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President announces SES program initiatives

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-12-19 12:06

The White House has announced three new initiatives to enhance and reform the Senior Executive Service (SES).

Speaking at a gathering in Washington, D.C. honoring as many as 3,000 of the federal workforce’s senior leaders, the president thanked them for their “extraordinary sacrifice” and called today’s federal leaders “the best of the best.”

Obama acknowledged the challenges faced by federal leaders. “You work under tough circumstances, whether it’s sequestration, pay freeze, shutdown, and more importantly a political climate where folks too often talk down government for cheap applause.” But, the president said in this environment, the government must adapt to the demands of the 21st century.

He said it was his job to give leaders “a little more support to keep attracting the new talent that we are going to need in the future.”

The president announced three initiatives that would recognize outstanding service and give leaders new opportunities to develop their skills.

The administration will launch a White House Leadership Program. Under this program top leaders and SES candidates will have the opportunity to “rotate through different agencies on high-priority assignments” and bring back new expertise their agency. The goal is to reenergize and reinvigorate leaders and cross-pollinate ideas across agencies.

A White House Advisory Group on Senior Executive Service Reform will study ways to better recruit, develop, and retain exceptional civil servants. Members will include Senior Level and Senior Technical professionals from all agencies, as well as rising leaders. The Group will have access, via a special website, to information collected from annual employee surveys and will also emphasize accountability mechanisms to identify management improvements.

The White House is also creating an award to recognize outstanding customer service by individuals and teams. This non-monetary Customer Service Awards Program will recognize those leaders “who make enormous differences in the lives of individual Americans every single day,” the president said. There will be two classes: Presidential Customer Service Awards and Secretary Customer Service Awards (agency awards).

Senate passes and sends FY2015 Appropriations and Defense Authorization bills to president

ASMC National News - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:08

The Senate has passed and sent to the president the FY2015 Appropriations bill that funds the Department of Defense Appropriations bill and 10 other bills (including Military Construction /VA) through the end of FY2015. The bill also funds the Homeland Security Appropriations bill under a continuing resolution (CR) through February 27, 20015.

The Senate passed the $1.013 trillion government funding bill 56-40 Saturday after defeating moves by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) designed to stop the bill from proceeding to a final vote. The House had passed the bill 219-206 on Thursday. The president indicated he will sign the bill, thus averting a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) acknowledging the compromise cooperation between Democrats and Republicans needed to finish the bill said “this bill is not perfect, but we can all be proud that we voted tonight to make America more secure, put our government on more sound footing than when this Congress began.”

Funding in the bill for DoD base appropriations, less Military Construction, totals almost $490.2 billion, about $1 billion less than the request. Military Construction appropriations funding (in the MilCon/VA bill) is $6.6 billion, essentially the same as the request.The bill also provides $64 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill provides funding for a 1% percent military pay raise. But, it freezes freeze pay for general and flag officers and makes a 1 percent reduction in the Basic Housing Allowance (BAH). The conference agreement adds about $200 million to the Defense Commissary Agency funding request to maintain operations.

The legislation includes about $850 million to refuel the USS George Washington, denying the administration’s plan to defer a decision on refueling until the FY2016 budget. The bill also funds continued operations of A-10 aircraft and continues operations of the full Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). The administration had proposed retiring both of these aircraft.

The Senate also approved (89-11) the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill, which the House passed earlier this month. The president is expected to sign the bill.

The Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015,” named after the Senate and House Armed Services Committee chairmen, authorizes $495.9 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) and $17.5 billion for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program.  The bill authorizes an additional $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The legislation authorizes a 1 percent military pay raise, requested by the president. However, the bill rejects proposed changes to TRICARE fees, deductibles, and pharmacy co-pays, but does authorize a $3 increase in pharmacy co-pays for prescriptions filled in non-military treatment facilities by non-Active Duty TRICARE beneficiaries.

The authorization bill rejects the administration-proposed 5 percent cut to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), opting instead for a 1 percent reduction in BAH. The bill also rejects another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2017 that was urged by the administration. In recent years Congress has repeatedly rejected administration requests for another BRAC round.

The bill also denies the administration proposal to defer a decision on refueling the USS George Washington, providing almost $800 million for support and advance planning for refueling the aircraft carrier, prohibits the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire the A-10 aircraft fleet in FY2015, and stops the Air Force from retiring any Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) in FY2015.

In a major organizational move, the conference agreement creates an Under Secretary of Defense for Business Management and Information that combines the positions of Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Before adjourning this week, the Senate will move to complete action on a number of pending nominations proposed by the president and legislation extending for one year tax provisions set to expire at the end of the year. These so-called “tax extenders” include research and development tax credits (highly popular with business), state and local sales tax deductions, tax credits for energy efficient homes, and bonus depreciation tax credits. 

Thousands Gather to Honor Fallen Veterans for Wreaths Across America Day

Defense News - Sat, 2014-12-13 00:00

Amid crisp air and the aroma of pine needles, thousands gathered to lay remembrance wreaths on veterans’ headstones here to mark National Wreaths Across America Day, and in doing so drew one of the annual event’s largest turnouts in its 23 year history.

“We’re grateful for the sacrifice, bravery, courage and tenacity of members of our armed forces who currently serve in harms way; we’re grateful for the freedoms that we have as Americans,” Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told those gathered on a sun drenched but cold day in the shadow of the Pentagon.

How wreaths began

He said he’s particularly grateful to one couple, Morrill and Karen Worcester, who he said seek no fanfare as they continue to make a difference in society through Wreaths Across America, the non-profit organization they founded in 2007.

“Because of the great efforts of Morrill and Karen Worcester, we’re able to cover every eligible gravesite with a holiday wreath, symbolic because it’s a circle that never ends – so their service still continues as well.”

A Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester donated 5,000 wreaths in 1992 and arranged for trucks to carry them during their pilgrimage from his home state to Arlington National Cemetery. In 2005, Air Force photographer Jim Varhegyi snapped the iconic photo of wreaths in snow, bringing WAA unprecedented attention and acclaim.

Later, Congress proclaimed Dec. 13th as “Wreaths Across America Day” and at this year’s event, Morill Worcester placed the two-millionth wreath laid nationwide to honor U.S. Army Pvt. William Christman, the first soldier to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The organization has since expanded to include more than 1,000 fundraising groups in all 50 states representing more than 900 cemeteries, military memorials and other sites.  More than 80 volunteer trucking companies have stepped up to help deliver the wreaths.

Thanks from the Chairman

“Throughout our country’s history, the men and women of the U.S. forces have served with the utmost patriotism and allegiance,” Battaglia read to the Worcesters in a personal letter from Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The hundreds of thousands of wreaths that volunteers across America place at the gravesites of our veterans were shining testimonies that freedom is not free.”

Battaglia explained what the diverse and robust turnout means to the military and the nation.

“It means the world; we are so fortunate to have not just a great community – but a great society that would come out here in droves to honor our veterans,” Battaglia said. “
As for the new generation, Battaglia said the event’s 2014 theme “Remember, Honor, Teach” personifies that message.

“Our youth are learning some valuable lessons about how great our country really is and how we as an armed forces respect and honor both our wounded and our killed in action. When these kids are grown up, they too will be bringing their children and grandchildren our here as well – it’s a tradition the Worcesters started, and it’s long-lasting.”

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDODNews)
 

House passes FY2015 appropriations for DoD and 10 other bills; CR for Homeland Security bill

ASMC National News - Thu, 2014-12-11 23:25

With the Continuing Resolution (CR) on FY2015 funding set to expire at midnight, the House passed a $1.013 trillion FY 2015 Appropriations bill that funds the Department of Defense Appropriations bill and 10 other bills (including Military Construction /VA) through the end of FY2015.

The Homeland Security Appropriations bill, subject to intense debate after the president announced an executive order on immigration, is funded in the bill under a CR through February 27, 2017. This action will allow the Republican-controlled 114th Congress time to address concerns about the immigration order.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill tomorrow. To avert a shutdown until the Senate acts both the House and Senate approved a two-day CR.

This bill is being referred to as a CRomnibus appropriations bill because it is a combination of full-year appropriations for 11 appropriations bills and a two and a half month CR for the Homeland Security bill.

After a day of high drama that included a razor thin vote (214-212) approving the rule to proceed to a final vote and an almost seven hour recess, the House passed H.R. 83 by 219-206. Fifty seven Democrats joined 162 Republicans in supporting the bill. Defections from the bill included Republicans unhappy that the bill did not more strongly rebuke the president’s order on immigration and Democrats who were outraged over provisions that changed the Dodd-Frank law regarding banks trading financial derivatives and relaxed restrictions on campaign contributions by individuals.

The final bill was the result of intense conference negotiations between the House and Senate Appropriations committees. The House had passed its version of the bill in June and the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill in July.

In a joint statement House Appropriations Committee (HAC) chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said “this bill fulfills our constitutional duty to fund the government, preventing damage from shutdown politics that are bad for the economy, cost jobs and hurt middle class families. While not everyone got everything they wanted, such compromises must be made in a divided government.”

Funding in the bill for DoD base appropriations, less Military Construction, totals almost $490.2 billion, about $1 billion less than the request. Military Construction appropriations funding (in the MilCoN/VA bill) is $6.6 billion, essentially the same as the request.The bill provides $64 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill provides funding for a 1% percent military pay raise as proposed by the president, but freezes freeze pay for general and flag officers. It also allows for a 1 percent reduction in the Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) growth (the administration proposed a 5 percent cut). The conference agreement adds about $200 million to the Defense Commissary Agency funding request to maintain operations and block the president’s proposed cut to the commissary subsidy.

The legislation includes about $850 million to refuel the USS George Washington, denying the administration’s plan to defer a decision on refueling until the FY2016 budget. The bill also funds continued operations of A-10 aircraft, blocking the administration proposal to retire the A-10 fleet, and continues operations of the full Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), thwarting the administration’s plan to retire some AWACS aircraft in FY2015.

Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding in the bill totals $161.7 billion, more than $4 billion below the administration’s request. The bill includes finding for a 1 percent civilian pay raise and provides funding increases for facility sustainment (+$900 million) and readiness, depot maintenance, and base operating support shortfalls (+$1.2 billion). Conferees cut $270 million or 2 percent from the information technologies O&M budget request.

Procurement funding in the bill totals $93.8 billion, more than $4 billion higher than the request. Included in the bill’s procurement funding are: two attack submarines and three Littoral Combat Ships; 38 F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft and 7 KC-46A tankers; and 15 EA-18G Growlers. The legislation appropriates $1.2 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment not requested by the administration.

The bill includes $63.7 billion for research and development, slightly more than the request. Among the programs receiving R&D funding are: the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV); the long-range strike bomber; and the KC-46 tanker. The conferees also included $225 million for the Rapid Innovation Fund to support small businesses provide “leap-ahead” technologies. The bill also adds $1.3 billion for medical research (including about $100 million for the Ebola crisis) with a special focus on Peer-Reviewed Medical Research and Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research.

The conferees essentially continued language from the FY2014 appropriations bill to prohibit the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States or its territories or the modification or acquisition of facilities used to house detainees and eliminated the 5 percent discount for Military Exchanges sales of tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Hagel Expresses Gratitude to U.S. Troops in Kuwait

Defense News - Tue, 2014-12-09 00:00

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked U.S. troops and their families yesterday on behalf of all Americans for their sacrifice during the holiday season, and for carrying out an essential mission at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

The defense secretary held a troop talk with U.S. service members during his stop in Kuwait as part of an unannounced trip to the Middle East.

Thanks to Troops and Families

“I wanted to come out here for a few minutes today to thank you and to tell you how much we appreciate everything you do for this country,” he said. “This is a tough business -- [a] tough job. You’ve got about as tough a job as anybody does in our business. We know that. The country knows it -- and we thank you for that.”

The defense secretary said he also wanted to note the sacrifice of troops’ families as they move into the holiday season away from their loved ones.

“Please give your families my thanks on behalf of all Americans,” he said. “Tell your families we appreciate what they do; the sacrifices they make along with you.”

Essential Mission in Kuwait

Hagel said he particularly wanted to visit Kuwait to thank the troops for their mission as a combined joint task force which serves as the centerpiece for everything that happens in the region.

“It is the pivot point,” he said. “It is absolutely critical to everything that happens as it moves out, and you know that.”
Though their efforts may sometimes seem undervalued or under-recognized, Hagel noted, what service members do in Kuwait is “absolutely essential to make it all work.”

Some 60 coalition partners have assembled to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the barbaric threats they, and other extremist groups, represent, Hagel said.

“That is really pretty impressive to be able to marshal that many countries, all participating, all contributing in their own way,” he added. “But it can’t happen without the United States’ leadership; it won’t happen without our leadership.

“It won’t happen without you,” he continued, “and it won’t happen without these kinds of efforts that are being made right here. So I wanted to make sure you knew that we know, in Washington, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

Making History in Dangerous Times

A second point, Hagel said, is that the nation faces a dangerous and uncertain time unlike any other.

“It’s a time in history we’ve really never seen before,” he said. “That’s the result of many dynamics -- technology, a decentralization of power and capacity that we’ve never seen before -- ungoverned spaces in ways that we’ve really never seen before. And I think, sometimes, any of us, because we’re human beings, can tend to think that it’s a hopeless effort. Well, nothing’s ever hopeless.”

Hagel told the service members that they’re making history. “You are defining much of the history that’s being made now,” he added, “but more importantly, it’s for a purpose. You are defining a future. You are defining a new world order in everything you do every day. And every job’s important -- every component of every job is important, or we’ll fail.”

Reaffirming Leadership Support

It takes leadership, capability and capacity for success, Hagel said, reaffirming that Defense Department leaders are committed to understanding troops’ problems and concerns, and assuring they have everything needed to do their jobs.

“You can’t do your jobs that we expect you to do -- that you want to do -- if you’re bothered and worried about other things,” he said. “We’re here to make sure that, that doesn’t happen.”

The defense secretary again thanked the troops and their families for their service and sacrifice, and expressed his admiration for their holiday spirit.

“I, once upon a time, was away from home over a holiday period in a different kind of war,” he said, referring to his service in Vietnam, “so I have some understanding of what you and your families deal with when you have these important holidays. It means so much to families, so thank you very much.”

(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews)
 

President Obama nominates Ashton Carter to be Defense Secretary

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-12-05 12:48

President Obama has nominated Ashton Carter to be the next Secretary of Defense. Carter would succeed Secretary Chuck Hagel who announced his resignation last month. Hagel will remain in the job until Carter is confirmed.

In announcing the nomination, the president said Carter “brings a unique blend of strategic perspective and technical know-how” to the job. The president noted that Carter has served under 11 Secretaries of Defense, in both Republican and Democrat administrations.

If confirmed, as expected, Carter will face significant challenges. American troops are ending the combat mission in Afghanistan, but will transition to advising and training Afghan forces. Efforts to degrade and destroy forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will continue into the future. U.S. participation in the fight against the spread of Ebola involves DoD capabilities. And, DoD is undergoing significant efforts to reform acquisition, develop and improve new capabilities, while maintaining readiness and dealing with continued budgetary constraints. The president said that Carter “is going to be critical to all these efforts.”

Carter has a broad knowledge and significant experience in Department of Defense matters. He served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from December 2011 to December 2013. Prior to becoming Deputy Secretary, he was Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, a post he held from 2009 to 2011.

Before becoming USD (AT&L) in 2009, Carter was chair of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s international and Global Affairs department.  From 2006 until 2008, Carter was a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s International Security Advisory Board.  Previously, Carter served in the Clinton administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense for international Security Policy from 1993 until 1996. 

During his career, Carter also has been a member of the Defense Science Board (1991-93 and 1997-01) and the Defense Policy Board (1997-01), and co-chaired the Catastrophic Terrorism Study Group.  He was also a Senior Partner at Global Technology Partners and served on the Board of Trustees at MITRE Corporation.

House passes conferenced FY2015 Defense Authorization bill

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-12-05 12:03

The House passed (300-119) the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill yesterday with bipartisan support.

The “Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015,” named after the Senate and House Armed Services Committee chairmen, was agreed to in conference this week. The House had passed its version of the bill in May. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version in May, but the full Senate had not acted on the bill.

The agreed-to legislation authorizes $495.9 billion in base discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) and $17.5 billion for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program.  The bill authorizes an additional $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The bill authorizes the president’s request for a 1 percent military pay raise and accepts the president’s proposal to freeze pay for General and Flag officers in FY2015. However, the bill rejects proposed changes to TRICARE, but does authorizes a $3 increase in pharmacy co-pays for prescriptions filled in non-military treatment facilities by non-Active Duty TRICARE beneficiaries. The bill also provides an additional $100 million in subsidy funding for the commissary system, restoring the administration proposed reduction

The conferees reduced the administration-proposed 5 percent cut to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to 1 percent. The bill also rejects another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2017 that was urged by the administration.

The bill also rejects other savings proposals made by the administration. The House-Senate bill denies the administration proposal to defer a decision on refueling the USS George Washington until the FY2016 budget. Almost $800 million is provided in FY2015 for support and advance planning for refueling the aircraft carrier.

The bill also prohibits the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire the A-10 aircraft fleet in FY2015 and stops the Air Force from retiring any Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) in FY2015.

The legislation authorizes $1.25 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment (not requested by the administration) and blocks the Army’s plan to move AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard to active components in FY2015.

In a major organizational move, the conference agreement creates an Under Secretary of Defense for Business Management and Information that combines the positions of Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Currently, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, supported by the DCMO and staff, assumes the CMO roles and responsibilities.

The Senate will consider the bill next week.

CBO deficit reduction options include cuts to defense spending and federal pay raises and retirement plans

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-12-02 15:43

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has identified a series of options policymakers can take to address the continuing high level of federal budget deficits and the growing federal debt. CBO issues such deficit reductions options annually.

In “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2015 to 2024” CBO describes 79 options to reduce the deficit including spending cuts to mandatory and discretionary programs and revenue increases.  Included in the report are 10 options affecting the Defense of Defense (DoD) budget that range from caps on pay raises and pensions and cost controls on military health care to specific program cuts and cancelations.

Regarding military compensation, a CBO option would cap increases in military basic pay at .5 percent below the increase in the Employment Cost Index (ECI), saving $24 billion from 2016 to 2024. Current law requires military pay increases to be set at the projected full increase in the ECI, unless adjusted by the president or the Congress. 

CBO also proposes a cap on federal civilian pay raises.  Current law sets annual civilian pay raises at .5 percent below the increase in the ECI, unless adjusted by the president or the Congress.  The CBO option would reduce the pay raise called for under law by .5 percent, saving $54 billion for the entire government. 

Another CBO option would replace 80,000 military personnel performing so-called “commercial jobs with 53,000 civilian employees. This option, according to CBO, would allow DoD to cut military end-strength by 80,000 and could save $21 billion from 2016 to 2024.

CBO options would also affect military and civilian retired pay. One option would eliminate concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability compensation for disabled veterans. Currently, military retirees who have disabilities as a result of combat and those retirees who have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or more receive full retirement pay and disability compensation (concurrent retirement and disability pay), without a dollar-for-dollar adjustment to retirement pay for their disability pay. The CBO proposal would end this concurrent receipt saving $112 billion from 2016-2024.

CBO also proposes consideration of cuts to military and federal civilian pensions. Currently military annual retired pay is based on the average of the servicemember’s basic pay over the 36 months of their career with the highest pay. Civilian retired pay is based on the average individual’s pay over the three consecutive years with their highest earnings. The CBO option proposes that military retired pay be based on a 60-month average and civilian retired pay on a five-year average. This option would apply to personnel who retired in 2016 and after and would save $2.5 billion in military retired pay and $3.1 billion in civilian retired pay from 2016-2024.

CBO options affecting military health care programs include both cost controls and benefit limitations. One option would increase enrollment fees, copayments, and deductibles for working age military retirees using TRICARE, saving $20 billion from 2016-2024. Under the second option, working age military retirees and their families would not be eligible for TRICARE Prime, but would allow them to enroll in TRICARE Standard (fee for service plan) or Extra (preferred provider network) at a premium that is 28 percent of the average cost. This option would save $76 billion over the 2016-2024 period.

Four CBO options affect specific DoD programs: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Ford Class aircraft carriers; ballistic missile submarines; and the New Long-Range Bomber.

One CBO option would cancel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and buy the most advanced versions of the F-16 for the Air Force and the F/A-18 for the Navy and Marine Corps, saving $41 billion from 2016-2024. Another option would end the Ford Class aircraft carrier construction program with the completion of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, authorized in 2013, saving $20 billion.

CBO also proposes an option cutting the number of submarines in the SSBN force to eight in 2021 by retiring one Ohio-class submarine a year during 2016-2021, saving $21 billion from 2016-2024. The beginning of the Ohio class replacement program would be delayed until 2021. And, a CBO option to defer development of the New Long-Range Bomber until 2015 or later would save $34 billion over the period.

ASMC Members, The Community Service Committee has two great events coming up!...

ASMC Yankee Chapter Facebook - Mon, 2014-12-01 08:05
ASMC Members,

The Community Service Committee has two great events coming up! Please check the details out below. Contact Sarah Flaherty or Brianna Gurney if you would like to help out!

Jamie's Joy - Running 1 Dec - 19 Dec
ASMC will once again be adopting families through Jamie's Joy this holiday season! Jamie's Joy serves roughly 30-35 families each holiday season that they get from the local Boys and Girls Club, Social Concern and churches. ASMC will be adopting 4-5 families with multiple children; each with their own item wish list. You can choose to purchase items on a child's wish list or make a monetary donation that will go towards the purchase of items (tax receipts are available upon request). If you are interested in donating please contact Sarah Flaherty (sarah.flaherty@us.af.mil) or Brianna Gurney (brianna.gurney.1@us.af.mil).

Saturday's Bread – 10 Jan 2015
Event Details:
The ASMC Community Service Committee is looking for 12-20 volunteers to assist in Brunch service at the from 12:30-4:30PM on Saturday, Jan 10 2014. The volunteer duties will include cooking and plating meals, serving coffee & food, greeting guests, set up and clean up.

What: Since 1983, the Sunday’s Bread organization has been serving healthy meals every weekend to the homeless population of Boston through the help and support of volunteers like you. For more information on Saturday/Sunday's Bread please visit: http://www.satsunbread.org/volunteers.html.
Where: Church of St. John the Evangelist, 35 Bowdoin Street on Beacon Hill in Boston. (The soup kitchen is held at a church, but it's a non-denominational activity.)
When: Saturday Jan 10, 2014 12:30PM to 4:00 PM


Saturday's / Sunday's Bread - For Volunteers
www.satsunbread.org
Guidelines for Volunteers Working at Saturday's or Sunday's Bread involves a commitment of about four hours, not including travel time. The schedule is 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM at the Church of St. John the Evangelist,

Hagel resigns as Secretary of Defense

ASMC National News - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:37

Today, President Obama announced that Secretary of Defense Chick Hagel will resign. He will leave his post as soon as a replacement is confirmed.

Hagel has been Secretary of Defense less than two years since being sworn in on February 27, 2013. He is the first former enlisted person and first Vietnam veteran to become Secretary of Defense

In making the announcement at the White House, the president called Hagel “an exemplary secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernized our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats.”

Responding to the president’s remarks, Hagel said “I believe that we have set not only the Department of Defense, but the nation on a stronger course toward security, stability, and prosperity.”

In a message to DoD military and civilian personnel, Hagel said he made his decision after much discussion with the president. He said he and the president “agreed that now was the right time for new leadership here at the pentagon.”

Hagel enumerated the accomplishments the department has made during his tenure: prepared for a successful transition in Afghanistan; taken “the fight to ISIL” and blunted their momentum; assisted people worldwide suffering from natural disaster and disease; sustained the all-volunteer force; and “bolstered new alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships.” He said he will work hard to support the men and women of the DoD “right up until my last day in office.”

A successor to Hagel has not yet been named. Many commentators speculate that Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), former Under Secretary for Policy Michele Flournoy, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter are high on the list of potential replacements.

House committee leaders selected for 114th Congress

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-11-21 16:21

House Republicans and Democrats have selected Committee chairmen and Ranking Members for the 114th Congress, which will convene in January 2015. Boehner and Pelosi announced the committee leadership selections this week. The Committees of most interest to defense include:

Appropriations: Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) remains as chair of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) stays on as the Ranking Democrat. Rogers has been pushing for an Omnibus Appropriations bill to finalize action on FY2015 Appropriations in the lame-duck session.

Armed Services: Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) replaces Rep. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who will retire at the end of this session, as chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). Rep. Adam Smith (R-WA) remains as Ranking Minority member. Thornberry is currently the HASC vice-chairman and has served on the House Intelligence Committee.

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) replaces Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) who was an unrelenting investigator of what he considered government wrongdoing. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) remains as Ranking Democrat on the Committee. Chaffetz has been highly critical of recent problems at the U.S. Secret Service and is expected to take a hard look at federal workforce issues.

Homeland Security: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) stay on as chair and Ranking Democrat.

Veterans Affairs: Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) remains as chairman and Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) becomes the new Ranking Democrat on the committee. Brown replaces Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) who is retiring.

Foreign Affairs: Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) will remain as chair and Ranking of the House Committee Foreign Affairs

Budget Committee: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) becomes the new chair of the House Budget Committee replacing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who will become chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stays on as Ranking Democrat.

With the Republican takeover of the Senate next year many current committee Ranking Republicans will become committee chairs. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is expected to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is expected to head the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). Formal announcements for Senate Committee leadership positions have not yet been made.

Vice Chairman Joins USO in Salute to Military Chefs

Defense News - Thu, 2014-11-20 00:00

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore in recognizing the talents of military chefs and enlisted aides during a Salute to Military Chefs event here yesterday.

Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. was joined by various Defense Department leaders, military spouses and USO officials, as eight military chefs and five enlisted aides were honored during the event.

Each of the military chefs, alongside Chef Robert Irvine of the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” series, showcased their skills preparing elaborate dishes for the audience. Each chef was introduced by a senior military leader before being honored.

Winnefeld said he was “thrilled” to be a part of the evening as he introduced Army Staff Sgt. Isaac Wilson and his own nominee, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Frida Karani.

Recognizing Extraordinary Talents

“It’s really my very great privilege and honor to introduce our first chef tonight,” he said. “There’s really nothing better than recognizing [these] extraordinary talents.”

Wilson, the admiral noted, works for the secretary of defense’s mess. “So you know the level of dignitary that he has to serve each and every day,” he added. Winnefeld said Wilson, a Logansport, Indiana, native, was led by his “competitive nature” to join the military as a way to expand his culinary talents.

“That’s why we call these guys chefs instead of cooks,” he said. “The military inculcates in these people ‘Got to get better; got to be the best.’ And so they become chefs not long after they get in the military.”

Before becoming a military chef, the vice chairman said, Wilson deployed to Iraq as a truck driver from December 2007 to March 2009.

“His competitive nature goes way beyond the kitchen,” Winnefeld said, pointing out that Wilson has earned the German proficiency badge.

The vice chairman’s second introduction was for Karani who serves on his own staff.

“At the Pentagon, we’re able to put our best foot forward welcoming our visiting dignitaries and counterparts from all over the world,” Winnefeld said. “And I know that I have frequent occasions in my home to entertain some pretty serious dignitaries, and you always want to show them the very best that you can as far as the culinary piece of it.”

That’s possible, Winnefeld said, only because of the extraordinary culinary talent represented at the event.

Karani, was born in Mombasa, Kenya, Winnefeld said, adding that he and his wife, Mary, are “very privileged” to have her on the staff.

Winnefeld said Karani developed her talents in diverse places, serving as saucier in Dubai from 2004 until 2006 before moving on to that position in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to being employed by several four- and five-star hotels, the vice chairman noted, Karani is a certified chef de cuisine by the American Culinary Federation and a winner of several gold and silver medals.

She enlisted in the Navy as a culinary specialist in January 2010 and graduated at the top of her class at the Navy’s advanced culinary school. She also received the accelerated advancement program award.

The vice chairman said as important as her culinary skills are, Karani is also known for her “infectious” personality, and is an “absolute delight” to have around.

Chefs and Aides Honored

Military chefs honored at the event, and the officials they serve, are:

-- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shemeka Anderson, chief of naval operations;

-- Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Justin Fedin, Marine Corps commandant;

-- Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Derek Johnson, Coast Guard commandant;

-- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Frida Karani, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff;

-- Air Force Tech Sgt. Michael Leo, Air Force chief of staff;

-- Army Sgt. Sarah Proctor, Army chief of staff;

-- Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Settle, president of the United States; and

-- Army Staff Sgt. Isaac Wilson, secretary of defense.

Enlisted aides honored at the event are Army Master Sgt. Sophia Bulham, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alan Hess, Air Force Tech Sgt. Sarah Morgan, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cesar Balmaceda and Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Sammy Paone.

(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews)
 

Hagel outlines new innovation initiative

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-11-18 13:17

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new department-wide initiative designed to “identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.”

Speaking at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Hagel said in order to “overwhelm challenges to our military superiority” within the current constrained resource environment the U.S “must change the way we innovate, operate, and do business.” The innovation Initiative is based on the lessons learned from previous offset strategies and will “sustain our competitive advantage over the coming decades,” he said.

Hagel has tapped Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work to direct the development of the initiative and to head an Advanced Capability and Deterrent Panel implement and integrate the effort throughout DoD. Work will provide quarterly progress reports to Hagel.

In a memo to Department of Defense and Military Service leaders, Hagel called the initiative a “third offset strategy that puts the competitive advantage “firmly in the hands of American power projection over the coming decades.”

The memo describes three main components of the initiative. A long-range research and development planning program will develop and field “breakthrough technologies and systems” to sustain and advance capabilities. This program will look particularly at robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, and 3-D printing.

Secondly, a reinvigorated wargaming effort will develop “alternative ways of achieving our strategic objectives.” Thirdly, a new operational concepts will utilize resources for more strategic effect and to address emerging threats more innovatively.

The new initiative will also look at DoD business practices “to find more ways to be more efficient and effective through external benchmarking and focused internal reviews.”

In describing the challenges DoD faces as a modern enterprise, Hagel told the Reagan Defense Forum that the department must upgrade its business and IT systems and processes. And, he reinforced the goal to be “fully, completely, audit-ready by no later than 2017.” Hagel said DoD is on track to meet this goal, which “is essential for DoD’s effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability into the future.”

Medal of Honor Recipient Says He’s ‘No Hero’

Defense News - Sun, 2014-11-16 00:00

Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta, who in 2010 became the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War, says he is not a hero.

"It makes me feel awkward. I struggled with it for a long time," Giunta said about being called a hero.

Giunta, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, participated in a panel discussion at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here yesterday.

"It's almost been four years since I've been out of the military and the fact that someone would call me personally a hero seems inappropriate," he said.

Discussion on Heroism, Valor

All the soldiers worked together and fought together, Giunta said during the panel discussion about military heroism and valor.

"Nothing I ever did, did I do alone. I followed what someone told me to do and someone followed me," he said.

"I've served with heroes. We can be heroes. I am no hero," he said.

Giunta’s received the Medal of Honor for his actions during a fierce battle following an enemy ambush in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in October 2007. Two U.S. soldiers, Sgt. Joshua Brennan and Spc. Hugo Mendoza, were killed in the attack.

"Oct. 25, 2007, was my date of action that I would receive this award. My life didn’t change other than I lost two good friends," Giunta said.

He said his life did "change drastically" in 2010, when the recognition of what he did became public.

Medal of Honor is ‘Awesome Responsibility’

He said it is not a burden to have the Medal of Honor but rather an "awesome responsibility."

Giunta, then a specialist with Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to aid a fellow soldier he believed was injured during the ambush.

He engaged the enemy and advanced up a hill alone and under fire. Giunta saw two insurgents carrying away a gravely injured Brennan. Giunta killed one of the insurgents and prevented the enemy from taking Brennan.

"When I was told I was going to receive the Medal of Honor it hurt my feelings. I was so angry. I was so upset," he said.

"The fact that I did this with everyone and you want to put an award around my neck and slap me on the back and tell me 'congratulations' when I didn't do it alone," Giunta explained.

"Two of my buddies gave every single-one of their tomorrows so I could have a today, and you're going to put a medal around my neck? I struggled with that," he said.

Term 'Hero' Not Taken Lightly

The Army wants to know what makes a hero, according to Army Gen. David G. Perkins, the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

"This term 'hero' we don't take lightly," Perkins said during the panel discussion. "We actually think about it quite a bit and try to figure out what is it that makes one."

A hero is someone, in the face of adversity or danger and from a position of weakness, displays a will for self-sacrifice for the betterment of others, he said.

Perkins said Giunta did all of that during the battle.

"Valor is really the strength of mind and will to face danger and stand firm in the face of it," he said. "You have to possess valor to act in a heroic manner."

Giunta is an example of that, Perkins said.

"The medal that Sergeant Giunta wears is not the 'Medal of Heroism,' it's called the Medal of Honor," Perkins said.

Saluting Valor

It is a great honor to be an officer who salutes a Medal of Honor recipient, retired Air Force Gen. Paul Hester said.

"A sergeant wearing the Medal of Honor no longer offers his salute to an officer; the officer offers his salute to the Medal of Honor recipient," Hester said.

"A prouder moment for me as a one-star was when I stood at the bottom of the ramp of an airplane and [Army] Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez came to my base, Medal of Honor recipient from Vietnam, for me to stand there and offer him the salute as he came down the stairs," he said.

"It is a true honor," Hester said.
 

Hagel Announces New Defense Innovation, Reform Efforts

Defense News - Sat, 2014-11-15 00:00

In a keynote speech tonight at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to change the way the Department of Defense innovates and operates.

On the second day of a five-day trip nationwide to see some of the critical training the force receives to maintain readiness, Hagel addressed members of Congress, DoD officials, military leaders, and members of the defense industry during the annual forum held in Simi Valley, California.

Along with the new innovation initiative, the secretary also announced a project to reform the defense enterprise, preparing it to deal with dwindling budgets in an uncertain future.

DoD Experiencing a Time of Transition

“The Department of Defense is undergoing a defining time of transition,” Hagel said. “We [face] a reshaping of our enterprise by a fiscal environment plagued by … budget uncertainty and a large decline in resources, and by an historic realignment of interests and influences around the world.”

As these dynamics unfold, he added, the U.S. military is engaged in crises and security challenges around the world -– degrading the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, helping to stop the spread of Ebola virus disease, and reinforcing NATO allies.

“Few would have predicted these missions a year ago,” the secretary said, adding that DoD is responsible for addressing a range of contingencies and crises.

New, Old Threats, Challenges

“We face the rise of new technologies, national powers and non-state actors,” as well as “sophisticated, deadly and often asymmetric emerging threats ranging from cyberattacks to transnational criminal networks, [and] persistent, volatile threats we have faced for years,” Hagel said.

The nation’s long-term security, he added, depends on whether the department can address today’s crises while preparing for tomorrow’s threats.

Hagel described the department’s two most-important investments as bolstering the United States’ unrivaled capacity for innovation and reforming the defense enterprise to ensure that the military foundation is reliable, agile, accountable and worthy of the men and women who serve.

While the United States and its allies spent more than a decade at war, he said, countries like Russia and China have heavily invested in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military’s technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines and longer-range and more accurate missiles, and developing new anti-ship and air-to-air missiles, and counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea and air-attack capabilities.

New Defense Innovation Initiative

“Today I am announcing a new Defense Innovation Initiative,” Hagel told the audience, describing the effort as an ambitious, departmentwide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.

“Continued fiscal pressure will likely limit our military’s ability to respond to long-term challenges … so to overcome challenges to our military superiority we must change the way we innovate, operate and do business,” the secretary explained.

The innovation initiative, he said, will ensure that U.S. power-projection capabilities continue to sustain a competitive advantage over the coming decades.

Identifying, Developing Cutting-edge Technologies

As part of the initiative, Hagel said, a new Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program will help identify, develop and field breakthroughs from the most cutting-edge technologies and systems, especially in robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.

“The program will look toward the next decade and beyond,” he said, “[but] in the near-term it will invite some of the brightest minds from inside and outside government to … assess the technologies and systems DoD [should] develop over the next three to five years and beyond.”

The innovation initiative will explore and develop new operational concepts, including new approaches to warfighting, and balancing DoD’s investments between platforms and payloads, Hagel said.

People Are DoD’s Premier Asset

New approaches to war-gaming and professional military education already are in development, the secretary added, “and [the initiative] will focus on the department’s most-important asset -- people -- by pursuing time-honored leadership development practices and emerging opportunities to reimagine how we develop managers and leaders.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work will guide the innovation initiative’s development and lead a new Advanced Capability and Deterrence Panel to drive it forward, Hagel said.

“The panel will integrate DoD’s senior leadership across the entire enterprise -- its policy and intelligence communities, the armed services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and research, development and acquisition authorities,” he said.

Hagel said he expects the panel to propose changes to the way DoD diagnoses and plans for challenges to the military’s competitive edge, and to face a new challenge head-on -- the fact that many breakthrough technologies are no longer in the domain of DoD development pipelines or traditional defense contractors.

Seeking Private-sector Proposals

“We all know that DoD no longer has exclusive access to the most cutting-edge technology or the ability to spur or control the development of new technologies the way we once did,” the defense secretary said. “So we will actively seek proposals from the private sector, including firms and academic institutions outside DoD’s traditional orbit.”

The Defense Innovation Initiative will shape the department’s programs, plans and budgets, Hagel said, adding that as the initiative matures over time he expects its impact on the defense budget to scale up as well.

“As the world in which we operate changes, we must change too,” the defense secretary said, adding that he has ordered full reviews of the department’s business and management systems.

“The first reviews are underway now, starting with the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Hagel said. “DoD must embrace better business practices that are core to any modern enterprise, private or public.”

Upgrade Business, Information Technology Systems

The department will upgrade business and information technology systems and processes, striking the right balance between civil service and contractor support and avoiding duplication of support functions in OSD and the services, he said, adding that after years of postponement and delay the department is making progress in moving toward greater financial accountability.

Hagel said the department has been making hard choices and mustering the flexibility required by new geopolitical and fiscal realities.

“But to succeed,” he said, “we need the support and partnership of Congress, especially at a time when demands on our military are surging and our resources are shrinking and our ability to manage our institution is being more and more limited.”

The continuation of sequestration could impose nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the defense budget over 10 years, the defense secretary said, in a department that has already begun taking deep cuts over the last few years.

Sequestration ‘Would Devastate’ Military Readiness

Sequestration, he said, “would devastate our military readiness and threaten our ability to execute our nation’s defense strategy. Congress has an opportunity this year to help the Defense Department, and I and all the leaders of DoD look forward to working with Congress on this challenge.”

Hagel added, “If we make the right investments in our partnerships around the world in innovation and in our defense enterprise we will continue to keep our nation’s military and our nation’s global leadership on a strong and sustainable path for the 21st century.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
 

Dempsey Arrives in Baghdad for Anti-ISIL Campaign Talks

Defense News - Sat, 2014-11-15 00:00

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city, today in an unannounced visit for talks with U.S. and Iraqi officials on the way ahead in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to the Voice of America and other news reports.

Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified before the House Armed Service Committee Nov. 13 on the progress of the campaign. Dempsey told the House panel that the effort against ISIL is “Iraq first,” not “Iraq only.”

“Broadly, our strategy is to reinforce a credible partner in the Iraqi government and assist regional stakeholders to address the 20 million disenfranchised Sunnis who live between Damascus and Baghdad,” Dempsey told committee. “They have to reject ISIL’s radical ideology from within.”

Dempsey also urged Congress and the American people to develop the strategic patience needed to see the effort through.

The campaign calls on Iraqis and the anti-ISIL coalition to squeeze the extremists from multiple directions, Dempsey told the House committee. The coalition must take on ISIL inside Iraq. It must deny the group safe haven inside Syria.

“We need to take a long view,” the chairman told the House panel.

Many lines of effort must proceed apace including “counter-financing, counter-foreign fighter flow, counter-messaging, humanitarian aid, economic progress, the air campaign, restoring an offensive capability within the Iraqi Security Forces, and a ground campaign managed by the Iraqi Security Forces from the south and the Peshmerga from the north, with contribution from the tribes in particular in al-Anbar and Nineveh,” Dempsey said.
 

FY2015 appropriations, Defense Authorization, and other legislation await action in “lame duck” congressional session

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-11-14 16:56

Congress has returned this week to complete legislative action in the shadow of last week’s election.  When the 114th Congress convenes in January, Republicans will control both houses. Republicans will gain control of the Senate with an increase of least 8 seats.  Republicans will increase their House majority by at least 12 seats, with five district elections yet to be decided.

But, for the remainder of the 113th Congress, Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate. So, with about four weeks until the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires and less than six weeks until the end of the year, the question is: What will the “lame duck” congress accomplish among a compelling list of unfinished business?

FY2015 appropriations bills:  Most agree that the most pressing priority is completing action on FY2015 appropriations to keep the government running.  The House has passed seven appropriations bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA) and approved another four through the full House Appropriations Committee. The full Senate has not considered a single appropriations bill, but the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has approved eight bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA). Congress will not complete all FY2015 appropriations bills before the CR runs out and leaders of both parties have pledged to avoid a government shutdown. So, Congress could either pass one Omnibus appropriations bill including all 12 bills or a few “mini-bus” bills (for example, DoD, MilCon/VA, and Homeland Security) and wrap the remaining bills in one final FY2015.appropriations bill. Time constraints make one Omnibus bill the most likely result.

FY2015 DoD Appropriations:  The House passed the FY2015 DoD appropriations bill in June and the full Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved its version in July. The House bill provides $491 billion, $200 million above the request, for the base DoD budget (excluding Military Construction, which the House passed in the VA/MilCon bill). The House bill also includes $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the same amount the president requested as a placeholder. The SAC bill provides $490 billion for DoD base budget appropriations, $1 billion below the request, and $58.3 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). While the White House has expressed displeasure with the House’s denial of the administration’s cost savings and reform proposals, it did not threaten a presidential veto of the bill.

FY2015 Defense Authorization: The House passed the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill in May and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has approved its version of the bill. But no action has been taken in the full Senate. There are a number of significant issues that have to be resolved before final agreement, particularly, the size of the military pay raise (House authorizes a 1, 8 percent raise, while the SASC approves the president’s 1 percent request), refueling the USS George Washington, and sanctions against Iran. In addition, both bills authorize some military special pays, multiyear buys, and military construction contracts which would expire unless Congress passes and the president signs a FY2015 Defense Authorization bill.

U.S. military operations against ISIL: The president is expected to send Congress a resolution to authorize the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Congressional action could come in the form of an amendment to the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill. However, because this will prove to be a heated debate, Congress could begin to debate a new AUMF now, but not vote until January. The president and defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are also pressing Congress to approve the recently-submitted budget amendment to provide funding and the authority to train and equip rebels fighting ISIL. Congress will likely consider this request when finalizing the FY2015 DoD Appropriations bill.

Other legislation: Over 50 so-called tax extenders will expire at the end of the year. They include research and development tax credits (highly popular with business), state and local sales tax deductions, tax credits for energy efficient homes, and bonus depreciation tax credits.  Earlier, the House passed bills permanently extending some credits (including the R&D tax credit), while the Senate Finance Committee approved extending almost all tax provisions for two years. Although there is strong sentiment among some members to kill many of the provisions, given the time crunch and the popularity of the provisions Congress will probably extend most of them.

The president has said he will take executive action on immigration before the end of the year. Congressional opponents argue that the president must involve Congress. Some want to include a provision in an omnibus appropriations bill that would prohibit the president from spending funds to implement such executive action. The president has hinted he might veto such a bill, which could revive the possibility of a government shutdown. House and Senate Republican leaders are strongly opposed to the president’s impending executive action, but dismiss the idea of forcing a government shutdown over this issue.

President requests $3.4 billion for DoD operations against ISIL

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-11-11 11:44

A FY2015 budget amendment submitted to the Congress yesterday would provide the Department of Defense (DoD) $3.4 billion to conduct operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This request comes after the president announced that he is increasing the number of U.S. forces advising and training Iraqi and Kurdish troops by 1,500 to about 3,000.

Operations against ISIL are currently being funded from existing OCO funding, according to DoD. However, DoD has cautioned that additional funding would be required as the pace of operations increased. Secretary of Defense has repeatedly warned that operations against ISIL are long-term.

The $3.4 billion requested for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE will fund: the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs of air, ground and naval forces engaged in the operation; sustain and support forces deployed to “provide training, advice, and assistance to partner security forces engaged in the fight against ISIL;” and replenish and replace munitions expended during airstrikes against ISIL forces. According to DoD justification documents, $2.0 billion will be for In-Theater Support, $0.3 billion for equipment reset, and $1.2 billion for classified programs.

Over two-thirds of the $3.4 billion will be for O&M appropriations ($2.3 billion). Military Personnel costs account for $141 million, Procurement funding will be $827 million, and RDT&E programs will require $145 million.

Air Force requirements are $1.581 billion (46 percent of total funding). The Army receives $957 million (28 percent) for its operations, the Navy gets $260 million (8 percent), and Defense-wide activities are allocated $632 million (18 percent).

In addition to the $3.4 billion, the president requested $1.6 billion to set up the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) ”to develop and support Iraqi national security forces, including Kurdish forces, as they confront ISIL in Iraq.”

These amounts (totaling $5 billion) are to be funded in DoD Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) accounts and are in addition to the $58.6 billion DoD Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request the president sent requested in June. The total DoD OCO request for FY2015 is now $63.6 billion.

A DoD spokesperson said Congress will have to act on the president’s funding request before the additional 1,500 troops can be deployed. Congress will begin a lame duck session this week with hopes of completing action on FY2015 appropriations bills, including DoD OCO funding, before adjourning.

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