WELCOME TO THE AMERICAN LEGION

America's Largest Veterans Service Organization

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

http://www.legion.org/sites/legion.org/files/legion/sig/embsig.jpg

American Legion  YouTube  Face Book  Twitter

 


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

 


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

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 27 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
National Defense Authorization Act FY2019
(MilTimes) U.S. Senate lawmakers are expected to finalize Congress’ annual defense authorization bill early next week following the House’s passage of the measure Thursday.  The $716 billion defense authorization bill that includes a sizable boost in military end strength, more ships and planes than the White House asked for, and a compromise on U.S. sanctions on Russia.
 
The agreement comes months ahead of Congress’ typical schedule for the sweeping defense policy measure. The legislation has been finalized by Congress for 57 consecutive years but not passed before the start of the new fiscal year in the past decade.
 
The House is expected to vote on the deal this week, and the Senate possibly in August. From there, President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.
 
Senior committee aides said the speed of the work was designed to avoid political fights and unrelated policy debates heading into the November midterm election.
 
The measure authorizes a base defense budget of $639 billion and $69 billion more for overseas contingency operations. The totals match previously agreed upon spending plans for fiscal 2019, but break with administration priorities in a host of areas.
 
Hardware. For aviation, lawmakers backed administration plans for 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, with limitations on software upgrades pending cost and schedule information.
 
The bill would back the Air Force plan to kill its JSTARS recapitalization program while restricting retirement of the legacy E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. It requires the Air Force to develop a plan to sustain the aircraft until the follow-on program is ready.
 
For the Navy, the bill funds 13 ships — three beyond the president’s budget request — to include two Virginia-class submarines, three littoral combat ships; an additional Ford-class aircraft carrier, two TAO-205 oilers, one expeditionary sea base, and one T-ATS towing, salvage and rescue ship.
 
The bill contains $200 million to expand the submarine industrial base and to aid in the advanced procurement of the Columbia-class sub in 2022 and 2023, according to House aides.
 
Personnel. The legislation calls for a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January, a mark agreed upon by both House and Senate lawmakers in their separate drafts.
 
Conference committee members agreed upon end-strength increases in line with the White House’s requests for military might. The Army’s end strength will grow by about 4,000 soldiers, the Navy’s by 7,500 sailors, the Air Force by 4,000 airmen and the Marine Corps by about 100 Marines.
 
The final agreement also includes House-backed language requiring the secretary of defense to certify that any military units or vehicles to be used in any national military parades or displays will not harm current service missions or readiness.
 
Senate lawmakers successfully argued provisions that would give each of the services more flexibility with officer promotion rules, including changing promotion timelines and personnel limits on specialty skills.
 
Turkey F-35s. The bill bars delivery of the F-35 to Turkey until the U.S. government submits an assessment of the U.S.-Turkey relationship. It also requires an assessment of the operational and counterintelligence risks posed by that country’s planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air and missile defense system to weapons systems and platforms operated jointly with Turkey, including the F-35.
 
The bill includes a sense of Congress calling on Turkey to release “wrongfully detained” U.S. citizens Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge, according to a bill summary.
 
Russia sanctions. The bill includes a compromise waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, that provides leniency for strategic partners and allies purchasing Russian military equipment, so long as they are taking steps to wean themselves from it. A Democratic summary of the bill says the measure is more stringent from the Republican-backed provision in the House version of the bill
 
China. The conference report dropped a Senate-backed provision banning Chinese telecom giant ZTE from doing business with both the government and private sector in favor of a the House-backed provision that would ban ZTE from working with the government.
 
The bill would strengthen the interagency committee that reviews deals between foreign investors and U.S.-based businesses for national security concerns. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, would receive broader abilities to block transactions with Chinese companies that could pose a national security risk.
 
Wildlife protections. The bill excludes a House-backed provision, opposed by Democrats that would have prohibited the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken from being listed under the Endangered Species Act for a period of 10 years. It also maintains the endangered status of the American burying beetle.
The bill would require that the Navy seek government approval every seven years for plans that potentially harm marine mammals — less than the current five-years but more frequently than the 10 years proposed by the House.
 
TRICARE
Military Health System GENESIS
Senior Military Health System leaders met at the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium in Orlando, FL to discuss progress with MHS GENESIS. “We want to continue moving forward [and] we need to continue with our forward momentum,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of Defense Health Agency. “[W]hile acknowledging some areas we have needed to make adjustments, we’re progressing forward.”
 
As the deployments continue, feedback from users is critically important, said Bono, adding that input is being processed and measured. Throughout the process, DHA remains committed to ensuring a high level of cybersecurity.
 
“We have a lot to share with the broader health care community and we are helping to raise the bar in the security environment,” said Bono.
 
Stacy Cummings, program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, said the initial operational test and evaluation ended at Madigan Army Medical Center, one of the original IOC sites, on July 13.
“There has been measurable success in the adoption of workflows, roles and other efforts to continue to improve performance of MHS GENESIS,” said Cummings.
 
The final test report is expected later this year, with emerging results being evident as soon as this fall. “We’ll be working with the test community to get any feedback in real time so we can make sure we’re being as responsive as possible, and make sure that there isn’t anything coming out of the test that we weren’t already aware of and already working on,” said Cummings.
 
Cummings announced the next four sites for MHS GENESIS deployment, which will be known as wave one sites. These include Naval Air Station Lemoore, Travis Air Force Base, and Army Medical Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey in California, as well as Mountain Home Air Force Base in southwestern Idaho.
 
“The next waves of deployments will be the first facilities to field the standard baseline of MHS GENESIS and will benefit from the results of our optimization period, as well as improvements to our training, deployment, and change management strategy all based on lessons learned from IOC,” said Cummings, adding that the Military Health System is committed to identifying and delivering the right capabilities.
 
The MHS continues to capture feedback from users at Madigan, just as it did before and during the test period, Cummings said, and experts are already aware and working on feedback. She believes the test at Madigan is going to reinforce lessons learned and the MHS needs to go on to the next site to demonstrate these improvements – including training and deployment strategies, and change management.
 
Eventually, MHS-GENESIS will provide a single electronic health record for each of the 9.4 million MHS beneficiaries. It will be used by about 200,000 providers at 1,200 sites and has already received some positive feedback from users in the field.
 
“By far, the greatest way to learn the system is to actually utilize it,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dean Kang, pharmacy department head at Naval Hospital Bremerton for about eight months.
 
Kang was at Camp Pendleton, California, preparing to select orders when he learned Bremerton would be one of the four IOC sites for MHS-GENESIS.
 
“That was one of the reasons I asked to be assigned here,” Kang said. “I was interested in taking on a challenge and being on the front lines of this development. And the pharmacy department is usually tip of the spear in providing patient-centered care.”
 
Kang describes the initial period of MHS-GENESIS at Bremerton as exciting and hectic – and also exhausting. The go-live period coincided with a pharmacy department renovation that doubled the number of service windows from six to 12.
 
“There was some frustration, of course, because switching to an entirely new electronic health record is expected to have its challenges,” Kang said. “But we’ve taken a very positive approach to this. We’re working hard to increase efficiency and identify shortcomings while ensuring patient safety is our top priority. As an IOC site, we feel an inherent responsibility to identify the glitches and work on optimizing the system.”
 
Cummings said it’s only fitting, being at DHITS, to recognize the leadership role DoD has in developing and adopting an electronic health record.
 
“DHA oversees and continues to maintain several … data management systems that allow us to do our jobs today,” said Cummings. “The DoD should be recognized as a leader in the nation in adopting and developing new systems.”
 
Initial cost for Trump military parade comes in at $12 million, DoD says
(MilitaryTimes) President Donald Trump’s requested military parade is expected to cost about $12 million, according to initial planning estimates, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.
 
The parade was initial set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but now will take place Nov. 10 to accommodate international celebrations on Nov. 11 set to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade costs were first reported by CNN.
 
The initial price tag could easily change, and no final plan has been approved yet, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. The price would depend on the final numbers of troops and type of equipment involved, and how those troops will need to be transported to Washington, such as whether they would need to be moved by train.
 
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previously told Congress the price tag could be between $10 million and $30 million.
 
The parade date is just four months away, which raised questions on how Washington would be able to execute the needed security and planning, such as getting the permits and public bathrooms that is required to accommodate a large public gathering.
 
The $12 million cost is roughly the same amount the military had planned to spend on its now-cancelled military exercises with South Korea. Trump directed the exercises to be cancelled citing their cost and saying the exercises were “very provocative” to North Korea.
 
"We stopped playing those ‘war games’ that cost us a fortune,” Trump said last month. The exercises were cancelled after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
 
Quality of Life
Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
 
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
 
    -- The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
 
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
 
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
 
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to mark up the appropriations bill for FY2019 Homeland Security funding.   $5 billion was directed to physical barrier construction and related technological enhancements that will secure our southernmost border. This funding will also put more officers, agents, and canine teams on the ground. These frontline personnel will help enforce our laws, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and stop the trafficking of humans and other crimes.
 
This bill provides a total of $1.9 billion for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which helps detect and prevent cyber-attacks and foreign espionage.  
 
The bill also helps our nation remain prepared for any physical attacks on our homeland or natural disasters by providing $7.2 billion for FEMA’s disaster response and recovery programs, which have faced many monumental and catastrophic events over the past few years. In addition, the bill includes $3.1 billion for FEMA grant programs.  I’m particularly pleased to see robust support for the Urban Security Initiative, which provides resources to communities that face the greatest risks, including in my home state of New Jersey, and protection for nonprofits, including faith-based organizations.
 
 
Legislation
  • The Defense Authorization Conference has concluded and the agreement authorizes $708.1 billion for the Pentagon and defense-related programs, $16 billion more than the FY 2018 authorized level and $1.2 billion less than the president's overall request. The total includes $639.1 billion for the Pentagon's base, non-war budget that is subject to spending caps and $69 billion for uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to support operations in Afghanistan, the fight against the Islamic State, and the general war on terrorism. It includes a large increase in funding for nuclear weapons, including funds for a controversial new "low-yield" nuclear warhead, as well as additional funding for more ships, planes and armored vehicles. The agreement also contains numerous provisions targeting Russia and China, including $6.3 billion for added equipment and U.S. forces to help protect Eastern Europe from Moscow. It does not, however, include a Senate provision that would have re‑imposed a ban on U.S. exports to the Chinese company ZTE that President Trump had overturned.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division met with staff from Senator Mike Crapo’s office to provide feedback on the draft transition assistance bill proposal that his offices hopes to soon introduce.  The bill covers an array of transition issues to include resume writing, interview training, healthcare, housing, and the structure of the Transition Assistance Program. 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
 
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent L. Politte, 19, of Leavenworth, Kansas, accounted for on April 11, will be buried July 30 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the summer of 1943, Politte served as a gunner with the 345th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. He was killed while participating in a raid on the Ploesti Oil Refinery complex north of Bucharest, Romania, during Operation Tidal Wave. The goal of the operation was to destroy the refineries in the area in order to hamper the German war effort. During the raid, Politte’s B-24 Liberator aircraft was hit by machine gun fire and crashed. Following the war, his remains could not be identified.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Eugene W. Wicker, 20, of Coweta, Oklahoma, accounted for on January 10, will be buried August 4 in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wicker was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Wicker.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 20 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
Blended Retirement System
The Fiscal Year 2016 Nation Defense Authorization Act created a new military retirement system that blends the traditional legacy retirement pension with a defined contribution to Servicemembers’ Thrift Savings Plan account. The new Blended Retirement System goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
 
All members serving as of December 31, 2017, are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system. No one currently-serving will be automatically switched to the Blended Retirement System.
 
Though they are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system, Active Component Service members with fewer than 12 years since their Pay Entry Base Date, and Reserve Component Servicemembers who have accrued fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of December 31, 2017, will have the option to opt into the Blended Retirement System. The opt-in/election period for the Blended Retirement System begins January 1, 2018, and concludes on December 31, 2018.
All Servicemembers who enter the military on or after January 1, 2018, will automatically be enrolled in BRS.
 
The BRS opt-in period is now open, to opt-in visit DFAS myPay (Army, Navy, and Air Force), Marine Online (Marine Corps), or Direct Access (Coast Guard or NOAA).
 
As of June 30, 2018 221,872 servicemembers, 178,016 Active and 43.856 Reserve and National Guard have opted-in the BRS. 
 
The majority of troops are contributing 5% or more to TSP.
 
Calculators, training and other resources are available to servicemembers and their families at:
 
N. Korea may return up to 55 sets of US war dead remains next week, official says
(Stars and Stripes) SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has agreed to hand over as many as 55 sets of remains believed to be from American troops killed in the 1950-53 war, and to allow the United States to fly them out of the country next week, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
 
The preliminary details emerged after U.S. and North Korean officials held working-level talks Monday in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.
 
The Americans planned to send transit cases via truck to the DMZ, where they would be given to the North Koreans to use for the remains. “They’re going to use our cases for the remains and give them back to us,” the official told Stars and Stripes.
 
A U.S. delegation was expected to retrieve the remains in North Korea and fly them out on July 27, either to Osan Air Base in South Korea or Hawaii, the official said, adding that the date may change as the two sides planned to iron out final details during another meeting in the near future.
The date would be symbolic as it marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the war instead of a peace treaty.
 
The North Koreans informed the U.S. delegates that they’ll return 50 to 55 sets of remains of U.S. servicemembers, the official said. It would be the first repatriation of remains since 2007 as search efforts stalled amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
 
The official said Monday’s meeting was focused on the return of remains and the North Koreans apparently did not raise other issues or request anything in return, despite speculation in South Korean media that they would try to tie the repatriation to other demands.
 
It’s unclear how the North Koreans could be certain of the nationalities, although they have in the past included dog tags. The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, which oversees the effort, has cautioned that the identification process is complicated and often takes years.
 
The Hawaii-based DPAA says it has family reference samples for more than 90 percent of the missing servicemembers. But past remains have been found to be mixed up with other unidentified individuals and in at least one case animal bones.
 
Thousands of Americans were believed to have been lost on the northern side of the heavily fortified border, which has divided the peninsula as the adversaries remain technically at war.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to recover remains, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” along with other commitments during his unprecedented summit with President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.
 
The historic meeting was focused on efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons, and the agreement to return remains was seen as a goodwill gesture.
 
But the process has been slow, with the North Koreans keeping the U.S.-led United Nations Command on standby for weeks after the military sent dozens of temporary coffins to the DMZ in preparation.
 
The North also failed to show up at a July 12 meeting that had been announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reportedly asking the Americans to send a general officer on Sunday for the first high-level military talks between the two sides in more than nine years.
 
Pompeo said Sunday that the talks, which were led by U.S. and North Korean two-star generals, were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments.” The sides also agreed to resume field operations to search for more remains in the North and to hold the working-level talks on Monday.
 
The State Department confirmed that talks resumed Monday in Panmunjom “to continue coordination on the transfer of remains already collected in (North Korea) and the re-commencing of field operations,” but declined to provide more details.
“We do not discuss the details of private diplomatic discussions,” a State Department official said in an email.
 
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
The State Department has taken the lead on the negotiations, although the issue of war dead on the peninsula is usually handled by the U.N. command, which oversees the cease-fire.
 
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month that the UNC would handle the return of the remains since 16 nations fought under the U.N. flag during the war.
 
More than 36,000 U.S. troops died in the Korean War, according to the Pentagon. That figure includes some 7,700 still unaccounted for, with an estimated 5,300 believed to have been lost in the North.
 
The DPAA says that North Korean officials have indicated in the past that “as many as 200 sets of remains” are in custody and could be ready for return.
 
Initial cost for Trump military parade comes in at $12 million, DoD says
(MilitaryTimes) President Donald Trump’s requested military parade is expected to cost about $12 million, according to initial planning estimates, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.
 
The parade was initial set for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, but now will take place Nov. 10 to accommodate international celebrations on Nov. 11 set to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade costs were first reported by CNN.
 
The initial price tag could easily change, and no final plan has been approved yet, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. The price would depend on the final numbers of troops and type of equipment involved, and how those troops will need to be transported to Washington, such as whether they would need to be moved by train.
 
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previously told Congress the price tag could be between $10 million and $30 million.
 
The parade date is just four months away, which raised questions on how Washington would be able to execute the needed security and planning, such as getting the permits and public bathrooms, that is required to accommodate a large public gathering.
 
The $12 million cost is roughly the same amount the military had planned to spend on its now-cancelled military exercises with South Korea. Trump directed the exercises to be cancelled citing their cost and saying the exercises were “very provocative” to North Korea.
 
"We stopped playing those ‘war games’ that cost us a fortune,” Trump said last month. The exercises were cancelled after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
 
Quality of Life
Change to G.I. Bill Transferability
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today,  eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
    --  The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Armed Services — Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a hearing to mark up the appropriations bill for FY2019. 
 
 
The House Intelligence Committee on Intelligence held a full committee hearing to discuss China’s threat to American government and private sector research and innovation leadership.  The expert panel of witnesses included Mr. Michael Brown, Formerly of Symantec Corporation, Ms. Elsa Kania, Center for a New American Security, Mr. James Phillips, NanoMech, Inc., and Mr. Michael Pillsbury, Hudson Institute.
 
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to develop a position paper on the TRICARE fee increases that will be sent to members of Congress.  This is the second year in a row that fees have been sharply increases and this balancing of the budget on the backs of veterans is unacceptable.
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division participated in a MSO/VSO roundtable with senior defense officials to discuss an array of personnel issues. 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
 
  • Army Staff Sgt. David Rosenkrantz, 28, of Los Angeles, accounted for on March 7, will be buried in June 20 in Riverside, California. In September 1944, Rosenkrantz was a member of Company H, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, participating in Operation Market Garden, a ploy by Allied planners to break German defensive lines on the western front by capturing a highway route through the Netherlands. On Sept. 28, 1944, Rosenkrantz’ platoon occupied Heuvelhof, a farm, located south of the town of Groesbeek. German tanks and infantry launched a major attack that morning. The isolated paratroopers hid among sparse trees and buildings. As Rosenkrantz rose from his position, enemy gunfire erupted and Rosenkrantz was killed. Due to enemy fire and the proximity to enemy troops, Rosenkrantz’ remains could not be recovered.
     
  • Army Pfc. Walter W. Green, 18, of Zanesville, Ohio, accounted for on Aug. 8, 2017, will be buried July 20 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In November 1950, Green was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in combat actions against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. Green was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950 when he could not be accounted for by his unit.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 13 July 2018
 
Items of Interest
WWII Veteran's Funeral at Arlington Held After More Than 7 Decades
(Military.com) More than 70 years after his death, a World War II veteran was buried Tuesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
Several relatives of Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty joined together at the military cemetery in Virginia to honor the fallen serviceman, who died after his B-26 Marauder crashed down in June 1944 when he was 22 years old.
 
The plane "was shot down" while flying over France in the midst of the war and every member of the eight-person crew onboard at the time died, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, who announced earlier this year that Canty's remains had been accounted for.
 
Scientists were able to use DNA analysis to identify the veteran's remains.
 
Canty's casket, adorned with an American flag, was escorted through the cemetery on a horse-drawn carriage. The flag was presented to Canty's nephew, Wayne Brazeau, 78, who attended the service with his wife, Dorothy.
 
More cancer treatment options opening to veterans thanks to new partnership
(Military Times) WASHINGTON — Veterans battling cancer could have an easier access to cutting-edge treatments and experimental trials under a new partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Cancer Institute announced Tuesday.
 
Department officials say the arrangement will not only provide better health care options to veterans but also hopefully provide new advancements for researchers working on cancer treatment breakthroughs.
 
“By increasing enrollment in these trials, VA and Veterans will contribute to important cancer research,” acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke said in a statement. “This will not only help our veterans, but also advance cancer care for all Americans and people around the world.”
 
Initial work will start at VA facilities in 12 different states spread across the country. Officials from the institute will establish an infrastructure for the federal sites to participate in their clinical trials, while VA officials will make changes to its operational rules and goals to bring them in line with the trial work.
 
Department officials noted that the VA health care system already conducts significant research on cancer prevention and treatment, but face challenges linking that work to externally funded trials.
 
Organizers are optimistic that the collaboration will help highlight particular challenges that veterans face, and whether there are specific treatments that are more beneficial to that population.
 
They also pledged that special attention will be given to minority veteran patients, who “often have less access to new treatments and are not as well represented in clinical trials” across the country.
 
The new NCI and VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment — dubbed NAVIGATE — is a three-year agreement that will also establish practices and to help additional VA medical centers enroll more veterans in cancer trials.
 
US troops deployed to lend a hand in Thai soccer team’s rescue from cave
(Military Times)  The entire Wild Boars soccer team, including 12 boys and their coach, was successfully rescued from a flooded cave complex in Thailand, where dozens of U.S. military personnel were deployed to assist in the operation.
 
The boys, ages 11-16, rescued from the Tham Luang Cave complex in northern Thailand were recuperating at a hospital in the nearby city of Chiang Rai, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
 
The final rescue mission of the multi-day effort was done on Tuesday, 18 days after the soccer team entered the cave and became stranded due to heavy flooding.
 
For the rescue, 42 U.S. military personnel and one member of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand were deployed to the multinational rescue effort, according to a Pentagon statement.
 
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command dispatched 36 servicemembers from Okinawa, including airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group and the 31st Rescue Squadron, to Thailand on June 28.
Since two specially trained volunteer British cave divers found the team in the cave complex last week, rescue plans were in the works.
 
The first four boys were rescued Sunday, followed by four more on Monday. The remaining four boys and their coach, along with three Thai Navy SEALs and a doctor who were staying with them, successfully exited the cave Tuesday. Each evacuee wore full scuba gear and was accompanied by two navy divers along the 2.4-mile escape route.
 
The U.S. military personnel involved in the rescue effort helped stage equipment and prepare the first three chambers of the cave system for safe passage, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning.
 
They also assisted in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system and provided medical and technical assistance.
 
The celebration of the team’s rescue comes amid mourning for Saman Kunan, the former Thai Navy SEAL and volunteer diver who died early Friday while delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.
 
"The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue," Manning said in the DoD release. "His sacrifice will not be forgotten."
 
Quality of Life
This week the Department of Defense issued a substantive change to the policy on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits from Servicemembers to eligible family member recipients.  Given your deep interest in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I wanted to share this with you prior to the public announcement.
KEY POINTS:
    -- Effective one year from today, eligibility to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits will be limited to members with less than 16 years of total service (active duty service and/or selected reserves as applicable). 
    --  The provision that requires a Servicemember to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.
    -- All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI bill will continue to require a four-year commitment in the Armed Forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for 4 years from the date of election, and not be precluded from serving for four more years prior to approval of their election by either standard policy (Department or Uniformed Service) or statute.
   --  If a servicemember fails to fulfill their service obligation because of a "force shaping" event (such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion, or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high-year tenure), the change will allow these individuals to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven't served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.
The full announcement can be viewed at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/
 
Hearings
This week the House Armed Services — Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss DoD’s role in foreign assistance.  The expert panel of witnesses included Jason Ladnier, director of the Office of Partnerships, Strategy, and Communications in the State Department's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations; Mark Mitchell, principal deputy assistant Defense secretary for special operations/low-intensity conflict; Robert Jenkins, deputy assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Julien Schopp, director of humanitarian practice at Interaction; and Melissa Dalton, senior fellow and deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program and director of the CSIS Cooperative Defense Project
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to develop a position paper on the TRICARE fee increases that will be sent to members of Congress.  This is the second year in a row that fees have been sharply increases and this balancing of the budget on the backs of veterans is unacceptable.
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
Other Activities
This week staff from the National Security Division were invited to attend the Department of Maryland’s Legion College on National Security.  Staff provided the attendees with an overview of what the national staff is pursuing legislatively.  Staff also provided an analysis of key national security foreign affairs issues that are of importance to the American Legion.  There was also a discussion on the recent annual DoD suicide report and the role local posts can play to assist servicemembers and their families to lessen the burdens of military service.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
Personnel Recovered
Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell E. Valley, 19, of Ontonagon, Michigan, accounted for on January 11, will be buried July 14 in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Valley was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Valley.
 
Navy Seaman 1st Class James C. Solomon, 23, of Forestburg, Texas, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried July 14, in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, Solomon was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Solomon.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 15 June 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(WashPost) President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered a joint statement Tuesday seeking a landmark deal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. But nestled in the document was a short bullet point that addresses a long-running concern of U.S. veterans groups: the recovery of the remains of thousands of American troops who were killed or captured in North Korea during the Korean War.
 
On Tuesday, the two countries agreed to “commit” to recovering the remains of fallen troops, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” according to the document.
The statement represents a significant victory for veterans groups that lobbied forcefully behind the scenes for a renewed effort to recover remains in an environment where many non-nuclear issues, including human rights and the return of Japanese abductees, were left unaddressed in the joint statement.
 
The remains of 5,300 American forces who were killed or captured in North Korea during the war remain unaccounted for north of the demilitarized zone, resting in cemeteries, former labor camps and battle sites. From 1990 to 2005, joint U.S.-North Korean search teams repatriated 229 sets of remains. But the cooperation between the United States and North Korea was abruptly suspended in 2005 as political relations deteriorated.
 
In recent days, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his negotiating team, led by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, that the POW issue is important to Trump, and he “instructed Kim to negotiate for it,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Trump, during a news conference Tuesday, said that he had received “countless” phone calls from Americans asking for help on the issue.
 
“So many people, during the campaign, would say, 'Is there any way you can work with North Korea to get the remains of my son back or father back?' ” Trump said. “I said we don’t get along too well with that particular group of people. Now we do. And he agreed to that so quickly and nicely. It was a nice thing.”
 
As Trump headed into his landmark meeting with Kim Jong Un earlier in the day, a top Defense Department official told families of the missing troops that securing the remains and resuming recovery efforts is a top priority for negotiations.
 
NDAA 2019
(TheHill) Introduced for the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the provision would stop a withdraw “unless the U.S. Secretary of Defense certifies it is in our national security interest and would not significantly undermine the security of our allies in the region.”
The amendment was introduced following Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. would cease its joint military drills with South Korea as long as talks with North Korea are ongoing. The halted exercises seem to be a concession to Pyongyang, which has repeatedly claimed that the drills are practice for a strike against North Korea.
Trump on Wednesday continued to tout his decision to suspend the military exercises as he returned from meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
"We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
While a reduction in U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula was not on the table in discussions with Kim, Trump did say that “at some point” he wants “to get our soldiers out.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday said the U.S. will not pull any of its 28,500 troops from the Korean peninsula.
“We’re not engaged in any reduction of U.S. forces talks, and I think we all wait until after this settles and we go forward,” Mattis said of the talks between Trump and Kim.
Duckworth said any discussion of withdrawing U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula must be tied to concrete and verifiable changes in North Korea’s behavior “and it must be done in close consultation with our allies.”
The Legion’s Position:  The American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense and applauds these increases to defense spending as a needed reversal to the Defense Spending Caps that allows us to rebuild our military. 
Quality of Life
 
Things just may have gotten a bit easier for military spouses seeking federal employment.
Last month, President Trump issued an executive order to enhance opportunities for military spouses looking for employment with the Federal Government.
 
The order requires Federal agencies to promote the use of noncompetitive hiring authority that currently exists for military spouses to the greatest extent possible.
It also:
  • directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to educate agencies regarding the use of the noncompetitive hiring authority, and to increase awareness of the opportunities it creates among military spouses;
  • requires all agencies to report annually on their progress in advertising positions to, obtaining applications from, and hiring military spouses; and
  • directs agencies to recommend new ways to improve license portability and remove barriers to the employment of military spouses.
 
While the order promotes the use of noncompetitive hiring authority for military spouses, it does not require the hiring of a military spouse for an open position over other applicants.
 
According to the White House press release there are nearly 690,000 spouses of active duty servicemembers. In 2017 the military spouse unemployment rate was 16 percent, over 4 times the 2017 rate for all adult women. Even though military spouses have a higher unemployment rate, they have a higher level of education than the population at large.
Military Spouses Face Greater Obstacles To Employment
 
Beyond the stress of having to move frequently due to military deployments, military spouses have to deal with job searches hampered by state regulation that prevents their occupational licenses from easily transferring.
 
It is hoped that the executive order will open more Federal positions to spouses and provide significantly greater opportunity for military spouses to be considered for Federal competitive service positions.
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Appropriations Committee did their markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the Bill on Thursday.  The bill provides support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to analyze the proposed FY19 NDAA.  It is currently undergoing amendments by the Senate.  There are numerous areas under review to include increases to end strength numbers, women’s issues, TRICARE fee increases, and equipment procurement. 
 
  • The National Security Division is also working with the Legislative Division to support H.R. 3429 which prohibits the removal from the United States of certain veterans, to expedite their naturalization, and for other purposes.  The bill would also allow access to military and veterans benefits earned by these veterans.  Each cases will be subject to review by office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
 
Other Activities
  • Tuesday, the National Security Division attended “The Dawn of a New Era: Opportunities and Challenges of artificial intelligence”, Ninth Annual A. Alfred Taubman Forum on Public Policy.
     
    Topics Covered
    • Using AI to Promote Security
    • How AI Is Transforming Transportation, Healthcare, and Resource Management
    • The Policy and Legal Issues Involving AI
       
  • Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss the Reform Management Group (RMG) regarding the reform of the Defense Commissaries.  The RMG’s intention is to improve and retain services to servicemembers, veterans and their families.  They will be implementing changes to the back of commissaries and exchanges to cut costs and shift those savings to the front end consumers.  During the conversation, it was stressed that these cuts must not affect costs or convenience to customers. 
     
  • Wednesday, the National Security Division  attended, EU Security & Defense Washington Symposium:    
     
    Topics covered
    • Panel I: EU and U.S. Defense Strategies: Shared or Conflicting Objectives?
    • Panel II: Framework for Stronger NATO-EU Cooperation
    • Panel III: Security in North Africa and the Sahel
    • U.S., EU, and NATO Reaction to Russian Hybrid Activity
       
  • Thursday, National Security Division staff  attended an event hosted by the Brookings Institute to discuss Transnational and cybersecurity threats in Asia. As the scale, frequency, and sophistication of cyberattacks increase in Asia, there is a growing urgency from the United States and our regional partners to address these threats and its impact on economic prosperity, democratic governance, critical infrastructure, and security. With state actors like North Korea increasingly using its cyberattacks to advance its objectives, it is imperative for policymakers to take full stock of the region’s true capabilities and intentions to effectively counter such activities. Moreover, the inherently asymmetric nature of the threat and the difficulty of attribution will require cross-border collaboration and engagement of private, public, and civic stakeholders to develop an effective and sustainable cybersecurity policy.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
    Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
     
    Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
     
    DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Air Force Col. Peter J. Stewart, 47, born in Glasgow, Scotland, raised in Winter Haven, Florida, accounted for on Feb. 28, 2018, will be buried June 18 in Winter Haven. On March 15, 1966, Stewart, a member of Headquarters, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, was the pilot of a two-seater F-4C aircraft, the second in a flight of two on an armed reconnaissance mission over northern Vietnam. The lead aircraft spotted two vehicles as the flight approached the target area and Stewart responded he was going to strafe the trucks. The lead aircraft, while maneuvering to engage the targets, lost sight of Stewart’s aircraft, but saw a bright orange explosion over the trucks. The flight lead immediately attempted to contact Stewart’s aircraft without result. No parachutes or emergency signals were seen, and all subsequent attempts to contact Stewart and his aircraft commander were unsuccessful. An organized search was not possible due to hostilities in the area. Stewart was subsequently declared missing in action. His status was later amended to deceased.
     
  • Air Force Maj. James B. White, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, accounted for on June 16, 2017, will be buried June 19 in West Point, New York. On Nov. 24, 1969, White, a member of the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, was aboard an F-105D aircraft, in a flight attacking enemy troops. During the mission, weather conditions deteriorated and contact with White was lost after his first pass. On Nov. 28, an Air America helicopter sighted wreckage, thought to be White’s aircraft. A Laotian ground team searched the area and found small pieces of wreckage, but no remains were recovered. White was subsequently declared missing in action.
     
    Army Sgt. Donald L. Baker, 20, of Thornton, Arkansas, accounted for on Jan. 25, 2018, will be buried June 19 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In September 1950, Baker was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Sept. 6, 1950, as a result of fighting that occurred between his unit and enemy forces near Haman, South Korea.
     
  • Army Maj. Stephen T. Uurtamo, 32, of Chicago, accounted for on Sept. 27, 2017, will be buried June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Uurtamo was a member of Headquarters Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, which was engaged in persistent attacks with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) near the Ch’ongch’on River in North Korea. On Nov. 30, 1950, the Division began to withdraw south along the Main Supply Route, known as “The Gauntlet.” During the withdrawal, the 82nd lost many Soldiers, one of whom was Uurtamo who was declared missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950, when he could not be accounted for.
 
  • Navy Reserve Radioman 2nd Class Julius H.O. Pieper, 19, of Esmond, South Dakota, accounted for on Nov. 15, 2017, will be buried June 19 at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On June 19, 1944, Pieper was a member of Landing Ship Tank Number 523 (LST-523), off the coast of Normandy, France. The ship exploded and sank after striking an underwater mine, killing Pieper. In the years following the incident, his remains were not recovered or identified. Pieper’s twin brother, Radioman 2nd Class Ludwig J. Pieper, was also killed in the attack, but his remains were recovered after the incident and buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. Julius will be buried next to his brother.
 
  • Army Pfc. John H. Walker, 20, of Morning Sun, Iowa, accounted for on April 11, will be buried June 20 in his hometown. On Nov. 24, 1944, Walker was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action after his unit engaged in fierce fighting on Hill 207 near Schönthal, Germany in the Hürtgen Forest. With no evidence that Walker had been captured or survived combat, his status was changed to deceased on Nov. 25, 1945.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Wallace E. Eakes, 22, of Caney, Kansas, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried June 21, in Denver, Colorado. On Dec. 7, 1941, Eakes was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Eakes.
     
  • Army Pfc. Felipe A. Champion, 19, of Brownsville, Texas, accounted for on Aug. 8, 2017, will be buried June 21 in his hometown. On Feb. 12, 1951, Champion was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, when he was reported missing in action following a battle with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor, South Korea. After CPVF units withdrew north beyond Hongch’on in early March, American units began moving forward and found war dead, however Champion’s remains could not be identified.
 
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 8 June 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(NYPost) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wish list for his meeting Tuesday with President Trump at a resort in Singapore could shed light on the prospects for the summit. 
Trump in the past promised "great things" for North Korea if it dismantles its nuclear program. On Friday, after meeting with the North's Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, the president appeared to tamp down expectations for next week's meeting, calling it "a get-to-know-you kind of a situation," and "a process" that starts with building relationships.
Trump said the U.S. and North Korea may agree in Singapore to formally end the Korean War, which has been frozen with an armistice agreement since 1953. He said he no longer wants to speak of "maximum pressure" on North Korea, and said South Korea, Japan and China are expected to provide economic assistance to the North if the summit goes well. He implied that U.S. sanctions could be lifted at a later point, which would allow business relations between the North and the United States for the first time. 
 
But he is likely to hear from Kim that the North seeks more than a deal on nuclear weapons or a peace treaty. Here's what Kim wants:
 
U.S. security assurances 
Kim's spokesman said last month that North Korea is not interested in giving up its nuclear program without a corresponding change in the U.S. military posture.
 
North Korea is not interested in "unilateral nuclear abandonment," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement, according to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 
 
He accused the White House and State Department of attempting to turn North Korea into another Libya by insisting on "abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi relinquished his nuclear weapons development program in return for normalized relations with the United States, but he was deposed in a rebellion supported by NATO.
 
Peace
North Korea's agreements and statements indicate Kim wants normalized relations with the United States. “An end to U.S. enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim just as it was his grandfather’s and father’s for the past 30 years,” said Leon Sigal, author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.
 
Kim may be willing to denuclearize and even take steps to disarm if Trump commits to end hostile relations with North Korea and takes action to show the United States means it, Sigal wrote in March in 38 North, an independent online journal that provides analysis of North Korea.
 
A problem for U.S. leaders has been that North Korea's totalitarian government is so cruel to its people and aggressive toward its neighbors that allowing normal trade would be politically unappetizing.
 
Economic development
In his New Year's speech, Kim said his poor country was ready to shift to economic development.
Past negotiations also focused on economic benefits. The United States offered to arrange energy assistance from petroleum producers, build two light-water nuclear reactors that would be difficult to use for producing weapons, provide food assistance and lift sanctions.  April's meeting of the rival Korean leaders ended with South Korean President Moon Jae-in's promise to connect and modernize railroad lines and roads.
 
To keep that pledge, the South would need waivers from United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea, something Trump appears ready to agree to provide to the South, China and Japan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States would not provide any benefits until the North completely dismantled its nuclear program.
 
Buy time 
North Korea has made agreements while still advancing its nuclear program and can be expected to continue doing the same, said Richard Fisher, a Korea and China analyst at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
 
While Kim negotiates with Trump, his engineers are probably perfecting a weapon that can strike the U.S. mainland, Fisher said."They tested two ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) capable of reaching the United States," Fisher said. "They have not yet demonstrated that the missile could carry a warhead that would survive re-entry with some level of accuracy. I’m sure they’re working day and night to develop a viable warhead."
 
Work with China
Kim's negotiations with Trump and Moon "allowed this megalomaniac leader to seem reasonable on the world stage," and furthers a shared North Korean and Chinese goal to reduce U.S. influence in northeast Asia, Fisher said.
 
"Prior to these negotiations, Kim Jong Un was seen as a missile-rattling rocket boy threat to the world. (Chinese President Xi Jinping) couldn’t embrace him," Fisher said. "Now that the negotiations have gone as far as they have, Xi can embrace this young leader and solidify their already very close cooperation."
 
Other leaders have too. Russia has invited Kim to a conference in Vladivostok in September, and KCNA announced Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad will be the first head of state to visit Kim in Pyongyang.
 
Kim and China seek an end to the U.S. military presence in South Korea, Fisher said. "They want the Americans off the Korean Peninsula. They want full range and freedom to intimidate South Korea even more and to isolate Japan," he said. "It's all part of a larger goal of forcing American power back to Hawaii and California."
 
NDAA 2019
(MilitaryTimes) House appropriators approved their first draft of the annual defense budget bill Thursday, including a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, dozens more aircraft for the services and new protections for military families from political fights in Congress.
The $674.6 billion measure — $606.5 in base military funding and $68.1 billion for overseas operations — is about $1 billion below the White House’s defense request in February but in line with the two-year budget deal reached by lawmakers a month later and the annual defense authorization measure approved by the House last month.
The spending plan was advanced by the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel in a quick afternoon meeting with little opposition.
The appropriations measure echoes previously passed House plans for the annual military pay raise and a military end strength increase of 15,600 troops. It also adds $318 million to the president’s budget request for the Defense Health Program, to include more research into traumatic brain injuries and sexual assault prevention.
Lawmakers also added language to the measure to ensure that military death gratuity payments will not be interrupted by future government shutdowns, authorizing their immediate payment even if federal operations are curtailed or shuttered.
The issue has been a priority for military advocates since 2013, when several families of fallen troops faced financial headaches because of delays in the death benefit payouts due to the 16-day government shutdown.
More recently, families of two servicemembers killed in a helicopter accident saw their payments delayed several days during the weekend-long shutdown in February.
The bill proposes a $145.7 billion — $133 billion in base dollars and $12.7 billion in the overseas war budget — for equipment and upgrades.
That includes more equipment purchases than were in either the president’s budget request or the House-passed authorization bill: 93 F-35 aircraft, which is 16 more; 66 AH-64 Apache helicopters, which is six more, and three Littoral Combat Ships, which is two more.
Granger said the reason for the big boosts in aircraft is “because the faster you can do it, the cheaper they sell. So we can keep those costs down.”
But appropriators also fund only 24 MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles, which is five fewer than the president’s request.
The bill would buck the Air Force to back the recapitalization of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS program. For the ground surveillance mission, the Air Force would like to abandon JSTARS, which it sees as vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles, favor of a new advanced battle management system made up of aircraft and drones.
Even with a bipartisan budget agreement in place that sets spending levels for fiscal 2019, the defense spending bill isn’t expected to become law anytime soon. Senate appropriators still have not released their plans for military funding, and no timetable has been set for full House votes on their proposal.
The defense spending plan will also likely hinge on completion of a host of other federal agency appropriations measures, since Democrats and Republicans have sparred in recent years over balancing non-defense priorities with military funding.
The current fiscal year deal expires on Sept. 30. Lawmakers need to pass a full-year budget or a temporary budget extension before then to avoid the possibility of a government shutdown.
The Legion’s Position:  The American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense and applauds these increases to defense spending as a needed reversal to the Defense Spending Caps that allows us to rebuild our military. 
 Quality of Life
 
Shopping at the Exchange generates $219 million annually for military quality-of-life.
Last year, the military community generated $219 million for critical Quality-of-Life programs as active-duty Soldiers, Airmen, military retirees and their families, as well as honorably discharged veterans, shopped through the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
Over the last 10 years, Exchange shoppers have contributed $2.4 billion to support military Child Development Centers, Youth Services programs, fitness centers and other programs that make life better for service members and their families.
 
100 percent of Exchange earnings are invested in the military community, with about two-thirds going to dividends supporting quality-of-life programs and the remaining third used to improve the shopping experience in store and at ShopMyExchange.com.
 
“Shopping the Exchange puts money right back into our military communities,” said Exchange senior enlisted advisor Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes. “This is what the Exchange is all about: Supporting our military members and their families.”
 
The 2017 $219 million dividend was generated in part by veterans, who were welcomed home with a lifelong online military exchange shopping benefit introduced on Veterans Day 2017. By shopping the Exchange online, veterans make life better for those who wear the uniform today through increased dividends while also enjoying the great shopping experience and savings they remember from their days on active duty. Veterans can also visit www.ShopMyExchange.com/veterans to determine eligibility.
 
All branches of service benefit from shopping the Exchange. Because the Exchange also serves the Navy and Marine Corps at select stores and online, portions of the dividend are contributed to those branches’ quality-of-life programs. For 2017, the $219 million was distributed as follows:
 
•Army: $124 million
•Air Force: $76 million
•Marines: $15 million
•Navy: $4 million
 
The Exchange dividend is a key aspect of the organization’s mission to enhance the lives of servicemembers and their families. Shoppers receive convenient access to tax-free goods at exclusive military pricing while making an investment in local military communities.
 
The American Legion position:  The American Legion adopted resolution no. 9: Military Commissaries which calls for full funding of military commissaries and exchanges.  This year staff has worked with Congress to pass a bill that allows commissary privileges to disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients. 
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Appropriations Committee did their markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the Bill on Thursday.  The bill provides support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to support implementing policy into the NDAA that would authorize the Secretary of Defense to support stabilization in countries during military operations.  Currently stabilization operations are only conducted by the State Department.  If this legislation is passed State would remain the primary authority for stabilization but DoD would be allowed to supplement when necessary in cooperation with the State Department. 
 
Other Activities
 
  • This week National Security Division is coordinating the National Commander and party’s visits to installations throughout Europe Command and Africa Command in real time.  The visits include Armed Forces Network interviews, meetings with installation commanders and DoD senior leadership, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Simultaneously, the National Security Division is coordinating Military and VA Benefits briefing events for Executive Director Verna Jones at six installations throughout Germany.
     
  • Tuesday, staff was invited to participate in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss a myriad of issues and specific areas of support to soldiers, family members and veterans.  Social media tools were provided in an effort to partner with the American Legion to get the Army’s message points out.  The FY19 NDAA was also discussed as it was published by the House today.  The Senate will begin on June 6 and a vote on amendments is expected on the 11th of June.  The bill includes a 2.6% pay increase for active duty and an increase to end strength of 4000 soldiers. 
     
  • Wednesday, staff will participate in a partners meeting with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance as part of their Stop.Think.Connect Campaign.  This event is in conjunction with internet safety month and online cybersecurity experts will share important resources with our organization that can be shared with our membership. 
 
  • Friday, staff has been invited by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to attend a heritage event honoring former POWs, families of former POWs, families of those missing in action, and wounded warriors.  Heritage to Horizons events are enhanced community engagement events
offering a private reception and a themed Air Force Band performance honoring groups, organizations, and individuals who support the Air Force and military families at the Air Force Memorial.
 
The memo may also be found online on Military OneSource here:  https://www.militaryonesource.mil/-/department-of-defense-poli-1
 
Under the expanded policy, the Secretary of a Military Department may authorize the payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense, to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony when a Servicemember or DoD civilian dies overseas and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner requires that the deceased Service member or DoD civilian be brought to Dover Air Force Base for examination.
 
The original policy allowed for the authorized payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony only when a Service member or DoD civilian died in a theater of combat operations. 
 
This important change in policy will allow the Department to better honor and serve the needs of the surviving family members.
 
The Dignified Transfer is the honorable carry of a deceased Servicemember from one conveyance to another, such as when a deceased Servicemember is carried from an aircraft arriving at Dover Air Force Base and placed into a vehicle for ground transportation to the Port Mortuary.
 
Potentially, Secretaries of the Military Departments could choose to use this discretionary authority in cases of Servicfmember deaths arising from mishaps that occur overseas in humanitarian assistance missions, exercises, and other real-world operational missions--even if not in a combat theater.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • In November 1943, Drew was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Drew died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Army Air Forces Tech Sgt. John S. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Jan. 21, 1944, Bailey was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed shortly after take-off.
     
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Keown, killed during the World War II, has now been accounted for. On April 16, 1944, Keown was a the pilot of one of four P-38s of the 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, on a mission in a P-38 aircraft to escort a B-25 medium bomber on an aerial search near the mouth of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. The escort planes encountered heavy overcast conditions and charted a course for an auxiliary airfield. The aircraft turned toward open ocean to find a break in the clouds, when Keown and his wingman became separated from the other aircraft. Keown was reported missing in action after all four aircraft failed to return following the mission. Due to weather conditions, no searches were conducted that day.

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

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

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

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

Implemented DOD-wide, the eMH application can manage sleeping space/room assignments/terminations, track furnishings, schedule inspections, and issue certificates of non-availabilities, Lavender added. The eMH application also makes it easy to divide the barracks into floors, rooms, and common areas. In turn, the database will ensure the accountability of all unit assigned sleeping spaces and property.
 
Hearings
  • This week the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to discuss unsecure areas of the southern border and the opioid crisis.  Opioid abuse has become an epidemic across the entire nation – 116 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose. This hearing will not only highlight the opioid crisis, especially in Arizona, but also look for both law enforcement and non-law enforcement solutions that will ultimately save lives.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
 
Other Activities
  • This week National Security Division is coordinating the National Commander and party’s visits to installations throughout Europe Command and Africa Command in real time.  The visits include Armed Forces Network interviews, meetings with installation commanders and DoD senior leadership, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Simultaneously, the National Security Division is coordinating Military and VA Benefits briefing events for Executive Director Verna Jones at six installations throughout Germany.
     
  • This week staff developed mission statements for the National Commander’s Far East and Europe trips.  The documents will provide the Department of Defense with a better understanding of the transition, education, and VA claim development benefits the American Legion offers troops.
 
  • Wednesday, Staff attend an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to discuss the cancelled summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.  President Trump's cancellation of the summit with North Korea is a warning as to just how difficult it is to bring any kind of stability to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. It is also a warning that the U.S. cannot focus on the nuclear issue and ICBM, rather than the overall military balance in the Koreas and the impact that any kind of war fighting can have on the civil population of South Korea and the other states in Northeast Asia. The nuclear balance is an all too critical aspect of regional security, but it is only part of the story and military capability do not address the potential impact and cost of any given form of conflict.
 
  • Thursday, staff began coordinating potential engagements with U.S. Ambassadors from countries throughout Europe and the Pacific.  Currently, the National Commanders meet with the Ambassadors during their trips to Europe and Far East.  This effort will further our dialogue and improve our involvement with the Department of State.
 
  • Friday, May 25th, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie signed a memorandum that expands the authority under which the Military Departments may provide government-sponsored transportation to surviving family members to attend Dignified Transfer ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base.
 
The memo may also be found online on Military OneSource here:  https://www.militaryonesource.mil/-/department-of-defense-poli-1
 
Under the expanded policy, the Secretary of a Military Department may authorize the payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense, to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony when a Servicemember or DoD civilian dies overseas and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner requires that the deceased Service member or DoD civilian be brought to Dover Air Force Base for examination.
 
The original policy allowed for the authorized payment of surviving family members' travel and transportation allowances at government expense to attend the Dignified Transfer ceremony only when a Servicemember or DoD civilian died in a theater of combat operations. 
 
This important change in policy will allow the Department to better honor and serve the needs of the surviving family members.
 
The Dignified Transfer is the honorable carry of a deceased Servicemember from one conveyance to another, such as when a deceased Servicemember is carried from an aircraft arriving at Dover Air Force Base and placed into a vehicle for ground transportation to the Port Mortuary.
 
Potentially, Secretaries of the Military Departments could choose to use this discretionary authority in cases of Servicemember deaths arising from mishaps that occur overseas in humanitarian assistance missions, exercises, and other real-world operational missions--even if not in a combat theater.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Henry G. Tipton, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Tipton was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Tipton.
     
  • Army Cpl. Ernest L.R. Heilman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. Heilman was a member of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, and was declared missing in action when his unit was breaking a roadblock in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea.  Reports provided by enemy forces indicated that Heilman was captured and died at Changsong prisoner of war camp in North Korea. Based on this information, the Army declared him deceased on June 8, 1951.
     
  • Army Sgt. Julius E. McKinney, 19, of New Orleans, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, McKinney was a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. As the Chinese attacks continued, American forces withdrew south. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory. McKinney was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, after he was last seen on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir.
     
     
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 25 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(WashPost) On Thursday, President Trump announced that he was canceling the planned June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many saw this development as a missed opportunity.  Trump himself called it a “tremendous setback.” But the reason the summit did not take place is actually easy to understand: There is no reason to negotiate if there is not a deal to be had.
 
Kim Jong Un wants to have his cake and eat it, too
The United States and international community’s long-stated goal is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But Kim will be reluctant to give up the nuclear weapons he sees as the key to guaranteeing his regime survival.
He might be willing to consider dismantling nuclear weapons if he believed the “maximum pressure” campaign against him threatened to destabilize his regime. However, we have not yet seen that level of pressure.
 
Most likely, Kim agreed to the summit in the hopes of having his cake and eating it, too: nuclear weapons and sanctions relief. After all, both his father and grandfather pretended they might denuclearize in the past. They managed to receive relief from the international community, while retaining and advancing their nuclear programs.
 
Progress would reduce both sides’ motivations to fulfill their promises
Even if Kim had every intention of moving toward denuclearization, getting a final agreement would still be difficult. Political scientists James Fearon and Robert Powell have shown how shifts in the balance of power complicate efforts to make “credible commitments.” To strike a successful deal, Kim would have to credibly commit to denuclearize and the United States and the international community would need to credibly commit to delivering a raft of benefits, including diplomatic normalization, promises the United States will not invade, and economic engagement.
 
But concluding such a deal would shift the balance of power in ways that would tempt both sides to renege. Severe international pressure may convince Kim to promise denuclearization. But with sanctions lifted, aid flowing in and the North Korean economy starting to improve, he might rethink whether to dismantle his nuclear and missile program. He could stop short of denuclearization — keeping some of his nuclear program to achieve his long-standing goal of becoming a recognized nuclear-armed power.
 
Consider how pressure on North Korea has lightened simply because of a possible summit. The Trump administration has stopped its threats of “fire and fury.” South Korea turned off loudspeakers pumping propaganda into the North. Western countries scrapped plans to use military interdictions to stop North Korea and its allies from evading sanctions. Having already won some of what he sought, why would Kim need to go further?
Meanwhile, Washington and its allies have been willing to consider lifting sanctions and delivering aid because they fear the growing and grave North Korean nuclear threat. But once North Korea actually got rid of its nuclear weapons and facilities, the West would feel less motivation to engage with North Korea economically and diplomatically. Recent discussion of how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was treated after he abandoned his WMD programs made this quite clear.
 
In other words, even if both sides sincerely intend to reach a deal on denuclearization, they both have good reason to doubt that the other will deliver.
 
Political scientist Barbara Walter has shown how, in civil wars, third-party guarantors can help overcome “credible commitment” problems. But there is no third-party guarantor powerful enough to enforce an agreement between Washington and Pyongyang. The United States, the most powerful country on Earth and therefore the most able to play such a role, is a party to this dispute.
 
Why negotiate if there’s no possibility of a deal?
Many observers believe that, in general, talks can bring parties together — and wonder why two disputing sides don’t at least try negotiations. But political scientist James Fearon has shown that serious and detailed diplomacy is irrational if there’s little or no hope of achieving an enforceable agreement.
 
Sure, Kim and Trump could have attended the summit and discussed denuclearization. Perhaps they could have even agreed to the broad outlines of a deal. But even then, much could have gone wrong.
 
What’s more, recent weeks have brought signs that the summit would not be successful. Most notably, North Korean negotiators failed to show up for a preparatory meeting in Singapore.
 
Given these realities, canceling the summit makes sense. As Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean nuclear negotiator with the North, said, “If North Korea is not serious about denuclearization as understood generally, it would have been dangerous to hold the summit as scheduled.”
 
What should we expect next?
Right now, conditions aren’t ripe for a deal. And they may never be. But both sides will nevertheless continue to try to enhance their leverage. North Korea will probably go back to expanding its nuclear and missile program, warning of a “nuclear showdown.” And the United States has promised to maintain “maximum pressure” until Kim takes concrete steps toward denuclearizing.
 
In short, we should expect more of the tense standoff we witnessed last summer.
That outcome certainly will not be as pleasant as high-profile talks leading to denuclearization, but it is easy to understand.
 
National Defense Authorization Act
(MilitaryTimes) House lawmakers approved a $717 billion defense authorization bill on Thursday after days of debate but without much partisan division, hinting at a smooth negotiation ahead for the sometimes contentious budget policy measure.
The House’ version of the fiscal 2019 authorization bill includes plans to boost active-duty military end strength, a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops and sizeable boosts for military aviation upgrades and equipment maintenance, all in line with White House plans to boost American defense power.
The 1,000-plus-page legislation each year serves as the centerpiece for a host of military policy discussions and fights. In recent years, that has included sweeping changes such as overhauling troops’ retirement funds and realignment of Pentagon leadership.
This year’s draft lacks that clear attention-grabber, but lawmakers touted measure as the culmination of years of effort to put the Defense Department on a path of to restoring military readiness, a problem both they and President Donald Trump have insisted undermines the country’s safety.
 “This bill takes the next steps to rebuilding our military and reforming the Pentagon, the next steps towards strengthening our country’s national security,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, in advance of the final 351-66 House vote.
“Our country has a number of tools at its disposal — diplomacy, economics and trade, soft power and influence. But in my view the most important tool is our military strength. And I believe our military strength enhances all of those other tools.”
Similarly, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the measure keeps the nation’s promise to veterans and service members by taking “a major step forward in rebuilding and reforming our military.”
Despite objections over immigration, nuclear security and a host of other matters, a majority of Democrats also backed the legislation, citing the same readiness concerns.
“After nearly 17 years of war, we have really worked the men and women who serve us in the armed services very, very hard,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and ranking member of the Thornberry’s committee. “And there is a very real readiness problem within our military as we have underfunded that to fund the short-term needs presented by the conflicts.
“The most important thing about this bill is that it really begins to pay that back.”
The measure authorizes defense officials to spend more than $39 billion on military aviation upgrades and includes a proposed commission to review spiking military aviation mishaps, a problem House members and Pentagon officials have sparred over in recent weeks.
House lawmakers touted their $717 billion defense authorization bill, which passed Thursday, as a step forward in restoring military readiness.
 
It also includes $18.5 billion to replace aging Army equipment and $25.5 billion for equipment maintenance and replacement parts. Lawmakers backed administration plans for 77 new F-35 aircraft, two additional Virginia-class submarines and littoral combat ships, and modernization plans for almost 3,400 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.
The 2.6 percent pay raise is the largest for troops in nine years. That and the end strength boosts are in line with White House promises to better staff and reward military personnel for their sacrifices.
But the White House did offer a list of objections included in the House’s plans, including increases for surveillance aircraft and aircraft carriers, a premature reorganization of space forces and the shuttering the Defense Information Systems Agency.
They hope some of those issues will be resolved in the Senate’s version of the legislation, due out later this summer. Senate Armed Services Committee officials finished their draft of the defense authorization bill Wednesday evening, and are expected to release details later this week.
In recent days, the House worked through dozens of amendments, including the addition of a full Coast Guard authorization. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., successfully pushed for the fifth armed service to be included with the traditional other four, setting budget priorities for the next two years.
Republicans fended off Democratic amendments looking to sideline plans for a new tactical nuclear warhead, to slash the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons account and to eliminate authorization for the wartime budget. They also denied an attempt by Democrats to append gun control legislation to expand background checks to the must-pass bill.
Similarly, a Republican-backed amendment to require the military to buy only American-made dinnerware and flatware was defeated during the three days of floor debate. Lawmakers have had mixed success in recent years in requiring such “America first” provisions in the defense budget legislation.
The House Rules Committee skirted consequential debate on war authorization amendments and protections for troops who came into the country illegally by denying any floor debate on those issues.
Still, between the committee and floor mark-ups, more than 500 amendments were added to the authorization bill, most without objection from either party.
Once the Senate adopts its version of the legislation, negotiations from both chambers will spend the rest of the summer working through the differences. The legislation has passed into law for the last 56 years, making it an outlier among the partisan rancor on Capitol Hill.
 
Quality of Life
Consolidation of Commissaries and Exchanges
Armed Forces Retirement Home military retiree residents in Gulfport, Mississippi and Washington, DC are scheduled to see a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in rent effective October 1, 2018. Fees for those in the independent living program (75 percent of residents) are based largely on income. Beginning October 1, 2018, these fees will increase from 40 percent of income to 60 percent of income. The current maximum rent is $1,429 per month. After October 1, the average rent will be $3,054 per month. Many of the residents who live there are elderly and on a fixed and limited income. This extraordinary raise in rent will put a financial burden on those who have served our Nation. Please contact your legislators and urge them to work to stop this excessive increase.
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Sarah Hughes, Writer and Researcher at Innovation lab and OPM. Ms. Hughes is working on the Women Veterans Patient Experience Journey. This project is being conducted by the same company that created the veterans experience map.  Staff from the National Security Division will work with Ms. Hughes to provide personal experiences as women veterans and experiences among other women veterans.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division sent MST and PTSD women specified information to Catherine Buckley, a legionnaire in Michigan. Ms. Buckley wanted more data and information regarding MST and PTSD. Staff from the National Security Division received the information from the VA before sharing the information with Ms. Buckley.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee weekly call. The Summit will be held on June 14-15th and staff from the National Security Division will participate by being on a panel discussion called “Trailblazers and Change Makers”. This meeting discussed preliminary matters for the conference.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Elsie Moore at the VA Hospital to discuss arrangements to set up a bi-weekly table that will showcase the services that The American Legion provides for women veterans and all veterans.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the monthly National Minority Veterans Summit Planning Meeting. Staff from the National Security is on the National Minority Veterans Summit Planning Meeting. The purpose of this Planning Meeting is for the 2019 National Minority Veterans Summit. No survey has been accomplished to assess the specific needs of minority veterans who make up 23% of total veteran population. The summit is meant to broadcast the voice of minority veterans in an efforts to document concerns and suggestions to better serve needs.
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson, Secretary of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education were in attendance at this event. The purpose of this event was to recognize, honor and remember the soldiers and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice for American freedoms and liberties.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a ceremony to place a wreath at The Vietnam Women’s Memorial to honor the 8 women on the Vietnam Wall. Staff from the National security division also attend the reception in their honor.
 
Hearings
  • This week the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to review the FY2019 funding request and budget justification for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  The witness present was the Honorable James F. Bridenstine, Administrator, NASA. 
 
The American Legion has Resolution No. 225: Fully Fund NASA.  The American Legion deems it imperative that the United States, in the face of increasing competition, maintain its hard won status as the world leader in aeronautics and aircraft production and in space exploration and research; to realize this goal, we urge the Congress to provide: adequate funding for NASA along with the nation's civilian and military aerospace research and development programs to maintain U.S. technological leadership; adequate funding to build, upgrade and enhance the nation's civilian and military aerospace research facilities and wind tunnels; a renewed national commitment to education involving academia in aeronautical and aerospace engineering research and technologies insuring a state of the art educated work force; oversight and investigating functions and related activities with respect to the transfer of American aerospace technology abroad; provide that all of our military aircrafts are design, manufactured and assembled within the borders of the United States.
 
Legislation
  • This week staff is working with the Legislative Division to prepare for testimony on several bills that address national security issues.  One bill would mandate that companies that provide television, cable and phone allow servicemembers the ability to end their contract without penalty when they receive orders to deploy.
     
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
 
Other Activities
  • This week National Security Division staff held several conference calls with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
 
  • Tuesday, staff met with senior defense officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to discuss plans for the 2018 National Convention.  DPAA plans to set up a booth in the Convention Hall and offered to provide a speaker for the National Security Commission program to provide an update on recovery efforts for FY18 and budget challenges. 
 
  • Wednesday, staff participated in a MSO/VSO working group at the Defense Health Agency.  Topics included:
    • Connected Corpsmen in the Community (BUMED)
    • Womack Pediatric Unit (Army)
    • T2017 Contract Performance Update (J-10)
    • Dependents and Medical Health Records (OASD(HA)
    • Surgical Volumes (MHS/DHA)
    • Children's Health Care/Access to Behavioral Health Care (J-10)
    • Implementation of Sec 511, FY 2018 NDAA ((DHA)
    • Maternity Care Update (J-10)
    • Take Command: Open Season and FEDVIP/TRDP (MHS/DHA) Comms
 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Jack H. Krieger, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Krieger was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Krieger died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Walter H. Backman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Backman was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Backman.
     
  • Army Pfc. Willie E. Blue, 19, of New Orleans, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In August 1950, Blue was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, taking part in defending the Naktong Bulge portion of the Pusan Perimeter. He was reported missing in action as of Aug. 31, 1950, after his status could not be determined following his admittance to the 2nd Clearing Station, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Yong-san, South Korea. No additional records showed his disposition, nor did the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) have records on Blue. With no additional information concerning his loss, the Department of the Army declared him deceased on March 3, 1954.
 
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Edward F. Slapikas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Slapikas was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Slapikas.
 
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Francis E. Drake, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  On October 9, 1942, Drake was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, participating in a main offensive action in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After nearly two months of battle, the regiment completed their action, however Morrissey was killed in action. Two other Marines from Morrissey’s battalion were reportedly interred in graves atop Hill 73, alongside him.
     
    Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
    Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 18 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
 
North Korea
(NYTimes) On Wednesday, North Korea threatened to cancel high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to walk away from a historic summit with President Donald Trump to protest ongoing military exercises involving the U.S.  North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also warned the U.S. that the "provocative military racket" put the June 12 summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un in jeopardy. The North said it was angry about Max Thunder, a large military exercise that's currently being staged by Washington and Seoul in South Korea. KCNA called the drills an "undisguised challenge" and a "deliberate military provocation" against the apparent strides toward peace.  Kim's regime alleges that the Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and U.S. air forces are a rehearsal for an invasion of the North and a provocative move amid signs of improving ties between the two countries.
 
Iran
Requirements Iran must comply with as part of the Post-JCPOA Strategy
(CSIS) - Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others
Iran may be willing to halt ICBM development and deployment, but this requirement – like the poorly draft UN resolution on missiles – ignores the fact that Iran has developed short and medium-range missiles as its only way of countering that its current air force often dates back to the time of the Shah and is largely obsolete. It ignores the fact that Iran cannot import modern combat aircraft, or begin to compete with the airpower Israel, the Arab Gulf states, the U.S., Britain, and France can deploy. It also ignores the reality that missiles that can deliver effective conventional warheads, with precision guidance or even larger warheads to partly compensate for the lack of precision require, require payloads and throw weights large enough to deliver nuclear warheads. This requirement would keep Iran a third-rate military power even if it never sought nuclear weapons and is almost certain to be unacceptable.
 
Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa’ida
This requirement overstates the limited support Iran has provided for the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, which has generally been to use given figures to provide leverage against the U.S. or its neighbors, but Iran broadly sees both movements as enemies and might agree to this, and even to any future support of Hamas – a Sunni movement. Ceasing all ties to Shiite movements like Hizballah and the Shi'ite militias in Syria in Iraq, Yemen, and the Hazara in Afghanistan would mean giving up critical strategic leverage without any quid pro quos, and sacrificing asymmetric capabilities that Iran feels are essential to offset the conventional superiority of Israeli, Arab Gulf states, and U.S., British, and French forces.
 
End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel
Iran's opposition to Israel is partly ideological, partly a result of the fact that Israel had close ties to the Shah, partly a tactical way of positioning Iran to be a "defender" of the Palestinians and win Arab popular support, and partly the result of nearly 40 years of mutual hostility since the fall of the Shah. Hardliners in Iran will try to use this demand to block negotiations, and it is unclear that any Iranian government could make this change without an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
 
Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea
Once again, Iran would have to give up critical strategic leverage without any quid pro quos, and sacrifice asymmetric capabilities that it feels are essential to offset the conventional naval-air-missile superiority of Israeli, Arab Gulf states, and U.S., British, and French forces.
 
Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis
Support of the Houthis gives Iran leverage over another key Shi'ite military movement, and allows it to use small, cheap arms transfers to put intense and highly costly asymmetric pressure on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and – to a far more limited extent – the other members of their coalition. It also deprives Iran of the option of establishing a strategic position in the Red Sea. Again, it seems doubtful that Iran would accept this without a major quid pro quo and broader set of regional security agreements that removed most of today's strategic tensions and allowed Iran to develop its economy.
 
End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel
Again, Iran is being asked to give up an asymmetric capability without a clear quid pro quo, and without any acknowledgment it has been under cyber-attack by the U.S. and Israel.
 
Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens
There are "moderate" forces even within the current regime in Iran that support a less repressive approach, and see economic and social reforms as key steps in winning popular support. Like all too many governments in the region and developing world, however, the regime is very unlikely to take any steps that it feels threaten it. Repression – not reform – is the region's default approach to internal security.
 
Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens
Once again, repression not reform is the region's default approach to internal security. Iran also feels it can use the detention of U.S. citizens as a form of leverage. Iran might still agree, but it will not fail to detain or create serious problems for any foreigner who is seen as a threat to the regime.
 
Quality of Life
Consolidation of Commissaries and Exchanges
(MilitaryTimes) - The next step in an ongoing Defense Department plan to consolidate the commissary and exchange systems is expected to begin in July, a Defense Department spokesman said.
A task force will delve into the financial feasibility of the move and develop organizational and operational plans for “above-the-store” structures of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange Service Command, and Marine Corps Exchange. A memorandum establishing the task force is in draft form.
Senior Defense Officials say such an organization would have lower overhead and operating expenses and would “preserve the many benefits” of the current system, “including spousal employment.”
The American Legion has questions about the plan, including how much it will cost to consolidate the four entities, and what DoD would do with any boost to its bottom line.
Out of the $1.3 billion in taxpayer dollars the commissary system gets each year to operate the system, about $800 million is spent on pay and benefits for the commissary workforce.
For years, some in the Pentagon have targeted that $1.3 billion, attempting to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars going to the benefit and redirect them to other needs of the military, especially during times of budget cuts and sequestration.
Officials have been drafting a legislative proposal because the law would have to be changed in order to consolidate these resale systems. That proposal was not included in the initial House markup of the fiscal 2019 national defense authorization bill.
According to the draft memo, the task force will analyze the business case for consolidating the stores. If that analysis confirms the approach, the task force director will start the consolidation immediately and will perform the duties as the new “defense resale enterprise” interim, single director, until the permanent position is advertised and filled.
Once a memo is signed, and direction to establish a task force is published, Pentagon officials will ask for nominees for the task force from the various resale entities. Under the timeline in the draft memo, a task force that starts work in July would wrap up by late January, sources said.
Background documents note that commissary sales are down by 20 percent between 2012 and 2017, citing a variety of reasons. Changes need to be made, officials contend, to allow the commissary system to adapt more quickly to trends such as online ordering, technology-enabled shopping and curbside pickup.
The “guiding principles” for consolidation listed in the internal DoD document are:
  • Preserve the benefit.
  • Maintain or increase MWR dividends.
  • Maintain savings levels at commissaries and exchanges.
  • Minimize impacts to store operations (for example, no store closures).
  • Maintain “exceptional customer service and satisfaction throughout resale enterprise.”
  • Maintain military service equities, brands and mission responsiveness.
  • Improve the governing structure thorough a single board of directors.
    Officials in the office of DoD’s chief management officer have been working on various areas of reform for more than a year, including the community services area, which includes commissaries and exchanges, MWR programs, family support services and the DoD primary and secondary school system.
    “The Reform Management Group agreed that these community services are recognized as non-pay benefits or perceived as beneficial to the Department’s mission, recruiting, retention, and readiness, so should not be divested or discontinued,” the draft memo states.
    Consolidation of commissaries and exchanges has been the subject of numerous studies in the last several decades. In 2015, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission recommended consolidating the commissary and three exchange systems into one entity to be called the Defense Resale Activity. A number of the recommendations within that proposal are similar to DoD’s current direction, such as plans for one executive director to oversee the system, a single board of directors and the consolidation of many back-end and support functions.
    Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division will serve a second year on the Committee for the Health of Those Who Have Served Report. The Committee consist of 12 individuals representing a breadth of military and veteran’s health perspectives. The 2018 Health of Those Who Have Served Report will build on the 2016 and 2017 report will provide an updated holistic portrait of the men and women who have served, including trends over a six-year period. As with previous report, the 2018 report is scheduled for release in November and is expected to garner national attention as well as foster dialogue on the health opportunities and realities facing those who have served.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee weekly call. The Summit will be held on June 14-15th and staff from the National Security Division will participate by being on a panel discussion called “Trailblazers and Change Makers”. This meeting discussed preliminary matters for the conference.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division briefed the new media relations specialist, Mackenzie Wolf, on legislation and statistical data on Women Veterans. Ms. Wolf will write more articles featuring women veterans as women veterans continue to become the fasting growing population.
     
  • On Wednesday Staff from the National Security Division received and responded to a request via the women veterans website from Chloe. This request was about a women veterans day event that will highlight the women who served this country. This event is the first of its kind and will be celebrated on June 12, 2018. It is unclear where the event will be held but pending Chloe’s response, that information will be received.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division prepared a brief report on the meeting notes received from The Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Council on Women Veterans.
     
    Hearings
  • This week the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to assess TSA checkpoints and the pre-check program and how it affects airport wait times.  The purpose of the hearing was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA Pre-check program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.
     
Legislation
  • This week staff is working with the Legislative Division to prepare for testimony on several bills that address national security issues.  One bill would mandate that companies that provide television, cable and phone allow servicemembers the ability to end their contract without penalty when they receive orders to deploy.
     
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and purple heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to servicemembers who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
 
Other Activities
  • This week National Security Division staff held several conference calls with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
     
  • This week staff are staff are looking into an issue with unpaid Survivor Benefit Plan premium (SBP) for military retirees.  The Defense Finance and Accounting Services(DFAS) is now automatically deducting premiums that are not paid in full from retirement pay.  We have found out that some retirees have unpaid premiums with interest as high as $23,000.  This debt will be collected from the monthly payout to the surviving spouse until the debt is fully collected.  
     
    POW/MIA Update
    Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
     
    Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
     
    DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Clarence E. Allen, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In mid-October 1944, Allen was a member of the 395th Fighter Squadron, 368th Fighter Group, and was the pilot of a P-47 aircraft as the lead element in a dive-bombing mission near Aachen, Germany. The squadron engaged enemy aircraft in dogfights in the vicinity of Dusseldorf, and following the battle, all aircraft except Allen’s returned to the base. The squadron Mission Report indicated that a P-47 was seen crashing in the vicinity of the battle. Based on this information, Allen was declared missing in action on Oct. 12, 1944.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard H. Aldridge, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Aldridge was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Aldridge.
     
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Elden W. Grimm, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Grimm was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Grimm died on Nov. 25, 1943.
 
  • Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Harvel L. Moore, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  In November 1943, Moore was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Moore died on the third day of the battle, Nov. 22, 1943.
     
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 3 May 2018
 
Items of Interest
North Korea
Planning for summit with North Korea continues to gain interest as we draw closer to May 9th.  The most important thing to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is regime survival and the most important thing to him is his nuclear arsenal. But by historically meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Friday, Pyongyang has shown what is most important. Nukes are, and always were, subservient to regime well-being.
 
Kim, who has god-like status among his people, has in effect told them four things:
1) The nukes program has served its purpose, and we will stop work on it now.
2) All efforts will focus on making you rich, like the Chinese and South Koreans.
3) I have started a new era of Korean history by reaching out to the South.
4) Our nukes have tamed the Yankees, and now I am going to trade them for permanent security and leverage to make you rich.
 
At this point he cannot go back to his people and announce that he misread the situation so we will go back to being poor but proud with our nuclear weapons. 
 
NAVY
SECDEF considering changing Navy deployments to check great power threats
(MilitaryTimes) - A typical carrier deployment from Norfolk goes like this: A tearful goodbye on the pier, a trip across the Atlantic, then one or maybe two port visits in Europe before heading through “The Ditch” and into U.S. Central Command territory. There you will stay for the bulk of the cruise before returning the way you came.  Those days might be coming to an end.
 
The Navy and Pentagon planners are already weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to U.S. Central Command, opting instead to hold the carrier in Europe as a check on Russia, breaking with more than 30 years of nearly continuous carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf. But even more fundamental changes could be in the works.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made clear as the military’s top civilian that he has a very different vision for how the military will be used in the future. And recent comments have hinted at big changes on the horizon for the Navy and how it deploys.
 
In testimony last month, Mattis twice compared that kind of predictability to running a commercial shipping operation, and said the Navy needed to get away from being so easily anticipated.
 
“That’s a great way to run a shipping line,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s no way to run a Navy.”
 
But as Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chief Gen. Joseph Dunford drive towards new ways of employing the fleet, changing the way that fleet deploys will put pressure on its existing deployment model, forcing the Navy to rethink a structure that governs nearly everything it does — from manning and training to its maintenance cycles.
 
In an era of great-power competition with China and Russia, Mattis describes the Navy showing up where it’s not expected, making deployments less burdensome to the fleet and its families but more worrisome to a potential adversary.
 
“The way you do this is to ensure that preparation for great power competition drives not simply a rotational schedule that allows me to tell you, three years from now, which aircraft carrier will be where in the world,” he told House lawmakers. “When we send them out, it may be for a shorter deployment. There will be three carriers in the South China Sea today, and then, two weeks from now, there’s only one there, and two of them are in the Indian Ocean.
 
“They’ll be home at the end of a 90-day deployment. They will not have spent eight months at sea, and we are going to have a force more ready to surge and deal with the high-end warfare as a result, without breaking the families, the maintenance cycles — we’ll actually enhance the training time.”
 
Quality of Life
At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects
(MilitaryTimes) - This week the Pentagon released a report stating that at least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer and birth defects.  In a March report provided to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon for the first time publicly listed the full scope of the known contamination. The Defense Department identified 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds.
 
These included 36 sites with drinking water contamination on-base, and more than 90 sites that reported either on-base or off-base drinking water or groundwater contamination, in which the water source tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOS and PFOAs.
 
The man-made chemicals, which can be used to make items heat or water resistant, are found in everyday household, food and clothing items, even take-out food wrappers.  At military bases, however, they are concentrated in the foam used to put out aircraft fires.
 
Monday, staff participated in a conference call with senior officials from the Department of Defense to address a recent report released on sexual assaults during fiscal year 2017 within the Department and a memo from the SECDEF expressing his firm commitment to ending sexual assault in the military and his expectations in regard for every person in uniform.  The report showed 4,193 women reported (+13% from FY16) and 1,084 (no change from FY16) men reported for a total of 5,277 service members. 
 
Of the 4,779 subject case dispositions reported in FY17:
• 3,567 military subjects of sexual assault investigations could be considered for possible action by DoD commanders
– DoD authorities had sufficient evidence to take some kind of disciplinary action against 62% (2,218 of 3,567) of military subjects
• Of the 2,218 subjects with sufficient evidence to receive disciplinary action:
– 1,446 received action on a sexual assault charge – with 53% (774 of 1,446) having court-martial charges preferred
– 772 received action on some other form of misconduct (e.g., assault, false statement, adultery)
• Standardization of data in DSAID and updates in law and policy likely contributed to some of the recent changes in data.
 
Future of U.S. troops in South Korea
(MilitaryTimes) - Mixed signals from top political leaders ahead of a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have some questioning what is the future for the 28,500 U.S. military members and their families stationed in South Korea.
 
Kim has paused his nuclear and missile tests, also placing his nuclear program up for negotiation in recent talks with South Korea. But North Korea has had a mixed history of at times making the removal of U.S. forces a precondition for any denuclearization and at other times saying it is willing to talk without troops leaving the peninsula.
 
And it’s not as though there hasn’t been rumbling about this from the U.S. commander in chief.
New reports indicate that Trump was talked down from removing the troops ahead of the winter Olympics. Trump said in March that he would consider removing troops to get a better trade deal with South Korea.
 
And Defense Secretary James Mattis responded to media questions about force levels last week with a somewhat vague response, interpreted by some as opening the door for a reduction in forces.
“That’s part of the issues that we’ll be discussing in negotiations with our allies first, and of course with North Korea,” he said in response to a question about potential troop reductions.
“I think for right now we just have to go along with the process, have the negotiations and not try to make preconditions or presumptions about how it’s going to go,” he said.
One expert said troop removal would be “devastating” both to South Korea and across the globe for U.S. allies. Another sees the troops there, at best a single combat brigade for a conventional fight, as being purely “symbolic” and not needed.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said this week that the U.S. forces stationed in his country are not there solely for a North Korea deterrent.
“U.S. troops in South Korea are a matter of the South Korea-U.S. alliance. It has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty,” Moon said.
But one of his advisers previously said it would be “difficult to justify” the continuing U.S. presence if a peace treaty were signed.
Bruce Klingner, is a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation who served as a Central Intelligence Agency deputy division chief for Korea.
“I think having U.S. military on the peninsula is the most tangible signal of U.S. resolve and commitment to our allies as possible,” Klingner said.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with Tynnetta Lee, Department of VA Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The purpose of this meeting was to get a better understanding of the VA’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion advises and supports the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration in diversity and inclusion issues. The office also supports the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries, and Assistant Secretaries in their actions to achieve and sustain a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. However, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is not specifically designed to help only veterans but all citizens. 
     
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division met with the Volunteer Services at the Department of Veteran Affairs. The purpose of this meeting was to establish relationships at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center to set up a biweekly table to inform veterans of the services the American Legion provides and the American Legion Women Veterans Program.
     
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attend the VA Monthly Partner’s Breakfast. The guest speaker was Lief Nelson, Director, National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Nelson, spoke about the Winter Sports Clinic. Generally, there are about 16% of women veterans. Staff from the National Security Division informed the Center for Women Veterans of the new women veterans website; the 2 day conference at Convention and on the update on the HERstory Breakfast.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Minority Health Resource Center webinar on Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life-Course Perspective. This webinar focused on the differential exposures to protective and risk factors during pregnancy such as current socioenomic status, maternal risky behaviors, prenatal care, psychosocial stress, or perinatal infections. In the United States, African American infants have significantly worse birth outcomes than non-African American infants. The cause of these persisting racial disparities remains unexplained. Eliminating disparities requires interventions and policy development that are more longitudinally and contextually integrated than currently prevail.
     
  • On Friday through Sunday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend the State of Women Conference with three members from Post 43 in Los Angelo’s California. Day one will engage women, girls, and allies from across the country through inspiring mainstage sessions, issue-breakouts, opportunities to connect with leading fellow change makers, and an interactive center with organizations and women-owned businesses. Day two attendees will fan out across Los Angeles to attend skills-based trainings or Community Teach –In’s hosted by a range of organizations that are making change on gender equity in Los Angeles.
     
    Hearings
  • This week the Senate Armed Services Committee held several hearings to markup the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.  Topics covered included emerging threats and capabilities, sea power and projection forces, and strategic forces.  The President’s budget request is higher than the FY2018 NDAA which marks a reversal of the Defense Spending Caps also known as sequestration.
     
Legislation
  • This week staff is working with the Legislative Division to prepare for testimony on several bills that address national security issues.  One bill would reform the military Transition Assistance Program.  TAP would no long be a mandatory 5 day program plus two optional days.  It will instead offer service members three separate tailored programs that would provide them with information and resources specific to their intended career path. 
     
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and purple heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
 
Other Activities
  • This week National Security Division staff held several conference calls with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
     
  • Monday, staff participated in a conference call with senior officials from the Department of Defense to address a recent report released on sexual assaults during fiscal year 2017 within the Department and a memo from the SECDEF expressing his firm commitment to ending sexual assault in the military and his expectations in regard for every person in uniform.  The report showed 4,193 women reported (+13% from FY16) and 1,084 (no change from FY16) men reported for a total of 5,277 service members. 
     
    Of the 4,779 subject case dispositions reported in FY17:
    • 3,567 military subjects of sexual assault investigations could be considered for possible action by DoD commanders
    – DoD authorities had sufficient evidence to take some kind of disciplinary action against 62% (2,218 of 3,567) of military subjects
    • Of the 2,218 subjects with sufficient evidence to receive disciplinary action:
    – 1,446 received action on a sexual assault charge – with 53% (774 of 1,446) having court-martial charges preferred
    – 772 received action on some other form of misconduct (e.g., assault, false statement, adultery)
    • Standardization of data in DSAID and updates in law and policy likely contributed to some of the recent changes in data.
     
  • Monday, staff participated in a meeting with the Legislative and VE&E Divisions to discuss a unnumbered bill that addresses reforming the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program.  The bill would change the standard 5 day plus 2 optional day current program to a more tailored program with three paths for service members to choose from.  
 
  • Tuesday, staff from the National Security Division attended an event hosted by the Center for a New America titled “Iraq After ISIS: What to Do Now.”  In 2017, the United States dealt ISIS a devastating blow eliminating its territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria. Iraq, which will hold national elections on May 12th, emerged out of the war against ISIS strong and in an increasingly positive mood.  Yet as Iraq looks ahead to a post-ISIS future, numerous challenges lie ahead.  Just last week Iraq conducted its first military air strikes outside of its borders since 1990 against ISIS forces in Syria. 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
Details of the FY 2018 DPAA budget request can be found at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/FY2018/budget_justification/pdfs/01OperationandMaintenance/OMVOL1PART1/DPAAOP-5.pdf
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Pfc. Billy R. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Ball was a member of Headquarters Detachment Philippines Department, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Raymond A. Barker, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Barker was assigned to Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Barker died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve 1st Sgt. David H. Quinn, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Quinn was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (C-2d Amp Tr Bn), 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Quinn died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold V. Thomas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.  In November 1943, Thomas was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Thomas died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division
 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 20 April 2018
 
Items of Interest
No reports of transgender troops affecting unit cohesion, Marine Corps and Navy leaders say
(MilitaryTimes) - The heads of the Navy and Marine Corps told lawmakers Thursday that they have received no reports of transgender devil dogs or sailors impacting unit cohesion in the ranks.
 
New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s cohesion question comes as President Trump’s ban on most transgender troops released last month is being challenged in at least four federal court cases.
 
Pentagon officials said last month that, due to those cases, transgender troops were unlikely to be immediately affected by the ban.
 
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said “it’s steady as she goes” when it comes to the impact of the White House’s transgender troop policy on Navy readiness and personnel.
 
“By virtue of being a Navy sailor, we treat every one of those Navy sailors, regardless, with dignity and respect,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is warranted by wearing the uniform of the United States Navy. By virtue of that approach, I am not aware of any issues.”
 
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller also said he was not aware of any issues.
Neller said that 27 Marines currently serving in the Corps identify as transgender, offering one of the first concrete figures regarding the military’s transgender demographic.
 
The exact number of Trans troops remains unknown, according to a February Pentagon report, but a 2016 survey found 8,980 troops identifying as transgender.
 
“Those that came forward, we have to honor the fact that they came out, and they trusted us to say that, and help them get through the process,” Neller said. “Part of it is education, part of it is some medical things that have to be involved as they go through the process of transitioning.”
Neller said he had heard from some commanders that the medical requirements of some transgender Marines can present additional issues.
 
“There is a burden on the commands to handle that stuff,” he said. “Some have said it’s not a problem at all, others have said there is a lot of time when this individual may or may not be available.”
 
Neller also said he had met with transgender Navy and Marine officers, an Army staff sergeant and a Navy corpsman.
 
“I learned about their desire to serve,” he said. “As long as they can meet the standard of what their particular occupation was, I think we’ll move forward.”
 
The Navy is taking a cue from lessons learned when women were integrated into the submarine force, and that there must be no difference in training, Richardson said.
 
“Maintaining that level playing field of a standards-based approach seems to be the key to success,” he said, “and that’s the approach we’re taking.”
 
North Korea
South Korea Reports that North Korea seeks complete denuclearization
(Reuters) – North Korea has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula and has not attached conditions, South Korea’s president said on Thursday, but Washington remains wary and has vowed to maintain “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.
 
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said agreements about denuclearization, establishing a peace regime and normalization of relations between the Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to reach through a North-South summit next week, and a later summit planned between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
 
“I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea. The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies.
 
“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”
 
CIA Director Mike Pompeo met Kim this month to discuss a proposed summit with Trump and reported that the North Korean leader was not demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces as a precondition for the meeting, a U.S. official briefed on Pompeo’s trip told Reuters.
 
However, the official, who did not want to be identified, said that while Kim was open to negotiating “denuclearization,” the term remained undefined and potentially deceptive, given the need for a timetable and an inspection regime.
 
North Korea has defended its nuclear and missile programs in the face of worldwide condemnation and sanctions as a necessary deterrent against perceived U.S. hostility.
 
It has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
 
On Wednesday, Trump, who says he plans to meet Kim in late May or early June for an unprecedented summit to try to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons, reaffirmed the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to maintain that umbrella.
In a joint statement after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the U.S. commitment to defend Japan “through the full range of U.S. military capabilities” was “unwavering”.
 
They reiterated their commitment to the “permanent and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea” and the need for Pyongyang to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, while vowing stepped up sanctions enforcement.
 
The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Trump complained in his election campaign about the cost of keeping those in Korea but his administration has given no indication of any plan to withdraw them.
 
South Korea announced on Wednesday it is considering how to change decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month.
Moon said he saw the possibility of a peace agreement, or even international aid for North Korea’s economy, if it denuclearizes.
 
But he also said the inter-Korean summit had “a lot of constraints”, in that the Koreas could not make progress separate from the North Korea-United States summit, and could not reach an agreement that transcends international sanctions.
 
“So first, the South-North Korean summit must make a good beginning, and the dialogue between the two Koreas likely must continue after we see the results of the North Korea-United States summit,” Moon said.
 
Aviation
What's Behind the Stark Rise in U.S. Military Accidents?
(PopularMechanics) - The U.S. military has experienced a rash of military accidents in the air and at sea, with aircraft-related crashes up nearly 40 percent since 2013. From destroyers colliding with commercial vessels in the Western Pacific to a downed Harrier jump jet in Djibouti, the last several months have seen several highly publicized accidents, many of which involved fatalities. At least one investigation has correlated the rise in accidents with a defense budget cuts.
 
According to an investigation by Military Times, accidents involving manned military aircraft rose nearly 40 percent between 2013 and 2017. In the last three weeks alone, six military accidents have killed 16 people. Between 2013 and 2017, 133 were killed in accidents. The latest incident involved the crash of an Apache Guardian attack helicopter at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Both pilots were killed.
 
The U.S. military divides accidents into three categories: A, B, and C. Class “C” accidents involve damage between $50,000 and $500,000 including minor injuries to military personnel. Class “B” accidents involve damage between $500,000 and $2 million and permanent or partial disability to one individual or more minor injuries to three individuals. Class “A” accidents involve damages of more than $2 million, loss of the aircraft, and a permanent disability or death. The Military Times database covers everything from a crushed foot suffered onboard a C-17A Globemaster in 2017 to a 2010 Army helicopter crash in Puerto Rico that resulted in the loss of six Army personnel and their UH-72 Lakota helicopter.
 
The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald after a collision that killed seven sailors and injured three others.
 
Although the Times investigation doesn’t include naval accidents at sea, the U.S. Navy also experienced a rash of accidents unprecedented in modern times. A trio of separate accidents in 2017 involving U.S. Navy surface warships sidelined two guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, killing 17 sailors and injuring eight more.
 
The Budget Control Act of 2011, commonly known as “the Sequestration,” triggered automatic defense spending cuts in 2013. As a result of the cuts, defense spending across the board was reduced. It's hard to separate correlation from causation here, but the evidence certainly suggests the cuts had the unanticipated effect of more and more dangerous accidents. Cutting procurement results in older, more difficult to maintain aircraft staying in service longer. Cutting maintenance makes aircraft more likely to be unavailable for flight operations and increases the chance of an undiagnosed issue will cause problems. Cutting on training leaves aircraft and ship crews less effective at their jobs, especially during unexpected situations.
 
At the same time, unlike the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, accidents in the U.S. Army’s helicopter force held steady during the same time period. DefenseNews reports the Army’s accident rate actually dropped after the Sequestration was enacted. It’s not entirely clear why the Army, which also had budget cuts forced on it, was successful in holding the line on accidents
 
Quality of Life
Army unit retracts memo touting VA benefits for soldiers due to bad anthrax vaccines
(Military.com) In the past week, a memo has been circulating online about possible 100 percent VA disability benefits for a particular group of soldiers.
 
The April 10 tasking order called on the unit to identify which of its soldiers had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, or Fort Drum, New York, between 2001 and 2007, in case they had been exposed to a bad batch of anthrax vaccine.
 
But it was written based on bad information, according to a spokeswoman for 8th Army in Korea, where 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is based.
 
“Defense Health Agency representatives have verified the information is false and completely without merit,” Christina Wright told Army Times in a statement. “Once the brigade discovered the error, the correct information was published to their soldiers.”
 
The statement did not provide details on where the original information came from or what the unit told soldiers following the retraction of the memo.
 
The original tasking order sought to identify soldiers who had received an anthrax vaccination during that time at those posts, then send them to a unit physician to screen the soldiers and verify their medical records.
 
The statement also did not identify whether the Army had, in fact, administered vaccines from a “bad batch,” as the memo stated.
 
Wright did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
 
A 2009 study released by the National Institutes of Health found no definitive link between the shots and side effects, up to and including death.
 
The report found that of the 6 million doses given between 1998 and 2007, fewer than 5,000 patients reported negative side effects.
 
On the other hand, a 2002 Government Accounting Office report claimed 85 percent of service members vaccinated against anthrax between 1998 and 2000 had adverse reactions — the first two years that the Defense Department had required the inoculations.
 
A 2002 study from the NIH found that 32 percent of anthrax-vaccinated service members studied had a specific antibody in their blood that is associated with Gulf War Syndrome.
 
The study’s authors found a connection between those with the antibody and certain batches of vaccine. In testing those particular batches, they found that antibody in 47 percent of patients.
However, the study did not find a conclusive link between the anthrax vaccine and Gulf War Syndrome.
 
“The potential side effects of vaccines, including anthrax, are generally mild and temporary,” Wright said. “While the risk of serious harm is extremely small, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing serious injury or death.”
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Staff from the National Security Division attended the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans in Saint Louis, Missouri. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary on the administration of VA benefits and services to minority veterans, to assess the needs of minority veterans and to evaluate whether VA compensation and pension, medical and rehabilitation services, memorial services outreach, and other programs are meeting those needs. According to the census data in St. Louis the following represents the number of each ethic group that utilizes the VA: Asian American (2,371); African American (34,396); Hispanic (3,277); Native American (1,075); and Pacific Islanders (34). The following information is some of the data that was presented during the Advisory Committee: The HOPE Homeless Program provide service to approximately 2,296 unique Veterans with approximately 400 permanent housing placements through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Grant and Per Diem partnership during FY17 with the VA St. Louis Healthcare Catchment area. While attending the Advisory Committee meeting, Staff from the National Security Division arranged a meeting with Eve Holzemer the Women Veterans Program Manager at the VA St. Louis Health Care System. Ms. Holzemer and Staff from the National Security Division discussed some things that Ms. Holzemer would love to see improved at this facility for women veterans such as additional gynecologist for infertility, Urogynecology partnerships with the local Universities and the hiring of providers and staff with experience in Women’s Health.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Elizabeth Estabrooks, Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator. Ms. Estabooks is the coordinator for the I Am NOT Invisible Exhibit. The exhibit is a wonderful mechanism for increasing awareness about women veterans, and having it at the National convention would certainly support American Legion’s theme of celebrating the History of Women Veterans since 1919 at its 2018 National Convention. It’s truly a beautiful, powerful, and touching exhibit with female veterans representing from age 22 to 108.  Ms. Estabrooks will also be willing to give a presentation on the history of women veterans in the military.
Hearings
  • This week the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has targeted most Pentagon support agencies for a 25 percent cut, proposing seven be shuttered entirely.  If adopted, it could lead to thousands of defense civilian job cuts and massive changes for defense contractors. Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry announced the proposal Tuesday, aimed at eliminating bureaucratic waste to reap more than $25 billion to reinvest in war fighting. The moves come after he and other pro-defense lawmakers won a two-year budget deal that boosts defense to $700 billion in fiscal 2018 and $716 in fiscal 2019.
     
  • The House Armed Services Committee on Readiness held a hearing this week to review the Army Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request Readiness Posture.  The expert witness present consisted of Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Timothy Kadvy, Director, Army National Guard, U.S. Army, Lieutenant General Charles Luckey, Chief of Army Reserve, U.S. Army; and Lieutenant General Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, U.S. Army.
Legislation
  • The National Security Division is working with the Legislative Division to gain congressional support for a potential bill that would allow disabled veterans, caregivers, and Purple Heart recipients access to military commissaries.  We see this a low cost benefit to provide to service members who have been injured and disabled as a result of military service.  Additionally, military commissaries have reported decreasing patron usage and this would be a way to increase this number and save this valuable benefit to servicemembers.
Other Activities
  • This staff from the National Security Division are attending participating in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Minority Veterans, Advisory committee on Minority Veterans taking place in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Committee will hold session open to the public on an array of topics.  Additionally, the Committee will be conducting tours of VA facilities, participating in off-site events, and participating in workgroup sessions. 
     
    Appointed by the Secretary, The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) was established under Public Law 103-446 § 510, November 2, 1994.  The Committee consists of veterans who represent respective minority groups and are recognized authorities in fields pertinent to the needs of the minority group they embody.  The Committee responsibilities include:
  • Advising the Secretary and Congress on VA’s administration of benefits and provisions of healthcare, benefits, and services to minority veterans.
  • Providing an Annual report to congress outlining recommendations, concerns and observations on VA’s delivery of services to minority veterans.
  • Meeting with VA officials, Veteran Service Organizations, and other stakeholders to assess the Department’s efforts in providing benefits and outreach to Minority Veterans.
  • Making periodic site visits and holding town hall meetings with Veterans to address their concerns.
 
  • Monday, National Security Division staff held a conference call with the Europe Command and Africa Command public affairs offices to plan the National Commander’s trip taking place the last week of May and first week of June.  The planning included Armed Forces Network interview, meetings with commanders, interviews with troops, and tours of facilities.  Planning was also conducted for the Military and VA Benefits events Executive Director Verna Jones will be hosting simultaneous to the National Commander’s trip.
 
  • Tuesday, National Security Division staff met with a Senior Director from Express Scripts.  Express Scripts provides mail delivered prescriptions for the Defense Health Agency to veterans.  As of February 1, 2018 a co-pay was implemented at $7 per prescription for mail 90 day supply mailed prescriptions.  If the beneficiary visits a TRICARE pharmacy there is no co-pay.  National Security staff expressed that veterans who do not live near a military pharmacy have no way to avoid the new co-pay and requested follow-up discussions to look for ways to potentially reduce or make an exemption for those veterans. 
Tuesday, National Security Division staff met with management from a Management and Strategy Consulting firm to discuss an issue with the timeliness of delivery of prosthetics to their intended servicemembers.  National Security Staff will be following up with distributers and manufacturers to determine the reason for the delays and assist to develop a solution to the problem.
 
  • Tuesday National Security Division staff held a conference call with the National Security Commission Chairmen and the 7 National Security Committee Chairmen to review 3 resolutions submitted by Department Executive Committees that are to be considered during the Spring National Executive Meetings. 
     
  • Wednesday staff from the National Security Division attended a roundtable discussion with senior defense officials from the Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency.  The monthly discussion will be to provide an update on changes being implemented to TRICARE since January 1, 2018 to include call center common concerns, copay increases and how to better inform beneficiaries of further changes coming throughout 2018.  The biggest change highlighted for 4th quarter 2018 will be the first ever open enrollment for TRICARE beneficiaries.
     
  • Wednesday staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior defense officials from the Defense POW/Accounting Agency. The Secretary of Defense’s Protocol Director requested to host a discussion with DPAA’s key constituents to discuss possible changes to the Secretary's annual POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony which takes place at the Pentagon in order to ensure interest and participation do not decline.
     
  • Thursday National Security Division staff met with staff from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Congressional Affairs.  National Security is requesting this meeting in order enhance the American Legion’s relationship with the Coast Guard so we can work more closely on issues on The Hill.
     
  • This Saturday the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will be conducting a family update in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.  They have invited two representatives from the Department of South Dakota to attend the update.  The National Security Division has informed the South Dakota Adjutant and Commander of the event and provided contact information to them from DPAA. 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Budget Status
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Master Sgt. Finley J. Davis, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late 1950, Davis was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was fighting off persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch’ongch’on River area in northwest North Korea. The battle began on Nov. 25, 1950, when the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) initiated an offensive along the 8th Army front. All 8th Army units were ordered to withdraw on November 29. Davis’ battalion was assigned to provide security for the division. The unit was attacked again by the CPVF and Davis was reported missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950.
     
  • Air Force Reserve 1st Lt. David T. Dinan, III, killed during the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On March 17, 1969, Dinan was a member of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 288th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force, and was the pilot of the number two aircraft in a flight of two F-105s on a strike mission over northern Laos. During the second strafing pass over the target, Dinan transmitted a distress message. The Forward Air Controller then observed Dinan’s parachute enter the jungle, as well as an aircraft crash. Search and rescue aircraft conducted an aerial search and located a parachute and confirmed the death of the pilot, however, due to enemy fire in the area and the hazardous location, his body could not be recovered. The U.S. Air Force subsequently reported Dinan as killed in action.
     
  • Army Pvt. Raymond Sinowitz, killed during WWII, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 8, 1941, Sinowitz was a member of 454th Ordnance Company, 27th Bombardment Group, the Far East Air Force, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of the Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
     
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Milton M. Beed, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for.  In February 1951, Beed was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting Republic of Korea Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the village of Hoengsong, an area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. After enduring sustained enemy attacks, the American units withdrew to Wonju, South Korea. It was during this withdrawal that Beed was reported missing, as of Feb. 12, 1951.
     
  • Army Cpl. Leonard V. Purkapile, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for.  In late November 1950, Purkapile was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, while withdrawing southeast to Yongbyon, North Korea. Following the battle, Purkapile could not be accounted for and he was reported as missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. By the end of the war, his status was changed to deceased and his remains deemed non-recoverable.
 
Joe Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 30 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
TRADOC boss: Today’s soldiers have lost their edge against our enemies
(DefenseNews) - The Army has had no fewer than three major pushes in the past 15 years to upgrade soldier technology to state-of-the-art, but senior leaders are hoping that with the advent of Army Futures Command, this time they’ll finally get it right.
 
The Army needs new weapons, new night-vision and new protective systems to keep any edge over the competition, the head of Training and Doctrine Command said Wednesday at AUSA’s Global Force Symposium.
 
“U.S. close-combat soldiers, and Marines, in our squads and platoons do not over-match our enemies,” Gen. Stephen Townsend said. “Our adversaries have access to weapons and tech that can enable them to close the gap with our forces.”
 
The soldier lethality cross-functional team under AFC will realign the Army’s efforts on programs like a new squad automatic weapon, a new carbine and night-vision goggles.
 
“Minus this new pistol that’s coming out, we haven’t done much for these guys here,” Townsend said of the roughly 100,000 infantry, armor, forward observer, engineer and medical soldiers who engage in close combat.
 
Division comments: The push to update and modernize the equipment of soldiers and Marines engaged in close combat is long overdue, and has been overshadowed by the Army’s difficulty in successfully fielding new combat enhancing items. Getting combat soldiers physically fit, properly trained, and equipped with the best and most appropriate gear should be the minimal standard for Army Futures Command. In light of recent issues around the development and procurement of a new pistol, Congress must take necessary steps to ensure that this effort does not turn into another multi-billion dollar project that leads to nothing.
 
Army of 01101111: The Making of a Cyber Battalion
(Wired) – […] At any given moment at Fort Gordon, instructors in khakis are teaching soldiers at every stage of their career—shiny new privates, steely-eyed noncoms, cherry lieutenants, surly captains. Different courses tailored for different ranks, for months at a time, on how to wage war through computer networks in ways both offensive (disabling enemy networks is one potential tactic) and defensive (trying to find vulnerabilities in US military systems before an adversary can). Meanwhile, elsewhere on the base, about 900 cyber operators who’ve already passed through a form of this training—70 percent of the Army’s 1,300 active-duty cyber soldiers—are doing these very things for real. […]
 
Division comments: This article gives some insight into the development of military cyber formations, and the challenges around understanding and integrating a technical and abstract domain into existing joint operations strategies. The potential effects that cyber units could have in future conflicts will be immense: everything from shutting down communications systems remotely to altering enemy GPS data in real-time will be on the table, as will the necessity to defend our own forces from similar attacks. Global communications interconnectivity and relative ease-of-use of powerful electronic warfare and offensive cyber weapons should make developing and fielding this force a top priority across the Department of Defense.
 
North Korea
North Korea's Kim Jong Un met Xi Jinping on surprise visit to China
(CNN) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his first foreign trip since assuming power in 2011, meeting China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing and discussing giving up the country's nuclear weapons, according to Chinese state media.
 
Kim, who made the surprise trip to the Chinese capital at Beijing's request, said he felt compelled to personally inform President Xi of the rapid diplomatic developments on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, Xinhua reported.
 
The visit represents stunning shift for Kim, who appears to be fashioning himself as a leader in search of a peaceful solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. It's in sharp contrast to 2017, when Kim oversaw a string of missile and nuclear tests that drew the ire of the international community.
 
Kim's trip was the first of three potential meetings with some of the world's most powerful leaders.
 
Kim is set to attend a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month, and will later meet US President Donald Trump, in what would be an historic first encounter between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader.
 
Trump tweeted Wednesday that Xi told him his meeting with Kim went "very well."
 
The US President added he was optimistic Kim will "do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!"
 
Division comments: As the major parties in upcoming negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program make their preliminary diplomatic moves, it is heartening to see that rhetoric from all sides has been ratcheted down. While the ultimate U.S. goal is denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, this will require a concerted and prolonged whole-of-government effort that will most likely see setbacks and reversals along the way. The White House needs to demonstrate a steady hand in dealing with this complex issue, and ensure that it uses national power wisely to bring about the desired outcomes.
 
Quality of Life
Tricare Referral Waiver Extended Until April 1
(Military.com) - A waiver allowing Tricare users in the West region to receive civilian specialty care without a referral has been extended until April 1, a Tricare official announced Thursday on Facebook.
 
Typically, Tricare Prime users must get a referral to receive specialty care. The waiver, however, allows those users to receive in-network, specialty care and outpatient procedures without first going through the referral approval process. The previous waiver period was set to end March 18.
 
"We wanted to make sure quality control was good on the referrals ... and that Health Net indeed can sustain the demand," said Ken Canestrini, Tricare's acting director, during a Facebook Live event with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). "We're ... doing a review of that right now, and we're going to extend that another two weeks and go until April 1.
 
The waivers are good for all specialty care except inpatient procedures, applied behavior analysis (ABA) autism therapy, laboratory developed tests (LDT), and special needs Extended Health Care Option (ECHO) services.
 
The waivers were put in place in response to a Jan. 1 handoff by the previous West region contractor, United Healthcare, to Health Net Federal Service that resulted in a referral backlog, Canestrini said.
 
To use the waiver program, Tricare users must first get a written referral or order from their doctor -- paperwork that would usually be submitted to Health Net for approval. A Tricare user can then pair that letter with the waiver approval letter provided by Health Net, and present it to their specialist.
 
The waiver is good for care received through June 15. That means Tricare users don't need to see the specialist provided through the waiver before the new April 1 cutoff date. Instead, the referral and waiver pair will allow them to have their appointments any time before that mid-June date, provided the referral was ordered before April 1.
 
Health Net is urging specialists to accept the waiver and not call to ask questions.
 
"It is imperative providers accept the Tricare West Region Referral/Authorization Waiver Approval Letter as an approval of Tricare-covered services in order to not delay beneficiary care," Health Net states in a notice on its website. "Outside of the exceptions listed above, providers should not call [Health Net] for approval or submit requests for services covered under the waiver during the waiver period."
 
Health Net's website had not been updated to reflect the waiver extension at the time of this report.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division began to set up for the HERstory event on the seventh floor of The American Legion National Headquarters in Washington, DC. The set up required an arrangement for 40 people. The set up included: placing tables, chairs, table clothes, plates, and utensils. The set up also included adding decorations and setting up the step and repeat along with the red carpet.
     
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division coordinated the final details with the guest speaker of the HERstory breakfast, Vivian Greentree, Ph.D. Dr. Greentree is the Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Citizenship of First Data and a Navy Veteran.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division hosted a HERstory Breakfast Celebration to honor and celebrate women veterans during Women’s History Month. The guest Speaker for this event was Dr. Vivian Greentree, the Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Citizenship of First Data. Dr. Greentree spoke on the current statics of women veterans and also encouraged women veterans to get more involved.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attend the first planning committee meeting for the 2019 National Minority Veterans Summit at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This summit will be the first of its kind for VA, focusing primarily on minority Veterans. Staff will help the VA plan a successful summit that will help the VA develop a strategic framework for addressing key issues and concerns of minority veterans.
 
Hearings
  • Congress is in recess this week.
 
Legislation
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff will meet with staff members from the offices of Representative Denny Heck and Earl Blumenauer to discuss their respective national and homeland security priorities. 
 
  • The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service has provide an online open forum for the public to comment on the Selective Service System.  The Commission seeks to learn more about why people serve and why people may choose not to serve, as well as ways to increase the number of Americans in military, national, and public service.
Visit this website to post your comments: http://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughts
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, National Security Division staff attended a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute on "US in a Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria: Realigning Allies and Constraining Adversaries." In the Post-ISIS middle east, Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and Russia continue to pose challenges for the U.S. as the Trump Administration develops its policy for Iraq and Syria. Turkey’s expansion of its Syria operations has the U.S. and NATO allies concerned that Turkish actions in the region run counter to NATO goals. Additionally, cooperation between Russia and Iran continues to disrupt the balance of power in the region. Panelists explored U.S. options to realign allies with traditional NATO and U.S. positions, hold adversaries responsible for atrocities, and prevent security backsliding in the region. The panel consisted of Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Hillel Fradkin; Hudson Adjunct Fellow Michael Pregent; Senior Intelligence Planner at the Institute for the Study of War Jennifer Cafarella; Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Omran Center for Strategic Studies Ammar Kahf; and President of Soran University Dr. Nahro Zagros.
     
  • Tuesday, staff from the National Security Division received briefings and participated in a MSO/VSO roundtable discussion with leadership from the Defense Health Agency focused updating the group on the progress of changes being implemented to TRICARE mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.  In anticipation of the high expected call volume DHA opened additional calling centers on 1 January to assist veterans with ensuring they are enrolled in the plan that is best for them.  Additional changes are coming later in 2018 to include the open enrollment for TRICARE beneficiaries.   Rates will be posted mid-October and the enrollment period will be 12 November through 10 December.  DHA is also changing the Dental and Vision plan for retirees to a new program titled Federal Employees Vision and Dental Plan (FEDVIP). The National Security Division will include updates in our weekly reports and work with the Media Division to assist with awareness of the important dates and changes as well as where to find resources online.
     
  • On Wednesday, National Security, Legislative, and Veterans Employment & Education staff met with an official delegation from the nation of Japan, facilitated by the Institute for Technology, Economics, and Diplomacy (INTED). Dr. Joshua Walker, head of Global Strategic Initiatives at Eurasia Group, was also in attendance. The meeting presented an opportunity for cultural and policy exchange, and resulted in Japanese delegation extending an invitation for the National Commander and DC Executive Director to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the next Far East trip, as well as an invitation to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division edited and updated the information in the burial packet toolkits. This toolkit is for those love one who has to burial their significant other. This toolkit includes: the American legion national level contacts; death certificate; burial information and forms; surviving family benefits forms and additional resources such as: common contact information, 1 page guide of things to do when a veterans dies, a guide to pre-planning what to do before a veteran dies and a list of military monuments for women placed a 10 slot portfolio folder.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security Division staff attended a conference at the George Washington University's Elliot School "Beyond the Nuclear Issue in North Korea." The conference is the culmination of Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA) hosting a multi-event series on Principled Engagement with North Korea, joined by the National Committee on North Korea, and the GW Institute for Korean Studies. The conference will look at the cultural pillars of North Korea, including its history, art, literature, and sports, examining potential inroads. Humanitarian engagement, of massive importance considering the deprivation and quality of life of the average North Korean citizen, and scientific and academic exchange will all be addressed and considered as part of a broader effort to get beyond sanctions and military pressure to try and break the cycle of conflict.
 
  • Wednesday, National Security Division staff spoke on CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets program to discuss quality of life topics to include changes to TRICARE and military commissaries.  The 2018 NDAA has mandated major changes to both of these benefits that are being implemented throughout 2018 and National Security Division is using the Connecting Vets program to help raise awareness to veterans on the changes to their benefits.  We also discussed advocacy efforts on the Hill regarding a bill that would allow disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and veteran caregivers access to military commissaries.  This would be a benefit to our membership that would also assist DoD with declining patron use of commissaries.
 
  • Thursday, National Security Division staff will attend a webinar hosted by the Defense Health Agency titled “Understanding Your TRICARE Preventive Care Benefits”.  The webinar will be hosted by DHA’s Clinical Support Division and will provide tools to MSO/VSO partners aimed at providing educating tools to their members. 
 
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend the HillVets 100. The HillVets 100 Gala is the premiere black tie event for the veteran and military community that highlights the most influential and impactful veterans, Servicemembers and supporters from 2017. The HillVets 100 includes veterans of all eras
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Radioman 3rd Class Jack R. Goldwater, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Goldwater was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Goldwater. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Joseph Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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

 


 

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

May ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats she said were spies during a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, one of a number of retaliatory measures the UK took to punish for the poisoning of the Skripals.
 
“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” the prime minister said. “It must therefore be met with a full and robust response.”
Moscow, which denied any involvement, said it will expel British diplomats in response to May’s action, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
 
Division comments: At this point Britian has held back from triggering NATO’s Article 5 – Collective Defense.  The principle of collective defense is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.  In short an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.  NATO officials have suggested that the nerve agent attack probably does not rise to that level.
 
North Korea
North Korean Envoy in Sweden Amid Planning for Trump-Kim Meeting
(NYTimes) - North Korea’s foreign minister flew to Sweden on Thursday, amid speculation that the country could be used as a venue for hammering out details of the planned talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, or could be the site of the talks themselves.
 
Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was seen at Beijing’s international airport on Thursday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, following earlier reports that he might go to Sweden. Hours later, the Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed that Mr. Ri would indeed be visiting the country for talks on Thursday and Friday.
 
Sweden has long played an intermediary role between the United States and North Korea, which do not have diplomatic relations. With the United States lacking an embassy in North Korea, Sweden is the so-called protecting power that provides consular services for Americans, including meeting with citizens who are imprisoned there.
Sweden has also been the site of talks between North Korean officials and experts from the United States, South Korea and elsewhere.
Other locations that have been mentioned as possible sites for the Trump-Kim talks include the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea; Washington; Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital; Ulan Bator, Mongolia; and Switzerland.
 
Mr. Trump’s decision to accept Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet shocked the diplomatic establishment last week, coming after months of bellicose insults and threats between the two leaders and their governments. Any meeting, should it actually come to fruition, would probably be held by May, said Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean official who conveyed the invitation to the White House.
 
Mr. Ri was seen at the Beijing airport with Choe Kang-il, the deputy director general for North American affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, Yonhap reported.
 
Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Saturday that he was willing to host a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
 
Mr. Löfven, in an interview with Sweden’s TT newswire, also cited his country’s role as a protecting power for the United States as a reason for acting as a conduit between it and North Korea.
 
“The fact that we are a protecting power for the U.S., have been at the border since the 1950s and have had an embassy in Pyongyang since the start of the 1970s has given us a relationship with North Korea in which we feel they trust us,” he said.
 
During Mr. Ri’s two-day trip to Stockholm, he will meet with Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, the Swedish government said in a statement. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter said the talks would not include American or South Korean officials, but added that the United States and South Korea had been involved in preparations for the talks with Mr. Ri.
Mr. Ri’s trip to Sweden came as South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, traveled to Washington Thursday to meet with State Department officials with the aim of keeping a Trump-Kim meeting on track. The recent firing of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has fueled fears that a changing of the guard at the State Department could derail plans for the talks.
 
“It is necessary to maintain close coordination at various levels in making preparations for critical diplomatic events going forward,” Ms. Kang said, alluding to relations between Washington and Seoul.
 
Ms. Kang was originally supposed to meet with Mr. Tillerson, but will instead meet with John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, who is now serving as acting secretary. Mr. Tillerson’s expected replacement, Mike Pompeo, is skeptical that negotiations with North Korea will lead it to give up its nuclear arsenal.
 
Division comments: President Trump’s unprecedented move to meet in-person with Kim Jong Un marks a departure from decades of US policy that has failed to change the status quo or contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is concern, however, that this opportunity to put North Korea on a path to denuclearization might be squandered by the hollowing out of the US State Department over the last year, highlighted by the recent departure of Rex Tillerson as Secretary. It is important to note that this initiative has largely been driven by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from a four day trip to Pyongyang. Both North and South Korea face an existential crisis in the event of a war, and it is that reality which should guide whatever framework or policy is ultimately agreed too.
 
Quality of Life
New DoD Task Force Eyed for Merging Exchange Services, DeCA
(Military.com) - The three military exchange services and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) would be merged into a single resale enterprise under a proposal backed by John H. Gibson II, the Defense Department’s new chief management officer, who has been tasked to make DoD business operations more efficient.
 
Gibson and a team tasked with reviewing military community services -- base stores, recreation services, family support services and base schools -- have drafted a memorandum, apparently for signature by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, that would order extensive streamlining.
 
If and when signed, the memo would have the Department of Defense under President Trump reconsider, and likely reverse, an Obama administration decision of two years ago not to consolidate DeCA with Army & Air Force Exchange Service and separate exchange services run by Navy and Marine Corps.
 
“Because of their different approaches to fulfilling their specific missions and delivering their respective benefits, the creation of a single resale entity through consolidation is not recommended,” Defense officials wrote in a May 2016 report to Congress on prospects for operating commissaries without cost to taxpayers.
 
“It is more appropriate to focus on the short-term goal of achieving greater efficiency in the operation of commissaries and exchanges, and to defer consideration of the feasibility of any merger until these issues have been effectively addressed.”
 
This administration, however, isn’t waiting. The departments of Army, Navy and Air Force were given only a few days in mid-March to share their views on the consolidation for resale operations presented in the draft memorandum.
 
Sources said the services are concerned about the timing of a complex consolidation, given current challenges transforming DeCA into an exchange-like profitable enterprise, using variable pricing of items by region and introducing higher-margin DeCA brands. Brokers and manufacturers supporting base stores say the changes are aggravating an already sharp decline in commissary sales.   
 
Exchange store operators see their own patron traffic as linked to base grocery stores, so as commissary sales fall so too do sales at exchanges, gas stations and other on-base retailers. Declining exchange sales mean lower profits, or “dividends” which the services rely on to fund on-base MWR or morale, welfare and recreational activities.
 
A Defense Department spokesman said no official could be made available to discuss the draft memo or concepts it embraces for store system consolidation, for at least a few more weeks. Officials wouldn’t even provide written answers to questions, suggesting the time wasn’t right.
Gibson became DoD’s chief management officer Feb. 1.  He told the Senate Budget Committee the department had formed nine project teams to draft recommendations to reform business operations to achieve near-term efficiencies.
 
Stacey Kiley, a Senior Executive Service employee who served on the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board, has led the team tasked with reviewing community services. The draft memo explains that, after receiving team briefings, the department’s Reform Management Group, which Gibson leads, “acknowledged that the defense resale enterprise, in particular, has been studied too much” without recommendations being implemented.  As a result, military stores now suffer from “the same industry, generation and demographic trends negatively impacting private sector grocery and retail companies.”
 
The team proposes that phased consolidation of DeCA and exchange services offers “the greatest potential to achieve the economies and efficiencies necessary for the survivability of the defense resale enterprise.”
 
 The draft memo acknowledges that current law prohibits consolidating the commissary system with the exchanges so legislative relief would be sought “as soon as practicable.” Meanwhile, the team is to “assemble a cross-functional task force” no later than May 1, 2018, and to identify by April 15 a director to manage its work. This task force is to conduct “due diligence, assess the business case and develop integration plans” for DeCA and exchange services by Oct. 31.
 
The task force to brief the Reform Management Group “upon business case completion.”  If it confirms the team’s approach, “consolidation shall be executed immediately by the task force director” who will serve “as the new organization’s Executive Director, exercising authority, direction and control, until the permanent position is advertised and filled.”
 
In other words, said one critic who reviewed the memo, the person leading the task force becomes director of the organization it proposes to create -- if the task force makes the appropriate business case to justify it. 
 
“This thing is toxic.  It’s putting the cart before the horse,” the official said. 
 
Even if the business case for consolidating systems is not confirmed, military resale “will benefit from the standardization of its back-office processes and systems,” the draft memo says. “Therefore, in parallel with its other work, the task force shall begin standardizing those processes”, beginning with financial management and accounting processes.  To ensure proper focus on standardization, the draft memo says on the date it is signed, store systems are to freeze work on modernizing information technology and suspend executive hiring.
 
“The success of this reform requires complete faith and active support of our decisions,” the memo concludes. “Therefore, all must know and believe that our intentions are to make these community services better for our members and their families, improve our support to commanders, be exceptional stewards of our appropriated funds and exhibit fiduciary responsibility” over resale profits.
 
One exchange official grumbled that this last paragraph was particularly odd, a warning perhaps not to make familiar arguments to Congress, patrons or other stakeholders for protecting the status quo.
 
Consolidation of commissaries and exchange services has been studied for decades, with 11 major reports produced just since 1989.  Congress finally agreed in 2016 to give Defense officials sweeping new authorities to transform commissaries into more business-like operations and to reduce DeCA’s reliance on taxpayer funding, which last year and this still stood at $1.3 billion annually.
 
In the first year of transformation, however, commissary sales continued a five-year decline.  Even if, arguably, rate of decline has slowed, it remains a dangerous trend that had put the entire military resale system in jeopardy.
 
Congressional committees that oversee military resale are monitoring sales closely.  Two congressional staffers said they haven’t seen DoD’s new ideas on consolidating systems but noted any merging would require changes to law.
 
They added that Congress allowed commissary reforms only on condition that savings to patrons be maintained and that revenues from exchange operations to support on-base morale, welfare and recreation activities not be reduced.
 
Those are priorities set in law, they added.  That means that while Congress encourages efficient on-base store operations, current law requires that reforms be rolled back if the value of the shopping benefit can’t be preserved for patrons or if exchange profits, so critical to on-base quality of life, fall victim to the changes.
 
Division comments:  The American Legion recognizes and appreciates the Congressional mandate for defense commissaries to identify and implement cost saving measures to reduce subsidies.  However, we urge the Department of Defense and Congress to continue to full funding of the military commissary system and to retain this vital non-pay compensation benefit system which is essential to the morale and readiness of the dedicated men and women who have served, and continue to serve, the national security interests of the United States. 
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Army Women’s Foundation 10TH Annual Summit. The purpose of the summit was to participate in Women’s History Month to celebrate the service, accomplishments, and sacrifices of Army women by hosting an annual summit. This summit consisted of two panels: Leadership and readiness: From Boots to Business Panel and First to Achieve: Army Women Leaders and Trailblazers who paved the way Panel. The panels discussed women transitioning out of the military and into private sectors and the extraordinary Army women who were the first to achieve. The panel consisted of several leaders to include: the first female Army Rangers, the first African American Female to Graduate from West Point, the CSM of the Warrior Transition Battalion and several other Army trailblazers.
  • Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee weekly call. The Summit will be held on June 14-15th and staff from the National Security Division will participate by being on a panel discussion called “Trailblazers and Change Makers”. This meeting discussed preliminary matters for the conference.
  • Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a radio interview with Connecting Vets radio station to speak on Women’s History Month, Women Veteran’s health care and current updates to legislation on women veterans.
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a meeting with Sharon Reiegsecker, DC Operations and Senior Grants Management for the American Legion Auxiliary. The purpose of this meeting was to establish a better working relationship with the Auxiliary and brainstorm ideas to see how to better incorporate the auxiliary with the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach Program.
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division had a meeting with Dr. Patricia Haynes, Chief Consultant on Women Veterans for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of this meeting was to make sure that Staff from the National Security Division was up on current women health issues and to speak on HR 4635 Peer to Peer Support Program from the prospective of a VA employee.
  • Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division was selected to participate in the Red Cross First Aid/CPR Training to become a certified CPR training for the National Security Division.
  • Friday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a meeting hosted by Ginger Miller, Founder and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive. The purpose of this task force is to explore the needs of women veterans transiting out of the military while collectively formulating a multifaceted proactive solution. This meeting is held in Tyson Corner, Virginia.
  • Friday, Staff from the National Security Division hosted The American Legion’s Safety Brief show for Women’s History Month. The guest on the show is Erin Miller. Erin is the granddaughter of Elaine Danforth Harmon, one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during WWII. Her grandmother’s last request was to be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). After she died in April 2015, this request was denied by the Army, which runs ANC. Erin led a grassroots, social media, and direct lobbying campaign to fight the decision which led to a new law to officially recognize the service of WASP as eligible for ANC.
 
Hearings
  • Wednesday, National Security division staff attended a hearing hosted by the House Armed Services Committee on the Department of the Air Force regarding the fiscal year 2019 budget request for sea power and projection forces.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Jerry D. Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans & Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant General Mark C. Nowland, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans & Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; and The Honorable William Roper Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
 
  • Thursday, National Security division staff participated the Commission of Fine Arts Hearing in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2018. The Commission will vote to decide on where the National Desert Storm War Memorial will be physically located in Washington D.C. There are 3 sites being studied right now, under the guidance of the Commission of Fine Arts.  The National Desert Storm War Memorial continues to assert that the appropriate site for this Memorial should be the 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue location, in very close proximity to the Vietnam Memorial. 
     
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended a hearing by House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2019 budget request for Air Force airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) programs.  Witnesses will include Lieutenant General Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements (A8), Headquarters, U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant General Anthony Ierardi, Director, Force Structure, Resources, and Assessments (J8), Headquarters, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Ms. Susan Thornton, Director for Information Dominance Programs (SAF/AQI), Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.
     
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended a hearing by House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2019 budget request for national security space programs.  Witnesses will include The Honorable Kenneth P. Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Department of Defense; General John J Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command; and The Honorable Betty Sapp, Director, National Reconnaissance Office.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security division has initiated conversations with a Congressional office in order to pass a bill extending government commissary and MWR privileges to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, POWs and their designated caregivers. The discounted prices offered at these facilities could make life a lot easier for approximately 3 million veterans not currently afforded access.  There is currently a bill, H.R. 2704, that would extend commissary access to Purple Heart recipients and their families.  We would like to see a new bill that includes all disabled veterans and caregivers.
 
Other Activities
  • Monday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a panel discussion on the possibility of a U.S. military strike against North Korea to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring the capability to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon.  The possibility stimulated the debate about North Korea’s intentions. The panel believes it is more likely that Kim Jong Un's primary intention for pursing the weapons is a deterrence of a U.S. invasion. It seems unlikely that it is rather than a much more offensive agenda, such as the unification of the Korean Peninsula through the use of force.  Analysis of North Korea’s intentions has profound implications for what policy responses are required to thwart the regime’s ambitions and get ahead of its tactical maneuvers designed to reach those goals. Given the range of views, policy analysis and recommendations should take into account all possibilities and scenarios. What remains incontrovertible in any analysis is the disastrous costs of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.  The group also heard remarks from John R. Allen, President, The Brookings Institution followed by two panels of experts on the Korean Peninsula. 
     
  • Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a policy forum to discuss the future of BRAC at the CATO Institute.  The event featured Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee; and Christopher Preble, Vice President, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute. It was moderated by Joe Gould, Capitol Hill Reporter, Defense News.   Representative Smith and Christopher Preble discussed the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, including their findings from a new article they are copublishing in Strategic Studies Quarterly about BRAC, its impact on defense communities, and the future.  It was the opinion of the panel that for a number of years, the U.S. military, with support of presidents from both parties has sought congressional authorization to rid itself of excess infrastructure. Unfortunately, Congress continues to stand in the way, often citing concerns about the effect of closures on local communities. In failing to authorize a BRAC round, however, Congress is doing more harm than good. Local communities are deprived of the support and clarity BRAC would provide, and they are denied access to property that could be put to productive use. Our military is forced to allocate resources away from training and equipping our soldiers in order to maintain unnecessary and unwanted infrastructure. Meanwhile, tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars continue to be wasted.  Debate over the BRAC process needs to be better informed by context and a real-world understanding of downstream effects, particularly the less-appreciated way that closing excess facilities positively affects communities. 
  •  
  • Thursday, National Security division staff attended the Commission of Fine Arts Hearing in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2018. The Commission will vote to decide on where the National Desert Storm War Memorial will be physically located in Washington D.C. There are 3 sites being studied right now, under the guidance of the Commission of Fine Arts.  The National Desert Storm War Memorial continues to assert that the appropriate site for this Memorial should be the 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue location, in very close proximity to the Vietnam Memorial.
     
  • Friday, National Security division staff attended a meeting with senior defense officials to discuss the transformation of military commissaries.  Congress has mandated that DeCA implement changes that will reduce subsidies to military commissaries without reduce the benefits to the patrons.  One cost saving measure already implemented has been commissary store brand products for both food and household items.  This meeting will provide an update on the latest changes made as well as upcoming changes.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Pvt. George F. Patrick, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On May 30, 1945, In November 1943, Patrick was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island.  Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Harry E. Harkness, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, On In November 1950, Harkness was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in combat actions against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. Harkness was reported missing in action as of Nov. 2, 1950 when he could not be accounted for by his unit.  Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Manuel Menendez, killed During World War II, has now been accounted for. Menendez was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Menendez died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 March 2018
 
Items of Interest
New F-35 modernization plan could come with hefty $16B price tag
(DefenseNews) - Under the F-35 joint program office’s latest plan, follow-on modernization for the Joint Strike Fighter could add up to a total of $16 billion, the Defense Department’s program head confirmed Wednesday.
 
Responding to questions from lawmakers about the price of implementing the new Continuous Capability Development and Delivery strategy, or C2D2, Vice Adm. Mat Winter acknowledged that U.S. and international customers could pay up to $10.8 billion for development and $5.4 billion for procurement of upgrades to the F-35 between fiscal years 2018 through 2024.
 
Last September at the Defense News conference, Winter announced that the JPO had re-envisioned the F-35’s follow on-modernization plan, also known as Block 4, as a more iterative process where software updates would be pumped out every six months. New computing systems, sensors and weapons would also be incorporated during the period.
 
Out of the 53 capabilities that will be introduced during C2D2, about 80 percent are software-related, Winter said during a hearing on the program held by the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces subcommittee.
 
“It’s predominantly software, which is what drove us to pursue an agile, repetitive, iterative process to do quick software module updates and provide them to the warfighter,” he said.
 
“I realize that this is not traditional, and what we need to do is provide the sense of confidence for the goalpost that we can operate between, and bring that to you.”
 
Because the U.S. share of development costs amounts to $7.2 billion, the United States could be left with a bill of about about $1 billion a year over that seven year period before procurement costs are factored in. Winter said that is “on par for post-development” costs for an upgrade program of this size.
 
“That estimate will most likely come down, most likely,” he told reporters after the hearing. “But I don’t guarantee anything.”
 
Division comments: The F-35 has been in development for 17 years and the program has faced a seemingly never-ending stream of delays, cost and time overruns, required upgrades, safety stand-downs, and derogatory or unsatisfactory testing and evaluation reports. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, who are responsible for oversight and authorizing funding, have made hundreds of public comments about the need to account for correcting all of these outstanding issues. Yet the committees continue to authorize additional purchase of planes with known functionality problems, often all software-based, which require millions of dollars in additional spending per unit to fix. As the F-35 will eventually replace nearly all legacy attack and fighter craft in the US inventory, as well as making up a significant portion of our allies air forces, it is imperative that Congress exercises its authority to ensure that the billions of taxpayers’ dollars already spent will materially enhance US national security.
 
North Korea
Trump says prepared to meet North Korea's Kim in first-ever such parley
(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in what would be the first face-to-face encounter between leaders from the two countries and could mark a breakthrough in a standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons.
 
Kim had “committed to denuclearization” and to suspending nuclear and missile tests, South Korea’s National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong told reporters at the White House on Thursday after briefing Trump on a meeting South Korean officials held with Kim earlier this week.
 
Kim and Trump have engaged in an increasingly bellicose exchange of insults over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, which it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, before an easing of tension coinciding with last month’s Winter Olympics in the South.
 
“A meeting is being planned,” Trump said on Twitter after speaking to Chung, setting up what would be his biggest foreign policy gamble since taking office in January 2017.
 
Chung said Trump agreed to meet by May in response to Kim’s invitation. A senior U.S. official said later it could happen “in a matter of a couple of months, with the exact timing and place still to be determined.”
 
Division comments: President Trump’s unprecedented move to meet in-person with Kim Jong Un marks a departure from decades of US policy that has failed to change the status quo or contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There is concern, however, that this opportunity to put North Korea on a path to denuclearization might be squandered by the hollowing out of the US State Department over the last year, highlighted by the recent departure of Joseph Yun as special representative for North Korean policy. It is important to note that this initiative has largely been driven by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from a four day trip to Pyongyang. Both North and South Korea face an existential crisis in the event of a war, and it is that reality which should guide whatever framework or policy is ultimately agreed too.
 
Quality of Life
Veterans and Military Families Urged to Guard Against Scams
(Military.com) - As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is urging veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with special protections in state and federal law to help shield veterans from fraud, scams and abusive business practices.
 
Herring said veterans and military families are often targeted by scammers because they have a consistent income and can often be called away from home for long periods of time.
 
Last year, Herring introduced a legal resource guide to help veterans and military families understand their employment rights, consumer protection resources, educational and tax rights and benefits. The guide is available at every Department of Veterans Services Benefits Offices, on college campuses and online at www.VaMilGuide.com.
 
Legionella Bacteria in Baumholder Housing Forces Decontamination
(Military.com) - At least 20 buildings in Baumholder, including two family housing units and six barracks, had to be decontaminated after officials found high levels of the water-borne bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.
 
Although base doctors say that no one at the base has tested positive for Legionnaires', a severe type of pneumonia, the potential for illness has forced soldiers to leave their barracks to shower and left base residents concerned for their safety.
 
The disease is characterized by flu-like symptoms that appear within 10 days of exposure to the bacteria. Severe cases lead to hospitalization and 10 percent of cases end in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Army officials outlined the risks the bacteria pose to the public and the efforts to decontaminate the buildings on Wednesday at Baumholder's Wagon Wheel Theater.
 
Workers are doing everything necessary to protect the health of everyone living in the base, said Col. Keith Igyarto, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz.
 
"We have the highest quality water. We ensure that by testing it several times a day," Igyarto told Stars and Stripes.
 
The Army tested 124 buildings in the Baumholder military community for Legionella bacteria in February to comply with German requirements. Twenty buildings had levels high enough to require decontamination, though six buildings were unoccupied. Ninety buildings were either not contaminated or had contamination levels so low they required no action.
 
The rest tested inconclusively and will have to be retested.
 
Because Legionella bacteria can only be transmitted by inhaling water vapor, water with the bacteria is still regarded as safe to drink. But showering in water with high levels of Legionella bacteria is considered risky.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Tuesday staff from the National Security Division attended a phone conference for the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit Planning Committee Meeting. Staff from the National Security Staff will be a on a panel for trailblazers and changemakers on June 14 and 15th. This panel will consist of other extraordinary women from fortune 500 corporations. This phone conference is scheduled weekly until the month of June.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division attended the Monthly Partner’s Breakfast Meeting at the Center for Women Veterans. This Breakfast consisted of meeting with other Veterans Service Organizations to discuss women veterans issues. At this meeting, the Center for Women Veterans discussed the importance of filling out a pre-need burial eligibility form. Currently 7% of women veterans have filled out the form and this is more than expected. Staff from the National Security Division will continue to ensure that women veterans are aware of the Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Form. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division provided the Center for Women Veterans with the two articles that were published on women veterans in The American Legion’s March Magazine to the Center for Women Veterans.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division finalized the details of the HERstory event that the Women and Minority Veterans Program is hosting on March 21st, 2018. This event will honor and celebrate women veterans during women’s history month.
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division attended a Veterans Roundtable at the DC Mayor’s Office. The roundtable is an informal conversation that allows the Mayor’s office of Veterans Affairs to hear the issues and concerns DC Veterans are facing in their community. The goal is to source creative solutions or programs for DC Vets. Staff from the National Security Division attend this event to speak with the women veterans in attendance. 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division met with Disabled American Veterans, Shurhonda Love, Assistant National Legislative Director. Staff from National Security Division and Shurhonda Love spoke solely about women veterans issues and collaborated ideas to plan a Storm the Hill in April to urge congresswomen and congressman to take more actions on bills that have been introduced without any further action, to introduce more bills based on women veteran’s needs and to urge Congress to have a Women Veterans hearings.
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division spoke with Holly Soria, Visual Arts Manager, Media & Communications Division, to design a graphic for the Women and Minority Veterans Program.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division appeared on The American Legion’s Safety Brief to discuss Women’s History Month, the upcoming HERstory Breakfast celebration, current legislation and the recent appointment to the Center for Women Veterans.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division confirmed the guest for the month of March for The American Legion’s Safety Brief. Staff from the National Security Division will host The American Legion’s Safety Brief for the month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month.
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division worked on finalizing the new edition of the Guide for Women Veterans.
 
Hearings
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the US European Command with EUCOM Commander GEN Curtis Scaparrotti testifying. General Scaparrotti testified that Russia is challenging US and allied interests in several areas, including the Balkans. Russia has been leveraging their traditional connections in the Balkans through Serbia to undermine attempts by neighboring countries to join NATO and the European Union. “Russia is carrying out a campaign of destabilization to change the international order, fracture NATO, and undermine U.S. leadership around the world,” Scaparrotti said.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended the House Armed Services Committee hearing on Mobility and Transportation Command Posture. Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, the chief of U.S. Transportation Command, testified while America has held a strong advantage in logistics for years, it's not invincible. And the "greatest threat" to America's logistics advantage comes from cyberspace, McDew said. While his command does its planning on classified networks, 90 percent of its operations are carried out on commercial ones that are susceptible to hackers. McDew also spoke of coming trouble moving wounded personnel from the battlefield. Without citing numbers, he noted "shortfalls in our ability to surge for large-scale conflict with mass casualties." The problem is caused by a "near dependence" on moving patients by aircraft that might not be available and, secondly, by a dwindling supply of military hospitals, he said. In wartime, 90 percent of the people and gear is moved not by planes but by a combination of military and commercial ships, he said. But every year there are fewer U.S. flagged commercial vessels. The total has gone from 1,288 such ships in 1952 to 82 operating internationally today. Foreign-flagged ships can help in a crisis, but they cannot always be relied on. Lastly, there's the dearth of military pilots. In the Air Force, 30 percent of its shortfall, or 650 pilots, are needed in the so-called mobility aircraft such as transport aircraft.
Legislation
  • The National Security division has initiated conversations with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to coordinate an opioid crisis education event in Baltimore. Baltimore has been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic, and is considering harm reduction measures like safe/supervised injection/consumption facilities to lower fatal overdose risk and the spread of infectious disease. The division is looking to engage the Maryland state and Congressional delegations, as well as the general public, on this issue by creating relevant educational events that feature a variety of expert and practitioner perspectives.
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. Of note was AIPAC’s executive director Howard Kohr delivering an impassioned speech calling for Palestinian statehood and peace. This has been met with derision buy On Tuesday President Trump and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu met to discuss the “two-state” solution and the prospects for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended the McAleese/Credit Suisse "Defense Programs" conference. Fourteen speakers from across Congress, the Department of Defense, and the defense industry presented their perspectives on current and future defense issues ranging from the modernization wave, to acquisition and procurement reform, to the threat environment. The event offered a preview of what priorities various stakeholders will be pursuing in the forthcoming FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a discussion on U.S. trade policy in Northeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Washington has been turning towards economic protectionism, most notably its decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year. Instead, the focus has been on pursuing bilateral trading arrangements, but the price of that policy stance has been to sow doubts about the credibility of U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific. The panel aims to examine the consequences of U.S. bilateral trade policy towards Northeast Asia, how the three Asian countries view the current administration’s trade policy and their respective approach to move forward in trade negotiations with the United States.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff discussed potential collaboration with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership on issues surrounding the opioid epidemic. Of particular and relevant interest is the debate over the establishment of safe injection/consumption facilities in Baltimore to reduce the rate of drug overdose and the spread of infectious disease. Division staff is looking at hosting an upcoming event around opioid policy issues and bringing in persepctives from law enforcement, medical professionals, and policy experts.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended an event on “Public Diplomacy and the Evolution of U.S.-Japan Relations” at the Wilson Center. Wariness of political correctness and distrust of intellectuals has led to the proliferation of “post-truth” or “fake news”. That has made it more difficult to distinguish between the role of public diplomacy and outright propaganda. How the United States leverages its soft power could define Washington’s relations with key allies worldwide, including Japan. The discussion will look at public diplomacy between Japan and the United States, and the challenges of political communications amid rapidly changing perspectives on national identity.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff participated in the monthly partner call with Stop.Think.Connect, the Department of Homeland Security cyber awareness campaign. National Consumer Protection Week is taking place from March 4th – 10th and the Federal Trade Commission will present information regarding protecting personal information, understanding rights as a consumer, and making well-informed decisions about money. Additionally, with tax season underway, the call will stress the importance for everyone to be aware of and recognize, potential identity theft threats. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) will present information on how to protect yourself against becoming a victim of identity theft as well as available resources for potential and current victims.
     
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will meet with Oleksandr Tretiakov, Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee on Veterans Affairs. In light of Ukraine’s recent war with Russian-backed separatists, the national government has resolved to create a Department of Veterans Affairs-like entity to administer healthcare to the estimated several hundred thousand veterans of conflict.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will attend an event on “Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications for Global Trade” at the Wilson Center. On March 8, representatives of eleven countries will meet in Chile to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), creating a massive free trade bloc connecting 500 million people and economies with a combined GDP of over $10 trillion. Signatories include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The current agreement includes several major economies that will have a profound influence on the future of global trade and investment. The United States withdrew from negotiations in January 2017. Speakers will discuss the economic impact of the agreement for member and non-member countries and the future of integration of the Asia-Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere.
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Herman W. Mulligan, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On May 30, 1945, Mulligan was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division, engaged in heavy fighting against Japanese forces on Hill 27, on the northern bank of the Kokuba Estuary, Okinawa, Japan. A large crypt loaded with ammunition exploded, wounding dozens and killing Mulligan. DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 3rd Class Howard V. Keffer, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Keffer was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Keffer. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William W. Shank, killed During World War II, has now been accounted for. On Nov. 13, 1943, Shank was a pilot with the 338th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 66th Fighter Wing, 8th Fighter Command, 8th Air Force, flying his P-38 on a mission to Bremen, Germany. Shank was killed after engaging in fierce enemy action. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 16 February 2018
 
Items of Interest
Today President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request of $716 billion for national security, $686 billion of which is for the Department of Defense.  The National Defense Strategy, which aligns with the National Security Strategy, connects strategy to the FY 2019 budget priorities, enabling the Department to compete, deter, and win.  This establishes a foundation for rebuilding the U.S. military into a more capable, lethal, and ready Joint Force.
 
The objectives of the Department are “to be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.”  The FY 2019 budget has been developed to meet these specific objectives.
 
Secretary Mattis recently said, “In a world awash in change, with increasing threats, there is no room for complacency.  Failure to implement or fund the 2018 National Defense Strategy will leave us with a force that could dominate the last war, yet be irrelevant to tomorrow's security.  For too long we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success-at-any-cost attitude.”  We are grateful to Congress and the American people for the recently-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which lifts the caps so our military can be resourced at a funding level commensurate with our mission.
 
The National Security Strategy states that the United States “must reverse recent decisions to reduce the size of the Joint Force and grow the force while modernizing and ensuring readiness.”  The FY 2019 budget increases end strength by 25,900 (24,100 in the active components and 1,800 in the reserve components) over the FY 2018 budget.  Each military service has a distinctive readiness recovery plan and the increases are targeted to advance these plans to improve readiness and increase lethality.
 
As the National Defense Strategy notes, “investments will prioritize ground, air, sea and space forces that can deploy, survive, operate, maneuver, and regenerate in all domains while under attack.”  This budget’s major warfighting investments include:
 
   Aircraft
  • 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters - $10.7 billion
  • 15 KC-46 Tanker Replacements - $3.0 billion
  • 24 F/A-18s  - $2.0 billion
  • 60 AH-64E Attack Helicopters - $1.3 billion
  • 6 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters - $0.9 billion
  • 10 P-8A Aircraft  - $2.2 billion
  • 8 CH-53K King Stallion - $1.6 billion
   Shipbuilding
  • 2 Virginia Class Submarines - $7.4 billion
  • 3 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers - $6.0 billion
  • 1 Littoral Combat Ship - $1.3 billion
  • CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier - $1.8 billion
  • 2 Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) - $1.1 billion
  • 1 Expeditionary Sea Base - $0.7 billion
   Ground Systems
  • 5,113 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles - $2.0 billion
  • 135 M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications - $2.7 billion
  • 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles - $0.3 billion
  • 197 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles - $0.8 billion
The National Defense Strategy also notes the importance of prioritizing “investments in resilience, reconstitution, and operations to assure our space capabilities.”  Our space investments include:
  • 5 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles - $2.0 billion
  • Global Positioning System - $1.5 billion
  • Space Based Infrared System - $0.8 billion
Highlighting the importance of missile defense programs, the National Defense Strategy calls for investments that will “focus on layered missile defenses and disruptive capabilities for both theater missile threats and North Korean ballistic missile threats.”  Those investments for FY 2019 include:
  • 43 AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3) - $1.7 billion
  • Ground Based Midcourse Defense - $2.1 billion
  • 82 THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense - $1.1 billion
  • 240 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements - $1.1 billion
In addition, the National Defense Strategy calls for a Joint Force that “must be able to strike diverse targets inside adversary air and missile defense networks to destroy mobile power-projection platforms.”  To help accomplish that goal, the FY 2019 budget includes the following preferred munitions:
  • 43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions - $1.2 billion
  • 9,733 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) - $1.2 billion
  • 6,826 Small Diameter Bomb I - $0.3 billion
  • 1,260 Small Diameter Bomb II - $0.4 billion
  • 7,045 Hellfire Missiles - $0.6 billion
  • 360 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range - $0.6 billion
  • 1,121 Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles - $0.3 billion
The budget implements the commitment in the National Defense Strategy to “modernize the nuclear triad – including nuclear command, control, and communications, and supporting infrastructure.”  FY 2019 investments in nuclear deterrence include:
 
  • B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber - $2.3 billion
  • Columbia Class Submarine - $3.7 billion
  • Long-Range Stand-Off Missile - $0.6 billion
  • Ground Based Strategic Deterrent - $0.3 billon
President Trump’s National Security Strategy articulates that “a growing and innovative economy allows the United States to maintain the world’s most powerful military and protect our homeland.” This budget requestinvests $13.7 billion in science and technology to further innovation and new and advanced capabilities including hypersonics technology, cyber space, space, directed energy, electronic warfare, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.
The FY 2019 budget supports our service members and their families, providing a competitive compensation package that reflects the unique demands and sacrifices of military service.  As the National Defense Strategy highlights, “The creativity and talent of the American warfighter is our greatest enduring strength, and one we do not take for granted.”  The budget:
  • Provides a 2.6% military pay raise – the largest increase in 9 years
  • Includes NO compensation cost share reforms in FY 2019.  Instead, the Department is focusing on internal business process improvements and structural changes to find greater efficiencies, such as modernizing our military health care systems into an integrated system
  • Sustains family support initiatives by investing more than $8 billion in:
    • Spousal/community support
    • Child care for approximately 1 million military children
    • DoD Dependent Schools, which are educating over 78,000 students
    • Commissary operations at 237 stores
    • Counseling support for service members and their families
This budget increases facilities investment to $10.5 billion, which is 7% above the FY 2018 base budget request.  It concentrates on ensuring the basing infrastructure is sized to increase force lethality and minimizing the cost of maintaining unneeded capacity.  The budget balances investment in infrastructure across DoD priorities and includes:
  • Operational and training facilities (including airfield improvements, training ranges,) to increase readiness
  • Maintenance and production facilities (maintenance hangars, missile assembly building, and high explosives magazine) to improve readines
  • Recapitalization of facilities in poor and failing condition
  • Improved Quality-of-Life for service members and their families (including schools, barracks, and medical facilities)
The FY 2019 budget continues to implement the Administration’s commitment to reform DoD business practices for greater performance and affordability.  Highlighting this commitment, the National Defense Strategy cautions that “we must transition to a culture of performance where results and accountability matter.”  Secretary Mattis has directed Deputy Secretary Shanahan to reform DoD’s business operations and reapply those savings to improve readiness and to increase the lethality and capacity of the military.  The DoD is focused on spending wisely by using shared, centralized services with the goal of using best practices to maximize effectiveness in areas including:
  • Information Technology
  • Real Property                         
  • Financial Management           
  • Logistics and Supply Chain
  • Testing and Evaluation
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Contracted Goods & Services
  • Community Services
The FY 2019 Budget also reflects continued savings from ongoing reforms such as defense travel modernization and the 25% management headquarters reduction.  Recent DoD reforms include:
  • Reorganizing the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics into two new Under Secretaries of Defense:  one focused on Research and Engineering to advance technology and innovation,  and one focused on Acquisition and Sustainment to deliver and sustain timely, cost-effective capabilities for the armed forces and DoD
  • Appointing a Chief Management Officer to manage business operations
  • Elevating Cyber Command
The OCO budget for FY 2019 supports Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL in Afghanistan, and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE in Iraq and Syria. The entire budget proposal and additional material are available at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/budget-materials.
 
Division comments: Staff is currently analyzing the FY19 Presidential and Department of Defense Budget Request, both released this week. Topline numbers for procurement and acquisition, research, testing, evaluation, and development, operations and maintenance, and personnel are in line with remarks from the service chiefs and DoD—there are across-the-board increases in all accounts in every branch. There are sections in the Defense Budget Overview dealing with the consolidated financial statement audit and business operations reforms, both areas which point to DoD’s longstanding inability to properly account for the vast sums under its management. While these budget requests act as guideposts, the forthcoming budgets from the Senate and Armed Services Committees will shed more light on just how Congress intends to spend the proposed hundreds of billions of additional defense funds over the next two years.
 
 
North Korea
No ‘bloody nose’ strategy for North Korea, says U.S. official, senators
(DefenseNews) - The Trump administration has no strategy for a pre-emptive “bloody nose” strike against North Korea, according to two lawmakers and a Trump administration official.
 
In response to reports that the administration is considering limited, pre-emptive attacks to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear program, critics have said the president lacks the authority for such an attack and that it would spark the war it’s meant to avoid.
 
Republican Sen. Jim Risch and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said Thursday they and other senators had been told by senior White House officials on Wednesday that there was no such strategy. Neither senator identified the officials.
 
The White House had “made it very clear there is no bloody nose strategy for a strike against North Korea,” Shaheen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was considering the nomination of Susan Thornton, Trump’s choice to be the top diplomat for East Asia.
 
Division comments: Senior White House aides stating that the President is not considering a “bloody nose” strike is a step in the right direction in regards to managing the threat posed by North Korea. A pre-emptive strike, in addition to running afoul of the UN Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force against another state, would be a unilateral act of war in a legal context without some evidence of an imminent attack by North Korea. A “bloody nose” strike fails to address the ever-present challenge of preventing escalation or widening of the conflict; you cannot put a bullet back in the barrel. There is also the fact that North Korea retains the capability to retaliate in ways that would easily kill and injure tens of thousands, and a “bloody nose” strike would not have the force necessary to eliminate that capability. Despite the fraught road that comes with trying to apply diplomatic, economic, and military pressure to get a dictatorial nuclear power to abandon the ultimate insurance against invasion short of going to war, it is a road that must be traveled. The alternatives would be death and destruction not seen in generations on the Korean Peninsula.
 
 
Quality of Life
The Defense Department has released a new policy on military retention for nondeployable service members as it seeks to provide more ready and lethal forces, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness told Congress yesterday.
 
"The situation we face today is really unlike anything that we have faced, certainly in the post-World War II era," Robert Wilkie told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee. On any given day, about 286,000 service members -- 13 to 14 percent of the total force – are nondeployable, Wilkie said at a hearing on military and civilian personnel programs and military family readiness.
 
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis in July tasked the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness with developing policies to ensure everyone who enters the military and those who remain in the military are worldwide deployable, he explained. Service members who have been nondeployable for more than 12 consecutive months will be processed for administrative separation or referred to the disability evaluation system, he said.
 
"This new policy is a 12-month ‘deploy-or-be-removed’ policy," he said, noting there are exceptions, such as pregnancy and postpartum conditions. Medical boards will review the medical status of those who have been wounded, he said.
 
“We need to look at the force holistically,” he said. “We have to ensure given the climate that this country faces that everyone who signs up can be deployed to any corner of the world at any given time, and that is the reason for the change in policy."
 
 
Focus on Readiness, Lethality
The new policy is effective immediately. Military services have until Oct. 1 to begin mandatory processing of nondeployable service members, Patricia Mulcahy, the director of DoD’s officer and enlisted personnel management office, said. Service members could be nondeployable for any number of reasons, she said, such as falling behind on annual medical exams or due to combat or training injuries. Only a small percentage of those who are nondeployable have been in that status for more than 12 months, Mulcahy said.
 
Each service member’s case will be individually reviewed, she said, and the secretaries of the military departments are authorized to grant waivers to retain members. The purpose of the policy is not to separate members, but rather is to get members back into a deployable status if possible, she emphasized.
 
"I think it's important to know that there is the balance between readiness and helping our members who are not going to be able to heal adequately to be deployable to help them with the next phase of their lives as well," she said. The policy is meant to improve readiness and ensure members are deployable worldwide to carry out the mission of safeguarding the nation and fighting and winning the nation’s wars, she said.
 
"Since Secretary Mattis has been on board, readiness and lethality of the forces has been [the] absolutely No. 1 priority for him, and thus for the department," she said.
 
Original memo can be read here.
 
 
DoD Quarterly Suicide Report
 
Monday, the Department released the Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) for the third quarter of Calendar Year 2017.  When published, the report will be available online at:
 
 
The QSRs do not contain the deep demographic analysis that is provided in the annual DoD Suicide Event Reports.  Rather, the QSR is intended to provide timely and accurate suicide data reporting to allow leaders at all levels to have near concurrent information that facilitates decision-making related to suicide prevention. One of the principal goals of this QSR is to improve the relevance and availability of data to bolster suicide prevention efforts.
 
For the third quarter of 2017, the military services reported the following:
 
  • 67 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
  • 26 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
  • 38 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
 
Patterns and Trends
Research on civilian suicide has shown that transitions can be a risk factor for suicide. Military Service members often experience transitions that can disrupt social and interpersonal structure and relationships. Transitions may magnify feelings of thwarted belongingness and burdensomeness. The Department is developing a number of unit-level, community support, and training interventions that have the potential of mitigating negative aspects of frequent transitions is warranted.
 
 
Access to Lethal Means for Suicide
Research shows suicidal thoughts and behaviors are fluid.13 Putting time and distance between a person who is having thoughts of suicide and lethal means, such as a gun or prescription drugs, can help save their life. Family and friends can take steps to ensure that lethal means are stored safely and securely, especially during times of crisis.
 
• Recognize if someone may be suicidal. Look for warning signs, such as someone talking about being better off dead.
 
• Make sure all firearms are secure inside your home. Store the gun unloaded in a secured and locked location, different from where the ammunition is stored. Consider using a gun lock or removing the firing pin.
 
• Explore options to temporarily store guns outside of your home. In times of crisis, consider storing weapons at a family member, friend, or neighbor’s house in a locked box, at the local armory, or at the local police department, until the person no longer feels suicidal. Please note that some local and state laws require weapon registration for legal storage; always follow the law in your jurisdiction.
 
 
Social Media
Individuals who are experiencing suicidal thoughts often do not explicitly state that they want to die or that they have taken steps to end their life. Often times there may be other indicators of suicidal intent, for example, phrases such as, “my family would be better off without me” or “I can’t take this anymore.” Suicidal intent may also be evident in social media posts. Dr. Craig Bryan, at the University of Utah, in collaboration with The Defense Personnel and Security Research Center, recently conducted an analysis of social media posts of Service members who died by suicide. They found that posts expressing lack of purpose and meaning, self-criticism, sudden interest in alcohol, and/or no longer mentioning loved ones increased before death. If you see signs similar to these, it is important to reach out by offering support and letting the person know you care.
 
 
TRICARE Updates
  • President's Budget for 2019: On 12 FEB, the president released his FY 2019 budget, which stated, "In FY 2017 and FY 2018, Congress has mostly supported the Department's health benefit reform proposals. As a result, the Department of Defense will not pursue any further cost share reforms in FY 2019. Instead, the Department will pursue efforts focused on internal business process improvements and structural changes to find greater efficiencies, such as modernizing the military health care system to an integrated system; negotiating lower administrative cost for the new TRICARE contracts; continuing deployment of the MHS Genesis electronic health record; implementing health benefit reforms authorized by Congress; reforming cumbersome processes, and streamlining internal operations. Ensuring the success of these major efforts will generate savings to be reinvested in lethality, improve our beneficiaries' health care experience, and improve our medical force readiness posture."  More information can be found at http://comptroller.defense.gov/Budget-Materials/Budget2019
  • Take Command of Your Health: New TRICARE, New You Webinar deck | February 12, 2018: The webinar reviewed how the changes have increased access to care; consolidated regions from three to two to increase efficiencies; enacted enrollment changes and guidelines, including what action to take during the open-enrollment season if beneficiaries want to make changes in their TRICARE plan; established Group A and Group B costs and fee changes; pharmacy copayment changes, as of February 2018); and resources so you can Take Command of Your Health.
  • What Women Need to Know About Heart Health Flier | Thursday, February 22, 2018, 1 p.m. EST: Presented by Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Lauren Weber, cardiologist, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. February is widely recognized as American Heart Month. Join TRICARE for a discussion about the importance of reducing the risk of heart disease and how to recognize the warning signs. This webinar will highlight preventive measures, strategies and wellness tips women need to know to keep their heart healthy. Register for the webinar online: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8278839160296959490About
 
Hearings
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing for its annual “Worldwide Threats” briefing. The Director of National Intelligence and leaders of five of the agencies in the intelligence community,  CIA, NSA, FBI, DIA, and NGA, testified. hey discussed concerns ranging from terrorist attacks to nuclear strikes, but a major portion of the hearing was dedicated to discussing threats coming from technology. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in his opening statement that cybersecurity is his "greatest concern" and "top priority," putting it ahead of threats like weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. "From US businesses to the federal government to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyberattacks every day," Coats said.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee hearing on the “Department of Defense’s role in Protecting Democratic Elections.” Witnesses focused on the known threat of Russian cyber actors and their various ways they attempt influence and information operations while simultaneously probing state networks for vulnerabilities. Witnesses agreed that DoD should focus on thwarting foreign cyber threats while the Department of Homeland Security leads on coordinating and securing domestic election systems.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the United States Northern and Southern Commands, with their respective commanders General Lori Robinson, USAF, and Admiral Kurt Tidd, USN, testifying. Of note were comments about the role NORTHCOM and SOUTCOM in interdicting shipments of illicit opioids. Latin American partnerships have yielded “pretty good situational awareness” on most drug trafficking to the U.S., Tidd said. However, he said: “Of the known tracks, we are only able to intercept 25 percent of them, about one-fourth.” Fresh from a SOUTHCOM-hosted interagency conference last week, Tidd said that opioids require new thinking and better collaboration. For now, the command is taking a threat-network based approach. Asked what capabilities would close the gap, Tidd named the littoral combat ship, packaged with rotary-wing aircraft and interceptor boats, and coupled with maritime patrol aircraft.
 
Legislation
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff will attend a roundtable hosted by the office of Rep. Vincente Gonzalez with Rep. Mark Takano attending, to listen to current legislative approaches surrounding deported U.S. military veterans. Representatives from the VA, VSOs, and Congressional offices were in attendance. The situation is that some immigrants with legal status served honorably in the Armed Forces but did not complete the process for naturalization or citizenship for a variety of reasons—from lack of awareness to fees and legal challenges to paperwork falling through the cracks. Some are then arrested on unrelated charges, unaware of their immigration status, turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and deported. In the process they are both largely denied access to their earned VA healthcare benefits and, by law, unable to apply for citizenship since they had already violated immigration law, irrespective of their service. In response, several pieces of legislation are being circulated that addresses different aspects of this issue. Some create checks on servicemembers immigration status to ensure that no more people end their enlistments without being a resident alien or naturalized. Others make sure that resources are available for deported vets to access healthcare in their countries of origin. We continue to research and
 
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Geostrategic Flashpoint: The Eastern Mediterranean.” The Eastern Mediterranean forms a geostrategic seam between Europe and the Middle East. For over seventy years, the region represented a strategic anchor for the United States, which understood its importance both to strengthening Europe and to limiting instability in the Middle East. Today, the United States and its allies are struggling to adapt a coherent Eastern Mediterranean regional policy that acknowledges dramatically new economic, political, and security realities while ensuring that the region remains transatlantically anchored.  As Syria enters its seventh year of conflict, Russia and Iran deepen their military footprints in the region, and NATO ally Turkey radically alters its domestic and external policies, the strategic importance of the region to the United States is growing while U.S. influence there appears to be waning. To assess regional security challenges and discuss NATO and U.S. Navy operational approaches to the Eastern Mediterranean, Admiral James G. Foggo, III, commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, offered his observations and assessment.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a panel at the Brooking Institution titled “The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review: Continuity and change.” With the unveiling of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Trump administration builds on President Obama’s multi-decade plan to modernize each leg of the U.S. nuclear triad and nuclear command and control system, calling it “an affordable priority.” At the same time, the Trump NPR goes beyond the 2010 NPR in a number of ways. These changes include seeking a new, low-yield warhead for some sea-launched ballistic missiles and a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile and by articulating a revised declaratory policy that could envision the U.S. use of nuclear weapons in a wider range of contingencies, such as in response to a cyberattack against U.S. command and control or early warning capabilities. The event featured a keynote by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg. Following his remarks, a panel convened that included Jim Miller, under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration; Madelyn Creedon, principal deputy administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration during the Obama administration; James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment; and Robert Einhorn of Brookings. Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon moderated the discussion.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for American Progress on “Election Security in 50 States: Defending America’s Elections.” In 2016, Russia sought to breach the U.S. elections, including attempting to hack into many states’ election systems. Fourteen months later, despite many states taking proactive measures, U.S. election infrastructure remains vulnerable to attacks. Without leadership from this administration to defend America’s elections from attacks by sophisticated enemies who want to undermine our democratic process, the necessary funding and resources to protect future elections have not been forthcoming. Despite bipartisan efforts in Congress to bolster election security and provide needed funding, legislation remains blocked. The Center for American Progress released report on election security preparedness in all 50 states, assigning grades to each state. CAP’s research and report card are designed to identify and provide information on strengths and shortcomings in each state’s election security preparedness. A better understanding of how each state can improve its election security preparedness can help build urgency for appropriate solutions and arm stakeholders with information to demand increased security measures.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a CSIS event on “Oversight and Accountability in U.S. Security Sector Assistance: Seeking Return on Investment.” With the range of security challenges confronting the United States in the 21st century, characterized by competition by both state and non-state actors, the importance of working with allies and partners to address common challenges is paramount. Deeper examination of the relative effectiveness of U.S. security sector assistance and how it must nest in a broader foreign policy strategy, including good governance, human rights, and rule of law principles, is required. Improving oversight and accountability in U.S. security sector assistance with partners are at the core of ongoing security assistance reform efforts to ensure that U.S. foreign policy objectives are met and in accordance with U.S. interests and values. Speakers addressed the view of security assistance in Congress, priorities and best practices for security sector assistance, and the risks, tradeoffs, and opportunities in oversight and accountability.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will participate in a conference call with the Department of Defense detailing the release of the new universal DoD policy on how the Military Services retain servicemembers who are in a non-deployable status. Details of the call and official guidance are included in the Quality of Life section.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Machinist's Mate 1st Class Arthur Glenn, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Glenn was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Glenn. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Department Honor Guard Alerts
  • No funeral announcements this week
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 9 February 2018
 
Items of Interest            
Congress Votes to Reopen Government, Passes Budget Deal
(Military.com) - The House moved swiftly early Friday to reopen the federal government and pass a $400 billion budget deal, overcoming opposition from both liberal Democrats and tea party conservatives to endorse enormous spending increases despite looming trillion-dollar deficits.
[…]
The bill includes huge spending increases sought by Republicans for the Pentagon along with a big boost demanded by Democrats for domestic agencies. Both sides pressed for $89 billion for disaster relief, extending a host of health care provisions, and extending a slew of smaller tax breaks.
 
It also would increase the government's debt cap, preventing a first-ever default on U.S. obligations that looms in just a few weeks. Such debt limit votes are usually enormous headaches for GOP leaders, but the increase means another vote won't occur before March 2019.
 
Senate leader had celebrated the budget deal a sign they had left behind some of their chronic dysfunction. Just three weeks ago, Senate Democrats sparked a three-day partial government shutdown by filibustering a spending bill, seeking relief for "Dreamer" immigrants who've lived in the country illegally since they were children.
 
Senate Democrats had no appetite for another shutdown. House GOP leaders shored up support among conservatives for the measure, which would shower the Pentagon with money but add hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation's $20 trillion-plus debt.
 
Division comments: While the American Legion supports full funding for the Department of Defense, the perennial issue of fraud, waste, and abuse within Pentagon accounting continues to be ignored by Congress, the body responsible for oversight. Lawmakers and Secretaries of Defense have all pointed to the factors of too much money, too little oversight, and numerous profitable opportunities for bad actors to defraud the taxpayer as contributing to the current fiscal health of the national security state. Yet there is strong bipartisan consensus to provide the Department of Defense with a blank check, despite neither Congress nor the DoD offering a clear plan on how this extra money will address pressing issues like personnel and equipment readiness and operational tempo.
 
Military Parade
This week President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength.  U.S. military members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of military veterans, but these typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware.  Although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not commented publicly on the idea of a Washington military parade, the idea is not an obvious fit with his emphasis on focusing strictly, if not exclusively, on military activities that either improve the lethality of the armed forces or enhance their preparation for combat, or both.  Last September, at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump announced his idea of staging a grand parade of the armed forces in Washington on July 4.  President Trump reminisced about watching France’s Bastille Day military parade when he visited Paris in July. He said the two-hour parade was a “tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France,” and said he wanted one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that would be grander than the one he saw in Paris.
 
Division comments: While a parade that specifically celebrates the centennial of the end of World War I would be an appropriate demonstration, there is some question if a general recognition parade for active-duty troops, particularly during a summer a holiday in Washington DC, would be an effective use of resources and impose an extra burden on the thousands of servicemembers that will participate. The American Legion supports all efforts to recognize and honor the men and women serving in the armed forces, but considers that there are perhaps betters ways of doing so.
 
North Korea
Pence doesn't meet North Koreans as Olympics open
(Politico) - Vice President Mike Pence’s Olympic visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, began Friday with a close call with the North Korean officials, whom the vice president appeared to avoid at a diplomatic reception before the Opening Ceremonies.
 
Pence arrived Friday in Pyeongchang, the mountain town hosting the Winter Games, ahead of the Opening Ceremonies and proceeded to a reception where he posed for a photograph with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
 
The pool of U.S. reporters traveling with the president were ushered out of the reception after the photo-op, but a spokesperson for the vice president said Pence, whose name was announced when he entered the reception, greeted several tables but “did not come across” the North Korean delegation.
 
Pence earlier this week didn't rule out a meeting with North Korean officials, saying that he hadn't requested a meeting but "we'll see what happens."
 
Division comments: The Olympics would provide an excellent opportunity for backchannel talks with North Korea, should the White House choose to pursue that course of action. There is continuing concern about the advances seen in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The lack of effort on the diplomatic front and no viable military solution has resulted in a back-and-forth of missile tests, provocative words, and sanctions that ratchets up the tension and increases the likelihood of miscommunication or rapid escalation. It is imperative that the President use all the levers of US power to resolve this situation peacefully—a strong first step would be confirming a capable ambassador to South Korea.
 
Quality of Life
DoD Memo on Non-Deployability
On Tuesday the Department of Defense issued a memo that states servicemembers who have been non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be separated from the military.  These policies are under final review from DoD leadership and will be followed by a DoD instruction which may take several months to complete.  Approximately 11 percent, or 235,000, of the 2.1 million personnel serving on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard are currently non-deployable.  As continued operations overseas have stressed the military, the Pentagon has begun to target that 11 percent to either get deployable, or get out.  The Pentagon estimates that of the total non-deployable force about 99,000 are on that list for administrative reasons, such as not having all their immunizations or their required dental exams. About 20,000 are not deployable due to pregnancy, and 116,000 are not deployable due to either short- or long-term injuries.  The 116,000 non-deployable due to injuries are the focus of this policy.  The draft retention policy is a result of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ direction, in a July 21 memo, to focus on non-deployable troops and other factors, such as excessive training requirements, which he saw as impacting both “warfighting readiness and force lethality.”
 
Women & Minority Veterans
News
Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) created a draft bill for a peer-to-peer counseling program for women veterans. The purpose of this legislation is to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and other purposes. Those counselors should have expertise in gender-specific issues and services, the information about services and benefits and employment mentoring.
 
Division comments: The American Legion will continue to follow this bill. The legion can support this bill with Resolution 377, Support Veterans Quality of Life. This legislation will enhance, improve, or preserve benefits for women veterans which the Legion supports.
 
  • On Monday, February 5th, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division met with the new Congressional Relations officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ca-Asia Lane. Ms. Lane’s portfolio includes: research on women veterans health; military sexual trauma and sexual assault. Staff from the National Security Division will begin to have a working relationship with Ms. Shields to get updates on the most recent events and changes in legislation and policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
  • On Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Danielle Corazza, the new National Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This phone conference resulted in the approval of the Center for Women Veterans displaying its new Women Veterans Athlete Initiative at the National Convention in 2018.
 
  • On Wednesday, the Department of Defense released its Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the United States Military Service Academies for academic program year 2016-2017.  Overall, DoD’s assessment found that the Academies complied with policies addressing sexual assault prevention and response. However, the Air Force Academy’s victim assistance efforts during the past academic program year did not comply with policy. Air Force Academy leadership has since taken action to rectify the problems it detected within its sexual assault prevention and response office. The full report may be Found on the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office website at:  http://sapr.mil/index.php.   For additional reference, I have attached a DoD press release that provides additional context.  That release may be found online at:  https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1435008/dod-releases-report-on-sexual-harassment-and-violence-at-military-service-acade/
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff joined Executive Director Verna Jones for an event sponsored by the Women Veterans United Committee at the House Rayburn Building.  Verna was the honorary keynote speaker for the event.  The topics discussed included Women Health care issues, Harassment in the Military, Military Sexual Trauma, and Engagement with the Women Veterans Community.
 
  • On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division attended the fourth Annual Women Veterans United Committee event on the Hill. Women Veterans United Committee Incorporation’s purpose is to address quality services, advocate, coordinate and raise awareness, and provide information to ensure needs are met for Women Veterans. The speaker for this program was Verna Jones, Executive Director, The American Legion; Michele S. Jones, President, The Bones Theory Group; and Lory Manning, Captain, USN (Ret.). All of the speakers focused on the same things: Women veterans; how to help women veterans; statistics of women veterans and ways to provide more assistance to women veterans.
 
  • On Thursday, February 8, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division attended the Monthly Partners Breakfast Meeting. The guest for this monthly Partners Breakfast was Ms. Barbara Ward, the Director of the Minority Veterans Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Ward primarily focused on some of the upcoming events for the month of February, one which Verna Jones will be the keynote speaker. Staff from the National Security Division, plans to meet with Ms. Ward the second week of March. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division informed the members at the Partners Breakfast about the American Legion’s Washington Conference.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior subject matter experts to discuss the recently released report this week. The discussion was led by Dr. Elise Van Winkle, who is the Principal Director for Force Resiliency, and Dr. Nathan Galbreath, who is the Deputy Director for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO).
    This report contains the results of the Department’s on-site assessments of the Academies and outcomes of focus groups of cadets, midshipmen, faculty, and staff. This report assesses the effectiveness of policies, training, and procedures to address sexual harassment and sexual violence at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy. Overall, DoD’s assessment found that the Academies complied with policy.
 
  • On Friday, February 9, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Deborah Harmon Pew, National Campaign Chair, Women Veterans Rock. Staff from the National Security Division was asked to attend as a  delegate for Women Veterans Rock Public Policy Day on March 15th, 2018. Additionally, Staff from the National Security Division was asked to be a guest speaker at one of Women Veterans Rock’s summer events.
 
Hearings
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “U.S. Cyber Diplomacy in an Era of Growing Threats”. Authoritarian regimes and foreign actors are working overtime to impose more control online, including through censorship. These destructive efforts to weaponize the internet undermine America’s foreign policy and security, as well as our economy. As Americans become more and more connected with digital technology, the United States must ensure the internet remains open, reliable and secure. The hearing explored foreign threats to the internet and the important role diplomacy plays in addressing them.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff attended a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the “Opioid Crisis: Removing Barriers to Prevent and Treat Opioid Abuse and Dependence in Medicare”. As the second in a series of hearings focused on the opioid crisis, the hearing addressed ways to break down barriers in the US healthcare system that stand in the way of preventing and treating opioid abuse and dependence in the Medicare program. The hearing looked at the use of data analytics to identify at-risk beneficiaries, as well as overprescribing and inappropriate pharmacy dispensing, and examine possible legislative solutions to prevent more Medicare beneficiaries from being harmed by opioid abuse and addiction.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing on “Defending the Homeland: Department of Defense’s Role in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security Kenneth Rapuano and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman testified. The witnesses outlined the role and breadth of DoD’s role in preventing the acquisition of counter chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons, containing and reducing existing threats, and responding to WMD use.
 
Legislation
  • The National Security and Legislative division are working on a response to a proposed $10 million reduction in the budget of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in the FY18 Appropriations Bill. The reduction would have significant impact on DPAA’s ability to conduct all-important field operations and research. The American Legion remains committed to achieving a full accounting of all of America’s servicemembers from all conflicts, and will continue to advocate for appropriate budgeting.
 
  • The National Security division is currently reviewing hundreds of defense, homeland security, and international affairs bills to identify leading offices on relevant topics where the American Legion’s strengths can be put best to use. We’re looking to collaborate with offices on informational events in support of legislative efforts that address pressing national security issues.
     
  • The National Security division is currently working on turning opioid epidemic response recommendations from drug policy leaders and groups into statutory language that would have an impact on priority areas that have been identified. An example is the need for a robust, networked prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) that would provide doctors with a full and accurate representation of a patient’s prescription drug usage.
 
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute fifth annual Mexican security review. The forum provided a careful examination of security challenges in Mexico, featuring presentations from leading policy analysts, including David Shirk, Viridiana Rios, Matthew Ingram, and others. Of particular interest was a review of 2017 and a discussion of trends in 2018, including establishing new bonds in U.S.-Mexico military-to-military relations and strengthening the rule of law in Mexico. The Mexico Institute also launched a new book called The Missing Reform: Strengthening the Rule of Law in Mexico, which analyzes the concrete obstacles that Mexico faces to implement the rule of law and provides a series of short reflections from leading Mexican and U.S. analysts on recommendations for strengthening the rule of law in Mexico.
 
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended the release of a new report, Enhanced Deterrence in the North: A 21st Century European Engagement Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. CSIS has concluded a year-long study that assesses Russia's military capabilities for the next decade; examines the existing "web" of bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral security and defense cooperation agreements stretching from the North Atlantic to the Barents and Baltic Seas; and outlines a new and more streamlined framework for enhancing deterrence in Northern Europe. Following keynote remarks from former SACEUR General Philip M. Breedlove (Ret.) on the need for greater enhanced security and defense measures in Northern Europe, the subsequent panel discussed specific new measures to improve maritime and air power capabilities, as well as strengthen defense and security cooperation with non-NATO members Sweden and Finland.
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a VSO/MSO partners meeting at the Pentagon with senior defense officials to include Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper to discuss an array of key issues to the Army.  The group was provided an operations update on where the Army is currently and potentially deploying to and the impact of the increased operations tempo on military members and their families.  DoD is reviewing several plans to attempt to relief the stress to include separating servicemembers who have been non-deployable for more than 12 months and reviewing locations where U.S. forces can be removed or reduced.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security International Cybersecurity Leaders Forum. Keynote remarks were made by Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine; and by U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle who
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division attended a Stimson Center event titled “How to Interpret Nuclear Crises: From Kargil to North Korea.” With tensions mounting between the United States and North Korea, what has been clear is the wide disagreement among scholars about what constitutes a nuclear crisis, how dangerous it is, and what dynamics dictate how it plays out. The Stimson Center will host U.S. academics who are arguing that nuclear crisis dynamics depend on incentives to use nuclear weapons first and the extent to which escalation can be controlled by leaders involved. The panel will explain four distinct models of nuclear crisis and discuss the application of this framework to the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan, and assess implications for current U.S.-North Korea tensions.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff participated in the monthly VSO/CWV partners breakfast meeting at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The event was hosted by the Associate Director of the Center for Women Veterans, Dr. Betty Moseley Brown.  Special briefings were provided by the Center for Minority Veterans with a focus on minority women veterans in recognition of Black History Month and the Million Veteran Program.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended a Brookings Institution event on Army modernization and force planning, with the Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, Undersecretary of the U.S. Army. When it comes to modernization, speed, agility, and leveraging commercial innovations are essential enablers, but each can prove difficult. Following tens of billions of dollars in U.S. Army spending over the last decade to develop new weaponry, multiple failures have added up, some with little or nothing to show for the costs. In addition to looking to create new and more lethal capabilities to help the warfighter to win and come home safely, the Army has been tasked to do more with less, making the ability to experiment with prototypes all the more critical. Army forces must also possess the capabilities—and be prepared to fight across multiple domains and through contested areas—to deter potential adversaries, and should deterrence fail, rapidly defeat them.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Molder 1st Class Kenneth B. Armstrong, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Armstrong was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Armstrong. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. David Baker, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Baker was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, positioned in the vicinity of Yongbyong, North Korea. Baker’s battalion moved north and lost contact with two other regiments. On Nov. 25, 1950, 3rd BN met with enemy resistance and was attacked by Chinese People’s Volunteer Force. The battalion suffered heavy casualties and Baker was declared missing in action as of Nov. 28, 1950, when he could not be accounted for by his unit. Later reports indicate that Baker was likely captured by the enemy during battle. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 26 January 2018
 
Items of Interest
Commandant says the Marine Corps has ‘too many airplanes’
(Marine Corps Times) - The top Marine says the Corps is stuck with too many aircraft that it simply doesn’t have the time to fix or maintain.
 
“In fact right now we’ve got too many Hornets; we’ve got too many airplanes,” said Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller at a discussion Thursday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
 
“We need to get rid of them because we don’t have time to fix them.”
 
The Corps’ aviation wing is struggling with readiness shortfalls and budget woes amid another continuing resolution that is impacting long-term planning across the force.
 
The Corps’ transition to new aircraft platforms like the MV-22 Osprey and the F-35B means other aircraft like the UH-1Y, Cobras, Harriers and Hornets have limited need or use.
 
“As we field new airplanes, squadrons have to stand down as they transition,” Neller said.
 
The older aircraft will either be sent to “the boneyard” or sold off to allies.
 
Division comments: The Commandant’s remarks reflect a broader issue across the services of loads of aging weapons platforms, rise in cost of upkeep, fall in availability of spare parts, and an overall failure to fund operations and maintenance accounts. Despite the Commandant’s desire to move to new platforms like the Osprey and F-35, these craft come with their own long set of maintenance and reliability issues, with the Department of Defense office of operational testing and evaluation issuing another report that called into question the F-35 program’s ability to deliver working, effective aircraft at a reasonable cost. The lack of stable budgets is a major driver in acquisition and procurement issues, and the Legion continues to support full defense funding and the elimination of spending caps.
 
North Korea
North Korea calls for unification in rare statement to all Koreans
(USA TODAY)North Korea issued an announcement directed at "all Koreans at home and abroad" Thursday, calling for increased efforts toward "independent" unification, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Pyongyang urged for Koreans "to improve North-South relations" after a meeting of the country's government and political parties, according to the statement, which was posted on media monitoring site KCNA Watch.
The announcement said Koreans should "promote contact, travel, cooperation between the North and South," but that it should do so without the help of other countries.
"Let us wage an energetic drive to defuse the acute military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula!" the news agency said.
Although the statement did not provide details on why the meeting was held, it said the appeal was made in order to support North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's comments about unification that he made earlier this month.
 
Skepticism over Olympics 'propaganda'
Vice President Pence said he will attempt to counter what he believes to be Kim's efforts to "hijack" the Olympics with propaganda when he attends the event next month.
Tensions have been high on the divided peninsula over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, which have prompted a slew of international sanctions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's government has rejected criticism that the North is stealing the spotlight from the games, saying the Olympics will help defuse tensions.
Quality of Life
 
DoD and VA Release Online Tool to Assist Veterans with Discharge Upgrade Process
Online at: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1424248/dod-and-va-release-online-tool-to-assist-veterans-with-discharge-upgrade-process/
 
Release No: NR-022-18 Jan. 25, 2018
 
The Department of Defense, through a joint initiative with the Department of Veterans Affairs, is pleased to announce the launch of a web-based tool that will provide customized guidance to veterans who desire to upgrade or change the conditions of their military discharge. “We are thrilled to have partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs in developing this wonderful and easily-accessible tool,” said Mr. Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “We support our veterans, whether they served recently or long ago, and we are excited to introduce a tool that will individualize the guidance for those who desire an upgrade or change in their military discharge,” he said.
 
Over the years, some veterans have criticized the review process as daunting or difficult to understand. The issuance of supplemental guidance over the past few years, while helpful to many, has the side effect of creating multiple guidance documents that can be confusing to some. Furthermore, some veterans suffer from mental health or other conditions that make tasks like these more difficult for them than for others.
 
This innovative tool simplifies and customizes the guidance. By answering a few short questions, veterans will know which board they need to go to, what form to fill out, any special guidance applicable to their case, where to send their application, and some helpful tips for appealing their discharge. Any veterans who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade are encouraged to use this tool and then apply for review.
 
This tool can be found on Vets.gov at: https://www.vets.gov/discharge-upgrade-instructions. The link is also available on Military OneSource (http://www.militaryonesource.mil/) and each of the review board’s websites (listed below). The link has also been forwarded to a number of Veterans Service Organizations and Military Service Organizations in order to spread the news to as many Veterans as possible.
This initiative was one of many in recent years aimed at improving the review process and guidance available to veterans who believe they may have been unfairly discharged or received an unfair discharge characterization. The Department issued special guidance in 2011 for veterans discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or its predecessor policies. Also, the Department issued guidance related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2014. Most recently, in February 2016, the Department redoubled its efforts to ensure veterans received the benefit of the latest guidance and statutes of limitations were liberally waived in such cases. Subsequently, in December 2016, the Department launched an 2 internal review of its policies and procedures. That review disclosed some gaps and confusion in the previous guidance. In August 2017, the Department issued significant guidance clarifying how review boards will consider cases involving mental health conditions, including PTSD, TBI, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
 
For information on a specific board, please contact the board directly or through its website at:
 
Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Board-for-Correction-of-Military-Records/
Phone: 240-612-5379
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrbc@mail.mil
 
Air Force Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/Separation/Discharge-Review-Board/
Phone: 240-612-0995
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrb@mail.mil
 
Army Board for Correction of Military Records:
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil
 
Army Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil
 
Navy Board for Correction of Naval Records:
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/bcnr/Pages/home.aspx
Phone: 703-607-6111
E-mail: BCNR_Application@navy.mil
 
Navy Discharge Review Board:
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/NDRB/default.aspx
Phone: 202-685-6600
E-mail: NDRB@navy.mil
 
To submit feedback on related Department policies or processes:
Send an e-mail to osd.pentagon.ousd-p-r.mbx.legal-policy@mail.mil
 
or mail your feedback to Office of Legal Policy at:
Office of Legal Policy Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness)
4000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-4000
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will speak with Elizabeth A. Estabrooks, Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator. Ms. Estabrooks is inquiring about having an exhibit displayed entitled “I Am Not Invisible”  at the National Convention. The purpose of the exhibit is to increase the awareness about women veterans. During the phone call, Ms. Estabrooks and Staff from the National Security Division will discuss more in depth details surrounding the exhibit.
Hearings
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff will attend a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on “Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Strategy.” Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage are scheduled to testify.
Legislation
  • On Thursday, National Security and Legislative division staff attended a meeting with staff from the office of Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) to discuss Rep. Bilirakis’ introduction of a bill addressing concurrent receipt. The Legislative and National Security divisions are focusing on concurrent receipt as a priority issue this year, and are working with Congressional offices to ensure that it is taken up as a standalone bill or inserted into the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
Other Activities
  • On Monday, National Security division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled “Broadening the Lens Beyond Security: The Next Few Decades of U.S.-Pakistan Relations.” Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, His Excellency Aizaz Ahmad Chaudry addressed recent strains in the US-Pakistan relationship, the future of the bilateral security relationship, and development, economic, and other opportunities for partnership between the United States and Pakistan.
 
  • On Tuesday, National Security division staff conducted a radio interview with Eric Dehm on the CBS Radio program Connecting Vets. Staff discussed the national security dimensions of the opioid epidemic and upcoming changes in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended an all-day MSO/VSO working group event at the Defense Health Agency. Topics covered included the Joint Outpatient Experience Survey; House Armed Services Committee-requested clarifications for MSO/VSO community methodology, benefit comparison, copay groupings, use of fees, TRICARE Young Adult; TRICARE transition status; updates about the 2018 NDAA Pharmacy & Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program; TRICARE Take Command Campaign update; and the Federal Drug Administration agreement.
 
  • On Friday, January 26, 2018, Staff from the National Security Division will attend an invite only luncheon with former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. At the luncheon, Mr. Hagel will discuss the recently released book, Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided, detailing the experiences of himself and brother Tom Hagel, who both served together in the same rifle platoon during the Vietnam War.
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
  • Navy Fireman 3rd Class Warren H. Crim, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Crim was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Crim. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell E. Valley, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Valley was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Valley. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On June 22, 1944, Canty was a member of the 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, IX Bomber Command, aboard a B-26 Maurader on a nighttime bombing mission from Easton Lodge-Essex, England, against targets near Caen, France. His B-26 was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France. All eight crewmembers were killed in the incident. Because the location of the crash was in German-held territory, U.S. forces were unable to make a detailed search for the crew at the time of their loss. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Pete W. Simon, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In September 1950, Simon was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, participating in a defense of the Pusan Perimeter, a large defensive line west and north of Pusan, South Korea. Simon was reported to have been killed in action Sept. 5, 1950, but his remains were not located following the battle. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Lamar E. Newman, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In November 1950, Newman was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, taking part in a defensive operation in the vicinity of the village of Kujang, North Korea. The Division suffered heavy losses, with many Soldiers going missing or being killed or captured. Newman went missing near the village of Kujang as a result of heavy fighting on Nov. 27, 1950. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 19 January 2018
 
Items of Interest
Senate Takes Up Stopgap; Outcome Unclear
(CQ) - Time is short for senators to clear a spending deal and avert a government shutdown. The Senate took up a four-week continuing resolution late Thursday, but the bill's fate remains unclear as Democrats withhold support over the absence of a broader spending and immigration deal.
 
Senators will scramble today to try to keep the government open beyond midnight tonight, when current appropriations (PL 115-96) expire. Senate Republicans are meeting this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss a path forward.
 
Senate Democrats, whose votes will be needed to clear the CR (H J Res 125, which was appended to HR 195), have threatened to shoot down the short-term spending bill because of the lack of progress on immigration. A simple majority was needed to begin debating the bill Thursday night, but future procedural votes -- including a cloture vote to end debate -- will require 60 "yea" votes, meaning support from at least nine Democrats will be needed.
 
Division comments: Congress’ inability to pass a budget on time and its continuing and growing reliance on continuing resolutions has greatly hampered the Department of Defense’s ability to do multi-year budget planning and block buys of major weapons systems, all of which drive cost at nearly every stage of production and procurement. The American Legion supports full funding of DOD, and continues to press Congress on not playing political football with national security.
 
Tillerson signals deeper US military commitment in Syria
(MilitaryTimes.com) - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled deeper U.S. commitment to Syria on Wednesday, saying America would maintain its military presence there to prevent an Islamic State resurgence. He said the U.S. also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.
 
Speaking at Stanford University after being introduced by former top diplomat Condoleezza Rice, Tillerson said the Trump administration was determined not to repeat President Barack Obama’s “mistake” when he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. Republicans for years have argued the withdrawal created the opening for IS’ rapid expansion.
 
Instead, Tillerson stressed that U.S. forces would remain in Syria for the foreseeable future as President Donald Trump and his aides implement a new strategy to stabilize Syria, where a civil war has killed as many as a half-million people and created millions of refugees since 2011. There are currently some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, mainly training local forces to root out remaining extremist strongholds.
 
Division comments: Both the White House and Congress have repeatedly failed to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that covers US activity in Syria. The administration and Congress have not presented any strategy or vision on how to deal with the devastated country, the dozens of armed actors still in the field or turning to insurgent tactics, the repatriation of millions of refugees, and basic governance and services. In line with Resolution 217: Identifying National Interests Before Committing Military Forces and Assets, we support a robust discussion on the why and how the US will maintain a military presence in Syria, and what the potential consequences are for each course of action.
 
Quality of Life
Troops and families: Here are some ways a shutdown could affect you
(MilitaryTimes.com) - If you were around in 2013, you’ll remember the many ways the two-week government shutdown that October affected military personnel and their families: Everything from doctor’s appointments to planned relocations to death benefits.
 
Operations that are considered essential to national security will continue during the shutdown. Defense Department officials set those ground rules; the current guidelines weren’t immediately available. But as the Friday night deadline looms for lawmakers to reach an agreement, shutdown preparations are underway in DoD.
 
“DoD’s foremost need is to receive an enacted appropriation for fiscal year 2018 as soon as possible,” DoD spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn said. “We are hopeful that there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations. However, at this time, prudent management requires planning for the possibility of a shutdown.”
 
Based on some shutdown history and recent guidelines, we put together some points to consider.
 
Pay - Active-duty military personnel generally report to work during a shutdown regardless of whether their command is considered “essential,” but military personnel generally wouldn’t be paid until the shutdown ends. This could change if Congress passes a law that requires the military to be paid during the shutdown, as they it in 2013. Personnel are paid on the 1st and 15th of each month.
 
In the past, a number of financial institutions that serve the military community have stepped up to fill the gap, in some cases offering to advance the active-duty pay, then recouping it later, when retroactive pay caught up. Military relief societies also have helped service members and families fill the gaps during shutdowns.
 
Retired pay is not affected. It comes from a different pot of money.
 
PCS and TDY - In 2013, permanent change-of-station moves and temporary duty travel were canceled except for service members traveling to activities and operations determined to be essential to national security.
 
Healthcare - In 2013, military treatment facilities remained open to care for existing patients and provide emergency services and acute care. Routine appointments and elective surgery were suspended, but pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services continued. All care through off-base civilian Tricare providers was unchanged.
 
Commissaries - DoD hasn’t notified commissary officials yet about whether they will have to close any stores, Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson said. Commissaries were closed during the 2013 shutdown, except for overseas stores. If there is a shutdown, the commissaries forced to close will follow an orderly procedure to allow store staffs to reduce stocks of perishables, safeguard equipment and facilities, and make other necessary preparations, he said. In 2013, commissaries in the continental U.S., as well as those in Alaska and Hawaii, were open an extra day after the shutdown took effect. They were packed with customers.
 
“In the event of a shutdown, we will do our best to support our military communities whenever and wherever possible,” Robinson said.
 
Exchanges - They won’t close, because they don’t rely on taxpayer dollars. But they do try to ease some of the strain on the customers affected by commissary closures. For example, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials already are working up emergency orders for key items such as diapers, bread, milk and frozen food, and working with distributors to speed up those deliveries for early next week, AAFES spokesman Chris Ward said.
 
DoD schools - Based on past experience, the Department of Defense Education Activity is planning that their 166 DoD schools overseas and stateside, and eight district offices around the world, would be allowed to continue to operate, DoDEA spokesman Frank O’Gara said. A shutdown would probably curtail operations at regional offices and at headquarters, he said, though DoDEA is awaiting DoD guidance.
 
Death gratuities - These $100,000 payments might not be made immediately to the designated survivor of a service member who dies on active duty. When those payments went unmade in 2013, the Fisher House Foundation stepped in to fill the gap. After the government reached a deal to reimburse the charity, Congress eventually passed a law that restarted the payments.
 
Child care - This might be a mixed bag: In 2013, each installation determined whether child development centers continued to operate.
 
MWR - Previous guidance has allowed morale, welfare and recreation activities to operate during a shutdown if they are deemed necessary to support essential operations. That covered mess halls, physical training and child care activities required for readiness. In the past, MWR activities that are funded entirely by nonappropriated funds, not by taxpayer dollars, weren’t affected by the shutdown. A bowling center or golf course funded by customers likely would remain open, for example.
 
DoD civilians - In 2013, about 400,000 DoD civilians ― including military spouses, veterans and retirees ― were furloughed.
 
Division Activities
  • On Tuesday,  National Security division staff attended the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security, with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifying. Secretary Nielsen faced tough questions from Democrats on the committee, focusing on the administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and broader immigration-related issues. While the Secretary’s written testimony made mention of the Department’s role in drug supply reduction, particularly of fentanyl, there was zero mention on what the Department is doing to enhance national cybersecurity. As DHS is the lead agency in responding to private and public sector cyber attacks, which continuously grow in number, scope, and damage done, this was a noticeable and grave oversight.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the House Committee on Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee hearing on the future of federal cybersecurity. The purpose of the hearing was to understand the current state of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program from the perspective of stakeholders. This hearing explored the industry perspectives on the CDM program, the state of CDM tool acquisition, and what barriers there are, in policy or practice, to rolling out CDM across the federal government.
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security division staff attended the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee hearing on “Battlefield Successes and Challenges – Recent Efforts to Win the War against ISIS.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the current administration’s rules of engagement, the subsequent battlefield wins against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and next steps in the war against radical Islamic terrorism.
 
  • On Thursday, National Security division staff attended the House Committee on Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on “Combating Transnational Gangs Through Information Sharing.” The hearing examined the capabilities and efforts of Federal law enforcement agencies to share information related to designated Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO), including MS-13, with one another, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and foreign counterparts. Witnesses identified improvements that can be made to further facilitate the exchange of information necessary to dismantle these dangerous, criminal organizations threatening US communities.  
 
 
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
 
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
  • Air Force Col. Edgar F. Davis, killed during the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On Sept. 17, 1968, Davis was a navigator aboard a RF-4C Phantom fighter-bomber aircraft, assigned to the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. Davis and his pilot were on a night photo-reconnaissance mission over the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) when they were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery fire. The pilot ejected out of the aircraft and was rescued, however no contact could be established with Davis. Because of this, he was declared missing in action. Search and rescue efforts were suspended after failing to locate Davis or the aircraft wreckage. Davis was later declared deceased. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Chester E. Seaton, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Seaton was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Seaton. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. William C. McDowell, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, McDowell was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. As the Chinese attacks continued, American forces withdrew south. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory. Because McDowell could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending January 12, 2018
 
Recruits from 10 southern states less likely to be fit, study finds
(Military Times) - Obesity and lack of physical fitness in 10 Southern states present a difficulty for the Army in finding recruits there, and pose a risk to national security, according to a new study. The Army recruits a large portion of its soldiers from the South, but they aren’t as fit as recruits from other regions, says the study led by researchers at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.
 
Obesity and lack of physical fitness in the South are a threat to “military readiness and national security,” researchers said in the study, which was released Wednesday and published in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. Many states in the southern U.S. are already recognized for their disproportionate burden on public health due to high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and chronic disease, according to researchers.
 
Recruits from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas were found to be significantly less fit and more likely to become injured than recruits from other states, the researchers found.
 
Division comments: The ongoing US population trends toward increasing rates of lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, due to poor diet and lack of exercise represents a massive public health challenge. The collective cost of treating the millions of Americans dealing with metabolic conditions is staggering. Despite some public backlash against a ‘nanny-state’ solutions such as posting the caloric content of fast food on menus or limiting the size of sugary drinks sold, it is clear that this issue is beyond simple consumer choice.
 
GOP Seeking Nearly $250 Billion, Two-Year Spending Cap Increase
(CQ News) - Republican leaders are considering a nearly $250 billion increase in discretionary spending caps over the next two years, with defense accounting for about 62 percent of the total, according to people familiar with the discussions. A GOP proposal under discussion would raise the defense cap by $72 billion in fiscal 2018 and $80 billion in fiscal 2019, while increasing the nondefense cap by $45 billion in 2018 and $50 billion in 2019, a person with knowledge of the talks said.
 
Democrats are not on board at this point, which suggests the numbers could yet change, but Democratic and Republican leadership aides said it is possible to get a caps agreement by next week. That would give leaders time to possibly add language increasing the caps in the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 112-25) to the next stopgap continuing resolution, which is necessary to avert a partial government shutdown after midnight Jan. 19.
 
GOP leaders are considering a short-term measure extending current appropriations levels until Feb. 16, though a March deadline has also been discussed, according to House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. Increasing the defense figure by $72 billion would match the increase allowed under the initial House version of the fiscal 2018 budget resolution (H Con Res 71), and incorporated into a 12-bill appropriations package (HR 3354) the House passed in September.
 
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, pushed for the higher figure, and he and other defense hawks have urged GOP leaders not to come down from that number. The House defense appropriations bill also contained about $10 billion over President Donald Trump's request for defense funds with an Overseas Contingency Operations designation, exempting the money from discretionary caps.
 
The GOP proposal would also substantially boost nondefense appropriations, by about $50 billion over what the House approved in September on a mostly party-line vote. But Democrats — who are seeking equal dollar increases in the discretionary spending caps — said they have not agreed to those levels. And a resolution of the ongoing standoff over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remained a key sticking point that potentially could derail a deal. Democrats are pushing hard for an agreement that removes the threat of deportation for so-called “Dreamers” in addition to other priorities including equal increases for defense and nondefense.
 
Democrats also are stressing the need for a reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a priority for many Republicans as well. Republicans are likely to include at least a five-year CHIP reauthorization in the stopgap appropriations bill next week, with the duration of the bill also potentially increasing after favorable scoring came back from the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday.
 
Some Republicans think Democrats could be persuaded to accept $17 billion or more in what are called Changes in Mandatory Programs, or CHIMPs, as contributors to “parity,” the term Democrats use to describe equal dollar-for-dollar increases in defense and nondefense caps. The CHIMPs are on the nondefense side and represent reductions in mandatory spending — sometimes illusory —which are used to increase discretionary spending by the same amount above statutory limits. If CHIMPs were included, the nondefense cap increase could be smaller than the defense increase, but Congress would have more discretionary dollars to spend than reflected in the cap increase.
 
GOP staff are also developing a package of tax cut extensions — typically called tax extenders — as well as cost sharing reduction subsidies or other initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of or increasing the availability of health care insurance, which could go in a budget deal. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., met Wednesday to discuss shoring up the insurance exchanges set up by the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148; PL 111-152), with a goal of readying legislation to attach to one of the upcoming spending vehicles.
 
Democrats are also pushing for additional funding for opioid abuse treatment and prevention, and to shore up underfunded pension plans for coal miners, truckers and other workers — initiatives that could result in higher nondefense spending on the mandatory side.
 
Pentagon Auditors Scrub Department's Books, Find Errors
(CQ News) - The Defense Department has made measurable progress scrutinizing its books since announcing its first-ever department-wide audit in December, the Pentagon's comptroller said on Wednesday. During an initial review, the Army has discovered 39 Blackhawk helicopters that had not previously been recorded and the Air Force found 478 buildings and structures across 12 installations not logged in its property system, David Norquist told the House Armed Services Committee.
 
The Pentagon plans to release its complete audit findings Nov. 15. In the interim, 1,200 auditors — who will report to the Pentagon's inspector general — will conduct 24 "stand-alone audits," which the IG will consolidate into one report. The audit team will spread across the massive bureaucracy to inspect the Pentagon's estimated $2.4 trillion in assets including: personnel, property, weapons, supplies and bases. Auditors will also examine the Pentagon's classified operations.
 
The audit, intended to hold accountable the government's largest bureaucracy, is estimated to cost $367 million. Of that sum, $181 million represents bills from independent public accounting firms and the remaining $186 million will fund "infrastructure to support the audits," according to Norquist's opening statement.Norquist anticipates the department will need an additional $551 million this year to fix problems found in the audit.
 
The audit, which Congress explicitly mandated in the fiscal 2014 defense authorization law (PL 113-66), comes more than two decades after Congress required in a 1990 law that all federal agencies conduct an annual financial audit (PL 101-576). The Defense Department is the only department that has not completed an audit. The audit has the support of committee chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas and Ranking Member Adam Smith of Washington.
 
"It is likely that the result of the first audit will not be pretty," Thornberry acknowledged. "But those results will help direct us all — Congress and the department — on where we need to apply our efforts to improve."
 
One of the areas where an audit could improve Pentagon operations, Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith believes, is in its acquisition process.
 
"I get that the upfront cost is going to be enormous, but long term the benefits  are exactly as you describe," the Washington Democrat told Norquist. "The work on acquisition reform that I know the chairman and I and many others have done can be so much better informed if we have that information."
 
Armed Services Committee members, however, are concerned that the audit could be hampered by a delayed budget. Thornberry expressed concern that auditors could receive funding so late in the fiscal year due to a potential continuing resolution that Norquist's team may not have the resources needed to fix issues found in the audit.
 
"I am also very concerned that we are going to be so late in the fiscal year with a final appropriation, and the needs are so great, that there's going to be inevitable problems as a result," Thornberry said. "You're going to find things and there may not be enough time to fix the things you find." Thornberry added that he would work to give Norquist "flexibility" in spending money after the end of the fiscal year. Thornberry and numerous others on the committee have long bemoaned continuing resolutions and some on the panel see the audit as a chance to shine light on how continuing resolutions negatively affect Pentagon operations.
 
"I think the audit will show you, yes, the problems that come out of disruptions from the CR," Norquist said in response to questions from Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne.
 
"What would be helpful to us, as the people that pass continuing resolutions, to have that highlighted in your audit report," Byrne said. "So that we know that continuing resolutions have tangible negative results."
 
Quality of Life
(Health.mil)On Feb 1, 2018, copayments for prescription drugs at TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and retail pharmacies will increase. These changes are required by law and affect TRICARE beneficiaries who are not active duty service members.
While retail pharmacy and home delivery copayments will increase, prescriptions filled at military pharmacies remain available at no cost. You can save the most money by filling your prescriptions at military pharmacies.
“Military pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery will remain the lowest cost pharmacy option for TRICARE beneficiaries,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ann McManis, Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency.
Using home delivery, the copayments for a 90-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $0 to $7. For brand-name formulary drugs, copayments will increase from $20 to $24, and copayments for non-formulary drugs. without a medical necessity will increase from $49 to $53.
At a retail network pharmacy, copayments for a 30-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $10 to $11 and from $24 to $28 for brand-name formulary drugs.
In some cases, survivors of active duty service members may be eligible for lower cost-sharing amounts.
TRICARE groups pharmacy drugs into three categories: generic formulary, brand name formulary and non-formulary. You pay the least for generic formulary drugs and the most for non-formulary drugs, regardless of whether you get them from home delivery or a retail pharmacy.
To see the new TRICARE pharmacy copayments, visit www.tricare.mil/. To learn more about the TRICARE Pharmacy Program, or move your prescriptions to home delivery, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy.  
 
Hearing Attended
On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Syria post-ISIS, with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield testifying. While ISIS has lost nearly of the territory it controls, it continues to represent a grave threat to security as it still commands thousands of trained and well-armed fighters in both Syria and Iraq. The White House and Congress have yet to outline a comprehensive approach to dealing with the devastation and upheaval in Syria that prevents the rise of yet another extremist group.
 
Division Activities
  • On Tuesday, National Security staff attended the Wilson Center’s event with the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) on Security Challenges in East Asia based on recent high-level meetings in Taipei, Beijing, and Seoul. Issues addressed include: Cross-Taiwan Strait relations after the 19th Party Congress; prospects for U.S.-China relations in the Trump era; the North Korea nuclear issue; and the state of Sino-Korean relations.
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies with Ernest J. Moniz, the co-chair and CEO of NTI and former U.S. Secretary of Energy. Moniz addressed the increased risk of nuclear miscalculation against the backdrop of today’s rapidly evolving global security threats, the need to rethink outdated nuclear deterrence postures, and the imperative to prevent nuclear proliferation and develop new fuel-cycle policy solutions. Moniz also addressed the future of the Iran nuclear agreement and the current crisis with North Korea. His remarks will be followed by a discussion with John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS.
     
  • On Friday, National Security division staff attended an event at the Wilson Center entitled “All You Need to Know about Russian Hackers.” Russian hacking has grabbed the collective attention of the U.S. and EU as a potential threat to free elections, national security, and even social stability. Daniil Turovsky, a journalist, explained the actual mechanics of how Russian hackers join forces with one another, work for Russian security services, and carry out attacks on banks and government agencies. He will discussed the personal motivations of the hackers themselves, which range from patriotism to monetary gain to government coercion.
     
POW/MIA Update
Any Department or Post that would like to provide military funeral honors for the returned can find interment and funeral information by visiting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Releases/.
Please coordinate the military funeral honors with DPAA by contacting them at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Contact/Contact-Us/
 
DPAA provides an online newsletter which can be requested at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/Newsletters.
 
  • Army Pfc. Albert E. Quintero, missing from the Korean War, has now been
    accounted for. In late November 1950, Quintero was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. American forces withdrew south with the Chinese continued to attack. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. Because Quintero could not be accounted for by his unit after reaching Hagaru-ri, he was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harry C. Morrissey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On October 9, 1942, Morrissey was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, participating in a main offensive action in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After nearly two months of battle, the regiment completed their action, during this battle Morrissey was killed in action. Two other marines from Morrissey’s battalion were interred in graves atop Hill 73, alongside him. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Willard H. Aldridge, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for.  On Dec. 7, 1941, Aldridge was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Aldridge. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


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

NOTICE: Change to TRICARE pharmacy COPAYMENTS
 
Beginning February 1, 2018, TRICARE pharmacy copayments will be changing for all beneficiaries, except Active Duty Service Members (ADSMs), dependent survivors of ADSMs, and medically retired service members and their dependents.  The changes are required by United States federal law, with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.  
 
Copayments for generic drugs, brand name drugs, and non-formulary drugs are increasing across the retail and home delivery points of service.  Beneficiaries have the option to get generic and brand name drugs for $0 copay at military pharmacies.  Non-formulary drugs are generally only available through home delivery and require prior authorization and/or medical necessity.  
 
Retail Network Pharmacy Copayment Changes (up to 30-day supply)
  • Generic formulary drugs will increase from $10 to $11.
  • Brand-name formulary drugs will increase from $24 to $28.
  • Non-formulary drugs will increase from $50 to $53.  (NOTE:  Non-formulary drugs are generally only available through home delivery.)   
 
TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery Copayment Changes (up to 90-day supply)
  • Generic formulary drugs will increase from $0 to $7.
  • Brand-name formulary drugs will increase from $20 to $24.
  • Non-formulary drugs will increase from $49 to $53.
 
Military Treatment Facility Pharmacy Copayment Changes
  • Beneficiaries can still fill their prescriptions for $0 copay at MTF pharmacies.
     
    ADSMs can get prescriptions filled from any pharmacy at no cost.  Copayments remain the same as the 2017 rates for dependent survivors of ADSMs and medically retired service members and their dependents.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, National Security Division staff attended a joint conference with the CSIS Office of the Korea Chair and the International Security Program for an event that aimed to broaden the discussions on the U.S. and the Republic of Korea's bilateral cooperation on defense acquisition policy and defense industrial technological base, as well as important issues pertaining to joint research and development programs between two countries. Current and former officials from the Korean and American national defense agencies and defense industry representatives discussed various areas of collaboration, including research and development and the aerospace industry. Interoperability has been a cornerstone of US international defense cooperation and alliances—having multinational forces using or familiar with each other’s weapons platforms and their capabilities is essential for planning and operations. Considering current tensions on the peninsula, it is important to track the positions of influencers and policymakers.
 
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division participated in a conference call with senior leadership from the Department of Defense to discuss a new initiative titled “Know Your Military” that will aim to balance the public’s perception of the military by using an array of media outlets to reach the general U.S. population.  DoD is developing monthly videos that will address common misconceptions about military life and provide a more accurate image of day to day life for servicemembers. 
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a Military Health System MSO/VSO Executive Advisory Council hosted by the Defense Health Agency.  DHA brief the council on new initiatives to improve the care provided to include new mobile web innovations and the efforts of the VA/DoD Joint Executive Committee.  DHA informed the council that the Continuing Resolution through December 22nd and the expected additional Continuing Resolution through late January would not impact DoD’s ability to provide care for active duty or TRICARE Select enrollees.  In the event of a government shutdown most services will continue to be provided.  Only elective surgeries would not be scheduled.  The council also discussed the impact of the 2018 NDAA to include TRICARE reforms.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended a GovExec titled: “Enabling the Warfighter: Bringing the Cloud to the Tactical Edge.” The event looked at cloud computing, and its capability to do more than just store the Pentagon’s vast quantities of data, it can provide warfighters with the capabilities necessary to dominate the modern battlefield. Presenters argued that the adoption of cloud computing technologies as critical to maintaining the US military’s technological advantage. Department of Defense officials spoke about the Pentagon’s search for greater efficiencies in executing mission planning, logistics and operations, and the desire to provide new capabilities to warfighters that increase situational awareness and speed up decision making. Representatives spoke of leveraging cloud computing for big data analytics, artificial intelligence (machine learning/deep learning), and identify threats.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement (EPAEDE). Act The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Control Division testified that the DEA agrees with the Justice Department and believes that EPAEDE should be changed to help curb the ongoing opioid epidemic. The EPAEDE Act has been criticized since the Washington Post “60 Minutes” reported in October that a small group of lawmakers allied with drug companies pushed the EPAEDE Act through Congress. The measure curbed the DEA’s powers to use its most potent weapons against drug companies that do not report suspicious orders of prescription painkillers from pharmacies. A complication to this narrative, however, was a sharp drop in DEA suspensions between 2011-2015, in the midst of skyrocketing numbers of opioid-related deaths and crime, before the law was passed in 2016.
 
  • On Tuesday, division staff attended the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum. In order to most effectively address the Trans-Pacific region’s unfolding economic and security challenges and opportunities, speakers called for the United States to work closely than ever before with its like-minded allies and partners from both the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic communities to develop common approaches. A long-time ally of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) will be essential for the United States to successfully protect and advance its interests in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. To help achieve these goals, the Atlantic Council and the Korea Foundation have partnered to co-host their inaugural annual forum, “Reimagining the US-Korea Partnership in the Trans-Pacific Century.” This forum explored how the US-ROK relationship fits into the administration’s emerging strategy toward the Asia Pacific, what the priorities are for the US-ROK security alliance and economic partnership, and what the future holds.
     
  • On Thursday, National Security Division staff will attend a luncheon, hosted by REMI, on “The Economic Consequences of the Opioid Crisis.” At the national level, the loss of workers to either premature deaths or extended absences from the labor force due opioid abuse depresses production and lowers aggregate demand, slowing down the growth of the economy. At the regional level, heavily impacted states face potential out-migration as well as increased health care, substance abuse treatment, and incarceration costs. This combination of factors places a severe strain on state budgets as both the tax base falls and expenditures rise. Almost 2 million Americans are estimated to meet the criteria for opioid abuse and dependence with 16,000 losing their lives as a result of their addiction. The total economic burden of those consumed by this public health crisis has already cost the economy upwards of $78.5 billion and few substantive efforts have been able to curb these rising expenditures on the local, state, and federal levels.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class James C. Solomon, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Solomon was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Solomon. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert R. Keown, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On April 16, 1944, Keown was the pilot of one of four P-38s of the 36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, participating in a mission to escort a B-25 medium bomber on an aerial search near the mouth of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. Keown’s aircraft, alongside the other three aircraft on the escort mission, encountered heavy overcast conditions after charting their course home. After rerouting, they experienced heavy rain and turned toward the open ocean. Keown and his wingman became separated from the other aircraft. His last known location was listed as more than a mile north of Yalu Point. None of the four aircraft returned from the mission. In 1999, the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery turned over remains to the Central Identification Laboratory after receiving information from Mr. Soka Dodon and Mr. John Bonding. DPAA is grateful to Mr. Soka Dodon, Mr. John Bonding, the Papua New Guinea Government and Pacific Wrecks, Inc., for their partnerships in this recovery. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Milton M. Beed, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In February 1951, Beed was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting Republic of Korea Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the village of Hoengsong, an area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. After enduring sustained enemy attacks, the American units withdrew to Wonju, South Korea. It was during this withdrawal that Beed was reported missing, as of Feb. 12, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Archie Callahan, Jr., killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Callahan was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Callahan. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Storekeeper 1st Class John W. Craig, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Craig was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Craig. In 2015, DPAA disinterred remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. DPAA is appreciative to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. Interment services are pending.
 
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


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

 

 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division attended an event hosted by the CATO Institute to discuss the course of Ukraine.  Nearly four years have passed since Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity brought down the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych. The revolution inspired widespread support and generated hope for a better future; yet Ukrainians’ expectations are far from being met. The economy has shrunk by 16 percent; the authorities have devalued the currency and defaulted on debt; living standards have plummeted; and growth remains weak. Levels of corruption and of political and civil liberties have hardly changed. The government’s unwillingness to reform has frustrated Ukrainians and foreign allies alike.  The event will featuring Mikheil Saakashvili, Former President of Georgia, Former Governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine; Sergei Nosenko, Founder, Rozvitok (Development); Kateryna Smagliy, Director, Kiev office, Kennan Institute; moderated by Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute.
  • On Wednesday staff from the National Security Division participated in a discussion hosted by the Wilson Center on Criminal Elements of Organized Crime and National Security.  Environmental crime is now the world’s fourth largest crime sector, estimated by UNEP and Interpol to be worth more than $250 billion each year. Transnational criminal networks — drug cartels, money launderers and terrorist groups — are trafficking high-value natural resources, including illegal wildlife, in dramatically increasing numbers.  Panelists will discuss how new policy, program, and technological tools can help reduce the threats that illegal wildlife trafficking poses to vulnerable communities and to our national security.
     
  • On Thursday Staff from the National Security Division attended an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that discussed finding consensus for a new authorization for the use of military force.  The CSIS International Security Program moderated discussions with Representatives Coffman, Gallego, Bacon and Panetta on congressional war powers authority and their proposal for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The discussion focused on the challenges associated with developing a new authorization and the prospects for finding a bipartisan consensus in replacing the 2001 AUMF. 
     
  • ​​On Friday, division staff attended a Hudson Institute discussion on "Emerging Challenges in Cybersecurity" with featured speaker Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, former NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges (ASG ESC) and Hudson Senior Fellow Arthur Herman. A wave of high-profile cyberattacks swept the world in 2017 targeting an array of important sectors. Ransomware crippled land and sea transportation and affected hospitals and ATMs. The breach of credit-reporting giant Equifax exposed the information of more than 140 million people, while the U.S. electric grid was successfully infiltrated by likely Russian state actors. As 2018 approaches, the discussion will look at what steps should be taken to mitigate attacks in the coming year, what type of cyberattacks will likely be attempted, and who can the US expect to be the perpetrators.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Emil F. Ragucci, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Ragucci was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Ragucci died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. In September 2013, through a partnership with History Flight, Inc., JPAC (a predecessor to DPAA) received remains from a burial site on Tarawa. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

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

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

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

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

National Security Division Weekly Report
Week Ending 3 Nov 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Trump leaves behind tax-plan fight for the longest presidential trip to Asia in decades
(Business Insider) - President Donald Trump will travel to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor on Friday before kicking off the longest presidential trip to Asia since George H.W. Bush. […] In Asia, Trump will address security and trade concerns in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
 
Among the US, South Korea, and Japan, the North Korean missile threat looms large, and Trump is expected to reaffirm the US's commitment to the countries' alliance, though he has in the past questioned whether the Asian allies pay their fair shares. With China, the emerging world power that Trump during his campaign accused of currency manipulation and "killing us" with a trade deficit, the US appears to actually have made progress. China now cooperates with the US on containing and limiting trade with North Korea like never before. […] In the Philippines, Trump will meet the popular populist Rodrigo Duterte, who looks to wrap up a violent drug war that has killed thousands and crush an Islamist insurgency in Marawi.
 
Division comments: Division staff continues to work with Pacific Command community relations and public affairs offices in the coordination of the National Commander’s upcoming visit to South Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Hawaii in late November and early December. East and Southeast Asia remain top national security priorities, from North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons to China’s territorial ambitions to the Islamist insurgency in the Philippines. To that end, division staff monitors developments in the region and the overall US security posture and are busy preparing briefings and documents for the National Commander’s use during the trip.
 
Former President Bill Clinton visits Johns Hopkins, urges swift action on opioid epidemic (Johns Hopkins) - Among the most urgent actions the nation can take to combat the opioid crisis in America is to erase the stigma of addiction, former President Bill Clinton said Monday at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a forum on the deepening epidemic.
 
Stigma prevents addicts and their families from seeking treatment and accessing resources, he said. It keeps sufferers silent, and it keeps health care providers from effectively advocating for funding for proven treatment methods.
 
Opioid-related drug deaths are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. In 2016, drug abuse claimed the lives of an estimated 64,000 people, more than half of them from opioid-related overdoses. That's more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS before it was treated, more than the number of gun-related homicides, and more than the number of deaths caused by automobile accidents, Clinton said.
 
Addiction has devastated a section of rural America that already has limited access to health resources. "The epidemic has grown like wildfire in small towns and rural areas with no public health infrastructure, where people don't know what to do, or can't do it if they know," Clinton said.
 
Division comments: The report released in conjunction with the summit had dozens of recommendations, but highlighted ten recommendations. The American Legion supports a wide ranging approach to stemming the opioid epidemic, with particular interest in drug use surveillance and ensuring prescribers are not diverting opioids for illicit sale or overprescribing for patients. Division staff continues to track research and policy proposals, and see a growing consensus among policy makers and public health and safety professionals on concrete actions that can be taken.
 
TOP TEN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
  1. Mandate prescriber PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program) registration and use.
  2. Work with state medical boards to enact policies reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
  3. Inform and support evaluation research of PBM and pharmacy interventions to address the opioid epidemic.
  4. Secure funding for research to assess the effectiveness of innovative packaging and designs available and under development.
  5. Provide clear and consistent guidance on safe disposal of prescription opioids; expand take-back programs.
  6. Invest in surveillance of opioid misuse and use disorders, including information about supply sources.
  7. Allocate federal funding to build treatment capacity in communities with high rates of opioid addiction and limited access to treatment.
  8. Partner with product developers to design naloxone formulations that are easier to use by non-medical personnel and less costly to deliver.
  9. Establish and evaluate supervised consumption spaces.
  10. Avoid stigmatizing language and include information about the effectiveness of treatment and the structural barriers that exist to treatment when communicating with the public about opioid-use disorders.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
  • On Monday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Dr. Betty Mosley Brown, Associate Director for the Center for Women Veterans and Dennis May, the Deputy Director for Minority Veterans. Staff from the National Security Division thoroughly briefed Dr. Mosley Brown and Mr. May on The American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Program. Dr. Mosley Brown and Mr. May shared a copy of the monthly observances and a copy of the most recent 2015 Minority Veterans Report. Staff from the National Security Division, the Center for Women Veterans and the Center for Minority Veterans will partner together for events in the 2018 calendar year.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division provided information for a letter of support for a draft bill from the Office of Congressman J. Luis Correa. This draft bill will provide for certain reporting requirements relating to medical care for women veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and through contracts entered into by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with non-Department medical providers, and for other purposes. This bill will also report the wait times, the driving time required for veterans to attend appointments and the reasons why appointments could not be scheduled with non-Department medical provides. The American Legion can support this bill because of resolution 377, Support Veterans Quality of Life. The American Legion supports any legislation that will enhance, promote, or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents including, but not limited, to timely access to quality care at the VA.
     
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division spoke with Annie Walker, MBA, from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Ms. Walker works primarily with education, transition, entrepreneurship and employment with a special focus on women veterans. Staff from the National Security division explained The American Legion’s Women and Minority Veterans Program while establishing a relationship that lead to being asked to speak on a panel at the Northern Virginia Women Veteran Summit scheduled for June 14th -June 15th 2018. This will be a great opportunity to get more information out about what the American Legion is doing for women veterans. Staff will also set up a booth at this event to distribute pamphlets and get contact information from various women veterans.  
 
  • On Tuesday, Staff from the National Security Division conducted the first round of internal meetings with the DC staff to understand each service provided at the American Legion to better assist women veterans.  Staff met with Warren Goldstein, Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation and Melvin Brown, Assistant Director of Health Policy and Resolutions to discuss their job description which includes but is not limited to: drafting resolutions, tracking community service amongst the volunteers and the subject matter experts on the System Worth Saving visits.
 
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division attended a breakfast with the Honorable David Shulkin, M.D in advance of Veterans Day at Bullfeathers. This breakfast was a very small group invite that included Capitol Hill staff who are themselves veterans and HillVets Fellows. HillVets is a bipartisan group of veterans, service members, and supporters focused on empowerment through networking, community involvement, and education.  Dr. Shulkin spoke about his top five priorities for the VA Health Care system which are: 1) having a greater choice for veterans; 2) modernizing the System; 3) focusing more resources more efficiently; 4) improving timeliness of services and 5) suicide Prevention.
     
  • On Wednesday, Staff from the National Security Division received the notes from the VA Partners’ Meeting. At this meeting, the VA discussed suicide among women. The VA annually conducts a comprehensive assessment of suicide deaths among individuals who have used VA health services in the year of their death or the year prior. This assessment includes the difference in suicide mortality by gender. The suicide rate among women receiving care at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services was lower than that of male users of VHA health services. In 2014, the suicide rate among women using VHA services was 17.3 per 100,000, while for male VHA users, the rate was 41.8 per 100,000.
     
  • On Thursday, Staff from the National Security Division attended the release of the Health of Women who Have Served Report. Staff from the National Security Division participated in this yearlong report and served on the advisory group, whom is mention in the appendix of the report. At this release meeting Senator Julia Brownley and Senator Tammy Duckworth both spoke on some of the issues that they are advocating for female veterans in relation to health care such as decreasing the number of female veterans who commit suicide and advocating for the VA to extend In Vitro Fertilization to women veterans who are in need of those services.
    This event brought together military and veteran health experts and advocates to speak on the distinct health challenges faced by women who have served, and identify actionable opportunities for improving women’s health and well-being.
Quality of Life
 
Sailors Could Face Criminal Charges After Deadly Ship Crashes
(Military.com) - In the wake of two ship collisions within months of each other that claimed the lives of 17 sailors this summer, a three-star admiral was relieved, a four-star was passed over for command, and a number of other officers were removed from their posts. But more serious personnel actions may be still to come and could include legal prosecution, as well as administrative moves.
 
On Thursday, the Navy released the results of a 60-day comprehensive review, blaming the two collisions on an array of factors, from insufficient training and experience to crew fatigue and a punishing operational tempo that damaged readiness.
 
But, said Adm. John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, negligence was also a factor in the mishaps. “We found the commanding officers were at fault, executive officers were at fault, there were some watchstanders on the ships. And we've been pretty clear about identifying where there was fault and taking appropriate accountability actions, up to and including the 7th Fleet commander," Richardson said.
 
Division comments: Readiness should be considered the top quality of life issue for active duty service members—it is essential that they are trained, healthy, properly equipped, and competently led. Failures in these areas lead to preventable accidents, lower morale and unit cohesion, costly repairs or loss of strategic capability and capacity, and the inability to retain exceptional members. This week, the Senate Armed Service Committee held a hearing “Recent United States Navy Collisions at Sea” that highlighted Congress’ continuing investigation into the 7th Fleet incidents and the root causes behind them. Division staff monitors these developments, and is working on building relationships with Armed Services staff to better advocate on behalf of active duty service members.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, staff from the National Security Division attended a forum co-hosted by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health focused on elevating high-impact solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The U.S. is experiencing its highest-ever rates of opioid addiction and overdose, and the numbers are only predicted to rise. A combination of the overuse of prescription opioids for acute and chronic pain and an increasing supply of heroin and illicit fentanyl is driving this epidemic. Evidence-based strategies for preventing and treating opioid addiction have been shown to be successful but are not being implemented quickly and at scale. Speakers, panelists, and thought leaders representing diverse stakeholders affected by the crisis considered critical components needed to reduce the injury and death rates nationwide. Evidence-based recommendations that reflect the most current science were the focus, and translating that evidence to action was the goal. The American Legion is committed to ensuring that the nation’s communities have the resources to both combat drug trafficking and treat and care for those who have been impacted by addiction, while always seeking to find ways to reduce demand through education and the development of alternative treatments.
 
  • On Tuesday, Legislative Affairs Dir. Matthew Shuman, Legislative Affairs Asst. Dir. Larry Lohman, and staff from the National Security Division participated in a phone conference with Equifax’s government affairs representative. The conversation centered on Equifax’s efforts to reach out to communities impacted by their recent, and unprecedented, data breach—estimated to have effected 143 million Americans. There was discussion of collaborating on cybersecurity information products and potentially conducting live, in-person outreach at interested Legion posts. The National Security Division is currently developing a cybersecurity education initiative, aimed at providing Legionnaires and posts with the tools and information necessary to understand the cyber ‘landscape’ and to protect their own and their families critical information from cyber criminals and other unauthorized access.
 
  • On Wednesday, staff from the National Security Division covered a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, entitled “An Insider’s Look at the North Korean Regime.” HFAC Chairman Ed Royce stated before the hearing: “As we intensify our efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats, we must consider the full array of policy options at our disposal. Mr. Thae, who defected from North Korea last year, has valuable insights into the Kim regime’s vulnerabilities. This hearing will be an opportunity to learn how best to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on the Kim regime. We will examine the impact our sanctions are having, as well as our efforts to empower the North Korean people with the truth about Kim Jong Un’s brutal human rights abuses.” The National Security Division continues to monitor events in US-North Korean relations, and supports utilizing the full range of US tools to effect a peaceful outcome.
 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will attend the Woodrow Wilson Center’s event “Trump’s Vision for Asia: What to Expect from the U.S. Presidential Visit to the Asia-Pacific Region.” In early November, Donald Trump will visit Asia for the first time since assuming the presidency. As he heads to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, he will also be visiting Japan, South Korea, China, and the Philippines at a time of increasing regional uncertainty. While North Korea will undoubtedly be at the top of the agenda, there are longer-term issues at stake, such as managing a risen China just coming out of a major Party Congress as well as setting the course to sustain the long-term stability and prosperity of the world’s most populous region.
 
  • On Thursday, staff from the National Security Division will attend an event hosted by the Regional Economic Models, Inc. where experts will discuss the economic effects of immigration policies.  REMI’s Chief Economist Frederick Treyz, Ph.D. will discuss the findings from his analysis.  Dr. Treyz will review two scenarios: first, a “balanced” reform approach that includes improved enforcement, reform of green cards and visa programs, and a pathway to legal status, and secondly, an “enforcement-only” approach with aggressive border security, deportation, and voluntary departure. He will discuss the output and employment implications of these scenarios.
 
  • On Friday, Staff from the National Security Division will attend a conference hosted by the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy on how public policy can address the opioid epidemic. The conference will feature keynote remarks from: Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize winning economist whose work has documented the shocking rise of “deaths of despair” among white Americans without a four-year college degree; Rep. Ann McLane Kuster from New Hampshire, ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force; and Bertha Madras, a psychobiology professor at Harvard Medical School and member of the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, who will discuss the recommendations from the commission report set to be released earlier that week, along with her own work. Following their remarks, Deaton and Madras will join a panel of experts in opioid policy to discuss ways to address this national crisis.
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Edward F. Slapikas, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Slapikas was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Slapikas. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

 


National Security Division Weekly Report
Week Ending 27 Oct 17
 
Items of Interest
 
US Defense Secretary James Mattis at Korean DMZ: 'Our goal is not war'
CNN - Standing yards away from North Korea, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday that the US and South Korea were committed to a "diplomatic solution" to address the country's "reckless behavior." Mattis spoke during a visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea, which came after Pyongyang this week renewed its threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground. "North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and world peace and despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations' Security Council they still proceed," Mattis said.
 
Division comments: Finding a resolution to the continuing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and in particular a pathway to North Korean denuclearization, remains a top US national security priority. The United States Pacific Command, which is responsible for deterring and defending against potential North Korean aggression, currently has nearly 375,000 military and civilian personnel assigned, with 37,500 service members in the Republic of Korea itself.
 
The National Security Division is currently involved in planning and coordinating the travel of the National Commander, Denise Rohan, to East Asia. The primary purpose of the trip is to demonstrate the American Legion’s continued support of the armed forces by seeing the importance of their mission firsthand, learning from the men and women directly involved in the defense of a critical ally in a critical region of the world. The East Asia trip also offers a unique  opportunity for the Commander to speak to deployed service members and their families to better understand the challenges that come with an overseas station in order to better advocate  on their behalf.
 
Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘Health Emergency’ but Requests No Funds
New York Times - President Trump on Thursday directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, taking long-anticipated action to address a rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use.
 
But even as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country — a priority that resonated strongly with the working-class voters who supported his presidential campaign — Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare “a national emergency” on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.
 
His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so. And he made little mention of the need for the rapid and costly expansion of medical treatment that public health specialists, including some in his own administration, argue is crucial to addressing the epidemic.
Division comments: Per Resolution No. 19: Homeland Security and the Opioid Epidemic, the American Legion resolved to advocate and support a broad range of tools and policies aimed at stemming an incredible surge of opioid overdose deaths and drug crime. Division staff continually monitor the state of opioid-related public health research, current municipal, state, and federal government efforts at reducing supply, demand, and harm, and legislative proposals to address numerous resource gaps. Division staff consider the opioid epidemic the number one threat to homeland security; consider the numbers of deaths and devastated communities wrought by addiction and associated crime, add the trafficking and drug dealing by transnational criminal organizations and their associates that enables the crisis, and the result is massive and complicated crisis.
 
The National Security Division has an ongoing effort to connect policy makers, Legion volunteers who have been impacted by opioid addiction, and medical and law enforcement experts. Education remains a key component in addressing the epidemic, and staff is working to ensure that Legionnaires understand the scope of this issue and how they can work to address problem in their own communities.
If you would like to know more, or get involved, please email: ns@legion.org.
 
Bad Rabbit malware used leaked alleged NSA tool
The Hill - The Bad Rabbit ransomware that tore through Russia and Eastern Europe this week used a leaked hacking tool, allegedly built by the NSA. It is not, however, the same NSA tool made famous by earlier ransomware outbreaks NotPetya and WannaCry. Researchers at Cisco found that Bad Rabbit used a tool called "EternalRomance" that took advantage of a now-patched security flaw in Windows that was leaked this year by a group called The ShadowBrokers. The ShadowBrokers released several packages of these tools, all of which they said had been pilfered from the NSA.
 
Bad Rabbit, like NotPetya and WannaCry encrypts files on a system and charges a ransom for the key to decrypt those files. Coding and strategic problems in NotPetya and WannaCry made it impossible for the attackers to provide these keys even if a ransom was paid. It is at least hypothetically possible that paying the ransom for Bad Rabbit could result in a key to unlock files. 
 
Division comments: Per Resolution No. 20: National Cybersecurity Strategy, the American Legion resolved to advocate and support government efforts to combat cybercrime and educate  citizens on what they can do to avoid falling prey to or inadvertently facilitating cyber attacks. The importance of a robust domestic cyber workforce across all levels of private and public organization grows by the day. To this end, Division staff is exploring ways to connect Legionnaires with the educational resources that they can use to protect themselves and their families, as well as share with their communities.
If you would like to know more, or get involved, please email: ns@legion.org.
 
Women & Minority Veterans
 
  • On Friday, staff from the National Security Division spoke with JoAnn Fisher, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer of Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Ms. Fisher discussed the need of a growing industry and career path for women veterans in Heavy Construction with the Heavy Construction Academy. The Heavy Construction Academy is partnered with the Women Veterans United Committee and they host a 6 week program which provides: local single occupancy lodging; airline travel to and from New Hampshire; all breakfasts and most lunches; and 240 hours of training on 9 different pieces of heavy equipment for a nationally recognized Heavy Equipment Operations certification. Staff from the National Security Division will meet with Dr. Fisher again to help partner and find women veterans to participate in the Heavy Construction Academy.
 
Quality of Life
 
  • On Monday the Defense Health Agency announcement announced the award of a $7.5 billion contract for medical professionals. The contract award will significantly enhance the agency's ability to help patients at military-run treatment facilities get the care they need, while providing the kind of joint service envisioned when DHA stood up two years ago. It also responds to a congressional directive from the National Defense Authorization Act for FY17 for the Department of Defense to develop a sourcing strategy for the acquisition of contract medical support to supplement the military and civilian professionals who work in the nation's military treatment facilities.
 
  • The Senate passed its FY 2018 budget resolution and the procedural language seems sufficient to avoid a conference committee between the two chambers and allow the House to simply pass the Senate resolution.  The pending passage of the budget and signing into law by the President clears the way for the reconciliation of the FY 2018 defense bill.  The Senate's recently passed bill also seeks to increase the pharmacy benefit's out-of-pocket costs and launch a pilot program aimed at replacing TRICARE for Life with Medicare Advantage.  If implemented pharmacy prescription costs would go up by 2026 to $14 for a 30-day supply of generic drugs and $45 for a 30-day supply of a brand-name drug at an in-network retail pharmacy, while 90 day supplies of generic and brand-name drugs from the mail-order system will be $14 and $45, respectively.
 
-Senate NDAA seeks to increase TRICARE costs for working-age retirees
-TRICARE Prime fees will increase from $282.60 to $350 for single coverage and from $565.20 to $700 for family coverage
-TRICARE Standard fees will be implemented costing individuals $450 and families $900 annually
-TRICARE Standard deductibles will increase:  $300 in network, $600 out of network for a family; $150 in network, $300 out of network for an individual
-TRICARE Standard out-of-pocket caps increase from $3000 to $3500
-Pharmacy prescription costs will be increased
-A plan to eventually replace TRICARE for Life will be implemented
Staff at the D.C. office has communicated The American Legion’s position opposing any increase to TRICARE fees from Resolution No. 102: Oppose TRICARE Fee Increases.  Additional, an action alert was emailed out to membership urging them to contact their respective Senators and Congressmen and let them know that veterans have paid for their benefits through blood, sweat, and tears many times over.
 
Division Activities
 
  • This week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that Retired Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi will serve as the interim Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency. Bianchi is Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command and will continue to serve in that capacity while he is with DeCA.
    Bianchi’s assignment to the commissary is expected to take effect in early November 2017.
 
Staff from the National Security Division have participated in conference calls with the Director and his staff regarding potential cost-saving changes the Commissaries have considered implementing over the past two years.  We oppose any efforts to institute variable pricing or to privatize the military commissary system or to reduce discounts or to dismantle or downsize the Defense Commissary Agency.  Staff also urge the Department of Defense and Congress to continue full funding of the military commissary system. 
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the House Energy and Commerce hearing on federal efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The primary purpose of the hearing was to hear from the federal agencies charged with implementing the provisions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) also took the opportunity to follow up with the DEA on the committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation into alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia, adding, “It is time for DEA to get this committee the information we need, and to do it quickly. No more dodges. No more delays.” The opioid epidemic continues to outpace federal efforts, illustrating the need for a comprehensive all-of-government strategy and the funding and resources necessary to carry it out.
 
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at George Washington University on the evolution of China’s offensive cyber capabilities, the constraints imposed by uncertainties associated with cyber attacks like collateral damage and blowback, and the Chinese study of US cyber deterrence strategy. China is considered an advanced and persistent cyber threat to US national security and business interests, and so demands constant monitoring of their capacity and capability. The American Legion supports a robust national cybersecurity strategy that leverages the many levers of US power to secure sensitive information, deter cyber attacks, and educates the public on their role in cyber defense.
 
  • Last week, division staff met with the Deputy Secretary of Defense where he was briefed on the Department of Defense’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Several Naval ships have been have working since immediately following the storms in September. They have been saving lives through rescue efforts and debris removal.  The USNS Comfort has been proving medical care to include the birth of a child.  National Guard unit from across the country have been deployed and have provided more than 1 million liters of water.  They are also providing food, fuel, electricity, housing, medicine, and much more.  The total force package comprises roughly 10,000 troops, focused primarily on medical evacuation and delivery of supplies. 
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Shopfitter 3rd Class Francis L. Hannon, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Hannon was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Hannon. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Donald E. Eichschlag, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, Eichschlag was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force fighting against repeated Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) assaults in the area surrounding Yudam-ni, North Korea. Eichschlag was reported to be killed in action on Nov. 28, 1950 during the fight over Hill 1250. When the Marines began a movement to regroup south at Hagaru-ri, search and recovery operations in the area were not possible. Interment services are pending.
 
Joe C. Sharpe, Acting Director, National Security Division
Rhonda Powell, Director, National Security Division

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 6 Oct 2017
 
Items of Interest
Aerospace
US Air Force secretary: JSTARS recap decision coming this month
A decision on the future of the JSTARS recap program appears to be imminent, with the U.S. Air Force’s top civilian doubling down on statements that the service would decide whether to cancel the program this month. By the end of October, the U.S. Air Force will have completed a “rapid assessment” to determine whether the service can use existing platforms — including legacy aircraft, drones and other sensors — to accomplish the mission that a new battlefield management aircraft would be charged with, U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson explained. More details here.
 
 
Conventional Armed Forces
Lawmakers to US Army: If network programs worth $6B are discarded, what’s next?
Whether the U.S. Army may shift a half-billion dollars from its ailing network programs and chart a new course will be up for debate as lawmakers reconcile rival House and Senate defense policy bills this month. But several key lawmakers said they are not ready to let the Army reboot from a $6 billion investment without explaining what’s next. Army officials argue the service lacks the survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network it would need on a modern battlefield. They are asking Congress to end the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio, the Command Post of the Future and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 at the end of fiscal year 2018 to free up money budgeted for the three. More details here.
 
 
Foreign Relations
In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East
For more than two years, the U.S. military’s contingent of 300 or so soldiers have been quietly helping train an enormous allied military in western Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian-backed separatists appear to be keeping pace some 800 miles to the east, showcasing entire parking lots full of new tanks and artillery just a 15-minute drive from the front lines. “Every 55 days we have a new battalion come in and we train them,” said U.S. Army National Guard Capt. Kayla Christopher, spokesperson for the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, at Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine. “And at the end of that 55-day period, we’ll do a field training exercise with that battalion.” Her unit has trained seven battalions so far. More details here.
 
 
Law and Order & Homeland Security
DHS Forms Election Security Task Force
The Homeland Security Department formed an election security task force last week to help shore up state and local voting infrastructure, a top official told lawmakers Tuesday. That task force will draw resources and expertise from across the department, including Homeland Security’s intelligence and analysis division, acting undersecretary for the department’s cybersecurity and critical infrastructure division Christopher Krebs told members of a House Homeland Security panel on cybersecurity. Previously, the department was running election security operations as a program inside its infrastructure protection division, Krebs said. The shift will make it easier to bring departmentwide resources to bear in protecting the 2018 congressional elections and various elections during 2017 and 2018, he said. More details here.
 
 
Military Benefits & Quality of Life
Military Star Card Rollout Starts at Commissaries
Commissary shoppers will be able to use the Military Star credit card at stores systemwide by Nov. 9, officials announced Thursday. Fort Lee, Virginia, on Thursday became the first commissary to accept the card at checkout. Five additional commissaries -- Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Key West National Air Station, Florida; Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine -- will start accepting it early next week. The remaining stores will be added in eight batches between now and Nov. 9, with locations in Hawaii, Japan and Korea among the last to allow the card, officials said. More details here.
 
 
National Guard & Reserve Forces
Few Answers After Three Leaders of Marine Reserve Regiment Fired
Three senior Marines at a Massachusetts reserve unit were relieved of their posts in one fell swoop this week, officials confirmed Thursday. On Wednesday, Marine Forces Reserve Commanding Officer Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian relieved Col. Morgan Mann, commanding officer of 25th Marine Regiment, out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Also relieved were Sgt. Maj. James Boutin, inspector-instructor for the regiment, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Hoy, also assigned to the unit. The Marines were relieved because McMillian lost confidence in their ability to command, a spokeswoman for Marine Forces Reserve, 2nd Lt. Stephanie Leguizamon, told Military.com in a statement. Marine Corps Times first reported the reliefs Thursday. More details here.
 
 
Unconventional Forces & Intelligence
3 US Troops Killed, 2 Wounded in Niger Ambush: AfriCom
Three U.S. troops were killed and two wounded Wednesday in an ambush of their joint patrol with local forces in the north-central African state of Niger, U.S. Africa Command said Thursday. The AfriCom statement did not identify the attackers, but the al-Qaida offshoot known as Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operates in neighboring Mali and has conducted cross-border raids into Niger. The two wounded U.S. troops are in stable condition and were flown for treatment to a military hospital at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, AfriCom said.A fourth service member from a "partner nation" also was killed in the ambush near the Mali border about 120 miles north of Niamey, Niger's capital, AfriCom said. More details here.
 
 
Division Activities
  • From Tuesday through Saturday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended San Francisco Fleet Week, where he participated in the Senior Leadership Seminar and a ship capabilities tour. The Senior Leadership Seminar includes sessions on the long game of humanitarian assistance, identifying the unintended negative effects of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, emergency planning, integrating community resources in disaster response efforts, and looking at infrastructure cybersecurity.
 
  • On Thursday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner attended an event at the Washington Post where Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) will spoke one-on-one with David Ignatius of the Post. Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talked about the latest developments with North Korea, ISIS and Russia, the relationship between immigration and national security and the administration’s handling of various international crises.
     
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson attended the Center for Women Veterans’ Monthly Partner Breakfast Meeting with Kayla Williams, The Director of the Center for Women Veterans. The primary focus of this meeting was to remember about the Suicide Prevention Declaration that thrives off the motto that everyone should be there. Suicide is preventable and we can all help someone who may be at risk through simple actions that can save a life. Various veteran service organizations were present and the organizations provided information on upcoming events.  Keronica told the group that the National Commander was in town for the week, about the Legion testifying before congress to increase the care of women veterans health care needs, and about the Women Memorial’s 20th Anniversary the week of October 20-22nd.
 
  • On Wednesday, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner attended an event at the CATO institute regarding the Countering Violent Extremism program implemented in 2011 at federal, state and local levels.  Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a U.S. government program that provides resources to targeted communities, predominantly American Muslims, ostensibly to root out extremism before it results in violence. The program involves law enforcement agencies that partner with community leaders such as teachers, religious leaders, and health professionals to identify allegedly at-risk community members and steer them away from violence.
 
  • On Friday Deputy Dir. Freddy Gessner attended a round table discussion with leadership from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to discuss DoD's past conflict personnel accounting mission and the continued progress of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  An update on the U.S. – Russia Joint Commission will be provided.  As well as a review of fiscal year 2017.
     
  • On Friday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson will be speaking on The American Legion’s Periscope and Facebook Livestream with Joe Plenzler, the Director of Media Relations about the Women and Minority Veterans Program and about the bills she testified on before the Health Subcommittee of House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on H.R.93, to provide for increased access to Department of Veterans Affairs medical care for women veterans; H.R.501, the "VA Transparency Enhancement Act of 2017"; H.R.1063, the "Veteran Prescription Continuity Act"; H.R.1066, the "VA Management Alignment Act of 2017"; H.R.1943, the "Restoring Maximum Mobility to Our Nation's Veterans Act of 2017"; H.R.1972, the "VA Billing Accountability Act"; H.R.2147, the "Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2017"; H.R.2225, the "Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act"; H.R.2327, the "Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2017"; and legislation to make certain improvements in VA's Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Clifford G. Goodwin, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Goodwin was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Goodwin. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Eli Olsen, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Olsen was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Olsen. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Army Pfc. Willie E. Blue, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In August 1950, Blue was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, taking part in defending the Naktong Bulge portion of the Pusan Perimeter. He was reported missing in action as of Aug. 31, 1950, after his status could not be determined following his admittance to the 2nd Clearing Station, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Yong-san, South Korea. No additional records showed his disposition, nor did the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) have records on Blue. With no additional information concerning his loss, the Department of the Army declared him deceased on March 3, 1954. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Joseph M. Johnson, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Johnson was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Johnson. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Wallace E. Eakes, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Eakes was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Eakes. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold P. Hannon, killed during the battle of Tarawa in World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Hannon was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Hannon died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Johnson McAfee, Jr., killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November, 1950, McAfee was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force fighting against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in North Korea. McAfee was killed in action in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir at the Marine outpost known as Fox Hill. Following his death, McAfee was buried alongside others at the base of Fox Hill prior to the evacuation of the outpost. Interment services are pending.
     
  • Tech Sgt. John F. Brady, Tech Sgt. Allen A. Chandler, 1st Lt. John H. Liekhus, Staff Sgt. Robert O. Shoemaker and Staff Sgt. Bobby J. Younger have all been accounted for. On Nov. 2, 1944, the Airmen were members of the 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. Their nine-man aircrew was on a mission to Merseburg, Germany, when their plane was hit by flak during the bomb run. As the B-17 fell out of formation, German fighters attacked. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft burst into flames and descend rapidly. It crashed two kilometers southwest of the town of Barby. Three crewmembers survived and were taken as prisoners of war. One airman who was killed was identified in May 1945. Brady, Chandler, Liekhus, Shoemaker and Younger were all declared missing in action. In January 1951, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) concluded that the five unaccounted-for crew members perished in the crash and the location of their remains was unknown. Interment services are pending.

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