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The Department of France

 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 19 May 17
 
  1. On Tuesday, Women & Minority Veterans Assistant Director Keronica Richardson met with Jane Horton, Congressional and Military Liaison at the Afghanistan Embassy, to help build relations between the Afghanistan Ambassador and American Women Veterans. Keronica and Jane discussed the possibility of hosting an event at the embassy with approximately 15 women veterans (from all wars) to meet the ambassador and eat Afghan food. Keronica and Jane also discussed the possibilities of having the Afghan Ambassador speak at TAL events to further build relationships.
     
  2. On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell attended the annual Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myers, hosted by acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer. Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long, live-action military pageant featuring Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing's Own.”
     
  3. On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson attended the House Veterans Affairs Committee markup of several bills, including H.R.91 the “Building Supportive Networks for Women Veterans Act” and H.R.467, “VA Scheduling Accountability Act.”
 
  1. On Wednesday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended a discussion on the “Drivers of Insecurity and Instability in the Middle East and South Asia” at the Wilson Center. At this event, Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with the intelligence firm Geopolitical Futures and senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy, identified three main drivers of insecurity and instability in those two parts of the world: autocratic meltdown, geosectarianism, and jihadism. These drivers play out, according to Dr. Bokhari, in a fragile political environment in which autocracy is no longer viable while democracy is either failing to emerge or struggling to take root. The result is the formation of large, ungoverned spaces that give rise to violent extremists.
 
  1. On Wednesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee hearing on “Military Personnel Posture: FY2018.” Lt. Gen. James McConville, deputy chief of staff (G-1), USA, Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of naval personnel, USN, Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, USMC, and Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, USAF, testified. The personnel chiefs all laid out their respective services’ current, readiness, retention, and recruitment challenges and current circumstances. The chiefs detailed personnel strategies to keep the force trained and equipped to deal with present conflicts while also preparing for future contingences.
 
  1. On Wednesday Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs.” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, Gen. John Raymond, commander of the Air Force Space Command, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, and Cristina Chaplain, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office, testified. The Air Force’s focus is on dealing with space as a militarized domain, and developing the policies, strategies, and technology to maintain qualitative dominance. Acquisition, joint warfighting capability, and resilience were all top priorities for planners.
     
  2. On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion with Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, on the strategic importance of a strong Euro-Atlantic partnership. The event coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the May 25 NATO Leaders Meeting, where the United States and Europe will consider the mounting challenges facing the alliance, including security in the region, an erosion of public confidence in institutions, and instability on Europe’s periphery.
 
  1. I attended a panel discussion about women transitioning from military service and a screening of Soldier On: Life After Deployment with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) on May 17th. The film highlights some of the unique challenges and circumstances that women veterans face, such as high rates of experiences military sexual trauma, unemployment, and homelessness after their service.
 
  1. On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and representatives from the legislative affairs division met with Senator Lindsey Graham’s Armed Services cybersecurity subcommittee staff to discuss pressing issues within the realm of cybersecurity, and explore ways for the federal government to grow and support a robust and distributed workforce of cyber professionals.
     
    POW/MIA Update
  • Army Staff Sgt. Michael Aiello, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. In September 1944, Aiello was a member of Company G, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), which was attached to the 325th GIR for Operation Market Garden. American and German forces battled in a dense forest in the Netherlands, known as Kiekberg Woods. The battle, which lasted four days, was comprised of ferocious attacks and counterattacks by both sides and resulted in many American losses, including Aiello.  On May 31, 2016, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Aiello were disinterred from the Ardennes American Cemetery and sent to the DPAA Laboratory for identification. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending. Aiello's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
     
  • Army Cpl. Glen E. Kritzwiser, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Kritzwiser was a member of Battery C, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) attacks against units of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as SF21, provided artillery fire support for the ROKA during its attack north on Hongch'on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counterattack against the ROKA. The ROKA withdrew, leaving Kritzwiser's unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Kritzwiser was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not arrive to report in Wonju. On January 7, 2017, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Kritzwiser were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Army Cpl. Frank L. Sandoval, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Sandoval was a member of Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit, as well as other American units, were in operations supporting Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) attacks against the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPFV) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as Support Force 21 (SF21,) provided artillery fire support while located at Changbong-ni. On Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive. The ROKA withdrew, leaving SF21 in Changbong-ni. As the support group withdrew south toward Wonju, they endured continual attacks. Sandoval was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951, when he did not arrive with the unit in Wonju. On January 9, 2017, based on research and analysis, remains possibly corresponding to Sandoval were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Army Cpl. John Lane, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late July 1950, Lane was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, when the Korean People's Army attacked the city of Chinju, South Korea. The regiment set up defensive positions before withdrawing east to regroup. Upon arrival south of Masan the battalion began accounting for its soldiers and when Lane could not be accounted for, he was reported missing in action as of July 31, 1950. Remains were disinterred by the Chinju Sanitation Department in 1987 and sent to the Central Identification Laboratory for identification. Recent technology in DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Army Cpl. Richard Seadore, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In December 1950, Seadore was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when all units of the United Nations Command were moving south after units of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces (CPVF) staged mass attacks during their Second Phase Offensive.  On Dec. 14, the Regiment sent out a reconnaissance patrol.  While Seadore's company did not participate in the patrol, they remained in defensive positions north of Uijong-bu, South Korea.  The CPVF attacked and penetrated the company's defensive line.  As the unit prepared to move the following day, Seadore could not be located and was he was reported absent without leave (AWOL.)  His status was later amended to missing in action. Remains were handed over to the agency on May 28, 1992 and sent to the Central Identification Laboratory (now DPAA) for analysis. Recent technology advancements in DNA and laboratory analysis were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Henry Andregg, Jr., has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Andregg was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Andregg died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov.20, 1943. The remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in October 2016. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Sam J. Kourkos, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Kourkos was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Kourkos  died sometime on the second day of battle, Nov.21, 1943. The remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in October 2016. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 5 May 2017
 
NOTE: The National Security Division is working on improving communication with the National Security Commission, with plans to release a national security primer and commission member survey in the coming weeks. Please send any comments, suggestions, or questions to Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, egoepel@legion.org.
 
HR 224, the Consolidate Appropriations Act of 2017
 
The House of Representatives has passed pass HR 244, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. The bill allocates $593 billion for defense — $19.9 billion more than the FY 2016 level and $16.3 billion more than the Obama administration's request. It includes $516.1 billion in base discretionary funding — $2 billion above FY 2016 levels — and $76.6  billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) associated with the war in Afghanistan and other counterterrorism operations such as the fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). The OCO total includes $14.8 billion in new supplemental funding requested by the Trump administration in March.
  • The bill denies cuts to troop levels proposed by the Obama administration and includes an additional $1.6 billion to pay for 3,000 more active-duty and reserve Army soldiers and 1,000 more active-duty Marines. And it would give military personnel a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise, a half-percent higher than requested by President Barack Obama.
  • The bill would fund 74 F-35 fighters, 11 more than Obama requested, for a total price tag of $8.2 billion. The F-35 is assembled in the district of Kay Granger, R-Texas, chairwoman of the House Defense Appropriations panel, though multiple appropriators from both parties support the stealthy jets.
  • The measure also would provide $1.1 billion for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters — a dozen more than requested.
  • The bill also includes $21.2 billion to buy 13 Navy ships, including three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, three Littoral Combat Ships, one LPD-17 amphibious transport dock ship and a down payment for a polar icebreaker for the Coast Guard.
  • In HR 244 there is $53.1 billion for foreign programs, including $36.6 billion subject to discretionary caps and $16.5 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for programs related to the war in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and other expenses, such as humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The combined total is $594 million below last year's enacted level when special emergency funding for famine relief is not included and slightly less than the President Obama's request. The measure includes $8.7 billion for global health programs, $3.2 billion for military assistance to Israel, $1.4 billion in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion for Jordan and $410 million for Ukraine.
  • HR 244 appropriates $42.4 billion in discretionary funding subject to spending caps, $1.5 billion more than the FY 2016 level, and $7.3 billion in disaster relief funding. The agreement increases funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection by 8%, Immigration and Customs Enforcement by 10%, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by 7%. It reduces funding for the Coast Guard by 4%. The measure does not include funding for a new wall along the border with Mexico as proposed by President Trump.
 
  1. Monday, Dep. Dir Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior Department of Defense officials to discuss the FY 2016 annual report on sexual assault in the military. This year’s report shows fewer Service members are experiencing the crime and a greater proportion of Service members are reporting sexual assault than ever before. The new data suggests about one in three Service members chose to report their sexual assault last year, up from about one in 14 estimated ten years ago.
     
    This year’s report contains results from a force-wide survey of active duty members. Survey results estimate that 4.3 percent of military women and 0.6 percent of military men indicated experiencing a sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed. The rates reflect a decrease from the 4.9 percent of military women and the 0.9 percent of military men estimated to have experienced a sexual assault in 2014. The 2016 rates suggest that about 14,900 military members experienced a sexual assault last year, down from 20,200 in 2014.
     
    The Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for FY 2016 is available online at www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports. Additional information about the Department’s sexual assault prevention efforts can be found at www.sapr.mil.
     
    Members of the DoD community who have been affected by sexual assault can access 24/7, confidential, anonymous support through the DoD Safe Helpline at www.safehelpline.org or by calling 877-995-5247.
     
  2. On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with National Security Commission Chairman Mike Schlee to discuss planning for the Spring NEC and sequence of events for the National Security Commission meeting during the National Convention.  We discussed cyber security training for the Departments and military installations in response to requests for increased awareness. 
     
  3. On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson participated in a teleconference with the National Advisory Committee meeting focused on the health of women who have Served. The meeting focused on researching health topics and indicators of greatest importance to women who have served for the release of the new America’s Health Ranking report in 2017 on the Health of Women Who Have Served produced by United Health Foundation and in collaboration with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Texas Health Institute (THI) and Arundel Metrics.
     
  4. On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a conference at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) public conference, co-hosted with the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law, that will feature an overview on the strategic terrorism threat landscape and on the Trump administration’s counterterrorism strategies.
     
  5. On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in a “Future of Policing” conference call, hosted by the Charles Koch Institute, with Randy Petersen, senior researcher at Right on Crime and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Rebecca Neusteter, Director of Policing, and Hayne Yoon, Director of Government Affairs at the Vera Institute, and Darpana Sheth, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, presenting.s
 
  1. On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Monthly Collaborative Breakfast Meeting at the VA with the Director for the Center for Women, Kayla Williams. Rhonda and Keronica informed the group on the upcoming town hall meeting and The American Legion National Conference in Reno.
     
  2. On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a crisis Town Hall Meeting at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center with the Exec. Dir. Verna Jones. The meeting discussed the concerns and issues in response to the mismanagement of medical equipment and unsanitary conditions that led to the removal of the center’s medical director.
     
  3. On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, to discuss domestic and homeland security issues surrounding drug trafficking and possible solutions.
POW/MIA Update
 
Navy Fireman 1st Class William H. Kennedy, 24, of Titonka, Iowa, will be buried May 12 in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Kennedy was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Kennedy. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kennedy.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
To identify Kennedy’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a niece and a great grand nephew, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
 
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,061 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 April 2017
 
On Monday, National Security Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Brookings Institution on current security and political dynamics in Afghanistan, where both Afghan and U.S. perspectives on Afghanistan’s recent developments and U.S. interests were provided. The panel included His Excellency Hamdullah Mohib, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States, His Excellency Anwar ul-Haq, former minister of finance and of transportation and commerce of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and currently an opposition politician, and Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown. Michael O’Hanlon, moderated the discussion. Ambassador Mohib laid out the political, social, and civil progress Afghanistan has made since the fall of the Taliban, while Minister ul-Haq, currently in the political opposition against President Ghani, described a set of serious challenges that the government has failed to grapple with, namely ensuring the physical security of civilians and endemic corruption. Dr. Felbab-Brown struck a balanced view, quipping: “Describe Afghanistan in one word: good. Describe Afghanistan in two words: not good.”
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “The Crisis in Libya: Next Steps and U.S. Policy Options.” Dr. Frederic Wehrey, Senior Fellow at Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Honorable Deborah K. Jones, U.S. Ambassador To Libya (2013-2015), testified. Dr. Wehrey’s testimony laid out the ongoing rivalries between factions competing for control and legitimacy and the lack of governance, the shifting alliances of militias, the quickly deteriorating economic picture, and the ISIL presence. In response, Dr. Wehrey recommended ‘smart counterterrorism’ to prevent the spread of terrorist activity and supporting the formation of a stable, inclusive government. Ambassador Jones highlighted the long history of division and foreign rule that Libya has experienced, and how Qaddafi’s overthrow brought all those tensions to the forefront, exacerbated by the complete lack of any governmental institutions or a history of the rule of law.
 
On Tuesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell participated in a VSO/MSO panel discussion as part of the Army Chief of Staff's Retired Soldier Council.  The council consisted of 18 retired officers, warrant officers and Noncommissioned officers and is Co-Chaired by Lieutenant General (Ret) James Lovelace and Sergeant Major of the Army (Ret) Ray Chandler.  The mission of the council is to (1)provide the Chief of Staff, Army with advice and recommendations regarding vital issues and concerns of Retired Soldiers, surviving spouses, and their Families; (2) provide the Chief of Staff, Army with an assessment of how current Army programs and initiatives and proposals for new laws and policies may affect the retired community and (3) strengthen communications between the Active Army, the Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve, and the retired community.  Provided to the panel was TAL’s position on no increase to TRICARE premiums, co-pays or enrollment fees; support of appeals modernization, and ensure veterans receive both, retirement compensation and disability compensation, regarding any newly submitted concurrent receipt legislation.
 
On Wednesday, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, held a hearing on “Democracy and Human Rights Abuses in Russia: No End in Sight.” Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice Chairman of Open Russia, Rachel Denber, Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, and Daniel Calingaert, Executive Vice President of Freedom House, testified. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended. Mr. Kara-Murza a longtime proponent for Russian democracy and civil society, had just recently recovered from a near-fatal poisoning, the second such attempt on his life by, assumedly, Russian agents. All three witnesses, who have spent decades working on and covering the post-Soviet democratic transition, described civil society—independent media, political groups, non-governmental organizations—as being under concerted, steady assault by Putin’s regime. They all called on Congress to support Russian civil society in its struggle, push back against authoritarian measures in OSCE countries, and not to normalize Putin’s human rights abuses.
 
On Thursday, Assistant Directors Eric Goepel and Keronica Richardson attended Concur new user training.
 
On Friday, the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution will host a panel discussion of the crime-conflict-regime transition dynamics and launch the findings of a United Nations University Centre for Policy Research project on this topic, with several of the study authors briefing their case studies and policy recommendations. John de Boer, Sasha Jesperson of St Mary’s University, and Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown will discuss case studies of Colombia, Nigeria, and Myanmar. Brookings’ Senior Fellow Ted Piccone moderated the session. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended.
 
POW/MIA UPDATE 
 
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. George S. Bussa has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Bussa was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated.  Bussa died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. Laboratory analysis was used in the identification of his remains.  DPAA is appreciative to History Flight, Inc., for their assistance in this identification. interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 21 Apr 2017
 
On Monday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell welcomed the new Women and Minority Veteran Outreach Assistant Director – Keronica Richardson to the team.
 
On , Tuesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell met with TALs Legislative Affairs Division to provide input on the upcoming hearing supporting Senate Bill S. 681  Deborah Sampson Act.  Recommendation: The American Legion support legislative language updates to S. 681 The Deborah Sampson Act (Peer – To – Peer  Assistance) to include adding a separate briefing track to address specific needs of women veterans for all women attending the Transition Assistance Program.  It has been continually noted that women veterans are more likely to seek assistance by speaking with other women, or by speaking with other women veterans on gender sensitive assistance. In addition to requesting a separate briefing track to address specific needs of women veterans for all women attending the Transition Assistance Program, the American Legion requests DoD transfer contact information of all transitioning women veterans to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Labor (DoL).  It will provide an opportunity for the VA, DoL and Veterans Service Organizations to follow-up with women veterans after separation to offer additional support, programs and services.
On Friday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Assistant Director Eric Goepel met with Legislative Affairs Deputy Director Derek Fronabarger to discuss the National Security Division’s legislative priorities and strategies for increasing capitol hill engagements.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Seaman 1st Class Milton R. Surratt has now been accounted for. Surratt, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pvt. Walter F. Piper has now been accounted for. Piper, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was reported missing in action, Feb. 13, 1951 in North Korea. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Pvt. Harold S. Hirschi has now been accounted for. Hirschi, of Headquarters Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, died Nov. 19, 1942 in the Philippines. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. Leslie R. Sutton has now been accounted for. Sutton, of Battery C, 99th Field Artillery Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division was reported missing in action, Nov. 2, 1950, in North Korea. DPAA appreciates the Korean People's Army for their assistance and partnership in this recovery effort. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Richard A. Lucas has now been accounted for. Lucas, of Company C, 1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was reported Missing in Action, Nov. 26, 1950, in North Korea. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 10 April 2017
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on the risks of Russian-Iranian collaboration toward long-term U.S. interests in the greater Middle East as well as the continuing threat of Salafist jihadi groups like al-Qaeda pose to stabilizing weak and failing states.
 
On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel participated in a call with Darby Beck, COO of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). LEAP focuses broadly on criminal justice reform, and in particular on areas that intersect with the veteran community such as the opioid epidemic, harm reduction, police-community relations, and civil asset forfeiture. Opportunities to educate the Legion membership and have associated law enforcement professionals speak on the importance of these issues to Legionnaires was discussed.
 
On Wednesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a Heritage Foundation panel discussion on “Rebuilding Air Force Readiness,” with Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein as the featured speaker. General Goldfein outlined issues with Air Force readiness, including pilot retention, flight hours, maintenance and training, and part shortages among others.
 
Wednesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner will participate in the first roundtable discussion with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the leaders of the military and veteran support community.  Secretary Mattis called the meeting so that he can share his vision for the Department, and hear directly from the veteran community about its goals in serving our military and veteran community.  In addition to Secretary Mattis, other confirmed leaders for this event include:  Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva; Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Tony Kurta; and Joint Staff Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition, Rear Admiral Hugh Wetherald.
 
Thursday afternoon Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attend a national security discussion with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, hosted at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS).
 
POW/MIA Update
Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Don O. Neher, has now been accounted for. Neher, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
 
Navy Reserve Ensign William M. Thompson, has now been accounted for. Thompson, assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was killed Dec. 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
 
The remains of Marine Corps Capt. John A. House, II; Lance Cpl. John D. Killen, III; and Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels, Jr., have now been accounted for. House was assigned to HHM-265 Marine Aircraft Group 16, and Killen and Runnels were assigned to Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, when their aircraft crashed in Vietnam, June 30, 1967. Two additional service members were previously identified from this crash, Marine Lance Cpl. Merlin R. Allen and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael B. Judd. Their remains were returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Interment services are pending.
 
The remains of U.S. Army Technician 4th Grade John Kovach, Jr. have now been accounted for. Kovach was assigned to Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, when he died Nov. 19, 1942 in the Philippines. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 7 April 2017
 
  1. “President Trump offered the full support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice,” the White House said. “Both President Trump and President Putin agreed that terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated.”  Fourteen people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing inside a subway train Monday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Russia’s Tass News Agency reported.
     
  2. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Armed Services will hold a hearing titled “Damage to the Military from a Continuing Resolution.  The invited witnesses are the four Joint Chiefs of Staff.  There is concern that the upcoming NDAA debates will lead to another continuing resolution.
 
  1. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security will host a hearing to Assess the Iran Nuclear Deal.  The purpose of the hearing is to assess whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is working and the effectiveness of its implementation.  It will also examine Iran’s continued aggression and malign activities throughout the Middle East. 
 
  1. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness will host a hearing to review the Current State of the U.S. Marine Corps.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps and Lieutenant General Michael G. Dana, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps
 
  1. On Saturday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the 2017 Army JROTC National Drill Competition in Louisville, KY to support the American Legion’s continued improvement of the JROTC Awards programs and to increase membership with over 200 drill instructors in attendance.
 
  1. Army Master Sgt. Joseph Durakovich, 30, of Gary, Indiana, will be buried April in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Durakovich was a member of Company G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, establishing a defensive position in Pongmyong-ni east of Kuni-ri, North Korea, when they were attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF). The Americans were continually attacked as they withdrew along the main supply route to Samso-ri, and they encountered a roadblock they could not break through. Following the battle, Durakovich could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950.
     
Durakovich’s name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the North Korean People’s Army, and no returning American POWs provided any information concerning Durakovich as a possible prisoner of war. Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953.
In August and September 2002, a Joint U.S. and Korean People’s Army recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation at a site in Ung Bong, Village, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses. The site was approximately 30 kilometers from where Durakovich was last seen. During the excavation, the team recovered material evidence and possible human remains.
 
To identify Durakovich’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial and Y-chromosome short tandem repeat DNA analysis, which matched a niece and grandson, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
 
Today, 7,755 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 31 March 2017
 
  1. The Trump administration wants Congress to add $30 billion to its fiscal 2017 Defense spending bill, but about $5.2 billion of the proposed addition is already in the bill, according to a Senate committee. The supplemental request for the Pentagon contained more than $3 billion in ship and aircraft programs that were already in the House-Senate agreement, HR 1301, that the House passed earlier this month and that awaits Senate action. Additionally, there is $1.6 billion to cover hiring of more U.S. military personnel than President Barack Obama had sought, plus another $285 million to cover a higher pay raise than he had wanted. Those two parcels of money were needed in the appropriations measure because the increases in people and pay are mandated by the fiscal 2017 defense authorization law which was enacted in December.
     
  2. On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attended the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “The Budget, Diplomacy, and Development,” focusing on the president’s recent budget proposal and its impact on U.S. foreign assistance. The committee heard from witnesses who all described the important diplomatic and development efforts the State Department engages in, and how budget cuts would drastically reduce their capabilities.
 
  1. On Wednesday, the  Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on “The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: Advancing Security and Prosperity on Both Sides of the Border,” with Assistant Director Eric Goepel attending. Ambassador Roger Noriega, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and former Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico both testified to the importance of U.S.-Mexican trade, and spoke against some of the anti-NAFTA and Mexican rhetoric of the Trump administration.
 
  1. The House Homeland Security Committee Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee and the House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “Threats to Space Assets and Implications for Homeland Security,” on Wednesday with Assistant Director Eric Goepel attending. General William Shelton, former Commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Honorable Joseph Nimmich, Former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency testified. The witnesses spoke about the critical role of space-based capabilities in emergency preparedness and response efforts and the threats to the space systems providing such capabilities.
 
 
  1. On Saturday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner and Assistant Director Eric Goepel will attend the 2017 Army JROTC National Drill Competition in Louisville, KY to support the American Legion’s continuing involvement in JROTC programs throughout the country.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Vernon N. Grow, 25, of Redding, California, will be buried April 7 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Grow was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 casualties, including Grow.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Grow.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
To identify Grow’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his cousins, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Grow’s records.
 
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 73,072 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

DPAA Update:

Remains of Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Casto, killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, have now been identified. On Dec. 7, 1941, Casto was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Casto. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Casto. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.

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

 
 
America’s military is losing its technology edge
 
From the military: Before leaving his post as Air Force chief of staff last year, Gen. Mark Welsh reported that China will soon field an air force “at least as big – if not bigger – than our air force” and that China is matching quantity with next-generation quality. China is developing and deploying “a number of new aircraft ... completely new variants,” Welsh noted. “We are not keeping up with that kind of technology development.”
 
From policymakers: “Our technological superiority is slipping,” warns Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who has served under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. “We see it every day.”
 
From our adversaries: Russia’s new electronic warfare capabilities can jam, scramble and blind U.S. assets. China’s cyber-siege of the United States is decimating industry, holding hostage the U.S. government and weakening U.S. defenses. Both Russia and China are catching up with the United States in stealth capabilities, networked warfare, power projection and precision missilery.
And from the frontlines, where U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are being forced to make the most of aging equipment: The Navy has been ordered to stretch the build time of new aircraft carriers from five to seven years. Short on ships, Marines are hitching a ride on allied vessels.
The Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson warns, “To say the Army isn’t ready for what lies ahead is an understatement: if it got in a fight with Russian troops in Ukraine, Poland or the Baltic states, the Army could quickly see all of its key targeting and communications systems shut down by enemy jammers.”
 
The Lexington Institute adds, “When the Cold War ended, the Defense Department terminated production of the B-2 and ceased development of new bombers for the first time since the 1920s.” Thanks to this bomber-building holiday, America’s bomber force comprises just 76 B-52s (the “newest” of which was built in 1961), 63 B-1s (brought into service in 1986) and 20 B-2s (the first rolled off assembly lines in 1988). Initial operational capability of the yet-to-be-built B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber will not come until 2025.
Winning or losing
 
Why is this happening? It’s not because the United States suddenly became less technologically capable than China and Russia. The reason the military-technology gap is closing is threefold.
First, since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. military has been focused on dismantling terrorist networks and clearing the spawning grounds of terrorism – and understandably so. But this has expended resources that otherwise would have been allocated toward new technologies and new weapons systems.
China and Russia have not been standing still. Instead, they “have gone to school on us,” in Work’s words, and invested their resources into fielding 21st-century militaries.
Second, while Washington has been cutting defense spending, China and Russia have been increasing defense spending.
 
Between 2011 and 2015, Beijing increased military spending 55.7 percent. Last year, Beijing increased military spending another 7 percent. Between 2010 and 2020, it’s expected that Beijing will double its military outlays. Moscow increased military spending 108 percent between 2004 and 2013; Moscow’s 2015 military outlays were 26 percent larger than in 2014.
All the while, U.S. defense spending has been falling. The U.S defense budget – in a time of war and growing international instability – has fallen 15 percent since 2010. The U.S. defense budget has shrunk from 4.6 percent of GDP in 2009, to around 3 percent of GDP today. Looked at another way, national security spending made up 20.1 percent of the federal budget in 2010, but in 2015 it was 15.9 percent, as Politifact details.
Not surprisingly, defense R&D spending has plummeted accordingly – down 22.6 percent since 2009. Defense R&D spending has fallen from nearly 0.9 percent of GDP in 1988 to barely 0.4 percent of GDP today.
 
There would be nothing wrong or worrisome about these numbers if peace were breaking out around the world. But with ISIS and al-Qaida waging war and sowing terror, with China building up its arsenal and claiming the territories of its neighbors, with Russia annexing Crimea and projecting military power into the Middle East, with Iran testing missiles and North Korea detonating nukes, we know the very opposite is true.
D
iminished defense spending has led to a third factor that’s blunting America’s military-technology edge: America’s defense industrial base is draining away.
Even before the bipartisan gamble known as sequestration began to take its toll, then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen warned in 2011, “I think the likelihood that if you make a decision which ends a certain part of our industrial base, it doesn’t come back ... People go away, skills go away.”
 
Take, as an example, the plight of the F-22 Raptor, the most sophisticated warplane in America’s arsenal. The F-22 is so advanced that Air Force planners say it takes eight of the newer F-35s to do what two F-22s can do. The Pentagon’s original goal was 749 Raptors, but scaled that back to 381 aircraft, before shutting down the F-22 program at just 187 aircraft in 2009.
Congress now wants the Air Force to explore restarting the F-22 assembly line and building 194 more Raptors. As Defense News reports, congressional officials cite “growing threats to U.S. air superiority as a result of adversaries closing the technology gap.” However, building just 75 more Raptors would cost $17 billion, owing largely to the fact that the personnel, tooling and facilities needed to resurrect the Raptor are gone.
 
For numerous reasons – cost, efficiency, the trend toward outsourcing – today’s defense industrial base “relies on supply chains that are increasingly complex and globalized,” retired Army Gen. John Adams explains. “Too often, these supply chains create vulnerabilities and are subject to manipulation by strategic competitors.” As an example, he notes that the United States relies on a Chinese company to manufacture a key chemical used in the propellant for Hellfire missiles.
In fact, Reuters reports that the Pentagon “repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392-billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013.”
 
With sequestration hacking away at the amount the nation is investing in defense, the five largest U.S. defense firms have cut 14 percent of their workforce since 2008, according to a Politico analysis. However, the U.S. defense industrial base was disappearing long before sequestration. “From 1990 to 2000, both the number of major surface combatant shipbuilders and the number of fixed-wing aircraft developers fell from eight to three; the number of tactical missile producers fell from 13 to three; and the number of tracked-combat vehicle developers fell from three to two,” a Heritage Foundation report explains.
 
Reviving the defense industrial base isn’t primarily about saving U.S. jobs or even protecting U.S. military assets from foreign mischief – important as those priorities are. Ultimately, it’s about winning or losing wars. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concludes, “The United States’ ability to mobilize key parts of its own defense industrial base, particularly those concerned with volume production of long-range precision-guided munitions, will likely be a critical factor in its success or failure in the conflict.”
 
Changing the game
 
Even so, all the news on the military-technology front is not bad.
America’s unmanned systems, missile defenses and cyberwar capabilities are on the cutting edge. For instance, Ralph Langner, an expert in industrial computer systems, has likened the Stuxnet computer worm, which the United States deployed to target Iran’s nuclear program, to “the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield.”
The Navy is fine-tuning an otherworldly electromagnetic rail gun that can hit targets 100 miles downrange at speeds exceeding 5,000 mph.
Air Force leaders predict laser weapons will be grafted onto AC-130s, MQ-1 drones, F-22s and F-35s by 2020, Military Times reports. “This is a reality,” Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, says. The technology is coming “very soon,” according to Carlisle, who predicts the addition of laser weapons will “change the game.”
The Air Force plans to turn old B-52s into unmanned “arsenal planes” that, when networked with new F-22s, F-35s and B-21s, will serve as “airborne magazines,” thus greatly expanding the striking power of smaller airframes.
 
The Pentagon is testing “micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets,” The Washington Post reports. Once dispersed, the micro-drones can attack independent targets, swarm a target or even lie in wait for a target.
U.S. industry is developing the Prompt Global Strike missile system capable of delivering a hypersonic kill vehicle “anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour,” the Congressional Research Service reports.
Perhaps Washington is ready to make the investments necessary to develop and deploy these and other next-generation military technologies, in order to defend America deep into the 21st century.
For example, there is bipartisan support in Congress to end sequestration. Noting that “it takes 22 years on average to field a major new weapons system,” the president pledges to build a military that can “deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength” and wants to make the United States “the world’s dominant technological powerhouse of the 21st century.”
 
Toward that end, Trump issued an executive order directing the Pentagon “to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces,” determine funding levels “necessary to improve readiness conditions and address risks to national security,” and identify any issues with “insufficient maintenance, delays in acquiring parts, access to training ranges, combatant command operational demands, funding needed for consumables ... manpower shortfalls, depot maintenance capacity, and time needed to plan, coordinate, and execute readiness and training activities.”
 
Timeless
 
It’s well known that President George Washington advocated military preparedness to deter America’s enemies and preserve America’s independence. “There is nothing so likely to produce peace,” he counseled, “as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.”
 
Less well known is something Washington said about maintaining a strong defense industry: “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined,” he declared. “Their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent on others for essential, particularly for military, supplies.”
 
It’s time, again, to heed Washington’s timeless counsel.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending March 6, 2017
  1. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve H.R.1301, the FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 371-48. The $577.9 billion spending measure is the first of what House GOP appropriators had hoped would be a series of spending bills to make their way through the chamber before April 28, when the continuing resolution (PL 114-254) currently funding most government agencies expires.
  2. President Donald Trump’s budget outline, with plans for a collective 37% cut to the budgets of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development in order to pay for $54 billion increase in the Department of Defense budget, was met with criticism from Congress and retired military officers.
  3. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that restricts U.S. entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries for three months and suspends refugees for four months while the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments tighten vetting procedures. The new order will go into effect at midnight March 16 and will apply to people from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who don’t already have a valid U.S. visa to enter the country.
  4. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on Quality of Life in the Military with the senior enlisted members from each service as witnesses.  One of the highlighted topics discussed was military licensing and credentialing.  In response to discussion Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner provided the office of the Secretary of Defense with the American Legion’s efforts on military credentialing, informing them of roundtable meetings the American Legions bringing together industry leaders and DoD leadership.  Mr. Gessner also provided the OSD with a white paper outlining ways to improve military credentialing and informed them of reports developed the American Legion produces from studies conducted on the issue. 
  5. The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation into an online Facebook group of over 30,000 active duty and veteran Marines where some members distributed thousands of sexually explicit photographs of female Marines. Members complied dossiers on individual women with information like names, ranks, social media handles and where they are stationed. Thomas Brennan, a Marine veteran and founder of the non-profit news site The War Horse, first reported the details.
  6. The Trump administration should not propose a $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard’s budget in its fiscal 2018 request, according to a letter penned by a bipartisan group of senators and sent to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday. “The proposed reduction of the Coast Guard’s budget by 11.8 percent would directly contradict the priorities articulated by the Trump Administration, in particular the President’s priorities regarding enhanced maritime security needs and desire to invest in our nation’s military,” the 23 senators wrote.
  7. On International Women’s Day, National Security Director Rhonda Powell attended the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation 9th Annual Summit at the Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Auditorium.  The Keynote Speaker was MG Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy G1, Department of the Army who discussed the now more than 300 positions successfully recruited and filled by Women in Combat to include infantry, armor, field artillery and special forces; duly noted, some of the most physically demanding career fields in the military.
  8. Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) entitled “NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalizing Collective Defense.” The event will look at the geostrategic importance of the North Atlantic for NATO, and the urgent need for a renewed and credible deterrence posture in the North Atlantic to ensure freedom of navigation, trade and transport, and force reinforcement to Europe, as well as to counter new emerging challenges such as undersea hybrid warfare.
  9. Two resolutions were introduced pertaining to POW/MIA recovery. H.Res. 129, introduced by Representative Sam Johnson of Texas, and S.Res. 61, introduced by Senator John McCain of Arizona, both call “on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States.”
  10. DPAA Update: Remains of U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Daniel W. Thomas, missing from the Vietnam War, has now been identified. On July 6, 1971, Thomas was the pilot of an OV-10A aircraft with one other crewmember flying over central Laos in support of an eight man Special Forces reconnaissance team. When the aircraft arrived in the area, the weather was bad, however it was determined that this would not affect the aircraft's mission. Approximately thirty minutes after the last radio transmission from the OV-10A aircraft the ground team heard an impact or explosion to their northeast, but could not determine the distance to the explosion. Extensive search efforts failed to locate the crash site. After multiple negative attempts to investigate the crash site, in April 2014 a Vietnamese witness provided a photograph of an ID tag associated with one of the two crewmembers. In August 2014, possible human remains were approved for repatriation and accessioned. DPAA analysis of aircraft wreckage and life support items indicated both aircrew members were in the aircraft at the time of impact. Additionally, through research, analysis, and DNA testing, the DPAA Laboratory identified the second crewmember, Maj. Donald Carr, in August 2015. On April 12, 2016, the DPAA lab received dental remains, ID tag, and other material evidence from the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons, which was consolidated into accession. Laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. Interment services are pending.
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending February, 17 2017
 
National Security Advisor Resigns
 
NSA Michael Flynn Resigns
Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor after admitting to having misled Vice President Mike Pence about the specifics of his discussion with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to President Trump’s inauguration.
Following Flynn’s resignation, the Washington Post reported that Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak had been monitored by the FBI, and that Flynn had publically misrepresented the nature of his communications.
Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward was offered the NSA position, but turned it down.
 
Secretary of Defense visits NATO
 
NATO Talks
In NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reiterated to NATO members that without increases in defense spending the United States will “moderate its commitment” to them. Mattis, in a later statement, called the alliance “a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the trans-Atlantic community.”
In response to a question from a reporter about possibly working with Russia in Syria, Secretary Mattis stated “We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground.”
 
53rd Security Conference
 
Munich Security Conference
The Munich Security Conference, an annual event focusing on international security policy and the largest of its kind, will be held from Februay 17th-19th, 2017. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be representing the United States. The thematic report for this year’s conference is entitled "Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?"
 
Senate Armed Services Committee
 
Thursday, the Asst. Director of National Security Eric Goepel attended a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss reshaping the U.S. military.  The meeting was prompted by the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz.  Guest speakers will include: David Ochmanek, senior defense research analyst at the RAND Corporation; James Thomas, principal at the Telemus Group; Thomas Donnelly, resident fellow and co-director of the American Enterprise Institute For Public Policy Research's Marilyn Ware Center For Security Studies; and Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
 
CATO Institute
 
Wednesday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner attended a panel discussion on A New Frontier on Police Surveillance at the CATO Institute on the use of cell-site simulator or Stingrays.  Cell-Site simulators are a cell phone drag net device first designed for military use, but increasingly ends up in the hands of local police forces.  A recent bipartisan report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found there’s no consensus on the rules that should regulate their deployment, or even what legal authorities govern Stringray tracking.  Two bills were introduced on Wednesday addressing these devises.
 
WWI Centennial Commission
 
Wednesday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell and Deputy Director Freddy Gessner along with Director of the Veterans Employment and Education Division Joe Sharp met with staff from the WWI Centennial Commission to discuss the Guest Speaker at The American Legion’s 57th Annual Washington Convention, along with National Poppy Day legislative support.  Also discussed was TALs participation in the WWI Centennial Groundbreaking of the new monument in Washington DC on Saturday November 11, 2017.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
As of February 7, 2017, there were 60 DPAA personnel deployed in support of operations around the world.  DPAA has begun mission analysis and planning for the Agency’s FY18-19 Operations Plan (OPLAN). The main effort for field recoveries continues to be Vietnam War losses. The primary effort to achieve our goal of identifying the remains of 200 unaccounted-for personnel in FY18 and FY19 will come from the disinterment of service members buried as Unknowns.
 
During the 2nd Quarter, DPAA will deploy one IT and one RT to Vietnam, as well as a Field Forensic Review (FFR) and Joint Forensic Review team. Our Vietnamese counterparts will provide one Research and Investigation Team (RIT) and one Unilateral Investigation Team (UIT).
 
Within the last 30 days DPAA conducted missions in the following Asia Pacific region countries:
o Laos, 1xIT/3xRT
o Tarawa, (via History Flight Group, DPAA Partner)
o Philippines, (via DPAA Partner University of Illinois, Chicago)
o Cambodia, Pre Deployment Site Survey (PDSS) in prep for 1xRT 3rd Quarter
 
DPAA planned missions in the 2nd Quarter (January-March):
o Tarawa, FFR
o Philippines, Disinterment
o Laos, 2xIT/6xRT
o Vietnam, reduced from 3xIT/5xRT to 2xIT/2xRT 1xRT,1xURT
o Burma, reduced from 1xRT/1xIT to 1xRIT
o Palau, 1xIT/1xRT (via SEARCH H2O DPAA Partner)
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of February 10, 2017
 
Pentagon meeting to review Reduction in Force policy
 
Thursday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will participate in a meeting with senior Department of Defense leadership to review the new reduction in force policy and procedures that were announced last week. The new policy has raised concerns about how DoD employees who are eligible for veterans preference in the of a RIF would be treated under the new policy.  Under the new policy veterans preference has been downgraded from the second highest considered factor to the next to last considered.
 
HQDA VSO Roundtable
 
Friday, Director of the National Security Division Rhonda Powell will meet with Army senior leaders and engage in discussions on several topics to include: General Milley - Chief of Staff of the Army - Personnel and Readiness update Mr. Bernard Ingold, Deputy Chief of Legislative Liaison - FY17 Legislative priorities of the Army MG Horlander, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Army Budget - Army budget authorizations and appropriations BG Winski - Director of Operations Readiness and Mobilizations - Full spectrum operations, mobilizations and unit training.
 
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
 
Monday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner attended a forum at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in a discussion on securing American interests.  The discussion included how geo-economic landscape is changing, and a new era of economic statecraft is upon us. The expert panel also addressed North Korea’s growing use of offensive cyber capabilities that target the international financial system, in addition to the threat from its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class George T. George, killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, have now been identified.
 
On Dec. 7, 1941, George was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including George.  No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.
 
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
 
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including George.
 
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
 
DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains.
 
Interment services are pending.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week of February 3, 2017
 
Department of Defense Blended Retirement Update
 
Monday, Deputy Director of the National Security Division Freddy Gessner participated in conference call with senior Department of Defense officials to discuss implementation of the new blended retirement for servicemembers.  We are now one year away from the implementation of the Blended Retirement System taking effect on January 1, 2018.  DoD plans to launch an Opt-In Training Course early next week for those Service members who will be faced with the decision to remain with the legacy military retirement system or to opt-in to the new system next year. 
 
Commissaries Cost Reduction Update

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Stop.Think.Connect Campaign

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

Commander’s Far East Travel

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

POW/MIA Update

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

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

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

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

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

Interment services are pending.

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

 

National Security Weekly Report

Week Ending 18 Nov 18, 2016

  1. Heritage Index Launch

 

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

  1. Military Chaplains Appreciation Luncheon

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

  1. State Department Meeting/State Department Reception

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

  1. Evaluation Training

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

  1. Pacific Submarine Warfare Symposium

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Veteran’s Day Wreath Laying Ceremonies

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

  1. Veteran’s Day

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

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

  1. POW/MIA Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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