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

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

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

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

 


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

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

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 29 September 2017
 
Items of Interest
 
Aerospace
Can North Korea Shoot Down US Bombers?
On September 25, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that his country “reserves the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.” The statement at a news conference came after a Sept. 23 flight over international waters “east of North Korea” by U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers, escorted by F-15C jets, that U.S. Pacific Command said was the “farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century.” More details here.
 
 
Conventional Armed Forces
Army to halt WIN-T, its battlefield network backbone
Delivery of the Army’s controversial Warfighter Information Network-Tactical system will come to a halt in order to reboot the service’s entire tactical network so that it can operate against threats emerging on the battlefield. The Army took to the Hill both on the House and Senate side in recent weeks to make a case to shuffle roughly half a billion in funds from the WIN-T program, as well as a few other key network components, and funnel the money into capabilities that will deliver a more survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network. More details here.
 
 
Foreign Relations
Russia reports destruction of all chemical weapons
Russia on Wednesday completed the task of destroying its huge, Cold War-era chemical weapons stockpiles, winning praise from an international chemical weapons watchdog. Russian officials reported the destruction of the country’s last remaining artillery projectile filled with VX toxic agent to President Vladimir Putin. The work took place at the Kizner facility in the Urals, one of seven facilities built in Russia to destroy chemical weapons in an effort that has spanned two decades and cost billions of dollars. More details here.
 
92 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in favor of independence
Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Iraq, but faced being left stranded after Baghdad ordered international flights to halt service to Kurdish airports starting Friday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ruled out the use of force, but vowed to take other measures to keep his country from breaking apart as the standoff looked set to worsen. The referendum passed with more than 92 percent of voters approving independence, the Kurdish region’s election commission told a news conference on Wednesday. Turnout was over 72 percent, it said. Despite such strong support, however, the non-binding vote was unlikely to lead to formal independence, even as it escalated long-running tensions with Baghdad. Iraq and its neighbors, along with virtually the entire international community, oppose any redrawing of the map. More details here.
 
 
Law and Order & Homeland Security
Acting DEA head tells employees he is stepping down
Acting Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg, a veteran attorney and law enforcement official who has found himself at odds with the Trump administration in recent months, told staff members Tuesday he is planning to step down from his post in less than a week. Rosenberg, an Obama administration holdover, said he would resign as acting administrator on Oct. 1. In an email to his staff, Rosenberg said he was proud to have led the “remarkable agency.” More details here.
 
 
 
 
 
Military Benefits & Quality of Life
Commissaries to start accepting Military Star card next month
Commissary customers soon will be able to use their Military Star credit card to pay for their groceries, as officials roll out acceptance of the card over the next month and a half. The Military Star card is a credit card accepted at all the military exchanges, with 1.5 million cardholders. More details here.
 
 
National Guard & Reserve Forces
National Guard head: Puerto Rico clean-up will 'challenge the system'
The clean-up efforts for U.S. territories following Hurricane Maria are expected to be far more complicated and lengthy than those for Florida and Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to the head of the National Guard Bureau. Gen. Joseph Lengyel said Monday that it will be “a harder response scenario” to restore power and necessary infrastructure, likely taking months. “Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not Texas and Florida. They’re out here in the middle of the ocean. It’s more complicated to get people here, it’s more complicated to fix the power grids, it’s more complicated to fix a whole lot of other things.” More details here.
 
 
Unconventional Forces & Intelligence
Lawmaker: Russian trolls trying to sow discord in NFL kneeling debate
Russian Internet trolls are trying to gin up even more controversy over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, a senator said Wednesday — warning that the United States should expect such divisive efforts to escalate in the next election. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) made the assertion in a hearing with the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center. Russian trolls, he said, were cynically pushing both sides of the argument over whether players should take a knee at the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. Players have been doing so as a silent protest against police treatment of minorities, though critics — including President Trump — argue that doing so disrespects the American flag and members of the U.S. military. More details here.
 
 
TRICARE Update
 
Beginning in January 2018, there will be changes to the TRICARE benefit.
  • Section 701 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act will be implemented and synchronized with the Department’s transition to the TRICARE 2017 contracts, beginning January 1, 2018.
  • Broadened access for beneficiaries by setting the requirement that at least 85 percent of U.S. beneficiaries have ready access to network providers in TRICARE Select and gives Select beneficiaries access to no-cost preventive services from network providers.
  • It expands TRICARE coverage of preventive care services, treatment of obesity, high-value care, and telehealth.
  • It establishes the annual open season enrollment period that beneficiaries will participate in each year to choose their health plan, and the rules for qualifying life events that will allow for changes outside that open season. It also establishes 2018 as a transition year, during which enrollment changes will be available throughout the year as beneficiaries adjust to this new process.
  • For Prime beneficiaries, it establishes new requirements for timely appointments and more access to care without the need for referrals, reinforcing standards for access to care. Prime beneficiaries will also have expanded access to urgent care without the need for a referral from their primary care manager.
  • For Select beneficiaries, DOD has converted the current cost-shares, where you pay a percentage of the total cost, to a fixed dollar amount.
  • It preserves benefits for active duty dependents and TRICARE-for-Life beneficiaries.
  • It restructures and continues authority to update TRICARE Prime retiree copayments, which have not changed since 1995.
  • TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra on January 1, 2018. TRICARE Select brings together the features of TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra in a single plan. Select enrollees may obtain care from any TRICARE authorized provider without a referral or authorization. Enrollees who obtain services from TRICARE network providers will pay lower cost sharing amounts for network care.
  • All current TRICARE beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled in their respective plan on January 1, 2018. TRICARE Prime enrollees will remain in TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Standard and Extra beneficiaries will be enrolled in TRICARE Select. Appendix B outlines what actions will unfold automatically, effective January 1, 2018. Future beneficiaries, or beneficiaries wishing to change their TRICARE plan must proactively change their enrollment during enrollment eligibility periods.
  • Beneficiary out-of-pocket costs will be updated.
  • Beneficiaries can choose to enroll in or change their TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select coverage during an annual open enrollment period in November-December, 2018 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2019. Failure to enroll in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select results in the termination of coverage for civilian care. These beneficiaries who choose to not enroll may only receive care at a military clinic or hospital on a space available basis.
  • 2018 will be a transition year with a grace period for enrollment. To allow beneficiaries to adjust to making their health care option choices during an annual open season enrollment period or to remember to elect their coverage when a QLE occurs, beneficiaries can elect to make their coverage changes anytime during 2018 to ensure they have the right coverage in place starting in 2019.
 
Division Activities
 
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel moderated a panel discussion on veterans and national security featuring LTG Charles Cleveland, former USASOC commander, CNAS and CFR Fellow Kate Bateman, and Spirit of America COO Isaac Eagan. The panelists discussed the continuing role veterans can play in national security, particularly in the ways veterans can communicate with fellow citizens in order to better the public’s understanding of complex issues. Following audience questions and answers, the panel adjourned with a call for further public engagement.
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson testified before the Health Subcommittee of House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on H.R.93, to provide for increased access to Department of Veterans Affairs medical care for women veterans; H.R.501, the "VA Transparency Enhancement Act of 2017"; H.R.1063, the "Veteran Prescription Continuity Act"; H.R.1066, the "VA Management Alignment Act of 2017"; H.R.1943, the "Restoring Maximum Mobility to Our Nation's Veterans Act of 2017"; H.R.1972, the "VA Billing Accountability Act"; H.R.2147, the "Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2017"; H.R.2225, the "Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act"; H.R.2327, the "Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2017"; and legislation to make certain improvements in VA's Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program.
 
  • On Tuesday Dir. Rhonda Powell stood in support of the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain hearing on the nomination of Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford Jr. for reappointment to the grade of general and reappointment to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Dir. Rhonda Powell will take a Military Leave of Absence for one year starting October 2, 2017 to go work for the Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dir. Joe Sharpe will direct VE&E and National Security and merge the two portfolios respectively.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network consortium’s annual forum of global experts on violent extremism. The forum featured preeminent international scholars and experts from across the network’s 20-plus partner organizations around the world. Panelists addressed questions including what do we know about how and when terrorists decide to enter and exit violence, and how do the politics of religion, migration, and identity factor into efforts to counter violent extremism?
 
  • Wednesday through Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) State of the American Conference at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The conference is aimed at addressing the critical issues facing today’s veterans. The State of the American Veteran Conference will focus on understanding the military transition issues of veterans and families, learning about their needs and challenges, and moving toward concrete policy recommendations to ease their transition and increase their well-being.
 
  • On Thursday Deputy Dir. Freddy Gessner participated in a conference call with senior defense officials to discuss upcoming changes to TRICARE.  Beginning in January 2018, there will be changes to the TRICARE benefit that will help TRICARE beneficiaries by expanding choice, improving access to network providers, simplifying copayments and enhancing the program's efficiency.  As part of this transition, the Department will release an Interim Final Rule (IFR) titled, "Establishment of TRICARE Select and Other TRICARE Reforms."  This IFR will implement Section 701 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and the TRICARE 2017 managed care contracts. 
 
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the “U.S. Cyber Policy: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Solutions” conference, hosted by the GW Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. The conference took stock of high-priority cybersecurity policy issues facing the U.S. government and private sector stakeholders.  Issues that were assessed at the conference include the objectives of the Executive Order on Cybersecurity that was issued in May 2017; strategic questions related to cyber deterrence and defense doctrine, and the current state of nation-state and non-state cyber threats to U.S. national security and economic interests. The event featured two expert panels and keynote remarks by The Honorable Will Hurd, Member of Congress; The Honorable Thomas P. Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and George Barnes, Deputy Director, National Security Agency.
 
POW/MIA Update
 
DPAA Update and Field Operations Summary
  • Mr. Kelly McKeague was selected and sworn in as the Director of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on September 5.
  • The Deputy Director, Brigadier General Mark Spindler, will be retiring at the end of September. His replacement, Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz arrived September 18 and will officially assume duties as the Deputy Director on October 3.
  • The new Agency Chief of Staff, Mr. Scott Ebell, was selected and arrived September 18 as well.
  • DPAA, along with the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies will begin Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 on October 1, 2017 under a continuing resolution (CR). The CR will expire on December 8, 2017. The DPAA budget request of $131.268M has not received any Congressional marks (reductions) from authorization or appropriation committees, and have yet to address sequestration requirements which could have an impact on our budget.
  • The DPAA FY18 first quarter operations were planned in consideration of the CR.
  • Every year, on the third Friday in September, National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies are now held throughout the nation and at U.S. Embassies. This year’s Pentagon Ceremony at the River Terrace Parade Field, honored all returned POWs and renewed our national commitment to accounting for those still missing. The event was hosted by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan. For photos of the Pentagon Ceremony, please see here.
  • DPAA also hosted a National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, in Hawaii. BG Spindler, DPAA Deputy Director, was the host and Edward Cruickshank, Director, Office of Veterans' Services, State of Hawaii was the keynote speaker.
  • On September 9, 2017, the Agency hosted a Family Member Update in Detroit, Michigan for family members of missing personnel. Of the 228 attending, 166 (72%) were first-time attendees. The below is a breakdown of the family members and their missing loved ones by conflict:
    • 29 Vietnam War representing 13 missing personnel
    • 108 Korean War representing 58 missing personnel
    • 91 World War II representing 47 missing personnel
  • DPAA held the Korean/Cold War Annual Government Briefings from August 10-11 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View. The meeting included formal briefings to the audience, individual briefings for the families, a dinner hosted by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (South Korea) and entertainment at the Twilight Tattoo on the evening of the 9th. A total of 398 family members attended the meeting, of which 142 were first-time attendees.
    • Korean War: 192 losses / 375 family members
    • Cold War: 10 losses / 19 family members
    • Family members by service: Army 225, Marine Corps 56, Navy 28, Air Force 89
 
Overview: There were 126 personnel deployed in support of operations around the world in August.
 
Asia-Pacific Region: The Deputy Director recently completed a trip to Southeast Asia which helped set the conditions for the upcoming field activities and the September18-21 Vietnam Technical talks.
 
Operations in Last 30 Days:
  • Tarawa, (via HistoryFlight Group, DPAA partner)
  • Solomon Islands, 1x Investigation Team (IT)
  • Vietnam, 2xIT/4xRT, 2xVietnamese Recovery Teams (RT)/1x Vietnamese Underwater Recovery Team (URT)
  • Papua New Guinea, 1x Research Investigation Team (RIT)
     
Upcoming Operations:
  • Vietnam, 3xIT/4xRT, 1xVietnamese Underwater Recovery Team (URT)
  • Laos, 1xIT/3xRT
  • South Korea, 1xIT/Joint Forensic Review
  • Japan, 1xIT
 
Pending Disinterment Operations:
  • Punchbowl (Hawaii): 16 scheduled per month
 
Europe-Mediterranean Region: During the 4th Quarter, DPAA scheduled two organic field recoveries and four organic investigations in the Eur-Med Region. Partners in this region have proven to be invaluable and have positively affected operational successes for the Agency.
 
Operations in Last 30 Days:
  • Austria, 1xRT (via University of New Orleans, DPAA partner)
  • Austria, 1xRT (via University of Maryland, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xRT (via Archaeological & Historical Conservancy, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xIT (via Coastal Research Vessel Leonardo, DPAA partner)
  • Bulgaria, 1xRT
  • Slovenia, 1xRT
  • France, 1xRT (via University of Wisconsin, DPAA partner)
  • Italy, 1xIT (via East Carolina University, DPAA partner)
  • Austria, 1xIT
  • Germany, 1xIT
 
Upcoming Operations:
  • Germany, 1xIT (underwater shore based)
  • France, 2xRT (via History Flight Group, DPAA partner)
  • France, 1xIT
 
U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC)
  • On September 13-14, Gen (Ret.) Foglesong traveled to Moscow to meet with both the U.S. Ambassador and Russian Side counterparts to ensure the work of the Commission continues following the loss of the JCSD detachment in Moscow. Intent of the visit was to also set conditions in preparation for the 21st USRJC Plenum currently scheduled for November 7-9 in Moscow.
  • Given the closure of the JCSD Moscow Detachment, EM is actively pursuing courses of action that will allow continuing research efforts in Russia.
 
 
 
Pending Disinterment Operations
  • 12 scheduled for American Battle Monuments Commission Cemetery at Ardennes (Two on each of the following days in September: 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13).
 
Scientific Analysis: In this, the final quarter of FY 2017, the lab staff is on track to accomplish Agency goals.
 
Statistics:
FY 2017 Identifications, as of August 31, 2017:
  • Total = 166 (149 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 17 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
  • WWII = 116 (105 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 11 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
  • Korean War = 34 (34 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel)
  • Cold War = 0
  • Vietnam War = 16 (10 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel and 6 identifications of additional remains for individuals previously accounted-for)
 
Personnel Recovered
  • Army Air Forces Tech Sgt. John S. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Jan. 21, 1944, Bailey was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed shortly after take-off.  Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. Pfc. Leroy W. Bryant, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In early February 1951, Bryant was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, as U.S. Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) and United Nations Command (UNC) forces were deployed in defensive positions across the South Korean peninsula. On February 6, Bryant’s regiment was located in the town of Yonghyon-ni, and was tasked to determine location, position and strength of enemy forces. Enemy forces attacked, forcing them to withdraw to new positions. Because Bryant could not be accounted for by his unit after the attack, he was reported missing action as of Feb. 6, 1951, near Yanghyon-ni, South Korea. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pvt. John M. Tillman, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Tillman was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Tillman died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Elwood R. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On August 24, 1942, Bailey was a member of Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223), Marine Aircraft Group 23, (MAG-23). Bailey was piloting a F4F-4 Wildcat in aerial combat with Japanese Military Air Forces over Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, when he was reported missing in action after being shot down and failing to return to base. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Charles A. Drew, killed during the battle of Tarawa in World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Drew was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Drew died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 22 September 2017
 
NOTE: The National Security Division will be hosting a panel discussion with Spirit of America on veteran contributions to national security on Monday, September 25th. Details and registration here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-legionspirit-of-america-lunch-panel-veterans-national-security-tickets-37948675510
 
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Policy Center, which hosted Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Ambassador Brownfield offered his personal reflections on how global drug policy has evolved over the years, where those efforts stand today, and the current U.S. approach to interdicting the fentanyl and heroin that increasingly fuel America’s opioid epidemic.
 
  • On Tuesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson held a phone conference with Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Director of External Relations at Perdue University, and Shelly MacDermid Wadswoth, Director of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI). The purpose of this phone conference was to discuss the current programs that MFRI offer to veterans. The programs that were discussed were the Heroes Tree program and the Focus Forward Fellowship. The Heroes Tree program partners with local libraries to honor the contributions of past and present service members while creating an awareness of military families affected by current military deployments. The Focus Forward Fellowship is a program designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among women student veterans. The next phone conference is schedule for the last week in September to discuss a possible collaboration and to arrange a meeting with Denise Rohan, The National Commander of the American Legion, Linda, and Shelly.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the 2017 Cyber Security Brainstorm, which focused on federal efforts to ensure and maintain cutting edge capabilities within cyberspace. Panelists discussed the uses of artificial intelligence, the effectiveness of current programs and responses, and the continuing need to enhance threat-sharing.
 
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a Women Veterans Leadership and Recognition event on Capitol Hill by the National Alliance of Women Veterans. This was a networking event highlighting deserving women leaders of the armed forces; advocates; entrepreneurs and other professionals. Congresswomen Eleanor Holmes Norton sponsored this event.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (OCPA) Veteran Service Organization roundtable at the Pentagon. Topics of discussion included Army priorities and way ahead, an operational overview, a Soldier for Life update, and an Army professional development update.
     
  • This week Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel took calls with Asst. Professor Dr. Christopher Griggs of the Carolinas Health System and Dr. Edward Bernstein of Boston Medical Center. The discussions revolved around current efforts underway within their organizations to effectively treat opioid addiction. The National Security Division is endeavoring to build a program designed to educate Legion members and the general public on the science of addiction, evidence-based treatments, and what they can do in their communities.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Navy Seaman 2nd Class George J. Wilcox, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wilcox was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Wilcox. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Water Tender 2nd Class Porter L. Rich, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Rich was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Rich. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pvt. Shirley E. Bailey, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. His loss took place in the Hürtgen Forest of Germany in 1944. Fighting in the forest, an area comprising of roughly 50-square miles along the Belgian-German border, lasted from September 1944 to February 1945. Bailey, who was a medic with Company G, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, participated in his unit’s efforts to seize northern parts of the Hürtgen Forest. Bailey provided medical support to dozens of casualties during the battle. On November 29, 1944, when Bailey’s battalion was moving out, a German counterattack struck his company. Bailey rushed forward to aid a wounded man and was himself killed by enemy fire. Interment services are pending.

     


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 15 September, 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial service, marking the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. President Trump delivered remarks before survivors, family members of those killed during the attack, and others.
     
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS) seminar on September 11, 2017 entitled,"Al-Qa’ida: Sixteen Years after 9/11 and Beyond". The expert panel addressed the threat of an expanding al-Qa’ida network and the prospects of the U.S. and its allies ultimately defeating al-Qa’ida as well as other terrorist actors.
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the Inter-American Dialogue expert discussion on “ Democratic Governance Against Corruption” as part of the eighth Summit of the Americas. The Summit brings together the Heads of State and Government of the Americas, representatives of civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, youth, the private sector, labor unions and other social actors to discuss the largest political, economic, and social challenges in the Americas. Corruption remains one of the most pernicious societal issues dogging governance, and anti-corruption efforts, and lack thereof, will continue to be a major factor in regional security.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson participated in a webinar on What Women Need to Know about Financial Security and the Workplace hosted by the Department of Labor (DOL). The webinar featured DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (Kristen Zarenko),  The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (Mika Cross),  and the Women’s Bureau (Tiffany Boiman) . The webinar focused on an overview of women’s economic and employment challenges, family employment dynamics, and the implications for individual and family economic security, as well as tools and information for women of all ages with questions about employment and steps they can take to improve their financial security now and in the future.  The webinar also highlighted resources for veterans in finding employment and transition assistance with information on financial planning including budgeting, managing debt and saving for retirement.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with staff from the office Niki Tsongas to discuss the current state of the INTERDICT Act, and the American Legion’s support for ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis.
     
  • On Friday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended the Pentagon National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony hosted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This annual event honors our missing service members and their families, and highlights the government’s commitment to account for them.  America’s POW/MIAs will be honored and recognized, rather than memorialized, with the focus on continuing commitment to account, as fully as possible, for those still missing.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended a panel discussion on “bad paper” discharges,  hosted by Vietnam Veterans of American and Veterans of Foreign Wars at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The panel discussed the long-term impact on veterans denied access to important veterans’ transition benefits, and what efforts can be made to ensure that all deserving veterans receive the access to the care and benefits that are necessary to ensure a successful transition. The panelist included representatives of military, veteran and family service organizations.
     
  • On Friday, Keronica Richardson met with Kate Watson, Executive Director of YourNextStage Inc. YourNextStage Inc. serves women transitioning and discharged from the US military by delivering an integrated network of partner organizations providing services, education, training, and socialization opportunities maximizing the healthy transition of women into gainful employment.  YourNextStage is a startup company that will possibly be based in Texas. Keronica and Kate discussed possible areas of collaboration.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Army Pfc. Billy R. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Ball was a member of Headquarters Detachment Philippines Department, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of the Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942. Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Ball was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and who were eventually moved to the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war. According to prisoner records, Ball died on Sept. 28, 1942, and was buried along with fellow prisoners in the local Cabanatuan camp cemetery. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Donald E. Underwood, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Jan. 21, 1944, Underwood was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed shortly after take-off. Witnesses noted the plane was unable to gain altitude and crashed into the water, killing all 10 members on board. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Pfc. Harold V. Thomas, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Thomas was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Thomas died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Elmore B. Goodwin, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Goodwin was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the vicinity of Anju, North Korea. Goodwin was reported missing in action on Nov. 27, 1950. When no information regarding Goodwin was reported by returning American POWs, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Pfc. James J. Leonard, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In July 1950, Leonard was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In the early hours of July 20, Leonard’s regiment arrived east of Yongdong, South Korea, and began preparing to assume the defense of the city. By July 23, Korean People’s Army (KPA) units began attacking American defenses and took control of Yongdong by July 25. Leonard was reported as killed in action on July 25, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Sgt. William D. Ball, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Ball was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which participated in a stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Ball was wounded on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1043, and was identified for evacuation to the USS J. Franklin Bell for treatment. Ball never made it to the ship and his status was adjusted from wounded in action to missing in action as of Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 2nd Class John D. Wheeler, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Wheeler was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Wheeler. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Thomas M. McGraw, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On February 28, 1945, McGraw was a member of the 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, along with ten other crewmen of a B-24J Liberator aircraft, which departed Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, for a combat mission. The mission targeted the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment into and out of Italy. Following the bombing run, participating aircraft headed in the direction of their rally point, where the planes would reform and return to their originating base. When leaving the Isarco-Albes area, an aircraft was seen heading in the direction of the rally point, but skimmed the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, McGraw was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert L. Mains, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In the spring of 1945, as the war in Europe drew to a close, Allied forces launched a series of aerial attacks to cripple what remained of the German air force. Mains, who was a member of the 714th Bombardment Squadron, 448th Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Division, was a pilot on an attack mission on April 4, 1945, as one of more than 400 bombers to attack airbases at Parchim, Perleberg and Wesendorf, Germany. Mains' aircraft, which held ten airmen, was attacked by enemy fighter planes in the vicinity of Hamburg. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Ogle, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Ogle was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Ogle. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Capt. James R. Bauder, missing from the Vietnam War, has now been accounted for. On Sept. 21, 1966, Bauder was a member of Fighter Squadron Twenty One, USS Coral, as the pilot of an F-4B aircraft in a flight of two aircraft from the USS Coral Sea on a night reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. During the mission, the other aircraft lost contact with Bauder’s aircraft, and the plane did not return to the ship. No missiles were observed in the target area and no explosions were seen. An extensive search was conducted with negative results. Based on this information, Bauder was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Gerald H. Pirtle, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Pirtle was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Pirtle. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy F. Davis, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On March 12, 1944, Davis was a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group, as one of two crewmembers aboard an A-20G Havoc bomber that failed to return to base in northeastern New Guinea after attacking enemy targets on the island. Interment services are pending.

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 1 September 2017
 
  • On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement  that the Defense Department has received President Donald J. Trump’s memorandum addressing the military service of transgender persons.
     
    DoD will carry out the president's policy direction in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, Mattis said. The memorandum, dated Aug. 25, 2017, and entitled "Military Service by Transgender Individuals," directs DoD to develop a study and implementation plan that will “contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law,” the defense secretary said.
     
    The Department of Defense also released the following statement: Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield.  To that end, I will establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction. The panel will thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable.  
     
  • Two days after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called up the entire 12,000-member Texas National Guard to assist civilian authorities with the epic flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey, several other state Guard units are in the hard-hit areas to offer manpower, equipment and support.
     
    As of today, the tally of Air National Guard representation from other states includes:
    -- Alaska: About 13 airmen with the 176th Rescue Wing;
    -- California: About 90 airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing;
    -- Connecticut: A C-130 Hercules transport plane with eight airmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing;
    -- Florida: Nearly 100 airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing;
    -- Kentucky: Nearly 20 airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron;
    -- New York: More than 100 airmen, a C-130, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters and two C-17 transport jets with the 106th Rescue Wing; and
    -- Oregon: About 15 members of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron whose missions include rescue as well as restoring airfields so supplies can be flown in.
     
    Additionally, six helicopters from units in Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina were heading to Texas, National Guard Bureau officials said. Other Guard missions in the stricken areas include bridging, water rescue, logistics movement, airfield openings and medical water purification.
    Meanwhile, neighboring Louisiana is now experiencing Tropical Storm Harvey. As directed by Gov. John Bel Edward, the Louisiana Guard has activated about 210 soldiers and airmen, with an additional 230 full-time Guard members supporting efforts.
  • On Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson met with VE&E to discuss a collaboration with Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Director of External Relations of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. Purdue University is working on a ‘Battle Plan for Military and Veteran Families’ that explore ways to educate the community on how to relate to veterans and their families; which can prove to be of value add with this year’s National Commander theme of Families First. Purdue has also produced a Focus Forward Fellowship to assist with educating women student veterans and their military transition.  NS and VE&E discussed working with Purdue to establish a potential pilot program to educate the community on how to bridge the communication gaps with their local veterans and their family members starting with three states across the United States (North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington).
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sidney A. Cook, 32, of Ohio, will be buried Sept. 6, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In November 1943, Cook was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Cook died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
 
  • Navy Reserve Ensign William M. Thompson, 21, of Summit, New Jersey, will be buried September 8 in Petersburg, Virginia. On Dec. 7, 1941, Thompson was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Thompson.

     

 


National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 11 August 2017
 
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with House staffers working on the Bipartisan Congressional Heroin Task Force to discuss the findings in the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The National Security Division continues to track government efforts to address the crisis and work with lawmakers to generate solutions. Of particular interest, the Commission recommended additional funds for fentanyl detection equipment for Customs & Border Patrol.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson met with Sharlene Hawkes, President of Remember My Service (RMS) Productions. RMS produced a book and documentary published for the DoD and funded by the government of Republic of Korean for the Korean War 60th commemoration in 2013, and presented the book to National Security staff as part of an overall outreach effort.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson conducted a review of the National Security Division activities and responsibilities for the 99th The American Legion National Convention. Logistics, report creation, and other details were discussed.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Alfred G. Bensinger, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Bensinger was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was fighting persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch'ongch'on River area in northwestern North Korea. The battle began on the evening of Nov. 25, 1950, when the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces initiated their Second Phase offensive along the entire 8th Army front. Bensinger's battalion was heavily engaged in the battle. When withdrawal orders were issued on November 29, the 2nd ECB provided security for the Division. The following day, the battalion was ordered to withdraw from the vicinity of Kunu-ri, when it was again engaged by enemy forces down the Main Supply Route. During this withdrawal, Bensinger was captured, and was reported missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Quentin J Gifford, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Gifford was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Gifford. Interment services are pending.
  • Navy Radioman 2nd Class Walter H. Backman, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 7, 1941, Backman was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Backman. Interment services are pending
  • Army Pfc. Walter C. Hackenberg, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late April 1951, Hackenberg was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, along a defensive line west of Chorw'on, South Korea, when his unit was attacked by the Chinese People's Volunteer Force (CPVF) and Korean People's Army (KPA.) American troops were able to hold the lines, and when the attacks subsided, a patrol went to determine possible enemy river-crossing points. Enemy forces engaged the patrol with mortars and small arms fire, forcing the patrol to withdraw. Hackenberg could not be accounted for at the end of the battle, and he was declared missing in action as of April 25, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Cpl. Roy J. Hopper, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In July 1950, Hopper was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment. He was reportedly killed in action on July 31, 1950, when his battalion, along with another battalion, was engaged in a fighting withdrawal against North Korean forces in Chinju, South Korea. The enemy had control of the area following the battle, preventing a search for his remains. After the battle Hopper’s remains were not identified. Interment services are pending.
 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 4 August 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel briefed the leading candidate for National Commander, Denise Rohan, and leading Vice-Commanders on the scope and function of the National Security Division, the division’s legislative focus, and current policy and engagement initiatives.
     
  • On Monday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the Military to Civilian Transition  Summit in Arlington, Virginia. Keronica worked in a round table discussion to help the Department of Veterans Affairs work on a definition for military to civilian transition. Keronica also worked on identifying barriers and opportunities in military to civilian transition in the round table discussion. This summit gathered the thoughts of many leaders from different organizations and the summit will meet again in the near future.
  •  
  • On Monday, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel participated in a teleconference with representatives of Spirit of America, a non-profit organization that supports DoD stability operations around the world, discussing the content of an upcoming joint event. Spirit of America and the American Legion will present a panel discussion in late September dealing with the importance of civil-military relations.
  • On Monday, Dep. Director Freddy Gessner attended a panel discussion at the Brookings institute where the next steps for NATO in dealing with Russian aggression was debated.  Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and the director of U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy presented his proposal for a solution.  He be believes a new European security structure is needed.  The proposal had three parts.  First, currently neutral states in Europe not eligible for NATO membership.  These countries would be used to create a neutral zone.  Russian would have to agree to allow all these countries access to all other membership such as the E.U.  The proposal was debated by Steve Pifer who is the director of the arms control and non-proliferation initiative and a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies entitled “U.S. Coast Guard: Priorities for the Future” with the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Paul Zukunft. Admiral Zukunft described several potential challenges, such as increasing traffic through the Arctic Circle, counter-piracy, and counter-narcotics operations.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the International Institute for Strategic Studies entitled “Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons: What Now for the Ban Treaty?” On 7 July, 122 participating countries adopted a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While the treaty is an impressive diplomatic achievement, reflecting the views of a solid majority of UN member states, none of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons participated. This leaves a curious legal situation in which the only state parties to the treaty, at least initially, will be those already prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Panelists will explore the implications of a majority of nations believing that nuclear weapons are dangerous and unnecessary and should be quickly eliminated so as to change the status quo of international security.
  •  
  • On Friday and Saturday, Ex. Dir. Verna Jones and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson will participate in a Statewide Kentucky Women Veterans Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. Keronica will set up a booth displaying the resources that the Women and Minority Veterans Outreach program provides and assist Ms. Jones who is the keynote speaker when needed.
 
POW/MIA Update
  • Army Pfc. Lloyd J. Lobdell, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. On Dec. 8, 1941, Lobdell was a member of Company A, 192nd Tank Battalion, in the Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until May 6. 1942, when American forces on Corregidor Island surrendered.  Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Lobdell was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and who were eventually moved to the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war.   Lobdell was admitted to the Cabanatuan Prison Camp Hospital suffering from illness. He died Nov. 19, 1942, and was buried along with fellow prisoners in the local Cabanatuan camp cemetery. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Lobdell's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
  • Navy Reserve Lt. j.g. Irvin E. Rink, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for On August 4, 1943, Rink was a member of Fighting Squadron Twenty Seven (VF-27), when eight pilots flying F4F-4 Wildcat aircraft took off from the Russell Islands, Solomon Islands, to escort a Catalina seaplane on a mission to Enogai Inlet, New Georgia Island.  As the seaplane attempted to land at Enogai Inlet, the escort aircraft were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. Following the battle, the element returned to the Russell Islands, however Rink did not return.  He was reported missing in action on August 4, 1943. Based on a lack of information regarding his whereabouts, he was declared deceased on January 8, 1946. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Rink's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. DPAA is grateful to Mark Roche, an American diver, for his assistance in this recovery.
  • Army Cpl. Dow F. Worden, killed during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late September 1951, Worden was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, which was in the vicinity of Hill 1024 in South Korea, conducting operations near an area known as Heartbreak Ridge.  In the early morning hours, the Chinese launched a probing attack against Worden's company, on the forward slope of Hill 1024.  The company repelled the attacks and was relieved by the Republic of Korea Army elements and ordered to move east and attack the enemy on nearby Hill 867.  American forces withdrew from the offensive after a large barrage of enemy mortar fire.  After the battle, Worden could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action on Sept. 28, 1951. Interment services are pending; a formal notification will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services. Worden's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.DPAA is grateful to the South Korean government for their assistance in this recovery.

 


 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 28 July 2017
 
  • DoD Quarterly Suicide Report
     
    Today the Department is releasing the attached Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) for the first quarter of Calendar Year 2017.
     
    For the first quarter of 2017, the military services reported the following:
  • 71 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
  • 20 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
  • 31 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
 
The Quarterly Suicide Reports do not contain the deep demographic analysis that is provided in the annual DoD Suicide Event Reports.  Rather, the QSR is intended to provide timely and accurate suicide data reporting to allow leaders at all levels to have near concurrent information that facilitates decision-making related to suicide prevention. One of the principal goals of this QSR is to improve the relevance and availability of data to bolster suicide prevention efforts. 
 
When published view this report and to review previous reports visit:
 
The Department of Defense has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to promote a confidential crisis line staffed by caring, qualified responders, many of who have served in uniform.  The number is 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for anyone facing a crisis. 
 
Also, DoD launched the new "Be There" program, which offers confidential peer coaching to Active Duty Service members, including National Guard and Reserve members and their families, through 24/7 chat, phone, and text. The DoD "BeThere" Peer Support Call and Outreach Center is staffed by peer coaches, who are Veteran Service members and family members of Veterans, and aims to provide support for everyday problem solving, such as career and general life challenges.
 
Service members' families who would like to learn more about the "BeThere" Call and Outreach Center or connection with a peer may visit www.betherepeersupport.org, call 844-357-PEER (7337), or text 480-360-6188.
 
  • On Monday, Executive Dir. Verna Jones, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel accompanied the National Commander on a site tour to Walter Reed National Medical Center. During the tour, we visited 3 Soldier Warriors from 7th Group Special Forces Group out of Eglin Air Force Base; all were in great spirits with family and friends by their sides.  We also visited the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) where they continue to develop innovative and effective treatments for TBI/PTSD, from art therapy, meditation and acupuncture therapy, to advanced physical and virtual rehabilitation.
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dir. Joe Sharpe, Dep. Dir. Mark Walker and Asst. Dir. Ariel DeJesus participated in a follow-up call with Christine Kallis Rivera, Walgreen’s Talent Acquisition, Management and Development COE to discuss Walgreen’s Veterans Apprenticeship Program for transitioning service members. Walgreen’s message was delivering the power of collaboration with veteran advocacy groups.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel assisted with the ongoing Congressional outreach initiative centered on the American Legion Commemorative Coin Act, conducting drop-in meetings in the House of Representatives to inform staff and encourage sponsorship.
     
  • On Tuesday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson attended the VA’s  DoD Survivor’s Forum. The Forum members discussed: benefits of Children of Fallen Patriots, Military Funeral Honors, education and veterans service centers, Navy Mutual’s support to survivors/beneficiaries and debt management procedures. The next meeting is scheduled for October 10, 2017th.
     
  • Wednesday through Saturday, Dir. Rhonda Powell will attend the American Legion Membership Convention in Indianapolis. She will speak to the Membership and Post Activities Committee and Group II District Commanders on Base Access, as well as, attend the Department Adjutants Session.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion between Sen. Bob Corker and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Sen. Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will discuss the committee’s efforts to expand sanctions against Russia and Iran, the status of the Iranian nuclear deal, President Trump’s proposed State Department budget and the U.S. response to other foreign policy flare-ups around the globe.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform hearing on the reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The ONDCP is responsible for overseeing the Administration’s drug control efforts and advising the Administration on national and international drug control policies and strategies. Currently, the ONDCP has not submitted a reauthorization proposal or a National Drug Control Strategy to Congress this year, which is of particular concern considering the current opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a panel discussion at the Center for a New American Security on the “Economic Levers of U.S. Policy Toward North Korea.” The panel explored the current North Korean nuclear threat, the role of sanctions in confronting this danger, and the potential implications to the U.S. - China relationship, and the Chinese economy, of any tough sanctions imposed on Chinese entities cooperating with North Korea.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing on the continued oversight of the transfer of excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. Witnesses from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailed the use of equipment provided through the Law Enforcement Support Office, and the reported benefits law enforcement agencies have derived from the program. GAO witnesses described a recent report and recommendations on improving the program, many of which DLA has implemented.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan, 21, of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, will be buried August 2 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On Dec. 7, 1941, Ryan was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Ryan. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Ryan. To identify Ryan’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched family members, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Ryan’s records.
  • Army Cpl. Glen E. Kritzwiser, 19, of Piketon, Ohio, will be buried August 3 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In early February 1951, Kritzwiser was a member of Battery C, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting of the South Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as SF21, provided artillery fire support for the South Koreans during its attack north on Hongch’on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive causing the South Koreans to withdraw, leaving Kritzwiser’s unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Kritzwiser was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not arrive to report in Wonju. Several returning American prisoners of war reported that Kritzwiser had been captured by the CPVF and died in July 1951 while being held at Camp #3, a prisoner of war camp near Changsong, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of July 2, 1951. In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. On Sept. 7, 1954, a set of remains reportedly recovered from a prisoner of war cemetery at Camp 1 and 3, Changsong, North Korea, were sent to the Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, for attempted identification. The set of remains was designated “X-14248” and was transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and interred as a Korean War Unknown. After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14248 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14248 was disinterred on Jan. 7, 2017 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Kritzwiser’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.

 

National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 21 July 2017
 
  • On Monday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Deputy Dir. Mark Walker and Asst. Dir. Ariel DeJesus participated in a webinar with Christine Kallis Rivera, Walgreen’s Talent Acquisition, Management and Development COE to discuss Walgreen’s Veterans Apprenticeship Program for transitioning service members.  Walgreen’s message was delivering the power of collaboration with veteran advocacy groups. 
     
  • On Tuesday, Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Senate Armed Services Sea power Subcommittee "Options and Considerations for Achieving a 355-ship Navy from Former Reagan Administration Officials." Witnesses described conditions that existed during the Reagan administration that enabled the building of a 355 ship navy, such as large and capitalized defense and shipbuilding industrial base and increased, stable long-term budgeting.
 
  • On Wednesday Dep. Director Freddy Gessner participated in a MSO/VSO working group session at the Defense Health Headquarters (DHA).  The meeting opened with remarks from DHA’s senior leadership and service representatives.  The group was provided an updates on the Military Health System GENESIS, pharmacy-auto refills and children’s hospice care.  The meeting later transitioned to National Defense Authorization Act topics to include military health systems reform, access to care for reservists and their families, hearing aids, acquisition strategy for healthcare, patient family partnership councils, and DHA’s NDAA communications plan update. The working group was combined with DHA’s NDAA-focused session.  The meeting will also include follow-up feedback from the meeting that took place in June where DHA provided draft communications products that DHA plans to use to inform beneficiaries about the upcoming TRICARE changes.  In August DHA plans to hold a roundtable with MSO/VSOs aimed at providing information about TRICARE changes that the American Legion can use for our publications.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel will attend a discussion on “Lessons from Brazil: Fighting Corruption Amid Political Turmoil” at the Atlantic Council, with a keynote conversation between Rodrigo Janot, the Prosecutor-General of Brazil, and Kenneth Blanco, Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General. Corruption is recurring challenge in developing countries, and understanding the dynamics that enable or guard against abuse of power is necessary in designing effective foreign policy.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on “Implementing the U.S.-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act.” The Caribbean is an important player in U.S. regional security, and states like Haiti that are experiencing sustained levels of social and political disruption are vulnerable to exploitation by organized crime and other threatening elements.
 
On Thursday Dep. Director Freddy Gessner participated in a conference hosted by the Department of Defense where they provided an update on the Department’s ongoing efforts to transform operations at Defense commissaries. Among the topics of discussion were DoD’s initial reports of the variable pricing initiative that was started earlier this year, as well as early assessments of the private label branded products that have begun appearing on commissary shelves.
 
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Ass. Dir. Keronica Richardson interviewed via telephone Kasmira Kit,  a potential candidate to speak at The Conference For Women at The American Legion’s National Convention. Kasmira was selected as a potential candidate because she is a veteran and she enjoys empowering individuals to help initiate  positive changes within themselves.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion hosted by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) “Creating a Partnership to Fight Illicit Trade.” The primary purpose of this event was to draw attention to the global issues of illicit trade and border security, with a particular focus on tobacco, wildlife, drugs, and the trafficking of human persons. Illicit trade is a transnational issue that enables corruption and encourages organized crime and terrorist networks. In showcasing global illicit trafficking as a national security threat, we aim to spur leaders in government, civil society, and the private sector to work together in addressing both the root causes and the negative effects of this global issue.
 
  • On Friday, Ass. Dir. Keronica Richardson will dial in to a prep session conference call for the July 3st “Military to Civilian Transition” Summit in VA. This meeting will be held by the Deputy Secretary to discuss the state of Military to Civilian Transition with VSOs, Thought Leaders, and Government partners.
     
  • On Friday, Executive Dir. Verna Jones, Dir. Joe Sharpe and Dir. Rhonda Powell will attend an office call with MG Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy G-1, Pentagon to discuss the use of VSOs as part of the Soldier For Life (SFL) ongoing initiative.  SFL connects Army, governmental, and community efforts to build relationships that facilitate successful reintegration of our Soldiers, Retired Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families in order to keep them Army Strong and instill their values, ethos, and leadership within communities.
     
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Cpl. Edward L. Borders, 20, of Harrisburg, Illinois, will be buried July 29 in his hometown. In early February 1951, Borders was a member of D Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons), 2nd Infantry Division, when American units began supporting South Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. D Battery was part of a group known as Support Force 21 (SF21) and provided artillery fire support for the South Korean Army during its attack north on Hongch’on. On the evening of Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive against the South Koreans, who were forced to withdraw, leaving Borders’ unit and the rest of SF21 behind at Changbong-ni. The SF 21 marched south along Route 29, fighting through ambushes and roadblocks, to Hoengsong and eventually to the city of Wonju. Borders was reported missing in action as of Feb. 13, 1951 when he did not report with his unit in Wonju. A list provided by the CPVF and Korean People’s Army (KPA) on Dec. 26, 1951, reported Borders died while a prisoner of war. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Feb. 3, 1954. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, account for the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. Of the 208 boxes, 14 were reported to have been recovered from Ryongpho-ri, Suan County, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea. This village is believed to be in close proximity to the Suan Bean Camp, part of the Suan Prisoner of War Camp Complex, which was a temporary holding area for a large number of soldiers captured by the CPVF during the war. To identify Borders’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mtDNA, Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-SYR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
     
  • Navy Fireman 1st Class Elmer T. Kerestes, 22, of Holding Township, Minnesota, will be buried July 29 in Holdingford, Minnesota. On Dec. 7, 1941, Kerestes was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Kerestes. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kerestes. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Kerestes’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family members, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 14 July 2017
 
  • On Monday through Thursday, Director Rhonda Powell, Deputy Director Freddy Gessner, and Assistant Director Eric Goepel attended the Department of Maryland Convention in Ocean City. The National Security Staff taught Legion College on the following: FY18 National Defense Authorization Act congressional mark-ups; current state of the defense budget; division initiatives on opioid trafficking and treatment; cybersecurity training and education, and instructions on how to take action and advocate for the American Legion Commemorative Coin Act.
     
  • On Wednesday, Assistant Director Keronica Richardson shared notes from the Center for Women Veterans’ Monthly Partner Breakfast Meeting with Rosye B Cloud, the Senior Advisor for Veterans Employment at The Department of Veterans Affairs. The primary focus of this meeting was to provide the current average income and unemployment rates for women veterans. The data collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that women veterans over 65 are 80% more likely to be in poverty than males. Ms. Cloud discussed the barriers women encounter when trying to manage a job and a household, which decrease the effectiveness and mobility in some women. The data also showed a total of 347,564 veterans earned a total of 453,508 degrees or certificates within the first six years of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 23% of the 347,564 are female veterans.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell attended a CQ event at the Newsuem titled “Fighting the Opioid Crisis.” Senator Joe Manchin, Representative Tim Murphy and Ann Kuster, and other stakeholders were present to have an in-depth discussion on current legislative and medical efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson assisted with a “Storm-the-Hill” event around The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. In conjunction with other Legion staff, the team visited approximately 50 offices discussing the bill with Congressional staff.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
  • Army Sgt. William A. Larkins, captured during the Korean War, has now been accounted for. In late November 1950, Larkins was a member of Battery A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting off persistent Chinese attacks in the Ch’ongch’on River region of North Korea. Through a series of attacks, the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) pressed 2ID units into local withdrawals to avoid being outflanked. On the night of Nov. 25, 1950, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) began relentless attacks which continued until the end of the month. On Dec. 1,1950, the 503rd FA BN began their movement down the Main Supply Route under continuous enemy mortar, small arms and machine gun fire, toward the town of Sunchon, where Larkins was reported missing in action. Following the war, one returning prisoner of war reported that Larkins had been captured and had died at an unknown prisoner of war camp in January 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Jan. 31, 1951. Interment services are pending.
  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Richard M. Horwitz, missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On February 28, 1945, Horwitz was a member of the 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, along with ten other airmen assigned to a B-24J Liberator aircraft, which departed Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, for a combat mission. The mission targeted the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment out of Italy. Following the bombing run, participating aircraft headed in the direction of their rally point, where the planes would reform and return to their originating base. When leaving the Isarco-Albes area, an aircraft was seen heading in the direction of the rally point, but skimmed the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, Horwitz was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Anthony G. Guerriero, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Guerriero was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Guerriero died sometime on the second day of battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending.
  • Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Raymond C. Snapp, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for. In November 1943, Snapp was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Snapp died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 7 July 2017
 
  • On Wednesday, National Security Director Rhonda Powell and Media Relation Director Joe Plenzler were interviewed by Eric Dehm on CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets program. The national security and public health dimensions of the opioid epidemic were discussed to include trafficking and treatment. Also discussed was the impact on readiness that opioid abuse have on veterans and their families. Other hot-button items discussed included legislation on concurrent receipt, the American Legion coin bill, women veterans as a growing population and the variety of services provided by The American Legion’s DC office.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel met with staff from Representative Niki Tsongas’ office to discuss TALs interest in supporting the INTERDICT Act – International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology, and other ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic.
     
  • On Thursday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson joined a Department of Defense (DoD) conference call on Suicide Prevention. The purpose of the call was to discuss the Annual Suicide Event Report for 2015; released in June 2017. The Annual Event Report is used to enhance DoD’s understanding of suicide behavior and perform future research and update the suicide prevention policy by providing an independent, systematic and comprehensive account of suicide-related behavior. Dr. Keita Franklin, Director of the DoD Suicide Prevention Office, explained the report and provided updates on efforts to reduce and prevent suicide in the military and veteran community.
POW/MIA Update
 
  • Army Cpl. Frank L. Sandoval, 20, of San Antonio, will be buried July 11in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In early February 1951, Sandoval was a member of Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit, as well as other American units, were in operations supporting South Korean Army attacks against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPFV) in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The support group, known as Support Force 21 (SF21,) provided artillery fire support while located at Changbong-ni. On Feb. 11, 1951, the CPVF launched a massive counter offensive. The South Koreans withdrew, leaving SF21 in Changbong-ni. As the support group withdrew south toward Wonju, they endured continual attacks. Sandoval was reported missing in action on Feb. 13, 1951, when he did not arrive with the unit in Wonju. Several returning American prisoners of war reported that Sandoval had been captured by the CPVF and had died in July 1951 while being held at Camp 3, a prisoner of war camp near Changsong, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on July 7, 1951. In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. The unidentified remains were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.” One set of remains was designated “Unknown X-14211.” After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14211 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14211 was disinterred on Jan. 9, 2017 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Sandoval’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, all which matched Sandoval’s records; as well as circumstantial evidence.
  • Navy Seaman First Class Paul S. Raimond, 20, of Converse, Louisiana, will be buried July 11 in The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Raimond was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Raimond. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Raimond. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Raimond’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a nephew and a sister, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
  • Navy Seaman 1st Class Monroe Temple, 19, of Des Moines, Iowa, will be buried July 12 in The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu. On Dec. 7, 1941, Temple was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Temple. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Temple. In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis. To identify Temple’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a brother, a sister, and a niece, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons.
  • Army Staff Sgt. Gerald L. Jacobsen, 27, of Little Canada, Minnesota, will be buried July 14 in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. On July 15, 1944, Jacobsen was a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, which participated in the siege of Saint-Lô, France. Jacobsen, who was acting as an artillery spotter, was manning a mortar command post near La Forge, approximately two kilometers northeast of Saint-Lô, when he and another service member went missing. The other service member’s body was later found near the command post but Jacobsen’s remains were not recovered and he was reported missing in action. The U.S. Army subsequently declared him deceased as of July 16, 1945. On July 22, 1944, the remains of an individual, believed to be a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, were recovered from the battlefields around Saint-Lô, and were interred at the La Cambe temporary cemetery in France. The remains were initially identified based on personal letters found with the body. However, further investigation showed that the individual whose letters had been found was not a casualty. Based on this information, the remains were re-examined, designated as “Unknown X-481” and reinterred. Following additional unsuccessful attempts at identification, Unknown X-481 was interred at U.S. Military Cemetery St. Laurent, now known as Normandy American Cemetery. In July 2016, Jacobsen’s family requested X-481 be disinterred based on the presence of a laundry mark found on clothing recovered with the remains. Researchers from DPAA worked closely with the historian of the 35th Infantry Division to marshal evidence to support a recommendation to disinter X-481. Scientific analysis of data on file also found sufficient evidence to support a recommendation to disinter. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the Normandy American Ceremony on Nov. 21, 2016 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. To identify Jacobsen’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) analysis, which matched a brother and a sister, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, and historical evidence.
  • Marine Sgt. James J. Hubert, 22, of Duluth, Minnesota, will be buried July 15 in his hometown. In November 1943, Hubert was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Hubert was killed on Nov. 21, 1943. Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio, but Hubert’s remains were not recovered. On Feb. 28, 1949, a military review board declared Hubert’s remains non-recoverable. In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. To identify Hubert’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial and Y-Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis, which matched a sister, a nephew and a cousin; as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Hubert’s records.
 
 
National Security Weekly Report
Week Ending 30 June 2017
 
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dir. Rhonda Powell, Dep. Dir. Freddy Gessner, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel, and Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson assisted with a “storm-the-Hill” event around The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. In conjunction with other Legion staff, the team visited approximately 70 offices over two days discussing the bill with Congressional staff.
     
  • On Wednesday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended the annual Center for a New American Security (CNAS) conference entitled: “Navigating the Divide.” Featured speakers include Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Senator Chris Murphy, and former senator Kelly Ayotte. Topics covered include civilian-military relations, U.S. Iran strategy, and military force structure.
     
  • On Thursday, Dir. Rhonda Powell and Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on challenges battling the opioid epidemic with Rep. Anne Kuster and senior officials from the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and DEA Global Enforcement Operations.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Eric Goepel attended a discussion on private-public partnerships in cybersecurity and a business cybersecurity policy roundtable luncheon at New America. This is part of an overall division effort to engage with key stakeholders on cybersecurity policy and explore policy solutions the American Legion could support to enhance national cyber defense.
     
  • On Friday, Asst. Dir. Keronica Richardson was nominated by the Executive Director, Verna Jones at The American Legion Headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The Advisory Committee on Women Veterans will provide advice to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs on the administration of the VA’s benefits and services for women veterans. The committee will also study reports pertaining to women veterans and provide a congressionally mandated report to the Secretary each even-numbered year which includes: an assessment of the needs of women veterans, with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs administered by VA.
     
    POW/MIA Update
     
    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, has been identified and is being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
     
    Army Technician 4th Grade John Kovach, Jr., 21, of Gypsum, Ohio, will be buried July 10 in Port Clinton, Ohio. On Dec. 8, 1941, Kovach was assigned to Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until May 6, 1942, when Corregidor fell and American forces surrendered.
     
    Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Kovach was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and who were eventually moved to the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war.
     
    Kovach was admitted to the Cabanatuan Camp station hospital for illness, where he died on Nov. 19, 1942. According to prison records, Kovach was buried along with 13 fellow prisoners in a local camp cemetery in Cabanatuan, Grave 717.
     
    Following the war, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. military cemetery near Manila. In late 1947, the AGRS again exhumed the remains at the Manila cemetery in an attempt to identify them. Due to the circumstances of the POW deaths and burials, the extensive commingling, and the limited identification technologies of the time, all of the remains could not be individually identified. The unidentified remains were reburied as unknowns in the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) cemetery at Fort McKinley in Manila, Philippines (known as Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.)
     
    In 2014, the Secretary of the Army granted permission to exhume ten graves associated with the Cabanatuan Common Grave 717. On August 28, 2014, the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
     
    To identify Kovach’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched two sisters, as well as circumstantial evidence, dental comparisons, and anthropological analysis, which matched his records.
     
    DPAA is appreciative of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s partnership in this mission.
     
    Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,051 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Kovach’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an ABMC site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

     

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

DPAA Update:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Stop.Think.Connect Campaign

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

Commander’s Far East Travel

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

POW/MIA Update

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

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

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

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

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

Interment services are pending.

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

 

National Security Weekly Report

Week Ending 18 Nov 18, 2016

  1. Heritage Index Launch

 

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

  1. Military Chaplains Appreciation Luncheon

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

  1. State Department Meeting/State Department Reception

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

  1. Evaluation Training

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

  1. Pacific Submarine Warfare Symposium

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Veteran’s Day Wreath Laying Ceremonies

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

  1. Veteran’s Day

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

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

  1. POW/MIA Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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