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National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 3 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
North Korea
Planning for summit with North Korea continues to gain interest as we draw closer to May 9th.  The most important thing to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is regime survival and the most important thing to him is his nuclear arsenal. But by historically meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Friday, Pyongyang has shown what is most important. Nukes are, and always were, subservient to regime well-being.
 
Kim, who has god-like status among his people, has in effect told them four things:
1) The nukes program has served its purpose, and we will stop work on it now.
2) All efforts will focus on making you rich, like the Chinese and South Koreans.
3) I have started a new era of Korean history by reaching out to the South.
4) Our nukes have tamed the Yankees, and now I am going to trade them for permanent security and leverage to make you rich.
 
At this point he cannot go back to his people and announce that he misread the situation so we will go back to being poor but proud with our nuclear weapons. 
 
NAVY
SECDEF considering changing Navy deployments to check great power threats
(MilitaryTimes) - A typical carrier deployment from Norfolk goes like this: A tearful goodbye on the pier, a trip across the Atlantic, then one or maybe two port visits in Europe before heading through “The Ditch” and into U.S. Central Command territory. There you will stay for the bulk of the cruise before returning the way you came.  Those days might be coming to an end.
 
The Navy and Pentagon planners are already weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to U.S. Central Command, opting instead to hold the carrier in Europe as a check on Russia, breaking with more than 30 years of nearly continuous carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf. But even more fundamental changes could be in the works.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made clear as the military’s top civilian that he has a very different vision for how the military will be used in the future. And recent comments have hinted at big changes on the horizon for the Navy and how it deploys.
 
In testimony last month, Mattis twice compared that kind of predictability to running a commercial shipping operation, and said the Navy needed to get away from being so easily anticipated.
 
“That’s a great way to run a shipping line,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s no way to run a Navy.”
 
But as Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chief Gen. Joseph Dunford drive towards new ways of employing the fleet, changing the way that fleet deploys will put pressure on its existing deployment model, forcing the Navy to rethink a structure that governs nearly everything it does — from manning and training to its maintenance cycles.
 
In an era of great-power competition with China and Russia, Mattis describes the Navy showing up where it’s not expected, making deployments less burdensome to the fleet and its families but more worrisome to a potential adversary.
 
“The way you do this is to ensure that preparation for great power competition drives not simply a rotational schedule that allows me to tell you, three years from now, which aircraft carrier will be where in the world,” he told House lawmakers. “When we send them out, it may be for a shorter deployment. There will be three carriers in the South China Sea today, and then, two weeks from now, there’s only one there, and two of them are in the Indian Ocean.
 
“They’ll be home at the end of a 90-day deployment. They will not have spent eight months at sea, and we are going to have a force more ready to surge and deal with the high-end warfare as a result, without breaking the families, the maintenance cycles — we’ll actually enhance the training time.”
 
Quality of Life
At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects
(MilitaryTimes) - This week the Pentagon released a report stating that at least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer and birth defects.  In a March report provided to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon for the first time publicly listed the full scope of the known contamination. The Defense Department identified 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds.
 
These included 36 sites with drinking water contamination on-base, and more than 90 sites that reported either on-base or off-base drinking water or groundwater contamination, in which the water source tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOS and PFOAs.
 
The man-made chemicals, which can be used to make items heat or water resistant, are found in everyday household, food and clothing items, even take-out food wrappers.  At military bases, however, they are concentrated in the foam used to put out aircraft fires.
 
Monday, staff participated in a conference call with senior officials from the Department of Defense to address a recent report released on sexual assaults during fiscal year 2017 within the Department and a memo from the SECDEF expressing his firm commitment to ending sexual assault in the military and his expectations in regard for every person in uniform.  The report showed 4,193 women reported (+13% from FY16) and 1,084 (no change from FY16) men reported for a total of 5,277 service members. 
 
Of the 4,779 subject case dispositions reported in FY17:
• 3,567 military subjects of sexual assault investigations could be considered for possible action by DoD commanders
– DoD authorities had sufficient evidence to take some kind of disciplinary action against 62% (2,218 of 3,567) of military subjects
• Of the 2,218 subjects with sufficient evidence to receive disciplinary action:
– 1,446 received action on a sexual assault charge – with 53% (774 of 1,446) having court-martial charges preferred
– 772 received action on some other form of misconduct (e.g., assault, false statement, adultery)
• Standardization of data in DSAID and updates in law and policy likely contributed to some of the recent changes in data.
 
Future of U.S. troops in South Korea
(MilitaryTimes) - Mixed signals from top political leaders ahead of a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have some questioning what is the future for the 28,500 U.S. military members and their families stationed in South Korea.
 
Kim has paused his nuclear and missile tests, also placing his nuclear program up for negotiation in recent talks with South Korea. But North Korea has had a mixed history of at times making the removal of U.S. forces a precondition for any denuclearization and at other times saying it is willing to talk without troops leaving the peninsula.
 
And it’s not as though there hasn’t been rumbling about this from the U.S. commander in chief.
New reports indicate that Trump was talked down from removing the troops ahead of the winter Olympics. Trump said in March that he would consider removing troops to get a better trade deal with South Korea.
 
And Defense Secretary James Mattis responded to media questions about force levels last week with a somewhat vague response, interpreted by some as opening the door for a reduction in forces.
“That’s part of the issues that we’ll be discussing in negotiations with our allies first, and of course with North Korea,” he said in response to a question about potential troop reductions.
“I think for right now we just have to go along with the process, have the negotiations and not try to make preconditions or presumptions about how it’s going to go,” he said.
One expert said troop removal would be “devastating” both to South Korea and across the globe for U.S. allies. Another sees the troops there, at best a single combat brigade for a conventional fight, as being purely “symbolic” and not needed.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said this week that the U.S. forces stationed in his country are not there solely for a North Korea deterrent.
“U.S. troops in South Korea are a matter of the South Korea-U.S. alliance. It has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty,” Moon said.
But one of his advisers previously said it would be “difficult to justify” the continuing U.S. presence if a peace treaty were signed.
Bruce Klingner, is a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation who served as a Central Intelligence Agency deputy division chief for Korea.
“I think having U.S. military on the peninsula is the most tangible signal of U.S. resolve and commitment to our allies as possible,” Klingner said.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Tynnetta Lee, Department of VA Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The purpose of this meeting was to get a better understanding of the VA’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion advises and supports the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration in diversity and inclusion issues. The office also supports the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries, and Assistant Secretaries in their actions to achieve and sustain a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. However, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is not specifically designed to help only veterans but all citizens. 
     
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with the Volunteer Services at the Department of Veteran Affairs. The purpose of this meeting was to establish relationships at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center to set up a biweekly table to inform veterans of the services the American Legion provides and the American Legion Women Veterans Program.
     
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attend the VA Monthly Partner’s Breakfast. The guest speaker was Lief Nelson, Director, National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Nelson, spoke about the Winter Sports Clinic. Generally, there are about 16% of women veterans. Staff from the National Security Division informed the Center for Women Veterans of the new women veterans website; the 2 day conference at Convention and on the update on the HERstory Breakfast.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Minority Health Resource Center webinar on Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life-Course Perspective. This webinar focused on the differential exposures to protective and risk factors during pregnancy such as current socioenomic status, maternal risky behaviors, prenatal care, psychosocial stress, or perinatal infections. In the United States, African American infants have significantly worse birth outcomes than non-African American infants. The cause of these persisting racial disparities remains unexplained. Eliminating disparities requires interventions and policy development that are more longitudinally and contextually integrated than currently prevail.
     
  • On Friday through Sunday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend the State of Women Conference with three members from Post 43 in Los Angelo’s California. Day one will engage women, girls, and allies from across the country through inspiring mainstage sessions, issue-breakouts, opportunities to connect with leading fellow change makers, and an interactive center with organizations and women-owned businesses. Day two attendees will fan out across Los Angeles to attend skills-based trainings or Community Teach –In’s hosted by a range of organizations that are making change on gender equity in Los Angeles.
     
    Hearings
  • This week the Senate Armed Services Committee held several hearings to markup the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.  Topics covered included emerging threats and capabilities, sea power and projection forces, and strategic forces.  The President’s budget request is higher than the FY2018 NDAA which marks a reversal of the Defense Spending Caps also known as sequestration.
     
Legislation
  • This week staff is working with the Legislative Division to prepare for testimony on several bills that address national security issues.  One bill would reform the military Transition Assistance Program.  TAP would no long be a mandatory 5 day program plus two optional days.  It will instead offer service members three separate tailored programs that would provide them with information and resources specific to their intended career path. 
     
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and purple heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
 
Other Activities
  • This week National Security Division staff held several conference calls with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
     
  • Monday, staff participated in a conference call with senior officials from the Department of Defense to address a recent report released on sexual assaults during fiscal year 2017 within the Department and a memo from the SECDEF expressing his firm commitment to ending sexual assault in the military and his expectations in regard for every person in uniform.  The report showed 4,193 women reported (+13% from FY16) and 1,084 (no change from FY16) men reported for a total of 5,277 service members. 
     
    Of the 4,779 subject case dispositions reported in FY17:
    • 3,567 military subjects of sexual assault investigations could be considered for possible action by DoD commanders
    – DoD authorities had sufficient evidence to take some kind of disciplinary action against 62% (2,218 of 3,567) of military subjects
    • Of the 2,218 subjects with sufficient evidence to receive disciplinary action:
    – 1,446 received action on a sexual assault charge – with 53% (774 of 1,446) having court-martial charges preferred
    – 772 received action on some other form of misconduct (e.g., assault, false statement, adultery)
    • Standardization of data in DSAID and updates in law and policy likely contributed to some of the recent changes in data.
     
  • Monday, staff participated in a meeting with the Legislative and VE&E Divisions to discuss a unnumbered bill that addresses reforming the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program.  The bill would change the standard 5 day plus 2 optional day current program to a more tailored program with three paths for service members to choose from.  
 
  • Tuesday, staff from the National Security Division attended an event hosted by the Center for a New America titled “Iraq After ISIS: What to Do Now.”  In 2017, the United States dealt ISIS a devastating blow eliminating its territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria. Iraq, which will hold national elections on May 12th, emerged out of the war against ISIS strong and in an increasingly positive mood.  Yet as Iraq looks ahead to a post-ISIS future, numerous challenges lie ahead.  Just last week Iraq conducted its first military air strikes outside of its borders since 1990 against ISIS forces in Syria. 
 
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
  • Army Pfc. Billy R. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Ball was a member of Headquarters Detachment Philippines Department, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Raymond A. Barker, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Barker was assigned to Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, 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. Barker died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve 1st Sgt. David H. Quinn, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Quinn was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (C-2d Amp Tr Bn), 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. Quinn died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold V. Thomas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  In November 1943, Thomas was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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. Thomas died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division
 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 20 April 2018
 
Items of Interest
No reports of transgender troops affecting unit cohesion, Marine Corps and Navy leaders say
(MilitaryTimes) - The heads of the Navy and Marine Corps told lawmakers Thursday that they have received no reports of transgender devil dogs or sailors impacting unit cohesion in the ranks.
 
New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s cohesion question comes as President Trump’s ban on most transgender troops released last month is being challenged in at least four federal court cases.
 
Pentagon officials said last month that, due to those cases, transgender troops were unlikely to be immediately affected by the ban.
 
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said “it’s steady as she goes” when it comes to the impact of the White House’s transgender troop policy on Navy readiness and personnel.
 
“By virtue of being a Navy sailor, we treat every one of those Navy sailors, regardless, with dignity and respect,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is warranted by wearing the uniform of the United States Navy. By virtue of that approach, I am not aware of any issues.”
 
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller also said he was not aware of any issues.
Neller said that 27 Marines currently serving in the Corps identify as transgender, offering one of the first concrete figures regarding the military’s transgender demographic.
 
The exact number of Trans troops remains unknown, according to a February Pentagon report, but a 2016 survey found 8,980 troops identifying as transgender.
 
“Those that came forward, we have to honor the fact that they came out, and they trusted us to say that, and help them get through the process,” Neller said. “Part of it is education, part of it is some medical things that have to be involved as they go through the process of transitioning.”
Neller said he had heard from some commanders that the medical requirements of some transgender Marines can present additional issues.
 
“There is a burden on the commands to handle that stuff,” he said. “Some have said it’s not a problem at all, others have said there is a lot of time when this individual may or may not be available.”
 
Neller also said he had met with transgender Navy and Marine officers, an Army staff sergeant and a Navy corpsman.
 
“I learned about their desire to serve,” he said. “As long as they can meet the standard of what their particular occupation was, I think we’ll move forward.”
 
The Navy is taking a cue from lessons learned when women were integrated into the submarine force, and that there must be no difference in training, Richardson said.
 
“Maintaining that level playing field of a standards-based approach seems to be the key to success,” he said, “and that’s the approach we’re taking.”
 
North Korea
South Korea Reports that North Korea seeks complete denuclearization
(Reuters) – North Korea has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula and has not attached conditions, South Korea’s president said on Thursday, but Washington remains wary and has vowed to maintain “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.
 
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said agreements about denuclearization, establishing a peace regime and normalization of relations between the Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to reach through a North-South summit next week, and a later summit planned between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
 
“I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea. The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies.
 
“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”
 
CIA Director Mike Pompeo met Kim this month to discuss a proposed summit with Trump and reported that the North Korean leader was not demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces as a precondition for the meeting, a U.S. official briefed on Pompeo’s trip told Reuters.
 
However, the official, who did not want to be identified, said that while Kim was open to negotiating “denuclearization,” the term remained undefined and potentially deceptive, given the need for a timetable and an inspection regime.
 
North Korea has defended its nuclear and missile programs in the face of worldwide condemnation and sanctions as a necessary deterrent against perceived U.S. hostility.
 
It has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
 
On Wednesday, Trump, who says he plans to meet Kim in late May or early June for an unprecedented summit to try to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons, reaffirmed the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to maintain that umbrella.
In a joint statement after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the U.S. commitment to defend Japan “through the full range of U.S. military capabilities” was “unwavering”.
 
They reiterated their commitment to the “permanent and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea” and the need for Pyongyang to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, while vowing stepped up sanctions enforcement.
 
The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Trump complained in his election campaign about the cost of keeping those in Korea but his administration has given no indication of any plan to withdraw them.
 
South Korea announced on Wednesday it is considering how to change decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month.
Moon said he saw the possibility of a peace agreement, or even international aid for North Korea’s economy, if it denuclearizes.
 
But he also said the inter-Korean summit had “a lot of constraints”, in that the Koreas could not make progress separate from the North Korea-United States summit, and could not reach an agreement that transcends international sanctions.
 
“So first, the South-North Korean summit must make a good beginning, and the dialogue between the two Koreas likely must continue after we see the results of the North Korea-United States summit,” Moon said.
 
Aviation
What's Behind the Stark Rise in U.S. Military Accidents?
(PopularMechanics) - The U.S. military has experienced a rash of military accidents in the air and at sea, with aircraft-related crashes up nearly 40 percent since 2013. From destroyers colliding with commercial vessels in the Western Pacific to a downed Harrier jump jet in Djibouti, the last several months have seen several highly publicized accidents, many of which involved fatalities. At least one investigation has correlated the rise in accidents with a defense budget cuts.
 
According to an investigation by Military Times, accidents involving manned military aircraft rose nearly 40 percent between 2013 and 2017. In the last three weeks alone, six military accidents have killed 16 people. Between 2013 and 2017, 133 were killed in accidents. The latest incident involved the crash of an Apache Guardian attack helicopter at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Both pilots were killed.
 
The U.S. military divides accidents into three categories: A, B, and C. Class “C” accidents involve damage between $50,000 and $500,000 including minor injuries to military personnel. Class “B” accidents involve damage between $500,000 and $2 million and permanent or partial disability to one individual or more minor injuries to three individuals. Class “A” accidents involve damages of more than $2 million, loss of the aircraft, and a permanent disability or death. The Military Times database covers everything from a crushed foot suffered onboard a C-17A Globemaster in 2017 to a 2010 Army helicopter crash in Puerto Rico that resulted in the loss of six Army personnel and their UH-72 Lakota helicopter.
 
The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald after a collision that killed seven sailors and injured three others.
 
Although the Times investigation doesn’t include naval accidents at sea, the U.S. Navy also experienced a rash of accidents unprecedented in modern times. A trio of separate accidents in 2017 involving U.S. Navy surface warships sidelined two guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, killing 17 sailors and injuring eight more.
 
The Budget Control Act of 2011, commonly known as “the Sequestration,” triggered automatic defense spending cuts in 2013. As a result of the cuts, defense spending across the board was reduced. It's hard to separate correlation from causation here, but the evidence certainly suggests the cuts had the unanticipated effect of more and more dangerous accidents. Cutting procurement results in older, more difficult to maintain aircraft staying in service longer. Cutting maintenance makes aircraft more likely to be unavailable for flight operations and increases the chance of an undiagnosed issue will cause problems. Cutting on training leaves aircraft and ship crews less effective at their jobs, especially during unexpected situations.
 
At the same time, unlike the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, accidents in the U.S. Army’s helicopter force held steady during the same time period. DefenseNews reports the Army’s accident rate actually dropped after the Sequestration was enacted. It’s not entirely clear why the Army, which also had budget cuts forced on it, was successful in holding the line on accidents
 
Quality of Life
Army unit retracts memo touting VA benefits for soldiers due to bad anthrax vaccines
(Military.com) In the past week, a memo has been circulating online about possible 100 percent VA disability benefits for a particular group of soldiers.
 
The April 10 tasking order called on the unit to identify which of its soldiers had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, or Fort Drum, New York, between 2001 and 2007, in case they had been exposed to a bad batch of anthrax vaccine.
 
But it was written based on bad information, according to a spokeswoman for 8th Army in Korea, where 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is based.
 
“Defense Health Agency representatives have verified the information is false and completely without merit,” Christina Wright told Army Times in a statement. “Once the brigade discovered the error, the correct information was published to their soldiers.”
 
The statement did not provide details on where the original information came from or what the unit told soldiers following the retraction of the memo.
 
The original tasking order sought to identify soldiers who had received an anthrax vaccination during that time at those posts, then send them to a unit physician to screen the soldiers and verify their medical records.
 
The statement also did not identify whether the Army had, in fact, administered vaccines from a “bad batch,” as the memo stated.
 
Wright did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
 
A 2009 study released by the National Institutes of Health found no definitive link between the shots and side effects, up to and including death.
 
The report found that of the 6 million doses given between 1998 and 2007, fewer than 5,000 patients reported negative side effects.
 
On the other hand, a 2002 Government Accounting Office report claimed 85 percent of service members vaccinated against anthrax between 1998 and 2000 had adverse reactions — the first two years that the Defense Department had required the inoculations.
 
A 2002 study from the NIH found that 32 percent of anthrax-vaccinated service members studied had a specific antibody in their blood that is associated with Gulf War Syndrome.
 
The study’s authors found a connection between those with the antibody and certain batches of vaccine. In testing those particular batches, they found that antibody in 47 percent of patients.
However, the study did not find a conclusive link between the anthrax vaccine and Gulf War Syndrome.
 
“The potential side effects of vaccines, including anthrax, are generally mild and temporary,” Wright said. “While the risk of serious harm is extremely small, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing serious injury or death.”
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Staff from the National Security Division attended the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans in Saint Louis, Missouri. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary on the administration of VA benefits and services to minority veterans, to assess the needs of minority veterans and to evaluate whether VA compensation and pension, medical and rehabilitation services, memorial services outreach, and other programs are meeting those needs. According to the census data in St. Louis the following represents the number of each ethic group that utilizes the VA: Asian American (2,371); African American (34,396); Hispanic (3,277); Native American (1,075); and Pacific Islanders (34). The following information is some of the data that was presented during the Advisory Committee: The HOPE Homeless Program provide service to approximately 2,296 unique Veterans with approximately 400 permanent housing placements through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Grant and Per Diem partnership during FY17 with the VA St. Louis Healthcare Catchment area. While attending the Advisory Committee meeting, Staff from the National Security Division arranged a meeting with Eve Holzemer the Women Veterans Program Manager at the VA St. Louis Health Care System. Ms. Holzemer and Staff from the National Security Division discussed some things that Ms. Holzemer would love to see improved at this facility for women veterans such as additional gynecologist for infertility, Urogynecology partnerships with the local Universities and the hiring of providers and staff with experience in Women’s Health.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Elizabeth Estabrooks, Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator. Ms. Estabooks is the coordinator for the I Am NOT Invisible Exhibit. The exhibit is a wonderful mechanism for increasing awareness about women veterans, and having it at the National convention would certainly support American Legion’s theme of celebrating the History of Women Veterans since 1919 at its 2018 National Convention. It’s truly a beautiful, powerful, and touching exhibit with female veterans representing from age 22 to 108.  Ms. Estabrooks will also be willing to give a presentation on the history of women veterans in the military.
Hearings
  • This week the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has targeted most Pentagon support agencies for a 25 percent cut, proposing seven be shuttered entirely.  If adopted, it could lead to thousands of defense civilian job cuts and massive changes for defense contractors. Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry announced the proposal Tuesday, aimed at eliminating bureaucratic waste to reap more than $25 billion to reinvest in war fighting. The moves come after he and other pro-defense lawmakers won a two-year budget deal that boosts defense to $700 billion in fiscal 2018 and $716 in fiscal 2019.
     
  • The House Armed Services Committee on Readiness held a hearing this week to review the Army Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request Readiness Posture.  The expert witness present consisted of Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Timothy Kadvy, Director, Army National Guard, U.S. Army, Lieutenant General Charles Luckey, Chief of Army Reserve, U.S. Army; and Lieutenant General Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, U.S. Army.
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
Other Activities
  • This staff from the National Security Division are attending participating in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Minority Veterans, Advisory committee on Minority Veterans taking place in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Committee will hold session open to the public on an array of topics.  Additionally, the Committee will be conducting tours of VA facilities, participating in off-site events, and participating in workgroup sessions. 
     
    Appointed by the Secretary, The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) was established under Public Law 103-446 § 510, November 2, 1994.  The Committee consists of veterans who represent respective minority groups and are recognized authorities in fields pertinent to the needs of the minority group they embody.  The Committee responsibilities include:
  • Advising the Secretary and Congress on VA’s administration of benefits and provisions of healthcare, benefits, and services to minority veterans.
  • Providing an Annual report to congress outlining recommendations, concerns and observations on VA’s delivery of services to minority veterans.
  • Meeting with VA officials, Veteran Service Organizations, and other stakeholders to assess the Department’s efforts in providing benefits and outreach to Minority Veterans.
  • Making periodic site visits and holding town hall meetings with Veterans to address their concerns.
 
  • Monday, National Security Division staff held a conference call with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
 
  • Tuesday, National Security Division staff met with a Senior Director from Express Scripts.  Express Scripts provides mail delivered prescriptions for the Defense Health Agency to veterans.  As of February 1, 2018 a co-pay was implemented at $7 per prescription for mail 90 day supply mailed prescriptions.  If the beneficiary visits a TRICARE pharmacy there is no co-pay.  National Security staff expressed that veterans who do not live near a military pharmacy have no way to avoid the new co-pay and requested follow-up discussions to look for ways to potentially reduce or make an exemption for those veterans. 
Tuesday, National Security Division staff met with management from a Management and Strategy Consulting firm to discuss an issue with the timeliness of delivery of prosthetics to their intended servicemembers.  National Security Staff will be following up with distributers and manufacturers to determine the reason for the delays and assist to develop a solution to the problem.
 
  • Tuesday National Security Division staff held a conference call with the National Security Commission Chairmen and the 7 National Security Committee Chairmen to review 3 resolutions submitted by Department Executive Committees that are to be considered during the Spring National Executive Meetings. 
     
  • Wednesday staff from the National Security Division attended a roundtable discussion with senior defense officials from the Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency.  The monthly discussion will be to provide an update on changes being implemented to TRICARE since January 1, 2018 to include call center common concerns, copay increases and how to better inform beneficiaries of further changes coming throughout 2018.  The biggest change highlighted for 4th quarter 2018 will be the first ever open enrollment for TRICARE beneficiaries.
     
  • Wednesday staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior defense officials from the Defense POW/Accounting Agency. The Secretary of Defense’s Protocol Director requested to host a discussion with DPAA’s key constituents to discuss possible changes to the Secretary's annual POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony which takes place at the Pentagon in order to ensure interest and participation do not decline.
     
  • Thursday National Security Division staff met with staff from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Congressional Affairs.  National Security is requesting this meeting in order enhance the American Legion’s relationship with the Coast Guard so we can work more closely on issues on The Hill.
     
  • This Saturday the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will be conducting a family update in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.  They have invited two representatives from the Department of South Dakota to attend the update.  The National Security Division has informed the South Dakota Adjutant and Commander of the event and provided contact information to them from DPAA. 
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
  • Army Master Sgt. Finley J. Davis, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late 1950, Davis was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was fighting off persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch’ongch’on River area in northwest North Korea. The battle began on Nov. 25, 1950, when the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) initiated an offensive along the 8th Army front. All 8th Army units were ordered to withdraw on November 29. Davis’ battalion was assigned to provide security for the division. The unit was attacked again by the CPVF and Davis was reported missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950.
     
  • Air Force Reserve 1st Lt. David T. Dinan, III, killed during the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On March 17, 1969, Dinan was a member of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 288th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force, and was the pilot of the number two aircraft in a flight of two F-105s on a strike mission over northern Laos. During the second strafing pass over the target, Dinan transmitted a distress message. The Forward Air Controller then observed Dinan’s parachute enter the jungle, as well as an aircraft crash. Search and rescue aircraft conducted an aerial search and located a parachute and confirmed the death of the pilot, however, due to enemy fire in the area and the hazardous location, his body could not be recovered. The U.S. Air Force subsequently reported Dinan as killed in action.
     
  • Army Pvt. Raymond Sinowitz, killed during WWII, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 8, 1941, Sinowitz was a member of 454th Ordnance Company, 27th Bombardment Group, the Far East Air Force, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of the Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
     
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Milton M. Beed, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for.  In February 1951, Beed was a member of Company A, 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 the village of Hoengsong, 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 Beed was reported missing, as of Feb. 12, 1951.
     
  • Army Cpl. Leonard V. Purkapile, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for.  In late November 1950, Purkapile was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, while withdrawing southeast to Yongbyon, North Korea. Following the battle, Purkapile could not be accounted for and he was reported as missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. By the end of the war, his status was changed to deceased and his remains deemed non-recoverable.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 30 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
TRADOC boss: Today’s soldiers have lost their edge against our enemies
(DefenseNews) - The Army has had no fewer than three major pushes in the past 15 years to upgrade soldier technology to state-of-the-art, but senior leaders are hoping that with the advent of Army Futures Command, this time they’ll finally get it right.
 
The Army needs new weapons, new night-vision and new protective systems to keep any edge over the competition, the head of Training and Doctrine Command said Wednesday at AUSA’s Global Force Symposium.
 
“U.S. close-combat soldiers, and Marines, in our squads and platoons do not over-match our enemies,” Gen. Stephen Townsend said. “Our adversaries have access to weapons and tech that can enable them to close the gap with our forces.”
 
The soldier lethality cross-functional team under AFC will realign the Army’s efforts on programs like a new squad automatic weapon, a new carbine and night-vision goggles.
 
“Minus this new pistol that’s coming out, we haven’t done much for these guys here,” Townsend said of the roughly 100,000 infantry, armor, forward observer, engineer and medical soldiers who engage in close combat.
 
Division comments: The push to update and modernize the equipment of soldiers and Marines engaged in close combat is long overdue, and has been overshadowed by the Army’s difficulty in successfully fielding new combat enhancing items. Getting combat soldiers physically fit, properly trained, and equipped with the best and most appropriate gear should be the minimal standard for Army Futures Command. In light of recent issues around the development and procurement of a new pistol, Congress must take necessary steps to ensure that this effort does not turn into another multi-billion dollar project that leads to nothing.
 
Army of 01101111: The Making of a Cyber Battalion
(Wired) – […] At any given moment at Fort Gordon, instructors in khakis are teaching soldiers at every stage of their career—shiny new privates, steely-eyed noncoms, cherry lieutenants, surly captains. Different courses tailored for different ranks, for months at a time, on how to wage war through computer networks in ways both offensive (disabling enemy networks is one potential tactic) and defensive (trying to find vulnerabilities in US military systems before an adversary can). Meanwhile, elsewhere on the base, about 900 cyber operators who’ve already passed through a form of this training—70 percent of the Army’s 1,300 active-duty cyber soldiers—are doing these very things for real. […]
 
Division comments: This article gives some insight into the development of military cyber formations, and the challenges around understanding and integrating a technical and abstract domain into existing joint operations strategies. The potential effects that cyber units could have in future conflicts will be immense: everything from shutting down communications systems remotely to altering enemy GPS data in real-time will be on the table, as will the necessity to defend our own forces from similar attacks. Global communications interconnectivity and relative ease-of-use of powerful electronic warfare and offensive cyber weapons should make developing and fielding this force a top priority across the Department of Defense.
 
North Korea
North Korea's Kim Jong Un met Xi Jinping on surprise visit to China
(CNN) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his first foreign trip since assuming power in 2011, meeting China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing and discussing giving up the country's nuclear weapons, according to Chinese state media.
 
Kim, who made the surprise trip to the Chinese capital at Beijing's request, said he felt compelled to personally inform President Xi of the rapid diplomatic developments on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, Xinhua reported.
 
The visit represents stunning shift for Kim, who appears to be fashioning himself as a leader in search of a peaceful solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. It's in sharp contrast to 2017, when Kim oversaw a string of missile and nuclear tests that drew the ire of the international community.
 
Kim's trip was the first of three potential meetings with some of the world's most powerful leaders.
 
Kim is set to attend a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month, and will later meet US President Donald Trump, in what would be an historic first encounter between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader.
 
Trump tweeted Wednesday that Xi told him his meeting with Kim went "very well."
 
The US President added he was optimistic Kim will "do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!"
 
Division comments: As the major parties in upcoming negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program make their preliminary diplomatic moves, it is heartening to see that rhetoric from all sides has been ratcheted down. While the ultimate U.S. goal is denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, this will require a concerted and prolonged whole-of-government effort that will most likely see setbacks and reversals along the way. The White House needs to demonstrate a steady hand in dealing with this complex issue, and ensure that it uses national power wisely to bring about the desired outcomes.
 
Quality of Life
Tricare Referral Waiver Extended Until April 1
(Military.com) - A waiver allowing Tricare users in the West region to receive civilian specialty care without a referral has been extended until April 1, a Tricare official announced Thursday on Facebook.
 
Typically, Tricare Prime users must get a referral to receive specialty care. The waiver, however, allows those users to receive in-network, specialty care and outpatient procedures without first going through the referral approval process. The previous waiver period was set to end March 18.
 
"We wanted to make sure quality control was good on the referrals ... and that Health Net indeed can sustain the demand," said Ken Canestrini, Tricare's acting director, during a Facebook Live event with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). "We're ... doing a review of that right now, and we're going to extend that another two weeks and go until April 1.
 
The waivers are good for all specialty care except inpatient procedures, applied behavior analysis (ABA) autism therapy, laboratory developed tests (LDT), and special needs Extended Health Care Option (ECHO) services.
 
The waivers were put in place in response to a Jan. 1 handoff by the previous West region contractor, United Healthcare, to Health Net Federal Service that resulted in a referral backlog, Canestrini said.
 
To use the waiver program, Tricare users must first get a written referral or order from their doctor -- paperwork that would usually be submitted to Health Net for approval. A Tricare user can then pair that letter with the waiver approval letter provided by Health Net, and present it to their specialist.
 
The waiver is good for care received through June 15. That means Tricare users don't need to see the specialist provided through the waiver before the new April 1 cutoff date. Instead, the referral and waiver pair will allow them to have their appointments any time before that mid-June date, provided the referral was ordered before April 1.
 
Health Net is urging specialists to accept the waiver and not call to ask questions.
 
"It is imperative providers accept the Tricare West Region Referral/Authorization Waiver Approval Letter as an approval of Tricare-covered services in order to not delay beneficiary care," Health Net states in a notice on its website. "Outside of the exceptions listed above, providers should not call [Health Net] for approval or submit requests for services covered under the waiver during the waiver period."
 
Health Net's website had not been updated to reflect the waiver extension at the time of this report.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division began to set up for the HERstory event on the seventh floor of The American Legion National Headquarters in Washington, DC. The set up required an arrangement for 40 people. The set up included: placing tables, chairs, table clothes, plates, and utensils. The set up also included adding decorations and setting up the step and repeat along with the red carpet.
     
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division coordinated the final details with the guest speaker of the HERstory breakfast, Vivian Greentree, Ph.D. Dr. Greentree is the Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Citizenship of First Data and a Navy Veteran.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division hosted a HERstory Breakfast Celebration to honor and celebrate women veterans during Women’s History Month. The guest Speaker for this event was Dr. Vivian Greentree, the Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Citizenship of First Data. Dr. Greentree spoke on the current statics of women veterans and also encouraged women veterans to get more involved.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attend the first planning committee meeting for the 2019 National Minority Veterans Summit at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This summit will be the first of its kind for VA, focusing primarily on minority Veterans. Staff will help the VA plan a successful summit that will help the VA develop a strategic framework for addressing key issues and concerns of minority veterans.
 
Hearings
  • Congress is in recess this week.
 
Legislation
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff will meet with staff members from the offices of Representative Denny Heck and Earl Blumenauer to discuss their respective national and homeland security priorities. 
 
  • The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service has provide an online open forum for the public to comment on the Selective Service System.  The Commission seeks to learn more about why people serve and why people may choose not to serve, as well as ways to increase the number of Americans in military, national, and public service.
Visit this website to post your comments: http://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughts
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, National Security Division staff attended a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute on "US in a Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria: Realigning Allies and Constraining Adversaries." In the Post-ISIS middle east, Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and Russia continue to pose challenges for the U.S. as the Trump Administration develops its policy for Iraq and Syria. Turkey’s expansion of its Syria operations has the U.S. and NATO allies concerned that Turkish actions in the region run counter to NATO goals. Additionally, cooperation between Russia and Iran continues to disrupt the balance of power in the region. Panelists explored U.S. options to realign allies with traditional NATO and U.S. positions, hold adversaries responsible for atrocities, and prevent security backsliding in the region. The panel consisted of Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Hillel Fradkin; Hudson Adjunct Fellow Michael Pregent; Senior Intelligence Planner at the Institute for the Study of War Jennifer Cafarella; Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Omran Center for Strategic Studies Ammar Kahf; and President of Soran University Dr. Nahro Zagros.
     
  • Tuesday, staff from the National Security Division received briefings and participated in a MSO/VSO roundtable discussion with leadership from the Defense Health Agency focused updating the group on the progress of changes being implemented to TRICARE mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.  In anticipation of the high expected call volume DHA opened additional calling centers on 1 January to assist veterans with ensuring they are enrolled in the plan that is best for them.  Additional changes are coming later in 2018 to include the open enrollment for TRICARE beneficiaries.   Rates will be posted mid-October and the enrollment period will be 12 November through 10 December.  DHA is also changing the Dental and Vision plan for retirees to a new program titled Federal Employees Vision and Dental Plan (FEDVIP). The National Security Division will include updates in our weekly reports and work with the Media Division to assist with awareness of the important dates and changes as well as where to find resources online.
     
  • On Wednesday, National Security, Legislative, and Veterans Employment & Education staff met with an official delegation from the nation of Japan, facilitated by the Institute for Technology, Economics, and Diplomacy (INTED). Dr. Joshua Walker, head of Global Strategic Initiatives at Eurasia Group, was also in attendance. The meeting presented an opportunity for cultural and policy exchange, and resulted in Japanese delegation extending an invitation for the National Commander and DC Executive Director to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the next Far East trip, as well as an invitation to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division edited and updated the information in the burial packet toolkits. This toolkit is for those love one who has to burial their significant other. This toolkit includes: the American legion national level contacts; death certificate; burial information and forms; surviving family benefits forms and additional resources such as: common contact information, 1 page guide of things to do when a veterans dies, a guide to pre-planning what to do before a veteran dies and a list of military monuments for women placed a 10 slot portfolio folder.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security Division staff attended a conference at the George Washington University's Elliot School "Beyond the Nuclear Issue in North Korea." The conference is the culmination of Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA) hosting a multi-event series on Principled Engagement with North Korea, joined by the National Committee on North Korea, and the GW Institute for Korean Studies. The conference will look at the cultural pillars of North Korea, including its history, art, literature, and sports, examining potential inroads. Humanitarian engagement, of massive importance considering the deprivation and quality of life of the average North Korean citizen, and scientific and academic exchange will all be addressed and considered as part of a broader effort to get beyond sanctions and military pressure to try and break the cycle of conflict.
 
  • Wednesday, National Security Division staff spoke on CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets program to discuss quality of life topics to include changes to TRICARE and military commissaries.  The 2018 NDAA has mandated major changes to both of these benefits that are being implemented throughout 2018 and National Security Division is using the Connecting Vets program to help raise awareness to veterans on the changes to their benefits.  We also discussed advocacy efforts on the Hill regarding a bill that would allow disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and veteran caregivers access to military commissaries.  This would be a benefit to our membership that would also assist DoD with declining patron use of commissaries.
 
  • Thursday, National Security Division staff will attend a webinar hosted by the Defense Health Agency titled “Understanding Your TRICARE Preventive Care Benefits”.  The webinar will be hosted by DHA’s Clinical Support Division and will provide tools to MSO/VSO partners aimed at providing educating tools to their members. 
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend the HillVets 100. The HillVets 100 Gala is the premiere black tie event for the veteran and military community that highlights the most influential and impactful veterans, Servicemembers and supporters from 2017. The HillVets 100 includes veterans of all eras
 
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.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Radioman 3rd Class Jack R. Goldwater, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Goldwater 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 Goldwater. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Joseph Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 23 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
Ominbus Spending Bill National Security Components
(NYTimes) - Facing a looming Friday-night deadline to prevent a government shutdown, House and Senate negotiators released the text of a $1.3 trillion spending bill last night. Running 2,000-plus pages, the bill both allocates federal money through the end of September 2018 and contains a number of important, non-spending provisions. Here are some highlights that are of particular interest to National Security.
In February, Congress reached an agreement to raise statutory budget caps for overall defense and non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. That deal specified how much money Congress had to spend, but not exactly how legislators would spend it. Determining exact funding levels for federal programs and delineating various restrictions on how that money could be spent was left for another day. That day came this week, in the form of the omnibus bill.
Beyond fulfilling one of Congress’s basic governing responsibilities—albeit more than five months past its statutory deadline for doing so—the omnibus is widely thought to be the last train leaving the station on Capitol Hill for the next several months. While Congress has struggled to meet deadlines in recent months—the difficulty extending section FISA Section 702 surveillance authority was a case in point—legislators often rely on their momentum to get across the finish line. With no major action-forcing mechanisms on Congress’s agenda for the next several months, this measure represents a particularly attractive vehicle for advancing non-spending policy goals. Expanding the universe of issues under consideration has pros and cons. On one hand, adding unrelated items to the spending bill makes it easier to create win-win situations for members. But on the other, attempts to attach too many items can jeopardize the overall effort.
 
What’s in the bill?
  • Border Security
    The bill contains roughly $1.6 billion for building or replacing barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Notably, the roughly $1.3 billion earmarked for construction can only be used for “operationally effective designs” that were in use for the purpose as of May 2017. Put differently, the funds can’t be used to build the kind of new wall prototypes that President Trump viewed on a recent trip to Southern California. Both parties will likely claim credit for the final shape of this provision—Republicans will point to the new spending, while Democrats will highlight the limits of its reach.
     
  • Coast Guard Cutters
In a surprise, the congressional appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 includes funding for two Coast Guard National Security Cutters (NSC), moving the program within one vessel of a one-for-one replacement of legacy high endurance cutters.
 
  • Technology Modernization Fund
    The bill provides $100 million—roughly $128 million less than was requested—for a new Technology Modernization Fund at the General Services Administration, to be used for IT upgrades meant, in part, to prevent government cybercrimes, terrorism, and intrusion.  The Fund was authorized as part of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Trump in December 2017.
     
  • Opioids
The bill increases funding to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic.  It gives more than $4 billion across agencies to help state and local governments tackle the issue.  The opioid crisis has long been considered a bipartisan issue in Congress.
 
  • Countering Russian Influence
    The bill increases, to $250 million, the amount allocated to the Countering Russian Influence Fund.
     
  • State Department Reorganization
    As the State Department prepares to transition to new leadership, the bill explicitly requires congressional consultation before a redesign or reorganization is implemented.
     
  • CLOUD Act
    This legislation—which has been the subject of extensive discussion on Lawfare—would provide an updated regulatory framework for governments to request data held outside their borders during law enforcement investigations. The bill’s inclusion in the omnibus is particularly notable because lawmakers were facing a ticking clock: The CLOUD Act, if passed, would moot the upcoming Supreme Court decision on cross-border data access in United States v. Microsoft.  
     
  • Taylor Force Act
    This bill would prohibit (with a few exceptions) additional U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless it halts payments to the family members of Palestinians who have been imprisoned or killed as the result of the conflict with Israel. As a standalone bill, the measure had bipartisan cosponsors in both chambers when they were introduced last year, and the House passed its version by voice vote in December.
     
    Division comments: Raising the caps on defense spending and ensuring funding for the remainder of the fiscal year is a move in the right direction to allow the Department of Defense to be able to do its job efficiently.  However, the American Legion urges Congress to fully repeal the spending caps on DoD and provide a fully funded budget for FY19. 
     
    North Korea
U.S. and South Korea to Resume Joint Military Exercises
(NYTimes) - The United States and South Korea will resume their annual joint military exercises on April 1, the Pentagon announced Monday, restarting drills that have aroused the ire of North Korea and were suspended during the Olympics and Paralympics.
Washington and Seoul had agreed to delay the drills after South and North Korea announced they were beginning a diplomatic rapprochement, with the North sending a delegation to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The exercises, code-named Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, will involve some 23,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Korean troops. The scale this year is similar to that of previous years, Defense Department officials said.
South Korean officials have told reporters that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, who is expected to meet with President Trump by May about the North’s nuclear program, has appeared unexpectedly flexible about the exercises this year. During previous drills, Mr. Kim has conducted multiple missile tests.
But during talks with South Korean envoys early this month, Mr. Kim said that “he could understand why the joint exercises must resume in April on the same scale as before,” Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security adviser, said this month.
Choi Hyun-soo, a spokeswoman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, said the North Korean military was notified on Tuesday of the schedule and “defensive nature” of the drills. Such notices are delivered through Panmunjom, a contact point established on the North-South border when the Korean War was halted in a truce in 1953.
The drills are always high profile, largely because the United States and South Korea seek to use them as a statement of unity and purpose in the defense of South Korea against the North. Because of that, the exercises always seem to anger North Korea.
“Our combined exercises are defense-oriented, and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as provocation,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman. “These routine training exercises are not conducted in response to any D.P.R.K. provocations or the current political situation on the peninsula,” he added, using the abbreviation for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
This year, the exercises are bound to be even more delicate, as the Trump administration rushes to prepare for first-of-their-kind talks between an American president and a North Korean leader.
White House officials are scrambling to figure out how Mr. Trump will handle the negotiations, which will pose a stiff challenge to an administration that has built its North Korea policy around imposing crippling sanctions, backed by the threat of military action. Before the announcement of talks this month, there had been little planning for how a negotiation between Washington and Pyongyang would unfold.
The South Korean and United States militaries usually hold the exercises from late February through April.
The Key Resolve exercise is largely a computer-simulated war game, while Foal Eagle has typically involved large-scale ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, including amphibious-landing drills.
The allied militaries did not immediately reveal when the exercises would end or whether any American aircraft carriers would participate, as they have in the past.
The South Korean news media has speculated that this year’s drills will be shortened, ending before Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in are scheduled to hold their summit meeting in late April. Mr. Trump has agreed to meet with Mr. Kim by May.
At the height of the tensions between North Korea and the United States last year, the United States frequently dispatched strategic bombers on training missions over the peninsula, along with what Mr. Trump called an “armada” of aircraft carriers and other warships to surrounding waters, as part of Washington’s “maximum” pressure campaign.
The announcement about the exercises came as a senior North Korean official started unofficial talks with a delegation of former United States and South Korean officials in Finland. North Korean officials have held such informal talks periodically with former officials and scholars.
Washington said that the American participants, including Kathleen Stephens, the former ambassador to South Korea, were not representing the United States government. But this year’s meeting drew unusual attention because of its timing before the anticipated meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
Division comments: President Trump’s unprecedented move to meet in-person with Kim Jong Un marks a departure from decades of US policy that has failed to change the status quo or contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is concern, however, that this opportunity to put North Korea on a path to denuclearization might be squandered by the hollowing out of the US State Department over the last year, highlighted by the recent departure of Rex Tillerson as Secretary. It is important to note that this initiative has largely been driven by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from a four day trip to Pyongyang. Both North and South Korea face an existential crisis in the event of a war, and it is that reality which should guide whatever framework or policy is ultimately agreed too.
 
Quality of Life
Quality of Schools and Spouse Licensure will have larger impact on future of Basing
(Military.com) - Whether or not school systems and state professional licensing requirements are friendly to military kids and spouses will help officials choose where to station future troops, the Pentagon's top civilian officials wrote in a letter last week.
Transferring a student to a new school district, and "license reciprocity," whether or not professional licenses held by military spouses are accepted state-to-state, are the two top drawbacks to military service cited by families, the Army, Air Force and Navy service secretaries said in a Feb. 23 letter to the National Governors Association.
 
"With that in mind, we will encourage leadership to consider the quality of schools near bases and whether reciprocity of professional license is available for military families when evaluating future basing or mission alternatives," they wrote.
 
The letter was signed by Richard Spencer, Navy secretary, Mark Esper, Army secretary, and Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force.
 
Officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed into law a document known as the "military child education compact," which is meant to make school transfers easier for military kids. All 50 states and the District also have passed some kind of military spouse license portability legislation, although the licenses impacted and the kind of help offered varies widely. Some states also struggle with enforcement or communication to users of both the compact and licensure help.
 
The secretaries, however, highlighted in the letter specific education issues that are not addressed in the compact at all, such as exclusion from extracurricular activities for military children. This is a problem that many military children face because they arrive at a duty station after those programs have been filled or school sports teams have held tryouts. And because license reciprocity varies widely state to state, spouses continue to face challenges.
 
The service secretaries said in their letter that school and career issues are enough of a problem that they deserve the attention of state and local officials.
 
"Eliminating or mitigating these barriers will improve quality of life for our military families, and ease the stress of transferring duty stations with consideration for long-term career implications," they wrote. "Over the long term ... leaders who want to make a difference for the military and our missions will make the most impact if we focus on what matters. Reciprocity on licensure and the quality of education matter."
 
A military family advocate with the National Military Family Association (NMFA), which has worked on both the education compact and spouse licensure issues, said she is pleased to see both of these issues getting the attention of the service secretaries.
 
"I thought it was great that they raised these specific issues as important to military families' qualify of life," said Eileen Huck, a deputy director of government relations for the organization. "I hope that states take this to heart. If you want your community to be appealing to military families, these are issues that you need to look at."
 
This isn't the first time Pentagon officials have said school quality will factor into future basing issues. In late 2013, then-Army chief Gen. Ray Odierno said school quality would impact the Army's decisions. The service began by launching a survey into Army family school satisfaction.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the results of that survey were ever used by Army officials.
 
"I get governors and I get congressmen asking all the time what they can do for me, and I'm going to tell them what they can do for me," Odierno said at the time. "If they want to keep the military in their communities they better start paying attention to the schools that are outside and inside our installations. Because as we evaluate, as we make decisions on future force structure, that will be one of the criteria."
 
Division comments:  The American Legion supports any effort to improve the quality of life for service members.  Today’s military is more family focused than ever with 74% of service members having dependents living with them.  Quality schools near installations is a great retention tool and is deserved by our troops.  Service members and veterans have attended some of the finest technical and professional training schools in the world. These military men and women are graduates with experience in health care, electronics, computers, engineering, drafting, air traffic control, nuclear power plant operations, mechanics, carpentry, transportation, and many other fields. Many of their skills require some type of license or certification to find a career in the civilian workforce. In many cases, these credentials require schooling which has already been completed by attendance at an Armed Forces training institution. Unfortunately, the institution(s) which issue the license or certification do not always recognize the competency, training and/or experience obtained through their military service.  The American Legion strongly supports the recent credentialing initiatives that have been developed and implemented by a variety of local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as industry stakeholders.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
Monday
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division and Ms. Verna Jones continued to finalize the details for the Women Veterans breakfast celebration “HERstory” that is hosted by Staff from the National Security Division during Women’s History Month.
 
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division contacted Edith Perry, the spearhead of the Hispanic and Asian Pacific group at the VA. Staff contacted Ms. Perry to arrange a meeting however, Ms. Perry explained that she would be busy for the next couple weeks. Staff will find another point out contact but will reach back out to Ms. Perry in the future.
 
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division worked on the website content for the Women Veterans portfolio on the American Legion website. The website will have six tabs: (1) Healthcare; (2) MST; (3) Veterans Benefits Administration; (4) Legislative; (5) Brochures; and (6) Resources
 
Tuesday
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in the Emergency Preparedness Training hosted by the DC Metropolitan Police Department. This training provided information on what to do if an active shooter is present. The DC Metropolitan Police Department stated that if an active shooter was present the best thing a victim should do is make a decision on whether to hide, run or fight. 
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division initiated a draft for two new women veteran’s resolutions. The resolutions will cover medical treatment of women by the department of veterans affairs and Military Sexual Trauma.
 
Thursday
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division finalized the details for approval for the Women Veteran’s website content, the women veterans mission statement, and the women veterans updated brochure.
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division coordinated with LTC Bailey, National Director for Solider for Life to finalized the details on being a guest on The American Legion’s Safety show.
 
Friday
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division began to set up for the HERstory Breakfast in the seventh floor conference room.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division will host The American Legion’s Safety Brief show for Women’s History Month. The guest on the show is LTC Katresha Bailey. LTC Bailey is a native of East Hartford, Connecticut and she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the United States Army Quartermaster Corps from Virginia State University. Lieutenant Colonel Bailey has held a variety of command, leadership and staff positions at the Army staff level and below. She currently serves as the Director, National Programs for the Soldier for Life program.
 
Hearings
  • Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to review modernization of the Marine Corps.  Witnesses included Mr. Jimmy D. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management; and Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration; Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and Commander, United States Marine Forces Strategic Command.
 
  • Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to review the United States Strategic Command. Witnesses included General John E. Hyten, USAF, Commander, United States Strategic Command. 
     
  • Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the fiscal year 2019 budget request for nuclear forces and atomic energy defense activities.  Witnesses included Lieutenant General Joseph Osterman, Deputy Commander, United States Special Operations Command; Mr. Vayl Oxford, Director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency; and, The Honorable Guy Roberts, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.
     
  • Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to review the Department of Defense strategy, policy, and programs for countering weapons of mass destruction for fiscal year 2019.  Witnesses will include The Honorable Kenneth P. Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Department of Defense; General John J Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command; and The Honorable Betty Sapp, Director, National Reconnaissance Office.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security division is working with the Selective Service System’s staff on developing a letter of support for to comment on the proposed changes to the Selective Service in the 2019 NDAA.  A white paper with talking points will be produced next week.
 
  • The National Security division has initiated conversations with a Congressional office in order to pass a bill extending government commissary and MWR privileges to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, POWs and their designated caregivers. The discounted prices offered at these facilities could make life a lot easier for approximately 3 million veterans not currently afforded access.  There is currently a bill, H.R. 2704, that would extend commissary access to Purple Heart recipients and their families.  We would like to see a new bill that includes all disabled veterans and caregivers.
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a panel discussion on legal immigration reforms for the 21st Century hosted by the CATO Institute.  The event featured David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst, Cato Institute; Daniel Griswold, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Program on the American Economy and Globalization, The Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute; Stuart Anderson, Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy and Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute; moderated by Heather Curry Kartch, Director of External Affairs, Cato Institute.  Congress has not overhauled America’s legal immigration system in nearly three decades. While legal immigrants overwhelmingly benefit the United States, the system is unfair to those who go through it, and its arbitrary and outdated rules undermine the economic and social benefits that legal immigrants contribute to America. With Congress now in the midst of a wide-ranging debate over which reforms to adopt, innovative approaches will be critical to pushing reform across the finish line.
     
  • Tuesday, staff from the National Security Division participated in a roundtable discussion with senior defense officials to discuss the National Defense Strategy, the nuclear posture review, and an update on personnel and readiness programs.  The Secretary of Defense’s three lines of effort outlined in the National Defense Strategy are to build a more lethal force, Strengthen alliances and attract new partners, and reform the Department for greater performance and affordability.  Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy and we must remain aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding.  We are facing increasing global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order, creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. 
     
    On January 27, 2017, the President directed the Department of Defense to conduct a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).  While the U.S. has reduced the number and salience of nuclear weapons, Russia and China have moved in the opposite direction.  This review candidly addresses the challenges posed by Russian, Chinese, and other states’ strategic policies, programs, and capabilities.  The U.S. nuclear policy’s highest priority is to deter potential adversaries from nuclear attack of any scale. 
     
    Other topics discussed include the incoming policy that service members who have been non-deployable for 12 months will be moved to separation.  There will be exceptions to include wounded warriors and pregnancies.  DoD plans to provide better simulators for infantry units as they have proven to save lives in other career fields.  83% of causalities come from only 7% of the total military, which is mostly the infantry based units.  DoD is looking to expand recruiting efforts as more than half of the military is recruited from only 11 states. 
     
  • Friday, staff from the National Security Division worked with the National Security Chairman from the Department of Maryland to develop its Spring National Security Program that will focus on Homeland Security issues.  The American Legion FEMA’s disaster response office have a partnership for posts to serve as community response points for volunteers and FEMA employees. 
 
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.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Donald J. Hall, killed during the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. Hall was a member of Detachment 5, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, when he, along with three other service members, were flying an HH-3E helicopter on a rescue and recovery mission over northern Vietnam. After rescuing the pilot of a downed aircraft, Hall’s helicopter was hit by enemy ground fire, resulting in an internal explosion and crash.
  • Army Cpl. Dow F. Worden, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late September 1951, Worden was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, which was in the vicinity of Hill 1024 in South Korea, conducting operations near an area known as Heartbreak Ridge. In the early morning hours, the Chinese launched a probing attack against Worden’s company, on the forward slope of Hill 1024. The company repelled the attacks and was relieved by the Republic of Korea Army elements and ordered to move east and attack the enemy on nearby Hill 867. American forces withdrew from the offensive after a large barrage of enemy mortar fire.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Frank A. Fazekas, killed During World War II, has now been accounted for. On May 27, 1944, Fazekas was a member of the 22nd Fighter Squadron, 36th Fighter Group, when he was returning from a mission over northern France and his P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft came under enemy fire. His aircraft crashed in a field north of the French village of Buysscheure.
  • Army Cpl. Thomas H. Mullins, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for.  On Nov. 2, 1950, Mullins was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950, following combat between the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) and his regiment, in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 16 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
U.S., U.K., France and Germany agree Russia is likely responsible for nerve-agent attack
(NYTimes) - The leaders of the United States, France and Germany joined with Great Britain to sign a statement condemning Russia’s use of a deadly nerve gas to poison a former Russian spy on British soil, saying the attack “threatens the security of us all.”
 
“This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,” the joint statement issued Thursday said. “It is an assault on U.K. sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.”
 
The statement of solidarity by the four allies – signed by Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel – squarely blamed Russia for the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, who remain hospitalized in critical condition.
” We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia ‘ s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility,” the statement said.
 
The four leaders demanded Russia cooperate with British investigators.
 
“We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury. Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

May ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats she said were spies during a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, one of a number of retaliatory measures the UK took to punish for the poisoning of the Skripals.
 
“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” the prime minister said. “It must therefore be met with a full and robust response.”
Moscow, which denied any involvement, said it will expel British diplomats in response to May’s action, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
 
Division comments: At this point Britian has held back from triggering NATO’s Article 5 – Collective Defense.  The principle of collective defense is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.  In short an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.  NATO officials have suggested that the nerve agent attack probably does not rise to that level.
 
North Korea
North Korean Envoy in Sweden Amid Planning for Trump-Kim Meeting
(NYTimes) - North Korea’s foreign minister flew to Sweden on Thursday, amid speculation that the country could be used as a venue for hammering out details of the planned talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, or could be the site of the talks themselves.
 
Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was seen at Beijing’s international airport on Thursday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, following earlier reports that he might go to Sweden. Hours later, the Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed that Mr. Ri would indeed be visiting the country for talks on Thursday and Friday.
 
Sweden has long played an intermediary role between the United States and North Korea, which do not have diplomatic relations. With the United States lacking an embassy in North Korea, Sweden is the so-called protecting power that provides consular services for Americans, including meeting with citizens who are imprisoned there.
Sweden has also been the site of talks between North Korean officials and experts from the United States, South Korea and elsewhere.
Other locations that have been mentioned as possible sites for the Trump-Kim talks include the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea; Washington; Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital; Ulan Bator, Mongolia; and Switzerland.
 
Mr. Trump’s decision to accept Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet shocked the diplomatic establishment last week, coming after months of bellicose insults and threats between the two leaders and their governments. Any meeting, should it actually come to fruition, would probably be held by May, said Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean official who conveyed the invitation to the White House.
 
Mr. Ri was seen at the Beijing airport with Choe Kang-il, the deputy director general for North American affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, Yonhap reported.
 
Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Saturday that he was willing to host a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
 
Mr. Löfven, in an interview with Sweden’s TT newswire, also cited his country’s role as a protecting power for the United States as a reason for acting as a conduit between it and North Korea.
 
“The fact that we are a protecting power for the U.S., have been at the border since the 1950s and have had an embassy in Pyongyang since the start of the 1970s has given us a relationship with North Korea in which we feel they trust us,” he said.
 
During Mr. Ri’s two-day trip to Stockholm, he will meet with Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, the Swedish government said in a statement. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter said the talks would not include American or South Korean officials, but added that the United States and South Korea had been involved in preparations for the talks with Mr. Ri.
Mr. Ri’s trip to Sweden came as South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, traveled to Washington Thursday to meet with State Department officials with the aim of keeping a Trump-Kim meeting on track. The recent firing of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has fueled fears that a changing of the guard at the State Department could derail plans for the talks.
 
“It is necessary to maintain close coordination at various levels in making preparations for critical diplomatic events going forward,” Ms. Kang said, alluding to relations between Washington and Seoul.
 
Ms. Kang was originally supposed to meet with Mr. Tillerson, but will instead meet with John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, who is now serving as acting secretary. Mr. Tillerson’s expected replacement, Mike Pompeo, is skeptical that negotiations with North Korea will lead it to give up its nuclear arsenal.
 
Division comments: President Trump’s unprecedented move to meet in-person with Kim Jong Un marks a departure from decades of US policy that has failed to change the status quo or contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is concern, however, that this opportunity to put North Korea on a path to denuclearization might be squandered by the hollowing out of the US State Department over the last year, highlighted by the recent departure of Rex Tillerson as Secretary. It is important to note that this initiative has largely been driven by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from a four day trip to Pyongyang. Both North and South Korea face an existential crisis in the event of a war, and it is that reality which should guide whatever framework or policy is ultimately agreed too.
 
Quality of Life
New DoD Task Force Eyed for Merging Exchange Services, DeCA
(Military.com) - The three military exchange services and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) would be merged into a single resale enterprise under a proposal backed by John H. Gibson II, the Defense Department’s new chief management officer, who has been tasked to make DoD business operations more efficient.
 
Gibson and a team tasked with reviewing military community services -- base stores, recreation services, family support services and base schools -- have drafted a memorandum, apparently for signature by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, that would order extensive streamlining.
 
If and when signed, the memo would have the Department of Defense under President Trump reconsider, and likely reverse, an Obama administration decision of two years ago not to consolidate DeCA with Army & Air Force Exchange Service and separate exchange services run by Navy and Marine Corps.
 
“Because of their different approaches to fulfilling their specific missions and delivering their respective benefits, the creation of a single resale entity through consolidation is not recommended,” Defense officials wrote in a May 2016 report to Congress on prospects for operating commissaries without cost to taxpayers.
 
“It is more appropriate to focus on the short-term goal of achieving greater efficiency in the operation of commissaries and exchanges, and to defer consideration of the feasibility of any merger until these issues have been effectively addressed.”
 
This administration, however, isn’t waiting. The departments of Army, Navy and Air Force were given only a few days in mid-March to share their views on the consolidation for resale operations presented in the draft memorandum.
 
Sources said the services are concerned about the timing of a complex consolidation, given current challenges transforming DeCA into an exchange-like profitable enterprise, using variable pricing of items by region and introducing higher-margin DeCA brands. Brokers and manufacturers supporting base stores say the changes are aggravating an already sharp decline in commissary sales.   
 
Exchange store operators see their own patron traffic as linked to base grocery stores, so as commissary sales fall so too do sales at exchanges, gas stations and other on-base retailers. Declining exchange sales mean lower profits, or “dividends” which the services rely on to fund on-base MWR or morale, welfare and recreational activities.
 
A Defense Department spokesman said no official could be made available to discuss the draft memo or concepts it embraces for store system consolidation, for at least a few more weeks. Officials wouldn’t even provide written answers to questions, suggesting the time wasn’t right.
Gibson became DoD’s chief management officer Feb. 1.  He told the Senate Budget Committee the department had formed nine project teams to draft recommendations to reform business operations to achieve near-term efficiencies.
 
Stacey Kiley, a Senior Executive Service employee who served on the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board, has led the team tasked with reviewing community services. The draft memo explains that, after receiving team briefings, the department’s Reform Management Group, which Gibson leads, “acknowledged that the defense resale enterprise, in particular, has been studied too much” without recommendations being implemented.  As a result, military stores now suffer from “the same industry, generation and demographic trends negatively impacting private sector grocery and retail companies.”
 
The team proposes that phased consolidation of DeCA and exchange services offers “the greatest potential to achieve the economies and efficiencies necessary for the survivability of the defense resale enterprise.”
 
 The draft memo acknowledges that current law prohibits consolidating the commissary system with the exchanges so legislative relief would be sought “as soon as practicable.” Meanwhile, the team is to “assemble a cross-functional task force” no later than May 1, 2018, and to identify by April 15 a director to manage its work. This task force is to conduct “due diligence, assess the business case and develop integration plans” for DeCA and exchange services by Oct. 31.
 
The task force to brief the Reform Management Group “upon business case completion.”  If it confirms the team’s approach, “consolidation shall be executed immediately by the task force director” who will serve “as the new organization’s Executive Director, exercising authority, direction and control, until the permanent position is advertised and filled.”
 
In other words, said one critic who reviewed the memo, the person leading the task force becomes director of the organization it proposes to create -- if the task force makes the appropriate business case to justify it. 
 
“This thing is toxic.  It’s putting the cart before the horse,” the official said. 
 
Even if the business case for consolidating systems is not confirmed, military resale “will benefit from the standardization of its back-office processes and systems,” the draft memo says. “Therefore, in parallel with its other work, the task force shall begin standardizing those processes”, beginning with financial management and accounting processes.  To ensure proper focus on standardization, the draft memo says on the date it is signed, store systems are to freeze work on modernizing information technology and suspend executive hiring.
 
“The success of this reform requires complete faith and active support of our decisions,” the memo concludes. “Therefore, all must know and believe that our intentions are to make these community services better for our members and their families, improve our support to commanders, be exceptional stewards of our appropriated funds and exhibit fiduciary responsibility” over resale profits.
 
One exchange official grumbled that this last paragraph was particularly odd, a warning perhaps not to make familiar arguments to Congress, patrons or other stakeholders for protecting the status quo.
 
Consolidation of commissaries and exchange services has been studied for decades, with 11 major reports produced just since 1989.  Congress finally agreed in 2016 to give Defense officials sweeping new authorities to transform commissaries into more business-like operations and to reduce DeCA’s reliance on taxpayer funding, which last year and this still stood at $1.3 billion annually.
 
In the first year of transformation, however, commissary sales continued a five-year decline.  Even if, arguably, rate of decline has slowed, it remains a dangerous trend that had put the entire military resale system in jeopardy.
 
Congressional committees that oversee military resale are monitoring sales closely.  Two congressional staffers said they haven’t seen DoD’s new ideas on consolidating systems but noted any merging would require changes to law.
 
They added that Congress allowed commissary reforms only on condition that savings to patrons be maintained and that revenues from exchange operations to support on-base morale, welfare and recreation activities not be reduced.
 
Those are priorities set in law, they added.  That means that while Congress encourages efficient on-base store operations, current law requires that reforms be rolled back if the value of the shopping benefit can’t be preserved for patrons or if exchange profits, so critical to on-base quality of life, fall victim to the changes.
 
Division comments:  The American Legion recognizes and appreciates the Congressional mandate for defense commissaries to identify and implement cost saving measures to reduce subsidies.  However, we urge the Department of Defense and Congress to continue to full funding of the military commissary system and to retain this vital non-pay compensation benefit system which is essential to the morale and readiness of the dedicated men and women who have served, and continue to serve, the national security interests of the United States. 
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Army Women’s Foundation 10TH Annual Summit. The purpose of the summit was to participate in Women’s History Month to celebrate the service, accomplishments, and sacrifices of Army women by hosting an annual summit. This summit consisted of two panels: Leadership and readiness: From Boots to Business Panel and First to Achieve: Army Women Leaders and Trailblazers who paved the way Panel. The panels discussed women transitioning out of the military and into private sectors and the extraordinary Army women who were the first to achieve. The panel consisted of several leaders to include: the first female Army Rangers, the first African American Female to Graduate from West Point, the CSM of the Warrior Transition Battalion and several other Army trailblazers.
  • Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee weekly call. The Summit will be held on June 14-15th and staff from the National Security Division will participate by being on a panel discussion called “Trailblazers and Change Makers”. This meeting discussed preliminary matters for the conference.
  • Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a radio interview with Connecting Vets radio station to speak on Women’s History Month, Women Veteran’s health care and current updates to legislation on women veterans.
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a meeting with Sharon Reiegsecker, DC Operations and Senior Grants Management for the American Legion Auxiliary. The purpose of this meeting was to establish a better working relationship with the Auxiliary and brainstorm ideas to see how to better incorporate the auxiliary with the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach Program.
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division had a meeting with Dr. Patricia Haynes, Chief Consultant on Women Veterans for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of this meeting was to make sure that Staff from the National Security Division was up on current women health issues and to speak on HR 4635 Peer to Peer Support Program from the prospective of a VA employee.
  • Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division was selected to participate in the Red Cross First Aid/CPR Training to become a certified CPR training for the National Security Division.
  • Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a meeting hosted by Ginger Miller, Founder and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive. The purpose of this task force is to explore the needs of women veterans transiting out of the military while collectively formulating a multifaceted proactive solution. This meeting is held in Tyson Corner, Virginia.
  • Friday, Staff from the National Security Division hosted The American Legion’s Safety Brief show for Women’s History Month. The guest on the show is Erin Miller. Erin is the granddaughter of Elaine Danforth Harmon, one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during WWII. Her grandmother’s last request was to be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). After she died in April 2015, this request was denied by the Army, which runs ANC. Erin led a grassroots, social media, and direct lobbying campaign to fight the decision which led to a new law to officially recognize the service of WASP as eligible for ANC.
 
Hearings
  • Wednesday, National Security division staff attended a hearing hosted by the House Armed Services Committee on the Department of the Air Force regarding the fiscal year 2019 budget request for sea power and projection forces.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Jerry D. Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans & Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant General Mark C. Nowland, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans & Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; and The Honorable William Roper Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
 
  • Thursday, National Security division staff participated the Commission of Fine Arts Hearing in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2018. The Commission will vote to decide on where the National Desert Storm War Memorial will be physically located in Washington D.C. There are 3 sites being studied right now, under the guidance of the Commission of Fine Arts.  The National Desert Storm War Memorial continues to assert that the appropriate site for this Memorial should be the 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue location, in very close proximity to the Vietnam Memorial. 
     
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended a hearing by House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2019 budget request for Air Force airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) programs.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements (A8), Headquarters, U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant General Anthony Ierardi, Director, Force Structure, Resources, and Assessments (J8), Headquarters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Ms. Susan Thornton, Director for Information Dominance Programs (SAF/AQI), Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.
     
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended a hearing by House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2019 budget request for national security space programs.  Witnesses will include The Honorable Kenneth P. Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Department of Defense; General John J Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command; and The Honorable Betty Sapp, Director, National Reconnaissance Office.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security division has initiated conversations with a Congressional office in order to pass a bill extending government commissary and MWR privileges to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, POWs and their designated caregivers. The discounted prices offered at these facilities could make life a lot easier for approximately 3 million veterans not currently afforded access.  There is currently a bill, H.R. 2704, that would extend commissary access to Purple Heart recipients and their families.  We would like to see a new bill that includes all disabled veterans and caregivers.
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a panel discussion on the possibility of a U.S. military strike against North Korea to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring the capability to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon.  The possibility stimulated the debate about North Korea’s intentions. The panel believes it is more likely that Kim Jong Un's primary intention for pursing the weapons is a deterrence of a U.S. invasion. It seems unlikely that it is rather than a much more offensive agenda, such as the unification of the Korean Peninsula through the use of force.  Analysis of North Korea’s intentions has profound implications for what policy responses are required to thwart the regime’s ambitions and get ahead of its tactical maneuvers designed to reach those goals. Given the range of views, policy analysis and recommendations should take into account all possibilities and scenarios. What remains incontrovertible in any analysis is the disastrous costs of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.  The group also heard remarks from John R. Allen, President, The Brookings Institution followed by two panels of experts on the Korean Peninsula. 
     
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a policy forum to discuss the future of BRAC at the CATO Institute.  The event featured Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee; and Christopher Preble, Vice President, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute. It was moderated by Joe Gould, Capitol Hill Reporter, Defense News.   Representative Smith and Christopher Preble discussed the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, including their findings from a new article they are copublishing in Strategic Studies Quarterly about BRAC, its impact on defense communities, and the future.  It was the opinion of the panel that for a number of years, the U.S. military, with support of presidents from both parties has sought congressional authorization to rid itself of excess infrastructure. Unfortunately, Congress continues to stand in the way, often citing concerns about the effect of closures on local communities. In failing to authorize a BRAC round, however, Congress is doing more harm than good. Local communities are deprived of the support and clarity BRAC would provide, and they are denied access to property that could be put to productive use. Our military is forced to allocate resources away from training and equipping our soldiers in order to maintain unnecessary and unwanted infrastructure. Meanwhile, tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars continue to be wasted.  Debate over the BRAC process needs to be better informed by context and a real-world understanding of downstream effects, particularly the less-appreciated way that closing excess facilities positively affects communities. 
  •  
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended the Commission of Fine Arts Hearing in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2018. The Commission will vote to decide on where the National Desert Storm War Memorial will be physically located in Washington D.C. There are 3 sites being studied right now, under the guidance of the Commission of Fine Arts.  The National Desert Storm War Memorial continues to assert that the appropriate site for this Memorial should be the 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue location, in very close proximity to the Vietnam Memorial.
     
  • Friday, National Security division staff attended a meeting with senior defense officials to discuss the transformation of military commissaries.  Congress has mandated that DeCA implement changes that will reduce subsidies to military commissaries without reduce the benefits to the patrons.  One cost saving measure already implemented has been commissary store brand products for both food and household items.  This meeting will provide an update on the latest changes made as well as upcoming changes.
 
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.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Pvt. George F. Patrick, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On May 30, 1945, In November 1943, Patrick was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion 8th Marine Regiment, 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.  Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Harry E. Harkness, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, On In November 1950, Harkness was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in combat actions against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. Harkness was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950 when he could not be accounted for by his unit.  Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Manuel Menendez, killed During World War II, has now been accounted for. Menendez was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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. Menendez died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
New F-35 modernization plan could come with hefty $16B price tag
(DefenseNews) - Under the F-35 joint program office’s latest plan, follow-on modernization for the Joint Strike Fighter could add up to a total of $16 billion, the Defense Department’s program head confirmed Wednesday.
 
Responding to questions from lawmakers about the price of implementing the new Continuous Capability Development and Delivery strategy, or C2D2, Vice Adm. Mat Winter acknowledged that U.S. and international customers could pay up to $10.8 billion for development and $5.4 billion for procurement of upgrades to the F-35 between fiscal years 2018 through 2024.
 
Last September at the Defense News conference, Winter announced that the JPO had re-envisioned the F-35’s follow on-modernization plan, also known as Block 4, as a more iterative process where software updates would be pumped out every six months. New computing systems, sensors and weapons would also be incorporated during the period.
 
Out of the 53 capabilities that will be introduced during C2D2, about 80 percent are software-related, Winter said during a hearing on the program held by the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces subcommittee.
 
“It’s predominantly software, which is what drove us to pursue an agile, repetitive, iterative process to do quick software module updates and provide them to the warfighter,” he said.
 
“I realize that this is not traditional, and what we need to do is provide the sense of confidence for the goalpost that we can operate between, and bring that to you.”
 
Because the U.S. share of development costs amounts to $7.2 billion, the United States could be left with a bill of about about $1 billion a year over that seven year period before procurement costs are factored in. Winter said that is “on par for post-development” costs for an upgrade program of this size.
 
“That estimate will most likely come down, most likely,” he told reporters after the hearing. “But I don’t guarantee anything.”
 
Division comments: The F-35 has been in development for 17 years and the program has faced a seemingly never-ending stream of delays, cost and time overruns, required upgrades, safety stand-downs, and derogatory or unsatisfactory testing and evaluation reports. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, who are responsible for oversight and authorizing funding, have made hundreds of public comments about the need to account for correcting all of these outstanding issues. Yet the committees continue to authorize additional purchase of planes with known functionality problems, often all software-based, which require millions of dollars in additional spending per unit to fix. As the F-35 will eventually replace nearly all legacy attack and fighter craft in the US inventory, as well as making up a significant portion of our allies air forces, it is imperative that Congress exercises its authority to ensure that the billions of taxpayers’ dollars already spent will materially enhance US national security.
 
North Korea
Trump says prepared to meet North Korea's Kim in first-ever such parley
(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in what would be the first face-to-face encounter between leaders from the two countries and could mark a breakthrough in a standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons.
 
Kim had “committed to denuclearization” and to suspending nuclear and missile tests, South Korea’s National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong told reporters at the White House on Thursday after briefing Trump on a meeting South Korean officials held with Kim earlier this week.
 
Kim and Trump have engaged in an increasingly bellicose exchange of insults over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, which it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, before an easing of tension coinciding with last month’s Winter Olympics in the South.
 
“A meeting is being planned,” Trump said on Twitter after speaking to Chung, setting up what would be his biggest foreign policy gamble since taking office in January 2017.
 
Chung said Trump agreed to meet by May in response to Kim’s invitation. A senior U.S. official said later it could happen “in a matter of a couple of months, with the exact timing and place still to be determined.”
 
Division comments: President Trump’s unprecedented move to meet in-person with Kim Jong Un marks a departure from decades of US policy that has failed to change the status quo or contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is concern, however, that this opportunity to put North Korea on a path to denuclearization might be squandered by the hollowing out of the US State Department over the last year, highlighted by the recent departure of Joseph Yun as special representative for North Korean policy. It is important to note that this initiative has largely been driven by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from a four day trip to Pyongyang. Both North and South Korea face an existential crisis in the event of a war, and it is that reality which should guide whatever framework or policy is ultimately agreed too.
 
Quality of Life
Veterans and Military Families Urged to Guard Against Scams
(Military.com) - As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is urging veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with special protections in state and federal law to help shield veterans from fraud, scams and abusive business practices.
 
Herring said veterans and military families are often targeted by scammers because they have a consistent income and can often be called away from home for long periods of time.
 
Last year, Herring introduced a legal resource guide to help veterans and military families understand their employment rights, consumer protection resources, educational and tax rights and benefits. The guide is available at every Department of Veterans Services Benefits Offices, on college campuses and online at www.VaMilGuide.com.
 
Legionella Bacteria in Baumholder Housing Forces Decontamination
(Military.com) - At least 20 buildings in Baumholder, including two family housing units and six barracks, had to be decontaminated after officials found high levels of the water-borne bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.
 
Although base doctors say that no one at the base has tested positive for Legionnaires', a severe type of pneumonia, the potential for illness has forced soldiers to leave their barracks to shower and left base residents concerned for their safety.
 
The disease is characterized by flu-like symptoms that appear within 10 days of exposure to the bacteria. Severe cases lead to hospitalization and 10 percent of cases end in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Army officials outlined the risks the bacteria pose to the public and the efforts to decontaminate the buildings on Wednesday at Baumholder's Wagon Wheel Theater.
 
Workers are doing everything necessary to protect the health of everyone living in the base, said Col. Keith Igyarto, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz.
 
"We have the highest quality water. We ensure that by testing it several times a day," Igyarto told Stars and Stripes.
 
The Army tested 124 buildings in the Baumholder military community for Legionella bacteria in February to comply with German requirements. Twenty buildings had levels high enough to require decontamination, though six buildings were unoccupied. Ninety buildings were either not contaminated or had contamination levels so low they required no action.
 
The rest tested inconclusively and will have to be retested.
 
Because Legionella bacteria can only be transmitted by inhaling water vapor, water with the bacteria is still regarded as safe to drink. But showering in water with high levels of Legionella bacteria is considered risky.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Tuesday staff from the National Security Division attended a phone conference for the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee Meeting. Staff from the National Security Staff will be a on a panel for trailblazers and changemakers on June 14 and 15th. This panel will consist of other extraordinary women from fortune 500 corporations. This phone conference is scheduled weekly until the month of June.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division attended the Monthly Partner’s Breakfast Meeting at the Center for Women Veterans. This Breakfast consisted of meeting with other Veterans Service Organizations to discuss women veterans issues. At this meeting, the Center for Women Veterans discussed the importance of filling out a pre-need burial eligibility form. Currently 7% of women veterans have filled out the form and this is more than expected. Staff from the National Security Division will continue to ensure that women veterans are aware of the Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Form. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division provided the Center for Women Veterans with the two articles that were published on women veterans in The American Legion’s March Magazine to the Center for Women Veterans.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division finalized the details of the HERstory event that the Women and Minority Veterans Program is hosting on March 21st, 2018. This event will honor and celebrate women veterans during women’s history month.
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division attended a Veterans Roundtable at the DC Mayor’s Office. The roundtable is an informal conversation that allows the Mayor’s office of Veterans Affairs to hear the issues and concerns DC Veterans are facing in their community. The goal is to source creative solutions or programs for DC Vets. Staff from the National Security Division attend this event to speak with the women veterans in attendance. 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division met with Disabled American Veterans, Shurhonda Love, Assistant National Legislative Director. Staff from National Security Division and Shurhonda Love spoke solely about women veterans issues and collaborated ideas to plan a Storm the Hill in April to urge congresswomen and congressman to take more actions on bills that have been introduced without any further action, to introduce more bills based on women veteran’s needs and to urge Congress to have a Women Veterans hearings.
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division spoke with Holly Soria, Visual Arts Manager, Media & Communications Division, to design a graphic for the Women and Minority Veterans Program.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division appeared on The American Legion’s Safety Brief to discuss Women’s History Month, the upcoming HERstory Breakfast celebration, current legislation and the recent appointment to the Center for Women Veterans.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division confirmed the guest for the month of March for The American Legion’s Safety Brief. Staff from the National Security Division will host The American Legion’s Safety Brief for the month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division worked on finalizing the new edition of the Guide for Women Veterans.
 
Hearings
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the US European Command with EUCOM Commander GEN Curtis Scaparrotti testifying. General Scaparrotti testified that Russia is challenging US and allied interests in several areas, including the Balkans. Russia has been leveraging their traditional connections in the Balkans through Serbia to undermine attempts by neighboring countries to join NATO and the European Union. “Russia is carrying out a campaign of destabilization to change the international order, fracture NATO, and undermine U.S. leadership around the world,” Scaparrotti said.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended the House Armed Services Committee hearing on Mobility and Transportation Command Posture. Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, the chief of U.S. Transportation Command, testified while America has held a strong advantage in logistics for years, it's not invincible. And the "greatest threat" to America's logistics advantage comes from cyberspace, McDew said. While his command does its planning on classified networks, 90 percent of its operations are carried out on commercial ones that are susceptible to hackers. McDew also spoke of coming trouble moving wounded personnel from the battlefield. Without citing numbers, he noted "shortfalls in our ability to surge for large-scale conflict with mass casualties." The problem is caused by a "near dependence" on moving patients by aircraft that might not be available and, secondly, by a dwindling supply of military hospitals, he said. In wartime, 90 percent of the people and gear is moved not by planes but by a combination of military and commercial ships, he said. But every year there are fewer U.S. flagged commercial vessels. The total has gone from 1,288 such ships in 1952 to 82 operating internationally today. Foreign-flagged ships can help in a crisis, but they cannot always be relied on. Lastly, there's the dearth of military pilots. In the Air Force, 30 percent of its shortfall, or 650 pilots, are needed in the so-called mobility aircraft such as transport aircraft.
Legislation
  • The National Security division has initiated conversations with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to coordinate an opioid crisis education event in Baltimore. Baltimore has been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic, and is considering harm reduction measures like safe/supervised injection/consumption facilities to lower fatal overdose risk and the spread of infectious disease. The division is looking to engage the Maryland state and Congressional delegations, as well as the general public, on this issue by creating relevant educational events that feature a variety of expert and practitioner perspectives.
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. Of note was AIPAC’s executive director Howard Kohr delivering an impassioned speech calling for Palestinian statehood and peace. This has been met with derision buy On Tuesday President Trump and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu met to discuss the “two-state” solution and the prospects for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended the McAleese/Credit Suisse "Defense Programs" conference. Fourteen speakers from across Congress, the Department of Defense, and the defense industry presented their perspectives on current and future defense issues ranging from the modernization wave, to acquisition and procurement reform, to the threat environment. The event offered a preview of what priorities various stakeholders will be pursuing in the forthcoming FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a discussion on U.S. trade policy in Northeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Washington has been turning towards economic protectionism, most notably its decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year. Instead, the focus has been on pursuing bilateral trading arrangements, but the price of that policy stance has been to sow doubts about the credibility of U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific. The panel aims to examine the consequences of U.S. bilateral trade policy towards Northeast Asia, how the three Asian countries view the current administration’s trade policy and their respective approach to move forward in trade negotiations with the United States.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff discussed potential collaboration with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership on issues surrounding the opioid epidemic. Of particular and relevant interest is the debate over the establishment of safe injection/consumption facilities in Baltimore to reduce the rate of drug overdose and the spread of infectious disease. Division staff is looking at hosting an upcoming event around opioid policy issues and bringing in persepctives from law enforcement, medical professionals, and policy experts.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended an event on “Public Diplomacy and the Evolution of U.S.-Japan Relations” at the Wilson Center. Wariness of political correctness and distrust of intellectuals has led to the proliferation of “post-truth” or “fake news”. That has made it more difficult to distinguish between the role of public diplomacy and outright propaganda. How the United States leverages its soft power could define Washington’s relations with key allies worldwide, including Japan. The discussion will look at public diplomacy between Japan and the United States, and the challenges of political communications amid rapidly changing perspectives on national identity.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff participated in the monthly partner call with Stop.Think.Connect, the Department of Homeland Security cyber awareness campaign. National Consumer Protection Week is taking place from March 4th – 10th and the Federal Trade Commission will present information regarding protecting personal information, understanding rights as a consumer, and making well-informed decisions about money. Additionally, with tax season underway, the call will stress the importance for everyone to be aware of and recognize, potential identity theft threats. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) will present information on how to protect yourself against becoming a victim of identity theft as well as available resources for potential and current victims.
     
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will meet with Oleksandr Tretiakov, Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee on Veterans Affairs. In light of Ukraine’s recent war with Russian-backed separatists, the national government has resolved to create a Department of Veterans Affairs-like entity to administer healthcare to the estimated several hundred thousand veterans of conflict.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will attend an event on “Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications for Global Trade” at the Wilson Center. On March 8, representatives of eleven countries will meet in Chile to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), creating a massive free trade bloc connecting 500 million people and economies with a combined GDP of over $10 trillion. Signatories include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The current agreement includes several major economies that will have a profound influence on the future of global trade and investment. The United States withdrew from negotiations in January 2017. Speakers will discuss the economic impact of the agreement for member and non-member countries and the future of integration of the Asia-Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere.
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.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Herman W. Mulligan, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On May 30, 1945, Mulligan was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division, engaged in heavy fighting against Japanese forces on Hill 27, on the northern bank of the Kokuba Estuary, Okinawa, Japan. A large crypt loaded with ammunition exploded, wounding dozens and killing Mulligan. DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 3rd Class Howard V. Keffer, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Keffer 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 Keffer. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William W. Shank, killed During World War II, has now been accounted for. On Nov. 13, 1943, Shank was a pilot with the 338th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 66th Fighter Wing, 8th Fighter Command, 8th Air Force, flying his P-38 on a mission to Bremen, Germany. Shank was killed after engaging in fierce enemy action. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 16 February 2018
 
Items of Interest
Today President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request of $716 billion for national security, $686 billion of which is for the Department of Defense.  The National Defense Strategy, which aligns with the National Security Strategy, connects strategy to the FY 2019 budget priorities, enabling the Department to compete, deter, and win.  This establishes a foundation for rebuilding the U.S. military into a more capable, lethal, and ready Joint Force.
 
The objectives of the Department are “to be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.”  The FY 2019 budget has been developed to meet these specific objectives.
 
Secretary Mattis recently said, “In a world awash in change, with increasing threats, there is no room for complacency.  Failure to implement or fund the 2018 National Defense Strategy will leave us with a force that could dominate the last war, yet be irrelevant to tomorrow's security.  For too long we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success-at-any-cost attitude.”  We are grateful to Congress and the American people for the recently-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which lifts the caps so our military can be resourced at a funding level commensurate with our mission.
 
The National Security Strategy states that the United States “must reverse recent decisions to reduce the size of the Joint Force and grow the force while modernizing and ensuring readiness.”  The FY 2019 budget increases end strength by 25,900 (24,100 in the active components and 1,800 in the reserve components) over the FY 2018 budget.  Each military service has a distinctive readiness recovery plan and the increases are targeted to advance these plans to improve readiness and increase lethality.
 
As the National Defense Strategy notes, “investments will prioritize ground, air, sea and space forces that can deploy, survive, operate, maneuver, and regenerate in all domains while under attack.”  This budget’s major warfighting investments include:
 
   Aircraft
  • 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters - $10.7 billion
  • 15 KC-46 Tanker Replacements - $3.0 billion
  • 24 F/A-18s  - $2.0 billion
  • 60 AH-64E Attack Helicopters - $1.3 billion
  • 6 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters - $0.9 billion
  • 10 P-8A Aircraft  - $2.2 billion
  • 8 CH-53K King Stallion - $1.6 billion
   Shipbuilding
  • 2 Virginia Class Submarines - $7.4 billion
  • 3 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers - $6.0 billion
  • 1 Littoral Combat Ship - $1.3 billion
  • CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier - $1.8 billion
  • 2 Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) - $1.1 billion
  • 1 Expeditionary Sea Base - $0.7 billion
   Ground Systems
  • 5,113 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles - $2.0 billion
  • 135 M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications - $2.7 billion
  • 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles - $0.3 billion
  • 197 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles - $0.8 billion
The National Defense Strategy also notes the importance of prioritizing “investments in resilience, reconstitution, and operations to assure our space capabilities.”  Our space investments include:
  • 5 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles - $2.0 billion
  • Global Positioning System - $1.5 billion
  • Space Based Infrared System - $0.8 billion
Highlighting the importance of missile defense programs, the National Defense Strategy calls for investments that will “focus on layered missile defenses and disruptive capabilities for both theater missile threats and North Korean ballistic missile threats.”  Those investments for FY 2019 include:
  • 43 AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3) - $1.7 billion
  • Ground Based Midcourse Defense - $2.1 billion
  • 82 THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense - $1.1 billion
  • 240 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements - $1.1 billion
In addition, the National Defense Strategy calls for a Joint Force that “must be able to strike diverse targets inside adversary air and missile defense networks to destroy mobile power-projection platforms.”  To help accomplish that goal, the FY 2019 budget includes the following preferred munitions:
  • 43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions - $1.2 billion
  • 9,733 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) - $1.2 billion
  • 6,826 Small Diameter Bomb I - $0.3 billion
  • 1,260 Small Diameter Bomb II - $0.4 billion
  • 7,045 Hellfire Missiles - $0.6 billion
  • 360 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range - $0.6 billion
  • 1,121 Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles - $0.3 billion
The budget implements the commitment in the National Defense Strategy to “modernize the nuclear triad – including nuclear command, control, and communications, and supporting infrastructure.”  FY 2019 investments in nuclear deterrence include:
 
  • B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber - $2.3 billion
  • Columbia Class Submarine - $3.7 billion
  • Long-Range Stand-Off Missile - $0.6 billion
  • Ground Based Strategic Deterrent - $0.3 billon
President Trump’s National Security Strategy articulates that “a growing and innovative economy allows the United States to maintain the world’s most powerful military and protect our homeland.” This budget requestinvests $13.7 billion in science and technology to further innovation and new and advanced capabilities including hypersonics technology, cyber space, space, directed energy, electronic warfare, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.
The FY 2019 budget supports our service members and their families, providing a competitive compensation package that reflects the unique demands and sacrifices of military service.  As the National Defense Strategy highlights, “The creativity and talent of the American warfighter is our greatest enduring strength, and one we do not take for granted.”  The budget:
  • Provides a 2.6% military pay raise – the largest increase in 9 years
  • Includes NO compensation cost share reforms in FY 2019.  Instead, the Department is focusing on internal business process improvements and structural changes to find greater efficiencies, such as modernizing our military health care systems into an integrated system
  • Sustains family support initiatives by investing more than $8 billion in:
    • Spousal/community support
    • Child care for approximately 1 million military children
    • DoD Dependent Schools, which are educating over 78,000 students
    • Commissary operations at 237 stores
    • Counseling support for service members and their families
This budget increases facilities investment to $10.5 billion, which is 7% above the FY 2018 base budget request.  It concentrates on ensuring the basing infrastructure is sized to increase force lethality and minimizing the cost of maintaining unneeded capacity.  The budget balances investment in infrastructure across DoD priorities and includes:
  • Operational and training facilities (including airfield improvements, training ranges,) to increase readiness
  • Maintenance and production facilities (maintenance hangars, missile assembly building, and high explosives magazine) to improve readines
  • Recapitalization of facilities in poor and failing condition
  • Improved Quality-of-Life for service members and their families (including schools, barracks, and medical facilities)
The FY 2019 budget continues to implement the Administration’s commitment to reform DoD business practices for greater performance and affordability.  Highlighting this commitment, the National Defense Strategy cautions that “we must transition to a culture of performance where results and accountability matter.”  Secretary Mattis has directed Deputy Secretary Shanahan to reform DoD’s business operations and reapply those savings to improve readiness and to increase the lethality and capacity of the military.  The DoD is focused on spending wisely by using shared, centralized services with the goal of using best practices to maximize effectiveness in areas including:
  • Information Technology
  • Real Property                         
  • Financial Management           
  • Logistics and Supply Chain
  • Testing and Evaluation
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Contracted Goods & Services
  • Community Services
The FY 2019 Budget also reflects continued savings from ongoing reforms such as defense travel modernization and the 25% management headquarters reduction.  Recent DoD reforms include:
  • Reorganizing the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics into two new Under Secretaries of Defense:  one focused on Research and Engineering to advance technology and innovation,  and one focused on Acquisition and Sustainment to deliver and sustain timely, cost-effective capabilities for the armed forces and DoD
  • Appointing a Chief Management Officer to manage business operations
  • Elevating Cyber Command
The OCO budget for FY 2019 supports Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL in Afghanistan, and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE in Iraq and Syria. The entire budget proposal and additional material are available at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/budget-materials.
 
Division comments: Staff is currently analyzing the FY19 Presidential and Department of Defense Budget Request, both released this week. Topline numbers for procurement and acquisition, research, testing, evaluation, and development, operations and maintenance, and personnel are in line with remarks from the service chiefs and DoD—there are across-the-board increases in all accounts in every branch. There are sections in the Defense Budget Overview dealing with the consolidated financial statement audit and business operations reforms, both areas which point to DoD’s longstanding inability to properly account for the vast sums under its management. While these budget requests act as guideposts, the forthcoming budgets from the Senate and Armed Services Committees will shed more light on just how Congress intends to spend the proposed hundreds of billions of additional defense funds over the next two years.
 
 
North Korea
No ‘bloody nose’ strategy for North Korea, says U.S. official, senators
(DefenseNews) - The Trump administration has no strategy for a pre-emptive “bloody nose” strike against North Korea, according to two lawmakers and a Trump administration official.
 
In response to reports that the administration is considering limited, pre-emptive attacks to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear program, critics have said the president lacks the authority for such an attack and that it would spark the war it’s meant to avoid.
 
Republican Sen. Jim Risch and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said Thursday they and other senators had been told by senior White House officials on Wednesday that there was no such strategy. Neither senator identified the officials.
 
The White House had “made it very clear there is no bloody nose strategy for a strike against North Korea,” Shaheen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was considering the nomination of Susan Thornton, Trump’s choice to be the top diplomat for East Asia.
 
Division comments: Senior White House aides stating that the President is not considering a “bloody nose” strike is a step in the right direction in regards to managing the threat posed by North Korea. A pre-emptive strike, in addition to running afoul of the UN Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force against another state, would be a unilateral act of war in a legal context without some evidence of an imminent attack by North Korea. A “bloody nose” strike fails to address the ever-present challenge of preventing escalation or widening of the conflict; you cannot put a bullet back in the barrel. There is also the fact that North Korea retains the capability to retaliate in ways that would easily kill and injure tens of thousands, and a “bloody nose” strike would not have the force necessary to eliminate that capability. Despite the fraught road that comes with trying to apply diplomatic, economic, and military pressure to get a dictatorial nuclear power to abandon the ultimate insurance against invasion short of going to war, it is a road that must be traveled. The alternatives would be death and destruction not seen in generations on the Korean Peninsula.
 
 
Quality of Life
The Defense Department has released a new policy on military retention for nondeployable service members as it seeks to provide more ready and lethal forces, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness told Congress yesterday.
 
"The situation we face today is really unlike anything that we have faced, certainly in the post-World War II era," Robert Wilkie told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee. On any given day, about 286,000 service members -- 13 to 14 percent of the total force – are nondeployable, Wilkie said at a hearing on military and civilian personnel programs and military family readiness.
 
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis in July tasked the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness with developing policies to ensure everyone who enters the military and those who remain in the military are worldwide deployable, he explained. Service members who have been nondeployable for more than 12 consecutive months will be processed for administrative separation or referred to the disability evaluation system, he said.
 
"This new policy is a 12-month ‘deploy-or-be-removed’ policy," he said, noting there are exceptions, such as pregnancy and postpartum conditions. Medical boards will review the medical status of those who have been wounded, he said.
 
“We need to look at the force holistically,” he said. “We have to ensure given the climate that this country faces that everyone who signs up can be deployed to any corner of the world at any given time, and that is the reason for the change in policy."
 
 
Focus on Readiness, Lethality
The new policy is effective immediately. Military services have until Oct. 1 to begin mandatory processing of nondeployable service members, Patricia Mulcahy, the director of DoD’s officer and enlisted personnel management office, said. Service members could be nondeployable for any number of reasons, she said, such as falling behind on annual medical exams or due to combat or training injuries. Only a small percentage of those who are nondeployable have been in that status for more than 12 months, Mulcahy said.
 
Each service member’s case will be individually reviewed, she said, and the secretaries of the military departments are authorized to grant waivers to retain members. The purpose of the policy is not to separate members, but rather is to get members back into a deployable status if possible, she emphasized.
 
"I think it's important to know that there is the balance between readiness and helping our members who are not going to be able to heal adequately to be deployable to help them with the next phase of their lives as well," she said. The policy is meant to improve readiness and ensure members are deployable worldwide to carry out the mission of safeguarding the nation and fighting and winning the nation’s wars, she said.
 
"Since Secretary Mattis has been on board, readiness and lethality of the forces has been [the] absolutely No. 1 priority for him, and thus for the department," she said.
 
Original memo can be read here.
 
 
DoD Quarterly Suicide Report
 
Monday, the Department released the Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) for the third quarter of Calendar Year 2017.  When published, the report will be available online at:
 
 
The QSRs do not contain the deep demographic analysis that is provided in the annual DoD Suicide Event Reports.  Rather, the QSR is intended to provide timely and accurate suicide data reporting to allow leaders at all levels to have near concurrent information that facilitates decision-making related to suicide prevention. One of the principal goals of this QSR is to improve the relevance and availability of data to bolster suicide prevention efforts.
 
For the third quarter of 2017, the military services reported the following:
 
  • 67 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
  • 26 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
  • 38 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
 
Patterns and Trends
Research on civilian suicide has shown that transitions can be a risk factor for suicide. Military Service members often experience transitions that can disrupt social and interpersonal structure and relationships. Transitions may magnify feelings of thwarted belongingness and burdensomeness. The Department is developing a number of unit-level, community support, and training interventions that have the potential of mitigating negative aspects of frequent transitions is warranted.
 
 
Access to Lethal Means for Suicide
Research shows suicidal thoughts and behaviors are fluid.13 Putting time and distance between a person who is having thoughts of suicide and lethal means, such as a gun or prescription drugs, can help save their life. Family and friends can take steps to ensure that lethal means are stored safely and securely, especially during times of crisis.
 
• Recognize if someone may be suicidal. Look for warning signs, such as someone talking about being better off dead.
 
• Make sure all firearms are secure inside your home. Store the gun unloaded in a secured and locked location, different from where the ammunition is stored. Consider using a gun lock or removing the firing pin.
 
• Explore options to temporarily store guns outside of your home. In times of crisis, consider storing weapons at a family member, friend, or neighbor’s house in a locked box, at the local armory, or at the local police department, until the person no longer feels suicidal. Please note that some local and state laws require weapon registration for legal storage; always follow the law in your jurisdiction.
 
 
Social Media
Individuals who are experiencing suicidal thoughts often do not explicitly state that they want to die or that they have taken steps to end their life. Often times there may be other indicators of suicidal intent, for example, phrases such as, “my family would be better off without me” or “I can’t take this anymore.” Suicidal intent may also be evident in social media posts. Dr. Craig Bryan, at the University of Utah, in collaboration with The Defense Personnel and Security Research Center, recently conducted an analysis of social media posts of Service members who died by suicide. They found that posts expressing lack of purpose and meaning, self-criticism, sudden interest in alcohol, and/or no longer mentioning loved ones increased before death. If you see signs similar to these, it is important to reach out by offering support and letting the person know you care.
 
 
TRICARE Updates
  • President's Budget for 2019: On 12 FEB, the president released his FY 2019 budget, which stated, "In FY 2017 and FY 2018, Congress has mostly supported the Department's health benefit reform proposals. As a result, the Department of Defense will not pursue any further cost share reforms in FY 2019. Instead, the Department will pursue efforts focused on internal business process improvements and structural changes to find greater efficiencies, such as modernizing the military health care system to an integrated system; negotiating lower administrative cost for the new TRICARE contracts; continuing deployment of the MHS Genesis electronic health record; implementing health benefit reforms authorized by Congress; reforming cumbersome processes, and streamlining internal operations. Ensuring the success of these major efforts will generate savings to be reinvested in lethality, improve our beneficiaries' health care experience, and improve our medical force readiness posture."  More information can be found at http://comptroller.defense.gov/Budget-Materials/Budget2019
  • Take Command of Your Health: New TRICARE, New You Webinar deck | February 12, 2018: The webinar reviewed how the changes have increased access to care; consolidated regions from three to two to increase efficiencies; enacted enrollment changes and guidelines, including what action to take during the open-enrollment season if beneficiaries want to make changes in their TRICARE plan; established Group A and Group B costs and fee changes; pharmacy copayment changes, as of February 2018); and resources so you can Take Command of Your Health.
  • What Women Need to Know About Heart Health Flier | Thursday, February 22, 2018, 1 p.m. EST: Presented by Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Lauren Weber, cardiologist, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. February is widely recognized as American Heart Month. Join TRICARE for a discussion about the importance of reducing the risk of heart disease and how to recognize the warning signs. This webinar will highlight preventive measures, strategies and wellness tips women need to know to keep their heart healthy. Register for the webinar online: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8278839160296959490About
 
Hearings
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing for its annual “Worldwide Threats” briefing. The Director of National Intelligence and leaders of five of the agencies in the intelligence community,  CIA, NSA, FBI, DIA, and NGA, testified. hey discussed concerns ranging from terrorist attacks to nuclear strikes, but a major portion of the hearing was dedicated to discussing threats coming from technology. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in his opening statement that cybersecurity is his "greatest concern" and "top priority," putting it ahead of threats like weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. "From US businesses to the federal government to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyberattacks every day," Coats said.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee hearing on the “Department of Defense’s role in Protecting Democratic Elections.” Witnesses focused on the known threat of Russian cyber actors and their various ways they attempt influence and information operations while simultaneously probing state networks for vulnerabilities. Witnesses agreed that DoD should focus on thwarting foreign cyber threats while the Department of Homeland Security leads on coordinating and securing domestic election systems.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the United States Northern and Southern Commands, with their respective commanders General Lori Robinson, USAF, and Admiral Kurt Tidd, USN, testifying. Of note were comments about the role NORTHCOM and SOUTCOM in interdicting shipments of illicit opioids. Latin American partnerships have yielded “pretty good situational awareness” on most drug trafficking to the U.S., Tidd said. However, he said: “Of the known tracks, we are only able to intercept 25 percent of them, about one-fourth.” Fresh from a SOUTHCOM-hosted interagency conference last week, Tidd said that opioids require new thinking and better collaboration. For now, the command is taking a threat-network based approach. Asked what capabilities would close the gap, Tidd named the littoral combat ship, packaged with rotary-wing aircraft and interceptor boats, and coupled with maritime patrol aircraft.
 
Legislation
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff will attend a roundtable hosted by the office of Rep. Vincente Gonzalez with Rep. Mark Takano attending, to listen to current legislative approaches surrounding deported U.S. military veterans. Representatives from the VA, VSOs, and Congressional offices were in attendance. The situation is that some immigrants with legal status served honorably in the Armed Forces but did not complete the process for naturalization or citizenship for a variety of reasons—from lack of awareness to fees and legal challenges to paperwork falling through the cracks. Some are then arrested on unrelated charges, unaware of their immigration status, turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and deported. In the process they are both largely denied access to their earned VA healthcare benefits and, by law, unable to apply for citizenship since they had already violated immigration law, irrespective of their service. In response, several pieces of legislation are being circulated that addresses different aspects of this issue. Some create checks on servicemembers immigration status to ensure that no more people end their enlistments without being a resident alien or naturalized. Others make sure that resources are available for deported vets to access healthcare in their countries of origin. We continue to research and
 
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Geostrategic Flashpoint: The Eastern Mediterranean.” The Eastern Mediterranean forms a geostrategic seam between Europe and the Middle East. For over seventy years, the region represented a strategic anchor for the United States, which understood its importance both to strengthening Europe and to limiting instability in the Middle East. Today, the United States and its allies are struggling to adapt a coherent Eastern Mediterranean regional policy that acknowledges dramatically new economic, political, and security realities while ensuring that the region remains transatlantically anchored.  As Syria enters its seventh year of conflict, Russia and Iran deepen their military footprints in the region, and NATO ally Turkey radically alters its domestic and external policies, the strategic importance of the region to the United States is growing while U.S. influence there appears to be waning. To assess regional security challenges and discuss NATO and U.S. Navy operational approaches to the Eastern Mediterranean, Admiral James G. Foggo, III, commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, offered his observations and assessment.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a panel at the Brooking Institution titled “The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review: Continuity and change.” With the unveiling of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Trump administration builds on President Obama’s multi-decade plan to modernize each leg of the U.S. nuclear triad and nuclear command and control system, calling it “an affordable priority.” At the same time, the Trump NPR goes beyond the 2010 NPR in a number of ways. These changes include seeking a new, low-yield warhead for some sea-launched ballistic missiles and a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile and by articulating a revised declaratory policy that could envision the U.S. use of nuclear weapons in a wider range of contingencies, such as in response to a cyberattack against U.S. command and control or early warning capabilities. The event featured a keynote by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg. Following his remarks, a panel convened that included Jim Miller, under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration; Madelyn Creedon, principal deputy administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration during the Obama administration; James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment; and Robert Einhorn of Brookings. Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon moderated the discussion.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for American Progress on “Election Security in 50 States: Defending America’s Elections.” In 2016, Russia sought to breach the U.S. elections, including attempting to hack into many states’ election systems. Fourteen months later, despite many states taking proactive measures, U.S. election infrastructure remains vulnerable to attacks. Without leadership from this administration to defend America’s elections from attacks by sophisticated enemies who want to undermine our democratic process, the necessary funding and resources to protect future elections have not been forthcoming. Despite bipartisan efforts in Congress to bolster election security and provide needed funding, legislation remains blocked. The Center for American Progress released report on election security preparedness in all 50 states, assigning grades to each state. CAP’s research and report card are designed to identify and provide information on strengths and shortcomings in each state’s election security preparedness. A better understanding of how each state can improve its election security preparedness can help build urgency for appropriate solutions and arm stakeholders with information to demand increased security measures.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a CSIS event on “Oversight and Accountability in U.S. Security Sector Assistance: Seeking Return on Investment.” With the range of security challenges confronting the United States in the 21st century, characterized by competition by both state and non-state actors, the importance of working with allies and partners to address common challenges is paramount. Deeper examination of the relative effectiveness of U.S. security sector assistance and how it must nest in a broader foreign policy strategy, including good governance, human rights, and rule of law principles, is required. Improving oversight and accountability in U.S. security sector assistance with partners are at the core of ongoing security assistance reform efforts to ensure that U.S. foreign policy objectives are met and in accordance with U.S. interests and values. Speakers addressed the view of security assistance in Congress, priorities and best practices for security sector assistance, and the risks, tradeoffs, and opportunities in oversight and accountability.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will participate in a conference call with the Department of Defense detailing the release of the new universal DoD policy on how the Military Services retain servicemembers who are in a non-deployable status. Details of the call and official guidance are included in the Quality of Life section.
 
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.
 
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Machinist's Mate 1st Class Arthur Glenn, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Glenn 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 Glenn. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Department Honor Guard Alerts
  • No funeral announcements this week
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 February 2018
 
Items of Interest            
Congress Votes to Reopen Government, Passes Budget Deal
(Military.com) - The House moved swiftly early Friday to reopen the federal government and pass a $400 billion budget deal, overcoming opposition from both liberal Democrats and tea party conservatives to endorse enormous spending increases despite looming trillion-dollar deficits.
[…]
The bill includes huge spending increases sought by Republicans for the Pentagon along with a big boost demanded by Democrats for domestic agencies. Both sides pressed for $89 billion for disaster relief, extending a host of health care provisions, and extending a slew of smaller tax breaks.
 
It also would increase the government's debt cap, preventing a first-ever default on U.S. obligations that looms in just a few weeks. Such debt limit votes are usually enormous headaches for GOP leaders, but the increase means another vote won't occur before March 2019.
 
Senate leader had celebrated the budget deal a sign they had left behind some of their chronic dysfunction. Just three weeks ago, Senate Democrats sparked a three-day partial government shutdown by filibustering a spending bill, seeking relief for "Dreamer" immigrants who've lived in the country illegally since they were children.
 
Senate Democrats had no appetite for another shutdown. House GOP leaders shored up support among conservatives for the measure, which would shower the Pentagon with money but add hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation's $20 trillion-plus debt.
 
Division comments: While the American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense, the perennial issue of fraud, waste, and abuse within Pentagon accounting continues to be ignored by Congress, the body responsible for oversight. Lawmakers and Secretaries of Defense have all pointed to the factors of too much money, too little oversight, and numerous profitable opportunities for bad actors to defraud the taxpayer as contributing to the current fiscal health of the national security state. Yet there is strong bipartisan consensus to provide the Department of Defense with a blank check, despite neither Congress nor the DoD offering a clear plan on how this extra money will address pressing issues like personnel and equipment readiness and operational tempo.
 
Military Parade
This week President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength.  U.S. military members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of military veterans, but these typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware.  Although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not commented publicly on the idea of a Washington military parade, the idea is not an obvious fit with his emphasis on focusing strictly, if not exclusively, on military activities that either improve the lethality of the armed forces or enhance their preparation for combat, or both.  Last September, at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump announced his idea of staging a grand parade of the armed forces in Washington on July 4.  President Trump reminisced about watching France’s Bastille Day military parade when he visited Paris in July. He said the two-hour parade was a “tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France,” and said he wanted one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that would be grander than the one he saw in Paris.
 
Division comments: While a parade that specifically celebrates the centennial of the end of World War I would be an appropriate demonstration, there is some question if a general recognition parade for active-duty troops, particularly during a summer a holiday in Washington DC, would be an effective use of resources and impose an extra burden on the thousands of servicemembers that will participate. The American Legion supports all efforts to recognize and honor the men and women serving in the armed forces, but considers that there are perhaps betters ways of doing so.
 
North Korea
Pence doesn't meet North Koreans as Olympics open
(Politico) - Vice President Mike Pence’s Olympic visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, began Friday with a close call with the North Korean officials, whom the vice president appeared to avoid at a diplomatic reception before the Opening Ceremonies.
 
Pence arrived Friday in Pyeongchang, the mountain town hosting the Winter Games, ahead of the Opening Ceremonies and proceeded to a reception where he posed for a photograph with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
 
The pool of U.S. reporters traveling with the president were ushered out of the reception after the photo-op, but a spokesperson for the vice president said Pence, whose name was announced when he entered the reception, greeted several tables but “did not come across” the North Korean delegation.
 
Pence earlier this week didn't rule out a meeting with North Korean officials, saying that he hadn't requested a meeting but "we'll see what happens."
 
Division comments: The Olympics would provide an excellent opportunity for backchannel talks with North Korea, should the White House choose to pursue that course of action. There is continuing concern about the advances seen in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The lack of effort on the diplomatic front and no viable military solution has resulted in a back-and-forth of missile tests, provocative words, and sanctions that ratchets up the tension and increases the likelihood of miscommunication or rapid escalation. It is imperative that the President use all the levers of US power to resolve this situation peacefully—a strong first step would be confirming a capable ambassador to South Korea.
 
Quality of Life
DoD Memo on Non-Deployability
On Tuesday the Department of Defense issued a memo that states servicemembers who have been non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be separated from the military.  These policies are under final review from DoD leadership and will be followed by a DoD instruction which may take several months to complete.  Approximately 11 percent, or 235,000, of the 2.1 million personnel serving on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard are currently non-deployable.  As continued operations overseas have stressed the military, the Pentagon has begun to target that 11 percent to either get deployable, or get out.  The Pentagon estimates that of the total non-deployable force about 99,000 are on that list for administrative reasons, such as not having all their immunizations or their required dental exams. About 20,000 are not deployable due to pregnancy, and 116,000 are not deployable due to either short- or long-term injuries.  The 116,000 non-deployable due to injuries are the focus of this policy.  The draft retention policy is a result of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ direction, in a July 21 memo, to focus on non-deployable troops and other factors, such as excessive training requirements, which he saw as impacting both “warfighting readiness and force lethality.”
 
Women & Minority Veterans
News
Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) created a draft bill for a peer-to-peer counseling program for women veterans. The purpose of this legislation is to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and other purposes. Those counselors should have expertise in gender-specific issues and services, the information about services and benefits and employment mentoring.
 
Division comments: The American Legion will continue to follow this bill. The legion can support this bill with Resolution 377, Support Veterans Quality of Life. This legislation will enhance, improve, or preserve benefits for women veterans which the Legion supports.
 
  • On Monday, February 5th, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division met with the new Congressional Relations officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ca-Asia Lane. Ms. Lane’s portfolio includes: research on women veterans health; military sexual trauma and sexual assault. Staff from the National Security Division will begin to have a working relationship with Ms. Shields to get updates on the most recent events and changes in legislation and policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
  • On Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Danielle Corazza, the new National Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This phone conference resulted in the approval of the Center for Women Veterans displaying its new Women Veterans Athlete Initiative at the National Convention in 2018.
 
  • On Wednesday, the Department of Defense released its Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the United States Military Service Academies for academic program year 2016-2017.  Overall, DoD’s assessment found that the Academies complied with policies addressing sexual assault prevention and response. However, the Air Force Academy’s victim assistance efforts during the past academic program year did not comply with policy. Air Force Academy leadership has since taken action to rectify the problems it detected within its sexual assault prevention and response office. The full report may be Found on the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office website at:  http://sapr.mil/index.php.   For additional reference, I have attached a DoD press release that provides additional context.  That release may be found online at:  https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1435008/dod-releases-report-on-sexual-harassment-and-violence-at-military-service-acade/
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff joined Executive Director Verna Jones for an event sponsored by the Women Veterans United Committee at the House Rayburn Building.  Verna was the honorary keynote speaker for the event.  The topics discussed included Women Health care issues, Harassment in the Military, Military Sexual Trauma, and Engagement with the Women Veterans Community.
 
  • On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division attended the fourth Annual Women Veterans United Committee event on the Hill. Women Veterans United Committee Incorporation’s purpose is to address quality services, advocate, coordinate and raise awareness, and provide information to ensure needs are met for Women Veterans. The speaker for this program was Verna Jones, Executive Director, The American Legion; Michele S. Jones, President, The Bones Theory Group; and Lory Manning, Captain, USN (Ret.). All of the speakers focused on the same things: Women veterans; how to help women veterans; statistics of women veterans and ways to provide more assistance to women veterans.
 
  • On Thursday, February 8, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Monthly Partners Breakfast Meeting. The guest for this monthly Partners Breakfast was Ms. Barbara Ward, the Director of the Minority Veterans Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Ward primarily focused on some of the upcoming events for the month of February, one which Verna Jones will be the keynote speaker. Staff from the National Security Division, plans to meet with Ms. Ward the second week of March. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division informed the members at the Partners Breakfast about the American Legion’s Washington Conference.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior subject matter experts to discuss the recently released report this week. The discussion was led by Dr. Elise Van Winkle, who is the Principal Director for Force Resiliency, and Dr. Nathan Galbreath, who is the Deputy Director for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO).
    This report contains the results of the Department’s on-site assessments of the Academies and outcomes of focus groups of cadets, midshipmen, faculty, and staff. This report assesses the effectiveness of policies, training, and procedures to address sexual harassment and sexual violence at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy. Overall, DoD’s assessment found that the Academies complied with policy.
 
  • On Friday, February 9, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Deborah Harmon Pew, National Campaign Chair, Women Veterans Rock. Staff from the National Security Division was asked to attend as a  delegate for Women Veterans Rock Public Policy Day on March 15th, 2018. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division was asked to be a guest speaker at one of Women Veterans Rock’s summer events.
 
Hearings
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “U.S. Cyber Diplomacy in an Era of Growing Threats”. Authoritarian regimes and foreign actors are working overtime to impose more control online, including through censorship. These destructive efforts to weaponize the internet undermine America’s foreign policy and security, as well as our economy. As Americans become more and more connected with digital technology, the United States must ensure the internet remains open, reliable and secure. The hearing explored foreign threats to the internet and the important role diplomacy plays in addressing them.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the “Opioid Crisis: Removing Barriers to Prevent and Treat Opioid Abuse and Dependence in Medicare”. As the second in a series of hearings focused on the opioid crisis, the hearing addressed ways to break down barriers in the US healthcare system that stand in the way of preventing and treating opioid abuse and dependence in the Medicare program. The hearing looked at the use of data analytics to identify at-risk beneficiaries, as well as overprescribing and inappropriate pharmacy dispensing, and examine possible legislative solutions to prevent more Medicare beneficiaries from being harmed by opioid abuse and addiction.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing on “Defending the Homeland: Department of Defense’s Role in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security Kenneth Rapuano and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman testified. The witnesses outlined the role and breadth of DoD’s role in preventing the acquisition of counter chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons, containing and reducing existing threats, and responding to WMD use.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security and Legislative division are working on a response to a proposed $10 million reduction in the budget of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in the FY18 Appropriations Bill. The reduction would have significant impact on DPAA’s ability to conduct all-important field operations and research. The American Legion remains committed to achieving a full accounting of all of America’s servicemembers from all conflicts, and will continue to advocate for appropriate budgeting.
 
  • The National Security division is currently reviewing hundreds of defense, homeland security, and international affairs bills to identify leading offices on relevant topics where the American Legion’s strengths can be put best to use. We’re looking to collaborate with offices on informational events in support of legislative efforts that address pressing national security issues.
     
  • The National Security division is currently working on turning opioid epidemic response recommendations from drug policy leaders and groups into statutory language that would have an impact on priority areas that have been identified. An example is the need for a robust, networked prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) that would provide doctors with a full and accurate representation of a patient’s prescription drug usage.
 
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute fifth annual Mexican security review. The forum provided a careful examination of security challenges in Mexico, featuring presentations from leading policy analysts, including David Shirk, Viridiana Rios, Matthew Ingram, and others. Of particular interest was a review of 2017 and a discussion of trends in 2018, including establishing new bonds in U.S.-Mexico military-to-military relations and strengthening the rule of law in Mexico. The Mexico Institute also launched a new book called The Missing Reform: Strengthening the Rule of Law in Mexico, which analyzes the concrete obstacles that Mexico faces to implement the rule of law and provides a series of short reflections from leading Mexican and U.S. analysts on recommendations for strengthening the rule of law in Mexico.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the release of a new report, Enhanced Deterrence in the North: A 21st Century European Engagement Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. CSIS has concluded a year-long study that assesses Russia's military capabilities for the next decade; examines the existing "web" of bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral security and defense cooperation agreements stretching from the North Atlantic to the Barents and Baltic Seas; and outlines a new and more streamlined framework for enhancing deterrence in Northern Europe. Following keynote remarks from former SACEUR General Philip M. Breedlove (Ret.) on the need for greater enhanced security and defense measures in Northern Europe, the subsequent panel discussed specific new measures to improve maritime and air power capabilities, as well as strengthen defense and security cooperation with non-NATO members Sweden and Finland.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a VSO/MSO partners meeting at the Pentagon with senior defense officials to include Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper to discuss an array of key issues to the Army.  The group was provided an operations update on where the Army is currently and potentially deploying to and the impact of the increased operations tempo on military members and their families.  DoD is reviewing several plans to attempt to relief the stress to include separating servicemembers who have been non-deployable for more than 12 months and reviewing locations where U.S. forces can be removed or reduced.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security International Cybersecurity Leaders Forum. Keynote remarks were made by Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine; and by U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle who
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division attended a Stimson Center event titled “How to Interpret Nuclear Crises: From Kargil to North Korea.” With tensions mounting between the United States and North Korea, what has been clear is the wide disagreement among scholars about what constitutes a nuclear crisis, how dangerous it is, and what dynamics dictate how it plays out. The Stimson Center will host U.S. academics who are arguing that nuclear crisis dynamics depend on incentives to use nuclear weapons first and the extent to which escalation can be controlled by leaders involved. The panel will explain four distinct models of nuclear crisis and discuss the application of this framework to the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan, and assess implications for current U.S.-North Korea tensions.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff participated in the monthly VSO/CWV partners breakfast meeting at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The event was hosted by the Associate Director of the Center for Women Veterans, Dr. Betty Moseley Brown.  Special briefings were provided by the Center for Minority Veterans with a focus on minority women veterans in recognition of Black History Month and the Million Veteran Program.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended a Brookings Institution event on Army modernization and force planning, with the Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, Undersecretary of the U.S. Army. When it comes to modernization, speed, agility, and leveraging commercial innovations are essential enablers, but each can prove difficult. Following tens of billions of dollars in U.S. Army spending over the last decade to develop new weaponry, multiple failures have added up, some with little or nothing to show for the costs. In addition to looking to create new and more lethal capabilities to help the warfighter to win and come home safely, the Army has been tasked to do more with less, making the ability to experiment with prototypes all the more critical. Army forces must also possess the capabilities—and be prepared to fight across multiple domains and through contested areas—to deter potential adversaries, and should deterrence fail, rapidly defeat them.
 
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.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Molder 1st Class Kenneth B. Armstrong, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Armstrong 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 Armstrong. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. David Baker, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Baker was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, positioned in the vicinity of Yongbyong, North Korea. Baker’s battalion moved north and lost contact with two other regiments. On Nov. 25, 1950, 3rd BN met with enemy resistance and was attacked by Chinese People’s Volunteer Force. The battalion suffered heavy casualties and Baker was declared missing in action as of Nov. 28, 1950, when he could not be accounted for by his unit. Later reports indicate that Baker was likely captured by the enemy during battle. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 26 January 2018
 
Items of Interest
Commandant says the Marine Corps has ‘too many airplanes’
(Marine Corps Times) - The top Marine says the Corps is stuck with too many aircraft that it simply doesn’t have the time to fix or maintain.
 
“In fact right now we’ve got too many Hornets; we’ve got too many airplanes,” said Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller at a discussion Thursday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
 
“We need to get rid of them because we don’t have time to fix them.”
 
The Corps’ aviation wing is struggling with readiness shortfalls and budget woes amid another continuing resolution that is impacting long-term planning across the force.
 
The Corps’ transition to new aircraft platforms like the MV-22 Osprey and the F-35B means other aircraft like the UH-1Y, Cobras, Harriers and Hornets have limited need or use.
 
“As we field new airplanes, squadrons have to stand down as they transition,” Neller said.
 
The older aircraft will either be sent to “the boneyard” or sold off to allies.
 
Division comments: The Commandant’s remarks reflect a broader issue across the services of loads of aging weapons platforms, rise in cost of upkeep, fall in availability of spare parts, and an overall failure to fund operations and maintenance accounts. Despite the Commandant’s desire to move to new platforms like the Osprey and F-35, these craft come with their own long set of maintenance and reliability issues, with the Department of Defense office of operational testing and evaluation issuing another report that called into question the F-35 program’s ability to deliver working, effective aircraft at a reasonable cost. The lack of stable budgets is a major driver in acquisition and procurement issues, and the Legion continues to support full defense funding and the elimination of spending caps.
 
North Korea
North Korea calls for unification in rare statement to all Koreans
(USA TODAY)North Korea issued an announcement directed at "all Koreans at home and abroad" Thursday, calling for increased efforts toward "independent" unification, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Pyongyang urged for Koreans "to improve North-South relations" after a meeting of the country's government and political parties, according to the statement, which was posted on media monitoring site KCNA Watch.
The announcement said Koreans should "promote contact, travel, cooperation between the North and South," but that it should do so without the help of other countries.
"Let us wage an energetic drive to defuse the acute military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula!" the news agency said.
Although the statement did not provide details on why the meeting was held, it said the appeal was made in order to support North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's comments about unification that he made earlier this month.
 
Skepticism over Olympics 'propaganda'
Vice President Pence said he will attempt to counter what he believes to be Kim's efforts to "hijack" the Olympics with propaganda when he attends the event next month.
Tensions have been high on the divided peninsula over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, which have prompted a slew of international sanctions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's government has rejected criticism that the North is stealing the spotlight from the games, saying the Olympics will help defuse tensions.
Quality of Life
 
DoD and VA Release Online Tool to Assist Veterans with Discharge Upgrade Process
Online at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1424248/dod-and-va-release-online-tool-to-assist-veterans-with-discharge-upgrade-process/
 
Release No: NR-022-18 Jan. 25, 2018
 
The Department of Defense, through a joint initiative with the Department of Veterans Affairs, is pleased to announce the launch of a web-based tool that will provide customized guidance to veterans who desire to upgrade or change the conditions of their military discharge. “We are thrilled to have partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs in developing this wonderful and easily-accessible tool,” said Mr. Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “We support our veterans, whether they served recently or long ago, and we are excited to introduce a tool that will individualize the guidance for those who desire an upgrade or change in their military discharge,” he said.
 
Over the years, some veterans have criticized the review process as daunting or difficult to understand. The issuance of supplemental guidance over the past few years, while helpful to many, has the side effect of creating multiple guidance documents that can be confusing to some. Furthermore, some veterans suffer from mental health or other conditions that make tasks like these more difficult for them than for others.
 
This innovative tool simplifies and customizes the guidance. By answering a few short questions, veterans will know which board they need to go to, what form to fill out, any special guidance applicable to their case, where to send their application, and some helpful tips for appealing their discharge. Any veterans who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade are encouraged to use this tool and then apply for review.
 
This tool can be found on Vets.gov at: https://www.vets.gov/discharge-upgrade-instructions. The link is also available on Military OneSource (http://www.militaryonesource.mil/) and each of the review board’s websites (listed below). The link has also been forwarded to a number of Veterans Service Organizations and Military Service Organizations in order to spread the news to as many Veterans as possible.
This initiative was one of many in recent years aimed at improving the review process and guidance available to veterans who believe they may have been unfairly discharged or received an unfair discharge characterization. The Department issued special guidance in 2011 for veterans discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or its predecessor policies. Also, the Department issued guidance related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2014. Most recently, in February 2016, the Department redoubled its efforts to ensure veterans received the benefit of the latest guidance and statutes of limitations were liberally waived in such cases. Subsequently, in December 2016, the Department launched an 2 internal review of its policies and procedures. That review disclosed some gaps and confusion in the previous guidance. In August 2017, the Department issued significant guidance clarifying how review boards will consider cases involving mental health conditions, including PTSD, TBI, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
 
For information on a specific board, please contact the board directly or through its website at:
 
Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Board-for-Correction-of-Military-Records/
Phone: 240-612-5379
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrbc@mail.mil
 
Air Force Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/Separation/Discharge-Review-Board/
Phone: 240-612-0995
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrb@mail.mil
 
Army Board for Correction of Military Records:
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil
 
Army Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil
 
Navy Board for Correction of Naval Records:
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/bcnr/Pages/home.aspx
Phone: 703-607-6111
E-mail: BCNR_Application@navy.mil
 
Navy Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/NDRB/default.aspx
Phone: 202-685-6600
E-mail: NDRB@navy.mil
 
To submit feedback on related Department policies or processes:
Send an e-mail to osd.pentagon.ousd-p-r.mbx.legal-policy@mail.mil
 
or mail your feedback to Office of Legal Policy at:
Office of Legal Policy Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness)
4000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-4000
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will speak with Elizabeth A. Estabrooks, Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator. Ms. Estabrooks is inquiring about having an exhibit displayed entitled “I Am Not Invisible”  at the National Convention. The purpose of the exhibit is to increase the awareness about women veterans. During the phone call, Ms. Estabrooks and Staff from the National Security Division will discuss more in depth details surrounding the exhibit.
Hearings
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will attend a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on “Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Strategy.” Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage are scheduled to testify.
Legislation
  • On Thursday, National Security and Legislative division staff attended a meeting with staff from the office of Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) to discuss Rep. Bilirakis’ introduction of a bill addressing concurrent receipt. The Legislative and National Security divisions are focusing on concurrent receipt as a priority issue this year, and are working with Congressional offices to ensure that it is taken up as a standalone bill or inserted into the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled “Broadening the Lens Beyond Security: The Next Few Decades of U.S.-Pakistan Relations.” Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, His Excellency Aizaz Ahmad Chaudry addressed recent strains in the US-Pakistan relationship, the future of the bilateral security relationship, and development, economic, and other opportunities for partnership between the United States and Pakistan.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff conducted a radio interview with Eric Dehm on the CBS Radio program Connecting Vets. Staff discussed the national security dimensions of the opioid epidemic and upcoming changes in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended an all-day MSO/VSO working group event at the Defense Health Agency. Topics covered included the Joint Outpatient Experience Survey; House Armed Services Committee-requested clarifications for MSO/VSO community methodology, benefit comparison, copay groupings, use of fees, TRICARE Young Adult; TRICARE transition status; updates about the 2018 NDAA Pharmacy & Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program; TRICARE Take Command Campaign update; and the Federal Drug Administration agreement.
 
  • On Friday, January 26, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division will attend an invite only luncheon with former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. At the luncheon, Mr. Hagel will discuss the recently released book, Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided, detailing the experiences of himself and brother Tom Hagel, who both served together in the same rifle platoon during the Vietnam War.
 
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.
 
  • Navy Fireman 3rd Class Warren H. Crim, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Crim 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 Crim. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell E. Valley, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Valley 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 Valley. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On June 22, 1944, Canty was a member of the 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, IX Bomber Command, aboard a B-26 Maurader on a nighttime bombing mission from Easton Lodge-Essex, England, against targets near Caen, France. His B-26 was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France. All eight crewmembers were killed in the incident. Because the location of the crash was in German-held territory, U.S. forces were unable to make a detailed search for the crew at the time of their loss. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Pete W. Simon, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In September 1950, Simon was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in a defense of the Pusan Perimeter, a large defensive line west and north of Pusan, South Korea. Simon was reported to have been killed in action Sept. 5, 1950, but his remains were not located following the battle. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Lamar E. Newman, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In November 1950, Newman was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, taking part in a defensive operation in the vicinity of the village of Kujang, North Korea. The Division suffered heavy losses, with many Soldiers going missing or being killed or captured. Newman went missing near the village of Kujang as a result of heavy fighting on Nov. 27, 1950. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 19 January 2018
 
Items of Interest
Senate Takes Up Stopgap; Outcome Unclear
(CQ) - Time is short for senators to clear a spending deal and avert a government shutdown. The Senate took up a four-week continuing resolution late Thursday, but the bill's fate remains unclear as Democrats withhold support over the absence of a broader spending and immigration deal.
 
Senators will scramble today to try to keep the government open beyond midnight tonight, when current appropriations (PL 115-96) expire. Senate Republicans are meeting this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss a path forward.
 
Senate Democrats, whose votes will be needed to clear the CR (H J Res 125, which was appended to HR 195), have threatened to shoot down the short-term spending bill because of the lack of progress on immigration. A simple majority was needed to begin debating the bill Thursday night, but future procedural votes -- including a cloture vote to end debate -- will require 60 "yea" votes, meaning support from at least nine Democrats will be needed.
 
Division comments: Congress’ inability to pass a budget on time and its continuing and growing reliance on continuing resolutions has greatly hampered the Department of Defense’s ability to do multi-year budget planning and block buys of major weapons systems, all of which drive cost at nearly every stage of production and procurement. The American Legion supports full funding of DOD, and continues to press Congress on not playing political football with national security.
 
Tillerson signals deeper US military commitment in Syria
(MilitaryTimes.com) - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled deeper U.S. commitment to Syria on Wednesday, saying America would maintain its military presence there to prevent an Islamic State resurgence. He said the U.S. also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.
 
Speaking at Stanford University after being introduced by former top diplomat Condoleezza Rice, Tillerson said the Trump administration was determined not to repeat President Barack Obama’s “mistake” when he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. Republicans for years have argued the withdrawal created the opening for IS’ rapid expansion.
 
Instead, Tillerson stressed that U.S. forces would remain in Syria for the foreseeable future as President Donald Trump and his aides implement a new strategy to stabilize Syria, where a civil war has killed as many as a half-million people and created millions of refugees since 2011. There are currently some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, mainly training local forces to root out remaining extremist strongholds.
 
Division comments: Both the White House and Congress have repeatedly failed to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that covers US activity in Syria. The administration and Congress have not presented any strategy or vision on how to deal with the devastated country, the dozens of armed actors still in the field or turning to insurgent tactics, the repatriation of millions of refugees, and basic governance and services. In line with Resolution 217: Identifying National Interests Before Committing Military Forces and Assets, we support a robust discussion on the why and how the US will maintain a military presence in Syria, and what the potential consequences are for each course of action.
 
Quality of Life
Troops and families: Here are some ways a shutdown could affect you
(MilitaryTimes.com) - If you were around in 2013, you’ll remember the many ways the two-week government shutdown that October affected military personnel and their families: Everything from doctor’s appointments to planned relocations to death benefits.
 
Operations that are considered essential to national security will continue during the shutdown. Defense Department officials set those ground rules; the current guidelines weren’t immediately available. But as the Friday night deadline looms for lawmakers to reach an agreement, shutdown preparations are underway in DoD.
 
“DoD’s foremost need is to receive an enacted appropriation for fiscal year 2018 as soon as possible,” DoD spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn said. “We are hopeful that there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations. However, at this time, prudent management requires planning for the possibility of a shutdown.”
 
Based on some shutdown history and recent guidelines, we put together some points to consider.
 
Pay - Active-duty military personnel generally report to work during a shutdown regardless of whether their command is considered “essential,” but military personnel generally wouldn’t be paid until the shutdown ends. This could change if Congress passes a law that requires the military to be paid during the shutdown, as they it in 2013. Personnel are paid on the 1st and 15th of each month.
 
In the past, a number of financial institutions that serve the military community have stepped up to fill the gap, in some cases offering to advance the active-duty pay, then recouping it later, when retroactive pay caught up. Military relief societies also have helped service members and families fill the gaps during shutdowns.
 
Retired pay is not affected. It comes from a different pot of money.
 
PCS and TDY - In 2013, permanent change-of-station moves and temporary duty travel were canceled except for service members traveling to activities and operations determined to be essential to national security.
 
Healthcare - In 2013, military treatment facilities remained open to care for existing patients and provide emergency services and acute care. Routine appointments and elective surgery were suspended, but pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services continued. All care through off-base civilian Tricare providers was unchanged.
 
Commissaries - DoD hasn’t notified commissary officials yet about whether they will have to close any stores, Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson said. Commissaries were closed during the 2013 shutdown, except for overseas stores. If there is a shutdown, the commissaries forced to close will follow an orderly procedure to allow store staffs to reduce stocks of perishables, safeguard equipment and facilities, and make other necessary preparations, he said. In 2013, commissaries in the continental U.S., as well as those in Alaska and Hawaii, were open an extra day after the shutdown took effect. They were packed with customers.
 
“In the event of a shutdown, we will do our best to support our military communities whenever and wherever possible,” Robinson said.
 
Exchanges - They won’t close, because they don’t rely on taxpayer dollars. But they do try to ease some of the strain on the customers affected by commissary closures. For example, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials already are working up emergency orders for key items such as diapers, bread, milk and frozen food, and working with distributors to speed up those deliveries for early next week, AAFES spokesman Chris Ward said.
 
DoD schools - Based on past experience, the Department of Defense Education Activity is planning that their 166 DoD schools overseas and stateside, and eight district offices around the world, would be allowed to continue to operate, DoDEA spokesman Frank O’Gara said. A shutdown would probably curtail operations at regional offices and at headquarters, he said, though DoDEA is awaiting DoD guidance.
 
Death gratuities - These $100,000 payments might not be made immediately to the designated survivor of a service member who dies on active duty. When those payments went unmade in 2013, the Fisher House Foundation stepped in to fill the gap. After the government reached a deal to reimburse the charity, Congress eventually passed a law that restarted the payments.
 
Child care - This might be a mixed bag: In 2013, each installation determined whether child development centers continued to operate.
 
MWR - Previous guidance has allowed morale, welfare and recreation activities to operate during a shutdown if they are deemed necessary to support essential operations. That covered mess halls, physical training and child care activities required for readiness. In the past, MWR activities that are funded entirely by nonappropriated funds, not by taxpayer dollars, weren’t affected by the shutdown. A bowling center or golf course funded by customers likely would remain open, for example.
 
DoD civilians - In 2013, about 400,000 DoD civilians ― including military spouses, veterans and retirees ― were furloughed.
 
Division Activities
  • On Tuesday,  National Security division staff attended the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security, with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifying. Secretary Nielsen faced tough questions from Democrats on the committee, focusing on the administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and broader immigration-related issues. While the Secretary’s written testimony made mention of the Department’s role in drug supply reduction, particularly of fentanyl, there was zero mention on what the Department is doing to enhance national cybersecurity. As DHS is the lead agency in responding to private and public sector cyber attacks, which continuously grow in number, scope, and damage done, this was a noticeable and grave oversight.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the House Committee on Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee hearing on the future of federal cybersecurity. The purpose of the hearing was to understand the current state of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program from the perspective of stakeholders. This hearing explored the industry perspectives on the CDM program, the state of CDM tool acquisition, and what barriers there are, in policy or practice, to rolling out CDM across the federal government.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee hearing on “Battlefield Successes and Challenges – Recent Efforts to Win the War against ISIS.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the current administration’s rules of engagement, the subsequent battlefield wins against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and next steps in the war against radical Islamic terrorism.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended the House Committee on Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on “Combating Transnational Gangs Through Information Sharing.” The hearing examined the capabilities and efforts of Federal law enforcement agencies to share information related to designated Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO), including MS-13, with one another, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and foreign counterparts. Witnesses identified improvements that can be made to further facilitate the exchange of information necessary to dismantle these dangerous, criminal organizations threatening US communities.  
 
 
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.
 
  • Air Force Col. Edgar F. Davis, killed during the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On Sept. 17, 1968, Davis was a navigator aboard a RF-4C Phantom fighter-bomber aircraft, assigned to the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. Davis and his pilot were on a night photo-reconnaissance mission over the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) when they were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery fire. The pilot ejected out of the aircraft and was rescued, however no contact could be established with Davis. Because of this, he was declared missing in action. Search and rescue efforts were suspended after failing to locate Davis or the aircraft wreckage. Davis was later declared deceased. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Chester E. Seaton, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. 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. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. William C. McDowell, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, McDowell was a member of Company D, 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 McDowell could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending January 12, 2018
 
Recruits from 10 southern states less likely to be fit, study finds
(Military Times) - Obesity and lack of physical fitness in 10 Southern states present a difficulty for the Army in finding recruits there, and pose a risk to national security, according to a new study. The Army recruits a large portion of its soldiers from the South, but they aren’t as fit as recruits from other regions, says the study led by researchers at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.
 
Obesity and lack of physical fitness in the South are a threat to “military readiness and national security,” researchers said in the study, which was released Wednesday and published in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. Many states in the southern U.S. are already recognized for their disproportionate burden on public health due to high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and chronic disease, according to researchers.
 
Recruits from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas were found to be significantly less fit and more likely to become injured than recruits from other states, the researchers found.
 
Division comments: The ongoing US population trends toward increasing rates of lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, due to poor diet and lack of exercise represents a massive public health challenge. The collective cost of treating the millions of Americans dealing with metabolic conditions is staggering. Despite some public backlash against a ‘nanny-state’ solutions such as posting the caloric content of fast food on menus or limiting the size of sugary drinks sold, it is clear that this issue is beyond simple consumer choice.
 
GOP Seeking Nearly $250 Billion, Two-Year Spending Cap Increase
(CQ News) - Republican leaders are considering a nearly $250 billion increase in discretionary spending caps over the next two years, with defense accounting for about 62 percent of the total, according to people familiar with the discussions. A GOP proposal under discussion would raise the defense cap by $72 billion in fiscal 2018 and $80 billion in fiscal 2019, while increasing the nondefense cap by $45 billion in 2018 and $50 billion in 2019, a person with knowledge of the talks said.
 
Democrats are not on board at this point, which suggests the numbers could yet change, but Democratic and Republican leadership aides said it is possible to get a caps agreement by next week. That would give leaders time to possibly add language increasing the caps in the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 112-25) to the next stopgap continuing resolution, which is necessary to avert a partial government shutdown after midnight Jan. 19.
 
GOP leaders are considering a short-term measure extending current appropriations levels until Feb. 16, though a March deadline has also been discussed, according to House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. Increasing the defense figure by $72 billion would match the increase allowed under the initial House version of the fiscal 2018 budget resolution (H Con Res 71), and incorporated into a 12-bill appropriations package (HR 3354) the House passed in September.
 
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, pushed for the higher figure, and he and other defense hawks have urged GOP leaders not to come down from that number. The House defense appropriations bill also contained about $10 billion over President Donald Trump's request for defense funds with an Overseas Contingency Operations designation, exempting the money from discretionary caps.
 
The GOP proposal would also substantially boost nondefense appropriations, by about $50 billion over what the House approved in September on a mostly party-line vote. But Democrats — who are seeking equal dollar increases in the discretionary spending caps — said they have not agreed to those levels. And a resolution of the ongoing standoff over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remained a key sticking point that potentially could derail a deal. Democrats are pushing hard for an agreement that removes the threat of deportation for so-called “Dreamers” in addition to other priorities including equal increases for defense and nondefense.
 
Democrats also are stressing the need for a reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a priority for many Republicans as well. Republicans are likely to include at least a five-year CHIP reauthorization in the stopgap appropriations bill next week, with the duration of the bill also potentially increasing after favorable scoring came back from the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday.
 
Some Republicans think Democrats could be persuaded to accept $17 billion or more in what are called Changes in Mandatory Programs, or CHIMPs, as contributors to “parity,” the term Democrats use to describe equal dollar-for-dollar increases in defense and nondefense caps. The CHIMPs are on the nondefense side and represent reductions in mandatory spending — sometimes illusory —which are used to increase discretionary spending by the same amount above statutory limits. If CHIMPs were included, the nondefense cap increase could be smaller than the defense increase, but Congress would have more discretionary dollars to spend than reflected in the cap increase.
 
GOP staff are also developing a package of tax cut extensions — typically called tax extenders — as well as cost sharing reduction subsidies or other initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of or increasing the availability of health care insurance, which could go in a budget deal. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., met Wednesday to discuss shoring up the insurance exchanges set up by the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148; PL 111-152), with a goal of readying legislation to attach to one of the upcoming spending vehicles.
 
Democrats are also pushing for additional funding for opioid abuse treatment and prevention, and to shore up underfunded pension plans for coal miners, truckers and other workers — initiatives that could result in higher nondefense spending on the mandatory side.
 
Pentagon Auditors Scrub Department's Books, Find Errors
(CQ News) - The Defense Department has made measurable progress scrutinizing its books since announcing its first-ever department-wide audit in December, the Pentagon's comptroller said on Wednesday. During an initial review, the Army has discovered 39 Blackhawk helicopters that had not previously been recorded and the Air Force found 478 buildings and structures across 12 installations not logged in its property system, David Norquist told the House Armed Services Committee.
 
The Pentagon plans to release its complete audit findings Nov. 15. In the interim, 1,200 auditors — who will report to the Pentagon's inspector general — will conduct 24 "stand-alone audits," which the IG will consolidate into one report. The audit team will spread across the massive bureaucracy to inspect the Pentagon's estimated $2.4 trillion in assets including: personnel, property, weapons, supplies and bases. Auditors will also examine the Pentagon's classified operations.
 
The audit, intended to hold accountable the government's largest bureaucracy, is estimated to cost $367 million. Of that sum, $181 million represents bills from independent public accounting firms and the remaining $186 million will fund "infrastructure to support the audits," according to Norquist's opening statement.Norquist anticipates the department will need an additional $551 million this year to fix problems found in the audit.
 
The audit, which Congress explicitly mandated in the fiscal 2014 defense authorization law (PL 113-66), comes more than two decades after Congress required in a 1990 law that all federal agencies conduct an annual financial audit (PL 101-576). The Defense Department is the only department that has not completed an audit. The audit has the support of committee chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas and Ranking Member Adam Smith of Washington.
 
"It is likely that the result of the first audit will not be pretty," Thornberry acknowledged. "But those results will help direct us all — Congress and the department — on where we need to apply our efforts to improve."
 
One of the areas where an audit could improve Pentagon operations, Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith believes, is in its acquisition process.
 
"I get that the upfront cost is going to be enormous, but long term the benefits  are exactly as you describe," the Washington Democrat told Norquist. "The work on acquisition reform that I know the chairman and I and many others have done can be so much better informed if we have that information."
 
Armed Services Committee members, however, are concerned that the audit could be hampered by a delayed budget. Thornberry expressed concern that auditors could receive funding so late in the fiscal year due to a potential continuing resolution that Norquist's team may not have the resources needed to fix issues found in the audit.
 
"I am also very concerned that we are going to be so late in the fiscal year with a final appropriation, and the needs are so great, that there's going to be inevitable problems as a result," Thornberry said. "You're going to find things and there may not be enough time to fix the things you find." Thornberry added that he would work to give Norquist "flexibility" in spending money after the end of the fiscal year. Thornberry and numerous others on the committee have long bemoaned continuing resolutions and some on the panel see the audit as a chance to shine light on how continuing resolutions negatively affect Pentagon operations.
 
"I think the audit will show you, yes, the problems that come out of disruptions from the CR," Norquist said in response to questions from Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne.
 
"What would be helpful to us, as the people that pass continuing resolutions, to have that highlighted in your audit report," Byrne said. "So that we know that continuing resolutions have tangible negative results."
 
Quality of Life
(Health.mil)On Feb 1, 2018, copayments for prescription drugs at TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and retail pharmacies will increase. These changes are required by law and affect TRICARE beneficiaries who are not active duty service members.
While retail pharmacy and home delivery copayments will increase, prescriptions filled at military pharmacies remain available at no cost. You can save the most money by filling your prescriptions at military pharmacies.
“Military pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery will remain the lowest cost pharmacy option for TRICARE beneficiaries,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ann McManis, Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency.
Using home delivery, the copayments for a 90-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $0 to $7. For brand-name formulary drugs, copayments will increase from $20 to $24, and copayments for non-formulary drugs. without a medical necessity will increase from $49 to $53.
At a retail network pharmacy, copayments for a 30-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $10 to $11 and from $24 to $28 for brand-name formulary drugs.
In some cases, survivors of active duty service members may be eligible for lower cost-sharing amounts.
TRICARE groups pharmacy drugs into three categories: generic formulary, brand name formulary and non-formulary. You pay the least for generic formulary drugs and the most for non-formulary drugs, regardless of whether you get them from home delivery or a retail pharmacy.
To see the new TRICARE pharmacy copayments, visit www.tricare.mil/. To learn more about the TRICARE Pharmacy Program, or move your prescriptions to home delivery, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy.  
 
Hearing Attended
On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Syria post-ISIS, with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield testifying. While ISIS has lost nearly of the territory it controls, it continues to represent a grave threat to security as it still commands thousands of trained and well-armed fighters in both Syria and Iraq. The White House and Congress have yet to outline a comprehensive approach to dealing with the devastation and upheaval in Syria that prevents the rise of yet another extremist group.
 
Division Activities
  • On Tuesday, National Security staff attended the Wilson Center’s event with the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) on Security Challenges in East Asia based on recent high-level meetings in Taipei, Beijing, and Seoul. Issues addressed include: Cross-Taiwan Strait relations after the 19th Party Congress; prospects for U.S.-China relations in the Trump era; the North Korea nuclear issue; and the state of Sino-Korean relations.
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies with Ernest J. Moniz, the co-chair and CEO of NTI and former U.S. Secretary of Energy. Moniz addressed the increased risk of nuclear miscalculation against the backdrop of today’s rapidly evolving global security threats, the need to rethink outdated nuclear deterrence postures, and the imperative to prevent nuclear proliferation and develop new fuel-cycle policy solutions. Moniz also addressed the future of the Iran nuclear agreement and the current crisis with North Korea. His remarks will be followed by a discussion with John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS.
     
  • On Friday, National Security division staff attended an event at the Wilson Center entitled “All You Need to Know about Russian Hackers.” Russian hacking has grabbed the collective attention of the U.S. and EU as a potential threat to free elections, national security, and even social stability. Daniil Turovsky, a journalist, explained the actual mechanics of how Russian hackers join forces with one another, work for Russian security services, and carry out attacks on banks and government agencies. He will discussed the personal motivations of the hackers themselves, which range from patriotism to monetary gain to government coercion.
     
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.
 
  • Army Pfc. Albert E. Quintero, missing from the Korean War, has now been
    accounted for. In late November 1950, Quintero was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 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. American forces withdrew south with the Chinese continued to attack. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. Because Quintero could not be accounted for by his unit after reaching Hagaru-ri, he was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harry C. Morrissey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On October 9, 1942, Morrissey was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, participating in a main offensive action in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After nearly two months of battle, the regiment completed their action, during this battle Morrissey was killed in action. Two other marines from Morrissey’s battalion were interred in graves atop Hill 73, alongside him. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard H. Aldridge, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Aldridge 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 Aldridge. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 15 December 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Full FY18 defense budget at center of latest government shutdown threat
(MilitaryTimes.com) - House Republicans are pushing ahead with plans for a defense-heavy funding bill that Senate Democrats have vowed to oppose, again raising prospects for a government shutdown, this time over the Christmas holiday.
 
Lawmakers have until Dec. 22 to pass a new budget deal or trigger a shutdown, which would result in shuttering of some federal offices, furloughs for some civilian employees and halted paychecks for most troops around the globe.
 
On Wednesday, appropriations lawmakers unveiled their latest legislation to avoid that and settle some of the unresolved budget issues for the current fiscal year, which began in October. The new measure would provide $640 billion for defense spending for fiscal 2018, another $2.1 billion to keep the Department of Veterans Affairs choice program operational through spring 2018, and money to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program until 2019.
 
But it also only includes funding for federal non-defense programs for four more weeks, until Jan. 19. Lawmakers would return from their holiday recess (scheduled to start around Dec. 21) to another round of fighting over proper levels of spending for domestic programs and non-military priorities.
 
Division comments: While Congressional sparring over spending priorities continues, lawmakers have still not addressed how they will come to agreement to raise the current budget caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. If a budget is not passed, and they resort to a continuing resolution, then there is no danger of triggering sequestration. However, any potential budget must include a mechanism to either raise or remove the budget caps put in place in 2011, or trigger across-the-board spending cuts. The inability of Congress to forge a permanent bipartisan solution means regular fights over what should be routine funding issues.
 
Trump's security paper offers stark vision of global rivalry
(MilitaryTimes.com) - President Donald Trump’s “America First” vision is a stark worldview that sees rivals battling each other for supremacy or relevance and has little use for alliances, treaties and other international agreements unless they directly benefit the United States, its industry and workers.
 
Trump’s doctrine, to be laid out next week when he unveils his National Security Strategy, holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the NSS to be presented by Trump on Monday will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to sources familiar with the strategy.
 
If fully implemented, the strategy could represent a profound shift from the traditional post-Cold War approach to global affairs taken by administrations of both political parties over the past three decades. With few exceptions, those administrations have embraced or sought to embrace multilateral cooperation and engagement.
 
Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two sources familiar with it. The strategy is largely drawn from themes Trump has described in speeches and is based on four pillars: protecting the homeland, stimulating American prosperity, promoting peace through strength and enhancing American leadership.
 
Division comments: While there are legitimate criticisms of the current burden-sharing arrangements across the web of US military alliances, from NATO to South Korea and Japan, the post-WWII era has been shaped by US leadership and security cooperation. The ability to forge long-lasting cooperative security agreements has strengthened the US position around the world, and abandoning or significantly altering the premises that have undergirded over 70 years without great power wars should not be taken lightly.
 
Women & Minority Veterans 
 
 
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend the Veterans Affairs Department Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. This advisory committee will receive briefings on the Center for Minority Veterans, National Cemetery Administration, Suicide Prevention, Veterans Experience Office, and Veterans Benefits Administration as it relates to minority veterans.
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS). The purpose of the meeting is for the Committee to receive briefings and updates relating to their current work. The meeting will open with a briefing from the DoD Transition to Veterans Program Office on Transition Assistance Program Curriculum and Resources. This will be followed by a briefing from the Department of Labor on Women Veteran Statistics.
Quality of Life
 
New Navy secretary report criticizes service culture and top brass decisions
(NavyTimes) - The two Navy destroyer collisions that killed 17 sailors this summer were borne from decades of cultural dysfunction in the service, according to a strategic review released this week by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s office.
 
The new review also questions an initiative undertaken by today’s top officers for standing up a new command to oversee readiness in the troubled west Pacific waters of 7th Fleet. Still, the report largely focuses on ending decades of cascading errors leading up to today’s overstretched force, and a failure to learn from mistakes.
 
“The readiness consequences identified in this report are not traceable to any single policy or leadership decision,” according to the report released by Spencer’s office Thursday. “However, the cumulative effects of well-meaning decisions designed to achieve short-term operational effectiveness and efficiencies have often produced unintended negative consequences which, in turn degraded necessary long-term operational capability.”
 
The report says today’s training and readiness problems have stemmed from a Navy that cannot say no to the mission requests of combatant commanders, despite the Navy’s budget constraints and smaller fleet.
 
“Over time, the Navy’s ‘must do’ wartime culture was adopted for peacetime as long-term readiness and capability were sacrificed for immediate mission accomplishment,” the report states.

NOTICE: Change to TRICARE pharmacy COPAYMENTS
 
Beginning February 1, 2018, TRICARE pharmacy copayments will be changing for all beneficiaries, except Active Duty Service Members (ADSMs), dependent survivors of ADSMs, and medically retired service members and their dependents.  The changes are required by United States federal law, with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.  
 
Copayments for generic drugs, brand name drugs, and non-formulary drugs are increasing across the retail and home delivery points of service.  Beneficiaries have the option to get generic and brand name drugs for $0 copay at military pharmacies.  Non-formulary drugs are generally only available through home delivery and require prior authorization and/or medical necessity.  
 
Retail Network Pharmacy Copayment Changes (up to 30-day supply)
  • Generic formulary drugs will increase from $10 to $11.
  • Brand-name formulary drugs will increase from $24 to $28.
  • Non-formulary drugs will increase from $50 to $53.  (NOTE:  Non-formulary drugs are generally only available through home delivery.)   
 
TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery Copayment Changes (up to 90-day supply)
  • Generic formulary drugs will increase from $0 to $7.
  • Brand-name formulary drugs will increase from $20 to $24.
  • Non-formulary drugs will increase from $49 to $53.
 
Military Treatment Facility Pharmacy Copayment Changes
  • Beneficiaries can still fill their prescriptions for $0 copay at MTF pharmacies.
     
    ADSMs can get prescriptions filled from any pharmacy at no cost.  Copayments remain the same as the 2017 rates for dependent survivors of ADSMs and medically retired service members and their dependents.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, National Security Division staff attended a joint conference with the CSIS Office of the Korea Chair and the International Security Program for an event that aimed to broaden the discussions on the U.S. and the Republic of Korea's bilateral cooperation on defense acquisition policy and defense industrial technological base, as well as important issues pertaining to joint research and development programs between two countries. Current and former officials from the Korean and American national defense agencies and defense industry representatives discussed various areas of collaboration, including research and development and the aerospace industry. Interoperability has been a cornerstone of US international defense cooperation and alliances—having multinational forces using or familiar with each other’s weapons platforms and their capabilities is essential for planning and operations. Considering current tensions on the peninsula, it is important to track the positions of influencers and policymakers.
 
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior leadership from the Department of Defense to discuss a new initiative titled “Know Your Military” that will aim to balance the public’s perception of the military by using an array of media outlets to reach the general U.S. population.  DoD is developing monthly videos that will address common misconceptions about military life and provide a more accurate image of day to day life for servicemembers. 
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Military Health System MSO/VSO Executive Advisory Council hosted by the Defense Health Agency.  DHA brief the council on new initiatives to improve the care provided to include new mobile web innovations and the efforts of the VA/DoD Joint Executive Committee.  DHA informed the council that the Continuing Resolution through December 22nd and the expected additional Continuing Resolution through late January would not impact DoD’s ability to provide care for active duty or TRICARE Select enrollees.  In the event of a government shutdown most services will continue to be provided.  Only elective surgeries would not be scheduled.  The council also discussed the impact of the 2018 NDAA to include TRICARE reforms.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended a GovExec titled: “Enabling the Warfighter: Bringing the Cloud to the Tactical Edge.” The event looked at cloud computing, and its capability to do more than just store the Pentagon’s vast quantities of data, it can provide warfighters with the capabilities necessary to dominate the modern battlefield. Presenters argued that the adoption of cloud computing technologies as critical to maintaining the US military’s technological advantage. Department of Defense officials spoke about the Pentagon’s search for greater efficiencies in executing mission planning, logistics and operations, and the desire to provide new capabilities to warfighters that increase situational awareness and speed up decision making. Representatives spoke of leveraging cloud computing for big data analytics, artificial intelligence (machine learning/deep learning), and identify threats.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement (EPAEDE). Act The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Control Division testified that the DEA agrees with the Justice Department and believes that EPAEDE should be changed to help curb the ongoing opioid epidemic. The EPAEDE Act has been criticized since the Washington Post “60 Minutes” reported in October that a small group of lawmakers allied with drug companies pushed the EPAEDE Act through Congress. The measure curbed the DEA’s powers to use its most potent weapons against drug companies that do not report suspicious orders of prescription painkillers from pharmacies. A complication to this narrative, however, was a sharp drop in DEA suspensions between 2011-2015, in the midst of skyrocketing numbers of opioid-related deaths and crime, before the law was passed in 2016.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum. In order to most effectively address the Trans-Pacific region’s unfolding economic and security challenges and opportunities, speakers called for the United States to work closely than ever before with its like-minded allies and partners from both the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic communities to develop common approaches. A long-time ally of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) will be essential for the United States to successfully protect and advance its interests in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. To help achieve these goals, the Atlantic Council and the Korea Foundation have partnered to co-host their inaugural annual forum, “Reimagining the US-Korea Partnership in the Trans-Pacific Century.” This forum explored how the US-ROK relationship fits into the administration’s emerging strategy toward the Asia Pacific, what the priorities are for the US-ROK security alliance and economic partnership, and what the future holds.
     
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff will attend a luncheon, hosted by REMI, on “The Economic Consequences of the Opioid Crisis.” At the national level, the loss of workers to either premature deaths or extended absences from the labor force due opioid abuse depresses production and lowers aggregate demand, slowing down the growth of the economy. At the regional level, heavily impacted states face potential out-migration as well as increased health care, substance abuse treatment, and incarceration costs. This combination of factors places a severe strain on state budgets as both the tax base falls and expenditures rise. Almost 2 million Americans are estimated to meet the criteria for opioid abuse and dependence with 16,000 losing their lives as a result of their addiction. The total economic burden of those consumed by this public health crisis has already cost the economy upwards of $78.5 billion and few substantive efforts have been able to curb these rising expenditures on the local, state, and federal levels.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class James C. Solomon, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Solomon 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 Solomon. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Keown, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On April 16, 1944, Keown was the pilot of one of four P-38s of the 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, participating in a mission to escort a B-25 medium bomber on an aerial search near the mouth of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. Keown’s aircraft, alongside the other three aircraft on the escort mission, encountered heavy overcast conditions after charting their course home. After rerouting, they experienced heavy rain and turned toward the open ocean. Keown and his wingman became separated from the other aircraft. His last known location was listed as more than a mile north of Yalu Point. None of the four aircraft returned from the mission. In 1999, the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery turned over remains to the Central Identification Laboratory after receiving information from Mr. Soka Dodon and Mr. John Bonding. DPAA is grateful to Mr. Soka Dodon, Mr. John Bonding, the Papua New Guinea Government and Pacific Wrecks, Inc., for their partnerships in this recovery. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Milton M. Beed, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In February 1951, Beed was a member of Company A, 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 the village of Hoengsong, 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 Beed was reported missing, as of Feb. 12, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Archie Callahan, Jr., killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Callahan 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 Callahan. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Storekeeper 1st Class John W. Craig, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Craig 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 Craig. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


 National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 8 December 2017
 
Items of Interest
Analyst: With ballooning costs for a smaller Navy, can it really afford 355 ships?
(DefenseNews.com) – The Navy wants 355 ships but budget trends raise questions about whether it could even afford to operate and maintain a fleet of that size, an influential defense budget analyst said Thursday.
 
Since 1997, the cost of operating and maintaining a shrinking fleet has skyrocketed, said Todd Harrison, a budget guru with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
A new report co-authored by CSIS researcher Seamus Daniels that analyzes the 2018 budget submission shows that between the peak defense budget year, 1987, and 1997, the number of ships declined by 40 percent and the budget fell by about 35 percent. But between 1997 and 2015, the size of the fleet shrank another 20 percent, but the base budget grew by nearly 50 percent.
 
“So now the Navy wants to grow to 355 ships, that puts the Navy roughly at the level it was in FY-97, and the question is: is that affordable?” Harrison said in a round-table with reporters. “Even once we acquire all the platforms, can we afford to operate and sustain them given these trends? Especially if these trends continue, the operations and support costs are going to eat the budget alive.”
 
Division comments: Despite the regular testimony by general/flag officers and experts before Congress about readiness gaps across the services, the Pentagon and the Armed Services committees continue to push forward on acquiring additional platforms, such as the F-35 and Littoral Combat Ship, instead of fully funding current operations and maintenance shortfalls and designing mechanisms to control future costs. It is important to ground talk of concepts like a 355 ship Navy in the reality of fiscal and strategic constraints. The decades and trillions of dollars it will take to build and maintain that Navy will be decades and trillions of dollars not spent on cyber and space defense, or quantum computing, or artificial intelligence or any of the other ground-breaking technologies currently being developed. The United States has maintained its military dominance not through sheer numbers of tanks or jets, but through paradigm-shifting technological development that has allowed a substantive qualitative edge over our rivals.
 
Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital
(CNN) - President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and announced plans to relocate the US Embassy there, a move expected to inflame tensions in the region and unsettle the prospects for peace.
 
"Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do," Trump said from the White House's Diplomatic Reception Room.
"After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result," he added.
 
Trump's decision upended seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. “Today, I am delivering," Trump said, referencing his campaign promise. But Trump's move on Wednesday signaled a willingness to prioritize the fulfillment of another campaign promise over warnings from US allies in the region. The decision could also stymie the peace process and increase security risks in a region that is already on edge.
 
Division comments: President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has already had the immediate impact of drawing near universal condemnation as well as sparking violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Considering current tensions between Israel, Iran, and the Gulf Arab states, and two active wars in Syria and Yemen, it is unclear what the long-term implications for regional security and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be.
 
Women & Minority Veterans 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a personal invitation to the Embassy of Israel’s Hanukkah Reception. Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US attended this event and there was a Hanukkah candle lighting service. Staff created this relationship with the Embassy of Israel to inform members of the embassy of some of the benefits and services that the US provide for women veterans.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the VA’s Monthly Partners Breakfast Meeting. This meeting was held by Kayla Williams, Director of the Center for Women Veterans. The special guest for this meeting was Patricia M. Hayes, Ph.D, Chief Consultant for Women’s Health Services. Dr. Hayes discussed that the VA prefers women veterans to choose the VA for all of their healthcare needs. The VA has worked to reduce gender gaps in clinical care and expand services and sites of care. Approximately 75% of women veterans are assigned to women’s health primary care providers and there are 60 sites across the country with a mammography on site. Dr. Hayes also discussed that the VA is better at quality measures for breast and cervical cancer screening than Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial populations.
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division will meet with Patricia Hayes, Ph.D, Chief Consultant, and Women’s Health Services. Staff and Dr. Hayes started consulting with each other monthly to speak about women veterans’ health related issues. Dr. Hayes will answer questions from Staff about complex women related health care issues and the improvement of health care services at the VA for women veterans.
 
  • On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Staff from the National Security Division will brief at the 21st Century Committee Meeting at the National Headquarters in Indiana. Staff will brief the committee on the Women and Minorities program at the American Legion. Staff will explain the mission statement, specific demographics for women veterans and minority veterans, the areas of focus for women veterans and the next plan of action for the women veteran’s program.
 
Quality of Life
 
Many Tricare Users Must Update Payment Information Soon
(Military.com) - Many Tricare users who pay annual or monthly enrollment fees or premiums must update their payment information by the end of the month -- or risk losing coverage.
Retirees who use Tricare Prime pay an annual enrollment fee for coverage, while those in Tricare Reserve Select, Retired Reserve and Young Adult, known as "purchased plans," pay monthly premiums.
All users can pay by electronic funds transfers or credit or debit card; retirees also have the option of using a paycheck allotment. But, thanks to an upcoming Tricare contractor shake-up, where that money goes will change for most users.
 
Starting Jan. 1, Tricare's regions will be consolidated from the current West, South and North system to Tricare West and Tricare East. HealthNet Federal Services, which currently manages Tricare North, will manage the West region, while Humana Military, which currently manages Tricare South, will manage the East. That means many retiree Prime beneficiaries and all purchased plans users outside the current South region need to update their information, officials said. Because South region users are keeping their current contractor, Humana, they do not need to update their payment information.
 
Retirees who pay through paycheck allotment also do not need to update their information, Tricare officials said, despite some users receiving a letter from Humana notifying them that they do. That letter was a mistake, a Tricare spokesman said. Humana's website also notifies those users that they do not need to update. "If you received a notice about making automatic payments through a credit card or bank fund transfer and are currently using allotment for payment, please disregard the notification," the Humana site says. "We appreciate your patience and apologize for any confusion this may have caused."
 
Those in the new Tricare West region received update notices dated Nov. 18 by mail from HealthNet, while those who need to update in the East region received letters from Humana dated Nov. 28. HealthNet users must update their information by Dec. 20, while Humana users have until Dec. 24, the notices state.
 
All users who pay by credit or debit card must update their information by postal mail or fax.
Humana users who pay through electronic funds transfer can update their information online, while HealthNet users must use a mail or fax form for that process as well.
 
Those in the new West region can access the HealthNet forms here, while those in the East region can access the Humana forms here.
 
 
Division Activities
  • On Monday, National Security Division staff attended the U.S. Naval Institute conference discussing "Rising Global Threats: What Does It Take to Win?" Senior military, Cabinet leaders, and experts gathered for a half-day event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Hon. Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, kicked off the keynotes with an overview of global security challenges and how the Navy and Marine Corps are preparing to meet them. Hon. Robert O. Work, most recent Deputy Secretary of Defense participated as a featured speaker to give DoD-wide perspective on global security today and into the future. A panel of retired surface warfare leaders engaged in a conversation moderated by Admiral Daly to address “Collision Reports: What Are Next Steps To Ensure Surface Warfare Readiness?” They discussed the recent collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain as well as the Comprehensive Review published by Admiral Phil Davidson, USN, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Admiral Bill Moran, USN, Vice Chief of Naval Operations ended the day with the current Navy perspective in priorities. Admiral Moran was just announced as the leader of the board charged with implementing the changes detailed in Admiral Davidson’s report.
  • On Monday, National Security Division staff attended the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East  launching of the first report of its two-year project, Rebuilding Syria: Reconstruction and Legitimacy. Over the course of the project’s first year, the Hariri Center has pooled expertise from specialists on the many issues surrounding rebuilding Syria, including economics, finance, development, infrastructure, political economy, civil society, food security, energy, law, and employment. From these insights, gleaned from multiple roundtable workshops, interviews, and commissioned research and writing from inside Syria, the project has created a strategic roadmap to rebuilding based on a localized, ground-up approach. The report, authored by Hariri Center Senior Fellow Faysal Itani and independent international security analyst Tobias Schneider, lays out this vision and offers concrete actions that can be taken now towards the long-term goal of revitalizing Syria with the participation of Syrians and the support of the international community. Syria remains a top national security concern, and in its fragmentation and current state of devastation threatens to continue to destabilize the region for years to come unless there is significant progress made toward rebuilding.
     
  • On Tuesday, ​division staff attended a panel discussion at the Middle East Institute (MEI)​ looking at a recent report on Kurdistan. Surrounded by conflict and grappling with a rapidly changing political landscape, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) stands out as a locus of relative stability in its region. A recently-released report by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), entitled “Wilting in the Kurdish Sun: The Hopes and Fears of Religious Minorities in Northern Iraq,” highlights the difficulties faced in the KRI to address religious freedom. The report underscores the KRG’s struggle to protect the region’s many vulnerable religious communities and discusses the grievances of the communities, and offers recommendations on how to address them in the sensitive, post-ISIS environment. It is essential that United States policymakers understand the dynamics of the regions in which the United States consistently intervenes. With decades of violence weighing on the relationships between communities Iraq, there needs to be serious efforts at reconciliation which will require significant US leadership.​

 

 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division attended an event hosted by the CATO Institute to discuss the course of Ukraine.  Nearly four years have passed since Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity brought down the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych. The revolution inspired widespread support and generated hope for a better future; yet Ukrainians’ expectations are far from being met. The economy has shrunk by 16 percent; the authorities have devalued the currency and defaulted on debt; living standards have plummeted; and growth remains weak. Levels of corruption and of political and civil liberties have hardly changed. The government’s unwillingness to reform has frustrated Ukrainians and foreign allies alike.  The event will featuring Mikheil Saakashvili, Former President of Georgia, Former Governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine; Sergei Nosenko, Founder, Rozvitok (Development); Kateryna Smagliy, Director, Kiev office, Kennan Institute; moderated by Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division participated in a discussion hosted by the Wilson Center on Criminal Elements of Organized Crime and National Security.  Environmental crime is now the world’s fourth largest crime sector, estimated by UNEP and Interpol to be worth more than $250 billion each year. Transnational criminal networks — drug cartels, money launderers and terrorist groups — are trafficking high-value natural resources, including illegal wildlife, in dramatically increasing numbers.  Panelists will discuss how new policy, program, and technological tools can help reduce the threats that illegal wildlife trafficking poses to vulnerable communities and to our national security.
     
  • On Thursday Staff from the National Security Division attended an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that discussed finding consensus for a new authorization for the use of military force.  The CSIS International Security Program moderated discussions with Representatives Coffman, Gallego, Bacon and Panetta on congressional war powers authority and their proposal for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The discussion focused on the challenges associated with developing a new authorization and the prospects for finding a bipartisan consensus in replacing the 2001 AUMF. 
     
  • ​​On Friday, division staff attended a Hudson Institute discussion on "Emerging Challenges in Cybersecurity" with featured speaker Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, former NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges (ASG ESC) and Hudson Senior Fellow Arthur Herman. A wave of high-profile cyberattacks swept the world in 2017 targeting an array of important sectors. Ransomware crippled land and sea transportation and affected hospitals and ATMs. The breach of credit-reporting giant Equifax exposed the information of more than 140 million people, while the U.S. electric grid was successfully infiltrated by likely Russian state actors. As 2018 approaches, the discussion will look at what steps should be taken to mitigate attacks in the coming year, what type of cyberattacks will likely be attempted, and who can the US expect to be the perpetrators.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Emil F. Ragucci, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Ragucci was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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. In September 2013, through a partnership with History Flight, Inc., JPAC (a predecessor to DPAA) received remains from a burial site on Tarawa. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 1 December 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Mattis: Diplomacy hasn’t failed with North Korea
(MilitaryTimes.com) - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. will keep pressing North Korea through diplomatic means and refused to say the approach hasn’t worked, despite a dangerous new missile launch this week. Early Wednesday local time, North Korea successfully fired its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile to date, the Hwasong-15, which traveled higher than any previous launch and displayed that the regime is now capable of striking anywhere in the United States. In response, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the U.S. would put additional sanctions on North Korea and pledged the situation would “be handled.”
 
During a brief press availability at the Pentagon, as Mattis met with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, Mattis was asked whether the launch meant that a diplomatic approach with North Korea just hasn’t worked. “I am not willing to say that diplomacy has not worked,” Mattis said. “We will continue to work diplomatically, we will continue to work through the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council and we will be unrelenting in that. At the same time, our diplomats will speak from a position of strength because we do have military options.”
 
Division comments: As the National Commander wraps up her tour of South Korea and the DMZ this week, North Korea has once again conducted a missile test. The development of North Korean ballistic missile technology has advanced rapidly this year, and the most recent test indicates they have achieved the capability to realistically deliver a nuclear warhead within the United States. While nuclear proliferation, particularly in a rogue state like North Korea, poses grave risks to national security it is important to note how other countries (South Africa, Libya, Iran) were prevented from advancing their nuclear weapons programs—through a combination of diplomatic, economic, social, and military pressure. In the case of North Korea, as the sanctions pile up and the US repositions forces and conducts military exercises in theater, the diplomatic options are the only avenues left. To be clear, while the United States could destroy the Kim regime in the case of war, it would come at the cost of millions of lives, decades of effort, and trillions of dollars of which the US would bear a tiny fraction. The status quo is unsustainable, and so it is imperative that Congress and the White House think creatively, and pursue every avenue to deter, contain, and, perhaps someday, denuclearize North Korea.
 
Kellyanne Conway Is Now America’s Opioid Czar
(New York) - In 2016, 50,000 Americans lost their lives to the opioid epidemic, according to the federal government’s preliminary count. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in combat in Vietnam, or that died during the worst year of the AIDS crisis, or that die annually from car accidents or gun violence.
 
In response to this mass death, public-health advocates have implored the Trump administration to mount a more comprehensive effort to the opioid crisis. One of their proposals was for the president to appoint an opioid “czar” — an official with the time and expertise to coordinate the federal government’s response to the worst drug-overdose epidemic in American history.
 
The administration has decided to honor this request. In a gesture meant to convey just how seriously President Trump takes his responsibility to combat the opioid emergency, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Wednesday that Kellyanne Conway would be assuming duties consistent with those of an opioid czar.
 
Conway is a career pollster and pundit, best known for managing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and telling brazen lies on cable news. While she has been a part of the White House’s opioids response from its beginning, she has no background in public health. And it is not immediately clear whether she will be abandoning her surrogate duties to devote herself to her new assignment.
 
Andrew Kolodny, an opioid policy expert at Brandeis University, told BuzzFeed News that he sees Conway’s appointment as a “positive sign,” since “she is a high-profile figure in the administration.” But Kolodny — and other opioid policy experts and stakeholders — were quick to note that Trump still hasn’t appointed anyone to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Which seems like something an administration that cared deeply about reducing the suffering caused by this epidemic would have bothered to do.
 
Last month, Trump declared the opioid crisis a public-health emergency — while declining to call for a single dollar in additional funds to combat the crisis. Meanwhile, the president and his party spent most of this year trying to slash Medicaid spending by $1 trillion, even though that program is one the top funders of addiction treatment in the United States.
 
Division comments: Both the White House and Congress have been unable or unwilling to make substantive changes and appropriate necessary funds needed to tackle the broad spectrum of challenges around the opioid epidemic. Everything from enforcing doctor compliance with drug prescription monitoring programs, to funding additional beds for in-patient addiction treatment, to cracking down on trafficking of fentanyl through the mail—all these issues and more are still in dire need of effective government action. Division staff is actively working with Congressional offices and other stakeholders to develop recommendations and build support for comprehensive legislation.
 
Women & Minority Veterans 
 
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Tammy Barlet, Policy Associate at Student Veterans of America (SVA) and a women veteran. Staff explained the women veterans program to Tammy and asked for partnership in 2018. Tammy explained that she would be leaving SVA in December but Tammy will connect staff from the National Security Division with her replacement to continue the ongoing relationship.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Shurhonda Love, Assistant National Legislative Director for Disabled American Veterans. Staff from the National Security Division reached out to Shurhonda to discuss a partnership in March 2018 (Women’s History Month) with DAV’s National Commander and The American Legion’s National Commander. This event will have both women who have made history in both organizations for becoming the first women to serve in their position in 90 plus years. This event will allow both National Commander’s to tell “HERstory” and share other encouraging topics to women veterans.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a DoD conference Call with RADM Ann Burkhardt the leader of the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). RADM Burkhardt discussed the facts that male veterans are sexually assaulted in the military as well as female veterans. But male veterans are less likely to identify as a sexual assault victim. Males are known to identify their situation as harassment or bullying. RADM Burkhardt goal is to eliminate sexual assault from the armed forces as she serves in the lead position of SAPRO for the next three years.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Dennis May, Deputy Director for Center for Minority Veterans to discuss some of the frequently asked questions specifically by minority veterans. Staff and Dennis May spoke on many topics that ranged from Administrative, benefits, homelessness, and business. Staff from the National Security Division will include the topics discuss in the new Women and Minority Veterans brochure.
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended Assisting Women Veterans Who Experienced Military Sexual Trauma Webinar. This webinar was originally a breakout session for the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit scheduled August 25-26, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Staff from the National Security Division attended the National Women Veterans Summit but the event was cut short by Hurricane Harvey. The panelist consisted of: Daphne Anderson, US Army Reserves Veteran; Brandy Baxter, Boots to Heels Program Director; Alohalani Bullock-Jones, Women Veteran Program Manager & MST Program Manager; and Margret Bell, National Deputy Director for MST. The focus of this webinar was to explain how to apply for a claim for MST with the VA. The webinar also focused on finding alternative evidence that will assist in helping support a claim for MST/Personal Trauma since the assault is personal and sensitive in nature and quite often not reported when it occurred.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Jim Quinlan and Linda Quinlan, The American Legion World Series Consultant. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss how the national headquarters can support the 2018 World Series game by honoring women veterans. Staff from the National Security Division will be in constant communication with Jim and Linda to help promote and provide ideas to help in getting women veterans recognized at the 2018 World Series game. 
 
Quality of Life
 
Veterans Can Now Apply for VA Identification Cards
(Military.com) - Honorably discharged veterans of all eras can now apply for a new veterans ID card, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday. To receive the card veterans must log in to Vets.gov using either the ID.me verification system or a DS log-in. Users will then be able to apply for the hard-copy card by verifying their personal details through the website and by submitting a copy of a valid government issued-ID as well as a shoulders-up photo to the site.
 
Once the application is complete, users can expect to receive their new ID card within 60 days, officials said in a release. Officials said users will also be able to receive a digital copy of the card by mid-December. The link for the application is found at the bottom of the Vets.gov homepage under the words "Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card."
 
Poll: Military Retirees Unaware of Upcoming Tricare Changes
(Military.com) - Most military retirees are unaware of major Tricare coverage and fee changes coming January 1, according to poll results released today. The poll, conducted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8, found that 52 percent of respondents were unaware that any Tricare changes are coming Jan 1. Over 11,800 people the poll.
 
Of those who took the poll, 30 percent identified as Tricare Prime retiree users, but only 12 percent said they were aware that their Prime copays will increase Jan. 1, VFW officials said in a release. And only 32 percent of users polled who receive medication through Tricare's mail order system said they were aware of an upcoming change requiring them to opt-in for currently automatic medication refills.
 
All Tricare users will experience a series of major changes beginning Jan. 1.
Division Activities
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff met with an associate of the Harriet Fulbright Foundation to discuss plans for a series of monthly panels, forums, and roundtable discussions on a variety of national security issues the division is working on, including the opioid epidemic, cybersecurity, and Asia-Pacific relations. The goal of the series will be to provide a venue for national security professionals and the general public to engage with one another on topics of national importance. Further information will be available as details are finalized.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division will attend an update on the state of human rights in Mexico with the president of Mexico’s national commission on human rights, Luis Raul Gonzaex Perez.  Mr. González Peréz will deliver remarks on the work of the CNDH, and the CNDH’s recommendations to the Mexican government on several key human rights cases. Additionally, Mr. González will discuss the human rights challenges faced by migrants, both Central American and Mexican, and both in Mexico and abroad.  Mr. Luis Raúl Gonzalez became head of the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico in 2014. Previously, he held various positions at the CNDH and within the federal government. González Perez was also an academic affiliated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the General Attorney for the University. 
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security Division staff attended a Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee roundtable discussion, led by Senator Claire McCaskill, addressing the need to strengthen Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforcement against opioid distributors and Sen. McCaskill’s bill to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016. Public reports have indicated that the law, along with a revolving door between the DEA and drug distribution industry, had dramatically restrained the agency’s enforcement efforts. Participants at the roundtable included Joseph Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA Office of Diversion Control; Frank Younker, former DEA Diversion Group Supervisor, Cincinnati Resident Office; and Jonathan P. Novak, former DEA enforcement attorney.
 
  • On Thursday, division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to receive testimony from outside experts on recommendations for a future national defense strategy. Witnesses set to testify include: Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center For Strategic Budgetary Assessments; David A. Ochmanek, Senior Defense Research Analyst, RAND Corporation; Lieutenant General Thomas W. Spoehr, USA (Ret.), Director of the Center for National Defense, Heritage Foundation; Dr. Mara E. Karlin, Associate Professor of the Practice of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School Of Advanced International Studies; and Ms. Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, the American Enterprise Institute.
     
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division attended a joint conference to that discuss Russia and North Korean nuclear weapons hosted by the Wilson Center.  Russia’s relations with North Korea are often ignored in the West, being overshadowed by China. Yet Russia has been a major player on the Korean Peninsula since the late 19th century. It was directly responsible for the creation of the North Korean state (the DPRK) and it still maintains a range of political, economic and social links. Russia is now the only major country on more or less friendly terms with Pyongyang. The event will examine whether Russia can be engaged as a broker of negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, especially as our failure to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile program to date suggests it is time for a new strategy.
 
  • On Friday, division staff attended a forum titled “Is Diplomacy Possible with North Korea?” at the United States Institute for Peace. After months of escalating confrontation between North Korea and the United States, President Trump used his November visit to Asia to reinforce a policy of “maximum pressure” against the North Korean government. But he also hinted at the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp in the dispute over North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development. North Korea and the United States have offered signals of openness to diplomacy. The forum explored the reality of the potential diplomatic process.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve 1st Sgt. David H. Quinn, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Quinn was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (C-2d Amp Tr Bn), 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. Quinn died on the second day of battle, Nov. 21, 1943. In October 2016, Quinn was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 17 November 2014
 
Items of Interest
 
House & Senate Armed Services Committees Complete Conference on FY18 NDAA
(Wash. Post) - The Senate unanimously passed a nearly $700 billion defense authorization bill Thursday, sending the measure to the president’s desk despite lingering uncertainty over whether Congress will actually be able to pay for the Pentagon programs it outlined.
 
The Senate’s decision to agree to the measure without a roll-call vote marks a departure from years past, when lawmakers fought bitterly over how to prioritize funding for various Pentagon programs and military operations under a budget still subject to caps Congress imposed on itself in 2011. Congress is facing a mid-December deadline to fund the federal government into next year, and the defense bill exceeds budget caps by about $85 billion.
 
But lawmakers appeared to put those concerns aside in crafting next year’s defense bill, which Republicans cheered as a long-needed investment in the military and Democrats promoted as good policy, even if Congress may not be able to come up with enough funds to put it into practice.
 
“The support demonstrates that large majorities of both the House and the Senate agree that, based on strategic requirements, this is the defense budget our nation needs,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after the bill’s passage. He encouraged President Trump to sign the measure to “acknowledge that this is the level of defense spending necessary to meet current threats, prepare for the challenges of an increasingly dangerous world, and keep faith with our men and women in uniform.”
 
The bill outlines about $26 billion more for military operations and Pentagon programs than Trump had asked Congress to budget. It also nearly doubles the troop increases Trump had envisioned in his request, creating a total of almost 20,000 new service member positions. The bill commits more money for key aircraft and vessels as well — investments lawmakers argue are vital to save decaying fleets and provide service members with enough training to perform their jobs safely.
 
Division comments: The conference report endorses $692.1 billion for national defense programs at the Pentagon and in other agencies in fiscal 2018. Another nearly $8 billion in defense programs will be authorized in separate legislation, bringing to roughly $700 billion the amount Congress will have authorized to be spent on U.S. national security this fiscal year. There is no mention of a mechanism within the NDAA to remove or raise the budget caps; exceeding the caps will trigger the immediate, across-the-board cuts of all discretionary spending known as sequestration. While division staff reviews the NDAA conference reports, we must register concern about any defense budget that will trigger sequestration and support all efforts to return defense budgeting to a stable, multi-year cycle.
 
North Korea rules out negotiations to denuclearize
(Reuters) - North Korea on Friday ruled out negotiations with Washington as long as joint U.S-South Korea military exercises continue, and said that Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program would remain as a deterrent against a U.S. nuclear threat.
 
South Korea and the United States agreed on Friday to keep working for a peaceful end to the North Korean nuclear crisis, but a U.S. envoy said it was difficult to gauge the reclusive North’s intentions as there has been “no signal”.
 
China said on Thursday that a “dual suspension” proposal to handle North Korea was still the best option, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had rejected a “freeze for freeze” agreement.
 
President Trump is expected to announce further sanctions against North Korea. Existing sanctions have constituted “large-scale human rights violations” that had delayed delivery of aid and consumer goods.
 
Division comments: North Korean nuclearization remains the greatest threat to the National Security of the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. will need to trilateral partnership approach leveraging Chinese economic and political ties to the Kim regime, as well as offering some concessions like sanctions relief, to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. In this mix are South Korea and Japan, the staunchest U.S. allies in the region, who both are keen to see their tripartite alliance remain strong while also delivering a peaceful resolution. With the Asia-Pacific region in the foreign policy and national security spotlight, it is more important than ever to remember the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, military and civilian and their families, who are in the midst of these tensions. Division staff continue to work with PACOM public affairs and Legionnaires to coordinate the National Commander’s upcoming visit to the Asia-Pacific, with plans to receive briefing from commanders and visit active-duty servicemembers and their families to better understand the unique challenges at play.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday through Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division along with Staff from the Veterans Employment & Education, the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, and William Roy, the National Executive Committeeman, attended the last System Worth Saving Site Visit in Manchesters New Hampshire for the 2017 calendar year. Staff from the National Security Division participated in the Town Hall meeting and several other meetings with staff from the Manchester VA Medical Center. At the Town Hall meeting, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with women veterans or spouses of women veterans to explain the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach Program at The American Legion. Staff from the National Security Division also spoke with the Women Veteran/MST Program Manager, Laura Caisse from the Manchester VA Medical Center. Female veterans enrolled for FY2016 at the Manchester VA Medical Center was 2067 and 204 females were seen in integrated care and 890 women veterans were seen in the Women’s Health Clinic. The Manchester VA Medical Center is under construction due to flooding so the Women’s Health Clinic on a temporary floor. However, Staff from the National Security Division got a tour of the new location on the 6th floor of the hospital where the Women’s Health Clinic will open in December or January 2018.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a panel discussion on Strengthening military readiness: The role of military families in 21st century defense at the Brookings Institution conducted by Blue Star Families. The panelist included: Anthony Kurta, Performing the duties of Under Secretary of Defense; Cristin Shiffer, Senior Advisor for Research and Policy; Rosalinda Maury, Director of Applied Research and Analytics, Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and Kathy Roth-Douquet, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Star Families. The panelist discussed the fact that less than 0.5 percent of the American public comprise the active duty force; as a result service members and their families are experiencing an unprecedented period of high operational tempos while familiarity with the military among the broader U.S. society declines.
     
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Women of Color and Mental Health: From the Shadows of Silence to Solutions for Leadership. This discussion focused on the unacknowledged  and untreated mental health issues of too many girls and women, disrupting their educational trajectories and limiting their ability to achieve their dreams. This can translate into a major loss of learning and lifetime potential: in short, a loss of future leaders. Women of color suffer disproportionately from the kinds of adverse life experiences that can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, and toxic levels of chronic stress. New mothers of color, notably, have a rate of postpartum depression that is about two to three times higher than the rate for all new mothers. This vast disparity reflects major gaps in both screening and treatment for mental health issues among women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
     
  • On Friday , Staff from the National Security Division provided information for a letter of support for HR. 3558, The Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act from the Office of Representative Susan Brooks (IN). This bill will improve the VA’s procedures for ensuring that environment of care inspections are completed and deficiencies are reported accurately and timely by clarifying and strengthening the roles and responsibilities for inspections in VA medical facilities. The bill seeks to ensure all areas in VA facilities adequately meet privacy and security standards.  Safety and privacy accommodations can be made through simple investments such as installation of privacy curtains or locks on doors.  These minor modifications help create an environment that allows all VA patients, but particularly women, to fully engage in their treatment and recovery without privacy concerns.  Lack of these reasonable accommodations may be particularly troubling for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress or other disorders related to military sexual trauma. The American Legion can support HR 3558, The Improve Access to Care for Our Female Veterans Act. The American Legion supports any legislation that will enhance, promote, or preserve benefits for veterans.
     
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division will meet with Patricia Hayes, PhD,  Chief Consultant VA Women’s Health Services to discuss some of the prominent issues concerning health care for women veterans. Staff from the National Security Division will use this information to help in advocating for better quality of care for women veterans. Staff from the National Security Division will also ask to collobrate in the 2018 calendar year and discuss The American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Program.  
     
Quality of Life
 
Dramatic Tricare Drug Cost Hike Advances in Congress
(Military.com) - Tricare pharmacy co-pays for most drugs will go up in 2018 due to a measure expected to be approved by lawmakers. The measure, approved by the Senate early this year, is included in the final version of the annual Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), congressional staff said Wednesday at a briefing with reporters.
 
Over the next 12 years, the measure would steadily increase co-pays for most drugs through retail pharmacies, while adding new fees to those received by mail. Drugs received at military pharmacies will continue to be free.
 
Currently, non-active-duty Tricare users under 65 pay nothing for 90-day supplies of generic drugs received through the system's home delivery service, Express Scripts, and $20 for a 90-day supply of an approved brand-name drug. Prescriptions filled at an in-network retail pharmacy carry a cost of $10 for a 30-day supply of a generic drug or $24 for a 30-day supply of a brand-name drug.
Starting in 2018, all drugs will come with a fee. Generics received by mail will cost $10 for a 90-day supply, while the cost of a 90-day supply of a brand-name drug will increase to $28. Generic drugs received at in-network retail pharmacies will carry the same cost of $10 for a 30-day supply for now, but the cost of brand-name drugs will increase to $28.
 
All drug costs will see a steady increase between now and 2026, with fees for a 30-day supply of a generic at a retail pharmacy and a 90-day supply by mail reaching $14, and a 30-day supply of a non-generic at a retail pharmacy or a 90-day supply by mail hitting $45.
 
Officials said early this year that drug cost increases would save the Defense Department $2.1 billion by 2022.
 
Division comments:
The American Legion recognizes the debt owed to the entire military retirement community for their sacrifices and hardships endured in honorable military service to this nation.  The American Legion is strongly opposed to proposed hikes in premiums and or enrollments fees being paid by enrollees in the military’s health insurance program (TRICARE).  We urge Congress to decisively reject these unjust proposed increases in TRICARE enrollments fees, deductibles, or premiums. 
 
Division Activities
  • On Monday, staff from the National Security Division met with senior defense officials who have been implementing the cost savings mechanisms to military commissaries.  The mandate comes was included in the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee.  DECA has been mandated to find $1 billion is annual cost savings.  At the meeting it was announced that Commissaries have been stocking store brand products and by May will have approximately 4000 store brand items.  This will account for 20-25% of the total items shelved at commissaries and they expect $300 million in saving from subsidies.
 
  • Monday through Wednesday, National Security Division staff participated in a ‘System Worth Saving’ site visit in New Hampshire. In working within our mandate to advocate for women and minority veterans, it is necessary for division staff to understand the particular circumstances facing certain veterans. Staff is particularly interested in the facilities and services available to women within VA clinics and medical centers, as the lack of appropriate gender-specific resources within the system has been an ongoing challenge. In addition         to participating in the town hall, staff is holding separate meetings with VA Hospital Administration to discuss issues such as access to sexual assault treatment and quality of care for women veterans.  A full report of this visit will be provided upon returning.
 
  • On Monday, staff from the National Security Division attended a panel discussion at the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institute which addressed the question: is there military readiness crisis in the US military? While the U.S. defense budget has contracted from its recent peak, it remains unparalleled in international perspective and relatively high even in relation to Pentagon resources during the Cold War. Even so, concerns about force readiness have grown. Partly due to budget caps from the 2011 Budget Control Act, and influenced by an operational tempo that is difficult to sustain, some point to recent mishaps like the collisions of guided-missile destroyers in the Pacific as a symptom of a growing problem. Other readiness worries include overworked crews seeing less training time as well as a shortage of usable equipment. There are also questions as to why the military services are having so much difficulty when it comes to readiness, despite a relative easing of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan relative to the pace of activity a decade ago. Division staff monitors discussions around readiness, as it has been highlighted repeatedly by the service chiefs in public testimony and comments.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division will participate in a Military Health System MSO/VSO working-group meeting hosted by Mr. Guy Kiyokawa, deputy director of the Defense Health Agency.  The meeting will focus on the changed to TRICARE mandated in the FY17 NDAA that will be implemented on January 1st, 2018.  These changes will include fee increases for TRICARE Select and Standard beneficiaries.  Proposed changes in the FY18 NDAA are also expected to be discussed.  The American Legion's position of opposing any TRICARE fee increases will be expressed during the meeting.
     
  • On Wednesday, division staff will attend a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the United States Naval Institute (USNI) for a Maritime Security Dialogue event featuring former Secretaries of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr., Sean O'Keefe, and Richard J. Danzig on the challenges and prospects the Navy faces building the 350-ship fleet. The 350-ship Navy has been an ongoing rhetorical concept within the defense policy community for years, but has recently picked up steam thanks to this year’s cap-breaking National Defense Authorization Act and President Trump’s calls for rearming and recapitalizing the US military.
     
  • On Wednesday, division staff will attend the US-Korea Institute discussion on “Reaching a Peaceful Solution to the North Korea Nuclear Crisis Through Dialogue” at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The discussion features the Honorable Choo Mi-ae, Chairperson of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (Minjoo Party) and Ambassador Robert Gallucci, Chairman of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS. While Kim Jung Un continues to develop increasingly advanced nuclear weapons and issues regular provocations, it is clear that it will take some combination of diplomacy, sanctions, and other pressure to bring about a peaceful solution, and understanding the position of our ally South Korea is paramount in creating an effective stategy.
     
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will attend an event hosted by the Brookings Institution on strengthening military readiness and the role of the military families in 21st century defense.  As the nation’s 16th consecutive year of war draws to a close, service members and their families continue to serve in uncertain and challenging times. Less than 0.5 percent of the American public comprise the active duty force; as a result, service members and their families are experiencing an unprecedented period of high operational tempos while familiarity with the military among the broader U.S. society declines. This presents significant challenges for the future of defense. Effective military support requires a modern understanding of 21st century military families and an increase in civilian-military engagement. It is critical to inform policymakers about the unique challenges faced by modern service members and their families, and the centrality of civilian support, for the health and viability of the all-volunteer force. Participants will include Cristin Orr Shiffer, senior advisor for research and policy at Blue Star Families; Anthony Kurta, Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, Director of Applied Research and Analytics at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, and Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings will join them. Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow and director of the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings, will moderate the panel.
  • On Thursday, division staff will attend the sixth annual Transatlantic Forum on Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in partnership with the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding (CPRDU). As the transatlantic community continues to search for an enduring policy framework toward Russia, the forum will examine the power of historical understanding and grievances that shape Russia's foreign and security policy as well as assess opportunities to reinvigorate the Helsinki Final Act to restore stability and transparency to Europe's security environment. The Helsinki Final Act was declaration signed in 1975 between the US, Canada, and 35 states in Europe with the intent to improve relations between Warsaw Pact/Communist bloc countries and the West. The Final Act included provisions that called for respect for human rights, non-intervention, and sovereignty, among others. Division staff monitors developments with Russia, as it is considered among the top security threats to the US, across a variety of domains, and must be addressed carefully and strategically.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Homer A. Spence, 22, of Manteca, California, will be buried November 18 in his hometown. On July 20, 1944, Spence was a member of the 96th Fighter Squadron, 82nd Fighter Group, as a pilot of a P-38J aircraft, escorting bomber aircraft on a mission targeting Memmingen Airdrome in Germany. During the return flight, his aircraft entered a deep dive into the clouds and was not seen or heard from again. At the time of his loss, Austria and northern Italy were still under enemy control, precluding any immediate search to locate his crash site.
     
  • Marine Corps Sgt. William D. Ball, Jr., 21, of Hollywood, California, will be buried on the 74th anniversary of his death, November 21, in Arvin, California. In November 1943, Ball was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which participated in a 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. Ball was wounded on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1043, and was identified for evacuation to the USS J. Franklin Bell for treatment. Ball never made it to the ship and his status was adjusted from wounded in action to missing in action as of Nov. 21, 1943.
     
    Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,977 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Spence’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 November 2017
 
Items of Interest
House & Senate Armed Services Committees Complete Conference on FY18 NDAA
(HASC) - Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced details of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. This legislation authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy:
 
“We are tremendously proud of this NDAA, which will strengthen our military, provide our troops a pay raise, bolster missile defense, drive innovation in military technology to secure our global advantage, and build on the defense reforms Congress has passed in recent years. Most importantly, this legislation will help reverse the dangerous readiness crisis that is endangering the lives of our men and women in uniform.
 
“The FY18 NDAA conference report authorizes funds for base budget requirements of $626 billion. Together with $66 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) warfighting account and $8 billion for other defense activities, the legislation supports a national defense topline of nearly $700 billion—a $26 billion increase above the President’s combined initial and amended budget requests.
 
“We are also proud of the bipartisan process that led to this conference report, which took hard work and thoughtful collaboration from members on both sides of the aisle. As this legislation moves toward final passage and to the President’s desk, we are confident it will continue the bipartisan tradition of supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces and enable them to rise to the challenges of our increasingly dangerous world.”
 
The House Armed Services Committee Majority summary of the conference report is available here.
 
Division comments: The FY18 NDAA currently has a base budget topline of $626 billion, with $65.7 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO). The Government Accountability Office reported that the cap on defense discretionary spending for FY2018 is $549 billion, which puts the FY18 NDAA at $77 billion over the budget cap established in the 2011 Bipartisan Budget Control Act. There is no mention of a mechanism within the NDAA to remove or raise the budget caps; exceeding the caps will trigger the immediate, across-the-board cuts of all discretionary spending known as sequestration. While division staff reviews the NDAA conference reports, we must register concern about any defense budget that will trigger sequestration and support all efforts to return defense budgeting to a stable, multi-year cycle.
 
In Beijing, Trump presses China on North Korea and trade
(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump pressed China to do more to rein in North Korea on Thursday and said bilateral trade had been unfair to the United States, but praised President Xi Jinping’s pledge that China would be more open to foreign firms.
 
On North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Trump said “China can fix this problem quickly and easily”, urging Beijing to cut financial links with North Korea and also calling on Russia to help.
 
Trump was speaking alongside Xi in the Chinese capital to announce the signing of about $250 billion in commercial deals between U.S. and Chinese firms, a display that some in the U.S. business community worry detracts from tackling deep-seated complaints about market access in China.
 
Xi said the Chinese economy would become increasingly open and transparent to foreign firms, including those from the United States, and welcomed U.S. companies to participate in his ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure-led initiative.
 
Division comments: U.S.-China-North Korea relations remains the most critical element in any path toward North Korean denuclearization. The U.S. will need to leverage Chinese economic and political ties to the Kim regime, as well as offering some concessions like sanctions relief, to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. In this mix are South Korea and Japan, the staunchest U.S. allies in the region, who both are keen to see their tripartite alliance remain strong while also delivering a peaceful resolution. With the Asia-Pacific region in the foreign policy and national security spotlight, it is more important than ever to remember the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, military and civilian and their families, who are in the midst of these tensions. Division staff continue to work with PACOM public affairs and Legionnaires to coordinate the National Commander’s upcoming visit to the Asia-Pacific, with plans to receive briefing from commanders and visit active-duty servicemembers and their families to better understand the unique challenges at play.
 
Report: Full cost of U.S. wars overseas approaching $6 trillion
(Military.com) - Overseas combat operations since 2001 have cost the United States an estimated $4.3 trillion so far, and trillions more in veterans benefits spending in years to come, according to the latest analysis from the Costs of War project.
 
The annual analysis from Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs shows a steadily growing tally for the 16 years of wars overseas. Study author Neta Crawford said the goal of the ongoing project is to better illustrate the true costs of overseas military operations.
 
“Every war costs money before, during and after it occurs — as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from armed conflict by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing infrastructure destroyed in the fighting,” she wrote in the 2017 report.
 
Of the total, only about $1.9 trillion has been reported by defense officials as official overseas contingency operations funding.
 
But the research includes another $880 billion in new base defense spending related to combat efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan since 2001, as well as about $780 billion in boosted Department of Homeland Security costs in that time frame.
 
Veterans spending has increased by almost $300 billion so far as a result of those conflicts, and future spending on those benefits over the next four decades is estimated to top $1 trillion more.
 
Division comments: With the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan only a couple months old and another round of ‘wartime’ defense funding negotiations enters its final phase, it is important to look at the incredible costs the U.S. has incurred from military operations since September 11th. The National Security Division is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that U.S. blood and treasure is not spent frivolously, and that the lived experiences of multiple generations of veterans are not ignored by policymakers.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Women Veterans: Reproductive Health Across the Life Course Webinar. This webinar was originally a breakout session for the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit scheduled August 25-26, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Staff from the National Security Division attended the National Women Veterans Summit but the event was cut short by Hurricane Harvey. The Moderators for this event were: Laurie Zephyrin MD, Acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Community Care, and Alicia Christy MD, Deputy Director Reproductive Health. The webinar discussed the health services provided at the VA which are: Gynecologic care (Basic and Specialty), Contraceptive care and counseling, Mammography, Breast and Cervical Cancer screening and treatment, and Menopause-related care. The services that are not provided at VA facilities are: Obstetrical/maternity care and Specialty infertility services. The moderators also discussed that the use of VA maternity care has increased by 44% in the past 5 years and nearly all VA maternity care is outsourced. Each VA medical facility has a Maternity Care Coordinator to assist women veterans in navigating the VA health care services during her pregnancy.
     
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division provided Verna Jones, the Executive Director an After Action Review on the VA’s Monthly Partners Meeting with Kayla Williams, Director of the Center for Women Veterans and Megan McCarthy, Deputy Director at the Office of Mental Health & Suicide Prevention. The discussion for this meeting focused on women veterans who are the fastest growing Veteran subpopulation, and how the VA is committed to improving their health and well-being, which includes addressing suicide and suicidal behaviors in women. From 2001 through 2014, the suicide rate among women Veterans increased to a greater degree (62.4 percent) than the suicide rate among male Veterans (29.7 percent).
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division conducted another round of internal meetings with the DC staff to understand each service provided at the American Legion to better assist women veterans. Staff met with Edwin Thomas, Assistant Director for Health Policy, Alex Zhang, Assistant Director for Claims Discharge and Ryan Britch, the TBI and PTSD Program Coordinator of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation to discuss the interest items and areas of potential collaboration. These individuals primarily focus on: coordinating and participating in System Worth Saving Site Visits, helping veterans with MEB/PEB and discharge upgrades, helping making corrections to military forms, and assisting veterans with their TBI/PTSD needs.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division conducted another round of internal meetings with the DC staff to understand each service provided at the American Legion to better assist women veterans. Staff met with Edwin Thomas, Assistant Director for Health Policy, Alex Zhang, Assistant Director for Claims Discharge and Ryan Britch, the TBI and PTSD Program Coordinator of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation to discuss the interest items and areas of potential collaboration. These individuals primarily focus on: coordinating and participating in System Worth Saving Site Visits, helping veterans with MEB/PEB and discharge upgrades, helping making corrections to military forms, and assisting veterans with their TBI/PTSD needs.
     
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Rachel Lipsey, The Military Legislative Assistant for the Office of Senator Joe Donnelly to collaborate in March 2018 for a Vietnam Veterans Celebration. Staff from the National Security Division also explained the Women and Minority Veterans Program to Rachel. Both Staff from the National Security Division and Rachel are really excited about this collaboration.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Yaron Gamburg, the Minister of Public Diplomacy of The Embassy of Israel and Molly Tobin, National Outreach Director of the Embassy of Israel. The purpose of this meeting was to establish a working relationship with the Embassy of Israel and to thoroughly explain The American Legion’s Women and Minority Program. Staff from the National Security Division will partner for events in the 2018 calendar year.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Women Veterans Health Research Webinar. This webinar was originally a breakout session for the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit schedule August 25-26, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Staff from the National Security Division attended the National Women Veterans Summit but the event was cut short by Hurricane Harvey. The Moderators were: Dr. Elizabeth Yano, Anne Sadler, Jennifer Strauss, and Susan Frayne.
     
    Quality of Life
    ‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals
    (Washington Post) - The “Fat Leonard” corruption investigation has expanded to include more than 60 admirals and hundreds of other U.S. Navy officers under scrutiny for their contacts with a defense contractor in Asia who systematically bribed sailors with sex, liquor and other temptations, according to the Navy.
     
Most of the admirals are suspected of attending extravagant feasts at Asia’s best restaurants paid for by Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based maritime tycoon who made an illicit fortune supplying Navy vessels in ports from Vladivostok, Russia to Brisbane, Australia. Francis also was renowned for hosting alcohol-soaked, after-dinner parties, which often featured imported prostitutes and sometimes lasted for days, according to federal court records.
 
The 350-pound Francis, also known in Navy circles as “Leonard the Legend” for his wild-side lifestyle, spent decades cultivating relationships with officers, many of whom developed a blind spot to his fraudulent ways. Even while he and his firm were being targeted by Navy criminal investigators, he received VIP invitations to ceremonies in Annapolis and Pearl Harbor, where he hobnobbed with four-star admirals, according to photographs obtained by The Washington Post.
 
The Justice Department has filed criminal charges against 28 people, including two admirals, since Francis was arrested in an international sting operation four years ago. Those cases comprise the worst corruption scandal in Navy history, but they represent a fraction of a much larger list of Navy officials under investigation but whose names have been mostly kept secret.
 
Something’s Wrong in the Surface Fleet and We Aren’t Talking About It
(War on the Rocks) - Ships are busy, no one is willing to slow down the operational pace. Ship commanders have no control. Adm. Rowden has little control. Ship maintenance isn’t fully funded. Ship commanders have no control. Adm. Rowden has little control. Ships aren’t fully manned to the reduced level. Ship commanders have no control. Adm. Rowden has little control. Sailors can’t get into training schools. Ship commanders have no control. Surface Forces has little control.
 
So what can Navy do?
 
First, stop protecting the system by blaming the crews. And that includes blaming the ship commanding officer, executive officer, and command master chief for instances when the system failed them and they just weren’t good enough to pull a royal flush out of a poorly dealt hand. Certainly, the system took some hits in the Comprehensive Review, but even the proposed actions only deal with symptoms and not embedded cultural or systemic off-ship decisions.
 
Second, buy enough billets to man ships to their designed manning. Their designed wartime manning. Why wartime? Because we all know that any modern naval war will start and finish before the system will catch up. There’s no Franklin Roosevelt on the horizon to force a Two Ocean Navy Act into existence.
 
Third, cancel the upcoming rotational deployments for the ships involved in hurricane relief operations.
 
Fourth, stop talking about recommissioning old ships. If the Navy is already short on people and maintenance money, more ships will only makes things worse. Fully man, train, and equip the fleet America has before adding more ships to the equation.
 
Fifth, end the concept of absolute culpability for ship captains. If accountability for command is absolute, then isn’t the chief of naval operations in command of the Navy? If he isn’t, then who is? Is he not also culpable for these incidents? Barbara Starr asked this exact question on Nov. 2. Adm. Richardson’s response was that he owns the problem, feels responsible, but insisted he has the confidence of the fleet. Given that Adm. Richardson hasn’t been underway in some time, I wonder how he can claim this knowledge. I’m certain some will see my comment as disrespectful, or even impudent. I’d rather claim that I feel empowered to speak up. That I am speaking the courage of my convictions, and doing so before the extremis. We either have a culture of forceful backup, where the chief of naval operations will not feel threatened by this, or we do not.
 
The Navy, especially the surface fleet, is now victim of a pervasive “strategy of means.” We’ve sought efficiency over effectiveness. The lowest common denominator in training, schools, and spending suffices and replaces what must be spent to achieve operational capability. This thinking is not good stewardship, rather it makes everyone less safe. The surface fleet — at the leadership and organizational level — has been told to “do more with less” so long that it seems incapable of doing anything else.
 
There is something wrong with our ships today, but it is not the ship’s crews or commanding officers who are to blame. Rather, the design of the system, which is well outside their purview, should take the brunt of responsibility and culpability. Our ship commanders long ago lost absolute authority. It’s time we stopped pretending and also recognized they should no longer have absolute culpability.
 
Division comments: The Fat Leonard scandal and the series of collisions, accidents, and misconduct in the 7th Fleet has cast uncertainty on the capacity and capability of the primary U.S. power projection platform in the Asia-Pacific region. The corruption within the senior officer corps, coupled with low morale among crews, poor or insufficient training, and a high operations tempo that gravely taxes both equipment and personnel is a recipe for an ineffective force. The American Legion is dedicated to ensuring that military personnel are properly trained and cared for, and that leadership has the human and material resources to meet operational needs. The current NDAA conference report boosts Navy end strength by 4,000 sailors which is a good start—but there is a massive maintenance and manning demand that a budgetary focus on building additional ships will not meet. Returning existing ships, aircraft, and crews to wartime operational capability should take precedence over increasing capacity.
 
Division Activities
  • Staff from the National Security Division continues to coordinate and plan the National Commander’s tour of US Pacific Command. In South Korea, the National Commander and her travel party are slated for a tour of the Demilitarized Zone, a visit to the Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification, commander’s briefs from US Forces Korea and the 51st Air Wing, and lunch with Legionnaires. In Okinawa, a commander’s brief, tour of Kadena Air Base, and a social with Post OK28 are all scheduled. The Philippines leg of the trip will feature a visit with Post 123 in Angeles City. At the final stop in Hawaii the National Commander will tour Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, receive a commander’s brief, visit with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency leadership, meet with the Department of Hawaii, and participate in Pearl Harbor Day activities like a wreath-laying at the National Memorial Cemetery.
     
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division attended an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation to discuss The Trump Administration and the Future of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.  North Korea is on the cusp of being able to target the United States with nuclear weapons and hints at conducting a nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean. President Trump has vowed that the regime having such capabilities is “intolerable” and has threatened military action to prevent it. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared that the U.S. won’t conduct any attack without Seoul’s permission. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to escalate.

    President Trump is scheduled to make his first official visit to South Korea on November 7-8, 2017. His visit will focus on bilateral meetings with President Moon, speaking to the National Assembly, and visiting with U.S. and ROK service members. The President’s visit will highlight the strong U.S.-ROK alliance during an increasingly challenging time on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. Join us on November 8 for a timely discussion by distinguished experts on the very issues that President Trump and President Moon will address.
     
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff will participate in a webinar, entitled “The Economic Consequences of the Opioid Crisis”, hosted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) Economist Peter Evangelakis who will be putting on a presentation that uses dynamic fiscal analysis to identify and quantify the wide array of negative impacts generated by this tragedy. This presentation will build on a 2016 study that modeled the main direct costs of opioid abusers and dependents on our society. At the national level, the loss of workers to either premature deaths or extended absences from the labor force depress production and lower aggregate demand, slowing down the growth of the economy. At the regional level, heavily impacted states face potential out-migration as well as increased costs for health care, substance abuse treatment, and the incarceration of drug offenders. This combination of factors places a severe strain on state budgets as both the tax base falls and expenditures rise. Division staff are currently analyzing a broad array of policy proscriptions put forward by public health professionals, law enforcement, academics, and advocates that deal with various elements of the opioid epidemic. It is important to understand the economic impact that comes with widespread addiction, such as declining labor force participation, and second- and third-order effects like how to care for the massive spike of children removed from their addicted parents.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Harry E. Harkness, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. On In November 1950, Harkness was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in combat actions against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. Harkness was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950 when he could not be accounted for by his unit. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Army Sgt. Gerald J. Mueller, accounted for on Aug. 4, 2017, was buried November 8 in Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Mueller, 20, of Saint Paul, was captured during the Korean War.  In February 1951, Mueller was a member of Battery D, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons,) 2nd Infantry Division, which was part of a group known as Support Force 21 (SF21,) providing artillery support for the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) against the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF.)  On Feb. 11, 1941, while the ROKA was making an attack north toward Hongch'on, the CPVF launched a massive counter-offensive.  Unable to withstand the numbers, the ROKA withdrew south, leaving Mueller's battery and the rest of SF21 behind to fight cut
    off from other friendly units.  The following day, SF21 began movement south, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, eventually making it to Wonju.  Mueller, who could not be accounted for, was declared missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Division Weekly Report
Week Ending 3 Nov 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Trump leaves behind tax-plan fight for the longest presidential trip to Asia in decades
(Business Insider) - President Donald Trump will travel to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor on Friday before kicking off the longest presidential trip to Asia since George H.W. Bush. […] In Asia, Trump will address security and trade concerns in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
 
Among the US, South Korea, and Japan, the North Korean missile threat looms large, and Trump is expected to reaffirm the US's commitment to the countries' alliance, though he has in the past questioned whether the Asian allies pay their fair shares. With China, the emerging world power that Trump during his campaign accused of currency manipulation and "killing us" with a trade deficit, the US appears to actually have made progress. China now cooperates with the US on containing and limiting trade with North Korea like never before. […] In the Philippines, Trump will meet the popular populist Rodrigo Duterte, who looks to wrap up a violent drug war that has killed thousands and crush an Islamist insurgency in Marawi.
 
Division comments: Division staff continues to work with Pacific Command community relations and public affairs offices in the coordination of the National Commander’s upcoming visit to South Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Hawaii in late November and early December. East and Southeast Asia remain top national security priorities, from North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons to China’s territorial ambitions to the Islamist insurgency in the Philippines. To that end, division staff monitors developments in the region and the overall US security posture and are busy preparing briefings and documents for the National Commander’s use during the trip.
 
Former President Bill Clinton visits Johns Hopkins, urges swift action on opioid epidemic (Johns Hopkins) - Among the most urgent actions the nation can take to combat the opioid crisis in America is to erase the stigma of addiction, former President Bill Clinton said Monday at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a forum on the deepening epidemic.
 
Stigma prevents addicts and their families from seeking treatment and accessing resources, he said. It keeps sufferers silent, and it keeps health care providers from effectively advocating for funding for proven treatment methods.
 
Opioid-related drug deaths are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. In 2016, drug abuse claimed the lives of an estimated 64,000 people, more than half of them from opioid-related overdoses. That's more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS before it was treated, more than the number of gun-related homicides, and more than the number of deaths caused by automobile accidents, Clinton said.
 
Addiction has devastated a section of rural America that already has limited access to health resources. "The epidemic has grown like wildfire in small towns and rural areas with no public health infrastructure, where people don't know what to do, or can't do it if they know," Clinton said.
 
Division comments: The report released in conjunction with the summit had dozens of recommendations, but highlighted ten recommendations. The American Legion supports a wide ranging approach to stemming the opioid epidemic, with particular interest in drug use surveillance and ensuring prescribers are not diverting opioids for illicit sale or overprescribing for patients. Division staff continues to track research and policy proposals, and see a growing consensus among policy makers and public health and safety professionals on concrete actions that can be taken.
 
TOP TEN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
  1. Mandate prescriber PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program) registration and use.
  2. Work with state medical boards to enact policies reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
  3. Inform and support evaluation research of PBM and pharmacy interventions to address the opioid epidemic.
  4. Secure funding for research to assess the effectiveness of innovative packaging and designs available and under development.
  5. Provide clear and consistent guidance on safe disposal of prescription opioids; expand take-back programs.
  6. Invest in surveillance of opioid misuse and use disorders, including information about supply sources.
  7. Allocate federal funding to build treatment capacity in communities with high rates of opioid addiction and limited access to treatment.
  8. Partner with product developers to design naloxone formulations that are easier to use by non-medical personnel and less costly to deliver.
  9. Establish and evaluate supervised consumption spaces.
  10. Avoid stigmatizing language and include information about the effectiveness of treatment and the structural barriers that exist to treatment when communicating with the public about opioid-use disorders.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Dr. Betty Mosley Brown, Associate Director for the Center for Women Veterans and Dennis May, the Deputy Director for Minority Veterans. Staff from the National Security Division thoroughly briefed Dr. Mosley Brown and Mr. May on The American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Program. Dr. Mosley Brown and Mr. May shared a copy of the monthly observances and a copy of the most recent 2015 Minority Veterans Report. Staff from the National Security Division, the Center for Women Veterans and the Center for Minority Veterans will partner together for events in the 2018 calendar year.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division provided information for a letter of support for a draft bill from the Office of Congressman J. Luis Correa. This draft bill will provide for certain reporting requirements relating to medical care for women veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and through contracts entered into by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with non-Department medical providers, and for other purposes. This bill will also report the wait times, the driving time required for veterans to attend appointments and the reasons why appointments could not be scheduled with non-Department medical provides. The American Legion can support this bill because of resolution 377, Support Veterans Quality of Life. The American Legion supports any legislation that will enhance, promote, or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents including, but not limited, to timely access to quality care at the VA.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Annie Walker, MBA, from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Ms. Walker works primarily with education, transition, entrepreneurship and employment with a special focus on women veterans. Staff from the National Security division explained The American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Program while establishing a relationship that lead to being asked to speak on a panel at the Northern Virginia Women Veteran Summit scheduled for June 14th -June 15th 2018. This will be a great opportunity to get more information out about what the American Legion is doing for women veterans. Staff will also set up a booth at this event to distribute pamphlets and get contact information from various women veterans.  
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division conducted the first round of internal meetings with the DC staff to understand each service provided at the American Legion to better assist women veterans.  Staff met with Warren Goldstein, Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation and Melvin Brown, Assistant Director of Health Policy and Resolutions to discuss their job description which includes but is not limited to: drafting resolutions, tracking community service amongst the volunteers and the subject matter experts on the System Worth Saving visits.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a breakfast with the Honorable David Shulkin, M.D in advance of Veterans Day at Bullfeathers. This breakfast was a very small group invite that included Capitol Hill staff who are themselves veterans and HillVets Fellows. HillVets is a bipartisan group of veterans, service members, and supporters focused on empowerment through networking, community involvement, and education.  Dr. Shulkin spoke about his top five priorities for the VA Health Care system which are: 1) having a greater choice for veterans; 2) modernizing the System; 3) focusing more resources more efficiently; 4) improving timeliness of services and 5) suicide Prevention.
     
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division received the notes from the VA Partners’ Meeting. At this meeting, the VA discussed suicide among women. The VA annually conducts a comprehensive assessment of suicide deaths among individuals who have used VA health services in the year of their death or the year prior. This assessment includes the difference in suicide mortality by gender. The suicide rate among women receiving care at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services was lower than that of male users of VHA health services. In 2014, the suicide rate among women using VHA services was 17.3 per 100,000, while for male VHA users, the rate was 41.8 per 100,000.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the release of the Health of Women who Have Served Report. Staff from the National Security Division participated in this yearlong report and served on the advisory group, whom is mention in the appendix of the report. At this release meeting Senator Julia Brownley and Senator Tammy Duckworth both spoke on some of the issues that they are advocating for female veterans in relation to health care such as decreasing the number of female veterans who commit suicide and advocating for the VA to extend In Vitro Fertilization to women veterans who are in need of those services.
    This event brought together military and veteran health experts and advocates to speak on the distinct health challenges faced by women who have served, and identify actionable opportunities for improving women’s health and well-being.
Quality of Life
 
Sailors Could Face Criminal Charges After Deadly Ship Crashes
(Military.com) - In the wake of two ship collisions within months of each other that claimed the lives of 17 sailors this summer, a three-star admiral was relieved, a four-star was passed over for command, and a number of other officers were removed from their posts. But more serious personnel actions may be still to come and could include legal prosecution, as well as administrative moves.
 
On Thursday, the Navy released the results of a 60-day comprehensive review, blaming the two collisions on an array of factors, from insufficient training and experience to crew fatigue and a punishing operational tempo that damaged readiness.
 
But, said Adm. John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, negligence was also a factor in the mishaps. “We found the commanding officers were at fault, executive officers were at fault, there were some watchstanders on the ships. And we've been pretty clear about identifying where there was fault and taking appropriate accountability actions, up to and including the 7th Fleet commander," Richardson said.
 
Division comments: Readiness should be considered the top quality of life issue for active duty service members—it is essential that they are trained, healthy, properly equipped, and competently led. Failures in these areas lead to preventable accidents, lower morale and unit cohesion, costly repairs or loss of strategic capability and capacity, and the inability to retain exceptional members. This week, the Senate Armed Service Committee held a hearing “Recent United States Navy Collisions at Sea” that highlighted Congress’ continuing investigation into the 7th Fleet incidents and the root causes behind them. Division staff monitors these developments, and is working on building relationships with Armed Services staff to better advocate on behalf of active duty service members.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, staff from the National Security Division attended a forum co-hosted by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health focused on elevating high-impact solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The U.S. is experiencing its highest-ever rates of opioid addiction and overdose, and the numbers are only predicted to rise. A combination of the overuse of prescription opioids for acute and chronic pain and an increasing supply of heroin and illicit fentanyl is driving this epidemic. Evidence-based strategies for preventing and treating opioid addiction have been shown to be successful but are not being implemented quickly and at scale. Speakers, panelists, and thought leaders representing diverse stakeholders affected by the crisis considered critical components needed to reduce the injury and death rates nationwide. Evidence-based recommendations that reflect the most current science were the focus, and translating that evidence to action was the goal. The American Legion is committed to ensuring that the nation’s communities have the resources to both combat drug trafficking and treat and care for those who have been impacted by addiction, while always seeking to find ways to reduce demand through education and the development of alternative treatments.
 
  • On Tuesday, Legislative Affairs Dir. Matthew Shuman, Legislative Affairs Asst. Dir. Larry Lohman, and staff from the National Security Division participated in a phone conference with Equifax’s government affairs representative. The conversation centered on Equifax’s efforts to reach out to communities impacted by their recent, and unprecedented, data breach—estimated to have effected 143 million Americans. There was discussion of collaborating on cybersecurity information products and potentially conducting live, in-person outreach at interested Legion posts. The National Security Division is currently developing a cybersecurity education initiative, aimed at providing Legionnaires and posts with the tools and information necessary to understand the cyber ‘landscape’ and to protect their own and their families critical information from cyber criminals and other unauthorized access.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division covered a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, entitled “An Insider’s Look at the North Korean Regime.” HFAC Chairman Ed Royce stated before the hearing: “As we intensify our efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats, we must consider the full array of policy options at our disposal. Mr. Thae, who defected from North Korea last year, has valuable insights into the Kim regime’s vulnerabilities. This hearing will be an opportunity to learn how best to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on the Kim regime. We will examine the impact our sanctions are having, as well as our efforts to empower the North Korean people with the truth about Kim Jong Un’s brutal human rights abuses.” The National Security Division continues to monitor events in US-North Korean relations, and supports utilizing the full range of US tools to effect a peaceful outcome.
 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will attend the Woodrow Wilson Center’s event “Trump’s Vision for Asia: What to Expect from the U.S. Presidential Visit to the Asia-Pacific Region.” In early November, Donald Trump will visit Asia for the first time since assuming the presidency. As he heads to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, he will also be visiting Japan, South Korea, China, and the Philippines at a time of increasing regional uncertainty. While North Korea will undoubtedly be at the top of the agenda, there are longer-term issues at stake, such as managing a risen China just coming out of a major Party Congress as well as setting the course to sustain the long-term stability and prosperity of the world’s most populous region.
 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will attend an event hosted by the Regional Economic Models, Inc. where experts will discuss the economic effects of immigration policies.  REMI’s Chief Economist Frederick Treyz, Ph.D. will discuss the findings from his analysis.  Dr. Treyz will review two scenarios: first, a “balanced” reform approach that includes improved enforcement, reform of green cards and visa programs, and a pathway to legal status, and secondly, an “enforcement-only” approach with aggressive border security, deportation, and voluntary departure. He will discuss the output and employment implications of these scenarios.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend a conference hosted by the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy on how public policy can address the opioid epidemic. The conference will feature keynote remarks from: Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize winning economist whose work has documented the shocking rise of “deaths of despair” among white Americans without a four-year college degree; Rep. Ann McLane Kuster from New Hampshire, ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force; and Bertha Madras, a psychobiology professor at Harvard Medical School and member of the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, who will discuss the recommendations from the commission report set to be released earlier that week, along with her own work. Following their remarks, Deaton and Madras will join a panel of experts in opioid policy to discuss ways to address this national crisis.
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Edward F. Slapikas, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Slapikas 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 Slapikas. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Division Weekly Report
Week Ending 27 Oct 17
 
Items of Interest
 
US Defense Secretary James Mattis at Korean DMZ: 'Our goal is not war'
CNN - Standing yards away from North Korea, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday that the US and South Korea were committed to a "diplomatic solution" to address the country's "reckless behavior." Mattis spoke during a visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea, which came after Pyongyang this week renewed its threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground. "North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and world peace and despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations' Security Council they still proceed," Mattis said.
 
Division comments: Finding a resolution to the continuing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and in particular a pathway to North Korean denuclearization, remains a top US national security priority. The United States Pacific Command, which is responsible for deterring and defending against potential North Korean aggression, currently has nearly 375,000 military and civilian personnel assigned, with 37,500 service members in the Republic of Korea itself.
 
The National Security Division is currently involved in planning and coordinating the travel of the National Commander, Denise Rohan, to East Asia. The primary purpose of the trip is to demonstrate the American Legion’s continued support of the armed forces by seeing the importance of their mission firsthand, learning from the men and women directly involved in the defense of a critical ally in a critical region of the world. The East Asia trip also offers a unique  opportunity for the Commander to speak to deployed service members and their families to better understand the challenges that come with an overseas station in order to better advocate  on their behalf.
 
Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘Health Emergency’ but Requests No Funds
New York Times - President Trump on Thursday directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, taking long-anticipated action to address a rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use.
 
But even as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country — a priority that resonated strongly with the working-class voters who supported his presidential campaign — Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare “a national emergency” on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.
 
His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so. And he made little mention of the need for the rapid and costly expansion of medical treatment that public health specialists, including some in his own administration, argue is crucial to addressing the epidemic.
Division comments: Per Resolution No. 19: Homeland Security and the Opioid Epidemic, the American Legion resolved to advocate and support a broad range of tools and policies aimed at stemming an incredible surge of opioid overdose deaths and drug crime. Division staff continually monitor the state of opioid-related public health research, current municipal, state, and federal government efforts at reducing supply, demand, and harm, and legislative proposals to address numerous resource gaps. Division staff consider the opioid epidemic the number one threat to homeland security; consider the numbers of deaths and devastated communities wrought by addiction and associated crime, add the trafficking and drug dealing by transnational criminal organizations and their associates that enables the crisis, and the result is massive and complicated crisis.
 
The National Security Division has an ongoing effort to connect policy makers, Legion volunteers who have been impacted by opioid addiction, and medical and law enforcement experts. Education remains a key component in addressing the epidemic, and staff is working to ensure that Legionnaires understand the scope of this issue and how they can work to address problem in their own communities.
If you would like to know more, or get involved, please email: ns@legion.org.
 
Bad Rabbit malware used leaked alleged NSA tool
The Hill - The Bad Rabbit ransomware that tore through Russia and Eastern Europe this week used a leaked hacking tool, allegedly built by the NSA. It is not, however, the same NSA tool made famous by earlier ransomware outbreaks NotPetya and WannaCry. Researchers at Cisco found that Bad Rabbit used a tool called "EternalRomance" that took advantage of a now-patched security flaw in Windows that was leaked this year by a group called The ShadowBrokers. The ShadowBrokers released several packages of these tools, all of which they said had been pilfered from the NSA.
 
Bad Rabbit, like NotPetya and WannaCry encrypts files on a system and charges a ransom for the key to decrypt those files. Coding and strategic problems in NotPetya and WannaCry made it impossible for the attackers to provide these keys even if a ransom was paid. It is at least hypothetically possible that paying the ransom for Bad Rabbit could result in a key to unlock files. 
 
Division comments: Per Resolution No. 20: National Cybersecurity Strategy, the American Legion resolved to advocate and support government efforts to combat cybercrime and educate  citizens on what they can do to avoid falling prey to or inadvertently facilitating cyber attacks. The importance of a robust domestic cyber workforce across all levels of private and public organization grows by the day. To this end, Division staff is exploring ways to connect Legionnaires with the educational resources that they can use to protect themselves and their families, as well as share with their communities.
If you would like to know more, or get involved, please email: ns@legion.org.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
 
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division spoke with JoAnn Fisher, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer of Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Ms. Fisher discussed the need of a growing industry and career path for women veterans in Heavy Construction with the Heavy Construction Academy. The Heavy Construction Academy is partnered with the Women Veterans United Committee and they host a 6 week program which provides: local single occupancy lodging; airline travel to and from New Hampshire; all breakfasts and most lunches; and 240 hours of training on 9 different pieces of heavy equipment for a nationally recognized Heavy Equipment Operations certification. Staff from the National Security Division will meet with Dr. Fisher again to help partner and find women veterans to participate in the Heavy Construction Academy.
 
Quality of Life
 
  • On Monday the Defense Health Agency announcement announced the award of a $7.5 billion contract for medical professionals. The contract award will significantly enhance the agency's ability to help patients at military-run treatment facilities get the care they need, while providing the kind of joint service envisioned when DHA stood up two years ago. It also responds to a congressional directive from the National Defense Authorization Act for FY17 for the Department of Defense to develop a sourcing strategy for the acquisition of contract medical support to supplement the military and civilian professionals who work in the nation's military treatment facilities.
 
  • The Senate passed its FY 2018 budget resolution and the procedural language seems sufficient to avoid a conference committee between the two chambers and allow the House to simply pass the Senate resolution.  The pending passage of the budget and signing into law by the President clears the way for the reconciliation of the FY 2018 defense bill.  The Senate's recently passed bill also seeks to increase the pharmacy benefit's out-of-pocket costs and launch a pilot program aimed at replacing TRICARE for Life with Medicare Advantage.  If implemented pharmacy prescription costs would go up by 2026 to $14 for a 30-day supply of generic drugs and $45 for a 30-day supply of a brand-name drug at an in-network retail pharmacy, while 90 day supplies of generic and brand-name drugs from the mail-order system will be $14 and $45, respectively.
 
-Senate NDAA seeks to increase TRICARE costs for working-age retirees
-TRICARE Prime fees will increase from $282.60 to $350 for single coverage and from $565.20 to $700 for family coverage
-TRICARE Standard fees will be implemented costing individuals $450 and families $900 annually
-TRICARE Standard deductibles will increase:  $300 in network, $600 out of network for a family; $150 in network, $300 out of network for an individual
-TRICARE Standard out-of-pocket caps increase from $3000 to $3500
-Pharmacy prescription costs will be increased
-A plan to eventually replace TRICARE for Life will be implemented
Staff at the D.C. office has communicated The American Legion’s position opposing any increase to TRICARE fees from Resolution No. 102: Oppose TRICARE Fee Increases.  Additional, an action alert was emailed out to membership urging them to contact their respective Senators and Congressmen and let them know that veterans have paid for their benefits through blood, sweat, and tears many times over.
 
Division Activities
 
  • This week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that Retired Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi will serve as the interim Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency. Bianchi is Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command and will continue to serve in that capacity while he is with DeCA.
    Bianchi’s assignment to the commissary is expected to take effect in early November 2017.
 
Staff from the National Security Division have participated in conference calls with the Director and his staff regarding potential cost-saving changes the Commissaries have considered implementing over the past two years.  We oppose any efforts to institute variable pricing or to privatize the military commissary system or to reduce discounts or to dismantle or downsize the Defense Commissary Agency.  Staff also urge the Department of Defense and Congress to continue full funding of the military commissary system. 
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the House Energy and Commerce hearing on federal efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The primary purpose of the hearing was to hear from the federal agencies charged with implementing the provisions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) also took the opportunity to follow up with the DEA on the committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation into alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia, adding, “It is time for DEA to get this committee the information we need, and to do it quickly. No more dodges. No more delays.” The opioid epidemic continues to outpace federal efforts, illustrating the need for a comprehensive all-of-government strategy and the funding and resources necessary to carry it out.
 
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at George Washington University on the evolution of China’s offensive cyber capabilities, the constraints imposed by uncertainties associated with cyber attacks like collateral damage and blowback, and the Chinese study of US cyber deterrence strategy. China is considered an advanced and persistent cyber threat to US national security and business interests, and so demands constant monitoring of their capacity and capability. The American Legion supports a robust national cybersecurity strategy that leverages the many levers of US power to secure sensitive information, deter cyber attacks, and educates the public on their role in cyber defense.
 
  • Last week, division staff met with the Deputy Secretary of Defense where he was briefed on the Department of Defense’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Several Naval ships have been have working since immediately following the storms in September. They have been saving lives through rescue efforts and debris removal.  The USNS Comfort has been proving medical care to include the birth of a child.  National Guard unit from across the country have been deployed and have provided more than 1 million liters of water.  They are also providing food, fuel, electricity, housing, medicine, and much more.  The total force package comprises roughly 10,000 troops, focused primarily on medical evacuation and delivery of supplies. 
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Shopfitter 3rd Class Francis L. Hannon, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Hannon 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 Hannon. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Donald E. Eichschlag, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, Eichschlag was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force fighting against repeated Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) assaults in the area surrounding Yudam-ni, North Korea. Eichschlag was reported to be killed in action on Nov. 28, 1950 during the fight over Hill 1250. When the Marines began a movement to regroup south at Hagaru-ri, search and recovery operations in the area were not possible. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 6 Oct 2017
 
Items of Interest
Aerospace
US Air Force secretary: JSTARS recap decision coming this month
A decision on the future of the JSTARS recap program appears to be imminent, with the U.S. Air Force’s top civilian doubling down on statements that the service would decide whether to cancel the program this month. By the end of October, the U.S. Air Force will have completed a “rapid assessment” to determine whether the service can use existing platforms — including legacy aircraft, drones and other sensors — to accomplish the mission that a new battlefield management aircraft would be charged with, U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson explained. More details here.
 
 
Conventional Armed Forces
Lawmakers to US Army: If network programs worth $6B are discarded, what’s next?
Whether the U.S. Army may shift a half-billion dollars from its ailing network programs and chart a new course will be up for debate as lawmakers reconcile rival House and Senate defense policy bills this month. But several key lawmakers said they are not ready to let the Army reboot from a $6 billion investment without explaining what’s next. Army officials argue the service lacks the survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network it would need on a modern battlefield. They are asking Congress to end the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio, the Command Post of the Future and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 at the end of fiscal year 2018 to free up money budgeted for the three. More details here.
 
 
Foreign Relations
In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East
For more than two years, the U.S. military’s contingent of 300 or so soldiers have been quietly helping train an enormous allied military in western Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian-backed separatists appear to be keeping pace some 800 miles to the east, showcasing entire parking lots full of new tanks and artillery just a 15-minute drive from the front lines. “Every 55 days we have a new battalion come in and we train them,” said U.S. Army National Guard Capt. Kayla Christopher, spokesperson for the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, at Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine. “And at the end of that 55-day period, we’ll do a field training exercise with that battalion.” Her unit has trained seven battalions so far. More details here.
 
 
Law and Order & Homeland Security
DHS Forms Election Security Task Force
The Homeland Security Department formed an election security task force last week to help shore up state and local voting infrastructure, a top official told lawmakers Tuesday. That task force will draw resources and expertise from across the department, including Homeland Security’s intelligence and analysis division, acting undersecretary for the department’s cybersecurity and critical infrastructure division Christopher Krebs told members of a House Homeland Security panel on cybersecurity. Previously, the department was running election security operations as a program inside its infrastructure protection division, Krebs said. The shift will make it easier to bring departmentwide resources to bear in protecting the 2018 congressional elections and various elections during 2017 and 2018, he said. More details here.
 
 
Military Benefits & Quality of Life
Military Star Card Rollout Starts at Commissaries
Commissary shoppers will be able to use the Military Star credit card at stores systemwide by Nov. 9, officials announced Thursday. Fort Lee, Virginia, on Thursday became the first commissary to accept the card at checkout. Five additional commissaries -- Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Key West National Air Station, Florida; Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine -- will start accepting it early next week. The remaining stores will be added in eight batches between now and Nov. 9, with locations in Hawaii, Japan and Korea among the last to allow the card, officials said. More details here.
 
 
National Guard & Reserve Forces
Few Answers After Three Leaders of Marine Reserve Regiment Fired
Three senior Marines at a Massachusetts reserve unit were relieved of their posts in one fell swoop this week, officials confirmed Thursday. On Wednesday, Marine Forces Reserve Commanding Officer Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian relieved Col. Morgan Mann, commanding officer of 25th Marine Regiment, out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Also relieved were Sgt. Maj. James Boutin, inspector-instructor for the regiment, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Hoy, also assigned to the unit. The Marines were relieved because McMillian lost confidence in their ability to command, a spokeswoman for Marine Forces Reserve, 2nd Lt. Stephanie Leguizamon, told Military.com in a statement. Marine Corps Times first reported the reliefs Thursday. More details here.
 
 
Unconventional Forces & Intelligence
3 US Troops Killed, 2 Wounded in Niger Ambush: AfriCom
Three U.S. troops were killed and two wounded Wednesday in an ambush of their joint patrol with local forces in the north-central African state of Niger, U.S. Africa Command said Thursday. The AfriCom statement did not identify the attackers, but the al-Qaida offshoot known as Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operates in neighboring Mali and has conducted cross-border raids into Niger. The two wounded U.S. troops are in stable condition and were flown for treatment to a military hospital at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, AfriCom said.A fourth service member from a "partner nation" also was killed in the ambush near the Mali border about 120 miles north of Niamey, Niger's capital, AfriCom said. More details here.
 
 
Division Activities
  • From Tuesday through Saturday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended San Francisco Fleet Week, where he participated in the Senior Leadership Seminar and a ship capabilities tour. The Senior Leadership Seminar includes sessions on the long game of humanitarian assistance, identifying the unintended negative effects of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, emergency planning, integrating community resources in disaster response efforts, and looking at infrastructure cybersecurity.
 
  • On Thursday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner attended an event at the Washington Post where Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) will spoke one-on-one with David Ignatius of the Post. Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talked about the latest developments with North Korea, ISIS and Russia, the relationship between immigration and national security and the administration’s handling of various international crises.
     
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson attended the Center for Women Veterans’ Monthly Partner Breakfast Meeting with Kayla Williams, The Director of the Center for Women Veterans. The primary focus of this meeting was to remember about the Suicide Prevention Declaration that thrives off the motto that everyone should be there. Suicide is preventable and we can all help someone who may be at risk through simple actions that can save a life. Various veteran service organizations were present and the organizations provided information on upcoming events.  Keronica told the group that the National Commander was in town for the week, about the Legion testifying before congress to increase the care of women veterans health care needs, and about the Women Memorial’s 20th Anniversary the week of October 20-22nd.
 
  • On Wednesday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended an event at the CATO institute regarding the Countering Violent Extremism program implemented in 2011 at federal, state and local levels.  Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a U.S. government program that provides resources to targeted communities, predominantly American Muslims, ostensibly to root out extremism before it results in violence. The program involves law enforcement agencies that partner with community leaders such as teachers, religious leaders, and health professionals to identify allegedly at-risk community members and steer them away from violence.
 
  • On Friday Deputy Dir. Freddy Gessner attended a round table discussion with leadership from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to discuss DoD's past conflict personnel accounting mission and the continued progress of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  An update on the U.S. – Russia Joint Commission will be provided.  As well as a review of fiscal year 2017.
     
  • On Friday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson will be speaking on The American Legion’s Periscope and Facebook Livestream with Joe Plenzler, the Director of Media Relations about the Women and Minority Veterans Program and about the bills she testified on before the Health Subcommittee of House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on H.R.93, to provide for increased access to Department of Veterans Affairs medical care for women veterans; H.R.501, the "VA Transparency Enhancement Act of 2017"; H.R.1063, the "Veteran Prescription Continuity Act"; H.R.1066, the "VA Management Alignment Act of 2017"; H.R.1943, the "Restoring Maximum Mobility to Our Nation's Veterans Act of 2017"; H.R.1972, the "VA Billing Accountability Act"; H.R.2147, the "Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2017"; H.R.2225, the "Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act"; H.R.2327, the "Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2017"; and legislation to make certain improvements in VA's Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Clifford G. Goodwin, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Goodwin 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 Goodwin. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Eli Olsen, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Olsen 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 Olsen. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Army Pfc. Willie E. Blue, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In August 1950, Blue was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, taking part in defending the Naktong Bulge portion of the Pusan Perimeter. He was reported missing in action as of Aug. 31, 1950, after his status could not be determined following his admittance to the 2nd Clearing Station, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Yong-san, South Korea. No additional records showed his disposition, nor did the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) have records on Blue. With no additional information concerning his loss, the Department of the Army declared him deceased on March 3, 1954. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Joseph M. Johnson, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Johnson 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 Johnson. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Wallace E. Eakes, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Eakes 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 Eakes. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold P. Hannon, killed during the battle of Tarawa in World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Hannon was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 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. Hannon died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Johnson McAfee, Jr., killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, McAfee was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force fighting against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in North Korea. McAfee was killed in action in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir at the Marine outpost known as Fox Hill. Following his death, McAfee was buried alongside others at the base of Fox Hill prior to the evacuation of the outpost. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Tech Sgt. John F. Brady, Tech Sgt. Allen A. Chandler, 1st Lt. John H. Liekhus, Staff Sgt. Robert O. Shoemaker and Staff Sgt. Bobby J. Younger have all been accounted for. On Nov. 2, 1944, the Airmen were members of the 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. Their nine-man aircrew was on a mission to Merseburg, Germany, when their plane was hit by flak during the bomb run. As the B-17 fell out of formation, German fighters attacked. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft burst into flames and descend rapidly. It crashed two kilometers southwest of the town of Barby. Three crewmembers survived and were taken as prisoners of war. One airman who was killed was identified in May 1945. Brady, Chandler, Liekhus, Shoemaker and Younger were all declared missing in action. In January 1951, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) concluded that the five unaccounted-for crew members perished in the crash and the location of their remains was unknown. Interment services are pending.

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 29 September 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Aerospace
Can North Korea Shoot Down US Bombers?
On September 25, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that his country “reserves the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.” The statement at a news conference came after a Sept. 23 flight over international waters “east of North Korea” by U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers, escorted by F-15C jets, that U.S. Pacific Command said was the “farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century.” More details here.
 
 
Conventional Armed Forces
Army to halt WIN-T, its battlefield network backbone
Delivery of the Army’s controversial Warfighter Information Network-Tactical system will come to a halt in order to reboot the service’s entire tactical network so that it can operate against threats emerging on the battlefield. The Army took to the Hill both on the House and Senate side in recent weeks to make a case to shuffle roughly half a billion in funds from the WIN-T program, as well as a few other key network components, and funnel the money into capabilities that will deliver a more survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network. More details here.
 
 
Foreign Relations
Russia reports destruction of all chemical weapons
Russia on Wednesday completed the task of destroying its huge, Cold War-era chemical weapons stockpiles, winning praise from an international chemical weapons watchdog. Russian officials reported the destruction of the country’s last remaining artillery projectile filled with VX toxic agent to President Vladimir Putin. The work took place at the Kizner facility in the Urals, one of seven facilities built in Russia to destroy chemical weapons in an effort that has spanned two decades and cost billions of dollars. More details here.
 
92 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in favor of independence
Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Iraq, but faced being left stranded after Baghdad ordered international flights to halt service to Kurdish airports starting Friday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ruled out the use of force, but vowed to take other measures to keep his country from breaking apart as the standoff looked set to worsen. The referendum passed with more than 92 percent of voters approving independence, the Kurdish region’s election commission told a news conference on Wednesday. Turnout was over 72 percent, it said. Despite such strong support, however, the non-binding vote was unlikely to lead to formal independence, even as it escalated long-running tensions with Baghdad. Iraq and its neighbors, along with virtually the entire international community, oppose any redrawing of the map. More details here.
 
 
Law and Order & Homeland Security
Acting DEA head tells employees he is stepping down
Acting Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg, a veteran attorney and law enforcement official who has found himself at odds with the Trump administration in recent months, told staff members Tuesday he is planning to step down from his post in less than a week. Rosenberg, an Obama administration holdover, said he would resign as acting administrator on Oct. 1. In an email to his staff, Rosenberg said he was proud to have led the “remarkable agency.” More details here.
 
 
 
 
 
Military Benefits & Quality of Life
Commissaries to start accepting Military Star card next month
Commissary customers soon will be able to use their Military Star credit card to pay for their groceries, as officials roll out acceptance of the card over the next month and a half. The Military Star card is a credit card accepted at all the military exchanges, with 1.5 million cardholders. More details here.
 
 
National Guard & Reserve Forces
National Guard head: Puerto Rico clean-up will 'challenge the system'
The clean-up efforts for U.S. territories following Hurricane Maria are expected to be far more complicated and lengthy than those for Florida and Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to the head of the National Guard Bureau. Gen. Joseph Lengyel said Monday that it will be “a harder response scenario” to restore power and necessary infrastructure, likely taking months. “Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not Texas and Florida. They’re out here in the middle of the ocean. It’s more complicated to get people here, it’s more complicated to fix the power grids, it’s more complicated to fix a whole lot of other things.” More details here.
 
 
Unconventional Forces & Intelligence
Lawmaker: Russian trolls trying to sow discord in NFL kneeling debate
Russian Internet trolls are trying to gin up even more controversy over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, a senator said Wednesday — warning that the United States should expect such divisive efforts to escalate in the next election. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) made the assertion in a hearing with the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center. Russian trolls, he said, were cynically pushing both sides of the argument over whether players should take a knee at the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. Players have been doing so as a silent protest against police treatment of minorities, though critics — including President Trump — argue that doing so disrespects the American flag and members of the U.S. military. More details here.
 
 
TRICARE Update
 
Beginning in January 2018, there will be changes to the TRICARE benefit.
  • Section 701 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act will be implemented and synchronized with the Department’s transition to the TRICARE 2017 contracts, beginning January 1, 2018.
  • Broadened access for beneficiaries by setting the requirement that at least 85 percent of U.S. beneficiaries have ready access to network providers in TRICARE Select and gives Select beneficiaries access to no-cost preventive services from network providers.
  • It expands TRICARE coverage of preventive care services, treatment of obesity, high-value care, and telehealth.
  • It establishes the annual open season enrollment period that beneficiaries will participate in each year to choose their health plan, and the rules for qualifying life events that will allow for changes outside that open season. It also establishes 2018 as a transition year, during which enrollment changes will be available throughout the year as beneficiaries adjust to this new process.
  • For Prime beneficiaries, it establishes new requirements for timely appointments and more access to care without the need for referrals, reinforcing standards for access to care. Prime beneficiaries will also have expanded access to urgent care without the need for a referral from their primary care manager.
  • For Select beneficiaries, DOD has converted the current cost-shares, where you pay a percentage of the total cost, to a fixed dollar amount.
  • It preserves benefits for active duty dependents and TRICARE-for-Life beneficiaries.
  • It restructures and continues authority to update TRICARE Prime retiree copayments, which have not changed since 1995.
  • TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra on January 1, 2018. TRICARE Select brings together the features of TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra in a single plan. Select enrollees may obtain care from any TRICARE authorized provider without a referral or authorization. Enrollees who obtain services from TRICARE network providers will pay lower cost sharing amounts for network care.
  • All current TRICARE beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled in their respective plan on January 1, 2018. TRICARE Prime enrollees will remain in TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Standard and Extra beneficiaries will be enrolled in TRICARE Select. Appendix B outlines what actions will unfold automatically, effective January 1, 2018. Future beneficiaries, or beneficiaries wishing to change their TRICARE plan must proactively change their enrollment during enrollment eligibility periods.
  • Beneficiary out-of-pocket costs will be updated.
  • Beneficiaries can choose to enroll in or change their TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select coverage during an annual open enrollment period in November-December, 2018 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2019. Failure to enroll in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select results in the termination of coverage for civilian care. These beneficiaries who choose to not enroll may only receive care at a military clinic or hospital on a space available basis.
  • 2018 will be a transition year with a grace period for enrollment. To allow beneficiaries to adjust to making their health care option choices during an annual open season enrollment period or to remember to elect their coverage when a QLE occurs, beneficiaries can elect to make their coverage changes anytime during 2018 to ensure they have the right coverage in place starting in 2019.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel moderated a panel discussion on veterans and national security featuring LTG Charles Cleveland, former USASOC commander, CNAS and CFR Fellow Kate Bateman, and Spirit of America COO Isaac Eagan. The panelists discussed the continuing role veterans can play in national security, particularly in the ways veterans can communicate with fellow citizens in order to better the public’s understanding of complex issues. Following audience questions and answers, the panel adjourned with a call for further public engagement.
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson testified before the Health Subcommittee of House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on H.R.93, to provide for increased access to Department of Veterans Affairs medical care for women veterans; H.R.501, the "VA Transparency Enhancement Act of 2017"; H.R.1063, the "Veteran Prescription Continuity Act"; H.R.1066, the "VA Management Alignment Act of 2017"; H.R.1943, the "Restoring Maximum Mobility to Our Nation's Veterans Act of 2017"; H.R.1972, the "VA Billing Accountability Act"; H.R.2147, the "Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2017"; H.R.2225, the "Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act"; H.R.2327, the "Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2017"; and legislation to make certain improvements in VA's Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program.
 
  • On Tuesday Dir. Rhonda Powell stood in support of the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain hearing on the nomination of Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford Jr. for reappointment to the grade of general and reappointment to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Dir. Rhonda Powell will take a Military Leave of Absence for one year starting October 2, 2017 to go work for the Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dir. Joe Sharpe will direct VE&E and National Security and merge the two portfolios respectively.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network consortium’s annual forum of global experts on violent extremism. The forum featured preeminent international scholars and experts from across the network’s 20-plus partner organizations around the world. Panelists addressed questions including what do we know about how and when terrorists decide to enter and exit violence, and how do the politics of religion, migration, and identity factor into efforts to counter violent extremism?
 
  • Wednesday through Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) State of the American Conference at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The conference is aimed at addressing the critical issues facing today’s veterans. The State of the American Veteran Conference will focus on understanding the military transition issues of veterans and families, learning about their needs and challenges, and moving toward concrete policy recommendations to ease their transition and increase their well-being.
 
  • On Thursday Deputy Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss upcoming changes to TRICARE.  Beginning in January 2018, there will be changes to the TRICARE benefit that will help TRICARE beneficiaries by expanding choice, improving access to network providers, simplifying copayments and enhancing the program's efficiency.  As part of this transition, the Department will release an Interim Final Rule (IFR) titled, "Establishment of TRICARE Select and Other TRICARE Reforms."  This IFR will implement Section 701 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and the TRICARE 2017 managed care contracts. 
 
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the “U.S. Cyber Policy: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Solutions” conference, hosted by the GW Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. The conference took stock of high-priority cybersecurity policy issues facing the U.S. government and private sector stakeholders.  Issues that were assessed at the conference include the objectives of the Executive Order on Cybersecurity that was issued in May 2017; strategic questions related to cyber deterrence and defense doctrine, and the current state of nation-state and non-state cyber threats to U.S. national security and economic interests. The event featured two expert panels and keynote remarks by The Honorable Will Hurd, Member of Congress; The Honorable Thomas P. Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and George Barnes, Deputy Director, National Security Agency.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
DPAA Update and Field Operations Summary
  • Mr. Kelly McKeague was selected and sworn in as the Director of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on September 5.
  • The Deputy Director, Brigadier General Mark Spindler, will be retiring at the end of September. His replacement, Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz arrived September 18 and will officially assume duties as the Deputy Director on October 3.
  • The new Agency Chief of Staff, Mr. Scott Ebell, was selected and arrived September 18 as well.
  • DPAA, along with the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies will begin Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 on October 1, 2017 under a continuing resolution (CR). The CR will expire on December 8, 2017. The DPAA budget request of $131.268M has not received any Congressional marks (reductions) from authorization or appropriation committees, and have yet to address sequestration requirements which could have an impact on our budget.
  • The DPAA FY18 first quarter operations were planned in consideration of the CR.
  • Every year, on the third Friday in September, National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies are now held throughout the nation and at U.S. Embassies. This year’s Pentagon Ceremony at the River Terrace Parade Field, honored all returned POWs and renewed our national commitment to accounting for those still missing. The event was hosted by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan. For photos of the Pentagon Ceremony, please see here.
  • DPAA also hosted a National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, in Hawaii. BG Spindler, DPAA Deputy Director, was the host and Edward Cruickshank, Director, Office of Veterans' Services, State of Hawaii was the keynote speaker.
  • On September 9, 2017, the Agency hosted a Family Member Update in Detroit, Michigan for family members of missing personnel. Of the 228 attending, 166 (72%) were first-time attendees. The below is a breakdown of the family members and their missing loved ones by conflict:
    • 29 Vietnam War representing 13 missing personnel
    • 108 Korean War representing 58 missing personnel
    • 91 World War II representing 47 missing personnel
  • DPAA held the Korean/Cold War Annual Government Briefings from August 10-11 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View. The meeting included formal briefings to the audience, individual briefings for the families, a dinner hosted by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (South Korea) and entertainment at the Twilight Tattoo on the evening of the 9th. A total of 398 family members attended the meeting, of which 142 were first-time attendees.
    • Korean War: 192 losses / 375 family members
    • Cold War: 10 losses / 19 family members
    • Family members by service: Army 225, Marine Corps 56, Navy 28, Air Force 89
 
Overview: There were 126 personnel deployed in support of operations around the world in August.
 
Asia-Pacific Region: The Deputy Director recently completed a trip to Southeast Asia which helped set the conditions for the upcoming field activities and the September18-21 Vietnam Technical talks.
 
Operations in Last 30 Days:
  • Tarawa, (via HistoryFlight Group, DPAA partner)
  • Solomon Islands, 1x Investigation Team (IT)
  • Vietnam, 2xIT/4xRT, 2xVietnamese Recovery Teams (RT)/1x Vietnamese Underwater Recovery Team (URT)
  • Papua New Guinea, 1x Research Investigation Team (RIT)
     
Upcoming Operations:
  • Vietnam, 3xIT/4xRT, 1xVietnamese Underwater Recovery Team (URT)
  • Laos, 1xIT/3xRT
  • South Korea, 1xIT/Joint Forensic Review
  • Japan, 1xIT
 
Pending Disinterment Operations:
  • Punchbowl (Hawaii): 16 scheduled per month
 
Europe-Mediterranean Region: During the 4th Quarter, DPAA scheduled two organic field recoveries and four organic investigations in the Eur-Med Region. Partners in this region have proven to be invaluable and have positively affected operational successes for the Agency.
 
Operations in Last 30 Days:
  • Austria, 1xRT (via University of New Orleans, DPAA partner)
  • Austria, 1xRT (via University of Maryland, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xRT (via Archaeological & Historical Conservancy, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xIT (via Coastal Research Vessel Leonardo, DPAA partner)
  • Bulgaria, 1xRT
  • Slovenia, 1xRT
  • France, 1xRT (via University of Wisconsin, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xIT (via East Carolina University, DPAA partner)
  • Austria, 1xIT
  • Germany, 1xIT
 
Upcoming Operations:
  • Germany, 1xIT (underwater shore based)
  • France, 2xRT (via History Flight Group, DPAA partner)
  • France, 1xIT
 
U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC)
  • On September 13-14, Gen (Ret.) Foglesong traveled to Moscow to meet with both the U.S. Ambassador and Russian Side counterparts to ensure the work of the Commission continues following the loss of the JCSD detachment in Moscow. Intent of the visit was to also set conditions in preparation for the 21st USRJC Plenum currently scheduled for November 7-9 in Moscow.
  • Given the closure of the JCSD Moscow Detachment, EM is actively pursuing courses of action that will allow continuing research efforts in Russia.
 
 
 
Pending Disinterment Operations
  • 12 scheduled for American Battle Monuments Commission Cemetery at Ardennes (Two on each of the following days in September: 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13).
 
Scientific Analysis: In this, the final quarter of FY 2017, the lab staff is on track to accomplish Agency goals.
 
Statistics:
FY 2017 Identifications, as of August 31, 2017:
  • Total = 166 (149 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 17 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
  • WWII = 116 (105 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 11 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
  • Korean War = 34 (34 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel)
  • Cold War = 0
  • Vietnam War = 16 (10 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 6 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Air Forces Tech Sgt. John S. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Jan. 21, 1944, Bailey was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed shortly after take-off.  Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Pfc. Leroy W. Bryant, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Bryant was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, as U.S. Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) and United Nations Command (UNC) forces were deployed in defensive positions across the South Korean peninsula. On February 6, Bryant’s regiment was located in the town of Yonghyon-ni, and was tasked to determine location, position and strength of enemy forces. Enemy forces attacked, forcing them to withdraw to new positions. Because Bryant could not be accounted for by his unit after the attack, he was reported missing action as of Feb. 6, 1951, near Yanghyon-ni, South Korea. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pvt. John M. Tillman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Tillman was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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. Tillman died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Elwood R. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. 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 and failing to return to base. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Charles A. Drew, killed during the battle of Tarawa in World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Drew was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 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. Drew died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 22 September 2017
 
NOTE: The National Security Division will be hosting a panel discussion with Spirit of America on veteran contributions to national security on Monday, September 25th. Details and registration here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-legionspirit-of-america-lunch-panel-veterans-national-security-tickets-37948675510
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Policy Center, which hosted Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Ambassador Brownfield offered his personal reflections on how global drug policy has evolved over the years, where those efforts stand today, and the current U.S. approach to interdicting the fentanyl and heroin that increasingly fuel America’s opioid epidemic.
 
  • On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson held a phone conference with Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Director of External Relations at Perdue University, and Shelly MacDermid Wadswoth, Director of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI). The purpose of this phone conference was to discuss the current programs that MFRI offer to veterans. The programs that were discussed were the Heroes Tree program and the Focus Forward Fellowship. The Heroes Tree program partners with local libraries to honor the contributions of past and present service members while creating an awareness of military families affected by current military deployments. The Focus Forward Fellowship is a program designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among women student veterans. The next phone conference is schedule for the last week in September to discuss a possible collaboration and to arrange a meeting with Denise Rohan, The National Commander of the American Legion, Linda, and Shelly.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the 2017 Cyber Security Brainstorm, which focused on federal efforts to ensure and maintain cutting edge capabilities within cyberspace. Panelists discussed the uses of artificial intelligence, the effectiveness of current programs and responses, and the continuing need to enhance threat-sharing.
 
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a Women Veterans Leadership and Recognition event on Capitol Hill by the National Alliance of Women Veterans. This was a networking event highlighting deserving women leaders of the armed forces; advocates; entrepreneurs and other professionals. Congresswomen Eleanor Holmes Norton sponsored this event.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA) Veteran Service Organization roundtable at the Pentagon. Topics of discussion included Army priorities and way ahead, an operational overview, a Soldier for Life update, and an Army professional development update.
     
  • This week Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel took calls with Asst. Professor Dr. Christopher Griggs of the Carolinas Health System and Dr. Edward Bernstein of Boston Medical Center. The discussions revolved around current efforts underway within their organizations to effectively treat opioid addiction. The National Security Division is endeavoring to build a program designed to educate Legion members and the general public on the science of addiction, evidence-based treatments, and what they can do in their communities.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Navy Seaman 2nd Class George J. Wilcox, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wilcox 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 Wilcox. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Water Tender 2nd Class Porter L. Rich, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Rich 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 Rich. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pvt. Shirley E. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. His loss took place in the Hürtgen Forest of Germany in 1944. Fighting in the forest, an area comprising of roughly 50-square miles along the Belgian-German border, lasted from September 1944 to February 1945. Bailey, who was a medic with Company G, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, participated in his unit’s efforts to seize northern parts of the Hürtgen Forest. Bailey provided medical support to dozens of casualties during the battle. On November 29, 1944, when Bailey’s battalion was moving out, a German counterattack struck his company. Bailey rushed forward to aid a wounded man and was himself killed by enemy fire. Interment services are pending.

     


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 15 September, 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial service, marking the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. President Trump delivered remarks before survivors, family members of those killed during the attack, and others.
     
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS) seminar on September 11, 2017 entitled,"Al-Qa’ida: Sixteen Years after 9/11 and Beyond". The expert panel addressed the threat of an expanding al-Qa’ida network and the prospects of the U.S. and its allies ultimately defeating al-Qa’ida as well as other terrorist actors.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the Inter-American Dialogue expert discussion on “ Democratic Governance Against Corruption” as part of the eighth Summit of the Americas. The Summit brings together the Heads of State and Government of the Americas, representatives of civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, youth, the private sector, labor unions and other social actors to discuss the largest political, economic, and social challenges in the Americas. Corruption remains one of the most pernicious societal issues dogging governance, and anti-corruption efforts, and lack thereof, will continue to be a major factor in regional security.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson participated in a webinar on What Women Need to Know about Financial Security and the Workplace hosted by the Department of Labor (DOL). The webinar featured DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (Kristen Zarenko),  The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (Mika Cross),  and the Women’s Bureau (Tiffany Boiman) . The webinar focused on an overview of women’s economic and employment challenges, family employment dynamics, and the implications for individual and family economic security, as well as tools and information for women of all ages with questions about employment and steps they can take to improve their financial security now and in the future.  The webinar also highlighted resources for veterans in finding employment and transition assistance with information on financial planning including budgeting, managing debt and saving for retirement.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with staff from the office Niki Tsongas to discuss the current state of the INTERDICT Act, and the American Legion’s support for ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis.
     
  • On Friday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Pentagon National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony hosted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This annual event honors our missing service members and their families, and highlights the government’s commitment to account for them.  America’s POW/MIAs will be honored and recognized, rather than memorialized, with the focus on continuing commitment to account, as fully as possible, for those still missing.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a panel discussion on “bad paper” discharges,  hosted by Vietnam Veterans of American and Veterans of Foreign Wars at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The panel discussed the long-term impact on veterans denied access to important veterans’ transition benefits, and what efforts can be made to ensure that all deserving veterans receive the access to the care and benefits that are necessary to ensure a successful transition. The panelist included representatives of military, veteran and family service organizations.
     
  • On Friday, Keronica Richardson met with Kate Watson, Executive Director of YourNextStage Inc. YourNextStage Inc. serves women transitioning and discharged from the US military by delivering an integrated network of partner organizations providing services, education, training, and socialization opportunities maximizing the healthy transition of women into gainful employment.  YourNextStage is a startup company that will possibly be based in Texas. Keronica and Kate discussed possible areas of collaboration.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Army Pfc. Billy R. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Ball was a member of Headquarters Detachment Philippines Department, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of the Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942. Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Ball was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and 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. According to prisoner records, Ball died on Sept. 28, 1942, and was buried along with fellow prisoners in the local Cabanatuan camp cemetery. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Donald E. Underwood, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Jan. 21, 1944, Underwood was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed shortly after take-off. Witnesses noted the plane was unable to gain altitude and crashed into the water, killing all 10 members on board. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold V. Thomas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Thomas was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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. Thomas died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Elmore B. Goodwin, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Goodwin was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Anju, North Korea. Goodwin was reported missing in action on Nov. 27, 1950. When no information regarding Goodwin was reported by returning American POWs, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. James J. Leonard, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In July 1950, Leonard was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In the early hours of July 20, Leonard’s regiment arrived east of Yongdong, South Korea, and began preparing to assume the defense of the city. By July 23, Korean People’s Army (KPA) units began attacking American defenses and took control of Yongdong by July 25. Leonard was reported as killed in action on July 25, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Sgt. William D. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Ball was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which participated in a 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. Ball was wounded on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1043, and was identified for evacuation to the USS J. Franklin Bell for treatment. Ball never made it to the ship and his status was adjusted from wounded in action to missing in action as of Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 2nd Class John D. Wheeler, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wheeler 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 Wheeler. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Thomas M. McGraw, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On February 28, 1945, McGraw was a member of the 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, along with ten other crewmen of a B-24J Liberator aircraft, which departed Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, for a combat mission. The mission targeted the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment into and out of Italy. Following the bombing run, participating aircraft headed in the direction of their rally point, where the planes would reform and return to their originating base. When leaving the Isarco-Albes area, an aircraft was seen heading in the direction of the rally point, but skimmed the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, McGraw was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert L. Mains, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In the spring of 1945, as the war in Europe drew to a close, Allied forces launched a series of aerial attacks to cripple what remained of the German air force. Mains, who was a member of the 714th Bombardment Squadron, 448th Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Division, was a pilot on an attack mission on April 4, 1945, as one of more than 400 bombers to attack airbases at Parchim, Perleberg and Wesendorf, Germany. Mains' aircraft, which held ten airmen, was attacked by enemy fighter planes in the vicinity of Hamburg. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Ogle, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Ogle 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 Ogle. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Capt. James R. Bauder, missing from the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On Sept. 21, 1966, Bauder was a member of Fighter Squadron Twenty One, USS Coral, as the pilot of an F-4B aircraft in a flight of two aircraft from the USS Coral Sea on a night reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. During the mission, the other aircraft lost contact with Bauder’s aircraft, and the plane did not return to the ship. No missiles were observed in the target area and no explosions were seen. An extensive search was conducted with negative results. Based on this information, Bauder was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Gerald H. Pirtle, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Pirtle 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 Pirtle. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy F. Davis, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On March 12, 1944, Davis was a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group, as one of two crewmembers aboard an A-20G Havoc bomber that failed to return to base in northeastern New Guinea after attacking enemy targets on the island. Interment services are pending.

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 1 September 2017
 
  • On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement  that the Defense Department has received President Donald J. Trump’s memorandum addressing the military service of transgender persons.
     
    DoD will carry out the president's policy direction in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, Mattis said. The memorandum, dated Aug. 25, 2017, and entitled "Military Service by Transgender Individuals," directs DoD to develop a study and implementation plan that will “contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law,” the defense secretary said.
     
    The Department of Defense also released the following statement: Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield.  To that end, I will establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction. The panel will thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable.  
     
  • Two days after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called up the entire 12,000-member Texas National Guard to assist civilian authorities with the epic flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey, several other state Guard units are in the hard-hit areas to offer manpower, equipment and support.
     
    As of today, the tally of Air National Guard representation from other states includes:
    -- Alaska: About 13 airmen with the 176th Rescue Wing;
    -- California: About 90 airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing;
    -- Connecticut: A C-130 Hercules transport plane with eight airmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing;
    -- Florida: Nearly 100 airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing;
    -- Kentucky: Nearly 20 airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron;
    -- New York: More than 100 airmen, a C-130, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters and two C-17 transport jets with the 106th Rescue Wing; and
    -- Oregon: About 15 members of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron whose missions include rescue as well as restoring airfields so supplies can be flown in.
     
    Additionally, six helicopters from units in Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina were heading to Texas, National Guard Bureau officials said. Other Guard missions in the stricken areas include bridging, water rescue, logistics movement, airfield openings and medical water purification.
    Meanwhile, neighboring Louisiana is now experiencing Tropical Storm Harvey. As directed by Gov. John Bel Edward, the Louisiana Guard has activated about 210 soldiers and airmen, with an additional 230 full-time Guard members supporting efforts.
  • On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson met with VE&E to discuss a collaboration with Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Director of External Relations of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. Purdue University is working on a ‘Battle Plan for Military and Veteran Families’ that explore ways to educate the community on how to relate to veterans and their families; which can prove to be of value add with this year’s National Commander theme of Families First. Purdue has also produced a Focus Forward Fellowship to assist with educating women student veterans and their military transition.  NS and VE&E discussed working with Purdue to establish a potential pilot program to educate the community on how to bridge the communication gaps with their local veterans and their family members starting with three states across the United States (North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington).
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sidney A. Cook, 32, of Ohio, will be buried Sept. 6, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In November 1943, Cook was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 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. Cook died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
  • Navy Reserve Ensign William M. Thompson, 21, of Summit, New Jersey, will be buried September 8 in Petersburg, Virginia. On Dec. 7, 1941, Thompson 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 Thompson.

     

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 11 August 2017
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with House staffers working on the Bipartisan Congressional Heroin Task Force to discuss the findings in the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The National Security Division continues to track government efforts to address the crisis and work with lawmakers to generate solutions. Of particular interest, the Commission recommended additional funds for fentanyl detection equipment for Customs & Border Patrol.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson met with Sharlene Hawkes, President of Remember My Service (RMS) Productions. RMS produced a book and documentary published for the DoD and funded by the government of Republic of Korean for the Korean War 60th commemoration in 2013, and presented the book to National Security staff as part of an overall outreach effort.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson conducted a review of the National Security Division activities and responsibilities for the 99th The American Legion National Convention. Logistics, report creation, and other details were discussed.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Alfred G. Bensinger, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Bensinger was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was fighting persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch'ongch'on River area in northwestern North Korea. The battle began on the evening of Nov. 25, 1950, when the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces initiated their Second Phase offensive along the entire 8th Army front. Bensinger's battalion was heavily engaged in the battle. When withdrawal orders were issued on November 29, the 2nd ECB provided security for the Division. The following day, the battalion was ordered to withdraw from the vicinity of Kunu-ri, when it was again engaged by enemy forces down the Main Supply Route. During this withdrawal, Bensinger was captured, and was reported missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Quentin J Gifford, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Gifford 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 Gifford. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Walter H. Backman, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Backman 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 Backman. Interment services are pending
  • Army Pfc. Walter C. Hackenberg, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late April 1951, Hackenberg was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, along a defensive line west of Chorw'on, South Korea, when his unit was attacked by the Chinese People's Volunteer Force (CPVF) and Korean People's Army (KPA.) American troops were able to hold the lines, and when the attacks subsided, a patrol went to determine possible enemy river-crossing points. Enemy forces engaged the patrol with mortars and small arms fire, forcing the patrol to withdraw. Hackenberg could not be accounted for at the end of the battle, and he was declared missing in action as of April 25, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. Roy J. Hopper, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In July 1950, Hopper was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment. He was reportedly killed in action on July 31, 1950, when his battalion, along with another battalion, was engaged in a fighting withdrawal against North Korean forces in Chinju, South Korea. The enemy had control of the area following the battle, preventing a search for his remains. After the battle Hopper’s remains were not identified. Interment services are pending.
 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 4 August 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel briefed the leading candidate for National Commander, Denise Rohan, and leading Vice-Commanders on the scope and function of the National Security Division, the division’s legislative focus, and current policy and engagement initiatives.
     
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Military to Civilian Transition  Summit in Arlington, Virginia. Keronica worked in a round table discussion to help the Department of Veterans Affairs work on a definition for military to civilian transition. Keronica also worked on identifying barriers and opportunities in military to civilian transition in the round table discussion. This summit gathered the thoughts of many leaders from different organizations and the summit will meet again in the near future.
  •  
  • On Monday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in a teleconference with representatives of Spirit of America, a non-profit organization that supports DoD stability operations around the world, discussing the content of an upcoming joint event. Spirit of America and the American Legion will present a panel discussion in late September dealing with the importance of civil-military relations.
  • On Monday, Dep. Director Freddy Gessner attended a panel discussion at the Brookings institute where the next steps for NATO in dealing with Russian aggression was debated.  Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and the director of U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy presented his proposal for a solution.  He be believes a new European security structure is needed.  The proposal had three parts.  First, currently neutral states in Europe not eligible for NATO membership.  These countries would be used to create a neutral zone.  Russian would have to agree to allow all these countries access to all other membership such as the E.U.  The proposal was debated by Steve Pifer who is the director of the arms control and non-proliferation initiative and a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies entitled “U.S. Coast Guard: Priorities for the Future” with the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Paul Zukunft. Admiral Zukunft described several potential challenges, such as increasing traffic through the Arctic Circle, counter-piracy, and counter-narcotics operations.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the International Institute for Strategic Studies entitled “Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons: What Now for the Ban Treaty?” On 7 July, 122 participating countries adopted a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While the treaty is an impressive diplomatic achievement, reflecting the views of a solid majority of UN member states, none of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons participated. This leaves a curious legal situation in which the only state parties to the treaty, at least initially, will be those already prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Panelists will explore the implications of a majority of nations believing that nuclear weapons are dangerous and unnecessary and should be quickly eliminated so as to change the status quo of international security.
  •  
  • On Friday and Saturday, Ex. Dir. Verna Jones and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson will participate in a Statewide Kentucky Women Veterans Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. Keronica will set up a booth displaying the resources that the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach program provides and assist Ms. Jones who is the keynote speaker when needed.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Army Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Lobdell was a member of Company A, 192nd Tank Battalion, in the Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until May 6. 1942, when American forces on Corregidor Island surrendered.  Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Lobdell was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and 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.   Lobdell was admitted to the Cabanatuan Prison Camp Hospital suffering from illness. He died Nov. 19, 1942, and was buried along with fellow prisoners in the local Cabanatuan camp cemetery. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Lobdell's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
  • Navy Reserve Lt. j.g. Irvin E. Rink, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for On August 4, 1943, Rink was a member of Fighting Squadron Twenty Seven (VF-27), when eight pilots flying F4F-4 Wildcat aircraft took off from the Russell Islands, Solomon Islands, to escort a Catalina seaplane on a mission to Enogai Inlet, New Georgia Island.  As the seaplane attempted to land at Enogai Inlet, the escort aircraft were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. Following the battle, the element returned to the Russell Islands, however Rink did not return.  He was reported missing in action on August 4, 1943. Based on a lack of information regarding his whereabouts, he was declared deceased on January 8, 1946. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Rink's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. DPAA is grateful to Mark Roche, an American diver, for his assistance in this recovery.
  • Army Cpl. Dow F. Worden, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late September 1951, Worden was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, which was in the vicinity of Hill 1024 in South Korea, conducting operations near an area known as Heartbreak Ridge.  In the early morning hours, the Chinese launched a probing attack against Worden's company, on the forward slope of Hill 1024.  The company repelled the attacks and was relieved by the Republic of Korea Army elements and ordered to move east and attack the enemy on nearby Hill 867.  American forces withdrew from the offensive after a large barrage of enemy mortar fire.  After the battle, Worden could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action on Sept. 28, 1951. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Worden's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.DPAA is grateful to the South Korean government for their assistance in this recovery.

 


 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 July 2017
 
  • DoD Quarterly Suicide Report
     
    Today the Department is releasing the attached Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) for the first quarter of Calendar Year 2017.
     
    For the first quarter of 2017, the military services reported the following:
  • 71 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
  • 20 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
  • 31 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
 
The Quarterly Suicide Reports do not contain the deep demographic analysis that is provided in the annual DoD Suicide Event Reports.  Rather, the QSR is intended to provide timely and accurate suicide data reporting to allow leaders at all levels to have near concurrent information that facilitates decision-making related to suicide prevention. One of the principal goals of this QSR is to improve the relevance and availability of data to bolster suicide prevention efforts. 
 
When published view this report and to review previous reports visit:
 
The Department of Defense has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to promote a confidential crisis line staffed by caring, qualified responders, many of who have served in uniform.  The number is 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for anyone facing a crisis. 
 
Also, DoD launched the new "Be There" program, which offers confidential peer coaching to Active Duty Service members, including National Guard and Reserve members and their families, through 24/7 chat, phone, and text. The DoD "BeThere" Peer Support Call and Outreach Center is staffed by peer coaches, who are Veteran Service members and family members of Veterans, and aims to provide support for everyday problem solving, such as career and general life challenges.
 
Service members' families who would like to learn more about the "BeThere" Call and Outreach Center or connection with a peer may visit www.betherepeersupport.org, call 844-357-PEER (7337), or text 480-360-6188.
 
  • On Monday, Executive Dir. Verna Jones, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel accompanied the National Commander on a site tour to Walter Reed National Medical Center. During the tour, we visited 3 Soldier Warriors from 7th Group Special Forces Group out of Eglin Air Force Base; all were in great spirits with family and friends by their sides.  We also visited the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) where they continue to develop innovative and effective treatments for TBI/PTSD, from art therapy, meditation and acupuncture therapy, to advanced physical and virtual rehabilitation.
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dir. Joe Sharpe, Dep. Dir. Mark Walker and Asst. Dir. Ariel DeJesus participated in a follow-up call with Christine Kallis Rivera, Walgreen’s Talent Acquisition, Management and Development COE to discuss Walgreen’s Veterans Apprenticeship Program for transitioning service members. Walgreen’s message was delivering the power of collaboration with veteran advocacy groups.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel assisted with the ongoing Congressional outreach initiative centered on the American Legion Commemorative Coin Act, conducting drop-in meetings in the House of Representatives to inform staff and encourage sponsorship.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the VA’s  DoD Survivor’s Forum. The Forum members discussed: benefits of Children of Fallen Patriots, Military Funeral Honors, education and veterans service centers, Navy Mutual’s support to survivors/beneficiaries and debt management procedures. The next meeting is scheduled for October 10, 2017th.
     
  • Wednesday through Saturday, Dir. Rhonda Powell will attend the American Legion Membership Convention in Indianapolis. She will speak to the Membership and Post Activities Committee and Group II District Commanders on Base Access, as well as, attend the Department Adjutants Session.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion between Sen. Bob Corker and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Sen. Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will discuss the committee’s efforts to expand sanctions against Russia and Iran, the status of the Iranian nuclear deal, President Trump’s proposed State Department budget and the U.S. response to other foreign policy flare-ups around the globe.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform hearing on the reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The ONDCP is responsible for overseeing the Administration’s drug control efforts and advising the Administration on national and international drug control policies and strategies. Currently, the ONDCP has not submitted a reauthorization proposal or a National Drug Control Strategy to Congress this year, which is of particular concern considering the current opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the Center for a New American Security on the “Economic Levers of U.S. Policy Toward North Korea.” The panel explored the current North Korean nuclear threat, the role of sanctions in confronting this danger, and the potential implications to the U.S. - China relationship, and the Chinese economy, of any tough sanctions imposed on Chinese entities cooperating with North Korea.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing on the continued oversight of the transfer of excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. Witnesses from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailed the use of equipment provided through the Law Enforcement Support Office, and the reported benefits law enforcement agencies have derived from the program. GAO witnesses described a recent report and recommendations on improving the program, many of which DLA has implemented.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan, 21, of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, will be buried August 2 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On Dec. 7, 1941, Ryan 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 Ryan. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Ryan. To identify Ryan’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched family members, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Ryan’s records.
  • Army Cpl. Glen E. Kritzwiser, 19, of Piketon, Ohio, will be buried August 3 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In early February 1951, Kritzwiser was a member of Battery C, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting of the South Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as SF21, provided artillery fire support for the South Koreans during its attack north on Hongch’on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive causing the South Koreans to withdraw, leaving Kritzwiser’s unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Kritzwiser was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not arrive to report in Wonju. Several returning American prisoners of war reported that Kritzwiser had been captured by the CPVF and died in July 1951 while being held at Camp #3, a prisoner of war camp near Changsong, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of July 2, 1951. In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. On Sept. 7, 1954, a set of remains reportedly recovered from a prisoner of war cemetery at Camp 1 and 3, Changsong, North Korea, were sent to the Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, for attempted identification. The set of remains was designated “X-14248” and was transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and interred as a Korean War Unknown. After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14248 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14248 was disinterred on Jan. 7, 2017 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Kritzwiser’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.

 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 21 July 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Deputy Dir. Mark Walker and Asst. Dir. Ariel DeJesus participated in a webinar with Christine Kallis Rivera, Walgreen’s Talent Acquisition, Management and Development COE to discuss Walgreen’s Veterans Apprenticeship Program for transitioning service members.  Walgreen’s message was delivering the power of collaboration with veteran advocacy groups. 
     
  • On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Senate Armed Services Sea power Subcommittee "Options and Considerations for Achieving a 355-ship Navy from Former Reagan Administration Officials." Witnesses described conditions that existed during the Reagan administration that enabled the building of a 355 ship navy, such as large and capitalized defense and shipbuilding industrial base and increased, stable long-term budgeting.
 
  • On Wednesday Dep. Director Freddy Gessner participated in a MSO/VSO working group session at the Defense Health Headquarters (DHA).  The meeting opened with remarks from DHA’s senior leadership and service representatives.  The group was provided an updates on the Military Health System GENESIS, pharmacy-auto refills and children’s hospice care.  The meeting later transitioned to National Defense Authorization Act topics to include military health systems reform, access to care for reservists and their families, hearing aids, acquisition strategy for healthcare, patient family partnership councils, and DHA’s NDAA communications plan update. The working group was combined with DHA’s NDAA-focused session.  The meeting will also include follow-up feedback from the meeting that took place in June where DHA provided draft communications products that DHA plans to use to inform beneficiaries about the upcoming TRICARE changes.  In August DHA plans to hold a roundtable with MSO/VSOs aimed at providing information about TRICARE changes that the American Legion can use for our publications.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel will attend a discussion on “Lessons from Brazil: Fighting Corruption Amid Political Turmoil” at the Atlantic Council, with a keynote conversation between Rodrigo Janot, the Prosecutor-General of Brazil, and Kenneth Blanco, Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General. Corruption is recurring challenge in developing countries, and understanding the dynamics that enable or guard against abuse of power is necessary in designing effective foreign policy.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on “Implementing the U.S.-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act.” The Caribbean is an important player in U.S. regional security, and states like Haiti that are experiencing sustained levels of social and political disruption are vulnerable to exploitation by organized crime and other threatening elements.
 
On Thursday Dep. Director Freddy Gessner participated in a conference hosted by the Department of Defense where they provided an update on the Department’s ongoing efforts to transform operations at Defense commissaries. Among the topics of discussion were DoD’s initial reports of the variable pricing initiative that was started earlier this year, as well as early assessments of the private label branded products that have begun appearing on commissary shelves.
 
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Ass. Dir. Keronica Richardson interviewed via telephone Kasmira Kit,  a potential candidate to speak at The Conference For Women at The American Legion’s National Convention. Kasmira was selected as a potential candidate because she is a veteran and she enjoys empowering individuals to help initiate  positive changes within themselves.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion hosted by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) “Creating a Partnership to Fight Illicit Trade.” The primary purpose of this event was to draw attention to the global issues of illicit trade and border security, with a particular focus on tobacco, wildlife, drugs, and the trafficking of human persons. Illicit trade is a transnational issue that enables corruption and encourages organized crime and terrorist networks. In showcasing global illicit trafficking as a national security threat, we aim to spur leaders in government, civil society, and the private sector to work together in addressing both the root causes and the negative effects of this global issue.
 
  • On Friday, Ass. Dir. Keronica Richardson will dial in to a prep session conference call for the July 3st “Military to Civilian Transition” Summit in VA. This meeting will be held by the Deputy Secretary to discuss the state of Military to Civilian Transition with VSOs, Thought Leaders, and Government partners.
     
  • On Friday, Executive Dir. Verna Jones, Dir. Joe Sharpe and Dir. Rhonda Powell will attend an office call with MG Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy G-1, Pentagon to discuss the use of VSOs as part of the Soldier For Life (SFL) ongoing initiative.  SFL connects Army, governmental, and community efforts to build relationships that facilitate successful reintegration of our Soldiers, Retired Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families in order to keep them Army Strong and instill their values, ethos, and leadership within communities.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Cpl. Edward L. Borders, 20, of Harrisburg, Illinois, will be buried July 29 in his hometown. In early February 1951, Borders was a member of D Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons), 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting South Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. D Battery was part of a group known as Support Force 21 (SF21) and provided artillery fire support for the South Korean Army during its attack north on Hongch’on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive against the South Koreans, who were forced to withdraw, leaving Borders’ unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Borders was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not report with his unit in Wonju. A list provided by the CPVF and Korean People’s Army (KPA) on Dec. 26, 1951, reported Borders died while a prisoner of war. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Feb. 3, 1954. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, account for the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. Of the 208 boxes, 14 were reported to have been recovered from Ryongpho-ri, Suan County, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea. This village is believed to be in close proximity to the Suan Bean Camp, part of the Suan Prisoner of War Camp Complex, which was a temporary holding area for a large number of soldiers captured by the CPVF during the war. To identify Borders’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mtDNA, Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-SYR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
     
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Elmer T. Kerestes, 22, of Holding Township, Minnesota, will be buried July 29 in Holdingford, Minnesota. On Dec. 7, 1941, Kerestes 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 Kerestes. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kerestes. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Kerestes’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family members, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 14 July 2017
 
  • On Monday through Thursday, Director Rhonda Powell, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner, and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Department of Maryland Convention in Ocean City. The National Security Staff taught Legion College on the following: FY18 National Defense Authorization Act congressional mark-ups; current state of the defense budget; division initiatives on opioid trafficking and treatment; cybersecurity training and education, and instructions on how to take action and advocate for the American Legion Commemorative Coin Act.
     
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson shared notes from the Center for Women Veterans’ Monthly Partner Breakfast Meeting with Rosye B Cloud, the Senior Advisor for Veterans Employment at The Department of Veterans Affairs. The primary focus of this meeting was to provide the current average income and unemployment rates for women veterans. The data collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that women veterans over 65 are 80% more likely to be in poverty than males. Ms. Cloud discussed the barriers women encounter when trying to manage a job and a household, which decrease the effectiveness and mobility in some women. The data also showed a total of 347,564 veterans earned a total of 453,508 degrees or certificates within the first six years of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 23% of the 347,564 are female veterans.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended a CQ event at the Newsuem titled “Fighting the Opioid Crisis.” Senator Joe Manchin, Representative Tim Murphy and Ann Kuster, and other stakeholders were present to have an in-depth discussion on current legislative and medical efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson assisted with a “Storm-the-Hill” event around The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. In conjunction with other Legion staff, the team visited approximately 50 offices discussing the bill with Congressional staff.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
  • Army Sgt. William A. Larkins, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Larkins was a member of Battery A, 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. Following the war, one returning prisoner of war reported that Larkins had been captured and had died at an unknown prisoner of war camp in January 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Jan. 31, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Richard M. Horwitz, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On February 28, 1945, Horwitz was a member of the 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, along with ten other airmen assigned to a B-24J Liberator aircraft, which departed Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, for a combat mission. The mission targeted the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment out of Italy. Following the bombing run, participating aircraft headed in the direction of their rally point, where the planes would reform and return to their originating base. When leaving the Isarco-Albes area, an aircraft was seen heading in the direction of the rally point, but skimmed the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, Horwitz was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Anthony G. Guerriero, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Guerriero was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, 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. Guerriero died sometime on the second day of battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Raymond C. Snapp, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Snapp was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 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. Snapp died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 7 July 2017
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Media Relation Director Joe Plenzler were interviewed by Eric Dehm on CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets program. The national security and public health dimensions of the opioid epidemic were discussed to include trafficking and treatment. Also discussed was the impact on readiness that opioid abuse have on veterans and their families. Other hot-button items discussed included legislation on concurrent receipt, the American Legion coin bill, women veterans as a growing population and the variety of services provided by The American Legion’s DC office.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with staff from Representative Niki Tsongas’ office to discuss TALs interest in supporting the INTERDICT Act – International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology, and other ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson joined a Department of Defense (DoD) conference call on Suicide Prevention. The purpose of the call was to discuss the Annual Suicide Event Report for 2015; released in June 2017. The Annual Event Report is used to enhance DoD’s understanding of suicide behavior and perform future research and update the suicide prevention policy by providing an independent, systematic and comprehensive account of suicide-related behavior. Dr. Keita Franklin, Director of the DoD Suicide Prevention Office, explained the report and provided updates on efforts to reduce and prevent suicide in the military and veteran community.
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Cpl. Frank L. Sandoval, 20, of San Antonio, will be buried July 11in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In early February 1951, Sandoval was a member of Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit, as well as other American units, were in operations supporting South Korean Army attacks against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPFV) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as Support Force 21 (SF21,) provided artillery fire support while located at Changbong-ni. On Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive. The South Koreans withdrew, leaving SF21 in Changbong-ni. As the support group withdrew south toward Wonju, they endured continual attacks. Sandoval was reported missing in action on Feb. 13, 1951, when he did not arrive with the unit in Wonju. Several returning American prisoners of war reported that Sandoval had been captured by the CPVF and had died in July 1951 while being held at Camp 3, a prisoner of war camp near Changsong, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on July 7, 1951. In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. The unidentified remains were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.” One set of remains was designated “Unknown X-14211.” After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14211 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14211 was disinterred on Jan. 9, 2017 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Sandoval’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, all which matched Sandoval’s records; as well as circumstantial evidence.
  • Navy Seaman First Class Paul S. Raimond, 20, of Converse, Louisiana, will be buried July 11 in The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Raimond 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 Raimond. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Raimond. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Raimond’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a nephew and a sister, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Monroe Temple, 19, of Des Moines, Iowa, will be buried July 12 in The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Temple 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 Temple. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Temple. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Temple’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a brother, a sister, and a niece, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
  • Army Staff Sgt. Gerald L. Jacobsen, 27, of Little Canada, Minnesota, will be buried July 14 in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. On July 15, 1944, Jacobsen was a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, which participated in the siege of Saint-Lô, France. Jacobsen, who was acting as an artillery spotter, was manning a mortar command post near La Forge, approximately two kilometers northeast of Saint-Lô, when he and another service member went missing. The other service member’s body was later found near the command post but Jacobsen’s remains were not recovered and he was reported missing in action. The U.S. Army subsequently declared him deceased as of July 16, 1945. On July 22, 1944, the remains of an individual, believed to be a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, were recovered from the battlefields around Saint-Lô, and were interred at the La Cambe temporary cemetery in France. The remains were initially identified based on personal letters found with the body. However, further investigation showed that the individual whose letters had been found was not a casualty. Based on this information, the remains were re-examined, designated as “Unknown X-481” and reinterred. Following additional unsuccessful attempts at identification, Unknown X-481 was interred at U.S. Military Cemetery St. Laurent, now known as Normandy American Cemetery. In July 2016, Jacobsen’s family requested X-481 be disinterred based on the presence of a laundry mark found on clothing recovered with the remains. Researchers from DPAA worked closely with the historian of the 35th Infantry Division to marshal evidence to support a recommendation to disinter X-481. Scientific analysis of data on file also found sufficient evidence to support a recommendation to disinter. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the Normandy American Ceremony on Nov. 21, 2016 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Jacobsen’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) analysis, which matched a brother and a sister, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, and historical evidence.
  • Marine Sgt. James J. Hubert, 22, of Duluth, Minnesota, will be buried July 15 in his hometown. In November 1943, Hubert was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 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. Hubert was killed on Nov. 21, 1943. Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio, but Hubert’s remains were not recovered. On Feb. 28, 1949, a military review board declared Hubert’s remains non-recoverable. In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. To identify Hubert’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial and Y-Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis, which matched a sister, a nephew and a cousin; as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Hubert’s records.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 30 June 2017
 
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson assisted with a “storm-the-Hill” event around The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. In conjunction with other Legion staff, the team visited approximately 70 offices over two days discussing the bill with Congressional staff.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the annual Center for a New American Security (CNAS) conference entitled: “Navigating the Divide.” Featured speakers include Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Senator Chris Murphy, and former senator Kelly Ayotte. Topics covered include civilian-military relations, U.S. Iran strategy, and military force structure.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on challenges battling the opioid epidemic with Rep. Anne Kuster and senior officials from the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and DEA Global Enforcement Operations.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion on private-public partnerships in cybersecurity and a business cybersecurity policy roundtable luncheon at New America. This is part of an overall division effort to engage with key stakeholders on cybersecurity policy and explore policy solutions the American Legion could support to enhance national cyber defense.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson was nominated by the Executive Director, Verna Jones at The American Legion Headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The Advisory Committee on Women Veterans will provide advice to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs on the administration of the VA’s benefits and services for women veterans. The committee will also study reports pertaining to women veterans and provide a congressionally mandated report to the Secretary each even-numbered year which includes: an assessment of the needs of women veterans, with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs administered by VA.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, has been identified and is being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
     
    Army Technician 4th Grade John Kovach, Jr., 21, of Gypsum, Ohio, will be buried July 10 in Port Clinton, Ohio. On Dec. 8, 1941, Kovach was assigned to Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until May 6, 1942, when Corregidor fell and American forces surrendered.
     
    Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Kovach was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and 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.
     
    Kovach was admitted to the Cabanatuan Camp station hospital for illness, where he died on Nov. 19, 1942. According to prison records, Kovach was buried along with 13 fellow prisoners in a local camp cemetery in Cabanatuan, Grave 717.
     
    Following the war, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. military cemetery near Manila. In late 1947, the AGRS again exhumed the remains at the Manila cemetery in an attempt to identify them. Due to the circumstances of the POW deaths and burials, the extensive commingling, and the limited identification technologies of the time, all of the remains could not be individually identified. The unidentified remains were reburied as unknowns in the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) cemetery at Fort McKinley in Manila, Philippines (known as Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.)
     
    In 2014, the Secretary of the Army granted permission to exhume ten graves associated with the Cabanatuan Common Grave 717. On August 28, 2014, the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
     
    To identify Kovach’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched two sisters, as well as circumstantial evidence, dental comparisons, and anthropological analysis, which matched his records.
     
    DPAA is appreciative of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s partnership in this mission.
     
    Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,051 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Kovach’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an ABMC site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

     

 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 23 June 17
  • On Tuesday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in an executive roundtable discussion with senior defense officials at the Defense Health Agency. Discussions included implementation of the operational criteria for medical centers mandated by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Currently a modernization study is underway and will be updated in the Fall of 2017. The full implementation plan is due December 2018.
  •  
  • Also discussed were the upcoming changes to TRICARE. The first change will be reducing TRICARE coverage regions from three to two. TRICARE North and South will merge to become East. TRICARE West will remain unchanged. The regional contractor is Humana Military. Everyone using TRICARE Standard will receive a letter this year informing them that TRICARE Select will be replacing Standard. Patients will have access to their current military hospital or clinic and pharmacy services. They will automatically be transferred to TRICARE for life upon turning age 65.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended Day 2 of the Atlantic Council’s “Tipping Points: Finding Energy-Climate Balance” conference where panels explored solutions and opportunities, including how to mobilize communities, investors, and policymakers. The opening keynote was delivered by former U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz.
     
  • On Friday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Bill Signing of the Veterans Accountability Act held at The White House.  In summary, the Veterans Accountability Act outlines that The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may remove, demote, or suspend an individual who is an employee of the Department if the Secretary determines the performance or misconduct of the individual warrants such removal, demotion, or suspension.
  •  
  • On Friday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Legislative Affairs Asst. Dir. John Gennace met with Senator Markey’s (D-MA) office to discuss current legislation addressing aspects of the opioid epidemic, particularly the importation and trafficking of fentanyl which is the focus of the current bi-partisan, bicameral INTERDICT Act, and ways for the American Legion to better educate and engage its membership on the issue.
  •  
  • On Friday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson met with Susan Sipprelle, the filmmaker of the documentary Solider On: Life After Deployment. The documentary follows three women as they confront the challenges of readjusting to civilian life after their post-9/11 military service. Rhonda and Keronica will discuss with Ms. Sipprelle exploring the potential opportunity of hosting a screening at The American Legion, pending how the film’s content, viability and equity aligns with the mission of the American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Outreach Program.
     
  • On Thursday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner and National Security Commission Chairman, Mike Schlee participated in the National League of POW/MIA Families 48th Annual Meeting in Crystal City, Virginia. The League’s sole purpose is to obtain the release of all prisoners of war and have the fullest possible accounting information for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died while serving our nation during the Vietnam War. Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Fern Winbush provided an update on current accounting efforts. Currently, there were a total of 82,537 unaccounted members from past conflicts as of the 2016-2017 calendar year. The breakdown of those 82,537 are: WWII-73,052; Korean War-7,745; Vietnam War-1,608; Cold War-126; Iraq and Other Conflicts-6.
     
  • On Saturday, Dir. Rhonda Powell will attend The American Legion Auxiliary Department of DC’s Convention with Lauren Lloyd-Vice President and Sharon Riegsecker – Secretary/Treasurer of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 1, Washington, DC.  The Convention will highlight the success of 3 units in Washington, DC, elect department-level officers for the 2017-2018 administrative year and meet other Auxiliary members in the area.
POW/MIA Update
 
Air Force Col. Roosevelt Hestle, Jr., has now been accounted for.  On July 6, 1966, Hestle was a pilot assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Squadron, aboard the lead aircraft in a flight of four F-105s on a strike mission against surface-to-air missile sites in northern Vietnam. As they approached the target, Hestle issued a missile launch warning, and all aircraft began evasive action by diving toward the ground. As the aircraft approached the town of Thai Ngyuen, anti-aircraft began firing at them. Due to the evasive action, the other aircraft lost site of Hestle. Crews aboard one aircraft observed a large ball rising from the ground, though no crash was observed. Contact attempts were unsuccessful and no parachutes or distress signals were seen or heard. Due to hostile conditions in the area, search and rescue attempts could not be initiated and an aerial search of the area produced no results. Based on this information, Hestle was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending.
 
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. George W. Betchley, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On March 22, 1945, Betchley was a member of the 429th Bombardment Squadron, 2nd Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force, serving as a navigator on a B-17G Flying Fortress, carrying a crew of ten on a bombing mission targeting the Ruhland oil refinery near Schwarzheide, Germany.  The aircraft crashed in southwest Poland after two of its engines and the left wing were reportedly damaged by German anti-aircraft fire, and German fighters.  The pilot and several crewmembers parachuted out, but only the pilot and co-pilot survived.  The other eight crewmembers were not recovered following the crash.  Betchley was declared missing in action as of March 22, 1945, but his status was later amended to killed in action. Interment services are pending.
 
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. George B. Murray how now been accounted for. In November 1943, Murray was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines Regiment, 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. Murray was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. The support from the Republic of Kiribati was vital to the success of this recovery. Interment services are pending.
 
Army Pfc. Albert E. Atkins, missing from the Korean War, has now been identified. On May 23, 1951, Atkins was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, when his unit was attacking enemy forces near Mae-Bong, South Korea. The regiment's mission was to secure Hill 911, and as the company prepared to assault the hill, Atkins and two other soldiers from his company were reported missing in action. Interment services are pending.
 
Army Staff Sgt. Gerald L. Jacobsen, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On July 15, 1944, Jacobsen was a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, which participated in the siege of Saint-Lô, France. Jacobsen, who was acting as an artillery spotter, was manning a mortar compound post near La Forge, approximately two kilometers northeast of Saint-Lô, when he and another service member went missing. The other service member’s body was later found near the command post but Jacobsen’s remains were not recovered and he was reported missing in action. The U.S. Army subsequently declared him deceased as of July 16, 1945. In 2016, based on a family request, Unknown X-481, possibly correlated to Jacobsen, were disinterred for analysis. DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
Marine Corps Pfc. Ray James has now been accounted for. In November 1943, James was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 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. James was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
 
Marine Corps Pvt. Archie W. Newell has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Newell was assigned to Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, 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. Newell was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending June 16th 2017
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in the 2017 United States Global Leadership Coalition summit. Guest speakers for the event include Senators, Congressmen, former chiefs of Staff, CEOs of large government contractors, and many more. The purpose of the summit is to discuss ideas for tackling tomorrow’s foreign policy challenges. The conference will also address America’s global economic engagement.  There is a panel dedicated to strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense where senior military leaders and diplomats who served on the frontlines discuss how strategic investments in diplomacy and development are critical to our national security.
     
  • On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell joined the Acting Secretary of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Sergeant Major of the Army, the Director of the Army National Guard and the Chief of Army Reserve for a twilight tattoo to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the United States Army. The event took place at Conmey Hall on Fort Myer, Virginia.
 
  • The Department of Defense officially launched the Blended Retirement System (BRS) comparison calculator, providing BRS opt-in eligible service members their first opportunity for an individualized comparison of retirement systems. The comprehensive tool, in combination with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course, will assist the nearly 1.7 million opt-in eligible service members and their families make an informed decision on whether or not to elect the new retirement system. The BRS goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
 
Service members can adjust 12 inputs to reflect their personal situation and planning assumptions to see how changes to their career and savings will impact retirement benefits over the long-term. With a simple click, service members can change any of the inputs and re-run the calculations as many times as needed. The comparison calculator provides personalized estimates based on a service member’s individual information, career progression, pay and bonuses and retirement options. The all-in-one calculator was designed for the Total Force and can be used by active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members, as well as, their family members.
 
  • On Thursday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior Defense Health Agency officials to discuss changes to TRICARE included in the 2017 NDAA. The
    Authorization Act enacted several TRICARE reforms that applied only to those who enter service after January 1, 2018. This creates a two-tier system and may require DoD to administer two separate benefit packages for almost 50 years until all the grandfathered beneficiaries reach Medicare eligibility. Presidential Budget of FY18 proposes to eliminate the grandfathering of beneficiaries who entered active service before January 1, 2018. All beneficiaries will be treated the same way from the perspective of out-of-pocket costs as beneficiaries who become eligible on January 1, 2018 and afterward.
     
  • Increase Pharmacy Co-pays: Modestly increases TRICARE prescription drug co-payments, phased-in over a 10-year period, and prescriptions will continue to be filled at no cost to beneficiaries at MTFs.
  • Health Care Cost Related Index: Increases in premiums, co-pays, deductibles and catastrophic caps would increase annually based on the increases in health care costs as measured by the growth in National Health Expenditures (NHE) per capita, rather than retiree Cost-of-Living-Allowances (COLA).
  • Protect the Vulnerable: Medically retired members and their families and survivors of those who died on active duty would be treated the same as Active Duty Family Members and have no participation fee and lower cost shares. This would ensure they are not unfairly affected by provisions in the FY17 NDAA.
  • Discount Other Healthcare Insurance (OHI) Enrollment: Would reduce TRICARE enrollment fees by 50% for retired beneficiaries who are covered by other health insurance.
     
     
    Important Attributes
No Change for Service Members: Active duty service members continue to have no out-of-pocket costs for their health care regardless of where they obtain their care.
Active Duty Family Members (ADFMs): ADFMs will continue to have a no cost care from cost-shares to co-pays will slightly decrease annual healthcare costs for most ADFMs.
 
  • On Friday, Dir Rhonda Powell joined the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey to observe an evening parade in honor of the Montford Point Marines. The event will be held at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
DPAA Field Operations Summary (May 2017)
 
  • Summary: Keeping the families of our missing and veterans informed is a primary objective of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency's (DPAA) mission. Towards that end, this Field Operations Summary is intended to provide an overview of past and future efforts to account for our missing.
  • Overview: As of April 30, 2017, there were 76 personnel deployed in support of operations around the world.
    • The Director position closed on April 6. Please note that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy or the Secretary of Defense will announce when a selection is made.
    • Congress passed and the President signed a FY2017 Appropriations Bill funding DPAA to $112.681 million. We are currently assessing the operational posture for the reminder of the FY.
    • Although the civilian workforce hiring freeze was lifted, there are restrictions on hiring actions which DPAA is working under; however, we are proactively moving forward to fill all agency vacancies.
    • Recovery missions in Southeast Asia will continue to be the Agency’s main operational focus for the remainder of FY17. The recovery missions to the European region are scheduled for 3rd and 4th Quarter.
    • Our disinterment plan is on schedule and includes long-term projects from U.S. cemeteries in the Philippines, Hawaii and Europe.
  • FY 18-19 Operations Plan (OPLAN) planning and development is projected to be complete in June 2017. The OPLAN takes into account the potential for another CR through the 1st Quarter of FY18. Based on this plan, DPAA’s main effort remains field recovery operations on Vietnam War losses. However, the primary effort to achieve our goal of identifying the remains of 200 unaccounted-for personnel annually in FY18 and FY19 will be accomplished primarily through disinterment of service members buried as Unknowns.
  • Asia-Pacific Region: Missions are being conducted at a reduced level due to the impact of the CR. To sustain momentum for Vietnam War accounting, we will maintain the planned number of Investigation Teams (IT) and Recovery Teams (RT) to Laos. The reduced size of the JFA in Vietnam in the 3rd Quarter will be partially offset by the Vietnamese unilateral operations. The planned JFA in Vietnam in the 4th Quarter will not be reduced.
  • Europe-Mediterranean Region: The majority of these missions are scheduled for 3rd and 4th Quarter. Due to continuing resolution impacts, several missions were cancelled or reduced from 45 to 30 days. In addition to ongoing operations, we are planning partner missions with History Flight, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the University of Maryland, and the University of New Orleans in the 4th Quarter will be important to overall success in FY17.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending June 9th 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dep. Director Freddy Gessner participated in a meeting with senior defense officials from the Defense Health Agency and the Pentagon to discuss the FY18 Budget Request as it pertains to health care for servicemembers.  The purpose of the meeting was to provide MSO/VSO organizations with an opportunity to discuss more deeply the various budget proposals that affect the Military Health System and DoD healthcare benefits.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a Veteran Employment Services Office Virtual Employment Information Town Hall. The virtual presentation explained the Pathways Programs; The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program; and the Federal Hiring Process. The information presented covered the basic eligibility requirements and employment potential after each program is complete.
     
  • On Wednesday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in the Army Partner Conference at the Pentagon.  During the meeting the MSO/VSO partners heard from DoD senior leadership from the office of Public Affairs and the 79th Infantry Brigade.  The group was provided a family readiness update briefing.  Army end-strength was discussed and its future as it pertains to the FY 2018 NDAA.  The meeting culminated with a briefing on the future of the Army’s strategy and planning.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the 6th annual EU Common Security and Defense Policy Symposium which brought together top political and military leaders from the European Union and United States for a full day of transatlantic dialogue on topics of: counterterrorism, threat perceptions, European security investments, countering aggression and hybrid warfare, and maritime insecurity.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in a StopThinkConnect conference call to discuss the President’s new Executive Order. Lisa Barr, Director of Cyber Policy and Planning at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), joined the call to present on the objectives of the order and what it means for federal networks as well as critical infrastructure. Ben Spear, Senior Intel Analyst at MS-ISAC, also gave a detailed overview of WannaCry; the ransomware attack that infected over 300,000 computers worldwide in May. Mr. Spear discussed how this attack became so wide-spread and what individuals can do to combat future ransomware attacks.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson partnered with The American Red Cross National Headquarters.  During the meeting, Keronica discussed the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach Program and found ways to collaborate with The American Red Cross in the future. They discussed The American Red Cross’ Reconnection Workshops, Military Veteran Caregiver Network and discussed arranging a meeting soon with the program managers at The American Red Cross.
     
     
    POW/MIA Update
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Larry R. Roberts, 18, of Damascus, Arkansas, will be buried June 14, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In November 1943, Roberts was assigned to Special Weapons Group, 2nd Defense Battalion, 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. Roberts was killed on Nov. 25, 1943. Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio, but Roberts’ remains were not recovered. On Oct. 11, 1949, a military review board declared Roberts’ remains non-recoverable. In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. To identify Roberts’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, which matched a nephew, dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. DPAA is appreciative to History Flight, Inc. and their partnership for this recovery mission.
     
  • Army Cpl. Edward L. Borders has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Borders was a member of Dog Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons), 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting South Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. Dog Battery was part of a group known as Support Force 21 (SF21) and provided artillery fire support for the South Korean Army during its attack north on Hongch’on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive against the South Koreans, who were forced to withdraw, leaving Borders’ unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Borders was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not report with his unit in Wonju. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, account for the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. Of the 208 boxes, 14 were reported to have been recovered from Ryongpho-ri, Suan County, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea. DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 2 June 2017
 
  1. On Wednesday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a Military Health System MSO/VSO meeting at the Defense Health Agency in Arlington, Virginia and met with senior defense officials to discuss the FY 2018 NDAA.  The meeting was to provide the MSO/VSOs an opportunity to voice which issues we felt were important in the budget proposal and hear what DHA viewed as priorities.  DHA also provided an update on the TRICARE provider merger.
     
  2. On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a conference on “Twenty-First Century Partnerships” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The conference featured discussions on security dynamics with James Carafano, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation, Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Stanford University. That panel was followed by discussion on diplomacy, energy, and economics with Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Eric Edelman, Counselor, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and Wendy Sherman, Senior Counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group. The conference ended with a keynote address from Admiral Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Panelists all pushed back against the Trump administration’s distancing of itself from traditional partners like NATO and proposed cuts to diplomatic and development efforts, stressing the need for a whole of government approach to pressing issues and the need to leverage the capabilities of trusted partners.
     
  3. On Thursday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a MSO/VSO partner meeting with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  During the meeting the group was briefed by senior DPAA official from the office in Washington, D.C. and the headquarters office in Hawaii.  DPAA provided a quarterly past conflict identification update as well as an overview of current recovery operations and continued progress of DPAA.  Mrs. Deborah Winbush remains the Acting Director of DPAA and a permanent hire for the position has not yet been announced.
 
  1. On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended “The Navy's Maintenance Challenge: Resetting the Fleet” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The event was co-hosted by the United States Naval Institute (USNI) and featured a discussion with Vice Admiral Thomas J. Moore, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command on the U.S. Navy's maintenance challenges. VADM Moore highlighted many of the maintenance and training problems that have arisen from constant, extended deployments of the fleet for the last 16 years.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Army Pfc. Robert E. Mitchell, 19, of Searcy, Arkansas, will be buried June 3 in Beebe, Arkansas. On Sept. 6, 1950, Mitchell was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was attacking enemy forces of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) that had penetrated the Naktong Bulge portion of the Pusan Perimeter near Am-sin, South Korea. Following the series of attacks, Mitchell could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action. During the war, Mitchell was not listed on any Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces or KPA’s prisoner of war lists. In February and March 1953, an American Graves Registration Service team searched the last-known location for Mitchell, with negative results. Based on the lack of information, the AGRS declared Mitchell non-recoverable. Additionally, following the war, during “Operation Little/Big Switch,” when the prisoners of war were returned, no repatriated Americans were able to provide any information on Mitchell. Based on the lack of information, the U.S. Army declared Mitchell deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953. On July 10, 1952, the 565th Graves Registration Company recovered remains from a shallow grave near Hwasan-dong, South Korea, approximately 3.5 miles from where Mitchell was last seen. A local resident reported that he had buried the remains in a foxhole around Sept. 30, 1950. These remains, designated X-5698, were not able to be identified and were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service planned to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Mitchell’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable. In late 2014, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-5698 Tanggok, based on research and a tentative name association. Unknown X-5698 was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and accessioned to the DPAA laboratory on May 16, 2016. To identify Mitchell’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a sister and a nephew, as well as laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
     
  • Army Sgt. Edward Saunders, 27, of Baltimore, will be buried June 7 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In February 1951, Saunders was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit was attached to the Republic of Korea Army’s 16th Regiment to provide support during a planned offensive, when they were attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force (CPVF) on the night of February 11 and 12. Both units retreated east, joining U.S. units at Saemal, South Korea. The regiment continued to fight the CPVF along the withdrawal route to Hoensong. By the end of the battle, only six soldiers remained. It was during this battle that Saunders became missing in action. Following the war, one returning American prisoner of war reported that he and Saunders had been captured on Feb. 12, 1951, and that Saunders died sometime in August 1951 in Koksan, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Aug. 31, 1951. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, account for the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Saunders was believed to have died. To identify Saunders’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y- chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched a brother; as well as laboratory analysis, including dental, chest x-ray and anthropological analysis, which matched his records; and circumstantial evidence.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 26 May 2017
 
  1. On Monday, National Security Assistant Director Eric Goepel met with Laura Bate, a Program Associate at New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative. The primary topic of discussion was the current and projected shortfalls in the nation’s cybersecurity workforce, and the work the National Security division is doing to identify programs and funding sources to create a more robust training and education pipeline.
     
  2. On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a day-long conference on the civil-military divide at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which concluded with a keynote talk by Admiral Michael Mullen. The main contention was that a small all-volunteer force has been in perpetual war to which the rest of American civil society has largely shown indifference or shallow praise. Panelists and moderators covered what impact this condition is having on policymaking, politics, and the public.
     
  3. On Tuesday, Deputy Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss the release of the President’s FY 18 Defense Budget request.  The base budget request is $574.5 billion.  The overseas contingency operation budget is $64.6 billion for a total of $639.1 billion.  The base budget request is $52 billion above the Defense Department’s share of the FY18 defense budget cap in current law.  The increase to the base budget is to allow DoD to recover from the effects of sequestration.
     
    Some of the big ticket items for procurement and R&D are 70 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 4 F-18s, B-21 and Columbia Class Submarine R&D, 8 battle force ships and the Marine Corp AGES Missile Defense System.  There is a request for a 56,000 troop end strength increase.  The troops are also looking at 2.1% pay increase and a 1.9% pay increase for the DoD civilian workforce.  Basic Housing Allowance will increase by 3.2% and Basic Allowance for Subsistence will increase by 3.4%. 
 
  1. On Wednesday, the National Security division hosted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Department of State and Local Response (DSLR) Medical Countermeasures Team (MCT) and the Washington DC Department of Public Health at the American Legion DC headquarters. The CDC representatives briefed the division on the current effort to engage veteran service organizations to recruit volunteers for an emergency response database. Engagement between the CDC local/state departments of health and VSOs around the opioid epidemic were also discussed.
 
  1. On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Women & Minority Veterans Assistant Director Keronica Richardson attended the Conference for Women Seminar. Keronica focused on the Professional Growth and Development track and Rhonda focused on Developing your Inner Power. The conference covered a vast area of the needs women are facing today. Rhonda and Keronica plans to get other women veterans trained on these skills to help encourage, motivate and influence them as they learn to transition from the military.
     
  2. During the next two weeks Dir. Rhonda Powell will be traveling with the National Commander to Germany, France and Brussels to meet with senior defense officials and installation commanders.  The visits will include Wiesbaden Air Base, Landstuhl Military Hospital, Ramstein Air Base, and NATO.  The National Commander will also be participating in six Town Hall events hosted by The American Legion at locations in Germany and Brussels.  The trip will culminate with events at Normandy in remembrance of D-Day that will include the laying of wreaths by the National Commander.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
  • Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frederick P. Crosby, 31, of Lockport, New York, will be buried May 28 in San Diego, California. On June 1, 1965, Crosby was the pilot of an RF-8A aircraft on a bomb damage assessment mission over Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam. His aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire while flying at high speed and low altitude over the target area, and crashed. Due to the location of the crash site in hostile territory, the Navy was unable to conduct search operations. The Navy declared Crosby deceased as of June 1, 1965. After three joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) investigations and witness interviews dating back to 1993, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team excavated a site between October and December 2015, and recovered possible osseous remains and material evidence from an F-8-type aircraft. In the identification of Crosby, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched a sister, as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence. The support from the government of Vietnam was vital to the success of this recovery.
     
  • Army Pfc. Everett E. Johnson, 21, of Cincinnati, will be buried May 29 in Madisonville, Ohio. On Sept. 3, 1950, Johnson was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division located near Taegu, South Korea. Johnson’s company was cut off by enemy penetrations and withdrew to join the rest of the battalion. During the course of the enemy attack, Johnson was killed by enemy fire. In May 1951, an unidentified set of remains, previously recovered from a mass grave near Pultang, South Korea, was buried in the Tanggok United Nations Military Cemetery and labeled “Unknown X-1072.” No identification of X-1072 could be made, and the remains were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii as an Unknown. In Dec. 2014, the Department of Defense approved the disinterment of “Unknown X-1072.” The remains were disinterred May 16, 2016 were sent to the laboratory for analysis. To identify Johnson’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as dental and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records.
     
  • Army Pfc. Thomas C. Stagg, 21, of Jefferson, Alabama, will be buried May 29 in Birmingham, Alabama. On Nov. 29, 1950, Stagg was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, on a reconnaissance patrol. The patrol encountered an enemy ambush near Hajoyang-ni, North Korea. During the battle, Stagg was killed in action and his body could not be recovered. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the United States, which we determined to contain the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicate that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Stagg was believed to have died. To identify Stagg’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a niece and nephew, as well as anthropological analysis and dental analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 19 May 17
 
  1. On Tuesday, Women & Minority Veterans Assistant Director Keronica Richardson met with Jane Horton, Congressional and Military Liaison at the Afghanistan Embassy, to help build relations between the Afghanistan Ambassador and American Women Veterans. Keronica and Jane discussed the possibility of hosting an event at the embassy with approximately 15 women veterans (from all wars) to meet the ambassador and eat Afghan food. Keronica and Jane also discussed the possibilities of having the Afghan Ambassador speak at TAL events to further build relationships.
     
  2. On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell attended the annual Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myers, hosted by acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer. Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long, live-action military pageant featuring Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing's Own.”
     
  3. On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson attended the House Veterans Affairs Committee markup of several bills, including H.R.91 the “Building Supportive Networks for Women Veterans Act” and H.R.467, “VA Scheduling Accountability Act.”
 
  1. On Wednesday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended a discussion on the “Drivers of Insecurity and Instability in the Middle East and South Asia” at the Wilson Center. At this event, Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with the intelligence firm Geopolitical Futures and senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy, identified three main drivers of insecurity and instability in those two parts of the world: autocratic meltdown, geosectarianism, and jihadism. These drivers play out, according to Dr. Bokhari, in a fragile political environment in which autocracy is no longer viable while democracy is either failing to emerge or struggling to take root. The result is the formation of large, ungoverned spaces that give rise to violent extremists.
 
  1. On Wednesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee hearing on “Military Personnel Posture: FY2018.” Lt. Gen. James McConville, deputy chief of staff (G-1), USA, Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of naval personnel, USN, Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, USMC, and Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, USAF, testified. The personnel chiefs all laid out their respective services’ current, readiness, retention, and recruitment challenges and current circumstances. The chiefs detailed personnel strategies to keep the force trained and equipped to deal with present conflicts while also preparing for future contingences.
 
  1. On Wednesday Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs.” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, Gen. John Raymond, commander of the Air Force Space Command, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, and Cristina Chaplain, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office, testified. The Air Force’s focus is on dealing with space as a militarized domain, and developing the policies, strategies, and technology to maintain qualitative dominance. Acquisition, joint warfighting capability, and resilience were all top priorities for planners.
     
  2. On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion with Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, on the strategic importance of a strong Euro-Atlantic partnership. The event coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the May 25 NATO Leaders Meeting, where the United States and Europe will consider the mounting challenges facing the alliance, including security in the region, an erosion of public confidence in institutions, and instability on Europe’s periphery.
 
  1. I attended a panel discussion about women transitioning from military service and a screening of Soldier On: Life After Deployment with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) on May 17th. The film highlights some of the unique challenges and circumstances that women veterans face, such as high rates of experiences military sexual trauma, unemployment, and homelessness after their service.
 
  1. On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and representatives from the legislative affairs division met with Senator Lindsey Graham’s Armed Services cybersecurity subcommittee staff to discuss pressing issues within the realm of cybersecurity, and explore ways for the federal government to grow and support a robust and distributed workforce of cyber professionals.
     
    POW/MIA Update
  • Army Staff Sgt. Michael Aiello, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. In September 1944, Aiello was a member of Company G, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), which was attached to the 325th GIR for Operation Market Garden. American and German forces battled in a dense forest in the Netherlands, known as Kiekberg Woods. The battle, which lasted four days, was comprised of ferocious attacks and counterattacks by both sides and resulted in many American losses, including Aiello.  On May 31, 2016, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Aiello were disinterred from the Ardennes American Cemetery and sent to the DPAA Laboratory for identification. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending. Aiello's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
     
  • Army Cpl. Glen E. Kritzwiser, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Kritzwiser was a member of Battery C, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) attacks against units of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as SF21, provided artillery fire support for the ROKA during its attack north on Hongch'on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counterattack against the ROKA. The ROKA withdrew, leaving Kritzwiser's unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Kritzwiser was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not arrive to report in Wonju. On January 7, 2017, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Kritzwiser were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Army Cpl. Frank L. Sandoval, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Sandoval was a member of Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit, as well as other American units, were in operations supporting Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) attacks against the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPFV) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as Support Force 21 (SF21,) provided artillery fire support while located at Changbong-ni. On Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive. The ROKA withdrew, leaving SF21 in Changbong-ni. As the support group withdrew south toward Wonju, they endured continual attacks. Sandoval was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951, when he did not arrive with the unit in Wonju. On January 9, 2017, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Sandoval were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Army Cpl. John Lane, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late July 1950, Lane was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, when the Korean People's Army attacked the city of Chinju, South Korea. The regiment set up defensive positions before withdrawing east to regroup. Upon arrival south of Masan the battalion began accounting for its soldiers and when Lane could not be accounted for, he was reported missing in action as of July 31, 1950. Remains were disinterred by the Chinju Sanitation Department in 1987 and sent to the Central Identification Laboratory for identification. Recent technology in DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Army Cpl. Richard Seadore, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In December 1950, Seadore was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when all units of the United Nations Command were moving south after units of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) staged mass attacks during their Second Phase Offensive.  On Dec. 14, the Regiment sent out a reconnaissance patrol.  While Seadore's company did not participate in the patrol, they remained in defensive positions north of Uijong-bu, South Korea.  The CPVF attacked and penetrated the company's defensive line.  As the unit prepared to move the following day, Seadore could not be located and was he was reported absent without leave (AWOL.)  His status was later amended to missing in action. Remains were handed over to the agency on May 28, 1992 and sent to the Central Identification Laboratory (now DPAA) for analysis. Recent technology advancements in DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Henry Andregg, Jr., has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Andregg was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 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. Andregg died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov.20, 1943. The remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in October 2016. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Sam J. Kourkos, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Kourkos was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 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. Kourkos  died sometime on the second day of battle, Nov.21, 1943. The remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in October 2016. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 5 May 2017
 
NOTE: The National Security Division is working on improving communication with the National Security Commission, with plans to release a national security primer and commission member survey in the coming weeks. Please send any comments, suggestions, or questions to Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, egoepel@legion.org.
 
HR 224, the Consolidate Appropriations Act of 2017
 
The House of Representatives has passed pass HR 244, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. The bill allocates $593 billion for defense — $19.9 billion more than the FY 2016 level and $16.3 billion more than the Obama administration's request. It includes $516.1 billion in base discretionary funding — $2 billion above FY 2016 levels — and $76.6  billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) associated with the war in Afghanistan and other counterterrorism operations such as the fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). The OCO total includes $14.8 billion in new supplemental funding requested by the Trump administration in March.
  • The bill denies cuts to troop levels proposed by the Obama administration and includes an additional $1.6 billion to pay for 3,000 more active-duty and reserve Army soldiers and 1,000 more active-duty Marines. And it would give military personnel a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise, a half-percent higher than requested by President Barack Obama.
  • The bill would fund 74 F-35 fighters, 11 more than Obama requested, for a total price tag of $8.2 billion. The F-35 is assembled in the district of Kay Granger, R-Texas, chairwoman of the House Defense Appropriations panel, though multiple appropriators from both parties support the stealthy jets.
  • The measure also would provide $1.1 billion for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters — a dozen more than requested.
  • The bill also includes $21.2 billion to buy 13 Navy ships, including three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, three Littoral Combat Ships, one LPD-17 amphibious transport dock ship and a down payment for a polar icebreaker for the Coast Guard.
  • In HR 244 there is $53.1 billion for foreign programs, including $36.6 billion subject to discretionary caps and $16.5 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for programs related to the war in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and other expenses, such as humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The combined total is $594 million below last year's enacted level when special emergency funding for famine relief is not included and slightly less than the President Obama's request. The measure includes $8.7 billion for global health programs, $3.2 billion for military assistance to Israel, $1.4 billion in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion for Jordan and $410 million for Ukraine.
  • HR 244 appropriates $42.4 billion in discretionary funding subject to spending caps, $1.5 billion more than the FY 2016 level, and $7.3 billion in disaster relief funding. The agreement increases funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection by 8%, Immigration and Customs Enforcement by 10%, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by 7%. It reduces funding for the Coast Guard by 4%. The measure does not include funding for a new wall along the border with Mexico as proposed by President Trump.
 
  1. Monday, Dep. Dir Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior Department of Defense officials to discuss the FY 2016 annual report on sexual assault in the military. This year’s report shows fewer Service members are experiencing the crime and a greater proportion of Service members are reporting sexual assault than ever before. The new data suggests about one in three Service members chose to report their sexual assault last year, up from about one in 14 estimated ten years ago.
     
    This year’s report contains results from a force-wide survey of active duty members. Survey results estimate that 4.3 percent of military women and 0.6 percent of military men indicated experiencing a sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed. The rates reflect a decrease from the 4.9 percent of military women and the 0.9 percent of military men estimated to have experienced a sexual assault in 2014. The 2016 rates suggest that about 14,900 military members experienced a sexual assault last year, down from 20,200 in 2014.
     
    The Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for FY 2016 is available online at www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports. Additional information about the Department’s sexual assault prevention efforts can be found at www.sapr.mil.
     
    Members of the DoD community who have been affected by sexual assault can access 24/7, confidential, anonymous support through the DoD Safe Helpline at www.safehelpline.org or by calling 877-995-5247.
     
  2. On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with National Security Commission Chairman Mike Schlee to discuss planning for the Spring NEC and sequence of events for the National Security Commission meeting during the National Convention.  We discussed cyber security training for the Departments and military installations in response to requests for increased awareness. 
     
  3. On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson participated in a teleconference with the National Advisory Committee meeting focused on the health of women who have Served. The meeting focused on researching health topics and indicators of greatest importance to women who have served for the release of the new America’s Health Ranking report in 2017 on the Health of Women Who Have Served produced by United Health Foundation and in collaboration with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Texas Health Institute (THI) and Arundel Metrics.
     
  4. On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a conference at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) public conference, co-hosted with the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law, that will feature an overview on the strategic terrorism threat landscape and on the Trump administration’s counterterrorism strategies.
     
  5. On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in a “Future of Policing” conference call, hosted by the Charles Koch Institute, with Randy Petersen, senior researcher at Right on Crime and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Rebecca Neusteter, Director of Policing, and Hayne Yoon, Director of Government Affairs at the Vera Institute, and Darpana Sheth, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, presenting.s
 
  1. On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Monthly Collaborative Breakfast Meeting at the VA with the Director for the Center for Women, Kayla Williams. Rhonda and Keronica informed the group on the upcoming town hall meeting and The American Legion National Conference in Reno.
     
  2. On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a crisis Town Hall Meeting at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center with the Exec. Dir. Verna Jones. The meeting discussed the concerns and issues in response to the mismanagement of medical equipment and unsanitary conditions that led to the removal of the center’s medical director.
     
  3. On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, to discuss domestic and homeland security issues surrounding drug trafficking and possible solutions.
POW/MIA Update
 
Navy Fireman 1st Class William H. Kennedy, 24, of Titonka, Iowa, will be buried May 12 in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Kennedy 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 Kennedy. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kennedy.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
To identify Kennedy’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a niece and a great grand nephew, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
 
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,061 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 April 2017
 
On Monday, National Security Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Brookings Institution on current security and political dynamics in Afghanistan, where both Afghan and U.S. perspectives on Afghanistan’s recent developments and U.S. interests were provided. The panel included His Excellency Hamdullah Mohib, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States, His Excellency Anwar ul-Haq, former minister of finance and of transportation and commerce of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and currently an opposition politician, and Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown. Michael O’Hanlon, moderated the discussion. Ambassador Mohib laid out the political, social, and civil progress Afghanistan has made since the fall of the Taliban, while Minister ul-Haq, currently in the political opposition against President Ghani, described a set of serious challenges that the government has failed to grapple with, namely ensuring the physical security of civilians and endemic corruption. Dr. Felbab-Brown struck a balanced view, quipping: “Describe Afghanistan in one word: good. Describe Afghanistan in two words: not good.”
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “The Crisis in Libya: Next Steps and U.S. Policy Options.” Dr. Frederic Wehrey, Senior Fellow at Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Honorable Deborah K. Jones, U.S. Ambassador To Libya (2013-2015), testified. Dr. Wehrey’s testimony laid out the ongoing rivalries between factions competing for control and legitimacy and the lack of governance, the shifting alliances of militias, the quickly deteriorating economic picture, and the ISIL presence. In response, Dr. Wehrey recommended ‘smart counterterrorism’ to prevent the spread of terrorist activity and supporting the formation of a stable, inclusive government. Ambassador Jones highlighted the long history of division and foreign rule that Libya has experienced, and how Qaddafi’s overthrow brought all those tensions to the forefront, exacerbated by the complete lack of any governmental institutions or a history of the rule of law.
 
On Tuesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell participated in a VSO/MSO panel discussion as part of the Army Chief of Staff's Retired Soldier Council.  The council consisted of 18 retired officers, warrant officers and Noncommissioned officers and is Co-Chaired by Lieutenant General (Ret) James Lovelace and Sergeant Major of the Army (Ret) Ray Chandler.  The mission of the council is to (1)provide the Chief of Staff, Army with advice and recommendations regarding vital issues and concerns of Retired Soldiers, surviving spouses, and their Families; (2) provide the Chief of Staff, Army with an assessment of how current Army programs and initiatives and proposals for new laws and policies may affect the retired community and (3) strengthen communications between the Active Army, the Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve, and the retired community.  Provided to the panel was TAL’s position on no increase to TRICARE premiums, co-pays or enrollment fees; support of appeals modernization, and ensure veterans receive both, retirement compensation and disability compensation, regarding any newly submitted concurrent receipt legislation.
 
On Wednesday, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, held a hearing on “Democracy and Human Rights Abuses in Russia: No End in Sight.” Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice Chairman of Open Russia, Rachel Denber, Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, and Daniel Calingaert, Executive Vice President of Freedom House, testified. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended. Mr. Kara-Murza a longtime proponent for Russian democracy and civil society, had just recently recovered from a near-fatal poisoning, the second such attempt on his life by, assumedly, Russian agents. All three witnesses, who have spent decades working on and covering the post-Soviet democratic transition, described civil society—independent media, political groups, non-governmental organizations—as being under concerted, steady assault by Putin’s regime. They all called on Congress to support Russian civil society in its struggle, push back against authoritarian measures in OSCE countries, and not to normalize Putin’s human rights abuses.
 
On Thursday, Assistant Directors Eric Goepel and Keronica Richardson attended Concur new user training.
 
On Friday, the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution will host a panel discussion of the crime-conflict-regime transition dynamics and launch the findings of a United Nations University Centre for Policy Research project on this topic, with several of the study authors briefing their case studies and policy recommendations. John de Boer, Sasha Jesperson of St Mary’s University, and Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown will discuss case studies of Colombia, Nigeria, and Myanmar. Brookings’ Senior Fellow Ted Piccone moderated the session. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended.
 
POW/MIA UPDATE 
 
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. George S. Bussa has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Bussa was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 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.  Bussa died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains.  DPAA is appreciative to History Flight, Inc., for their assistance in this identification. interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 21 Apr 2017
 
On Monday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell welcomed the new Women and Minority Veteran Outreach Assistant Director – Keronica Richardson to the team.
 
On , Tuesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell met with TALs Legislative Affairs Division to provide input on the upcoming hearing supporting Senate Bill S. 681  Deborah Sampson Act.  Recommendation: The American Legion support legislative language updates to S. 681 The Deborah Sampson Act (Peer – To – Peer  Assistance) to include adding a separate briefing track to address specific needs of women veterans for all women attending the Transition Assistance Program.  It has been continually noted that women veterans are more likely to seek assistance by speaking with other women, or by speaking with other women veterans on gender sensitive assistance. In addition to requesting a separate briefing track to address specific needs of women veterans for all women attending the Transition Assistance Program, the American Legion requests DoD transfer contact information of all transitioning women veterans to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Labor (DoL).  It will provide an opportunity for the VA, DoL and Veterans Service Organizations to follow-up with women veterans after separation to offer additional support, programs and services.
On Friday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Assistant Director Eric Goepel met with Legislative Affairs Deputy Director Derek Fronabarger to discuss the National Security Division’s legislative priorities and strategies for increasing capitol hill engagements.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Seaman 1st Class Milton R. Surratt has now been accounted for. Surratt, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pvt. Walter F. Piper has now been accounted for. Piper, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was reported missing in action, Feb. 13, 1951 in North Korea. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Pvt. Harold S. Hirschi has now been accounted for. Hirschi, of Headquarters Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, died Nov. 19, 1942 in the Philippines. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. Leslie R. Sutton has now been accounted for. Sutton, of Battery C, 99th Field Artillery Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division was reported missing in action, Nov. 2, 1950, in North Korea. DPAA appreciates the Korean People's Army for their assistance and partnership in this recovery effort. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Richard A. Lucas has now been accounted for. Lucas, of Company C, 1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was reported Missing in Action, Nov. 26, 1950, in North Korea. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 10 April 2017
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on the risks of Russian-Iranian collaboration toward long-term U.S. interests in the greater Middle East as well as the continuing threat of Salafist jihadi groups like al-Qaeda pose to stabilizing weak and failing states.
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel participated in a call with Darby Beck, COO of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). LEAP focuses broadly on criminal justice reform, and in particular on areas that intersect with the veteran community such as the opioid epidemic, harm reduction, police-community relations, and civil asset forfeiture. Opportunities to educate the Legion membership and have associated law enforcement professionals speak on the importance of these issues to Legionnaires was discussed.
 
On Wednesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a Heritage Foundation panel discussion on “Rebuilding Air Force Readiness,” with Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein as the featured speaker. General Goldfein outlined issues with Air Force readiness, including pilot retention, flight hours, maintenance and training, and part shortages among others.
 
Wednesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner will participate in the first roundtable discussion with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the leaders of the military and veteran support community.  Secretary Mattis called the meeting so that he can share his vision for the Department, and hear directly from the veteran community about its goals in serving our military and veteran community.  In addition to Secretary Mattis, other confirmed leaders for this event include:  Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva; Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Tony Kurta; and Joint Staff Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition, Rear Admiral Hugh Wetherald.
 
Thursday afternoon Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attend a national security discussion with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, hosted at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS).
 
POW/MIA Update
Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Don O. Neher, has now been accounted for. Neher, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
 
Navy Reserve Ensign William M. Thompson, has now been accounted for. Thompson, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
 
The remains of Marine Corps Capt. John A. House, II; Lance Cpl. John D. Killen, III; and Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels, Jr., have now been accounted for. House was assigned to HHM-265 Marine Aircraft Group 16, and Killen and Runnels were assigned to Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, when their aircraft crashed in Vietnam, June 30, 1967. Two additional service members were previously identified from this crash, Marine Lance Cpl. Merlin R. Allen and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael B. Judd. Their remains were returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Interment services are pending.
 
The remains of U.S. Army Technician 4th Grade John Kovach, Jr. have now been accounted for. Kovach was assigned to Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, when he died Nov. 19, 1942 in the Philippines. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 7 April 2017
 
  1. “President Trump offered the full support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice,” the White House said. “Both President Trump and President Putin agreed that terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated.”  Fourteen people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing inside a subway train Monday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Russia’s Tass News Agency reported.
     
  2. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Armed Services will hold a hearing titled “Damage to the Military from a Continuing Resolution.  The invited witnesses are the four Joint Chiefs of Staff.  There is concern that the upcoming NDAA debates will lead to another continuing resolution.
 
  1. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security will host a hearing to Assess the Iran Nuclear Deal.  The purpose of the hearing is to assess whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is working and the effectiveness of its implementation.  It will also examine Iran’s continued aggression and malign activities throughout the Middle East. 
 
  1. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness will host a hearing to review the Current State of the U.S. Marine Corps.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps and Lieutenant General Michael G. Dana, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps
 
  1. On Saturday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the 2017 Army JROTC National Drill Competition in Louisville, KY to support the American Legion’s continued improvement of the JROTC Awards programs and to increase membership with over 200 drill instructors in attendance.
 
  1. Army Master Sgt. Joseph Durakovich, 30, of Gary, Indiana, will be buried April in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Durakovich was a member of Company G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, establishing a defensive position in Pongmyong-ni east of Kuni-ri, North Korea, when they were attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF). The Americans were continually attacked as they withdrew along the main supply route to Samso-ri, and they encountered a roadblock they could not break through. Following the battle, Durakovich could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950.
     
Durakovich’s name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the North Korean People’s Army, and no returning American POWs provided any information concerning Durakovich as a possible prisoner of war. Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953.
In August and September 2002, a Joint U.S. and Korean People’s Army recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation at a site in Ung Bong, Village, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses. The site was approximately 30 kilometers from where Durakovich was last seen. During the excavation, the team recovered material evidence and possible human remains.
 
To identify Durakovich’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial and Y-chromosome short tandem repeat DNA analysis, which matched a niece and grandson, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
 
Today, 7,755 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 31 March 2017
 
  1. The Trump administration wants Congress to add $30 billion to its fiscal 2017 Defense spending bill, but about $5.2 billion of the proposed addition is already in the bill, according to a Senate committee. The supplemental request for the Pentagon contained more than $3 billion in ship and aircraft programs that were already in the House-Senate agreement, HR 1301, that the House passed earlier this month and that awaits Senate action. Additionally, there is $1.6 billion to cover hiring of more U.S. military personnel than President Barack Obama had sought, plus another $285 million to cover a higher pay raise than he had wanted. Those two parcels of money were needed in the appropriations measure because the increases in people and pay are mandated by the fiscal 2017 defense authorization law which was enacted in December.
     
  2. On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attended the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “The Budget, Diplomacy, and Development,” focusing on the president’s recent budget proposal and its impact on U.S. foreign assistance. The committee heard from witnesses who all described the important diplomatic and development efforts the State Department engages in, and how budget cuts would drastically reduce their capabilities.
 
  1. On Wednesday, the  Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on “The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: Advancing Security and Prosperity on Both Sides of the Border,” with Assistant Director Eric Goepel attending. Ambassador Roger Noriega, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and former Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico both testified to the importance of U.S.-Mexican trade, and spoke against some of the anti-NAFTA and Mexican rhetoric of the Trump administration.
 
  1. The House Homeland Security Committee Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee and the House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “Threats to Space Assets and Implications for Homeland Security,” on Wednesday with Assistant Director Eric Goepel attending. General William Shelton, former Commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Honorable Joseph Nimmich, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency testified. The witnesses spoke about the critical role of space-based capabilities in emergency preparedness and response efforts and the threats to the space systems providing such capabilities.
 
 
  1. On Saturday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner and Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attend the 2017 Army JROTC National Drill Competition in Louisville, KY to support the American Legion’s continuing involvement in JROTC programs throughout the country.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Vernon N. Grow, 25, of Redding, California, will be buried April 7 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Grow 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 429 casualties, including Grow.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Grow.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
To identify Grow’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his cousins, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Grow’s records.
 
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 73,072 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.

 

 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 24 March 2017
 
1.     On Monday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion surrounding the publishing of “Building a F.A.S.T. Force” at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “The report presents a comprehensive package of 39 bipartisan proposals to improve the effectiveness of military personnel policy. Taken together, the recommendations contained in this report aim to prepare the military to confront the threats of the future while also keeping promises made to today’s service members and meeting the needs of military families. A Fully engaged, Adaptable, Sustainable, and Technically proficient (F.A.S.T.) military will ensure the future force is as strong as the one the United States has fielded for the last 70 years.”
 
2.     On Tuesday, Director Rhonda Powell attended the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Congressional Breakfast and Roundtable Discussion on their new women veterans campaign “She Who Borne the Battle.” The shared goal to fulfill the promise to today’s women veterans includes advocacy, awareness in national conversations, and assistance through programs and services that meet women veterans specific needs.
 
3.     Assistant Director Eric Goepel covered the Senate Armed Service Committee hearing, “U.S. Policy and Strategy in Europe,” on Tuesday.  The National Security Division will use the congressional summary report of this hearing to brief the National Commander on the state of Europe before his European trip in May.
 
4.     The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will hold a Defense Readiness/Budget Update on Wednesday, with Assistant Director Eric Goepel attending. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. Secretary Mattis and General Dunford discussed the current FY17 defense budget request and supplemental bill, the effects of sequestration on budgeting, procurement, and readiness, and the way forward in the current environment to address military needs in capability and capacity.
 
5.     On Wednesday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing on "The Current State of the U.S. Air Force." Representatives of every component of the Air Force were present. Witnesses spoke of the pilot shortages, recruiting and retention challenges, the need for an increase in parts and maintenance funding, and the pressure that a high operational tempo has put on the shirking force.
 
6.     Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on "U.S. Policy Toward the Baltic States” on Wednesday. The committee focused on Russian activities vis-à-vis the Baltic region and NATO, with witnessing laying out the trend in Russian inciting behavior and possible aims.
 
7.     On Thursday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel covered the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the United States European Command. EUCOM commanding General Scaparrotti emphasized the need for more resources in order to meet the threat posed by a resurgent Russia. This has been a basic message reiterated by other SASC witnesses in the past, and is in keeping with Chairman McCain’s long-standing concern with Russian aggression.
 
8.     Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Personnel Subcommittee of Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Defense Department civilian personnel reform. Witnesses described the challenges of a personnel management system that is outdated and cumbersome, which restricts the Defense Department’s ability to staff and retain human capital with specialized skills. Both witnesses and committee members expressed an interest in moving away from seniority to merit based promotions.
 
9.     On Saturday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell, in support of TALs Women and Minority Veterans Outreach, will honor Women In History by conducting a ‘Day Trip’ at the Orlando VA Medical Center in Lake Nona, FL.  During military transition it was noted that many women veterans do not step foot into VA medical centers to take advantage of the benefits that they have already earned.  The purpose of the ‘Day Trip’ is to take 50 women veterans on a visit to the VA hospital campus to learn about the facilities and services dedicated specifically to women veteran needs.
 
10.     Thursday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell and Deputy Director Freddy Gessner held a conference call with a member from the Department of France to continue coordinating the National Commander and party’s upcoming trip to Europe.  The National Commander will be visiting several military installations during the trip to include USAREUR, Landstuhl Military Hospital, USAFE, NATO, and SHAPE. 
 
In addition to the National Commander’s visits the National Security and Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division are working together to add six additional town hall events at military installations in Germany and Brussels during the trip.  Following the military installation visits and town halls the National Commander will travel to Normandy to participate in events honoring the history of D-Day.
 
11.     POW/MIA Update:
Army Air Forces Capt. Albert L. Schlegel, 25, of Cleveland, Ohio, was buried March 30 in Beaufort, South Carolina. On Aug. 28, 1944, Schlegel was the pilot and sole occupant of a P-51D Mustang aircraft, departing his base in England on a ground strafing mission to Strasbourg, France, when he radioed that he had been hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and would need to bail from his aircraft. There was no further communication from Schlegel. Historical records indicated that locals in Valmy, France reported that an unknown American aviator was captured in their village that same evening.
 
On Nov. 18, 1944, a set of remains was found near a train station in Valmy. The remains were transferred to the temporary American cemetery at Champigueul, and designated as X-73. On Dec. 6, 1948, the American Graves Registration Command declared the remains unidentifiable. He was interred in the Epinal American Cemetery in France under a headstone that read “Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.”
 
In January 2016, DPAA researchers determined that through advanced forensic technology, the remains might be identified, and X-73 was disinterred and the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.
 
To identify Schlegel’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
 
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their assistance, support and care of his burial site. Additionally, Schlegel’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an ABMC site along with nearly 79,000 other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name, to indicate he has been accounted for.
 
12.     Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the             war.     Currently there are 73,074 service members still unaccounted for.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of March 17, 2017
 
The Trump administration sent its fiscal 2018 budget blueprint to Congress on Thursday. The administration proposed a $54 billion increase in defense discretionary spending that is paid for by an equal cut to nondefense discretionary spending.

On Tuesday, the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Acting Secretary of the Navy, General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and Sergeant Major Ronald L. Green, USMC, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, all testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Navy and Marine Corps response to the Marines United photo sharing scandal.

The Department of Defense released an update related to the prevention of and response to sexual assault and harassment in the Armed Forces on Wednesday, with Deputy Director Freddy Gessner participating in the teleconference.

On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the HillVets 100 2017 Annual Tribute Gala with the Honorable Chuck Hagel, 24th Secretary of Defense. Also in attendance will be the event chair Ken Flake, CEO of Shoulder to Shoulder, Inc., the HillVets Board of Directors, and the Master of Ceremonies Soledad O’Brian, MSNBC and CNN correspondent.

On Thursday, National Security Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended an executive council of military and veteran service organizations hosted by the Defense Health Agency to review changes made to TRICARE.

On Thursday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel met with a representative of the United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) to discuss partnership opportunities with the National Security division.

DPAA Update:

Remains of Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Casto, killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, have now been identified. On Dec. 7, 1941, Casto 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 Casto. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Casto. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.

Army Pfc. Robert E. Mitchell, missing from the Korean War, has now been identified. On Sept. 6, 1950, Mitchell was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was attacking enemy forces of the Korean People's Army that had penetrated the Naktong Bulg portion of the Pusan Perimeter near Am-sin, South Korea.  Following the series of attacks, Mitchell could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action. In late 2014, Mitchell's family requested the disinterment of Unknown X-5698 Tanggok, based on a tentative name association. Unknown X-5698 was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and accessioned to the DPAA laboratory on May 16, 2016. Laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.

 
 
America’s military is losing its technology edge
 
From the military: Before leaving his post as Air Force chief of staff last year, Gen. Mark Welsh reported that China will soon field an air force “at least as big – if not bigger – than our air force” and that China is matching quantity with next-generation quality. China is developing and deploying “a number of new aircraft ... completely new variants,” Welsh noted. “We are not keeping up with that kind of technology development.”
 
From policymakers: “Our technological superiority is slipping,” warns Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who has served under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. “We see it every day.”
 
From our adversaries: Russia’s new electronic warfare capabilities can jam, scramble and blind U.S. assets. China’s cyber-siege of the United States is decimating industry, holding hostage the U.S. government and weakening U.S. defenses. Both Russia and China are catching up with the United States in stealth capabilities, networked warfare, power projection and precision missilery.
And from the frontlines, where U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are being forced to make the most of aging equipment: The Navy has been ordered to stretch the build time of new aircraft carriers from five to seven years. Short on ships, Marines are hitching a ride on allied vessels.
The Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson warns, “To say the Army isn’t ready for what lies ahead is an understatement: if it got in a fight with Russian troops in Ukraine, Poland or the Baltic states, the Army could quickly see all of its key targeting and communications systems shut down by enemy jammers.”
 
The Lexington Institute adds, “When the Cold War ended, the Defense Department terminated production of the B-2 and ceased development of new bombers for the first time since the 1920s.” Thanks to this bomber-building holiday, America’s bomber force comprises just 76 B-52s (the “newest” of which was built in 1961), 63 B-1s (brought into service in 1986) and 20 B-2s (the first rolled off assembly lines in 1988). Initial operational capability of the yet-to-be-built B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber will not come until 2025.
Winning or losing
 
Why is this happening? It’s not because the United States suddenly became less technologically capable than China and Russia. The reason the military-technology gap is closing is threefold.
First, since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. military has been focused on dismantling terrorist networks and clearing the spawning grounds of terrorism – and understandably so. But this has expended resources that otherwise would have been allocated toward new technologies and new weapons systems.
China and Russia have not been standing still. Instead, they “have gone to school on us,” in Work’s words, and invested their resources into fielding 21st-century militaries.
Second, while Washington has been cutting defense spending, China and Russia have been increasing defense spending.
 
Between 2011 and 2015, Beijing increased military spending 55.7 percent. Last year, Beijing increased military spending another 7 percent. Between 2010 and 2020, it’s expected that Beijing will double its military outlays. Moscow increased military spending 108 percent between 2004 and 2013; Moscow’s 2015 military outlays were 26 percent larger than in 2014.
All the while, U.S. defense spending has been falling. The U.S defense budget – in a time of war and growing international instability – has fallen 15 percent since 2010. The U.S. defense budget has shrunk from 4.6 percent of GDP in 2009, to around 3 percent of GDP today. Looked at another way, national security spending made up 20.1 percent of the federal budget in 2010, but in 2015 it was 15.9 percent, as Politifact details.
Not surprisingly, defense R&D spending has plummeted accordingly – down 22.6 percent since 2009. Defense R&D spending has fallen from nearly 0.9 percent of GDP in 1988 to barely 0.4 percent of GDP today.
 
There would be nothing wrong or worrisome about these numbers if peace were breaking out around the world. But with ISIS and al-Qaida waging war and sowing terror, with China building up its arsenal and claiming the territories of its neighbors, with Russia annexing Crimea and projecting military power into the Middle East, with Iran testing missiles and North Korea detonating nukes, we know the very opposite is true.
D
iminished defense spending has led to a third factor that’s blunting America’s military-technology edge: America’s defense industrial base is draining away.
Even before the bipartisan gamble known as sequestration began to take its toll, then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen warned in 2011, “I think the likelihood that if you make a decision which ends a certain part of our industrial base, it doesn’t come back ... People go away, skills go away.”
 
Take, as an example, the plight of the F-22 Raptor, the most sophisticated warplane in America’s arsenal. The F-22 is so advanced that Air Force planners say it takes eight of the newer F-35s to do what two F-22s can do. The Pentagon’s original goal was 749 Raptors, but scaled that back to 381 aircraft, before shutting down the F-22 program at just 187 aircraft in 2009.
Congress now wants the Air Force to explore restarting the F-22 assembly line and building 194 more Raptors. As Defense News reports, congressional officials cite “growing threats to U.S. air superiority as a result of adversaries closing the technology gap.” However, building just 75 more Raptors would cost $17 billion, owing largely to the fact that the personnel, tooling and facilities needed to resurrect the Raptor are gone.
 
For numerous reasons – cost, efficiency, the trend toward outsourcing – today’s defense industrial base “relies on supply chains that are increasingly complex and globalized,” retired Army Gen. John Adams explains. “Too often, these supply chains create vulnerabilities and are subject to manipulation by strategic competitors.” As an example, he notes that the United States relies on a Chinese company to manufacture a key chemical used in the propellant for Hellfire missiles.
In fact, Reuters reports that the Pentagon “repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392-billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013.”
 
With sequestration hacking away at the amount the nation is investing in defense, the five largest U.S. defense firms have cut 14 percent of their workforce since 2008, according to a Politico analysis. However, the U.S. defense industrial base was disappearing long before sequestration. “From 1990 to 2000, both the number of major surface combatant shipbuilders and the number of fixed-wing aircraft developers fell from eight to three; the number of tactical missile producers fell from 13 to three; and the number of tracked-combat vehicle developers fell from three to two,” a Heritage Foundation report explains.
 
Reviving the defense industrial base isn’t primarily about saving U.S. jobs or even protecting U.S. military assets from foreign mischief – important as those priorities are. Ultimately, it’s about winning or losing wars. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concludes, “The United States’ ability to mobilize key parts of its own defense industrial base, particularly those concerned with volume production of long-range precision-guided munitions, will likely be a critical factor in its success or failure in the conflict.”
 
Changing the game
 
Even so, all the news on the military-technology front is not bad.
America’s unmanned systems, missile defenses and cyberwar capabilities are on the cutting edge. For instance, Ralph Langner, an expert in industrial computer systems, has likened the Stuxnet computer worm, which the United States deployed to target Iran’s nuclear program, to “the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield.”
The Navy is fine-tuning an otherworldly electromagnetic rail gun that can hit targets 100 miles downrange at speeds exceeding 5,000 mph.
Air Force leaders predict laser weapons will be grafted onto AC-130s, MQ-1 drones, F-22s and F-35s by 2020, Military Times reports. “This is a reality,” Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, says. The technology is coming “very soon,” according to Carlisle, who predicts the addition of laser weapons will “change the game.”
The Air Force plans to turn old B-52s into unmanned “arsenal planes” that, when networked with new F-22s, F-35s and B-21s, will serve as “airborne magazines,” thus greatly expanding the striking power of smaller airframes.
 
The Pentagon is testing “micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets,” The Washington Post reports. Once dispersed, the micro-drones can attack independent targets, swarm a target or even lie in wait for a target.
U.S. industry is developing the Prompt Global Strike missile system capable of delivering a hypersonic kill vehicle “anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour,” the Congressional Research Service reports.
Perhaps Washington is ready to make the investments necessary to develop and deploy these and other next-generation military technologies, in order to defend America deep into the 21st century.
For example, there is bipartisan support in Congress to end sequestration. Noting that “it takes 22 years on average to field a major new weapons system,” the president pledges to build a military that can “deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength” and wants to make the United States “the world’s dominant technological powerhouse of the 21st century.”
 
Toward that end, Trump issued an executive order directing the Pentagon “to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces,” determine funding levels “necessary to improve readiness conditions and address risks to national security,” and identify any issues with “insufficient maintenance, delays in acquiring parts, access to training ranges, combatant command operational demands, funding needed for consumables ... manpower shortfalls, depot maintenance capacity, and time needed to plan, coordinate, and execute readiness and training activities.”
 
Timeless
 
It’s well known that President George Washington advocated military preparedness to deter America’s enemies and preserve America’s independence. “There is nothing so likely to produce peace,” he counseled, “as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.”
 
Less well known is something Washington said about maintaining a strong defense industry: “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined,” he declared. “Their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent on others for essential, particularly for military, supplies.”
 
It’s time, again, to heed Washington’s timeless counsel.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending March 6, 2017
  1. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve H.R.1301, the FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 371-48. The $577.9 billion spending measure is the first of what House GOP appropriators had hoped would be a series of spending bills to make their way through the chamber before April 28, when the continuing resolution (PL 114-254) currently funding most government agencies expires.
  2. President Donald Trump’s budget outline, with plans for a collective 37% cut to the budgets of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development in order to pay for $54 billion increase in the Department of Defense budget, was met with criticism from Congress and retired military officers.
  3. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that restricts U.S. entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries for three months and suspends refugees for four months while the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments tighten vetting procedures. The new order will go into effect at midnight March 16 and will apply to people from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who don’t already have a valid U.S. visa to enter the country.
  4. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on Quality of Life in the Military with the senior enlisted members from each service as witnesses.  One of the highlighted topics discussed was military licensing and credentialing.  In response to discussion Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner provided the office of the Secretary of Defense with the American Legion’s efforts on military credentialing, informing them of roundtable meetings the American Legions bringing together industry leaders and DoD leadership.  Mr. Gessner also provided the OSD with a white paper outlining ways to improve military credentialing and informed them of reports developed the American Legion produces from studies conducted on the issue. 
  5. The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation into an online Facebook group of over 30,000 active duty and veteran Marines where some members distributed thousands of sexually explicit photographs of female Marines. Members complied dossiers on individual women with information like names, ranks, social media handles and where they are stationed. Thomas Brennan, a Marine veteran and founder of the non-profit news site The War Horse, first reported the details.
  6. The Trump administration should not propose a $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard’s budget in its fiscal 2018 request, according to a letter penned by a bipartisan group of senators and sent to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday. “The proposed reduction of the Coast Guard’s budget by 11.8 percent would directly contradict the priorities articulated by the Trump Administration, in particular the President’s priorities regarding enhanced maritime security needs and desire to invest in our nation’s military,” the 23 senators wrote.
  7. On International Women’s Day, National Security Director Rhonda Powell attended the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation 9th Annual Summit at the Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Auditorium.  The Keynote Speaker was MG Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy G1, Department of the Army who discussed the now more than 300 positions successfully recruited and filled by Women in Combat to include infantry, armor, field artillery and special forces; duly noted, some of the most physically demanding career fields in the military.
  8. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) entitled “NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalizing Collective Defense.” The event will look at the geostrategic importance of the North Atlantic for NATO, and the urgent need for a renewed and credible deterrence posture in the North Atlantic to ensure freedom of navigation, trade and transport, and force reinforcement to Europe, as well as to counter new emerging challenges such as undersea hybrid warfare.
  9. Two resolutions were introduced pertaining to POW/MIA recovery. H.Res. 129, introduced by Representative Sam Johnson of Texas, and S.Res. 61, introduced by Senator John McCain of Arizona, both call “on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States.”
  10. DPAA Update: Remains of U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Daniel W. Thomas, missing from the Vietnam War, has now been identified. On July 6, 1971, Thomas was the pilot of an OV-10A aircraft with one other crewmember flying over central Laos in support of an eight man Special Forces reconnaissance team. When the aircraft arrived in the area, the weather was bad, however it was determined that this would not affect the aircraft's mission. Approximately thirty minutes after the last radio transmission from the OV-10A aircraft the ground team heard an impact or explosion to their northeast, but could not determine the distance to the explosion. Extensive search efforts failed to locate the crash site. After multiple negative attempts to investigate the crash site, in April 2014 a Vietnamese witness provided a photograph of an ID tag associated with one of the two crewmembers. In August 2014, possible human remains were approved for repatriation and accessioned. DPAA analysis of aircraft wreckage and life support items indicated both aircrew members were in the aircraft at the time of impact. Additionally, through research, analysis, and DNA testing, the DPAA Laboratory identified the second crewmember, Maj. Donald Carr, in August 2015. On April 12, 2016, the DPAA lab received dental remains, ID tag, and other material evidence from the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons, which was consolidated into accession. Laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending February, 17 2017
 
National Security Advisor Resigns
 
NSA Michael Flynn Resigns
Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor after admitting to having misled Vice President Mike Pence about the specifics of his discussion with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to President Trump’s inauguration.
Following Flynn’s resignation, the Washington Post reported that Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak had been monitored by the FBI, and that Flynn had publically misrepresented the nature of his communications.
Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward was offered the NSA position, but turned it down.
 
Secretary of Defense visits NATO
 
NATO Talks
In NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reiterated to NATO members that without increases in defense spending the United States will “moderate its commitment” to them. Mattis, in a later statement, called the alliance “a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the trans-Atlantic community.”
In response to a question from a reporter about possibly working with Russia in Syria, Secretary Mattis stated “We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground.”
 
53rd Security Conference
 
Munich Security Conference
The Munich Security Conference, an annual event focusing on international security policy and the largest of its kind, will be held from Februay 17th-19th, 2017. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be representing the United States. The thematic report for this year’s conference is entitled "Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?"
 
Senate Armed Services Committee
 
Thursday, the Asst. Director of National Security Eric Goepel attended a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss reshaping the U.S. military.  The meeting was prompted by the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz.  Guest speakers will include: David Ochmanek, senior defense research analyst at the RAND Corporation; James Thomas, principal at the Telemus Group; Thomas Donnelly, resident fellow and co-director of the American Enterprise Institute For Public Policy Research's Marilyn Ware Center For Security Studies; and Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
 
CATO Institute
 
Wednesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner attended a panel discussion on A New Frontier on Police Surveillance at the CATO Institute on the use of cell-site simulator or Stingrays.  Cell-Site simulators are a cell phone drag net device first designed for military use, but increasingly ends up in the hands of local police forces.  A recent bipartisan report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found there’s no consensus on the rules that should regulate their deployment, or even what legal authorities govern Stringray tracking.  Two bills were introduced on Wednesday addressing these devises.
 
WWI Centennial Commission
 
Wednesday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell and Deputy Director Freddy Gessner along with Director of the Veterans Employment and Education Division Joe Sharp met with staff from the WWI Centennial Commission to discuss the Guest Speaker at The American Legion’s 57th Annual Washington Convention, along with National Poppy Day legislative support.  Also discussed was TALs participation in the WWI Centennial Groundbreaking of the new monument in Washington DC on Saturday November 11, 2017.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
As of February 7, 2017, there were 60 DPAA personnel deployed in support of operations around the world.  DPAA has begun mission analysis and planning for the Agency’s FY18-19 Operations Plan (OPLAN). The main effort for field recoveries continues to be Vietnam War losses. The primary effort to achieve our goal of identifying the remains of 200 unaccounted-for personnel in FY18 and FY19 will come from the disinterment of service members buried as Unknowns.
 
During the 2nd Quarter, DPAA will deploy one IT and one RT to Vietnam, as well as a Field Forensic Review (FFR) and Joint Forensic Review team. Our Vietnamese counterparts will provide one Research and Investigation Team (RIT) and one Unilateral Investigation Team (UIT).
 
Within the last 30 days DPAA conducted missions in the following Asia Pacific region countries:
o Laos, 1xIT/3xRT
o Tarawa, (via History Flight Group, DPAA Partner)
o Philippines, (via DPAA Partner University of Illinois, Chicago)
o Cambodia, Pre Deployment Site Survey (PDSS) in prep for 1xRT 3rd Quarter
 
DPAA planned missions in the 2nd Quarter (January-March):
o Tarawa, FFR
o Philippines, Disinterment
o Laos, 2xIT/6xRT
o Vietnam, reduced from 3xIT/5xRT to 2xIT/2xRT 1xRT,1xURT
o Burma, reduced from 1xRT/1xIT to 1xRIT
o Palau, 1xIT/1xRT (via SEARCH H2O DPAA Partner)
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of February 10, 2017
 
Pentagon meeting to review Reduction in Force policy
 
Thursday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will participate in a meeting with senior Department of Defense leadership to review the new reduction in force policy and procedures that were announced last week. The new policy has raised concerns about how DoD employees who are eligible for veterans preference in the of a RIF would be treated under the new policy.  Under the new policy veterans preference has been downgraded from the second highest considered factor to the next to last considered.
 
HQDA VSO Roundtable
 
Friday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will meet with Army senior leaders and engage in discussions on several topics to include: General Milley - Chief of Staff of the Army - Personnel and Readiness update Mr. Bernard Ingold, Deputy Chief of Legislative Liaison - FY17 Legislative priorities of the Army MG Horlander, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Army Budget - Army budget authorizations and appropriations BG Winski - Director of Operations Readiness and Mobilizations - Full spectrum operations, mobilizations and unit training.
 
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
 
Monday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner attended a forum at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in a discussion on securing American interests.  The discussion included how geo-economic landscape is changing, and a new era of economic statecraft is upon us. The expert panel also addressed North Korea’s growing use of offensive cyber capabilities that target the international financial system, in addition to the threat from its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class George T. George, killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, have now been identified.
 
On Dec. 7, 1941, George 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 George.  No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including George.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains.
 
Interment services are pending.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of February 3, 2017
 
Department of Defense Blended Retirement Update
 
Monday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner participated in conference call with senior Department of Defense officials to discuss implementation of the new blended retirement for servicemembers.  We are now one year away from the implementation of the Blended Retirement System taking effect on January 1, 2018.  DoD plans to launch an Opt-In Training Course early next week for those Service members who will be faced with the decision to remain with the legacy military retirement system or to opt-in to the new system next year. 
 
Commissaries Cost Reduction Update

Monday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with the Department of Defense to receive an update on the ongoing efforts to optimize operations at Defense Commissaries.  The call was led by Mr. Joseph Jeu, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency.
 
The conversation focused on the market basket survey methodology that the Department has created to measure and protect the savings enjoyed by commissary shoppers.  They also provided an update on the development of private label products that soon will be available for purchase in commissaries.
 
Afghanistan Embassy Ambassador
 
Monday, Director of the National Security Division, Rhonda Powell visited the Embassy of Afghanistan to meet with Ambassador Dr. Hamdullah Mohib.  The government of Afghanistan would like to honor American veterans who served in Afghanistan and is looking for assistance in reaching the veteran community.  For example, during the inauguration week, a reception dinner was hosted at the Embassy by the Ambassador for 20 Veterans that served in Afghanistan.  The Ambassador’s assistant, Mrs. Jane Horton is a Gold-Star Wife that lost her husband to the War in Afghanistan in August of 2011.  Mrs. Jane Horton is championing this initiative with the full support of the Ambassador.  It was noted that the Ambassador is available to be a guest speaker in support of The American Legion conferences pending availability. 
 
Center for Women Veterans
 
Wednesday, National Security Deputy Director Freddy Gessner participated in monthly meeting with the Department of Veterans Affairs Women Veterans Center.  The meeting provides VSO partners an opportunity to discuss legislation that pertains to women veterans.  The meeting also includes planning for upcoming events such as the National Women Veterans Summit taking place April 21st – 22nd in Dallas, Texas.  The National Security Division will be hosting a women veterans focus group during Washington Conference that will include the Director of the VA’s Women Veterans Center as a guest speaker.
 
Army Reserve MSO/VSO Update
 
Thursday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Deputy Director Freddy Gessner will attend a quarterly joint Army Reserve Communications meeting hosted by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Offices.  This meeting will provide a venue for OCAR Senior Leaders to engage with essential MSO/VSO personnel highlighting the current state of the Army Reserve.  This will also be an opportunity to discuss with Army Reserve officials ways for The American Legion to participate in future Army Reserve and National Guard events. 
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Army Master Sgt. Ira V. Miss, Jr., 23, of Frederick, Maryland, will be buried February 8 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On February 5, 1951, Miss was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting South Korea against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. The CPVF launched a counterattack with overwhelming numbers, forcing South Korean units to withdraw, and leaving U.S. Army units behind enemy lines. Miss was reported missing in action on Feb. 13, 1951, after Chinese Communist Forces overran the roadblock he was manning.
 
The Army Graves Registration Service attempted to account for the losses suffered during the battle, but searches yielded no results for Miss.
 
Repatriated American prisoners of war reported that Miss died while in captivity at POW Camp 1, Changsong, North Korea in May or June 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared Miss deceased as of June 1, 1951.
 
In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. The remains they were unable to identify were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”
 
In 1999, due to advances in technology, the Department of Defense began to re-examine records and concluded that the possibility for identification of some of these unknowns now existed. The remains designated X-14124 were exhumed on May 18, 2015, so further analysis could be conducted.
 
To identify Miss’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used anthropological, dental and chest radiograph comparison analysis; mitochondrial DNA analysis, using the Next Generation Sequence technique, which matched a niece and a sister; as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
 
Today, 7,763 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.

 

National Security Weekly Report
Week of January 27, 2017
 
Defense Health Agency
 
Tuesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner participated in a bimonthly MSO/VSO meeting at the Defense Health Agency (DHA) headquarters in Falls Church, VA. During this meeting, DHA Director Vice Admiral Rocky Bono discussed the various provisions in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act that impact the delivery of health care to military members, families and veteran beneficiaries for example a change in TRICARE contractors by geographic regions.
 
Arlington National Cemetery Report to Congress

Tuesday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell met with leadership at Arlington National Cemetery to discuss a report submitted to Congress by the Cemetery. Last year the Secretary of the Army was directed by Congress to report to them on the current capacity of Arlington National Cemetery and potential changes, either to policy or expansion, to prolong the life of the cemetery well into the future.  Prior to that, the Secretary had already directed the Advisory Committee to Arlington National Cemetery to look at eligibility for ANC in general. The Advisory Committee requested input from the major VSO's/MSO's on their perspective of the
report.  
 
Department of Defense Reduction in Force Conference Call
 
Wednesday, National Security Deputy Director Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with the Department of Defense prior to its announcement of its new policy and procedure changes for how Reductions in Force (RIF) will be conducted in the future for DoD civilian positions in the competitive and excepted service.  These changes are being made to comply with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which requires that when a RIF is necessary, the determination of employee separations will be made primarily on the basis of performance.
 
SECDEF SWEARING-IN PENTAGON
 
Friday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will attend the SECDEF’s official pentagon ceremony.  President Donald J. Trump administers a ceremonial swearing-in for Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis at 3:50 p.m. EST at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes (2D1040).
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Army Cpl. Melvin R. Hill, 19, of Pomona, California, will be buried February 4 in Alex, Oklahoma. In late November 1950, Hill was one of 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River. On the night of Nov. 27, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force surrounded the 31st RCT and attacked. Continued attacks over subsequent days forced Americans to withdraw. By Dec. 6, 1950, approximately 1,500 wounded soldiers were evacuated, and the remaining had been either captured or killed. Hill was reported missing in action as a result of the battles.
 
Hill’s name did not appear on any list as a prisoner of war and no repatriated Americans could provide any information concerning Hill. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared Hill deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953.
 
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, included the remains of approximately 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Hill was believed to have died.
 
To identify Hill’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two nephews.
 
Today, 7,763 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.

 

 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of January 13, 2017
 
Stop.Think.Connect
 
On Wednesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner participated in the monthly conference call hosted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect campaign office.  The conference was joined by a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was on the call to discuss Ransomware – a type of malware that locks valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them.  Ransomware can target any organization whether it be a hospital, school district, small business or government agency. In 2015 alone, the FBI received over 2,000 complaints of Ransomware with an estimated $1.6 million in damages for the victims.
 
Meeting with Congressman-elect Dwight Evans
 
On Monday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell met with Congressman-elect Dwight Evans.  Dwight Evans won a special election to represent Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District on November 8, 2016, and was sworn into the 114th Congress on November 14.
Congressman Evans has dedicated his life to the cause of urban renewal, working to give a voice to those who too often live in the shadows—the poor and the underserved.
In 1980 Congressman Evans was elected State Representative from the 203rd District. In 1986 he led a historic effort to build a new convention center in Philadelphia, which has created thousands of jobs and had tens of billions of dollars in economic impact. In 1990 he made history by becoming the first African-American Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, a post he held for two decades.
One of Congressman Evans’ proudest achievements has been his work to combat hunger by increasing access to quality foods. He took the lead on Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which links public and private funds to provide grocery options in underserved areas.

 
Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration
 
On January 9, 2017, the National Security Director and Deputy Director met with the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Director, Major General James T. Jackson, U.S. Army (Retired) and two members of his staff.  The purpose of the visit was to inquire of The American Legion to assist the Commemoration staff with its efforts to further their reach to the 7 million living Vietnam War Veterans. In assisting, The American Legion will help meet the goal of honoring the Vietnam War Veterans by presenting them with a commemorative lapel pin and a certificate of honor signed by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In The American Legion’s efforts to advocate for the Vietnam War Commemoration, the National Security Directorate will discuss with the National Security Chairman Mike Schlee the opportunity of inviting MG Jackson or a member of his staff to speak at the Washington Conference during the National Security Commission Meeting.  MG Jackson is also collaborating with our Corporate Media staff in Indianapolis to get a commemoration article printed in the Legion Magazine.
It has been determined that a Vietnam War Veteran served on active duty during:
01 November 1955 – 15 May 1975
The lapel can be ordered at no cost to the veteran at this website by filling out the short form: http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/about/vietnam_veteran_lapel_pin/
The Commemoration has recruited American Legion posts as partners and is seeking to build partnerships with more posts.  There is no costs for posts to join.  The free application can be accessed here:
 
Recognition Ceremony for Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work
 
On Friday Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will join The Secretary of Defense at a Recognition Ceremony in honor of Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense in The Pentagon Auditorium.
Robert O. Work was confirmed as the 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense on April 30, 2014.  Prior to that Mr. Work served as Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Work served as the Undersecretary of the Navy.  In this capacity, he was the Deputy and Principal Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and acted with full authority of the Secretary in the day-to-day management of the Department of the Navy.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Army Cpl. Luis P. Torres, 20, of Eagle Pass Texas, will be buried January 13 in San Antonio. On Sept. 1, 1950, Torres was member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his battalion had its position overrun by enemy forces along the east bank of the Naktong River, South Korea. During this attack, Torres was reported missing in action near Changyong, South Korea.
Torres’ name did not appear on any prisoner of war list, but one returning American prisoner of war reported that he believed Torres was held captive by the enemy and was executed. Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of March 3, 1954.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service planned to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Torres’ remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
On Dec. 20, 1950, a set of unidentified remains, previously recovered from a shallow grave near Changnyong, were buried in the Miryang United Nations Military Cemetery as “Unknown X-331.” In February 1951, the remains were moved to the Tanggok United Nations Military Cemetery. Although Torres was considered a candidate for identification, the remains were not identified due to a lack of substantiating evidence. The remains were then moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and buried as Unknown.
On May 16, 2016, the remains were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Torres’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA analysis through the Next Generation Sequencing technique, which matched a brother, a sister and a nephew.
Today, 7,764 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.

 

 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of December 16, 2016
 
1st Qtr. FY17 MSO/VSO and NFE Partner Conference, Army Pentagon
 
On Wednesday, National Security Staff participated in the 1st quarter fiscal year 2017 MSO/VSO and NFE partner conference at the Pentagon.  Under Secretary of the United States Army, Mr. Patrick Murphy joined the meeting to discuss the Army’s Readiness PrioritiesThe meeting covered an array of pressing topics in the Army to include the Military Review Board, gender integration, force development for the future, and soldier for life transition. 
 
Military Health System MSO/ VSO meeting
 
 On Tuesday, National Security Staff participated in the 1st quarter fiscal year 2017 MOS/VSO Military Health System update.  The meeting was hosted by Doctor Karen Guise of the Military Health Agency.  The discussion was primarily around the Defense Health Agency portion of the 2017 NDAA.  The future of the Joint Legacy Viewer and integration of virtual lifetime electronic health records was addressed. 
 
Department of Homeland Security event
 
On Wednesday, National Security Staff attended an event sponsored by Raytheon and President for a New American Security.  The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius discussed the latest global and domestic threats to U.S. national security. This is the fourth program in a series featuring Ignatius in conversation with leaders in national security, intelligence and defense about what’s at stake for the world.
Commitment to the Security of Israel
 
This week Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Israel as the first two F-35s arrived.  Carter’s trip to Israel marks another milestone in the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security by making available the most current technology. During his visit, Carter attended the arrival ceremony for Israel’s first two F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from the United States.  In September, Israel and the United States concluded a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding, where the United States pledged $38 billion in security assistance. This MOU will ensure Israel has continued access to the most advanced technology and that Israel’s military edge remains paramount in the region. Together, the United States and Israel continue to develop, coordinate and collaborate together on an impressive array of security and defense capabilities, challenges and opportunities. Today’s F-35 delivery is just one piece in a strong and critical defense relationship for the United States.
 
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Army Cpl. David T. Nordin, Jr., 23, of Los Angeles, will be buried Dec. 16 in Kent, Washington. In late November 1950, Nordin was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when his unit began to move north along the west side of the Kuryong River to establish a position southwest of the town of Unsan as part of a large United Nations Command offensive. The Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) launched a counterattack, and the regiment was ordered to withdraw to a new defensive line. When the unit reassembled near Yongbyon, Nordin could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action, Nov. 28, 1950.
 
The CPVF and North Korean People’s Army provided lists of prisoners of war during the war, and Nordin’s name was listed as having died while in custody of the CPVF. At the end of the war, repatriated Americans reported that Nordin died at Hofong Camp in January 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared Nordin deceased as of January 22, 1951.
 
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Nordin’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
 
In April and May of 2005, a Joint Recovery Team conducted the 37th Joint Field Activity in Unsan County, South Pyongan Province, North Korea. On April 19, the team visited a site reported by a local witness to contain American remains.
 
To identify Nordin’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as DNA analysis; including mitochondrial DNA, which matched a brother and two sisters.
 
Today, 7,778 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.
 
National Security Weekly Report
 
Week of December 9, 2016
 

The 75th Commemoration of the December 7, 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor

Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell joined National Commander Charlie Schmidt and National President Mary Davis for the Commemoration of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.  Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and six other military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu precipitated America's entry into World War II, a global conflict. Pearl Harbor endures as a symbol of American resilience and resolve, and the annual commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor fosters reflection, remembrance, and understanding.

Stop.Think.Connect Campaign

On Thursday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner participated in a monthly Partner Call of 2016 with the Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect Campaign Office. The guest presenter was Ms. Emily McReynolds, Program Director of the Technology Policy Lab at University of Washington.  She discussed the privacy and security implications of the rapidly changing Internet of Things (IoT). Unlike the smartphone, these new devices are always on, blending into the background until needed, and we don’t yet know all the information they are collecting, storing, or disclosing.

Commander’s Far East Travel

This week, National Security staff accompanied National Commander Charlie Schmidt during this travels to the Far East.  The trip included visits to posts in the Philippines, Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, and Hawaii.  The Commander also visited many U.S. military installations and foreign government agencies to promote American Legion programs and awareness.  The trip culminated Wednesday with the Commander attended the 75th Commemoration of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

POW/MIA Update

Army Sgt. Stafford L. Morris, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for.

In late November 1950, Morris was a member of Battery A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, and located north of the town of Kujang-dong, North Korea.  Due to heavy fighting and encroaching Chinese People's Volunteer Force elements from the north, American units were forced to withdraw south through an area that came to be known as "The Gauntlet."  On Dec. 1, the battalion began to move down the supply route, under continuous enemy fire.  The unit sustained many casualties.

Morris'  name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the North Korean People's Army, however multiple returning American POWs provided any information concerning Morris as a prisoner of war, stating that he died at Hofong Camp, part of Pukchin-Tarigol Camp Cluster, on Jan. 21, 1951.  Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased. 

In April and May 2005, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (now DPAA), and a Korean People's Army Recovery Team conducted the 37th Joint Field Activity in Unsan County, North Korea.  A site approximately 12 miles south of Pukchin-Tarigol camp was excavated, and a large amount of remains were recovered.

DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains.

Interment services are pending.

 
National SecurityWeekly Report
 
Week of December 2, 2016
 
Military Readiness Forum
 
On Wednesday, November 30, National Security Staff attended a VSO roundtable discussion with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other senior defense leaders.  The dialogue included a comprehensive agenda that focused on the continually increasing global security risks and current defense operations.  Updates were provided on defense authorization and appropriations for FY2017 and beyond to include vital personnel and readiness initiatives that will ensure we continue to attract, sustain and retain the best possible military force well into the future.
 
Documentary Screening
 
On Wednesday, November 30, National Security Staff attended a reception and viewing of the documentary, Soldier On: Life After Deployment, hosted by Senator Patty Murray.  The documentary explores the unique contributions and challenges female service members and Veterans face during their transition from the military to civilian life.  The American Legion will continue its visible presence at events designed to honor traditionally underrepresented groups of Veterans.
 
Military Readiness Forum
 
On Wednesday, November 30, National Security staff attended the annual Foreign Policy Initiative Forum held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  Participants in panels discussing military readiness and the new administration included Congressman Mac Thornberry, CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Votel, and Lt. General H.R. McMaster.
 
Presidential Transition
 
On Thursday, December 1, National Security Staff participated in a meeting between VSO’s and the incoming Presidential administration; hosted at The American Legion Washington, D.C. Headquarters.
 
Center for Security Policy Event
 
On Thursday December 1, National Security Staff attended a working lunch held by the Center for Security Policy on Capitol Hill.  Presenting was Rep. Lee Zeldin who discussed US Israel Relations, Bruce Klinger of the Heritage Foundation/Former CIA Deputy Division Chief for Korea who discussed North Korea, and Trevor Loudon will discussed a documentary regarding internal enemies within the United States.
 
The American Legion Celebrating Women Veterans
 
National Security Staff hosted a Prominent and Promising Women Veteran social event on 29 November, at The American Legion D.C. office, to celebrate women Veterans. The event was attended by Veterans, Veterans Service Organizations, Veterans Affairs staffers, Congressional staffers and numerous nonprofit organizations that serve women Veterans.    
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Cummings, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for.
 
In late November, 1950, after several months of battle alongside the United Nations Command and Republic of Korea against the Korean People’s Army, an estimated 200,000 soldiers of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces attacked the unit during an allied movement north near the Yalu River. Facing constrictive terrain, poor weather conditions and being outnumbered, the advancing U.S. forces were facing unfavorable circumstances. The regiment was moved to positions along the Chongchon and Kuryong rivers in order to preserve lines of communication. The regiment assembled a reconnaissance patrol to gather enemy information on Nov. 29, 1950, when it encountered an enemy ambush near Hajoyang, North Korea. Following this ambush, Cummings was declared missing in action.
 
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the United States, which we now believe to contain the remains of at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicate that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Cummings was believed to have died.
 
DNA analysis, dental analysis and circumstantial and anthropological evidence were used in the identification of his remains.
 
Interment services are pending.

 

National Security Weekly Report

Week Ending 18 Nov 18, 2016

  1. Heritage Index Launch

 

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, National Security Staff attended the launch of the Heritage Foundation’s Annual Index of U.S. Military Strength.  The Index contains information from top Heritage Foundation experts on military readiness, troop level posture, and threats to America’s interests.  Rep. Mike Turner of Oklahoma gave the keynote address and was followed by three panels.

  1. Military Chaplains Appreciation Luncheon

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, National Security Staff attended a Military Chaplain’s Appreciation Lunch held at, and sponsored by, the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C.  The American Legion has been a longtime supporter of military chaplains and military religious freedom.

  1. State Department Meeting/State Department Reception

On Thursday, November 10, 2016, National Security Staff attended a meet and greet with the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Bureau of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of State.  Ms. Place has been instrumental in the success of the annual State Department Reception held every year in conjunction with The American Legion’s Washington Conference.

  1. Evaluation Training

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, National Security Staff participated in evaluation training given by Director of Human Resources Rodney Rolland in the Washington, D.C. office.  Such training is designed to give senior and mid-level management additional skills that will help them better evaluate their employees as well as instruct new managers on The American Legion evaluation system.

  1. Pacific Submarine Warfare Symposium

On Thursday, November 10, 2016, Assistant National Security Director Staff attended a symposium, hosted by retired Admiral Bruce DeMars, regarding Pacific Submarine Warfare in World War II.  This largely forgotten, but important, feature of Allied victory in World War II will be discussed and will contain particular focus on Admiral Charles Lockwood, who oversaw the Pacific submarine fleet throughout the war. In 1951, Admiral Lockwood published Sink ‘Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific.

Admiral DeMars is a retired four star admiral and successor to Admiral Rickover, DeMars was in charge of all submarine warfare and nuclear propulsion. DeMars illustrated Admiral Lockwood’s contributions to the Allied victory in World War II and to American security in the Cold War.

108 Year Old WWII Veteran Visits DC; Visits President, Memorial

National Security Staff accompanied 108 year old WWII veteran Bill Mohr on his visit to the WWII Memorial on Thursday November 10, 2016. 

Mr. Mohr is the second oldest surviving veteran of WWII. He enlisted in the Army in 1940. As an Infantryman, he marched across Northern Africa, landed at Anzio and later crossed Europe with the 45th Infantry Division. Bill’s war ended on the eve of the Battle of Bulge, when his mortar misfired and caused serious injuries to his spine. He was Honorably discharged in 1946. His back injuries plagued him even after surgical removal of several shattered vertebrae. It was two years before he could walk without pain. He was too proud to accept help from the VA firmly stating there were other boys who needed the VA help more than he.”

  1. Veteran’s Day Wreath Laying Ceremonies

On Friday, November 11, 2016, the National Security Director accompanied the National Vice Commander, Midwest Region, Douglas L. Boldt and his wife Mrs. Mary Ann Boldt to President Obama’s Official Veterans Day Wreath Laying Ceremony.  After the ceremony, the Boldt’s were then accompanied to Vietnam Veterans Memorial where National Vice Commander Boldt was seated on the dais, followed by participating in the presenting The American Legion’s Wreath at the Wall.  The Boldt’s were then accompanied to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Ceremony.

  1. Veteran’s Day

On Friday, November 11, 2016, The American Legion offices were closed in honor of Veteran’s Day.  Originally established as Armistice Day, to commemorate the ending of World War I, Veteran’s Day is one of America’s most solemn and important holidays and remembrance.  The American Legion remains committed to serving Veterans of all generations as well as currently serving service members.

National Security Staff were guests of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Commissioner of Veteran’s Services Lorrie Sutton at the Mayor’s Breakfast Reception held at Gracie Mansion, New York City. 

  1. POW/MIA Update

Army Pfc. Daniel Hunt, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for.

On Sept. 28, 1951, Hunt was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, in the vicinity of Hill 1030, conducting operations in an area referred to as Heartbreak Ridge. The Chinese launched an attack, which the company repelled. They were then ordered to move east and attack the enemy on Hill 867 nearby. Prior to their attack, the enemy launched a barrage of mortar against the Americans, and survivors withdrew to friendly lines. Following the withdrawal, Hunt was reported missing in action.

During an investigation by the U.S. Army Casualty office, three members of Hunt’s unit reported that he had been killed during the fight, Sept. 28, 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased.

On Feb. 12, 2016, the Republic of Korea unilaterally turned over remains believed to be unaccounted-for Americans from the Korean War. The recovered remains were reported to have been found near Heartbreak Ridge.

DNA analysis, as well as circumstantial and anthropological evidence, were used in the identification of his remains.

Interment services are scheduled for Dec. 2 in Phoenix, Arizona.

 


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