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National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 November 2018

 

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

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

 


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

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 26 October, 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Japanese prime minister’s first official visit to Beijing
 
 
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, at left, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The pair met Friday during Abe’s visit to Beijing, during which Japanese and Chinese companies and official bodies have signed more than 50 agreements to cooperate on projects in third countries.
 
(Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal) The leaders of China and Japan said Friday they would work together as defenders of free trade, moving ahead with warming ties as both face tough trade fights with President Trump.
 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, making the first formal visit by a Japanese leader to China in seven years, was careful not to criticize Mr. Trump directly and echoed some of the U.S. president’s concerns about China’s state-led economic model when meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
 
But Messrs. Xi and Abe, representing the world’s second- and third-largest economies after the U.S., mostly found common ground on trade. The Japanese leader told Mr. Xi that it was important to defend the free-trading system, according to a Japanese government spokesman.
 
Mr. Xi agreed and said both sides should defend multilateralism—the principle of addressing trade issues at bodies such as the World Trade Organization—and promote an open global economy, Chinese state media said.
 
The vocal free-trade advocacy is a relatively new stance for both countries, which have been criticized over the decades for their own trade barriers. Japan’s postwar rapid growth in the 1950s through 1980s—like China’s more recently—came with a heavy dose of state guidance and promotion of favored industries that often left foreign companies sidelined.
 
Mr. Abe, however, has played down that history, depicting Japan in a speech to parliament on Wednesday as a nation that has pushed for global free trade since the 1940s.
 
The two leaders’ generally friendly meeting symbolized a better ties between China and Japan, which have tussled in recent years over disputed islands in the East China Sea and other security issues.
 
“We have returned relations to the proper track,” said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who also met Mr. Abe.
 
China’s willingness to roll out the red carpet for Mr. Abe was impelled in part, analysts say, by China’s need for friends in the region while it battles President Trump over trade issues. Japan also is looking for better relations because China is its biggest export market and a source of tourists.
 
Companies and official bodies of the two nations signed more than 50 agreements to cooperate on projects in third countries. That was a key request by Beijing, which is looking for partners for an international infrastructure-building initiative.
 
Mr. Abe was greeted at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Friday by a People’s Liberation Army band playing the Japanese national anthem, which calls for the everlasting reign of the emperor, under whose name Japan occupied China before and during World War II.
 
There were still some reminders of differences. According to both sides, Mr. Xi stressed the need for proper handling of sensitive issues such as wartime history and the status of Taiwan, a democratically governed island which Beijing views as a renegade province and with which Japan has close ties.
 
In his meeting with Mr. Li, Mr. Abe raised the issue of domestic human rights in China, Japanese officials said, adding that Mr Abe was alluding to the mass detention of Muslims in China’s far west. They declined to give Mr. Li’s response.
 
Mr. Abe is trying to fend off Mr. Trump’s threat to impose tariffs of up to 25% on Japanese cars and car parts. Japanese officials said that threat forced them in September to agree to two-way talks with the U.S. on trade, undercutting Mr. Abe’s earlier policy of pushing for trade agreements involving many countries.
 
China, meanwhile, is at loggerheads with the U.S. over Mr. Trump’s plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% on Jan. 1 from the current 10%.
 
Japan shares some of Mr. Trump’s concerns involving China. Mr. Abe told Mr. Xi that China needs to scale back subsidies for state companies and improve intellectual-property protection, according to the Japanese spokesman.
 
Mr. Li said Beijing would “firmly protect” intellectual-property rights.
 
It was the first official visit by Mr. Abe since he took office for his current term in 2012, although he has visited China for international gatherings. The last Japanese prime minister to make an official visit to Beijing was Yoshihiko Noda in 2011.
 
U.S. Sails Warships Through the Taiwan Strait in a Show of Force to China
 
 
(Courtesy of Time) The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait for the second time since July, a show of force that threatens to further exacerbate tensions with China.
 
Two U.S. vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait from waters near Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan island, toward the north on Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on its website.
 
U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation “in accordance with international law.”
 
The transit coincides with a period of rising tension between Taiwan and China, which considers the island one of its provinces Since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen from a pro-independence party in 2016, Beijing has cut off formal communication with Taipei and stepped up military exercises in the area.
 
“Cruising through the strait is not new, but it is a strong signal that the U.S. will be on Taiwan’s side in case of a crisis between Taipei and Beijing,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, who teaches U.S.-China relations at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the U.S. Taiwan would be dead.”
 
China expressed concerns to the U.S. after a similar transit by two U.S. warships in July.
 
“The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the time, warning the Americans against actions that would “undermine China-U.S. ties and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
 
Tensions have also risen ahead of local elections on the island next month. Taiwan late Monday requested that China refrain from interfering in its elections, saying Beijing should should respect and learn from its democracy.
 
Quality of Life
 
Celebrating military families: In November, commissaries recognize uniqueness, sacrifices of service lifestyle
(Courtesy of the Defense Commissary Agency)  Military life is not easy on families. Theirs is an ever-changing environment brought on by continuous military moves. It means frequent extended absences of a spouse.
For Lisa Molinari, who writes the military family blog “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” it meant difficulties maintaining a legal career with such a transient lifestyle – 11 moves within eight different locations. It also meant caring for a special needs son while in duty stations with limited services.
“It’s the little things and frankly, when someone tells my husband – or even me – ‘Thank you for your service,’ this means so much more than one might expect,” said Lisa Molinari, a long-time Navy spouse.
“We know the challenges of a 28-year military career, so when someone acknowledges that a military family has made sacrifices to serve the country, it is very meaningful and appreciated.”
During November’s celebration of Military Family Month, the Defense Commissary Agency offers its thanks in acknowledgement of all those emotional goodbyes, transitions and sacrifices that are part of military service life, said Defense Commissary Agency Deputy Director Michael Dowling.
“We are proud to serve our resilient military families, understanding the stresses they endure,” Dowling said. “Striving to provide a valuable benefit, we work hard every day to say thank you by bringing a feeling of home to our military families no matter where in the world they may be.”
Commissary support goes far to inject a sense of normalcy in the unusual situations that military families face wherever they’re stationed, Molinari said.
“With all the instability of military life due to frequent changes in location, schools and homes, commissaries provided a bit of consistency that was always comforting,” said Molinari.
“No matter where we lived,” she added, “I was able to shop at a commissary and not feel lost – I knew the routine, I knew the products, I knew the prices and I knew that someone would always bag my groceries for me. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep a military spouse from going crazy.”
Anyone, even those not military affiliated, can give a military family the feeling of home by sending them a commissary gift card offered for purchase by authorized patrons at every store worldwide and by anyone online at commissaries.com.
 
TRICARE
 
A reminder to TRICARE beneficiaries that the first ever open enrollment will be held from November 12 – December 10, 2018.  To enroll visit: https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Enroll
Starting in 2019, you will only be able to enroll in or change your Tricare plan during the open enrollment season or within 90 days of a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth or relocation.
The program, which covers basic dental care for retired military and their families, will end on Dec. 31. It is being replaced with the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP), which will offer retired military members more choice in dental plans and coverage. Enrollment for these plans will begin Nov. 12 and run through Dec. 10., during the new open enrollment season.
Active duty military, retirees and their family members will also be able to sign up for vision plans through FEDVIP in November. These plans will offer beneficiaries more comprehensive coverage than what is currently offered under Tricare.
To read more about these changes visit: https://tricare.mil/About/Changes
 
Staff Activities
 
  • On Monday, National Security staff participated in a conference call with the Legion Department of France to begin planning for the Commander’s 2019 European trip, which will include the commander’s participation in events commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
  • On Monday, National Security Assistant Director Jeff Steele had a conference call with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs officials regarding the National Commander’s upcoming Far East trip, where he will visit Hawaii, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
  • Monday, National Security Staff assisted a veteran to obtain medals he was issued while serving in Vietnam. 
  • This week National Security Division staff worked with the VA&R Division and Chairman and Legislative Division on developing a plan to support legislation on the topic of Burn Pits.
  • National Security staff continues planning for the Commander’s upcoming trip to the Far East.
  • On Thursday, Executive Director Lou Celli, accompanied by National Security staff, met with Jane Horton, a Gold Star family advocate, regarding The American Legion establishing a program that will provide a network of support for Gold Star Families. Resolution No. 14: Establish Gold Star Families Program was passed at the 2018 Fall Meeting of the National Executive Committee.
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made 6 new funeral announcements. Click on the links to read more:
 
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (McDaniel, C.)
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Park, J.)
10/23/18: Funeral Announcement For Marine Killed During World War II (Gilman, P.)
10/17/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Shankles, L.)
10/15/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During World War II (Cummings, J.)
10/15/18: Funeral Announcement For Soldier Killed During Korean War (Williams, K.)
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 September 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
Korean Remains Flag Presentation
 
 
Presentation of one of the American flags given to The American Legion by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency 26 September 2018 at American Legion headquarters in Washington D.C. Presenting the flag to Commander Reistad is  Mr. Kelly McKeague, Director Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and in uniform is Bernard "GWB" Smith, Lt Col, USAF Military Assistant to the Director Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
 
No Shutdown: House finalizes FY19 military budget, and Trump drops his opposition
 
House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a $684 billion defense appropriations measure that President Donald Trump has promised to sign, ending any last-minute drama about a possible government shutdown. The Senate passed the measure last week.
 
Late last week, Trump took to social media to blast “this ridiculous Spending Bill” for including too much non-military money and no funds for his planned wall along the border with Mexico. But on Wednesday, Trump promised that “we’re going to keep the government open." With the House’s 361-61 vote to finalize the deal, the president has until Sunday night to sign the measure and avoid any disruption in government funding.
 
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the legislation an unquestioned win for the administration and the country.
 
“It will be a major achievement for the military,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he understands the achievement of getting a big majority of discretionary money in place before the beginning of the fiscal year. I want his signature on the dotted line. With that, for the first time in nine years, the managers at every level of the (Defense) Department will be able to do their job without the ridiculous constraints imposed by continuing resolutions.”
Congress hasn’t finalized the new fiscal year defense budget before the start of the new fiscal year in 10 years. Instead, as lawmakers have debated spending levels, military operations have been funded for multiple months each year through extensions of the previous year budget, a process that Thornberry called harmful to national defense.
 
“We tend to forget that under a (continuing resolution), you’ve got to spend money on the same things this year that you did last year, whether you need it or not,” he said. “You can have no new starts. All these restrictions. This is a chance to finally break out of that, at a time when the world is moving fast and technology is moving just as fast.”
 
The defense appropriations bill has more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.
 
The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces. Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2 billion of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1 billion. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4 billion.
 
House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, touted the bill’s investments in air superiority, shipbuilding and ground forces at a press conference beside Ryan, saying, “it all adds up to a pat on the back and money for our military.”
 
“The most important thing is this is the first time in ten years we’ve gotten a defense bill done on time,” she said. “Working with (Defense) Secretary (Jim) Mattis, he said the money’s important but getting it to us on time, when we have the time to plan and to build is the most important thing.”
 
Beyond the 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters authorized by the 2019 defense policy bill, the spending bill added another 16 for a total of 93. The decision comes as the Pentagon is expected to decide next month whether to move the aircraft into full-rate production.
 
The Navy’s shipbuilding account got a $2.2 billion boost over the $21.9 billion it asked for, including a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy. Amphibs also fared especially well, driven both by Congress’ desire to push the Navy to a 355-ship fleet as fast as possible and by the evolving role played by amphibious ships in the Navy’s strategic thinking.
 
Army weapons and munitions technology development would get a big cash injection, with a $343 million boost over the Army’s $40.44 million request for research, development, technology and evaluation dollars for weapons and munitions technology.
 
Combined with a minibus of Veterans Affairs and military construction spending finalized earlier this month, nearly 90 percent of the federal government’s spending bills will be in place by the start of fiscal 2019, which is Oct. 1.
 
Staff Activities
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security staff accompanied National Commander Reistad to meetings at the Pentagon. The commander met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dr. Joseph Felter, who oversees Asia and Pacific Security Affairs for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. The commander also received desk briefings from DoD Asian and Pacific Affairs officials as preparation for his Far East trip in December.
  • On Tuesday, National Security staff accompanied Commander Reistad to meetings at the State Department. The commander received desk briefings from Asian and Pacific Affairs officials as preparation for his Far East trip in December.
  • On Wednesday, National Security staff were present when Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Director Kelly McKeague presented Commander Reistad with one of the American flags from the casket of one of the first two U.S. servicemembers ID’d among the 55 boxes of remains turned over to the US by North Korea.
  • On Wednesday, National Security staff accompanied Commander Reistad and other Legion staff to a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Testifying was VA Secretary Wilkie on The State of the VA: A 60 Day Report.
  • On Thursday, National Security staff accompanied Commander Reistad and other Legion staff to a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing
  • On Thursday, National Security staff had a conference call with Bill Wight, Commander Post 38, in Osan, South Korea. Commander Wight is providing crucial assistance with regard to the commander’s upcoming trip to South Korea.
  • On Thursday, National Security staff met with Carl Mahnken, Army Public Affairs Office, as part of the preparation for the commander’s Far East trip in December.
  • On Thursday, National Security staff met with Howard and Jean Somers, founders of "Operation Engage America," their own plan to raise awareness and educate Americans about the special needs of veterans returning home with "moral injury." The plan includes advocating for an easily accessible online resource for loved ones of returning soldiers that would help them understand the special problems the veterans might be dealing with, such as PTSD.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Two soldiers recovered from North Korea ID’d
 
President Donald Trump revealed the names of the first soldiers recovered in the 55 boxes of remains returned from North Korea this summer: Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, 32, of Vernon, Indiana, and Army Pfc. William H. Jones, 19, of Nash County, North Carolina.
 
McDaniel’s family had previously received his dog tag, which was found in the boxes of remains. It was the only dog tag recovered in this set of boxes returned from North Korea.
 
Both soldiers died in the November 1950 Battle of Unsan, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency previously said. There are still 1,700 service members missing from that battle.
 
The remains were discovered in box 14 and box 16 of the 55 boxes and were some of the most complete of the 55 returned, with individual soldiers contained in each box, DPAA officials said.
 
Both sets of remains are in Hawaii, at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s lab. The families will now be able to request the remains, which will be wrapped in a green Army blanket that is secured with two pins, a tradition that dates back to World War I. They will then be transported to the family for burial.
 
The remains were returned to the U.S. as part of Trump’s Singapore summit agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
 
Personnel Recovered
 
This week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced six new identifications:
 
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Claude O. Gowey, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, was accounted for on Aug. 31, 2018.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Gowey was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Gowey. Read full story
  • Army Pfc. Lewis E. Price, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Sept. 24, 2018.  In November, 1944, Price was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, which moved into the Hürtgen Forest in Germany, to relieve U.S. forces who had been fighting for weeks. The fighting in and around the forest was frequently chaotic, and while details surrounding his loss are sparse, he was reported missing in action as of Nov. 6, 1944 when his reconnaissance patrol failed to return from a mission.  Read full story
  • Army Pfc. John W. Martin, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on Sept. 24, 2018.  In late November 1950, Martin was a member of Medical Company, 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. Martin was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, after he was last seen near the Chosin Reservoir.  Read full story
  • Navy Storekeeper 2nd Class Gerald L. Clayton, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, was accounted for on Sept. 10, 2018.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Clayton was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Clayton.  Read full story
  • Navy Musician 2nd Class Francis E. Dick, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, was accounted for on Sept. 5, 2018.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Dick was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Dick.  Read full story
  • Naval Reserve Seaman 2nd Class Deward W. Duncan, Jr., killed during World War II, was accounted for on May 17, 2018.  In January 1944, Duncan was assigned to Aviation, Construction, Ordnance, Repair, Navy Fourteen, Standard Landing Craft Unit 4, when a Japanese air raid on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, dropped a bomb near his tent. Duncan was killed January 12, 1944 and was reportedly buried the same day in Cemetery #33. Read full story
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at:
http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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

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

 


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

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 27 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
National Defense Authorization Act FY2019
(MilTimes) U.S. Senate lawmakers are expected to finalize Congress’ annual defense authorization bill early next week following the House’s passage of the measure Thursday.  The $716 billion defense authorization bill that includes a sizable boost in military end strength, more ships and planes than the White House asked for, and a compromise on U.S. sanctions on Russia.
 
The agreement comes months ahead of Congress’ typical schedule for the sweeping defense policy measure. The legislation has been finalized by Congress for 57 consecutive years but not passed before the start of the new fiscal year in the past decade.
 
The House is expected to vote on the deal this week, and the Senate possibly in August. From there, President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.
 
Senior committee aides said the speed of the work was designed to avoid political fights and unrelated policy debates heading into the November midterm election.
 
The measure authorizes a base defense budget of $639 billion and $69 billion more for overseas contingency operations. The totals match previously agreed upon spending plans for fiscal 2019, but break with administration priorities in a host of areas.
 
Hardware. For aviation, lawmakers backed administration plans for 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, with limitations on software upgrades pending cost and schedule information.
 
The bill would back the Air Force plan to kill its JSTARS recapitalization program while restricting retirement of the legacy E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. It requires the Air Force to develop a plan to sustain the aircraft until the follow-on program is ready.
 
For the Navy, the bill funds 13 ships — three beyond the president’s budget request — to include two Virginia-class submarines, three littoral combat ships; an additional Ford-class aircraft carrier, two TAO-205 oilers, one expeditionary sea base, and one T-ATS towing, salvage and rescue ship.
 
The bill contains $200 million to expand the submarine industrial base and to aid in the advanced procurement of the Columbia-class sub in 2022 and 2023, according to House aides.
 
Personnel. The legislation calls for a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January, a mark agreed upon by both House and Senate lawmakers in their separate drafts.
 
Conference committee members agreed upon end-strength increases in line with the White House’s requests for military might. The Army’s end strength will grow by about 4,000 soldiers, the Navy’s by 7,500 sailors, the Air Force by 4,000 airmen and the Marine Corps by about 100 Marines.
 
The final agreement also includes House-backed language requiring the secretary of defense to certify that any military units or vehicles to be used in any national military parades or displays will not harm current service missions or readiness.
 
Senate lawmakers successfully argued provisions that would give each of the services more flexibility with officer promotion rules, including changing promotion timelines and personnel limits on specialty skills.
 
Turkey F-35s. The bill bars delivery of the F-35 to Turkey until the U.S. government submits an assessment of the U.S.-Turkey relationship. It also requires an assessment of the operational and counterintelligence risks posed by that country’s planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air and missile defense system to weapons systems and platforms operated jointly with Turkey, including the F-35.
 
The bill includes a sense of Congress calling on Turkey to release “wrongfully detained” U.S. citizens Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge, according to a bill summary.
 
Russia sanctions. The bill includes a compromise waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, that provides leniency for strategic partners and allies purchasing Russian military equipment, so long as they are taking steps to wean themselves from it. A Democratic summary of the bill says the measure is more stringent from the Republican-backed provision in the House version of the bill
 
China. The conference report dropped a Senate-backed provision banning Chinese telecom giant ZTE from doing business with both the government and private sector in favor of a the House-backed provision that would ban ZTE from working with the government.
 
The bill would strengthen the interagency committee that reviews deals between foreign investors and U.S.-based businesses for national security concerns. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, would receive broader abilities to block transactions with Chinese companies that could pose a national security risk.
 
Wildlife protections. The bill excludes a House-backed provision, opposed by Democrats that would have prohibited the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken from being listed under the Endangered Species Act for a period of 10 years. It also maintains the endangered status of the American burying beetle.
The bill would require that the Navy seek government approval every seven years for plans that potentially harm marine mammals — less than the current five-years but more frequently than the 10 years proposed by the House.
 
TRICARE
Military Health System GENESIS
Senior Military Health System leaders met at the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium in Orlando, FL to discuss progress with MHS GENESIS. “We want to continue moving forward [and] we need to continue with our forward momentum,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of Defense Health Agency. “[W]hile acknowledging some areas we have needed to make adjustments, we’re progressing forward.”
 
As the deployments continue, feedback from users is critically important, said Bono, adding that input is being processed and measured. Throughout the process, DHA remains committed to ensuring a high level of cybersecurity.
 
“We have a lot to share with the broader health care community and we are helping to raise the bar in the security environment,” said Bono.
 
Stacy Cummings, program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, said the initial operational test and evaluation ended at Madigan Army Medical Center, one of the original IOC sites, on July 13.
“There has been measurable success in the adoption of workflows, roles and other efforts to continue to improve performance of MHS GENESIS,” said Cummings.
 
The final test report is expected later this year, with emerging results being evident as soon as this fall. “We’ll be working with the test community to get any feedback in real time so we can make sure we’re being as responsive as possible, and make sure that there isn’t anything coming out of the test that we weren’t already aware of and already working on,” said Cummings.
 
Cummings announced the next four sites for MHS GENESIS deployment, which will be known as wave one sites. These include Naval Air Station Lemoore, Travis Air Force Base, and Army Medical Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey in California, as well as Mountain Home Air Force Base in southwestern Idaho.
 
“The next waves of deployments will be the first facilities to field the standard baseline of MHS GENESIS and will benefit from the results of our optimization period, as well as improvements to our training, deployment, and change management strategy all based on lessons learned from IOC,” said Cummings, adding that the Military Health System is committed to identifying and delivering the right capabilities.
 
The MHS continues to capture feedback from users at Madigan, just as it did before and during the test period, Cummings said, and experts are already aware and working on feedback. She believes the test at Madigan is going to reinforce lessons learned and the MHS needs to go on to the next site to demonstrate these improvements – including training and deployment strategies, and change management.
 
Eventually, MHS-GENESIS will provide a single electronic health record for each of the 9.4 million MHS beneficiaries. It will be used by about 200,000 providers at 1,200 sites and has already received some positive feedback from users in the field.
 
“By far, the greatest way to learn the system is to actually utilize it,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dean Kang, pharmacy department head at Naval Hospital Bremerton for about eight months.
 
Kang was at Camp Pendleton, California, preparing to select orders when he learned Bremerton would be one of the four IOC sites for MHS-GENESIS.
 
“That was one of the reasons I asked to be assigned here,” Kang said. “I was interested in taking on a challenge and being on the front lines of this development. And the pharmacy department is usually tip of the spear in providing patient-centered care.”
 
Kang describes the initial period of MHS-GENESIS at Bremerton as exciting and hectic – and also exhausting. The go-live period coincided with a pharmacy department renovation that doubled the number of service windows from six to 12.
 
“There was some frustration, of course, because switching to an entirely new electronic health record is expected to have its challenges,” Kang said. “But we’ve taken a very positive approach to this. We’re working hard to increase efficiency and identify shortcomings while ensuring patient safety is our top priority. As an IOC site, we feel an inherent responsibility to identify the glitches and work on optimizing the system.”
 
Cummings said it’s only fitting, being at DHITS, to recognize the leadership role DoD has in developing and adopting an electronic health record.
 
“DHA oversees and continues to maintain several … data management systems that allow us to do our jobs today,” said Cummings. “The DoD should be recognized as a leader in the nation in adopting and developing new systems.”
 
Initial cost for Trump military parade comes in at $12 million, DoD says
(MilitaryTimes) President Donald Trump’s requested military parade is expected to cost about $12 million, according to initial planning estimates, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.
 
The parade was initial set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but now will take place Nov. 10 to accommodate international celebrations on Nov. 11 set to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade costs were first reported by CNN.
 
The initial price tag could easily change, and no final plan has been approved yet, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. The price would depend on the final numbers of troops and type of equipment involved, and how those troops will need to be transported to Washington, such as whether they would need to be moved by train.
 
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previously told Congress the price tag could be between $10 million and $30 million.
 
The parade date is just four months away, which raised questions on how Washington would be able to execute the needed security and planning, such as getting the permits and public bathrooms that is required to accommodate a large public gathering.
 
The $12 million cost is roughly the same amount the military had planned to spend on its now-cancelled military exercises with South Korea. Trump directed the exercises to be cancelled citing their cost and saying the exercises were “very provocative” to North Korea.
 
"We stopped playing those ‘war games’ that cost us a fortune,” Trump said last month. The exercises were cancelled after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
 
Quality of Life
Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
 
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
 
    -- The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
 
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
 
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
 
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to mark up the appropriations bill for FY2019 Homeland Security funding.   $5 billion was directed to physical barrier construction and related technological enhancements that will secure our southernmost border. This funding will also put more officers, agents, and canine teams on the ground. These frontline personnel will help enforce our laws, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and stop the trafficking of humans and other crimes.
 
This bill provides a total of $1.9 billion for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which helps detect and prevent cyber-attacks and foreign espionage.  
 
The bill also helps our nation remain prepared for any physical attacks on our homeland or natural disasters by providing $7.2 billion for FEMA’s disaster response and recovery programs, which have faced many monumental and catastrophic events over the past few years. In addition, the bill includes $3.1 billion for FEMA grant programs.  I’m particularly pleased to see robust support for the Urban Security Initiative, which provides resources to communities that face the greatest risks, including in my home state of New Jersey, and protection for nonprofits, including faith-based organizations.
 
 
Legislation
  • The Defense Authorization Conference has concluded and the agreement authorizes $708.1 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs, $16 billion more than the FY 2018 authorized level and $1.2 billion less than the president's overall request. The total includes $639.1 billion for the Pentagon's base, non-war budget that is subject to spending caps and $69 billion for uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to support operations in Afghanistan, the fight against the Islamic State, and the general war on terrorism. It includes a large increase in funding for nuclear weapons, including funds for a controversial new "low-yield" nuclear warhead, as well as additional funding for more ships, planes and armored vehicles. The agreement also contains numerous provisions targeting Russia and China, including $6.3 billion for added equipment and U.S. forces to help protect Eastern Europe from Moscow. It does not, however, include a Senate provision that would have re‑imposed a ban on U.S. exports to the Chinese company ZTE that President Trump had overturned.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division met with staff from Senator Mike Crapo’s office to provide feedback on the draft transition assistance bill proposal that his offices hopes to soon introduce.  The bill covers an array of transition issues to include resume writing, interview training, healthcare, housing, and the structure of the Transition Assistance Program. 
 
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 Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent L. Politte, 19, of Leavenworth, Kansas, accounted for on April 11, will be buried July 30 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the summer of 1943, Politte served as a gunner with the 345th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. He was killed while participating in a raid on the Ploesti Oil Refinery complex north of Bucharest, Romania, during Operation Tidal Wave. The goal of the operation was to destroy the refineries in the area in order to hamper the German war effort. During the raid, Politte’s B-24 Liberator aircraft was hit by machine gun fire and crashed. Following the war, his remains could not be identified.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Eugene W. Wicker, 20, of Coweta, Oklahoma, accounted for on January 10, will be buried August 4 in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wicker 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 Wicker.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 20 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
Blended Retirement System
The Fiscal Year 2016 Nation Defense Authorization Act created a new military retirement system that blends the traditional legacy retirement pension with a defined contribution to Servicemembers’ Thrift Savings Plan account. The new Blended Retirement System goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
 
All members serving as of December 31, 2017, are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system. No one currently-serving will be automatically switched to the Blended Retirement System.
 
Though they are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system, Active Component Service members with fewer than 12 years since their Pay Entry Base Date, and Reserve Component Servicemembers who have accrued fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of December 31, 2017, will have the option to opt into the Blended Retirement System. The opt-in/election period for the Blended Retirement System begins January 1, 2018, and concludes on December 31, 2018.
All Servicemembers who enter the military on or after January 1, 2018, will automatically be enrolled in BRS.
 
The BRS opt-in period is now open, to opt-in visit DFAS myPay (Army, Navy, and Air Force), Marine Online (Marine Corps), or Direct Access (Coast Guard or NOAA).
 
As of June 30, 2018 221,872 servicemembers, 178,016 Active and 43.856 Reserve and National Guard have opted-in the BRS. 
 
The majority of troops are contributing 5% or more to TSP.
 
Calculators, training and other resources are available to servicemembers and their families at:
 
N. Korea may return up to 55 sets of US war dead remains next week, official says
(Stars and Stripes) SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has agreed to hand over as many as 55 sets of remains believed to be from American troops killed in the 1950-53 war, and to allow the United States to fly them out of the country next week, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
 
The preliminary details emerged after U.S. and North Korean officials held working-level talks Monday in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.
 
The Americans planned to send transit cases via truck to the DMZ, where they would be given to the North Koreans to use for the remains. “They’re going to use our cases for the remains and give them back to us,” the official told Stars and Stripes.
 
A U.S. delegation was expected to retrieve the remains in North Korea and fly them out on July 27, either to Osan Air Base in South Korea or Hawaii, the official said, adding that the date may change as the two sides planned to iron out final details during another meeting in the near future.
The date would be symbolic as it marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the war instead of a peace treaty.
 
The North Koreans informed the U.S. delegates that they’ll return 50 to 55 sets of remains of U.S. servicemembers, the official said. It would be the first repatriation of remains since 2007 as search efforts stalled amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
 
The official said Monday’s meeting was focused on the return of remains and the North Koreans apparently did not raise other issues or request anything in return, despite speculation in South Korean media that they would try to tie the repatriation to other demands.
 
It’s unclear how the North Koreans could be certain of the nationalities, although they have in the past included dog tags. The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, which oversees the effort, has cautioned that the identification process is complicated and often takes years.
 
The Hawaii-based DPAA says it has family reference samples for more than 90 percent of the missing servicemembers. But past remains have been found to be mixed up with other unidentified individuals and in at least one case animal bones.
 
Thousands of Americans were believed to have been lost on the northern side of the heavily fortified border, which has divided the peninsula as the adversaries remain technically at war.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to recover remains, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” along with other commitments during his unprecedented summit with President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.
 
The historic meeting was focused on efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons, and the agreement to return remains was seen as a goodwill gesture.
 
But the process has been slow, with the North Koreans keeping the U.S.-led United Nations Command on standby for weeks after the military sent dozens of temporary coffins to the DMZ in preparation.
 
The North also failed to show up at a July 12 meeting that had been announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reportedly asking the Americans to send a general officer on Sunday for the first high-level military talks between the two sides in more than nine years.
 
Pompeo said Sunday that the talks, which were led by U.S. and North Korean two-star generals, were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments.” The sides also agreed to resume field operations to search for more remains in the North and to hold the working-level talks on Monday.
 
The State Department confirmed that talks resumed Monday in Panmunjom “to continue coordination on the transfer of remains already collected in (North Korea) and the re-commencing of field operations,” but declined to provide more details.
“We do not discuss the details of private diplomatic discussions,” a State Department official said in an email.
 
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
The State Department has taken the lead on the negotiations, although the issue of war dead on the peninsula is usually handled by the U.N. command, which oversees the cease-fire.
 
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month that the UNC would handle the return of the remains since 16 nations fought under the U.N. flag during the war.
 
More than 36,000 U.S. troops died in the Korean War, according to the Pentagon. That figure includes some 7,700 still unaccounted for, with an estimated 5,300 believed to have been lost in the North.
 
The DPAA says that North Korean officials have indicated in the past that “as many as 200 sets of remains” are in custody and could be ready for return.
 
Initial cost for Trump military parade comes in at $12 million, DoD says
(MilitaryTimes) President Donald Trump’s requested military parade is expected to cost about $12 million, according to initial planning estimates, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.
 
The parade was initial set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but now will take place Nov. 10 to accommodate international celebrations on Nov. 11 set to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade costs were first reported by CNN.
 
The initial price tag could easily change, and no final plan has been approved yet, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. The price would depend on the final numbers of troops and type of equipment involved, and how those troops will need to be transported to Washington, such as whether they would need to be moved by train.
 
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previously told Congress the price tag could be between $10 million and $30 million.
 
The parade date is just four months away, which raised questions on how Washington would be able to execute the needed security and planning, such as getting the permits and public bathrooms, that is required to accommodate a large public gathering.
 
The $12 million cost is roughly the same amount the military had planned to spend on its now-cancelled military exercises with South Korea. Trump directed the exercises to be cancelled citing their cost and saying the exercises were “very provocative” to North Korea.
 
"We stopped playing those ‘war games’ that cost us a fortune,” Trump said last month. The exercises were cancelled after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
 
Quality of Life
Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today,  eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
    --  The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Armed Services — Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a hearing to mark up the appropriations bill for FY2019. 
 
 
The House Intelligence Committee on Intelligence held a full committee hearing to discuss China’s threat to American government and private sector research and innovation leadership.  The expert panel of witnesses included Mr. Michael Brown, Formerly of Symantec Corporation, Ms. Elsa Kania, Center for a New American Security, Mr. James Phillips, NanoMech, Inc., and Mr. Michael Pillsbury, Hudson Institute.
 
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to develop a position paper on the TRICARE fee increases that will be sent to members of Congress.  This is the second year in a row that fees have been sharply increases and this balancing of the budget on the backs of veterans is unacceptable.
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division participated in a MSO/VSO roundtable with senior defense officials to discuss an array of personnel issues. 
 
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 Staff Sgt. David Rosenkrantz, 28, of Los Angeles, accounted for on March 7, will be buried in June 20 in Riverside, California. In September 1944, Rosenkrantz was a member of Company H, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, participating in Operation Market Garden, a ploy by Allied planners to break German defensive lines on the western front by capturing a highway route through the Netherlands. On Sept. 28, 1944, Rosenkrantz’ platoon occupied Heuvelhof, a farm, located south of the town of Groesbeek. German tanks and infantry launched a major attack that morning. The isolated paratroopers hid among sparse trees and buildings. As Rosenkrantz rose from his position, enemy gunfire erupted and Rosenkrantz was killed. Due to enemy fire and the proximity to enemy troops, Rosenkrantz’ remains could not be recovered.
     
  • Army Pfc. Walter W. Green, 18, of Zanesville, Ohio, accounted for on Aug. 8, 2017, will be buried July 20 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In November 1950, Green was a member of Company E, 2nd 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. Green was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950 when he could not be accounted for by his unit.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 13 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
WWII Veteran's Funeral at Arlington Held After More Than 7 Decades
(Military.com) More than 70 years after his death, a World War II veteran was buried Tuesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
Several relatives of Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty joined together at the military cemetery in Virginia to honor the fallen serviceman, who died after his B-26 Marauder crashed down in June 1944 when he was 22 years old.
 
The plane "was shot down" while flying over France in the midst of the war and every member of the eight-person crew onboard at the time died, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, who announced earlier this year that Canty's remains had been accounted for.
 
Scientists were able to use DNA analysis to identify the veteran's remains.
 
Canty's casket, adorned with an American flag, was escorted through the cemetery on a horse-drawn carriage. The flag was presented to Canty's nephew, Wayne Brazeau, 78, who attended the service with his wife, Dorothy.
 
More cancer treatment options opening to veterans thanks to new partnership
(Military Times) WASHINGTON — Veterans battling cancer could have an easier access to cutting-edge treatments and experimental trials under a new partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Cancer Institute announced Tuesday.
 
Department officials say the arrangement will not only provide better health care options to veterans but also hopefully provide new advancements for researchers working on cancer treatment breakthroughs.
 
“By increasing enrollment in these trials, VA and Veterans will contribute to important cancer research,” acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke said in a statement. “This will not only help our veterans, but also advance cancer care for all Americans and people around the world.”
 
Initial work will start at VA facilities in 12 different states spread across the country. Officials from the institute will establish an infrastructure for the federal sites to participate in their clinical trials, while VA officials will make changes to its operational rules and goals to bring them in line with the trial work.
 
Department officials noted that the VA health care system already conducts significant research on cancer prevention and treatment, but face challenges linking that work to externally funded trials.
 
Organizers are optimistic that the collaboration will help highlight particular challenges that veterans face, and whether there are specific treatments that are more beneficial to that population.
 
They also pledged that special attention will be given to minority veteran patients, who “often have less access to new treatments and are not as well represented in clinical trials” across the country.
 
The new NCI and VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment — dubbed NAVIGATE — is a three-year agreement that will also establish practices and to help additional VA medical centers enroll more veterans in cancer trials.
 
US troops deployed to lend a hand in Thai soccer team’s rescue from cave
(Military Times)  The entire Wild Boars soccer team, including 12 boys and their coach, was successfully rescued from a flooded cave complex in Thailand, where dozens of U.S. military personnel were deployed to assist in the operation.
 
The boys, ages 11-16, rescued from the Tham Luang Cave complex in northern Thailand were recuperating at a hospital in the nearby city of Chiang Rai, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
 
The final rescue mission of the multi-day effort was done on Tuesday, 18 days after the soccer team entered the cave and became stranded due to heavy flooding.
 
For the rescue, 42 U.S. military personnel and one member of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand were deployed to the multinational rescue effort, according to a Pentagon statement.
 
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command dispatched 36 servicemembers from Okinawa, including airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group and the 31st Rescue Squadron, to Thailand on June 28.
Since two specially trained volunteer British cave divers found the team in the cave complex last week, rescue plans were in the works.
 
The first four boys were rescued Sunday, followed by four more on Monday. The remaining four boys and their coach, along with three Thai Navy SEALs and a doctor who were staying with them, successfully exited the cave Tuesday. Each evacuee wore full scuba gear and was accompanied by two navy divers along the 2.4-mile escape route.
 
The U.S. military personnel involved in the rescue effort helped stage equipment and prepare the first three chambers of the cave system for safe passage, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning.
 
They also assisted in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system and provided medical and technical assistance.
 
The celebration of the team’s rescue comes amid mourning for Saman Kunan, the former Thai Navy SEAL and volunteer diver who died early Friday while delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.
 
"The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue," Manning said in the DoD release. "His sacrifice will not be forgotten."
 
Quality of Life
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
    --  The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Armed Services — Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss DoD’s role in foreign assistance.  The expert panel of witnesses included Jason Ladnier, director of the Office of Partnerships, Strategy, and Communications in the State Department's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations; Mark Mitchell, principal deputy assistant Defense secretary for special operations/low-intensity conflict; Robert Jenkins, deputy assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Julien Schopp, director of humanitarian practice at Interaction; and Melissa Dalton, senior fellow and deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program and director of the CSIS Cooperative Defense Project
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to develop a position paper on the TRICARE fee increases that will be sent to members of Congress.  This is the second year in a row that fees have been sharply increases and this balancing of the budget on the backs of veterans is unacceptable.
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division were invited to attend the Department of Maryland’s Legion College on National Security.  Staff provided the attendees with an overview of what the national staff is pursuing legislatively.  Staff also provided an analysis of key national security foreign affairs issues that are of importance to the American Legion.  There was also a discussion on the recent annual DoD suicide report and the role local posts can play to assist servicemembers and their families to lessen the burdens of military service.
 
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
Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell E. Valley, 19, of Ontonagon, Michigan, accounted for on January 11, will be buried July 14 in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Valley was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Valley.
 
Navy Seaman 1st Class James C. Solomon, 23, of Forestburg, Texas, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried July 14, in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Solomon was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Solomon.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 15 June 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(WashPost) President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered a joint statement Tuesday seeking a landmark deal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. But nestled in the document was a short bullet point that addresses a long-running concern of U.S. veterans groups: the recovery of the remains of thousands of American troops who were killed or captured in North Korea during the Korean War.
 
On Tuesday, the two countries agreed to “commit” to recovering the remains of fallen troops, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” according to the document.
The statement represents a significant victory for veterans groups that lobbied forcefully behind the scenes for a renewed effort to recover remains in an environment where many non-nuclear issues, including human rights and the return of Japanese abductees, were left unaddressed in the joint statement.
 
The remains of 5,300 American forces who were killed or captured in North Korea during the war remain unaccounted for north of the demilitarized zone, resting in cemeteries, former labor camps and battle sites. From 1990 to 2005, joint U.S.-North Korean search teams repatriated 229 sets of remains. But the cooperation between the United States and North Korea was abruptly suspended in 2005 as political relations deteriorated.
 
In recent days, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his negotiating team, led by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, that the POW issue is important to Trump, and he “instructed Kim to negotiate for it,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Trump, during a news conference Tuesday, said that he had received “countless” phone calls from Americans asking for help on the issue.
 
“So many people, during the campaign, would say, 'Is there any way you can work with North Korea to get the remains of my son back or father back?' ” Trump said. “I said we don’t get along too well with that particular group of people. Now we do. And he agreed to that so quickly and nicely. It was a nice thing.”
 
As Trump headed into his landmark meeting with Kim Jong Un earlier in the day, a top Defense Department official told families of the missing troops that securing the remains and resuming recovery efforts is a top priority for negotiations.
 
NDAA 2019
(TheHill) Introduced for the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the provision would stop a withdraw “unless the U.S. Secretary of Defense certifies it is in our national security interest and would not significantly undermine the security of our allies in the region.”
The amendment was introduced following Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. would cease its joint military drills with South Korea as long as talks with North Korea are ongoing. The halted exercises seem to be a concession to Pyongyang, which has repeatedly claimed that the drills are practice for a strike against North Korea.
Trump on Wednesday continued to tout his decision to suspend the military exercises as he returned from meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
"We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
While a reduction in U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula was not on the table in discussions with Kim, Trump did say that “at some point” he wants “to get our soldiers out.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday said the U.S. will not pull any of its 28,500 troops from the Korean peninsula.
“We’re not engaged in any reduction of U.S. forces talks, and I think we all wait until after this settles and we go forward,” Mattis said of the talks between Trump and Kim.
Duckworth said any discussion of withdrawing U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula must be tied to concrete and verifiable changes in North Korea’s behavior “and it must be done in close consultation with our allies.”
The Legion’s Position:  The American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense and applauds these increases to defense spending as a needed reversal to the Defense Spending Caps that allows us to rebuild our military. 
Quality of Life
 
Things just may have gotten a bit easier for military spouses seeking federal employment.
Last month, President Trump issued an executive order to enhance opportunities for military spouses looking for employment with the Federal Government.
 
The order requires Federal agencies to promote the use of noncompetitive hiring authority that currently exists for military spouses to the greatest extent possible.
It also:
  • directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to educate agencies regarding the use of the noncompetitive hiring authority, and to increase awareness of the opportunities it creates among military spouses;
  • requires all agencies to report annually on their progress in advertising positions to, obtaining applications from, and hiring military spouses; and
  • directs agencies to recommend new ways to improve license portability and remove barriers to the employment of military spouses.
 
While the order promotes the use of noncompetitive hiring authority for military spouses, it does not require the hiring of a military spouse for an open position over other applicants.
 
According to the White House press release there are nearly 690,000 spouses of active duty servicemembers. In 2017 the military spouse unemployment rate was 16 percent, over 4 times the 2017 rate for all adult women. Even though military spouses have a higher unemployment rate, they have a higher level of education than the population at large.
Military Spouses Face Greater Obstacles To Employment
 
Beyond the stress of having to move frequently due to military deployments, military spouses have to deal with job searches hampered by state regulation that prevents their occupational licenses from easily transferring.
 
It is hoped that the executive order will open more Federal positions to spouses and provide significantly greater opportunity for military spouses to be considered for Federal competitive service positions.
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Appropriations Committee did their markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the Bill on Thursday.  The bill provides support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to analyze the proposed FY19 NDAA.  It is currently undergoing amendments by the Senate.  There are numerous areas under review to include increases to end strength numbers, women’s issues, TRICARE fee increases, and equipment procurement. 
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
 
Other Activities
  • Tuesday, the National Security Division attended “The Dawn of a New Era: Opportunities and Challenges of artificial intelligence”, Ninth Annual A. Alfred Taubman Forum on Public Policy.
     
    Topics Covered
    • Using AI to Promote Security
    • How AI Is Transforming Transportation, Healthcare, and Resource Management
    • The Policy and Legal Issues Involving AI
       
  • Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss the Reform Management Group (RMG) regarding the reform of the Defense Commissaries.  The RMG’s intention is to improve and retain services to servicemembers, veterans and their families.  They will be implementing changes to the back of commissaries and exchanges to cut costs and shift those savings to the front end consumers.  During the conversation, it was stressed that these cuts must not affect costs or convenience to customers. 
     
  • Wednesday, the National Security Division  attended, EU Security & Defense Washington Symposium:    
     
    Topics covered
    • Panel I: EU and U.S. Defense Strategies: Shared or Conflicting Objectives?
    • Panel II: Framework for Stronger NATO-EU Cooperation
    • Panel III: Security in North Africa and the Sahel
    • U.S., EU, and NATO Reaction to Russian Hybrid Activity
       
  • Thursday, National Security Division staff  attended an event hosted by the Brookings Institute to discuss Transnational and cybersecurity threats in Asia. As the scale, frequency, and sophistication of cyberattacks increase in Asia, there is a growing urgency from the United States and our regional partners to address these threats and its impact on economic prosperity, democratic governance, critical infrastructure, and security. With state actors like North Korea increasingly using its cyberattacks to advance its objectives, it is imperative for policymakers to take full stock of the region’s true capabilities and intentions to effectively counter such activities. Moreover, the inherently asymmetric nature of the threat and the difficulty of attribution will require cross-border collaboration and engagement of private, public, and civic stakeholders to develop an effective and sustainable cybersecurity policy.
     
    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
  • Air Force Col. Peter J. Stewart, 47, born in Glasgow, Scotland, raised in Winter Haven, Florida, accounted for on Feb. 28, 2018, will be buried June 18 in Winter Haven. On March 15, 1966, Stewart, a member of Headquarters, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, was the pilot of a two-seater F-4C aircraft, the second in a flight of two on an armed reconnaissance mission over northern Vietnam. The lead aircraft spotted two vehicles as the flight approached the target area and Stewart responded he was going to strafe the trucks. The lead aircraft, while maneuvering to engage the targets, lost sight of Stewart’s aircraft, but saw a bright orange explosion over the trucks. The flight lead immediately attempted to contact Stewart’s aircraft without result. No parachutes or emergency signals were seen, and all subsequent attempts to contact Stewart and his aircraft commander were unsuccessful. An organized search was not possible due to hostilities in the area. Stewart was subsequently declared missing in action. His status was later amended to deceased.
     
  • Air Force Maj. James B. White, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, accounted for on June 16, 2017, will be buried June 19 in West Point, New York. On Nov. 24, 1969, White, a member of the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, was aboard an F-105D aircraft, in a flight attacking enemy troops. During the mission, weather conditions deteriorated and contact with White was lost after his first pass. On Nov. 28, an Air America helicopter sighted wreckage, thought to be White’s aircraft. A Laotian ground team searched the area and found small pieces of wreckage, but no remains were recovered. White was subsequently declared missing in action.
     
    Army Sgt. Donald L. Baker, 20, of Thornton, Arkansas, accounted for on Jan. 25, 2018, will be buried June 19 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In September 1950, Baker was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Sept. 6, 1950, as a result of fighting that occurred between his unit and enemy forces near Haman, South Korea.
     
  • Army Maj. Stephen T. Uurtamo, 32, of Chicago, accounted for on Sept. 27, 2017, will be buried June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Uurtamo was a member of Headquarters Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, which was engaged in persistent attacks with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) near the Ch’ongch’on River in North Korea. On Nov. 30, 1950, the Division began to withdraw south along the Main Supply Route, known as “The Gauntlet.” During the withdrawal, the 82nd lost many Soldiers, one of whom was Uurtamo who was declared missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950, when he could not be accounted for.
 
  • Navy Reserve Radioman 2nd Class Julius H.O. Pieper, 19, of Esmond, South Dakota, accounted for on Nov. 15, 2017, will be buried June 19 at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On June 19, 1944, Pieper was a member of Landing Ship Tank Number 523 (LST-523), off the coast of Normandy, France. The ship exploded and sank after striking an underwater mine, killing Pieper. In the years following the incident, his remains were not recovered or identified. Pieper’s twin brother, Radioman 2nd Class Ludwig J. Pieper, was also killed in the attack, but his remains were recovered after the incident and buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. Julius will be buried next to his brother.
 
  • Army Pfc. John H. Walker, 20, of Morning Sun, Iowa, accounted for on April 11, will be buried June 20 in his hometown. On Nov. 24, 1944, Walker was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action after his unit engaged in fierce fighting on Hill 207 near Schönthal, Germany in the Hürtgen Forest. With no evidence that Walker had been captured or survived combat, his status was changed to deceased on Nov. 25, 1945.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Wallace E. Eakes, 22, of Caney, Kansas, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried June 21, in Denver, Colorado. On Dec. 7, 1941, Eakes was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Eakes.
     
  • Army Pfc. Felipe A. Champion, 19, of Brownsville, Texas, accounted for on Aug. 8, 2017, will be buried June 21 in his hometown. On Feb. 12, 1951, Champion was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, when he was reported missing in action following a battle with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor, South Korea. After CPVF units withdrew north beyond Hongch’on in early March, American units began moving forward and found war dead, however Champion’s remains could not be identified.
 
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 8 June 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(NYPost) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wish list for his meeting Tuesday with President Trump at a resort in Singapore could shed light on the prospects for the summit. 
Trump in the past promised "great things" for North Korea if it dismantles its nuclear program. On Friday, after meeting with the North's Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, the president appeared to tamp down expectations for next week's meeting, calling it "a get-to-know-you kind of a situation," and "a process" that starts with building relationships.
Trump said the U.S. and North Korea may agree in Singapore to formally end the Korean War, which has been frozen with an armistice agreement since 1953. He said he no longer wants to speak of "maximum pressure" on North Korea, and said South Korea, Japan and China are expected to provide economic assistance to the North if the summit goes well. He implied that U.S. sanctions could be lifted at a later point, which would allow business relations between the North and the United States for the first time. 
 
But he is likely to hear from Kim that the North seeks more than a deal on nuclear weapons or a peace treaty. Here's what Kim wants:
 
U.S. security assurances 
Kim's spokesman said last month that North Korea is not interested in giving up its nuclear program without a corresponding change in the U.S. military posture.
 
North Korea is not interested in "unilateral nuclear abandonment," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement, according to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 
 
He accused the White House and State Department of attempting to turn North Korea into another Libya by insisting on "abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi relinquished his nuclear weapons development program in return for normalized relations with the United States, but he was deposed in a rebellion supported by NATO.
 
Peace
North Korea's agreements and statements indicate Kim wants normalized relations with the United States. “An end to U.S. enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim just as it was his grandfather’s and father’s for the past 30 years,” said Leon Sigal, author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.
 
Kim may be willing to denuclearize and even take steps to disarm if Trump commits to end hostile relations with North Korea and takes action to show the United States means it, Sigal wrote in March in 38 North, an independent online journal that provides analysis of North Korea.
 
A problem for U.S. leaders has been that North Korea's totalitarian government is so cruel to its people and aggressive toward its neighbors that allowing normal trade would be politically unappetizing.
 
Economic development
In his New Year's speech, Kim said his poor country was ready to shift to economic development.
Past negotiations also focused on economic benefits. The United States offered to arrange energy assistance from petroleum producers, build two light-water nuclear reactors that would be difficult to use for producing weapons, provide food assistance and lift sanctions.  April's meeting of the rival Korean leaders ended with South Korean President Moon Jae-in's promise to connect and modernize railroad lines and roads.
 
To keep that pledge, the South would need waivers from United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea, something Trump appears ready to agree to provide to the South, China and Japan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States would not provide any benefits until the North completely dismantled its nuclear program.
 
Buy time 
North Korea has made agreements while still advancing its nuclear program and can be expected to continue doing the same, said Richard Fisher, a Korea and China analyst at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
 
While Kim negotiates with Trump, his engineers are probably perfecting a weapon that can strike the U.S. mainland, Fisher said."They tested two ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) capable of reaching the United States," Fisher said. "They have not yet demonstrated that the missile could carry a warhead that would survive re-entry with some level of accuracy. I’m sure they’re working day and night to develop a viable warhead."
 
Work with China
Kim's negotiations with Trump and Moon "allowed this megalomaniac leader to seem reasonable on the world stage," and furthers a shared North Korean and Chinese goal to reduce U.S. influence in northeast Asia, Fisher said.
 
"Prior to these negotiations, Kim Jong Un was seen as a missile-rattling rocket boy threat to the world. (Chinese President Xi Jinping) couldn’t embrace him," Fisher said. "Now that the negotiations have gone as far as they have, Xi can embrace this young leader and solidify their already very close cooperation."
 
Other leaders have too. Russia has invited Kim to a conference in Vladivostok in September, and KCNA announced Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad will be the first head of state to visit Kim in Pyongyang.
 
Kim and China seek an end to the U.S. military presence in South Korea, Fisher said. "They want the Americans off the Korean Peninsula. They want full range and freedom to intimidate South Korea even more and to isolate Japan," he said. "It's all part of a larger goal of forcing American power back to Hawaii and California."
 
NDAA 2019
(MilitaryTimes) House appropriators approved their first draft of the annual defense budget bill Thursday, including a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, dozens more aircraft for the services and new protections for military families from political fights in Congress.
The $674.6 billion measure — $606.5 in base military funding and $68.1 billion for overseas operations — is about $1 billion below the White House’s defense request in February but in line with the two-year budget deal reached by lawmakers a month later and the annual defense authorization measure approved by the House last month.
The spending plan was advanced by the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel in a quick afternoon meeting with little opposition.
The appropriations measure echoes previously passed House plans for the annual military pay raise and a military end strength increase of 15,600 troops. It also adds $318 million to the president’s budget request for the Defense Health Program, to include more research into traumatic brain injuries and sexual assault prevention.
Lawmakers also added language to the measure to ensure that military death gratuity payments will not be interrupted by future government shutdowns, authorizing their immediate payment even if federal operations are curtailed or shuttered.
The issue has been a priority for military advocates since 2013, when several families of fallen troops faced financial headaches because of delays in the death benefit payouts due to the 16-day government shutdown.
More recently, families of two servicemembers killed in a helicopter accident saw their payments delayed several days during the weekend-long shutdown in February.
The bill proposes a $145.7 billion — $133 billion in base dollars and $12.7 billion in the overseas war budget — for equipment and upgrades.
That includes more equipment purchases than were in either the president’s budget request or the House-passed authorization bill: 93 F-35 aircraft, which is 16 more; 66 AH-64 Apache helicopters, which is six more, and three Littoral Combat Ships, which is two more.
Granger said the reason for the big boosts in aircraft is “because the faster you can do it, the cheaper they sell. So we can keep those costs down.”
But appropriators also fund only 24 MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles, which is five fewer than the president’s request.
The bill would buck the Air Force to back the recapitalization of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS program. For the ground surveillance mission, the Air Force would like to abandon JSTARS, which it sees as vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles, favor of a new advanced battle management system made up of aircraft and drones.
Even with a bipartisan budget agreement in place that sets spending levels for fiscal 2019, the defense spending bill isn’t expected to become law anytime soon. Senate appropriators still have not released their plans for military funding, and no timetable has been set for full House votes on their proposal.
The defense spending plan will also likely hinge on completion of a host of other federal agency appropriations measures, since Democrats and Republicans have sparred in recent years over balancing non-defense priorities with military funding.
The current fiscal year deal expires on Sept. 30. Lawmakers need to pass a full-year budget or a temporary budget extension before then to avoid the possibility of a government shutdown.
The Legion’s Position:  The American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense and applauds these increases to defense spending as a needed reversal to the Defense Spending Caps that allows us to rebuild our military. 
 Quality of Life
 
Shopping at the Exchange generates $219 million annually for military quality-of-life.
Last year, the military community generated $219 million for critical Quality-of-Life programs as active-duty Soldiers, Airmen, military retirees and their families, as well as honorably discharged veterans, shopped through the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
Over the last 10 years, Exchange shoppers have contributed $2.4 billion to support military Child Development Centers, Youth Services programs, fitness centers and other programs that make life better for service members and their families.
 
100 percent of Exchange earnings are invested in the military community, with about two-thirds going to dividends supporting quality-of-life programs and the remaining third used to improve the shopping experience in store and at ShopMyExchange.com.
 
“Shopping the Exchange puts money right back into our military communities,” said Exchange senior enlisted advisor Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes. “This is what the Exchange is all about: Supporting our military members and their families.”
 
The 2017 $219 million dividend was generated in part by veterans, who were welcomed home with a lifelong online military exchange shopping benefit introduced on Veterans Day 2017. By shopping the Exchange online, veterans make life better for those who wear the uniform today through increased dividends while also enjoying the great shopping experience and savings they remember from their days on active duty. Veterans can also visit www.ShopMyExchange.com/veterans to determine eligibility.
 
All branches of service benefit from shopping the Exchange. Because the Exchange also serves the Navy and Marine Corps at select stores and online, portions of the dividend are contributed to those branches’ quality-of-life programs. For 2017, the $219 million was distributed as follows:
 
•Army: $124 million
•Air Force: $76 million
•Marines: $15 million
•Navy: $4 million
 
The Exchange dividend is a key aspect of the organization’s mission to enhance the lives of servicemembers and their families. Shoppers receive convenient access to tax-free goods at exclusive military pricing while making an investment in local military communities.
 
The American Legion position:  The American Legion adopted resolution no. 9: Military Commissaries which calls for full funding of military commissaries and exchanges.  This year staff has worked with Congress to pass a bill that allows commissary privileges to disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients. 
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Appropriations Committee did their markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the Bill on Thursday.  The bill provides support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to support implementing policy into the NDAA that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to support stabilization in countries during military operations.  Currently stabilization operations are only conducted by the State Department.  If this legislation is passed State would remain the primary authority for stabilization but DoD would be allowed to supplement when necessary in cooperation with the State Department. 
 
Other Activities
 
  • This week National Security Division is coordinating the National Commander and party’s visits to installations throughout Europe Command and Africa Command in real time.  The visits include Armed Forces Network interviews, meetings with installation commanders and DoD senior leadership, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Simultaneously, the National Security Division is coordinating Military and VA Benefits briefing events for Executive Director Verna Jones at six installations throughout Germany.
     
  • Tuesday, staff was invited to participate in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss a myriad of issues and specific areas of support to soldiers, family members and veterans.  Social media tools were provided in an effort to partner with the American Legion to get the Army’s message points out.  The FY19 NDAA was also discussed as it was published by the House today.  The Senate will begin on June 6 and a vote on amendments is expected on the 11th of June.  The bill includes a 2.6% pay increase for active duty and an increase to end strength of 4000 soldiers. 
     
  • Wednesday, staff will participate in a partners meeting with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance as part of their Stop.Think.Connect Campaign.  This event is in conjunction with internet safety month and online cybersecurity experts will share important resources with our organization that can be shared with our membership. 
 
  • Friday, staff has been invited by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to attend a heritage event honoring former POWs, families of former POWs, families of those missing in action, and wounded warriors.  Heritage to Horizons events are enhanced community engagement events
offering a private reception and a themed Air Force Band performance honoring groups, organizations, and individuals who support the Air Force and military families at the Air Force Memorial.
 
The memo may also be found online on Military OneSource here:  https://www.militaryonesource.mil/-/department-of-defense-poli-1
 
Under the expanded policy, the Secretary of a Military Department may authorize the payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense, to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony when a Servicemember or DoD civilian dies overseas and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner requires that the deceased Service member or DoD civilian be brought to Dover Air Force Base for examination.
 
The original policy allowed for the authorized payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony only when a Service member or DoD civilian died in a theater of combat operations. 
 
This important change in policy will allow the Department to better honor and serve the needs of the surviving family members.
 
The Dignified Transfer is the honorable carry of a deceased Servicemember from one conveyance to another, such as when a deceased Servicemember is carried from an aircraft arriving at Dover Air Force Base and placed into a vehicle for ground transportation to the Port Mortuary.
 
Potentially, Secretaries of the Military Departments could choose to use this discretionary authority in cases of Servicfmember deaths arising from mishaps that occur overseas in humanitarian assistance missions, exercises, and other real-world operational missions--even if not in a combat theater.
 
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
  • 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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Keown, killed during the World War II, has now been accounted for. On April 16, 1944, Keown was a the pilot of one of four P-38s of the 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, on a mission in a P-38 aircraft to escort a B-25 medium bomber on an aerial search near the mouth of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. The escort planes encountered heavy overcast conditions and charted a course for an auxiliary airfield. The aircraft turned toward open ocean to find a break in the clouds, when Keown and his wingman became separated from the other aircraft. Keown was reported missing in action after all four aircraft failed to return following the mission. Due to weather conditions, no searches were conducted that day.

    Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division
 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 1 June 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(NY Post) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, one of the North Korean leader’s closest aides, at the apartment residence of the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations in New York.  Kim is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the US in 18 years.
 
Pompeo on Thursday said that he could not promise that the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un was back on — but added that the US and North Korea were making progress in their ongoing discussions.
 
Pompeo and top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol concluded two days of talks in New York in advance of a possible summit, which originally was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore before Trump cancelled it.
 
“I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction. Vice Chairman Kim and I discussed how our countries could come together and create [new] visions of the future,” he said.  “This is going to be a process that will take days and weeks to work our way through.” North Korea, Pompeo added, has always believed that its nuclear weapons program was the only way the regime could guarantee its survival.
 
But while the Trump administration was still insisting on complete denuclearization, there were other ways that the North’s security could be assured, he added. “Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste,” he said. “It opens a front to lead to a new era of peace, prosperity and security.”
 
The North Korean official was expected to visit Washington on Friday with a letter from Kim Jong-un.
 
Asked whether he expected to know whether the summit would be back on by week’s end, he said he didn’t know, and that talks could continue for the foreseeable future.
 
“It should not be to anyone’s surprise that there will be moments along the way that this won’t be straightforward, that there will be things that look hard and at times it appears there’s a roadblock and sometimes perhaps even perceived at insurmountable,” he said.
 
But, he added, the president and the North Korean dictator could make history if the North agrees to denuclearize in exchange for guaranteed security.
 
“If these talks are successful, it will truly be historic. It will take bold leadership from Kim Jong Un, if we are to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to change the course of the world,” he said.
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that talks with...“We believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those decisions and in the upcoming weeks and month, we can test whether this is the case.”
 
SYRIA
(Military Times) Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened to attack a region held by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, saying in an interview broadcast on Russia Today channel on Thursday that American troops should leave the country.
The remarks reflect that despite pressure on multiple fronts, Assad is seeking to consolidate control after seven years of civil war.
With military backing from Russia and Iran, he has reclaimed most of the territory lost to rebels in the wake of the popular uprising that swept the country in 2011 and quickly descended into all-out civil war. But large patches of territory remain beyond his control, including the expansive region north of the Euphrates River that is administered by the Syrian Kurds.
Speaking to the Russian channel, Assad said he has opened the door to negotiations with the Kurdish-run administration while also preparing to “liberate by force.”
Forces loyal to Assad and the Syrian Kurds have clashed sporadically over the eastern oil province of Deir el-Zour. Last year, they led rival campaigns against the Islamic State group, and maintain a protracted front against each other along the Euphrates.
The United States, which supports the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, operates air bases and outposts in the Kurdish-administered region.
“The Americans should leave,” Assad said. “Somehow, they are going to leave.”
The Syrian president is also under pressure from Israel over growing Iranian influence in Syria. Iran, in conjunction with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, now operates a network of militias recruiting from across the Mideast to fight on Assad’s behalf and maintains a command structure separate from the Syrian government. Israel in recent months ramped up its strikes on alleged Hezbollah and Iranian positions and weapons depots inside Syria, sparking fears of a regional war.
In the TV interview, Assad maintained there are no Iranian troops in Syria, only Iranian officers advising the Syrian army. He denied reports that Iranians have been killed in Israeli strikes.
“Actually, we had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers,” he said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through a network of activists on the ground, says at least 68 Iranian and pro-Iranian forces have been killed in Israeli strikes since April.
Assad said Israeli strikes destroyed a “big part” of Syrian air defenses, but added they have been rebuilt, “stronger than before, thanks to Russian support.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government won’t accept a permanent Iranian presence anywhere in Syria.
 
Quality of Life
 
Veterans can take advantage of AAFES Website
In the six months since the Army & Air Force Exchange Service officially expanded online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans, more than 50,000 former servicemembers have used the new tax free benefit. Veterans can use their new benefit to order items at ShopMyExchange.com — tax-free. Every purchase Veterans make online improves life for servicemembers and their families as 100 percent of Exchange earnings support military Quality-of-Life Programs. To verify eligibility and begin shopping, Veterans can visit ShopMyExchange.com or VetVerify.org.
 
Army implementing barracks program aiming to improve Soldier’s quality of life
Under the new program, leadership at the company or equivalent level will oversee barracks operations, with the brigades providing oversight and garrison support. Under the FSBP 2020, barracks operations were managed by brigade-level command with garrison support.

Although FSBP 2020 provided a strong foundation for the current Army barracks program, the Installation Management Command struggled to receive accurate reporting and accountability of housing resources, Lavender said. In turn, Headquarters IMCOM went back to the Department of the Army to request the change.
 
Implementing the ABMP is no easy task, according to Lavender; however, OACSIM has initiated a two-phase approach to ensure that the entire Army is on board. Full implementation is slated for July 2019.

During the initial phase, all personnel responsible for supporting unaccompanied Soldiers will be required to establish an account with the enterprise Military Housing, or eMH, the housing operations web-based application, as mandated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and managed at each garrison, Lavender said.

Implemented DOD-wide, the eMH application can manage sleeping space/room assignments/terminations, track furnishings, schedule inspections, and issue certificates of non-availabilities, Lavender added. The eMH application also makes it easy to divide the barracks into floors, rooms, and common areas. In turn, the database will ensure the accountability of all unit assigned sleeping spaces and property.
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to discuss unsecure areas of the southern border and the opioid crisis.  Opioid abuse has become an epidemic across the entire nation – 116 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose. This hearing will not only highlight the opioid crisis, especially in Arizona, but also look for both law enforcement and non-law enforcement solutions that will ultimately save lives.
 
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 week National Security Division is coordinating the National Commander and party’s visits to installations throughout Europe Command and Africa Command in real time.  The visits include Armed Forces Network interviews, meetings with installation commanders and DoD senior leadership, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Simultaneously, the National Security Division is coordinating Military and VA Benefits briefing events for Executive Director Verna Jones at six installations throughout Germany.
     
  • This week staff developed mission statements for the National Commander’s Far East and Europe trips.  The documents will provide the Department of Defense with a better understanding of the transition, education, and VA claim development benefits the American Legion offers troops.
 
  • Wednesday, Staff attend an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to discuss the cancelled summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.  President Trump's cancellation of the summit with North Korea is a warning as to just how difficult it is to bring any kind of stability to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. It is also a warning that the U.S. cannot focus on the nuclear issue and ICBM, rather than the overall military balance in the Koreas and the impact that any kind of war fighting can have on the civil population of South Korea and the other states in Northeast Asia. The nuclear balance is an all too critical aspect of regional security, but it is only part of the story and military capability do not address the potential impact and cost of any given form of conflict.
 
  • Thursday, staff began coordinating potential engagements with U.S. Ambassadors from countries throughout Europe and the Pacific.  Currently, the National Commanders meet with the Ambassadors during their trips to Europe and Far East.  This effort will further our dialogue and improve our involvement with the Department of State.
 
  • Friday, May 25th, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie signed a memorandum that expands the authority under which the Military Departments may provide government-sponsored transportation to surviving family members to attend Dignified Transfer ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base.
 
The memo may also be found online on Military OneSource here:  https://www.militaryonesource.mil/-/department-of-defense-poli-1
 
Under the expanded policy, the Secretary of a Military Department may authorize the payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense, to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony when a Servicemember or DoD civilian dies overseas and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner requires that the deceased Service member or DoD civilian be brought to Dover Air Force Base for examination.
 
The original policy allowed for the authorized payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony only when a Servicemember or DoD civilian died in a theater of combat operations. 
 
This important change in policy will allow the Department to better honor and serve the needs of the surviving family members.
 
The Dignified Transfer is the honorable carry of a deceased Servicemember from one conveyance to another, such as when a deceased Servicemember is carried from an aircraft arriving at Dover Air Force Base and placed into a vehicle for ground transportation to the Port Mortuary.
 
Potentially, Secretaries of the Military Departments could choose to use this discretionary authority in cases of Servicemember deaths arising from mishaps that occur overseas in humanitarian assistance missions, exercises, and other real-world operational missions--even if not in a combat theater.
 
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
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Henry G. Tipton, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Tipton 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 Tipton.
     
  • Army Cpl. Ernest L.R. Heilman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. Heilman was a member of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, and was declared missing in action when his unit was breaking a roadblock in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea.  Reports provided by enemy forces indicated that Heilman was captured and died at Changsong prisoner of war camp in North Korea. Based on this information, the Army declared him deceased on June 8, 1951.
     
  • Army Sgt. Julius E. McKinney, 19, of New Orleans, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, McKinney was a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 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. McKinney was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, after he was last seen on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir.
     
     
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 25 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(WashPost) On Thursday, President Trump announced that he was canceling the planned June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many saw this development as a missed opportunity.  Trump himself called it a “tremendous setback.” But the reason the summit did not take place is actually easy to understand: There is no reason to negotiate if there is not a deal to be had.
 
Kim Jong Un wants to have his cake and eat it, too
The United States and international community’s long-stated goal is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But Kim will be reluctant to give up the nuclear weapons he sees as the key to guaranteeing his regime survival.
He might be willing to consider dismantling nuclear weapons if he believed the “maximum pressure” campaign against him threatened to destabilize his regime. However, we have not yet seen that level of pressure.
 
Most likely, Kim agreed to the summit in the hopes of having his cake and eating it, too: nuclear weapons and sanctions relief. After all, both his father and grandfather pretended they might denuclearize in the past. They managed to receive relief from the international community, while retaining and advancing their nuclear programs.
 
Progress would reduce both sides’ motivations to fulfill their promises
Even if Kim had every intention of moving toward denuclearization, getting a final agreement would still be difficult. Political scientists James Fearon and Robert Powell have shown how shifts in the balance of power complicate efforts to make “credible commitments.” To strike a successful deal, Kim would have to credibly commit to denuclearize and the United States and the international community would need to credibly commit to delivering a raft of benefits, including diplomatic normalization, promises the United States will not invade, and economic engagement.
 
But concluding such a deal would shift the balance of power in ways that would tempt both sides to renege. Severe international pressure may convince Kim to promise denuclearization. But with sanctions lifted, aid flowing in and the North Korean economy starting to improve, he might rethink whether to dismantle his nuclear and missile program. He could stop short of denuclearization — keeping some of his nuclear program to achieve his long-standing goal of becoming a recognized nuclear-armed power.
 
Consider how pressure on North Korea has lightened simply because of a possible summit. The Trump administration has stopped its threats of “fire and fury.” South Korea turned off loudspeakers pumping propaganda into the North. Western countries scrapped plans to use military interdictions to stop North Korea and its allies from evading sanctions. Having already won some of what he sought, why would Kim need to go further?
Meanwhile, Washington and its allies have been willing to consider lifting sanctions and delivering aid because they fear the growing and grave North Korean nuclear threat. But once North Korea actually got rid of its nuclear weapons and facilities, the West would feel less motivation to engage with North Korea economically and diplomatically. Recent discussion of how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was treated after he abandoned his WMD programs made this quite clear.
 
In other words, even if both sides sincerely intend to reach a deal on denuclearization, they both have good reason to doubt that the other will deliver.
 
Political scientist Barbara Walter has shown how, in civil wars, third-party guarantors can help overcome “credible commitment” problems. But there is no third-party guarantor powerful enough to enforce an agreement between Washington and Pyongyang. The United States, the most powerful country on Earth and therefore the most able to play such a role, is a party to this dispute.
 
Why negotiate if there’s no possibility of a deal?
Many observers believe that, in general, talks can bring parties together — and wonder why two disputing sides don’t at least try negotiations. But political scientist James Fearon has shown that serious and detailed diplomacy is irrational if there’s little or no hope of achieving an enforceable agreement.
 
Sure, Kim and Trump could have attended the summit and discussed denuclearization. Perhaps they could have even agreed to the broad outlines of a deal. But even then, much could have gone wrong.
 
What’s more, recent weeks have brought signs that the summit would not be successful. Most notably, North Korean negotiators failed to show up for a preparatory meeting in Singapore.
 
Given these realities, canceling the summit makes sense. As Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean nuclear negotiator with the North, said, “If North Korea is not serious about denuclearization as understood generally, it would have been dangerous to hold the summit as scheduled.”
 
What should we expect next?
Right now, conditions aren’t ripe for a deal. And they may never be. But both sides will nevertheless continue to try to enhance their leverage. North Korea will probably go back to expanding its nuclear and missile program, warning of a “nuclear showdown.” And the United States has promised to maintain “maximum pressure” until Kim takes concrete steps toward denuclearizing.
 
In short, we should expect more of the tense standoff we witnessed last summer.
That outcome certainly will not be as pleasant as high-profile talks leading to denuclearization, but it is easy to understand.
 
National Defense Authorization Act
(MilitaryTimes) House lawmakers approved a $717 billion defense authorization bill on Thursday after days of debate but without much partisan division, hinting at a smooth negotiation ahead for the sometimes contentious budget policy measure.
The House’ version of the fiscal 2019 authorization bill includes plans to boost active-duty military end strength, a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops and sizeable boosts for military aviation upgrades and equipment maintenance, all in line with White House plans to boost American defense power.
The 1,000-plus-page legislation each year serves as the centerpiece for a host of military policy discussions and fights. In recent years, that has included sweeping changes such as overhauling troops’ retirement funds and realignment of Pentagon leadership.
This year’s draft lacks that clear attention-grabber, but lawmakers touted measure as the culmination of years of effort to put the Defense Department on a path of to restoring military readiness, a problem both they and President Donald Trump have insisted undermines the country’s safety.
 “This bill takes the next steps to rebuilding our military and reforming the Pentagon, the next steps towards strengthening our country’s national security,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, in advance of the final 351-66 House vote.
“Our country has a number of tools at its disposal — diplomacy, economics and trade, soft power and influence. But in my view the most important tool is our military strength. And I believe our military strength enhances all of those other tools.”
Similarly, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the measure keeps the nation’s promise to veterans and service members by taking “a major step forward in rebuilding and reforming our military.”
Despite objections over immigration, nuclear security and a host of other matters, a majority of Democrats also backed the legislation, citing the same readiness concerns.
“After nearly 17 years of war, we have really worked the men and women who serve us in the armed services very, very hard,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and ranking member of the Thornberry’s committee. “And there is a very real readiness problem within our military as we have underfunded that to fund the short-term needs presented by the conflicts.
“The most important thing about this bill is that it really begins to pay that back.”
The measure authorizes defense officials to spend more than $39 billion on military aviation upgrades and includes a proposed commission to review spiking military aviation mishaps, a problem House members and Pentagon officials have sparred over in recent weeks.
House lawmakers touted their $717 billion defense authorization bill, which passed Thursday, as a step forward in restoring military readiness.
 
It also includes $18.5 billion to replace aging Army equipment and $25.5 billion for equipment maintenance and replacement parts. Lawmakers backed administration plans for 77 new F-35 aircraft, two additional Virginia-class submarines and littoral combat ships, and modernization plans for almost 3,400 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.
The 2.6 percent pay raise is the largest for troops in nine years. That and the end strength boosts are in line with White House promises to better staff and reward military personnel for their sacrifices.
But the White House did offer a list of objections included in the House’s plans, including increases for surveillance aircraft and aircraft carriers, a premature reorganization of space forces and the shuttering the Defense Information Systems Agency.
They hope some of those issues will be resolved in the Senate’s version of the legislation, due out later this summer. Senate Armed Services Committee officials finished their draft of the defense authorization bill Wednesday evening, and are expected to release details later this week.
In recent days, the House worked through dozens of amendments, including the addition of a full Coast Guard authorization. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., successfully pushed for the fifth armed service to be included with the traditional other four, setting budget priorities for the next two years.
Republicans fended off Democratic amendments looking to sideline plans for a new tactical nuclear warhead, to slash the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons account and to eliminate authorization for the wartime budget. They also denied an attempt by Democrats to append gun control legislation to expand background checks to the must-pass bill.
Similarly, a Republican-backed amendment to require the military to buy only American-made dinnerware and flatware was defeated during the three days of floor debate. Lawmakers have had mixed success in recent years in requiring such “America first” provisions in the defense budget legislation.
The House Rules Committee skirted consequential debate on war authorization amendments and protections for troops who came into the country illegally by denying any floor debate on those issues.
Still, between the committee and floor mark-ups, more than 500 amendments were added to the authorization bill, most without objection from either party.
Once the Senate adopts its version of the legislation, negotiations from both chambers will spend the rest of the summer working through the differences. The legislation has passed into law for the last 56 years, making it an outlier among the partisan rancor on Capitol Hill.
 
Quality of Life
Consolidation of Commissaries and Exchanges
Armed Forces Retirement Home military retiree residents in Gulfport, Mississippi and Washington, DC are scheduled to see a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in rent effective October 1, 2018. Fees for those in the independent living program (75 percent of residents) are based largely on income. Beginning October 1, 2018, these fees will increase from 40 percent of income to 60 percent of income. The current maximum rent is $1,429 per month. After October 1, the average rent will be $3,054 per month. Many of the residents who live there are elderly and on a fixed and limited income. This extraordinary raise in rent will put a financial burden on those who have served our Nation. Please contact your legislators and urge them to work to stop this excessive increase.
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Sarah Hughes, Writer and Researcher at Innovation lab and OPM. Ms. Hughes is working on the Women Veterans Patient Experience Journey. This project is being conducted by the same company that created the veterans experience map.  Staff from the National Security Division will work with Ms. Hughes to provide personal experiences as women veterans and experiences among other women veterans.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division sent MST and PTSD women specified information to Catherine Buckley, a legionnaire in Michigan. Ms. Buckley wanted more data and information regarding MST and PTSD. Staff from the National Security Division received the information from the VA before sharing the information with Ms. Buckley.
 
  • On 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.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Elsie Moore at the VA Hospital to discuss arrangements to set up a bi-weekly table that will showcase the services that The American Legion provides for women veterans and all veterans.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the monthly National Minority Veterans Summit Planning Meeting. Staff from the National Security is on the National Minority Veterans Summit Planning Meeting. The purpose of this Planning Meeting is for the 2019 National Minority Veterans Summit. No survey has been accomplished to assess the specific needs of minority veterans who make up 23% of total veteran population. The summit is meant to broadcast the voice of minority veterans in an efforts to document concerns and suggestions to better serve needs.
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson, Secretary of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education were in attendance at this event. The purpose of this event was to recognize, honor and remember the soldiers and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice for American freedoms and liberties.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a ceremony to place a wreath at The Vietnam Women’s Memorial to honor the 8 women on the Vietnam Wall. Staff from the National security division also attend the reception in their honor.
 
Hearings
  • This week the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to review the FY2019 funding request and budget justification for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  The witness present was the Honorable James F. Bridenstine, Administrator, NASA. 
 
The American Legion has Resolution No. 225: Fully Fund NASA.  The American Legion deems it imperative that the United States, in the face of increasing competition, maintain its hard won status as the world leader in aeronautics and aircraft production and in space exploration and research; to realize this goal, we urge the Congress to provide: adequate funding for NASA along with the nation's civilian and military aerospace research and development programs to maintain U.S. technological leadership; adequate funding to build, upgrade and enhance the nation's civilian and military aerospace research facilities and wind tunnels; a renewed national commitment to education involving academia in aeronautical and aerospace engineering research and technologies insuring a state of the art educated work force; oversight and investigating functions and related activities with respect to the transfer of American aerospace technology abroad; provide that all of our military aircrafts are design, manufactured and assembled within the borders of the United States.
 
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 mandate that companies that provide television, cable and phone allow servicemembers the ability to end their contract without penalty when they receive orders to deploy.
     
  • 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.
 
  • Tuesday, staff met with senior defense officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to discuss plans for the 2018 National Convention.  DPAA plans to set up a booth in the Convention Hall and offered to provide a speaker for the National Security Commission program to provide an update on recovery efforts for FY18 and budget challenges. 
 
  • Wednesday, staff participated in a MSO/VSO working group at the Defense Health Agency.  Topics included:
    • Connected Corpsmen in the Community (BUMED)
    • Womack Pediatric Unit (Army)
    • T2017 Contract Performance Update (J-10)
    • Dependents and Medical Health Records (OASD(HA)
    • Surgical Volumes (MHS/DHA)
    • Children's Health Care/Access to Behavioral Health Care (J-10)
    • Implementation of Sec 511, FY 2018 NDAA ((DHA)
    • Maternity Care Update (J-10)
    • Take Command: Open Season and FEDVIP/TRDP (MHS/DHA) Comms
 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Jack H. Krieger, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Krieger was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Krieger died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Walter H. Backman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Backman was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Backman.
     
  • Army Pfc. Willie E. Blue, 19, of New Orleans, 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.
 
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Edward F. Slapikas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Slapikas was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Slapikas.
 
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Francis E. Drake, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  On October 9, 1942, Drake was a member of Company C, 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, however Morrissey was killed in action. Two other Marines from Morrissey’s battalion were reportedly interred in graves atop Hill 73, alongside him.
     
    Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
    Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 18 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(NYTimes) On Wednesday, North Korea threatened to cancel high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to walk away from a historic summit with President Donald Trump to protest ongoing military exercises involving the U.S.  North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also warned the U.S. that the "provocative military racket" put the June 12 summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un in jeopardy. The North said it was angry about Max Thunder, a large military exercise that's currently being staged by Washington and Seoul in South Korea. KCNA called the drills an "undisguised challenge" and a "deliberate military provocation" against the apparent strides toward peace.  Kim's regime alleges that the Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and U.S. air forces are a rehearsal for an invasion of the North and a provocative move amid signs of improving ties between the two countries.
 
Iran
Requirements Iran must comply with as part of the Post-JCPOA Strategy
(CSIS) - Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others
Iran may be willing to halt ICBM development and deployment, but this requirement – like the poorly draft UN resolution on missiles – ignores the fact that Iran has developed short and medium-range missiles as its only way of countering that its current air force often dates back to the time of the Shah and is largely obsolete. It ignores the fact that Iran cannot import modern combat aircraft, or begin to compete with the airpower Israel, the Arab Gulf states, the U.S., Britain, and France can deploy. It also ignores the reality that missiles that can deliver effective conventional warheads, with precision guidance or even larger warheads to partly compensate for the lack of precision require, require payloads and throw weights large enough to deliver nuclear warheads. This requirement would keep Iran a third-rate military power even if it never sought nuclear weapons and is almost certain to be unacceptable.
 
Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa’ida
This requirement overstates the limited support Iran has provided for the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, which has generally been to use given figures to provide leverage against the U.S. or its neighbors, but Iran broadly sees both movements as enemies and might agree to this, and even to any future support of Hamas – a Sunni movement. Ceasing all ties to Shiite movements like Hizballah and the Shi'ite militias in Syria in Iraq, Yemen, and the Hazara in Afghanistan would mean giving up critical strategic leverage without any quid pro quos, and sacrificing asymmetric capabilities that Iran feels are essential to offset the conventional superiority of Israeli, Arab Gulf states, and U.S., British, and French forces.
 
End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel
Iran's opposition to Israel is partly ideological, partly a result of the fact that Israel had close ties to the Shah, partly a tactical way of positioning Iran to be a "defender" of the Palestinians and win Arab popular support, and partly the result of nearly 40 years of mutual hostility since the fall of the Shah. Hardliners in Iran will try to use this demand to block negotiations, and it is unclear that any Iranian government could make this change without an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
 
Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea
Once again, Iran would have to give up critical strategic leverage without any quid pro quos, and sacrifice asymmetric capabilities that it feels are essential to offset the conventional naval-air-missile superiority of Israeli, Arab Gulf states, and U.S., British, and French forces.
 
Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis
Support of the Houthis gives Iran leverage over another key Shi'ite military movement, and allows it to use small, cheap arms transfers to put intense and highly costly asymmetric pressure on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and – to a far more limited extent – the other members of their coalition. It also deprives Iran of the option of establishing a strategic position in the Red Sea. Again, it seems doubtful that Iran would accept this without a major quid pro quo and broader set of regional security agreements that removed most of today's strategic tensions and allowed Iran to develop its economy.
 
End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel
Again, Iran is being asked to give up an asymmetric capability without a clear quid pro quo, and without any acknowledgment it has been under cyber-attack by the U.S. and Israel.
 
Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens
There are "moderate" forces even within the current regime in Iran that support a less repressive approach, and see economic and social reforms as key steps in winning popular support. Like all too many governments in the region and developing world, however, the regime is very unlikely to take any steps that it feels threaten it. Repression – not reform – is the region's default approach to internal security.
 
Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens
Once again, repression not reform is the region's default approach to internal security. Iran also feels it can use the detention of U.S. citizens as a form of leverage. Iran might still agree, but it will not fail to detain or create serious problems for any foreigner who is seen as a threat to the regime.
 
Quality of Life
Consolidation of Commissaries and Exchanges
(MilitaryTimes) - The next step in an ongoing Defense Department plan to consolidate the commissary and exchange systems is expected to begin in July, a Defense Department spokesman said.
A task force will delve into the financial feasibility of the move and develop organizational and operational plans for “above-the-store” structures of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange Service Command, and Marine Corps Exchange. A memorandum establishing the task force is in draft form.
Senior Defense Officials say such an organization would have lower overhead and operating expenses and would “preserve the many benefits” of the current system, “including spousal employment.”
The American Legion has questions about the plan, including how much it will cost to consolidate the four entities, and what DoD would do with any boost to its bottom line.
Out of the $1.3 billion in taxpayer dollars the commissary system gets each year to operate the system, about $800 million is spent on pay and benefits for the commissary workforce.
For years, some in the Pentagon have targeted that $1.3 billion, attempting to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars going to the benefit and redirect them to other needs of the military, especially during times of budget cuts and sequestration.
Officials have been drafting a legislative proposal because the law would have to be changed in order to consolidate these resale systems. That proposal was not included in the initial House markup of the fiscal 2019 national defense authorization bill.
According to the draft memo, the task force will analyze the business case for consolidating the stores. If that analysis confirms the approach, the task force director will start the consolidation immediately and will perform the duties as the new “defense resale enterprise” interim, single director, until the permanent position is advertised and filled.
Once a memo is signed, and direction to establish a task force is published, Pentagon officials will ask for nominees for the task force from the various resale entities. Under the timeline in the draft memo, a task force that starts work in July would wrap up by late January, sources said.
Background documents note that commissary sales are down by 20 percent between 2012 and 2017, citing a variety of reasons. Changes need to be made, officials contend, to allow the commissary system to adapt more quickly to trends such as online ordering, technology-enabled shopping and curbside pickup.
The “guiding principles” for consolidation listed in the internal DoD document are:
  • Preserve the benefit.
  • Maintain or increase MWR dividends.
  • Maintain savings levels at commissaries and exchanges.
  • Minimize impacts to store operations (for example, no store closures).
  • Maintain “exceptional customer service and satisfaction throughout resale enterprise.”
  • Maintain military service equities, brands and mission responsiveness.
  • Improve the governing structure thorough a single board of directors.
    Officials in the office of DoD’s chief management officer have been working on various areas of reform for more than a year, including the community services area, which includes commissaries and exchanges, MWR programs, family support services and the DoD primary and secondary school system.
    “The Reform Management Group agreed that these community services are recognized as non-pay benefits or perceived as beneficial to the Department’s mission, recruiting, retention, and readiness, so should not be divested or discontinued,” the draft memo states.
    Consolidation of commissaries and exchanges has been the subject of numerous studies in the last several decades. In 2015, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission recommended consolidating the commissary and three exchange systems into one entity to be called the Defense Resale Activity. A number of the recommendations within that proposal are similar to DoD’s current direction, such as plans for one executive director to oversee the system, a single board of directors and the consolidation of many back-end and support functions.
    Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division will serve a second year on the Committee for the Health of Those Who Have Served Report. The Committee consist of 12 individuals representing a breadth of military and veteran’s health perspectives. The 2018 Health of Those Who Have Served Report will build on the 2016 and 2017 report will provide an updated holistic portrait of the men and women who have served, including trends over a six-year period. As with previous report, the 2018 report is scheduled for release in November and is expected to garner national attention as well as foster dialogue on the health opportunities and realities facing those who have served.
     
  • On 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.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division briefed the new media relations specialist, Mackenzie Wolf, on legislation and statistical data on Women Veterans. Ms. Wolf will write more articles featuring women veterans as women veterans continue to become the fasting growing population.
     
  • On Wednesday Staff from the National Security Division received and responded to a request via the women veterans website from Chloe. This request was about a women veterans day event that will highlight the women who served this country. This event is the first of its kind and will be celebrated on June 12, 2018. It is unclear where the event will be held but pending Chloe’s response, that information will be received.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division prepared a brief report on the meeting notes received from The Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Council on Women Veterans.
     
    Hearings
  • This week the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to assess TSA checkpoints and the pre-check program and how it affects airport wait times.  The purpose of the hearing was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA Pre-check program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.
     
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 mandate that companies that provide television, cable and phone allow servicemembers the ability to end their contract without penalty when they receive orders to deploy.
     
  • 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 servicemembers 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.
     
  • This week staff are staff are looking into an issue with unpaid Survivor Benefit Plan premium (SBP) for military retirees.  The Defense Finance and Accounting Services(DFAS) is now automatically deducting premiums that are not paid in full from retirement pay.  We have found out that some retirees have unpaid premiums with interest as high as $23,000.  This debt will be collected from the monthly payout to the surviving spouse until the debt is fully collected.  
     
    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 Air Forces 2nd Lt. Clarence E. Allen, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In mid-October 1944, Allen was a member of the 395th Fighter Squadron, 368th Fighter Group, and was the pilot of a P-47 aircraft as the lead element in a dive-bombing mission near Aachen, Germany. The squadron engaged enemy aircraft in dogfights in the vicinity of Dusseldorf, and following the battle, all aircraft except Allen’s returned to the base. The squadron Mission Report indicated that a P-47 was seen crashing in the vicinity of the battle. Based on this information, Allen was declared missing in action on Oct. 12, 1944.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard H. Aldridge, killed during 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.
     
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Elden W. Grimm, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Grimm was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Grimm died on Nov. 25, 1943.
 
  • Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Harvel L. Moore, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  In November 1943, Moore was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Moore died on the third day of the battle, Nov. 22, 1943.
     
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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: h