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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.

President will nominate David Berteau to top DoD logistics post

ASMC National News - Wed, 2014-11-05 11:30

President Obama will nominate David J. Berteau to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Material Readiness (L&MR). Paul D. Peters, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (L&MR), is currently serving as Acting ASD (L&MR).

As ASD (L&MR) Berteau would manage logistics policy and program oversight within the Department of Defense (DoD). The L&MR organizational structure includes: Maintenance Policy and Programs; Material Readiness; Program Support; Resource Management; Supply Chain Integration; and Transportation Policy.

Berteau is currently the Senior Vice President and Director of the National Security Program on Industry and Resources at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). His portfolio at CSIS consists of the study and analysis of national security plans, programs, and budgets as well as defense management, contracting, acquisition, logistics, and industrial base issues. Berteau also serves as a director of the Procurement Round Table and is a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration and the Robert S. Strauss Center at the University of Texas.

Prior to joining CSIS in 2008, Berteau was a director at Clark and Weinstock (2003-2008), and directed the National Security Studies Program at Syracuse University (2001-2003). From 1993 to 2001, he served in various senior positions with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Berteau would bring a wealth of experience in DoD resource management and acquisition policy to the job. Between 1981 and 1993, Berteau held senior staff and management positions at DoD. From 1981 to 1986 he served in numerous staff positions. Berteau was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management and Support from 1986 to 1989. In 1989 he was Acting Assistant Secretary for Force Management and Personnel and was the Principal Deputy Secretary for Production and Logistics from 1990-1993. He also served as the Chairman of the Defense Conversion Commission from 1992-1993.  

PDI 2015 coming soon

ASMC National News - Mon, 2014-11-03 13:03

PDI 2015: marching forward – be in that number

In May 2015, the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) will take the Professional Development Institute (PDI) to New Orleans!  The 2015 PDI will run May 27th to 29th and will include all of the excellent educational offerings you have come to expect from ASMC.

Registration for the premier professional development and training event will open in February 2015, with the course information available in early Winter 2015.

Interested in corporate sponsorship or exhibition opportunities?  The corporate PDI 2015 website and registration will be available in December 2014!

Stay tuned for further information about PDI 2015, including registration and course offerings!

Dempsey Discusses Leadership at Syracuse University

Defense News - Sun, 2014-11-02 00:00

You don’t get to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff without learning something about leadership along the way.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey has been a leader at every military level throughout his 40-year career and he shared some of his insights with civilian and military students at Syracuse University in Central New York on Friday.

Leadship is More Than Giving Orders 

Leadership is more than simply ordering people to do something. “You might try to bludgeon your way through, but it doesn’t work well,” the chairman said.

Dempsey gave the students a couple of tools to place in their toolboxes as they prepare for service in national security.

Leaders, he said, must get used to the fact that they are going to be asked to do more than one thing at a time. Leaders have to prioritize and junior leaders cannot rely on senior leaders to always set the agenda. “What is a priority today may not be tomorrow, and you have to be prepared for that,” Dempsey said.

He noted that if he had visited Syracuse last year, no one would be talking about Ebola or Crimea or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Leaders Present Solutions To Problems 

He told the students to not simply pass a problem up the chain to the boss, but to pass it with a recommendation. This is just another way to say that leaders have to agile in their thinking and actions.

The chairman discussed risk. “Making decisions as a leader involves risk, and that risk is either manageable or not depending on how you deal with it,” he said. “It’s not a leader’s job to prevent risk, rather it is the leader’s job to enable subordinates to take risks.”

Every action has risk and there is no way to drive risk to zero, he said. Risk should not paralyze action.

Candor is a trait all must have. “If there’s more truth in the hallway, than in the meeting room, you’ve got problems,” Dempsey said.

He urged them to speak truth to power, and for leaders to not be afraid of disagreements.

Dempsey stated that competence and character are needed in equal measure. Leaders can’t have one without the other. “Competence will get you to the table, but character is what keeps you at the table,” he said.

Humility Matters

The chairman also discussed humility. He quoted an old saying that “you can get a lot done in Washington if you don’t care who gets credit.” He called it a truism of life in government. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking less about yourself,” he said. “You should be optimistic, you should be ambitious, you should be self-confident.”

He urged the students to be approachable. “The best of our leaders are extremely approachable,” he said. Put people at ease and listen to what they have to say.

And he urged the students to never stop learning. Abraham Lincoln wrote long before he became president “I will study and prepare, and perhaps my day will come.”

“Commit to be a life-long learner, and if history calls on you, you will be prepared,” he said.

Dempsey ended with a quote from William Butler Yeats: “Talent perceives differences. Genius perceives unity.”

He said that right now the people of the United States perceive the differences among us all too easily. “You can’t miss the differences that separate us,” he said. “Genius perceives unity. Genius is what allows us to come together. That’s what this country does. That’s what sets us apart.”

He told the students to look around the room and note the differences. “I travel all around the world and I would never see an audience like this – men and women, different races, different religions – sitting here. You would never see an audience like this anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“That’s the genius of the American Dream,” he said. “You need to see genius, meaning you need to find unity. And if you do that, this country will be fine.”
 

President Obama Speaks with Troops Deployed in Operation United Assistance

Defense News - Sat, 2014-11-01 00:00

President Barack Obama has spoken with service personnel working to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa to offer his profound gratitude for their role in Operation United Assistance.  

Here is the statement released by the White House: 

The President spoke by phone on Saturday afternoon with U.S. service members in Liberia and Senegal taking part in Operation United Assistance, the U.S. military mission to contain the Ebola outbreak at its source.

The President, on behalf of the American people, offered his profound gratitude to the dedicated men and women providing logistics support, engineering expertise, construction services, and other elements needed to bring the epidemic under control. The President underscored that the civilian-led, whole of government strategy to tackle Ebola on the frontlines is the most effective way to prevent further spread of the disease and protect the American people from additional cases at home. He concluded the call by noting that, while we must not relent in this campaign, initial signs of progress in Liberia were a testament to the skill and determination of these service members and their civilian counterparts. Their service embodies American leadership at its finest.
 

Dempsey Discusses 'Strategy in the Open' at Syracuse Event

Defense News - Sat, 2014-11-01 00:00

The world has always faced challenges, but the difference today is many strategy and policy decisions are made in public, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday at Syracuse University in Central New York.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families that the shift to public decision-making for him has been evolutionary. But, “in your lifetime in public service … you will find increasingly that you are constantly under scrutiny for the decisions you make.”

Because of that scrutiny, decision-makers often find that they change decisions almost as soon as they have made them, he said. Policymakers make decisions under the observation of 330 million fellow citizens.

Complicated v. Complex

Ever the wordsmith, Dempsey also took policy makers to task for confusing the words complicated and complex. “Think of complicated as something you can disaggregate, deal with its component parts, put it back together and the problem is largely solved,” he said.

Complex issues have at the starting point the fact that as soon as they are touched they change things. “It’s the Heisenberg principle – there is no such thing as a pure experiment because when you … touch it, you change it,” he said. “That’s what we’re facing today across the globe.”

The chairman used his favorite mnemonic device – 222 and 1 – to talk about the state of the world.

The device means two heavyweights, two middleweights, two networks and a domain.

China, Russia

China and Russia are the heavyweights and the chairman is acutely aware that whatever the United States does around the world affects the security relationship with those two heavyweights.

North Korea and Iran are the two middleweights: North Korea for the instability it brings to Northeast Asia and potentially the globe. With Iran “we’re on a path to resolve the nuclear issues” that mar that country’s relations with the rest of the world, he said. But the nuclear issues are just the tip of the iceberg with Iran. There are also problems with Iran sponsoring terrorism, launching a cyberwar and much else, he said.

The first of the two networks is the al-Qaida affiliate network. This is the fanatical religious network that runs from Central Asia across the Middle East into North Africa. From Pakistan to Nigeria, the network is a problem, he said.

The other network is transnational organized crime and doesn’t get the notoriety it should, the chairman said. “It makes more money in a year than most countries on the planet … and that money gets turned into weapons and into the hands of the terror networks,” he said.

Danger of Cyber

The domain is cyber. “It’s manmade, and we can understand it, but it’s becoming increasingly dangerous because of the ability of someone with a laptop to do more with that device than many can do with bullets,” he said.

Cyber is an emotional issue, but Americans need to have the conversation about the domain. “We’ve got to … find a way to collaborate on standards and information sharing and what is the role of the government in the cyber domain,” he said. America is most vulnerable to a cyber attack, the chairman said.
 

Hagel and Army leaders call for sequestration fix in 2016

ASMC National News - Fri, 2014-10-31 16:04

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel blamed many of the readiness problems the Army and other military services are experiencing on the deep cuts forced by sequestration

Speaking at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition earlier this month, Hagel warned that failure to fix sequestration risks a return to an Army that is undertrained, under-equipped, outnumbered, and unprepared.” Because of sequestration, last year the Army had to cancel so many training rotations that we had only two active-duty brigade combat teams who were fully ready and available to execute a major combat mission,” he charged.

Hagel acknowledged that some budget relief has been enacted, but stressed that sequestration is still law. Unless there is an agreement to fix sequestration, Hagel said, “it will return in 2016—stunting the Army’s readiness just as we’ve begun to recover, and requiring even more dramatic reductions in force structure.”

Hagel also pressed for congressional approval of DoD’s proposed program reductions, trade-offs, and compensation reforms to mitigate the stress on readiness levels and modernization plans. If Congress does not act, Hagel warned, DoD “could face a $70 billion cut in our budget over the next five years.” As a result, the military services “would have little choice but to make up the differences through cuts to readiness,” he said.

Hagel urged Congress to be “a partner in responsible, long-term planning and budgeting” and to end sequestration, which he called “an irresponsible deferral of responsibility.”

Army Secretary John McHugh, opening the AUSA meeting, voiced similar concerns. He warned that if sequestration is implemented in 2016 “another round of indiscriminate cuts will gut our force so we’re unable to meet the president’s defense strategic guidance.” He called on Congress to support predictable, long-term funding plans. “This is a time for predictability,” he said

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has echoed Hagel’s and McHugh’s remarks. Odierno called 2016 a “breaking point.” He said if sequestration returned in 2016 it would take the Army budget down $9 billion from the current plan. He emphasized this cut would significantly degrade the force “because I cannot take people out fast enough.”

Odierno called for a “balance” between manpower, modernization and training, which sequestration make difficult to maintain. “This is a lousy way to do business,” he said.

Federal civilian retirees to get 1.7 percent COLA in 2015

ASMC National News - Thu, 2014-10-23 08:45

Federal civilian retirees are set to receive a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2015.  Retirees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will see the increase reflected in their January 2015 payment.

The increase is slightly higher than the 1.5 percent COLA federal retirees received in 2014.  The 2013 COLA was also 1.7 percent and the 2012 COLA was much higher at 3.6 percent. No adjustment was paid to retirees in 2010 and 2011. 

The annual retiree COLA is calculated as the change in the average Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)—published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. 

This is the same calculation for the Social Security COLA.  Social Security recipients will also receive a 1.5 percent increase.

In early September, President Obama notified Congress that he determined that federal civilian employees should receive a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2015. Congress passed and the president signed a FY2015 Continuing Resolution that runs until December 11, 2014, which did not address the federal civilian pay raise. By remaining silent on the pay raise, Congress appears to support the president’s proposed 1 percent pay increase in January. If Congress takes no further action on the pay raise when it completes the FY2015 appropriations bills, the president can issue an executive order implementing the raise.

President orders agencies to upgrade government payment card security

ASMC National News - Tue, 2014-10-21 13:23

Federal agencies will soon be implementing greater security measures and new technology in their payment card programs to improve the data security of financial transactions.

Citing the significant economic consequences of recent data breaches (such as Target and Home Depot), President Obama issued an Executive Order directing “to transition payment processing terminals and credit, debit, and other payment cards to employ enhanced security features, including chip-and-PIN technology.”

Even though the government’s payment card program includes many safeguards against fraud and abuse, the president determined that “the Government must further strengthen the security of consumer data,” by upgrading its payment card program.

Agencies are to use the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119 as guides to determine which security enhancement to use.

By January 1, 2015, new payment processing terminals will “include hardware necessary to support such enhanced security features,” according to the Order. By the same date, the Treasury Department will develop a plan for installing “enabling software that supports enhanced security features.”

Existing government credit, debit, and payment cards (used for official business) that do not have enhanced security features will have to be replaced. The General Services Administration (GSA) will begin replacing such cards provided through GSA contracts no later than January 1, 2015.

Other agencies with such card programs will also have to provide OMB (by January 1, 2015) with plans that will ensure that their cards have enhanced security features.

The Executive Order also addresses the security of federal online transactions. The president orders the National Security Council (NSC), the Office of Science and Technology, and OMB to develop a plan that ensures “that all agencies making personal data accessible to citizens through digital applications require the use of multiple factors of authentication and an effective identity proofing process,” within 90 days. These plans will have to be implemented within 18 months.

Hagel Orders Formation of Expeditionary Ebola Support Team

Defense News - Sun, 2014-10-19 00:00

In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services -- and as an added prudent measure to ensure the nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States -- Secretary Hagel today ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby issued a statement saying Gen. Jacoby is now working with the military services to source and to form this joint team. It will consist of 20 critical care nurses, 5 doctors trained in infectious disease, and 5 trainers in infectious disease protocols.

Once formed, team members will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE). That training is expected to start within the next week or so and will be provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Upon conclusion of training, team members will remain in a "prepare to deploy" status for 30 days, available to be sent to other CONUS locations as required. They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals.

Identifying, training, and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare DoD personnel in advance of other potential civil support missions, such as hurricane relief and wildland firefighting.

Secretary Hagel is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government's response to this deadly disease. He is extraordinarily proud of the skill and professionalism of our servicemen and women and of the unique capabilities they bring to this important effort.  As always, their safety and security will remain foremost on his mind. 

Pentagon Leaders Salute USO, Troops for Service

Defense News - Sat, 2014-10-18 00:00

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, honored the USO and service members for their volunteerism and service at the 2014 USO Gala here.
“This time in which we live is as challenging and uncertain, and complicated, as I suspect, any time during our lifetimes,” Hagel said.
Particularly important, he said, is the strength of the USO, with its vibrancy, character and values which it provides as it helps bring comfort to our men and women in uniform and their families.
Hagel thanked the USO for representing “a certain certainty” during “uncertain times,” and congratulated their nominees for volunteer and service members of the year.
“I want to thank the enlisted men and women who are being honored tonight,” he said, “and everyone here who serves his or her country, and [or] has served his or her country.”
Hagel, who served as USO president from 1987 to 1990, praised the organization’s new leader, J.D. Crouch, and its previous, Sloan D. Gibson, who now serves as deputy secretary for the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“I’ve known J.D. for many years -- he will be a terrific leader for this institution,” he said. “You’ve had many good leaders in this institution.”
“Sloan Gibson went on and continues to make big contributions to his country,” Hagel said. “As I said … I’m very proud that I had a small part to play in helping continue to build this institution many years ago.”
“I have been a strong supporter [ever] since -- not just as secretary of defense -- but as a former soldier,” he said, “but probably more importantly, as an American. All of America recognizes you and what you do, and how important you are.”
Gen. Dempsey expressed his pride in serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and pointed to numerous challenges the military now faces around the world.
“We have a lot going on in case you haven’t noticed,” Dempsey said. “If I’d had this conversation with you … four months ago, we wouldn’t be talking about insecurity in Europe, we wouldn’t be talking about this thing -- [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], and we wouldn’t be talking about Ebola -- and here we are.”
“By the way,” he said, “the Joint Chiefs and the men and women who serve -- we’re going to figure it out.”
The chairman noted even as service members are deployed on missions “we already know about,” others are preparing to carry out others.
“We’ve got people packing their bags to go to Europe to reassure our allies or go to Iraq or Kuwait to make sure that this threat of ISIL doesn’t continue to expand, and to go to places like Senegal and Liberia to make sure that this disease is contained, and therefore, doesn’t become a threat to the homeland.”
The chairman lauded the USO for its commitment to service members and assured they would continue to have work to do in taking care of America’s troops and their families.
“So [to] the USO -- I hope you didn’t think we were going to put you out of work,” Dempsey said. “You’re going to have some work to do, and we’re proud to be partners with you in doing it.”


(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallDoDNew
 

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