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Navy Identifies Missing Hornet Pilot

Defense News - Sun, 2014-09-14 00:00

The Navy today announced it has identified Lt. Nathan Poloski as the missing F/A-18C Hornet aviator and declared him presumed deceased.

Poloski, 26, hailed from Lake Arrowhead, California.

On Sept. 12, Poloski was involved in an apparent collision between the F/A-18C Hornet he was flying and another Hornet aircraft during routine flight operations in the western Pacific Ocean. The other pilot involved in the incident was rapidly located and received medical attention.

After an extensive search, the Navy yesterday ended search-and-rescue efforts for Poloski.

A 2009 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Poloski reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 94, based in Lemoore, California, in April, 2014.

"Nathan was an outstanding person, naval officer and aviator," said Navy Cmdr. Michael Langbehn, the commanding officer of Poloski’s squadron. "My personal thoughts and prayers are for his family, friends and shipmates as they endure this immeasurable loss."

Following the apparent collision the Navy conducted an extensive search for Poloski, covering more than 3,000 square miles using the USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley, USS Sterett, USS Dewey, helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73, P-8 Poseidon aircraft from Guam, and satellite imagery.

The search was unable to locate or recover any remains of the missing aviator.

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94, Carrier Air Wing 17, and USS Carl Vinson will hold a memorial service on board USS Carl Vinson to honor the life and service of Lt. Poloski at a date and time to be determined.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.
 

Onlookers Salute ‘Old Glory’ at Fort McHenry

Defense News - Sun, 2014-09-14 00:00

Visitors and special guests watched today as members of the U.S. Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), with the help of War of 1812 re-enactors, hoisted a 15-star, 15-stripe, full-size replica Star-Spangled Banner flag over Fort McHenry here at the “By Dawn’s Early Light” flag-raising ceremony.

Star-Spangled Banner replica

At precisely 9 a.m., guns blasted and the crowd of onlookers fell silent as service members raised a 30-foot by 42-foot replica of the flag that 200 years ago inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” which would later become America’s national anthem.

“It is a great pleasure for me to be here at this historic site and historic city of Baltimore as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of our Star-Spangle Banner,” said former Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, the event’s guest speaker.

The American flag is “a piece of cloth I have loved all my life and have served under for over 40 years,’ Powell added.

Celebrating history

The special ceremony capped a weeklong series of events at the fort for Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Spectacular, a celebration commemorating the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the national anthem.

The fort played host to a number of special events and activities including commemorative ceremonies, living history demonstrations and interpretive programs during the Star-Spangled Spectacular.

The city’s celebration, which concludes Sept. 16, also includes visits by more than 30 ships from the U.S. and foreign nations, as well as an airshow performance by U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.
 

President Slates Commanders’ Meeting at Centcom

Defense News - Sun, 2014-09-14 00:00

President Barack Obama is slated to visit U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, Sept. 17.

Centcom’s area of responsibility includes 20 countries in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, including Iraq and Syria.

At Centcom, the president will receive a briefing from his top commanders, and thank the men and women who will partner with others in the region to carry out the counterterror strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL.

Following the president’s meetings, he will deliver a statement to the press.
 

Dr. Biden Cheers-on Athletes at Invictus Games

Defense News - Sat, 2014-09-13 00:00

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, traveled to London to cheer on Team USA athletes as they compete in the 2014 Invictus Games.

More than 400 competitors from 14 nations are participating in the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded warriors to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their countries.

Games named after English poet’s work

The games are named after William Earnest Henley’s 1875 poem titled “Invictus,” which he wrote while recovering from an intensive surgery that saved his second leg from being amputated. The games, which are taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, began Sept. 10 and run through tomorrow.

The United States is one of 14 teams participating, and includes 98 military athletes: 22 from the Army, 20 from the Marine Corps, 22 from the Navy, 22 from the Air Force and 12 from U.S. Special Operations Command. Of the service members, 53 are active duty and 45 are veterans.

Praising athletes’ energy, spirit, resilience

Team USA’s athletes “are incredible,” Dr. Biden told NBC “Today” show host Lester Holt this morning.

She praised the athletes’ “energy, and their positive spirit and their resilience.”

“They make Americans so proud,” she added.

Meeting Prince Harry

Dr. Biden watched some basketball at the Invictus Games today with Britain’s Prince Harry.

After attending the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Prince Harry was inspired to host an international adaptive sports event in the United Kingdom. The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who holds the rank of captain and continues to serve in Britain's armed forces, announced the 2014 Invictus Games in March.

Dr. Biden commented on Prince Harry's role in founding the Invictus Games. The prince, she said, “saw our Warrior Games in Colorado, and so now he's brought it to a global scale, and we have 14 countries and 400 athletes competing and it's been great.”

Pre-games barbecue for USA athletes

Last week, Dr. Biden and the Vice President hosted a barbecue for Team USA athletes at their Naval Observatory home in Washington, D.C. In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Biden told the athletes that the barbecue “is not just a way to celebrate your achievements in making the U.S. Team; it is also a small way of saying thank you -- to our heroes -- thank you for your service and your sacrifice.”

“You inspire me ... you inspire all Americans,” she added.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden launched the “Joining Forces” initiative that supports U.S. service members, military veterans, and their families.
 

Navy Suspends Search for Hornet Jet Pilot

Defense News - Sat, 2014-09-13 00:00

After an extensive search, the Navy today has ended search-and-rescue efforts for the pilot of one of the F/A-18C Hornet aircraft that crashed Sept. 12 approximately 250 nautical miles off the coast of Wake Island.

The pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 has been presumed deceased.

"This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community," said Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

The identity of the pilot will not be released until the family notification process is complete.

Navy units involved in the search-and-rescue efforts included USS Carl Vinson, USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley, USS Sterett, and USS Dewey, along with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 and P-8s from Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 5 in Guam.

The two F/A-18C aircraft, one assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and the other assigned to VFA 113, had launched from the flight deck and were in the process of proceeding to their initial stations when they apparently collided approximately seven miles from the ship.

One pilot was recovered by helicopter shortly after the crash and transported to USS Carl Vinson for medical care. The rescued pilot has since been released from medical facilities aboard the ship.

VFA 94 and VFA 113, both based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, are part of Carrier Air Wing 17, assigned to the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
 

Airstrikes Hit ISIL Near Mosul Dam

Defense News - Sat, 2014-09-13 00:00

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, employing attack aircraft to conduct two airstrikes yesterday in support of Iraqi security forces near the Mosul Dam.

In total, the strikes destroyed an ISIL mortar emplacement and an ISIL armed vehicle. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

These strikes were conducted under authority to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts, and support Iraqi forces acting in furtherance of these objectives while defending their country against ISIL terrorists.

U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 160 airstrikes across Iraq.
 

President Discusses ‘Relentless’ Campaign Against ISIL

Defense News - Sat, 2014-09-13 00:00

In his weekly address issued today, President Barack Obama discussed the strategy of his “targeted, relentless counterterrorism campaign against ISIL that combines American air power, contributions from allies and partners, and more support to forces that are fighting these terrorists on the ground.”

The American public, the president said in his address, “can be proud of our men and women in uniform who are serving in this effort.”

Here is the text of the president’s address:

As Commander in Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. And I’ve made it clear that those who threaten the United States will find no safe haven. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, we took out Osama bin Laden, much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and leaders of al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. We’ve prevented terrorist attacks, saved American lives and made our homeland more secure.

Today, the terrorist threat is more diffuse, from al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists -- like ISIL in Syria and Iraq. As I said this week, our intelligence community has not yet detected specific ISIL plots against our homeland. But its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States. And, if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States. So we’re staying vigilant. And we’re moving ahead with our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist organization.

To meet a threat like this, we have to be smart. We have to use our power wisely. And we have to avoid the mistakes of the past. American military power is unmatched, but this can’t be America’s fight alone. And the best way to defeat a group like ISIL isn’t by sending large numbers of American combat forces to wage a ground war in the heart of the Middle East. That wouldn’t serve our interests. In fact, it would only risk fueling extremism even more.

What’s needed now is a targeted, relentless counterterrorism campaign against ISIL that combines American air power, contributions from allies and partners, and more support to forces that are fighting these terrorists on the ground. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

We’re moving ahead with our campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists, and we’re prepared to take action against ISIL in Syria as well. The additional American forces I’ve ordered to Iraq will help Iraqi and Kurdish forces with the training, intelligence and equipment they need to take the fight to these terrorists on the ground. We’re working with Congress to expand our efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition. We’ll continue to strengthen our defenses here at home. And we’ll keep providing the humanitarian relief to help Iraqi civilians who have been driven from their homes and who remain in extreme danger.

Because we’re leading the right way, more nations are joining our coalition. This week, Arab nations agreed to strengthen their support for the new Iraqi government and to do their part in the fight against ISIL, including aspects of the military campaign. Saudi Arabia will join the effort to help train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces. And retired Marine general John Allen -- who during the Iraq war worked with Sunnis in Iraq as they fought to reclaim their communities from terrorists -- will serve as our special envoy to help build and coordinate our growing coalition.

Today, every American can be proud of our men and women in uniform who are serving in this effort. When our airstrikes helped break the siege of the Iraqi town of Amerli [Ah-MER-lee], one Kurdish fighter on the ground said, “It would have been absolutely impossible without the American planes.” One resident of that city said -- “Thank you, America.”

Today we’re showing the world the best of American leadership. We will protect our people. We will stand with partners who defend their countries and rally other nations to meet a common threat. And here at home -- thirteen years after our country was attacked -- we continue to stand tall and proud. Because we’re Americans. We don’t give in to fear. We carry on. And we will never waver in the defense of the country we love.
 

DoD issues guidance to improve acquisition competition

ASMC National News - Thu, 2014-09-11 10:54

Moving to reverse what he calls a “declining competition rate,” the Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition chief issued strong guidance last month to the Military Services and DoD components to improve the defense acquisition competitive environment.

In a memo to the DoD acquisition community, Under Secretary of Defense (Acq) Frank Kendall said that DoD has not met its competition goals in the last four years. Calling competition “the most valuable means we have to motivate industry to deliver effective and efficient solutions for the Department of Defense,” Kendal stressed that a competitive environment spurs innovation, improves quality and performance, and lowers costs.

He emphasized that with the limitation on resources, DoD has to maximize the use of competition. “Every dollar saved through competition benefits the Warfighter and the taxpayers,” he said. Kendall’s memo described actions DoD must take to provide a more competitive environment.

The Business Senior Integration Group (chaired by Kendall to oversee the Better Buying Power Initiative) will assess the progress on efforts to expand and improve competition at its quarterly meetings. The group will determine what actions have been successful and will also deploy “business intelligence tools” to identify competition opportunities.

Contracting officers will ask for feedback from companies that expressed interest in a competitive solicitation, but did not submit an offer. This will provide acquisition leaders with important information to enable them to identify possible barriers to competition.

Contracting officers will also be required to expand the use of Requests for Information (RFI) or Sources Sought (SS) notices before issuing non-competitive acquisition solicitations. This will assist managers to better maximize the use of competitive procedures.

Kendall announced the issuing of “Guidelines for Creating and Maintaining a Competitive Environment for Supplies and Services in the Department of Defense.” These guideline will complement the principles of the Better Buying Power Initiative: 1) think rather than default to the “school solution,” 2) attract and train acquisition professionals; stress acquisition fundamentals; and streamline decisionmaking. Kendal said the techniques and examples in the guidelines should be considered in designing acquisition strategies that create and maintain a competitive environment throughout the product or service lifecycle.

DoD will also publish a “DoD Competition Handbook, A Practical Guide for Program Managers” that updates the Defense Systems Management College handbook (Establishing Competitive Production Sources), which is 30 years old. This updated handbook will include new chapters on technology maturation and risk reduction, engineering, manufacturing, and development, and operations and support.

In addition to these actions, Kendall said DoD will also amend procedures for preparing non-competitive Justification and Approval (J&A) documents. Current policy does not effectively track the use of possible plans to remove or overcome barriers to competition in follow-on acquisitions of a product or service, according to Kendall’s memo. To capture these missed competition opportunities, the previous J&A document for a product or service will be required to be part of the approval package for any subsequent acquisition.  

Remembering 9/11

ASMC National News - Thu, 2014-09-11 00:01

As we mark the anniversary of the 9/11, please join the ASMC National Executive Committee and Staff in remembering our fallen comrades.

The attacks touched the lives of every American. Fifteen of our ASMC members were killed in the attacks, and another seven were seriously injured. As you pay tribute and honor to all those affected by the events of September 11th, please make a special note of our own fallen comrades.

  • Angelene Carter
  • Gerald Fisher
  • Peggy Hurt
  • Brenda Gibson
  • Brenda Kegler
  • Robert Maxwell
  • Patricia Mickley
  • Diane Padro
  • Edward Rowenhorst
  • Robert Russell
  • Charles Sabin
  • Sandra Taylor
  • Willie Troy
  • David Laychak
  • Rhonda Rasmussen

And the injured.

  • Aaron Cooper
  • Kathy Cordero
  • Juan Cruz-Santiago
  • Paul Gonzalez
  • David Lanagan
  • Sheila Moody
  • Christine Morrison

JCS Chairman Hosts 3rd Facebook Town Hall

Defense News - Thu, 2014-09-04 00:00

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed many issues during his third Facebook Town Hall today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey logged onto his account from his E-Ring office in the Pentagon and answered questions from a wide spectrum of Americans and discussed several topics, including Russia, Iraq, Syria, the Asia-Pacific region, and why Americans should serve in the military.

Dempsey said he enjoys the opportunity to speak directly to people via Facebook.

Helpful interaction on Facebook

“It’s always helpful to me to gauge what Americans are concerned about and to get a sense of what they feel is important,” the general said during a pause in the action.

Afghanistan led off the Town Hall. The chairman returned from one of his periodic visits to the country last month and said there is progress in Afghanistan, especially with the Afghan national security forces.

“During each visit, I see growing confidence among the ANSF, our coalition, and an incredible willingness to sustain gains and mature institutions,” he said.

Resilient and capable Afghan forces

Afghan forces have proven to be resilient and capable, the chairman said.

Yet, “while Afghanistan is headed in the right direction toward a fully-functioning inclusive government, the path is neither a straight line nor is it short,” Dempsey said.

U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, he said, include disrupting al-Qaida, supporting Afghan forces, and giving the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed on their own.


Radical, brutal ISIL terrorists

Many people asked the chairman about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The terror group’s avowed goal is to recreate the ancient kingdom of Sham, which once ruled the land that now makes up Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait.

“ISIL is radical in its ideology, brutal in its tactics, and closed to all but those who adhere to their narrow and exclusive world view,” Dempsey said. “Freedom is antithetical to ISIL and that’s what makes them dangerous. The U.S. military considers ISIL an immediate threat initially to the region, our partners, and to the United States of America in the longer term.”

The U.S. military has developed a strategy with a series of options on how to initially contain, continue to disrupt, and ultimately defeat ISIL, the chairman said.

“While the military will certainly be part of this fight, there is no military-only solution, and it cannot be accomplished unilaterally,” he said. “ISIL will be defeated when the populations on which they have imposed themselves reject them. Our actions are intended to move in that direction.”

Russian actions in Ukraine

There was much interest about Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and many questioners wanted to know if Dempsey regards Russia as a partner or an adversary.

“Russia is competing with the NATO alliance for influence in Europe, and they have chosen to compete with force,” Dempsey said. “They are on a dangerous and provocative path. We have many areas where we should partner with Russia -- for the good of our two countries and the good of the world. The months ahead will reveal the answer to your question.”

Dempsey also fielded questions on concerns about an erroneous report on service members on food stamps.

“I very much understand that some American families, both civilian and military, continue to face financial hardships,” he said. “That said, our service members are not the new face of poverty, and the recently reported estimates of military households served by food assistance programs are inaccurate.”

Troops are most-valued asset

Service members are the department’s most-valued asset, the chairman said.

“I remain committed to caring for them and ensuring they are adequately compensated for their jobs and sacrifices,” Dempsey said. “In addition to our broad pay and compensation package, quality of life programs and services and non-pay benefits, we have numerous programs in place to assist those whose family situation places them in extraordinary need.”

Dempsey placed a website for one of these programs -- the Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance Program -- into his answer. Military families can find additional information at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/fssa/home.do .

Recommends military service

A questioner asked Dempsey if he believes military service is a good career option for young Americans.

“I’ve actually commissioned all three of my children into the Army, so your question resonates with me,” Dempsey said.

Military service means “a sense of belonging, meaning, and variety,” the chairman said.

Dempsey added, “Military friendships are lifetime friendships, and the experiences are lifetime experiences.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)
 

Secretary General: Wales Summit Will Shape NATO’s Future

Defense News - Thu, 2014-09-04 00:00

The NATO summit that began today in Wales will be one of the most important summits in the alliance’s history, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today.

The summit is taking place at a crucial time, he said, adding that the alliance is faced with a dramatically changed security environment.

“To the east, Russia is attacking Ukraine,” Rasmussen said. To the southeast, we see the rise of a terrorist organization -- the so-called Islamic State -- that has committed horrific atrocities. To the south, we see violence, insecurity, instability. Here at the summit we will take important steps to counter these threats and to strengthen the defense of our allies.”

Readiness action plan

The secretary general said that during the summit he expects NATO member states will agree to a readiness action plan aimed at speeding NATO’s response in defense of its allies.

“On defense investment, we will turn the corner and reverse the trend of declining defense budgets,” he said.

Also planned are discussions on what individual allies and NATO can do to counter the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

NATO hasn’t yet received a request from the Iraqi government for assistance in battling ISIL, the secretary general said. “In that respect let me remind you that NATO has assisted Iraq in the past,” he added. “We had a training mission in Iraq until 2011, and if the Iraqi government were to request resumption of such training activities I think NATO allies would consider such a request seriously.”

Rasmussen said NATO member states also will take steps to enhance cooperation with Ukraine and other partner nations. NATO welcomes all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis there, he noted.

“Having said that, I also have to say that what counts is what is actually happening on the ground,” he said. “And we are still witnessing, unfortunately, Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine. So we continue to call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukrainian borders, stop the flow of weapons and fighters into Ukraine, stop the support for armed militants in Ukraine and engage in a constructive political process. That would be a genuine effort to facilitate a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.”

Joint declaration

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet with NATO leaders today to adopt a joint declaration that will outline concrete steps to enhance the NATO-Ukraine partnership, Rasmussen said.

NATO members also will discuss what the future relationship with Afghanistan will look like after the International Security Assistance Force mission ends this year, he added.

“This summit will shape future NATO,” Rasmussen said. “It will demonstrate our resolve, our unity, our solidarity.

“Surrounded by an arc of crises,” he continued, “our alliance, our transatlantic community, represents an island of security, stability and prosperity. And here at the summit we will strengthen our transatlantic bond as the bedrock of security in Europe and North America.”

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)
 

U.S. military operations in in Iraq costing $7.5 million a day

ASMC National News - Wed, 2014-09-03 12:47

The cost of running U.S. military operations in Iraq has been averaging $7.5 million per day since mid-June, according to the Department of Defense (DoD).

Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters last week that the costs of DoD’s humanitarian and military operations in Iraq have fluctuated daily since beginning on June 16th. Daily costs did not start out at $7.5 million per day, he stressed. “As our OPTEMO and as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost,” he said.

But, the latest figures DoD has compiled show that through those costs have averaged $7.5 million per day through August 26. That would mean that DoD has already spent over $500 million in Iraq.

Kirby said these costs are being funded from current Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Congress provided $85.2 billion for OCO in FY2014. Kirby said OCO spending in FY2014 is “well within the limits that we need for 2014.”

Kirby cautioned that the situation in Iraq is still fluid and DoD and the State Department are continuing to plan and review options Costs will change as the level of operations, especially air strikes change. There have been 110 air strikes in Iraq since they began, Kirby said.

President recommends 1% pay raise in 2015 for federal civilian personnel

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-09-02 13:12

President Obama last week notified Congress that he has determined that federal civilian employees should receive a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2015. In March, the president included a 1 percent civilian pay raise in his FY2015 budget request.

The president also kept locality pay at the 2014 level.

President Obama acknowledged the sacrifices already made by federal civilian employees, such as a three-year pay freeze through January 2014. However, he cited the need to keep the country on a “sustainable fiscal course” as the reason for limiting the pay raise to 1 percent and freezing locality pay.

Each year the president is required under Title 5, section 5304a, U.S.C. to present an alternative pay plan for across-the-board pay and locality pay adjustments. Unless Congress acts the president’s alternative proposal will automatically go into effect.

To date, Congress has expressed general support for a 1% civilian pay raise.  The House-passed FY2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill was silent on the pay raise. This indicates passive support for the president’s 1% pay raise proposal in that it does not reject it. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its approval of the FY2015 DoD Appropriations bill, also includes funds for a 1 percent civilian pay raise. No other appropriations committees’ action to date would prohibit a 1% civilian pay raise.

The military pay raise for 2014 will be at least 1 percent, as the president proposed in the FY2015 budget request. The House-passed FY2015 Defense Authorization bill provides a 1.8 percent military pay raise, while the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) approved bill includes a 1 percent military pay raise

U.S., Partner-nations Conduct Humanitarian Airdrop in Iraq

Defense News - Sat, 2014-08-30 00:00

American military planes along with Australian, French and British aircraft airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amirli in Iraq, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued today.

U.S. aircraft also conducted airstrikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support the humanitarian mission, Kirby said in his statement.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

“At the request of the Government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amirli, home to thousands of Shia Turkomen who have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL. The United States Air Force delivered this aid alongside aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom who also dropped much needed supplies.

“In conjunction with this airdrop, U.S. aircraft conducted coordinated airstrikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation.

“These military operations were conducted under authorization from the Commander-in-Chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an ISIL attack on the civilians of Amirli. The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.

“The U.S. military will continue to assess the effectiveness of these operations and work with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as international partners including the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, and non-government organizations to provide humanitarian assistance in Iraq as needed.”
 

Marine Corps changes special duty assignment pay rates

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-08-29 14:07

The Marine Corps has revised special duty assignment pay rates for FY2015. Starting on October 1, 2014 most Marines on special duty will receive lower rates than have been paid previously.

The new rates will apply to billets such as recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors, and embassy security guards. However, special pays for Marines who began serving in special duty assignments before October 1 will not be affected.

The change, which will save the Marine Corps $35 million over five years, was made in response to ongoing budget limitations.

The Marine Corps (as well as the other services) have had to take a hard look at all programs, including some pay items, to meet budgetary constraints. “We spent a significant amount of time evaluating all relevant factors before making a final decision on the changes,” Marine Corps compensation chief 1st Lt. John Krahling said in a news release.

He pointed out that most of Military Pay cannot be changed because it is mandated by law. Only four percent of the Military Personnel Pay account, such as bonuses and special pays, can be adjusted to achieve cost savings.

Krahling emphasized that the Marine Corps is trying to maintain the integrity of the special pay program. “Every billet and assignment that receives special duty will continue to do so,” he said.

CBO projects deficit to decline to $506 billion in FY2014

ASMC National News - Wed, 2014-08-27 18:58

The baseline federal budget deficit for FY2014 is expected to be $506 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) latest report on the budget and economic outlook. CBO baseline estimates assume a continuation of current law for both expenditures and revenue.

This estimate is $14 billion more than CBO’s April estimate ($492 billion), but if realized would mark an improvement of over $170 billion from the 2013 deficit ($680 billion).

The slight increase in the projected FY2014 deficit reflects lower estimated revenue (-$24 billion), driven by a decline in estimated corporate income taxes, which will more than offset a projected $11 billion decline in expenditures.

For the period FY2015 to 2024, CBO expects the baseline deficit to be $422 billion lower than projected in April.  The deficit will drop to $469 billion in FY2015 before beginning to increase again due to rising mandatory spending and growing interest payments on the debt, according to the CBO report.  By FY2022, CBO projects the deficit will exceed $900 billion, unless changes are made to current law. 

CBO expects the deficit as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to drop to 2.9 percent, significantly lower than the 4.1 percent recorded in 2013. The deficit share of GDP will remain at or below 3 percent until 2019 according to CBO. For the period 2020-2020, the measure will approach 4 percent because deficits will begin to grow at a much faster rate than GDP, CBO reports.

But, while the deficit as a share of GDP will stay under 4 percent through 2024, CBO expresses concern about the growing size of the total federal debt. CBO estimates that federal debt held by the public will be 74 percent of GDP by the end of FY2014 and could grow to 77 percent by 2024. This is over twice that recorded in 2007 and “higher than in any year since 1950.”

CBO worries that a growing national debt will have “negative consequences” on federal spending (increased interest payments) and economic growth, and would restrain the flexibility policymakers need to be able to deal with future challenges and crises.

Air Force partners with GSA to improve buying efficiency

ASMC National News - Mon, 2014-08-25 17:45

In a move to achieve savings while buying products and services more efficiently, the Air Force has entered into a partnership agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA).

The Air Force’s Sustainment Center (AFSC) and GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this month. The MOU, announced by GSA on August 18, 2014, will “assist the AFSC to more effectively obtain the products and services they need to accomplish their mission and serve the American people,” according to a GSA Blog post.

The agreement sets up a working group to identify potential GSA contracts that the Air Force could use. Some of the FAS programs that might assist the Air Force include: professional services contracts; General Supplies and Services Fourth Party Logistics program; Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI); and Global Supply Special Order Program (SOP).

This agreement follows the MOU the Air Force signed with GSA in December 2013. That agreement was for the AF use of the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) and OASIS small business contracts to buy complex professional services.

The AFSC , headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, “provides critical sustainment for the Air Force’s most sophisticated weapons systems, including: A-10 Thunderbolt II, AC-130, B-1 Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, and C-5 Galaxy.”  

U.S. Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIL near Mosul Dam

Defense News - Thu, 2014-08-21 00:00

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in support of Iraqi Security Force operations, using fighter and attack aircraft to conduct six airstrikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam, according to a U.S. Central Command news release issued today.

The strikes destroyed or damaged three ISIL Humvees, one ISIL vehicle, and multiple IED emplacements. All aircraft exited the strike area safely.

These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense force operations, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.

Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 90 airstrikes across Iraq. Of those 90 strikes, 57 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam.
 

Hagel, Ukrainian Minister Discuss Russian Aid Convoy

Defense News - Wed, 2014-08-20 00:00

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today spoke via telephone with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Valeriy Heletey and discussed Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s recent remarks noting that the Russian aid convoy to Ukraine was not a military intervention, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

“Secretary Hagel spoke today by phone with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Valeriy Heletey.

“Secretary Hagel relayed Minister Shoygu’s recent remarks on the Russian aid convoy, and Minister Shoygu’s “guarantee” that the aid convoy was not a military intervention. Secretary Hagel conveyed that he told Minister Shoygu Russia’s vehicles and forces along the border continued to escalate tensions and stressed that any discussions about potential ceasefire agreements must include Ukraine.

“Minister Heletey reported increased violence in Ukraine’s east as a result of Russia’s ongoing supply of weapons and personnel into Ukraine, and spoke about recent attacks in which innocent civilians were killed and wounded.

“Finally, Secretary Hagel and Minister Heletey discussed the status of ongoing deliveries of United States military assistance to Ukraine. Minister Heletey thanked the secretary for the continued assistance of the United States.”
 

Per Diem rates for federal employees unchanged for FY2015

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-08-19 14:15

The General Services Administration (GSA) has announced the daily Per Diem reimbursement rates for federal employees in FY2015.

Per Diem rates in Standard areas in the Continental United States (CONUS) for lodging will be $83 in FY2015, unchanged from rates in FY2014. Rates for and meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) will also remain unchanged at $46.  The Standard area rate covers most of the continental CONUS counties. 

GSA sets per diem rates for locations in CONUS.  These rates are the maximum amounts a federal employee can receive as reimbursement for allowable expenses while on official duty travel. 

The GSA Per Diem Bulletin FTR 15-01 states that Per  Diem rates for lodging for the some 400 Non-Standard areas (NSAs) will vary depending on local conditions. The MIE rate for NSAs will to range from $46 to $71, also unchanged from FY2014. 

All rates are effective on October 1, 2014.

There will be two new NSAs in FY2014: Kayenta, AZ (Navajo County) and San Angelo, TX (Tom Green County).

GSA also announced changes for some locations in FY2015. Elmore County, ID will be included with Sun Valley, ID NSA. Middlebury, VT (Addison County) NSA will be combined with the Burlington/St. Alban’s, VT (Chittenden/Franklin Counties) NSA. And, the Manhattan NSA has will be renamed New York City (NYC). GSA no longer sets rates for individual NYC boroughs.

In addition, the following NSAs will move to the Standard category: Glenwood Springs/Grand Junction, CO; Lakeville, CT; Chesapeake/Suffolk, VA; Lake Geneva, and WI; Sheridan, WY.

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