amount of co-pay and the annual maximum benefit, similar to what the website comparison tool provides.
 
“Just because I have the rates, doesn’t mean I have sufficient information,” Yoakum said.
 
Military retirees who call the toll-free BENEFEDS number should wait for the prompt for uniformed services retirees; then say “rates”; then say “agent” to reach someone who can take your information and mail the plan comparison. The customer service agents can answer enrollment questions, but they can’t recommend a plan nor discuss benefits or dental and vision providers.
 
Unlike military retirees who aren’t familiar with the plethora of FEDVIP plans, federal employees who retire are already accustomed to the plans and choices in FEDVIP that were available to them when they were working.
 
Staff Activities
 
  • National Security staff continues planning for the Commander’s upcoming trip to the Far East.
  • On Tuesday, National Security Assistant Director Jeff Steele participated in a webcast only event with Secretary Mattis on how the National Defense Strategy seeks to meet the shared challenges of our time through strengthening and evolving America’s strategic alliances and partnerships. The archive video of the discussion is available here.
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Jeff Steele attended an event in New York City hosted by the Institute for the Study of War honoring Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The highlight was a conversation with Ambassador Crocker and General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus, moderated by Dr. Kimberly Kagan, president of the institute and wife of Frederick Kagan, who is credited as one of the "intellectual architects" of the surge plan. The conversation focused their time together leading the “surge” in Iraq in 2007-8. Senator Joe Lieberman was also in attendance.
  • On Wednesday, staff participated in a MSO/VSO partners conference call with senior leadership from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. See below for more.
POW/MIA Update
 
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Partners Conference Call
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency senior leadership hosted a conference call with MSO/VSO partners to discuss the Department of Defense's past conflict personnel accounting mission and the continued progress of the DPAA.
 
The discussion began with an update on the identification of the remains in the 55 boxes turned over by North Korea over the summer and a recap of the events and press coverage since the exchange.  The return of the remains has received significant global press coverage.  Director Kelly McKeague was invited to the White House to receive recognition on behalf of the agency for its achievement. 
 
Two remains have been identified so far, Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, 32, of Vernon, Indiana, and Army Pfc. William H. Jones, 19, of Nash County, North Carolina.  Master Sgt. McDaniel was buried over the weekend in the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood.  McDaniel was a 32-year-old Army medic from Vernon, Indiana, when he went missing after combat between his unit and Chinese soldiers in North Korea in 1950.
 
For 2019, arrangements have been made with the government of Kuwait to begin the first efforts to repatriate one of the five missing from current conflicts.  The first operation of the new year will take place in Laos.  Both Laos and Vietnam have agreed to allow DPAA to increase the size and length of operations conducted in 2019 as well as the number of teams allowed which will increase from 7 to 9.  It is also worth noting that following the bursting of a dam in Laos in July of this year which caused 40 deaths and left 98 missing, DPAA provided relief that was well received by the Laos people.  
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made 14 new funeral announcements. Click on the links to read more:
 
11/01/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Ball, M.)
11/01/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Kaniatobe, C.)
11/01/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Loesche, K.)
11/01/18: Funeral Announcement For USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (Pirtle, G)
10/31/18: Funeral Announcement For USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (Kvidera, W.)
10/31/18: Funeral Announcement For USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (Nichols, C.)
10/30/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (McBride, E.)
10/30/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Mills, A.)
10/30/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Worrell, M.)
10/29/18: Funeral Announcement For Sailor Killed During World War II (Mintus, W.)W
10/29/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Jones, E.)
10/29/18: Funeral Announcement For USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (Farfan, I)
10/29/18: Funeral Announcement For Marine Killed During World War II (Lukie, J.)
10/26/18: Funeral Announcement For Airman Killed During World War II (O'Callaghan, M.)
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 26 October, 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Japanese prime minister’s first official visit to Beijing
 
 
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, at left, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The pair met Friday during Abe’s visit to Beijing, during which Japanese and Chinese companies and official bodies have signed more than 50 agreements to cooperate on projects in third countries.
 
(Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal) The leaders of China and Japan said Friday they would work together as defenders of free trade, moving ahead with warming ties as both face tough trade fights with President Trump.
 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, making the first formal visit by a Japanese leader to China in seven years, was careful not to criticize Mr. Trump directly and echoed some of the U.S. president’s concerns about China’s state-led economic model when meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
 
But Messrs. Xi and Abe, representing the world’s second- and third-largest economies after the U.S., mostly found common ground on trade. The Japanese leader told Mr. Xi that it was important to defend the free-trading system, according to a Japanese government spokesman.
 
Mr. Xi agreed and said both sides should defend multilateralism—the principle of addressing trade issues at bodies such as the World Trade Organization—and promote an open global economy, Chinese state media said.
 
The vocal free-trade advocacy is a relatively new stance for both countries, which have been criticized over the decades for their own trade barriers. Japan’s postwar rapid growth in the 1950s through 1980s—like China’s more recently—came with a heavy dose of state guidance and promotion of favored industries that often left foreign companies sidelined.
 
Mr. Abe, however, has played down that history, depicting Japan in a speech to parliament on Wednesday as a nation that has pushed for global free trade since the 1940s.
 
The two leaders’ generally friendly meeting symbolized a better ties between China and Japan, which have tussled in recent years over disputed islands in the East China Sea and other security issues.
 
“We have returned relations to the proper track,” said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who also met Mr. Abe.
 
China’s willingness to roll out the red carpet for Mr. Abe was impelled in part, analysts say, by China’s need for friends in the region while it battles President Trump over trade issues. Japan also is looking for better relations because China is its biggest export market and a source of tourists.
 
Companies and official bodies of the two nations signed more than 50 agreements to cooperate on projects in third countries. That was a key request by Beijing, which is looking for partners for an international infrastructure-building initiative.
 
Mr. Abe was greeted at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Friday by a People’s Liberation Army band playing the Japanese national anthem, which calls for the everlasting reign of the emperor, under whose name Japan occupied China before and during World War II.
 
There were still some reminders of differences. According to both sides, Mr. Xi stressed the need for proper handling of sensitive issues such as wartime history and the status of Taiwan, a democratically governed island which Beijing views as a renegade province and with which Japan has close ties.
 
In his meeting with Mr. Li, Mr. Abe raised the issue of domestic human rights in China, Japanese officials said, adding that Mr Abe was alluding to the mass detention of Muslims in China’s far west. They declined to give Mr. Li’s response.
 
Mr. Abe is trying to fend off Mr. Trump’s threat to impose tariffs of up to 25% on Japanese cars and car parts. Japanese officials said that threat forced them in September to agree to two-way talks with the U.S. on trade, undercutting Mr. Abe’s earlier policy of pushing for trade agreements involving many countries.
 
China, meanwhile, is at loggerheads with the U.S. over Mr. Trump’s plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% on Jan. 1 from the current 10%.
 
Japan shares some of Mr. Trump’s concerns involving China. Mr. Abe told Mr. Xi that China needs to scale back subsidies for state companies and improve intellectual-property protection, according to the Japanese spokesman.
 
Mr. Li said Beijing would “firmly protect” intellectual-property rights.
 
It was the first official visit by Mr. Abe since he took office for his current term in 2012, although he has visited China for international gatherings. The last Japanese prime minister to make an official visit to Beijing was Yoshihiko Noda in 2011.
 
U.S. Sails Warships Through the Taiwan Strait in a Show of Force to China
 
 
(Courtesy of Time) The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait for the second time since July, a show of force that threatens to further exacerbate tensions with China.
 
Two U.S. vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait from waters near Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan island, toward the north on Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on its website.
 
U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation “in accordance with international law.”
 
The transit coincides with a period of rising tension between Taiwan and China, which considers the island one of its provinces Since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen from a pro-independence party in 2016, Beijing has cut off formal communication with Taipei and stepped up military exercises in the area.
 
“Cruising through the strait is not new, but it is a strong signal that the U.S. will be on Taiwan’s side in case of a crisis between Taipei and Beijing,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, who teaches U.S.-China relations at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the U.S. Taiwan would be dead.”
 
China expressed concerns to the U.S. after a similar transit by two U.S. warships in July.
 
“The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the time, warning the Americans against actions that would “undermine China-U.S. ties and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
 
Tensions have also risen ahead of local elections on the island next month. Taiwan late Monday requested that China refrain from interfering in its elections, saying Beijing should should respect and learn from its democracy.
 
Quality of Life
 
Celebrating military families: In November, commissaries recognize uniqueness, sacrifices of service lifestyle
(Courtesy of the Defense Commissary Agency)  Military life is not easy on families. Theirs is an ever-changing environment brought on by continuous military moves. It means frequent extended absences of a spouse.
For Lisa Molinari, who writes the military family blog “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” it meant difficulties maintaining a legal career with such a transient lifestyle – 11 moves within eight different locations. It also meant caring for a special needs son while in duty stations with limited services.
“It’s the little things and frankly, when someone tells my husband – or even me – ‘Thank you for your service,’ this means so much more than one might expect,” said Lisa Molinari, a long-time Navy spouse.
“We know the challenges of a 28-year military career, so when someone acknowledges that a military family has made sacrifices to serve the country, it is very meaningful and appreciated.”
During November’s celebration of Military Family Month, the Defense Commissary Agency offers its thanks in acknowledgement of all those emotional goodbyes, transitions and sacrifices that are part of military service life, said Defense Commissary Agency Deputy Director Michael Dowling.
“We are proud to serve our resilient military families, understanding the stresses they endure,” Dowling said. “Striving to provide a valuable benefit, we work hard every day to say thank you by bringing a feeling of home to our military families no matter where in the world they may be.”
Commissary support goes far to inject a sense of normalcy in the unusual situations that military families face wherever they’re stationed, Molinari said.
“With all the instability of military life due to frequent changes in location, schools and homes, commissaries provided a bit of consistency that was always comforting,” said Molinari.
“No matter where we lived,” she added, “I was able to shop at a commissary and not feel lost – I knew the routine, I knew the products, I knew the prices and I knew that someone would always bag my groceries for me. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep a military spouse from going crazy.”
Anyone, even those not military affiliated, can give a military family the feeling of home by sending them a commissary gift card offered for purchase by authorized patrons at every store worldwide and by anyone online at commissaries.com.
 
TRICARE
 
A reminder to TRICARE beneficiaries that the first ever open enrollment will be held from November 12 – December 10, 2018.  To enroll visit: https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Enroll
Starting in 2019, you will only be able to enroll in or change your Tricare plan during the open enrollment season or within 90 days of a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth or relocation.
The program, which covers basic dental care for retired military and their families, will end on Dec. 31. It is being replaced with the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP), which will offer retired military members more choice in dental plans and coverage. Enrollment for these plans will begin Nov. 12 and run through Dec. 10., during the new open enrollment season.
Active duty military, retirees and their family members will also be able to sign up for vision plans through FEDVIP in November. These plans will offer beneficiaries more comprehensive coverage than what is currently offered under Tricare.
To read more about these changes visit: https://tricare.mil/About/Changes
 
Staff Activities
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made 6 new funeral announcements. Click on the links to read more:
 
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (McDaniel, C.)
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Park, J.)
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Marine Killed During World War II (Gilman, P.)
10/17/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Shankles, L.)
10/15/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Cummings, J.)
10/15/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Williams, K.)
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 4 October 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Pence says China is engaged in "unprecedented effort" to influence Americans
 
In a speech Thursday at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, DC think tank, Vice President Mike Pence joined a growing chorus of Trump administration officials who have issued stark and public warnings about foreign interference from China, detailing a range of overt and covert activities he said were intended to project Chinese power and undermine President Trump ahead of the 2018 and 2020 elections.
 
"Beijing is pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to undermine support for the president, our agenda and our nation's most cherished ideals," Pence said. He accused China of initiating "an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections."
 
The vice president criticized the Chinese Communist Party for "rewarding or coercing" a broad swath of entities that ranged from businesses to universities to government officials, describing Beijing's activities as part of a "whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests." 
 
Mr. Pence offered an example of an unnamed U.S. corporation to which, he said, China threatened to deny a business license unless it criticized the Trump administration's policies. He also cited a Chinese document, circulated in June, that he said laid out a strategy designed to exploit divisions in American society. "It states that China must 'strike accurately and carefully, splitting apart different domestic groups' in the United States.' There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America's democracy," he stressed.
 
The vice president's remarks follow an explicit accusation made previously by President Trump, who, as he presided over a Security Council meeting at the UN General Assembly last week, said that China had made efforts to target the midterm elections against his administration.
 
"Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration," Trump said, suggesting China's efforts were in retaliation for escalating trade tensions. "They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade," he said.
 
The president has ordered successive rounds of tariffs on Chinese goods worth billions of dollars over the past several months; Beijing has struck back in kind. Mr. Trump later tweeted images of a four-page, paid newspaper ad in the Des Moines Register, and said in a press conference that more evidence was forthcoming. "We have evidence," Trump said. "It will come out. I can't tell you now."
 
China has dismissed accusations of meddling. "We did not, and will not, interfere in any country's domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China," its foreign minister, Wang Yi, said in response to the president's remarks last week.
 
On Thursday Mr. Pence also cited the newspaper ads as evidence of Beijing's efforts to appeal to American voters in pivotal states and turn them against the administration. He said an attempt by the U.S. Ambassador to China to place an op-ed explaining America's policies in Chinese newspapers was rejected.
 
Pence said the president was prepared to levy additional economic penalties on China, "with the possibility of substantially more than doubling" the existing tariffs on Chinese goods. Repeatedly, he demanded a "fair and reciprocal" trade deal with Beijing.
 
Like other administration officials before him, the vice president warned Beijing about its military build-up in the South China sea and incursions into Japanese-administered territories. The vice president cited a recent incident in the South China Sea in which a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of an American destroyer, calling it an example of "China's aggression" that demonstrated "reckless harassment."
 
"The United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand," Pence said. "We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down," he said, to applause from the room.
 
In his remarks, Mr. Pence also accused China of engaging in "so-called debt diplomacy," offering other, often smaller and poorer, countries infrastructure loans he described as "opaque at best."
 
"The benefits invariably flow overwhelmingly to Beijing," the vice president said. He said China had "extended a lifeline" to the Maduro regime in Venezuela and convinced three Latin American nations to recognize China and sever ties with Taiwan. "These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait," Pence said. 
 
Pence indicated the administration would continue to expose Beijing's "malign influence and interference in American politics and policy," calling on journalists to investigate Chinese actions, on businesses to refuse to turn over intellectual property and on universities to reject what he called "Beijing's easy money."
 
He specifically called on Google to "immediately end" its development of the 'Dragonfly' app, which he said would strengthen China's censorship and compromise the privacy of its customers.
At the end of his remarks, Pence expressed a desire for a "constructive" relationship with Beijing, urging the two countries to seek to "grow together" in prosperity and security.
 
"America is reaching out our hand to China; we hope that Beijing will soon reach back," Pence said. "But we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity and respect for sovereignty."
 
Video and text of the speech is available here.
 
DoD Quarterly Suicide Report, 2nd Quarter
 
The Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) routinely collects and reports surveillance data on suicide mortality in the Department of Defense (DoD). The most up-to-date counts of suicide deaths are reported in the Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR). The QSR seeks to comply with Objective 11.1 of the 2015 DoD Defense Strategy for Suicide Prevention (DSSP) by providing timely and accurate suicide data to guide suicide prevention efforts across the Department.
 
Suicide data in this report are obtained via a collaborative effort between DSPO, the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES), and the Suicide Prevention Program Offices of the Military Services (i.e., Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy). AFMES is the official Department of Defense (DoD) entity responsible for verifying and reporting deaths by suicides for the Active Component and, to the extent applicable, the Reserve Component4 to DSPO. These numbers are reconciled with the Military Services to ensure that the most accurate information is reported.
 
For the second quarter of 2018, the military services reported the following:
 
- 75 suicide deaths in the Active Component
- 14 suicide deaths in the Reserves
- 27 suicide deaths in the National Guard
 
- The number of Active Component suicide deaths is greater by 18 than the 2nd Quarter of 2017 (75 versus 57 deaths)
  -- Air Force deaths up by 7
  -- Army deaths are up by 7
  -- Marine Corps deaths are up by 4
  -- Navy deaths are unchanged
  -- The number of Reserve suicide deaths is lower by 15 than the 2nd Quarter of 2017 (14 versus 29 deaths)
  -- Air Force Reserve deaths are down by 3
  -- Army Reserve deaths are down by 10
  -- Marine Corps Reserve deaths are down by 2
  -- Navy Reserve deaths are unchanged
 
- The number of National Guard suicide deaths is lower by 16 than the 2nd Quarter of 2017 (27 versus 43 deaths)
  -- Air National Guard deaths are down by 2
  -- Army National Guard deaths are down by 14
 
Please refer to the last page of the attached report for a detailed breakdown of the number of deaths by suicide within each Service and Component.
View full report here
 
FY19 Defense Appropriations bill signed by President
 
The 2019 Defense Budget has been approved by Congress and signed by President Trump in record speed with a 2.6 percent pay increase and a $716 billion national defense budget. This is the earliest the defense budget has been passed in the last 40 years.  This is the first time in more than a decade that the DOD is able to begin a fiscal year with an enacted appropriation instead of operating under a continuing resolution. The funding level is consistent with the $716 billion 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act national defense spending cap for FY 2019.
 
The topline budget differences between the bills and the Presidential Budget Request (PBR) are as follows:
 
 
FY19 PBR
FY19 HASC NDAA
FY19 SASC NDAA
FY189HAC-D
Defense Appropriations
Base budget
$617.1 billion
$639.1 billion
$639.2 billion
$606 billion
Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)
$69 billion
$69 billion
$68.5 billion
$73.9 billion
 
The defense appropriations bill has more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.  The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces.  Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2 billion of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1 billion. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4 billion.
 
Staff Activities
 
  • On Monday, National Security staff participated in a meeting to discuss National Commander’s 2019 European travel with Executive Director Louis Celli and officials from the Department of France.
  • On Monday, National Security staff participated in a meeting to discuss planning for the National Commander’s 2018 testimony before the joint House/ Senate Veterans Affairs Committees.
  • On Tuesday, The National Security Commission Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Committee Chairmen met via conference call on Tuesday, October 2nd to review 6 resolutions which were referred to the standing Commission from the National Convention and 2 from Department Executive Committees.  Two resolutions were recommended to be approved: 1) Resolution No. 36: Survivor Benefit Plan; 2) Resolution No. 43: Exclude TRICARE election from the federal employees health benefits program.  The Commission also reviewed 4 new resolutions and recommended all for approval.
  • On Thursday, National Security staff participated in a planning meeting for the Legion’s participation  in next week’s 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition. Legion has a booth and will be conducting a membership drive and awareness campaign about The American Legion.
  • On Thursday, National Security staff participated in a meeting with Legislative Director, Matthew Shuman, and officials from the Embassy of Japan for ongoing planning for a November 2018 joint reception on Capitol Hill entitled, “Future of Japanese-American Cooperation.”
  • This week, National Security Staff worked with staff from the Media Division to update the Commission’s Positions and Messages booklet.  The updated positions include: cybersecurity, the Indo-Pacific, Transnational organized crime, 4-1 Threats, and an overview of American Legion National Security programs.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced ten new identifications:
 
  • Navy Water Tender 1st Class Stephen Pepe, 43, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, accounted for on March 19, 2018, will be buried October 8 in Bourne, Massachusetts. On Dec. 7, 1941, Pepe was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Pepe. Read full story
  • Navy Seaman 2nd Class Harold L. Head, 20, of Browning, Missouri, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried October 10, in Laclede, Missouri. On Dec. 7, 1941, Head was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Head. Read full story
  • Navy Seaman 2nd Class William V. Campbell, 20, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, accounted for on May 9, 2018, will be buried October 10 in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Campbell was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Campbell. Read full story
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Natale I. Torti, 19, of St. Louis, Missouri, accounted for on April 26, 2018, will be buried October 12 in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. On Dec. 7, 1941, Torti was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Torti. Read full story
  • Army Sgt. Melvin C. Anderson, 31, of Omaha, Nebraska, accounted for on April 30, 2018, will be buried October 12 in his hometown. In November 1944, Anderson was a member of Company C, 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, participating in intense fighting in the Hürtgen Forest. His company was deployed as direct fire support for American infantrymen attacking the town of Grosshau. Two tank destroyers and six tanks, including the M10 tank destroyer Anderson was the tank commander on, were knocked out in the fighting around Grosshau on Nov. 25, 1944. He was killed during the battle, though his status was initially listed as missing in action. On Dec. 21, 1944, his status was amended to killed in action.  Read full story
  • Navy Reserve Cmdr. Charles B. Goodwin, 25, of Haskell, Texas, accounted for on May 18, 2017, will be buried October 12 in Abilene, Texas. On Sept. 8, 1965, Goodwin was the pilot of an RF-8A aircraft, assigned to Detachment D, VPF-63, CVW-15, when he launched from the USS Coral Sea, scheduled for a combat photo mission over the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now Socialist Republic of Vietnam.) At the time of the early-morning flight, numerous intense thunderstorms were reported between the USS Coral Sea and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Fifteen minutes after launching, Goodwin reported that he had encountered thunderstorms en route to the target area. That was the last transmission heard from him. Search efforts over the target area and adjacent coastal waters were unsuccessful, no emergency radio signals were heard, and no aircraft wreckage was sighted. Goodwin was declared missing in action as of Sept. 8, 1965. Read full story
  • Marine Corps Reserve Tech. Sgt. Harry A. Carlsen, 31, of Brookfield, Illinois, accounted for on June 4, 2018, will be buried October 13, in Elwood, Illinois. In November 1943, Carlsen was assigned to Company A, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Carlsen died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943, during the first waves of the assault.  Read full story
  • Navy Seaman 2nd Class Bernard V. Doyle, 19, of Red Cloud, Nebraska, accounted for on March 26, 2018, will be buried October 13 in Lake City, Iowa. On Dec. 7, 1941, Doyle was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Doyle.  Read full story
  • Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Elwood R. Bailey, 22, of Parma, Michigan, accounted for Sept. 5, 2017, will be buried October 13 in his hometown. On August 24, 1942, Bailey was a member of Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223), Marine Aircraft Group 23, (MAG-23). Bailey was piloting a F4F-4 Wildcat in aerial combat with Japanese Military Air Forces over Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, when he was reported missing in action after being shot down.  Read full story
  • Marine Corps Pfc. William F. Cavin, 19, of Ewing, Virginia, accounted for on April 23, 2018, will be buried October 13, in Hancock County, Tennessee. In November 1943, Cavin was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion. 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Cavin died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.  Read full story
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 September 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Korean Remains Flag Presentation
 
 
Presentation of one of the American flags given to The American Legion by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency 26 September 2018 at American Legion headquarters in Washington D.C. Presenting the flag to Commander Reistad is  Mr. Kelly McKeague, Director Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and in uniform is Bernard "GWB" Smith, Lt Col, USAF Military Assistant to the Director Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
 
No Shutdown: House finalizes FY19 military budget, and Trump drops his opposition
 
House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a $684 billion defense appropriations measure that President Donald Trump has promised to sign, ending any last-minute drama about a possible government shutdown. The Senate passed the measure last week.
 
Late last week, Trump took to social media to blast “this ridiculous Spending Bill” for including too much non-military money and no funds for his planned wall along the border with Mexico. But on Wednesday, Trump promised that “we’re going to keep the government open." With the House’s 361-61 vote to finalize the deal, the president has until Sunday night to sign the measure and avoid any disruption in government funding.
 
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the legislation an unquestioned win for the administration and the country.
 
“It will be a major achievement for the military,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he understands the achievement of getting a big majority of discretionary money in place before the beginning of the fiscal year. I want his signature on the dotted line. With that, for the first time in nine years, the managers at every level of the (Defense) Department will be able to do their job without the ridiculous constraints imposed by continuing resolutions.”
Congress hasn’t finalized the new fiscal year defense budget before the start of the new fiscal year in 10 years. Instead, as lawmakers have debated spending levels, military operations have been funded for multiple months each year through extensions of the previous year budget, a process that Thornberry called harmful to national defense.
 
“We tend to forget that under a (continuing resolution), you’ve got to spend money on the same things this year that you did last year, whether you need it or not,” he said. “You can have no new starts. All these restrictions. This is a chance to finally break out of that, at a time when the world is moving fast and technology is moving just as fast.”
 
The defense appropriations bill has more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.
 
The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces. Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2 billion of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1 billion. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4 billion.
 
House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, touted the bill’s investments in air superiority, shipbuilding and ground forces at a press conference beside Ryan, saying, “it all adds up to a pat on the back and money for our military.”
 
“The most important thing is this is the first time in ten years we’ve gotten a defense bill done on time,” she said. “Working with (Defense) Secretary (Jim) Mattis, he said the money’s important but getting it to us on time, when we have the time to plan and to build is the most important thing.”
 
Beyond the 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters authorized by the 2019 defense policy bill, the spending bill added another 16 for a total of 93. The decision comes as the Pentagon is expected to decide next month whether to move the aircraft into full-rate production.
 
The Navy’s shipbuilding account got a $2.2 billion boost over the $21.9 billion it asked for, including a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy. Amphibs also fared especially well, driven both by Congress’ desire to push the Navy to a 355-ship fleet as fast as possible and by the evolving role played by amphibious ships in the Navy’s strategic thinking.
 
Army weapons and munitions technology development would get a big cash injection, with a $343 million boost over the Army’s $40.44 million request for research, development, technology and evaluation dollars for weapons and munitions technology.
 
Combined with a minibus of Veterans Affairs and military construction spending finalized earlier this month, nearly 90 percent of the federal government’s spending bills will be in place by the start of fiscal 2019, which is Oct. 1.
 
Staff Activities
 
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Two soldiers recovered from North Korea ID’d
 
President Donald Trump revealed the names of the first soldiers recovered in the 55 boxes of remains returned from North Korea this summer: Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, 32, of Vernon, Indiana, and Army Pfc. William H. Jones, 19, of Nash County, North Carolina.
 
McDaniel’s family had previously received his dog tag, which was found in the boxes of remains. It was the only dog tag recovered in this set of boxes returned from North Korea.
 
Both soldiers died in the November 1950 Battle of Unsan, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency previously said. There are still 1,700 service members missing from that battle.
 
The remains were discovered in box 14 and box 16 of the 55 boxes and were some of the most complete of the 55 returned, with individual soldiers contained in each box, DPAA officials said.
 
Both sets of remains are in Hawaii, at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s lab. The families will now be able to request the remains, which will be wrapped in a green Army blanket that is secured with two pins, a tradition that dates back to World War I. They will then be transported to the family for burial.
 
The remains were returned to the U.S. as part of Trump’s Singapore summit agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced six new identifications:
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 21 September 2018
 
Items of Interest
                                        
Pence: Returned remains of US war dead a ‘vanguard of what’s to come’
 
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that he hoped the 55 cases of Korean War remains returned last month would be a “vanguard of what’s to come,” as officials hinted at future negotiations for on-the-ground searches in North Korea for more missing American servicemembers.
 
“We look forward to further progress,” Pence said during a ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. “I can assure you we will continue to work diligently to achieve peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and will never relent in our effort to bring our missing fallen home.”
 
At the ceremony, Pence presented retired Col. Richard Dean with a flag that one month ago was draped over a casket of repatriated remains from North Korea. On Aug. 1, the remains were delivered to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where the flag-draped caskets were unloaded from C-17 aircraft.
 
 
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to veterans in front of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.
 
Returning the 55 cases of remains of fallen troops was the result of an agreement reached during a June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. More than 7,600 American servicemembers remain missing from the war.
 
From the cases of remains, two American servicemen have already been identified, said Kelly McKeague, director of the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency, which is responsible for recovering America’s war dead. The names were not disclosed as of Thursday afternoon.
 
McKeague said the United States hopes to begin face-to-face negotiations in October about resuming on-the-ground searches in North Korea – an effort that has been stalled for more than a decade because of rising nuclear tensions.
 
The flag presented at the ceremony Thursday will be kept with the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, the organization responsible for maintaining the site on the National Mall.
 
“It brightens the hearts of 7,686 missing-in-action families that their loved ones could possibly be coming home in the very near future,” said Dean, the organization’s vice chairman. “It is truly remarkable the events that have taken place in the past six months. For those families, the odds are better than the lottery that they will be fortunate to have closure after 65 years.” 
 
U.S.-Japan Cooperation in Strategic Island Defense
 
This week, the Hudson Institute published a new report titled U.S.-Japan Strategic and Operational Cooperation on Remote Island Defense. On September 21, the Institute held a discussion of the report, the importance of joint U.S.-Japanese defense of Japan’s southwest islands, and the broader significance of the bilateral security relationship between the two countries for the region.
 
China’s rising military capabilities and increased assertiveness in the East China Sea pose a challenge to the Japanese Ryukyu Islands and by extension the United States, which maintains a strategic military presence on the largest island of Okinawa. Along with the islands of Taiwan and the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands represents a geographic chokepoint for China’s naval and civilian activities. As a strategic impediment to China’s power projection, the island chain has been a major focal point of Beijing’s recent military modernization and expansion. Video of the event is available here.
 
MSO/VSO Roundtable with U.S. Army
 
Senior defense officials hosted a roundtable at the Pentagon on an array of topics of interest to the MSO/VSO community, to include GI Bill transferability, installation readiness, and the Soldier for Life program. Here is a short summary of the discussion.
 
GI Bill Transferability
The Department of Defense has defined transferability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a tool to promote recruitment and retention.  It is not an entitlement, but an incentive for further service in accordance with law. (38 USC 3319)
 
Effective 12 July 2018, services require at least a 4 year service obligation to apply for transfers.  Six years of service is required before a transfer is possible.  This creates a 6-16 year window of service timeframe for members to transfer their benefit.  There are five exceptions for troops who had previously applied, and are in an approved status to apply for transfer of the benefit: 1) MEB, 2) Hardship, 3) Force shaping initiatives, 4) Officer twice failing to be selected for promotion, 5) Enlisted troops at or exceeding RCP due to Army change in policy.
 
Installation Readiness
The Army is putting greater emphasis on strategic community partnerships to supplement budget shortfalls through partnering with organizations such as The American Legion.  DoD recognizes the value of the organization’s transition assistance programs. 
 
The lead topics of interests amongst installation readiness concerns are: dealing with lead-based paint in dated facilities, resourcing, Army emergency relief direct access policy, and thinking ahead to what the installations of the future should look like.
 
Soldier for Life
The Army’s Soldier for Life program is made up of four regional teams who conduct outreach across the Army’s footprint.  The SFL approach revolves around three functional areas; employment, education, and health & wellness.  Remaining connected with VSOs/MSOs partners is essential.
 
The SFL office is working to improve the credentialing assistance program which provides funding for self-directed credentialing opportunities for Soldiers across all components.  Soldiers are not limited to their current MOS in the program.
 
SFL has changed its Mission Newsletter and the first edition will be distributed to 172,000 Soldiers on 15 October via email.  It will include information that will educate Soldiers about the retirement process, the decisions they and their families will make leading up to and immediately after their retirements, how their benefits will change when they retire, and why the Army wants them to be active Soldiers for Life in retirement and will be tailored for all three components of the Army. 
 
Defense Health Agency
 
On September 20, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) hosted a roundtable with MSO/VSOs. The DHA is a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force and ready medical force to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime. The DHA supports the delivery of integrated, affordable, and high quality health services to Military Health System (MHS) beneficiaries and is responsible for driving greater integration of clinical and business processes across the MHS.
 
An update of the changes to TRICARE that began 1 January of this year was provided.  Every year, out-of-pocket costs for premium-based plans (TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve, TRICARE Young Adult, and the Continued Health Care Benefit Program) adjust based on federal law and regulation, as well as the annual retiree cost of living adjustment (COLA). The 2019 COLA won't be announced until mid-October 2018.
 
The American Legion is assisting DHA to inform beneficiaries that 2018 will begin the first ever TRICARE Open Season.  The enrollment period will be November 12 – December 10, 2018.  Open season is an annual period when you can enroll in a health insurance plan for the next year. With TRICARE, open season will occur each fall, beginning on the Monday of the second full week in November to the Monday of the second full week in December. During Open Season, beneficiaries can:
 
  1. Enroll in a new TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select plan
  2. Change their enrollment (e.g., switch from individual to family enrollment)
  3. Enroll in a FEDVIP vision or dental plan (for certain categories of beneficiaries)
 
A new program for Dental and Vision coverage will begin in 2019 titled Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).  The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) will continue to be the dental plan available to TRICARE beneficiaries until December 31, 2018. Eligible beneficiaries may enroll in TRDP until October 31, 2018, with coverage scheduled to end December 31, 2018.
 
All beneficiaries are encouraged to visit TRICARE’s website to learn more about selecting the right plan at: https://tricare.mil/About/Changes/
 
Staff Activities
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security staff had a conference call with former U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry. The ambassador is assisting the Legion with the National Commander’s East Asia trip.
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security and Legislative Divisions met with representatives from the Embassy of Japan, at their embassy, to continue discussions on a possible joint reception on the Hill in November and the National Commander’s East Asia trip, which will include stops in Okinawa and Tokyo. The embassy representatives are working to coordinate a visit for the National Commander with Japan’s Minister of Defense and potentially Prime Minister Abe.
  • On Thursday, National Security Deputy Director Freddie Gessner participated in MSO/VSO Roundtable with senior defense officials on an array of topics to include GI Bill transferability, installation readiness, and the Soldier for Life program.
  • On Thursday, National Security Deputy Director Freddie Gessner participated in a roundtable discussion with senior defense officials at the Defense Health Agency.
  • On Thursday, National Security Assistant Director Jeff Steele worked to arrange a meeting with a Japanese embassy official and Legionnaires in Norfolk, Virginia on Friday, September 21. The embassy wanted to visit a Legion post in the Virginia Beach area and was specifically interested in the veterans voice and vote in Virginia's 2nd Congressional district (Rep. Scott Taylor).
  • On Friday, National Security Assistant Director Jeff Steele attended a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute on their newly published report titled U.S.-Japan Strategic and Operational Cooperation on Remote Island Defense.
  • On Friday, National Security Deputy Director Freddie Gessner attended the annual POW/MIA National Recognition Day ceremony hosted by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis at the Pentagon. A webcast of the ceremony is available here.
POW/MIA Update
 
September 21st is POW/MIA Recognition Day
 
More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War and other conflicts. Friday, Sept. 21, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, when Americans are asked to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the military men and women who are imprisoned or unaccounted for as a result of their military service.
As part of the day of recognition, held each year on the third Friday of September, Americans and businesses should also fly their POW/MIA flags, which commemorate U.S. servicemembers who are recognized prisoners of war (POWs) or are missing in action (MIA).
In observance of the day, rallies and ceremonies are also held throughout the nation to honor those U.S. servicemembers who have yet to return home, and the families they've left behind without closure as to the fate of their loved ones. American Legion Family members are encouraged to share how they observe POW/MIA Recognition Day by posting stories on the Legion's website, www.legiontown.org.
The American Legion remains committed to achieving a full accounting of all U.S. servicemembers from all war eras who are either imprisoned or listed as missing in action. As part of this commitment, the Legion encourages a return of living POWs, repatriation of the remains of the fallen from war zones abroad, or a determination through convincing evidence that neither is possible, as noted in Resolution 22 from the 99th National Convention.
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced six new identifications, and the burial date and location for three previously identified servicemen. Returning home with full military honors are:
 
-- Marine Corps Pfc. Roger Gonzales, 20, of San Pedro, Calif., whose remains were previously identified, will be buried Sept. 21 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Gonzales was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On Nov. 27, 1950, Gonzales’ unit moved northwest from Hagru-ri to Fox Hill at the Toktong Pass. In the early hours of Nov. 28, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces attacked and Gonzales’ company sustained heavy casualties. Gonzales was reported to have been killed in action on Nov. 29, 1950, and was buried at the base of Fox Hill. Read about Gonzales.
-- Army Cpl. Morris Meshulam, 19, of Indianapolis, whose remains were previously identified, will be buried Sept. 23 in his hometown.Meshulam was a member of Battery D, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons,) 2nd Infantry Division. The division suffered heavy losses to units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces between the towns of Kunu-ri and Sunchon, North Korea. Meshulam was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950. Read about Meshulam.
-- Army Pfc. Willard Jenkins, 27, of Scranton, Pa., whose remains were previously identified, will be buried Sept. 26 in his hometown. Jenkins was a member of Company C, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division near Nijmegen, Netherlands. On Sept. 20, 1944, while participating in Operation Market Garden, his unit was ordered to cross the Waal River to make an amphibious attack. Jenkins was wounded in the chest by enemy fire. Because of the enemy activity in the area, a search could not be conducted and he was declared missing in action on Sept. 20, 1944. Read about Jenkins.
-- Army Pvt. Charles G. Kaniatobe was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. In July 1950, his unit was engaged in combat operations against the North Korean People’s Army near Chonui, South Korea. Kaniatobe could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action on July 10, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read about Kaniatobe.
-- Army 1st Lt. Seymour P. Drovis was a member of Company A, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. In July 1944, his unit was engaged against enemy forces in Achugao Village, Saipan Island, Northern Mariana Islands. The division sustained heavy casualties during one of the largest Japanese “banzai” attacks of WWII. A soldier reported seeing Drovis fatally shot on July 7, 1944. Interment services are pending. Read about Drovis.  
-- Army Staff Sgt. Karl R. Loesche was a member of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group. On Dec. 8, 1941, Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands and forced the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942. Loesche was among those reported captured, and one of the thousands who were eventually moved to the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war. Interment services are pending. Read about Loesche
-- Navy Seaman 1st Class Robert W. Headington was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, when the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized, resulting in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Headington. Interment services are pending. Read about Headington.
-- Army Pfc. William H. Jones, of Nash County, N.C., was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. In November 1950, his unit engaged in attacks against the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces near Pakchon, North Korea. On Nov. 26, 1950, after his unit made a fighting withdrawal, he could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending. Read about Jones.
-- Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, of Vernon, Ind., was a medic with the 8th Cavalry Regiment Medical Company supporting the regiment's 3rd Battalion. In November 1950, his unit was engaged with enemy forces of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) southwest of the village of Unsan, and east of Hwaong-ri, North Korea. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950, when he could not be accounted for by his unit. Interment services are pending. Read about McDaniel.
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 10 August 2018
 
Items of Interest
DoD To Send 200 Soldiers To Fight Wildfires As Western States Burn
(Task&Purpose) Two hundred soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will be sent to fight western wildfires next week after brief training.
  • The soldiers belong to the 14th Engineer Brigade, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters.  They will be broken down into 10 crews – each with 20 soldiers – and they will be sent to combat one of the 134 wildfires now burning across 11 western states. Their final deployment location has not yet been determined.
     
  • “We determined that the forces in that engineer brigade were the best forces for that mission,” Manning said. “These soldiers will be outfitted with wildland fire personal protective equipment and all of the gear that they will need to serve as wildland firefighters. While working on a wildfire, the soldiers will be accompanied by experienced wildland fire strike team leaders and crew bosses from wildland management agencies.”
     
  • The soldiers will start their firefighting training on Thursday at Lewis-McChord and they will begin combating an actual fire four days later on Aug. 13, said Manning, who stressed they will be “fully trained” on the skills they will need.
     
  • The last time active-duty troops fought wildfires on the ground was in September 2017, when 200 soldiers from the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team – also from Lewis-McChord – were mobilized as firefighters, he said.
 
Space Force
(DefenseNews)Vice President Mike Pence on Aug. 9 unveiled the Pentagon’s plan to set the stage for a Space Force — a new military service branch centered around space operations — which could be in effect as early as 2020.
 
That plan involves creating an independent unified combatant command, U.S. Space Command that will eventually be led by a four-star general Pence said during a speech at the Pentagon.
It also calls for naming an assistant secretary of defense for space that will be in charge of standing up the department of the U.S. Space Force and could eventually transition to the position of its first service secretary.
 
Pence’s announcement comes after President Donald Trump ordered Defense Department leaders in June to begin paving the way to set up a Space Force.
 
 “Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process,” Pence said, and a new Pentagon report that will be delivered to Capitol Hill today will lay out four steps the Defense Department will take in preparation of standing up a Space Force.
 
Click here to see the Pentagon’s “Final Report on Organizational and Management Structure for the National Security Space Components of the Department of Defense.”
The four steps:
 
Create U.S. Space Command as a new unified combatant command. The new organization will be led by a four-star general and will establish the space war-fighting doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures.
 
Build an elite group of space officers called “Space Operations Force,” which will be comprised of all of the services and “grow into their own cohesive community” similar to that of special operators, Pence said. “They will support the combatant command by providing space expertise in times of crisis and conflict.”
 
Develop the Space Development Agency, a new joint procurement arm for space products. Pence said space acquisition had become too bureaucratic and that U.S. ability to innovate had been stifled by “needless layers of red tape.” The Space Development Agency, by contrast, would leverage prototyping and experimentation to achieve technology breakthroughs.
Name a civilian to the post of assistant secretary of defense for space. This official will be charged with making the Space Force a reality, oversee the service’s expansion and would report to the secretary of defense. “This leader will be key to a critical transition to a fully independent secretary of the space force.”
 
The need for an independent space force was clear to the administration, Pence said, as competitors and potential adversaries such as China and Russia have developed new weaponry geared toward destroying or interrupting U.S. satellites.
 
The vice president cited a 2007 Chinese test of an anti-satellite missile; an airborne laser under development by Russia that will be able to destroy space-based systems; Russian and Chinese investments in hypersonics; and other technologies that would allow the two Eastern nations to steer their satellites in close proximity of U.S. assets.
 
“As their actions made clear, our adversaries have transformed space into a war fighting domain already,” Pence said. “The U.S. will not shrink from this challenge.”
Only Congress can officially create a new service branch by amending Title 10 of the United States code — something that Pence himself acknowledged.
 
“Ultimately Congress must act to establish this new department, which will organize, train and equip the United States Space Force,” he said.
 
“Our administration is already working with leaders in Congress to do just that. We’re building bipartisan support for our plan, working closely with committee counterparts” such as House Armed Services Committee head Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, his Democratic counterpart Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, and the two leaders of the HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.
Missile Defense Sales to Mexico
(DefenseNews) The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of Evolved Seasparrow missiles for Mexico’s Navy, the first time that country has purchased the Raytheon-produced weapon.
 
The potential sale — covering six Evolved Seasparrow tactical missiles and two Evolved Seasparrow telemetry missiles, as well as one MK 56 VLS launcher, for an estimated cost of $41 million — is fairly small, but notable as the first such buy from Mexico.
The intention is to equip the weapons on Mexico’s new Sigma 10514-class frigate, per an announcement from the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
 
 “The systems will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes. The proposed sale of these systems and support services will increase the Mexican Navy's maritime partnership potential and align its capabilities with existing regional navies,” the DSCA statement reads.
 
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner. The sale of these shipboard systems to Mexico will significantly increase and strengthen Mexico's maritime capabilities.”
 
Also included in the potential sale are various support articles. There are no government offsets associated with the sale.
 
As with all DSCA announcements, the sale must pass through the Senate, at which point negotiations can begin; total quantities and dollar totals often change from the original DSCA announcement and final sale.
 
Quality of Life
New fitness test being implemented for the Army
National Security Division staff spoke were briefed on the new test by senior defense officials earlier this week on the implementation of the new test.
The new test is under review and won’t be implemented for two years.  The new age and gender neutral test was announced Monday.  It will replace the run/sit-ups/push-ups test that soldiers have endured for the past four decades. 
 
The upcoming year-long field study to determine how to grade the new six-event Army Combat Fitness Test, and how it will affect personnel policies like promotions and separations.
That study will begin this October, Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost said, bringing the new regimen to about 60 battalions across every unit type in the Army.
 
The Army recognizes that war doesn’t account for age or gender and all soldiers must be able to perform what is required. 
This is what the test will look like:
  • Deadlift between 120 and 420 pounds, depending on the individual soldier. You must do three reps in five minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Standing power throw. You’ll be required to toss a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and backward. You’ll have three minutes to make one practice throw and two for a grade. The longest distance is recorded.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Hand-release push-ups. You lower your chest to the floor and lift your hands off the ground between each rep. You’ll be required to do the most reps in three minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Sprint-drag-carry. In four minutes, you will go 25 meters out and 25 meters back five times. Each iteration will include a different activity: sprint, drag a sled, run a lateral shuffle, carry two 40-pound kettle bells, then sprint again.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Leg tuck. You will be required to hang from a pull-up bar and with your body parallel, then pull knees to your elbows for as many reps as possible in two minutes.
  • Five-minute rest.
  • Two-mile run on a track or a paved, level road, with a 20-minute maximum.
     
    Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
    This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Service members to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
     
    KEY POINTS:
        -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
        -- The provision that requires a Service member to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
        -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
       --  If a service member fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
 
Legislation
  • The Defense Authorization Conference has concluded and the agreement authorizes $708.1 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs, $16 billion more than the FY 2018 authorized level and $1.2 billion less than the president's overall request. The total includes $639.1 billion for the Pentagon's base, non-war budget that is subject to spending caps and $69 billion for uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to support operations in Afghanistan, the fight against the Islamic State, and the general war on terrorism. It includes a large increase in funding for nuclear weapons, including funds for a controversial new "low-yield" nuclear warhead, as well as additional funding for more ships, planes and armored vehicles. The agreement also contains numerous provisions targeting Russia and China, including $6.3 billion for added equipment and U.S. forces to help protect Eastern Europe from Moscow. It does not, however, include a Senate provision that would have reimposed a ban on U.S. exports to the Chinese company ZTE that President Trump had overturned.
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division and the Veteran’s Employment and Education Division met with the Fort Belvoir, Office of Army Community Services to discuss the transition assistance program and services for soldiers and spouses. ACS programs assist Active Duty, Retirees, Civilian Employees and Families in managing the challenges of daily living experienced in the unique context of military service, and in maintaining readiness by coordinating and delivering comprehensive, responsive services that promote self-reliance, resiliency and stability.
     
    ACS is dedicated to improving the quality of life of families through education, information and support services. These programs include Relocation Assistance, Exceptional Family Member, Financial Readiness, Employment Readiness, Community Information Services, Family Advocacy, Army Emergency Relief, Installation Army Volunteer Corps, and Mobilization & Deployment Readiness.
 
This program has provided financial services to Soldiers and their families over the previous years.  When speaking with Michele Godfrey, she indicated that a majority of their clients comes from referrals or command directed.  The program attempts to provide the Soldiers and their families with a viable pathway to financial stability.
 
Many of the programs and services provided by ACS adds value to a Soldiers quality of life.  Unfortunately the Army is streamlining many of their programs and services by eliminating duplicate services.   ACS should look at outside entities to assist them with their continued efforts of providing these type of services.
 
The American Legion supports the Army Community Service in its efforts to provide supportive services to Soldiers and their families.  Furthermore, The American Legion understands the importance of stability – housing, employment, financial readiness, domestic violence and family advocacy are all crucial to the overall well-being of the Soldier and National Security.
 
  • This week staff from the National Security Division held a conference call with a company titled Emergency Rescue Solutions Group to discuss the potential for collaboration between their mission and the American Legion.  Their product is an emergency kit that could be placed in every home that would be a communication tool for the household and rescue workers.   ERSG is seeking to partner with other organizations who have an established interest consistent with its interest in disaster preparedness and disaster response. The issues of disaster preparedness and disaster response are consistent with the National Security Pillar of The American Legion.  More specifically, the purposes of the Law and Order & Homeland Security Committee include an emphasis on disaster management and recovery, as well as support for the emergency responder community.
 
  • This week staff met with representatives from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss the National Commander’s Far East tour.  We hope to develop a plan that will lead to a meeting with senior government officials from their Ministry of Defense in Tokyo this year and possibly a brief meeting with Prime Minister Abe.  In past years the National Commander has visited only Okinawa.  The possibility of events held at the embassy in D.C. in honor of the American Legion was also discussed.   
 
  • This week staff continued to prepare for National Convention by developing scripts, agendas, and fact sheets for resolutions received from Departments.  As we approach the event we are continuing to finalize the details for the pre-convention trip to Camp Ripley.  The trip will include a command briefing from the base commander’s executive officer, a tour of the facilities to include new state of the art training simulators used by soldier in preparation for deployments. 
     
  • Staff is also coordinating travel arrangements for guest presenters who will speak to the National Security Commission on Saturday, August 25th.  The lineup includes leadership from the Defense Health Agency, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, and leadership from the Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General’s office. 
     
  • In additional to coordinating speakers for the National Security Commission, staff is coordinating with distinguished guests from overseas who will be presenting on the main National Convention stage.  These guests are attending from Korea, Canada, and Taiwan. Staff also are coordinating with distinguished guest from the Department of Defense. 
     
  • This week staff worked to prepare a case study on potential locations for the National Commander’s 2018 Far East trip.  This planning involves coordination with the Department of State, Department of Defense and overseas American Legion Departments.  Staff are developing several possible itineraries for the trip that will be reviewed next week.  Locations and dates will depend on availability of diplomats in the various countries within the timeline of the National Commander’s visits. 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Emil F. Ragucci, 19, of Philadelphia, accounted for on Nov. 13, 2017, will be buried August 14, in his hometown. In November 1943, Ragucci was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Ragucci died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Army Air Forces Flight Officer Richard W. Lane, 21, of Beatrice, Nebraska, accounted for on April 23, will be buried Aug. 9 in Gage, Nebraska. In December 1944, Lane served with the 815th Bombardment Squadron, 483rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 15th Air Force. He was killed on Dec. 27, 1944 when the B-17G aircraft he co-piloted was shot down on a bombardment mission over Austria. As Allied aircraft neared the target at Linz, Austria, they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Lane’s aircraft took a direct hit over Linz and reportedly crashed near St. Florian, Austria.
     
  • Army Air Forces Capt. George Van Vleet, Jr., 35, of Fresno, California, accounted for on March 19, will be buried August 18 in his hometown. On Jan. 21, 1944, Van Vleet was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when the B-24J bomber aircraft he was aboard crashed shortly after take-off.
     
  • Army Pfc. Joe S. Elmore, 20, of Seminary, Kentucky, accounted for on July 3, will be buried August 18 in Albany, Kentucky. In late November, 1950, Elmore was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. As the Chinese attacks continued, American forces withdrew south. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory. Because Elmore could not be accounted for by his unit, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 3 August 2018
 
Items of Interest
Repatriation of remains from North Korea
This week the Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency shared with the American Legion information of U.S. Forces Korea Mortuary, Osan personnel, and South Korean counterparts receiving remains from North Korea of U.S. servicemembers. Of the remains turned over by DPRK in the 55 boxes, none are yet identified.  DPAA’s detailed forensic analyses to identify will begin as soon as remains are accessioned into the DPAA laboratory this week.  Based upon previous Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) turnovers, most of the remains will take many months to a few years to identify.   There's also a likelihood there may be more than 55 separate individuals represented, some may be additional portions of previously repatriated Americans, and some may belong to non-US personnel.  DNA and isotope testing will serve as forensic Discriminators.
 
Army has decided location for its new Futures Command
This week staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss the future site for the Army’s Futures Command.  An article was also released in the Army Times and is included below.
 
The new Army Futures Command (AFC) will be in Austin, Texas, congressional sources, who are now being notified of the choice, have confirmed.
 
The new four-star command was stood up in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington. The plan is to realign the Army’s modernization priorities under a new organization that will implement cross-functional teams that correspond with the service’s top six modernization efforts: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.
 
The service plans to make an official announcement on the location of the command July 13 at the Pentagon.
 
The Army has wanted the new command’s headquarters in a city or urban hub close to industry and academia and not on a base or military installation. Earlier this year it shortlisted several major cities in the U.S. as possible locations and put each through a rigorous vetting process. Congressional leaders from the locales pressed hard for a chance to host the new command.
 
The creation of the AFC has also meant taking some elements from some of the major commands and moving them over to the new organization, Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told Defense News in an exclusive interview just ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in March. But he said many of those elements won’t have to move to the command’s new location.
 
The AFC’s first commander has been reported to be Lt. Gen. John Murray, the current Army G−8, but the Army has not officially confirmed that selection.
 
Fallen Air Force combat controller to receive Medal of Honor for 2002 Battle of Roberts Ridge
(ArmyTimes) Tech Sgt. John Chapman, the combat controller who was killed during the fierce Battle of Roberts Ridge in Afghanistan in 2002, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.
 
President Donald Trump will present the medal during a White House ceremony Aug. 22. Chapman’s wife, Valerie Nessel, and his family will attend the ceremony.
 
Chapman will be the first airman to receive a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, for actions since the Vietnam War. He will be honored for his actions on March 4, 2002, on Takur Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan, according to the White House.
Chapman’s award comes just three months after retired Navy Master Chief Britt Slabinski, a former Navy SEAL, received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the same battle. The award for Slabinski stirred some controversy when it was announced, as news reports surfaced that the SEALs left the badly wounded Chapman on the mountaintop, thinking he was dead.
 
On March 4, 2002, during a helicopter insertion, Chapman’s aircraft came under heavy enemy fire and was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, according to the White House. One teammate was ejected from the aircraft, and the crippled helicopter crash landed in the valley below.
 
Chapman and the remaining joint special operations team members voluntarily returned to the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold, in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate, according to the White House. Chapman charged into enemy fire through harrowing conditions, seized an enemy bunker, and killed its enemy occupants.
 
He then moved from cover to engage a machine gun firing on his team from a second bunker. While engaging this position, he was severely wounded by enemy gunfire. Despite severe wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before paying the ultimate sacrifice, according to the White House.
 
Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates, according to the White House.
 
“Tech. Sgt. John Chapman earned America’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for the actions he performed to save fellow Americans on a mountain in Afghanistan more than 16 years ago,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement. “He will forever be an example of what it means to be one of America’s best and bravest airmen.”
 
Chapman originally received an Air Force Cross, the second-highest valor award an airman can receive, for his heroism during the March 4, 2002, battle against al Qaida fighters. But newly enhanced video from a Predator drone showed more evidence that Chapman was not dead, but instead unconscious, when the team of Navy SEALs withdrew from the battle under withering fire.
 
Slabinski told the New York Times in 2016 that he crawled to Chapman but detected no response and thought he was dead before he retreated down the mountain’s face.
 
The Air Force’s video analysis suggested Chapman regained consciousness and resumed fighting al Qaida members approaching on three sides. Chapman is believed to have crawled into a bunker, shot and killed an enemy fighter charging at him, and killed another enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat.
 
This new evidence prompted former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in 2016 to recommend his Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
 
Retired Delta Force commander Maj. Gen. Gary Harrell was quoted by the Times saying that if anyone thought Chapman was still alive, “we would have been trying to move heaven and earth to get him out of there.”
 
Harrell also cautioned anyone against armchair-quarterbacking the harrowing events, or the men who endured them.
 
“It’s easy to say, ‘well, I’d never leave someone behind,’” Harrell was quoted as saying. “It’s a lot harder when you’re getting your ass shot off.”
 
Chapman joined the Air Force in September 1985 as an information systems operator, according to the White House. He later volunteered to be a combat controller and was an expert in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control, and terminal attack control operations.
 
“Tech. Sgt. John Chapman fought tenaciously for his nation and his teammates on that hill in Afghanistan,” Air Force Chief of Staff General Dave Goldfein said in a statement. “His inspiring story is one of selfless service, courage, perseverance, and honor as he fought side by side with his fellow soldiers and sailors against a determined and dug-in enemy. Tech. Sgt. Chapman represents all that is good, all that is right, and all that is best in our American airmen.”
 
The Medal of Honor for Chapman is a “huge deal” for the Air Force special tactics community, Master Sgt. Robert Gutierrez, an Air Force combat controller who himself was recognized with the Air Force Cross, recently told reporters.
 
“We are very fortunate to even have someone who’s already up for the Medal of Honor: John Chapman — huge deal for us," he said.
 
US, Australia Agree to Boost Number of Marines Down Under to 2,500
(Military.com) After years of a slow buildup, the Marine Corps will soon begin sending 2,500 leathernecks to Australia annually.
 
Marine Rotational Force-Darwin will increase in size by about 1,000 troops "as soon as practicable," according to a State Department news release.
 
Smaller contingents of Marines have been spending half of every year in Australia's Northern Territory since 2012. Now, top U.S. and Aussie officials say it's time to bring the rotation to its full capacity.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Australian Minister for Defense Marise Payne and Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop this week in California.
 
The four discussed the importance of U.S.-Aussie defense cooperation, particularly "through full implementation of Force Posture Initiatives between U.S. and Australian forces in Australia," the State Department release reads.
 
"They emphasized the value of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Enhanced Air Cooperation for improving the interoperability of U.S. and Australian defense forces," the release states. "The United States and Australia highlighted their commitment to raising the number of Marines rotating to Darwin to the full complement of 2,500 as soon as practicable."
 
Marine officials did not immediately respond to questions about how soon the full force could deploy Down Under.
 
Reaching the 2,500-Marine level force has been in the works for years as part of an agreement first struck between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011. The deployments began the following spring, during the territory's dry season, with a company-sized rotation of about 250 Marines. By 2014, the size grew to about 1,200 Marines and included heavy-lift helicopters.
 
There are currently about 1,500 Marines in Darwin, along with eight MV-22B Ospreys. The Marines arrived in April and will stay through October. Throughout the rotation, the force is scheduled to participate in 15 training exercises with local and international troops.
 
During the talks this week, Mattis and the other leaders who met also agreed to integrate U.S. forces into Australia's annual Indo-Pacific Endeavour exercise in the South Pacific. The large-scale maritime exercise is designed to improve Australia's partnership with other troops in the region.
 
Eighteen countries participated in the exercise this year, according to an Australian defense release, which included stops in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
 
The Marines' growing presence in Australia has irked some Chinese leaders, who've accused the U.S. of raising tensions in the region. The U.S. has grown wary of some of China's activities in the Asia-Pacific region, including the building of man-made islands in the South China Sea.
 
Quality of Life
New fitness test being implemented for the Army
National Security Division staff were briefed on the new test by senior defense officials earlier this week on the implementation of the new test.
 
The new test is under review and won’t be implemented for two years.  The new age and gender neutral test was announced Monday.  It will replace the run/sit-ups/push-ups test that soldiers have endured for the past four decades. 
 
The upcoming year-long field study to determine how to grade the new six-event Army Combat Fitness Test, and how it will affect personnel policies like promotions and separations.
That study will begin this October, Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost said, bringing the new regimen to about 60 battalions across every unit type in the Army.
 
The Army recognizes that war doesn’t account for age or gender and all soldiers must be able to perform what is required. 
This is what the test will look like:
  • Deadlift between 120 and 420 pounds, depending on the individual soldier. You must do three reps in five minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Standing power throw. You’ll be required to toss a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and backward. You’ll have three minutes to make one practice throw and two for a grade. The longest distance is recorded.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Hand-release push-ups. You lower your chest to the floor and lift your hands off the ground between each rep. You’ll be required to do the most reps in three minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Sprint-drag-carry. In four minutes, you will go 25 meters out and 25 meters back five times. Each iteration will include a different activity: sprint, drag a sled, run a lateral shuffle, carry two 40-pound kettle bells, then sprint again.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Leg tuck. You will be required to hang from a pull-up bar and with your body parallel, then pull knees to your elbows for as many reps as possible in two minutes.
  • Five-minute rest.
  • Two-mile run on a track or a paved, level road, with a 20-minute maximum.
     
    Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
    This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Service members to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
    KEY POINTS:
     
        -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable).  
     
        -- The provision that requires a Service member to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
     
        -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
     
       --  If a service member fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
     
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
The full hearing can be viewed at: https://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=395386
 
Legislation
  • The Defense Authorization Conference has concluded and the agreement authorizes $708.1 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs, $16 billion more than the FY 2018 authorized level and $1.2 billion less than the president's overall request. The total includes $639.1 billion for the Pentagon's base, non-war budget that is subject to spending caps and $69 billion for uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to support operations in Afghanistan, the fight against the Islamic State, and the general war on terrorism. It includes a large increase in funding for nuclear weapons, including funds for a controversial new "low-yield" nuclear warhead, as well as additional funding for more ships, planes and armored vehicles. The agreement also contains numerous provisions targeting Russia and China, including $6.3 billion for added equipment and U.S. forces to help protect Eastern Europe from Moscow. It does not, however, include a Senate provision that would have re-imposed a ban on U.S. exports to the Chinese company ZTE, which President Trump had overturned.
 
Other Activities
  • This week staff from the National Security Division held a conference call with a company titled Emergency Rescue Solutions Group to discuss the potential for collaboration between their mission and the American Legion.  Their product is an emergency kit that could be placed in every home that would be a communication tool for the household and rescue workers.   ERSG is seeking to partner with other organizations who have an established interest consistent with its interest in disaster preparedness and disaster response. The issues of disaster preparedness and disaster response are consistent with the National Security Pillar of The American Legion.  More specifically, the purposes of the Law and Order & Homeland Security Committee include an emphasis on disaster management and recovery, as well as support for the emergency responder community.
 
  • National Security Division staff held a conference call with senior defense officials from the Army to discuss an array of topics.  The Army presented its new physical standards test.  The test will be gender and age neutral and more in line with real world physical requirements.  The test is under a two year review.  The Army noted that it will likely not meet its recruitment goal for 2018 but expects to meet its 100% in 2019.  Staff also received an update from subject matter experts from the Office of Legislative Liaison, Soldier for Life and Army MEDCOM.
 
  • This week staff continued to prepare for National Convention by developing scripts, agendas, and fact sheets for resolutions received from Departments.  As we approach the event we are continuing to finalize the details for the pre-convention trip to Camp Ripley.  The trip will include a command briefing from the base commander’s executive officer, a tour of the facilities to include new state of the art training simulators used by soldier in preparation for deployments. 
     
  • Staff is also coordinating travel arrangements for guest presenters who will speak to the National Security Commission on Saturday, August 25th.  The lineup includes leadership from the Defense Health Agency, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, and leadership from the Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General’s office. 
     
  • In addition to coordinating speakers for the National Security Commission, staff is coordinating with distinguished guests from overseas who will be presenting on the main National Convention stage.  These guests are attending from Korea, Canada, and Taiwan. Staff also are coordinating with distinguished guest from the Department of Defense. 
     
  • This week staff worked to prepare a case study on potential locations for the National Commander’s 2018 Far East trip.  This planning involves coordination with the Department of State, Department of Defense and overseas American Legion Departments.  Staff are developing several possible itineraries for the trip that will be reviewed next week.  Locations and dates will depend on availability of diplomats in the various countries within the timeline of the National Commander’s visits. 
     
  • This week the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency released photos showing the turnover of the remains of U.S. servicemembers from North Korea.  Staff has worked with the Media Division to develop a story to include on the Legion.org website as well to announce the story through social media.  DPAA expects that they may have received approximately 55 remains that will need to be confirmed as U.S. personnel.  
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
Details of the FY 2018 DPAA budget request can be found at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/FY2018/budget_justification/pdfs/01OperationandMaintenance/OMVOL1PART1/DPAAOP-5.pdf
 
Personnel Recovered
 
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Chester E. Seaton, 20, of Omaha, Nebraska, accounted for on Nov. 6, 2017, will be buried August 8 in Tacoma, Washington. On Dec. 7, 1941, Seaton was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Seaton.
     
  • Army Sgt. William A. Larkins, 20, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, accounted for on May 4, 2017, will be buried Aug. 10 in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. In late November 1950, Larkins was a member of A Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting off persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch’ongch’on River region of North Korea. Through a series of attacks, the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) pressed 2ID units into local withdrawals to avoid being outflanked. On the night of Nov. 25, 1950, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) began relentless attacks which continued until the end of the month. On Dec. 1,1950, the 503rd FA BN began their movement down the Main Supply Route under continuous enemy mortar, small arms and machine gun fire, toward the town of Sunchon, where Larkins was reported missing in action.
     
  • Army Cpl. Terrell J. Fuller, 20, of Toccoa, Georgia, accounted for on April 13, will be buried Aug. 11 in his hometown. In February 1951, Fuller was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting Republic of Korea Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. After enduring sustained enemy attacks, the American units withdrew to Wonju, South Korea. It was during this withdrawal that Fuller was reported missing, as of Feb. 12, 1951.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division