Home / Rebounds / New Tricare dental contract brings more benefits, but families say some dentists are dropping out

New Tricare dental contract brings more benefits, but families say some dentists are dropping out

http://ift.tt/2oKjYn0;
Marine Corps Times – RSS Feed(c) 2017 Monumental Sports Entertainment. All rights reserved.60Some families have expressed concerns about dentists dropping out of the network, reportedly because of lower reimbursement rates.Tricare dental patients will see some improvements in their benefits when a new contract takes effect May 1, but some families have expressed concerns over their dentists dropping out of the network, reportedly because of lower reimbursement rates.. 




An official for the incoming contractor, United Concordia, said families having trouble finding an in-network dentist can
call the contractor for assistance, including help scheduling an appointment, at 844-653-4061 (outside the continental U.S., dial 844-653-4060).

The new contractor is is exceeding its obligations when it comes to providing access to care, a Tricare official said. 


 



Beneficiaries enrolled in the Tricare Dental Program don’t need to take any action to continue their coverage, according to Tricare officials, but you should check to make sure your dentist remains in the 
network. Otherwise, you could be paying more out of pocket for dental care.




This is a voluntary dental benefit for eligible active-duty family members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families. No changes are set for the Active Duty Dental Program or the Tricare Retiree Dental Program.




The
monthly premium decreases range from $0.58 to $16.84. The largest decrease is for the monthly premium cost for sponsor and family coverage for a service member in the Individual Ready Reserve who is not mobilized. 
 


Other improvements set for May 1, when United Concordia takes over for MetLife, include:



Increasing the annual maximum dental benefit Tricare will pay, from $1,300 to $1,500 — $200 more in benefits per person.
Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for sealants, which will be considered a free and preventive treatment for families, and no longer requiring families to pay 20 percent of the cost. 
Lowering the auto-enrollment age for family members lowers from age 4 to age 1. “This enables preventive technicians to educate parents at an earlier time in the child’s development,” said Army Col. James Honey, a dentist who is chief of the Tricare dental care section. 
Tailoring the benefits for patients with chronic conditions, as well as creating a special needs program and a pregnancy benefit.


DENTISTS DROPPING OUT?

Some families claim they’ll need to find new providers to take advantage of those new benefits, telling the National Military Family Association that their dentist has informed them they will drop out of the Tricare dental network as of May 1, when United Concordia takes over.  

If the family stays with that non-network dentist, they’ll pay more out of pocket. In these cases, families could be billed for the full cost of the dental visit, and they may have to file their own claims, according to Tricare Dental Program officials. They’ll be responsible for paying the difference between United Concordia‘s allowed fee and the amount charged by the non-network dentist – in addition to the
applicable cost-share percentage. 

Otherwise, families would have to
find a new dentist in the network. Dentists in the network have signed a contract with United Concordia.  

“I hate having to seek out a new dentist when we aren’t even PCSing,” stated one military wife, commenting on the NMFA website. 


Another wife commented that if she stays with her current dentist after that dentist leaves the network, she”ll have to pay more than $80 out of pocket for a cleaning and checkup … for her and each of her two kids.

“Sure it looks great that they are giving us a few things, but if you can’t find a dentist that will even take the insurance, where does that leave you?” she said. 

United Concordia is meeting – and exceeding — the contract requirements for having enough dentists to ensure that military families have access to dental care, Honey said.

“It’s essentially the same program, and we’re still as stringent with access,” he said, adding that officials are “primed for this to be a smooth transition.” 




The contract with the Defense Department requires that 95 percent of Tricare Dental Plan enrollees have access to a general dentist within the network that’s within 35 miles of their location and can provide a non-emergency appointment within 21 days. 


“As of April 1, 98 percent of TDP enrollees have access to a general dentist within less than 20 miles of their residence,” said Sharon Duke, director of government affairs for the government business unit at United Concordia Companies Inc.

United Concordia declined to provide information about the number of dentists in their network, or how many dentists have left the Tricare Dental network, citing proprietary reasons. Duke said anyone enrolled in the Tricare Dental Plan who has trouble finding a network dentist can call United Concordia for immediate assistance. Families can also visit the contractor’s website for 
further contact information.   



The company is not new to Tricare, having administered the Tricare Dental Plan contract from 1996 to 2012 and administering the Tricare Active Duty Dental Program since 2008. Active-duty members get most of their dental care at military dental clinics, but if they need to get dental care from a civilian dentist, they use that Tricare program. 

“If there are any bumps in the road, there are contractual mechanisms to ensure the beneficiary retains robust access” to dental care, Honey said. For example, the contractor might bear the cost of a patient seeing a dentist who is not in the network if there aren’t enough local network dentists, or the contractor may go back to renegotiate the reimbursement to dentists in that area. 


Honey said he has gleaned that in some local areas, the reimbursement rates may not be as high as they were with the previous contractor. The government doesn’t control or set rates for reimbursement, and doesn’t specify guidance.

“We purchase access and enforce the access” to care, he said. “We will closely monitor this and ensure beneficiaries have access.” 



Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at kjowers@militarytimes.com.
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:04:26 GMT
http://ift.tt/2pCfPPo;
Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized in Houston for four days with a recurrence of a case of pneumonia he had earlier in the year, a family spokesman said Tuesday.HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized in Houston for four days with a recurrence of a case of pneumonia he had earlier in the year, a family spokesman said Tuesday.

The 92-year-old former president and father of former president George W. Bush has been in Methodist Hospital in Houston since Friday for observation because of a persistent cough, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said in a brief statement. He said doctors diagnosed a mild case of pneumonia that has been treated and resolved.






The former president “is in very good spirits and is being held for further observation while he regains his strength,” McGrath said.

Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, had spent 16 days in the hospital for treatment of pneumonia in January.

He was hospitalized in 2015 in Maine after falling at his summer home and breaking a bone in his neck. He was also hospitalized in Houston the previous December for about a week for shortness of breath. He spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.

Bush has a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility. Despite his loss of mobility, Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump in Kennebunkport, Maine. Last summer, Bush led a group of 40 wounded warriors on a fishing trip at the helm of his speedboat, three days after his 92nd birthday celebration.

George Herbert Walker Bush, born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, also served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:53:03 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oOVpTb
http://ift.tt/2pCrnCn;
From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the U.S. military, promising it would make an “overwhelming and effective” response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.YOKOSUKA, Japan — From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the U.S. military, promising it would make an “overwhelming and effective” response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.

Pence, dressed in a green military jacket, said aboard the hulking USS Ronald Reagan that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to “work diligently” with allies like Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang. But he told the sailors, “as all of you know, readiness is the key.


“The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Pence told 2,500 sailors dressed in blue fatigues and Naval baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard the carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.

“Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” Pence said.

Pence also said the U.S. would protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.


From two continents, Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the U.S. was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Mattis denounced North Korea’s attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, “the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he said. The term “reckless” is one the North Koreans have used to describe ongoing large-scale U.S. and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach U.S. territory. He did not comment on what might have caused the missile to fail.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence matter, said the missile was a Scud variant that the U.S. calls a KN-17.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation “under control” with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.





Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks to U.S. servicemen and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel on the flight deck of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, at the U.S. Navy’s Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.



Photo Credit: Eugene Hoshiko/AP
Pence’s speech on the aircraft carrier followed meetings Tuesday in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where he noted that “all options are on the table.”

Abe said that it was a “matter of paramount importance for us to seek diplomatic efforts as well peaceable settlements of the issue.”

“But at the same time,” the prime minister said, “dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue.”

Trump and Pence, who stopped at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, have signaled this week a forceful U.S. stance on North Korea’s recent actions. But it remains unclear what might come next.

Behind the heated rhetoric, Trump’s strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama’s — albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he’s willing to use force.

Pence told reporters Monday that Trump was hopeful China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program. But the vice president expressed impatience with the unwillingness of North Korea to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes “there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the U.S. will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign.”

China made a plea for a return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said tensions need to be eased on the Korean Peninsula to bring the escalating dispute to a peaceful resolution. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.


Burns reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AP reporter Jonathan Lemire reported from New York.
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:36:18 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oP3zeC
http://ift.tt/2o3XL3K;
World War II vets laid wreaths at the memorial in D.C.Honor Flight veterans gathered at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the daring Doolittle Raid.





Vets who served during World War II helped lay wreaths in honor of the different branches of the military.





The Doolittle Raid was the United States’ retaliation to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Four months after the attack in Hawaii, on April 18, 1942, the U.S. sent 16 B-25Bs to bomb military targets in Japan.







Then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle of the Army Air Forces planned and led the 80-member raid. 






Although the air raid caused little material damage, it provided a boost to American morale and served as a blow to Japan’s confidence, shaking the faith the country had in its leaders.





World War II veteran Ben Loechtenfeldt was serving in the Army Air Corps at the time of the Doolittle Raid.





“I was very thrilled [when it happened],” he said. “It was a big boost for the morale of all the men in the Air Corps.”





Loechtenfeldt attended Tuesday’s ceremony through the Honor Flight Tri-State. The Honor Flight program brings veterans to D.C. to show them their respective memorials.





The Army Air Corps vet said being at the Doolittle Raid ceremony was a wonderful memory.





“It was a great day and great support from the people,” he said.





Navy veteran Ray Roeller served during World War II, but after the famed raid had already occurred. 





“I’m so proud that I had served my country,” he said at the commemoration. “And I’m so proud of all these veterans, and all the ones who gave their lives.”





Seven of the 80 crew members in the Doolittle Raid died — three during the mission, and four as prisoners of war.





The B-25 was picked for its range, bomb capacity and short-takeoff distance. The bombers launched from the Navy’s Hornet aircraft carrier without coverage from a fighter escort.





The Japanese found out the Americans were coming, so the Raiders had to launch earlier than expected. The raid was successful, but the early launch meant they ran out of fuel faster than planned, according to
HistoryNet. Fifteen of the planes crashed in China with the crews bailing out unharmed. The last B-25 landed in the Soviet Union.





Doolittle himself was worried he’d be punished for losing his aircraft, but, instead, he
received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the raid, according to
History. 
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:09:42 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pRKN5l
http://ift.tt/2o44lXU;
Twenty five Iraqi soldiers required treatment after the unit was hit with a mustard agent fired from an ISIS rocket on Sunday, according to CBS News.Twenty five Iraqi soldiers required medical treatment after their unit was hit with a mustard agent fired from an ISIS rocket on Sunday, according to 
CBS News. Their unit included American and Australian advisers, none of whom were reported injured in the attack. 

Six Iraqi soldiers were also treated for breathing problems at a nearby field clinic, Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool told the Associated Press.

The chemical attack by ISIS is the second of its kind over the last few days as Iraq forces struggle to liberate the denser western side of Mosul. The first attack occurred on Saturday in the Abar neighborhood of western Mosul. Seven Iraqi soldiers were injured in the attack, according to
AP.

U.S. Army officials told CBS News that protective masks have been distributed to protect forces operating in the area.

The incidents are not the first known suspected chemical attacks carried out by ISIS militants in Iraq. Last March, Kurdish officials claimed Peshmerga forces were injured from a chlorine gas attack when an ISIS suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with gas canisters. Peshmerga forces near the scene of the incident complained of symptoms associated to chlorine gas, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and weakness, according to 
Al Jazeera.

ISIS fighters were suspected of firing nearly
40 chlorine-filled rockets at the town of Taza, Iraq, in March, which injured nearly 800 people and killed one. In January, when Iraqi forces retook Mosul University, they
found chemistry labs they believed had been turned into makeshift chemical weapons labs. 

As Iraqi forces continue to push into western Mosul, fighting has become fiercer and the pace of operations has slowed to a crawl. Eastern Mosul was liberated in January. 
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:19:46 GMThttp://ift.tt/2o3BDq9
http://ift.tt/2o3XLkg;
A Nebraska non-profit will cover $30 million in funding for a new Omaha VA facility in what officials call a benefit for veterans and taxpayers.WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs will share construction costs for a new Nebraska health clinic with a local non-profit group in what administration officials are touting as a step towards fulfilling their promise of saving taxpayer money without sacrificing veterans’ care. The project, based at the Omaha VA Medical Center campus, was actually signed into law by President Barack Obama last December and spearheaded by the state’s congressional delegation. It will replace previous department plans for a $560 million replacement for the hospital that was originally scheduled to open next year, but has been delayed numerous times by funding problems related to other VA construction projects.   VA officials said the new plans to build an $86 million ambulatory care center on the Nebraska campus will fill an essential medical care need for the region without incurring the same level of debt. About $56 million of federal VA money will go toward the project, with another $30 million coming from the Veterans Ambulatory Center Development Corporation, a Nebraska non-profit lead by local business leaders.  The framework for the partnership has been known since December, when Obama signed legislation authorizing the move. The partnership with VACDC became official today.

“This trailblazing project represents another example of the bold changes happening at VA,” Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement.

“This project will lay the groundwork for future public-private partnerships aimed at providing veterans access to state-of-the-art facilities and will significantly improve the quality of care we are able to provide to our nation’s veterans.”

The Omaha initiative is the first of five approved by Congress using public and private money for future construction projects.

Shulkin and key congressional leaders have pledged in recent months to expand VA’s partnerships with state and private medical facilities, to both expand the reach of the veterans’ health system and ease access problems facing patients in the system.

But those plans have also raised questions about how prepared private sector physicians are to handle the health care needs of veterans, whose service-connected injuries may be radically different than their normal caseload.

In addition, after President Trump said before his inauguration that he might consider privatizing parts of VA operations, Shulkin has repeatedly vowed that those discussions will not include dismantling or outsourcing his department’s core responsibilities for veterans’ health care. Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have echoed that sentiment.

VA officials have said the new ambulatory center will offer primary, specialty and outpatient care.


 

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 12:30:00 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pBpKI2
http://ift.tt/2o49U8H;
Strike Group boss Rear Adm. James Kilby said the crisis on the Korean Peninsula had prompted the the extension.The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group’s deployment has been extended by 30 days to patrol the waters off the Korean Peninsula as tensions deepen on with the rogue North Korean regime.

Strike Group boss Rear Adm. James Kilby made the announcement
on the carrier’s Facebook page late Tuesday evening.

“Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the Waters off the Korean Peninsula,” the post said. “While all of us look forward to being connected with our friends and families, our nation requires us to be its flexible force, the away team, and as we have done time and time again through history, we won’t let her down no
w.”

The  news comes 10 days after U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Harry Harris canceled Vinson’s planned Australia port visit, which was widely seen as a message to North Korea. The Vinson was recently in Singapore for a port call, and has wrapped up an abbreviated exercise with the Australian Navy near Indonesia.


Kilby said the mission was to assure America’s allies in the region of its commitment to the region as North Korea has accelerated its missile testing program and is widely believed to be poised to light off a sixth nuclear test.


“Our mission is to reassure allies and our partners of our steadfast commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” the post continued. “We will continue to be the centerpiece of visible maritime deterrence, providing our national command authority with flexible deterrent options, all domain access, and a visible forward presence.”

The San Diego-based Vinson deployed in early January and was at tail end of what was expected to be a five-month deployment. Joining Vinson is Carrier Air Wing 2, as well as the destroyers Michael Murphy and Wayne E. Meyer, and the cruiser Lake Champlain. 

The regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has launched more than half a dozen missiles since President Trump took office in January, which is seen as a test of the new administration. 

The rising threat has prompted the U.S. and South Korean governments to agree to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, designed to shoot down some missiles, over strenuous Chinese opposition and widespread anxiety over the move in South Korea itself. North Korea’s missiles are already capable for striking many key U.S. allies, including Japan and South Korea.

Experts warn that the tests show North Korea is getting closer to its goal of producing a nuclear-tipped rocket able to reach the United States, and that they are working on solid-state rocket fuel that can enable a launch with very short notice.

Many see that as an unacceptable situation. The Trump administration has been floating the possibility of preemptive strikes, but China is pushing the U.S. to engage in direct diplomacy with Kim’s government to try and get them to halt their development.

The strike group brings with it a ton of firepower, including the strike- and air-combat capabilities of the Hornets, early warning radars, electronic-warfare capabilities and more than 300 missile tubes on the carrier’s escorts.

President Trump views North Korea as the biggest threat to peace in the world, and recently dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to Korea to issue a stern warning that the U.S. had lost its patience with the North. 

“The era of strategic patience is over and while all options are on the table, President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region and with China to achieve a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said at a press conference Monday.


A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the scheduled length of the Vinson Carrier Strike Group’s deployment.
Wed, 19 Apr 2017 03:15:39 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oMeQvT
http://ift.tt/2o40w4R;
Special Operations Command also is seeking sources for a new Advanced Sniper Rifle.Special Operations Command is exploring a new caliber for its semi-automatic sniper rifle needs and upgrading one of its bolt-action sniper rifle systems.

Maj. Aron Hauquitz told Military Times Tuesday that SOCOM is in the preliminary stages of exploring a sniper rifle chambered in the 6.5 mm caliber. The two commercially available rounds being evaluated are the .260 Remington and the 6.5 mm Creedmoor.

Research shows that both rounds will “stay supersonic longer, have less wind drift and better terminal performance than 7.62 mm ammunition,” SOCOM officials said.

Hauquitz said that the research is focused on the popularity and availability of the cartridge, and finding out the benefits and drawbacks of the different rounds. 

At the same time, SOCOM is working to develop polymer ammunition in 6.5 mm to reduce the load for operators, Hauquitz said. Research is showing a one-third weight reduction for 7.62 mm ammunition, allowing the 6.5 mm to come in at 5.56 mm weight ranges.

While both the rifle and the ammunition are being developed together, Hauquitz said the polymer portion of the research would not delay potential fielding of a 6.5 mm rifle. 

He didn’t provide a specific date or timeline for when the new rifle would be in operators’ hands but said they would have a better idea regarding the caliber later this year.

“We’re purely in the exploratory phase,” Hauquitz said. “We’re trying to see if we can take a weapon that is 7.62 and give it greater range, accuracy and lethality.”

Hauquitz said the 6.5 mm exploration came out of preliminary results of the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration study, which evaluates for the military commercially available ammunition, emerging ammunition capabilities, and ammunition technologies for conventional and non-conventional calibers.



Last year, the Army chose the smaller Heckler & Koch G28 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System for close-quarters fighting to replace the M110 made by Knight’s Armament. Both fire the 7.62 mm round. 


At the time, H&K received the $44.5 million contract to manufacture up to 3,643 rifles over two years.



Meanwhile, the changes SOCOM is seeking for its bolt-action sniper rifle became public earlier this month with a “sources sought” notice. The rifle’s development also involves Marine snipers.



The SOCOM contracting office posted the notice for an Advanced Sniper Rifle on the
Federal Business Opportunities website on April 6. Industry responses are due on April 24. 


SOCOM’s current bolt-action rifle is made by Remington Defense, which won the $79.7 million government contract in 2013 after the initial announcement was posted in 2009. Dubbed the Precision Sniper Rifle, it included three quick-change barrels in calibers 7.62 mm NATO, .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum for various distance and power needs. 

Lt. Cmdr. Lara Bollinger, a SOCOM spokeswoman, said Friday that the ASR has “far more refined” requirements and performance specifications than the current PSR sniper rifle. 


The website states that the posting is not a solicitation or request for proposal but meant to “obtain information for planning purposes only.”


The PSR was designed to replace the three sniper rifles then being used by special ops snipers — the .300 Winchester Magnum MK13, the M40, which shoots 7.62 mm NATO, and the M24, which has separate versions that fire the 7.62 mm NATO and a .338 Lapua Magnum, according to
Remington.



The recent announcement asks for industry information about a seemingly identical rifle but adaptable for the 7.62 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum and .338 Norma Magnum. 


Firearms experts generally cite the Norma Magnum design as producing a faster and more accurate round.


SOCOM listed the following needs for the Advanced Sniper Rifle as a potential Precision Sniper Rifle replacement:




A light/sound suppressor that can be attached to the system when needed.


A system that includes three caliber conversion kits that can fire the 7.62 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum and .338 Norma Magnum.


Not to exceed 17 pounds or a total length, without suppressor, of 50 inches.


A folding or collapsing stock.


The 2013 PSR contract requested up to 5,150 PSRs and 4.6 million rounds of ammunition, according to the Remington website.


During the development of the PSR, the Marine Corps opted to continue to upgrade the M40 sniper rifle platform, which shoots the 7.62 mm NATO, despite some who argued for the larger caliber .338 as an option. 


A Marine spokesman said Thursday that they are continuing to make modifications to the M40A6 while also working with the Army and Special Operations Command to develop the Advanced Sniper Rifle. 


The modifications include an improved, shorter barrel, modular stock and 1.2-pound weight reduction, said Billy Epperson of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.



The new barrel increases bullet flight stability, he said. The new stock incorporates a folding adjustable buttstock, and additional accessory rails will support aiming lasers and optics. Each rifle also comes with a new pack, ballistic calculator, weather station and chronograph for muzzle velocity recordings.




As the ASR is developed, Epperson said the Marines are “assessing the MK13 as a potential interim solution” to increase sniper teams’ range and lethality. 




The .300 Winchester Magnum MK13 has a farther range than the 7.62 mm NATO round the M40A6 uses. The MK13 is a rifle that has been used by Army snipers and other units.


Regular Army snipers continue to use the bolt-action M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, also produced by Remington. It is chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:35:04 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pey40q
http://ift.tt/2o41rlM;
Roughly 300 Marines will be in Helmand province by the end of April.Roughly 300 Marines are en route to Afghanistan to help Afghan troops stop the Taliban from swallowing more of the hard-fought territory for which so many Marines have bled and died, Marine Corps Times has learned.




The deployment of Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be the largest Marine deployment to Afghanistan since 2014, when the U.S. military’s combat mission known as Operation Enduring Freedom officially ended. 


By the end of April, the Marines will be in Helmand province as Task Force Southwest, replacing the Army’s Task Force Forge. During their nine months in Helmand, the Marines will train the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps and the 505th Zone National Police in marksmanship, indirect fire and small-unit tactics and other skills, Marine Corps officials said.




Helmand province is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. troops. In March, three American soldiers were shot at an Afghan military base in an apparent insider attack and in February, a Special Forces soldier was severely wounded in Sangin.



“Make no mistake, though we are no longer in a combat role in Afghanistan, it is still a combat environment,” Col. Matthew Reid, deputy task force commander, said in January. “As Marines, we train and deploy with a combat mindset.”  



Army Gen. David Petraeus, who led U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, told Marine Corps Times that the 300 additional Marines, with the appropriate support, “can absolutely make a difference in Helmand province.”




The advise-and-assist mission can give Afghan troops and police “the support they need to reverse the momentum of the Taliban in that important province that sits astride the critical ‘Ring Road’ that connects the southern and western parts of the country to Kabul,” Petraeus said.






The Marines are returning to Afghanistan at a time when security is the worst it has been since the Taliban fell in 2001, said Peter Bergen, a military analyst and vice president of the New America think tank.




“That’s based on the assessment by U.S. military commanders that the Taliban control or contest a third of the population, which is about 10 million people,” Bergen told Marine Corps Times.




But unlike the Iraqi army in 2014, Afghan troops and police are fighting the insurgents, as evidenced by their soaring casualty rates, Bergen said. The Afghan troops in Helmand will definitely benefit from the Marines’ advise-and-assist mission.







To counter the Taliban’s momentum on the battlefield, the U.S. should make clear that its commitment to Afghanistan is open-ended instead of setting arbitrary dates to withdraw U.S. troops, he said.




“I think that was one of the problems the Obama administration had: Announcing withdrawals that came and went and really made no sense from any kind of point of view,” Bergen said. “They tended to undercut the government. They also, obviously, were really helpful to the morale of the Taliban.”


Since most U.S. troops left Afghanistan three years ago, the Taliban have captured much of southern Afghanistan, including Sangin, where nearly 50 Marines have died in fighting through the years.




Most of the gains that Marines achieved in southern Afghanistan from 2009 to 2014 have been either reversed or have not been built upon by Afghan security forces, said Caitlin Forrest, an Afghanistan expert with the Institute for the Study of War.




Having taken Sangin, the Taliban can now launch offensives against strategic cities such as Kandahar, Lashkar Gah and Tirin Kot, Forrest said.




Given the current strength of Afghan security forces and the level of U.S. support, an outright military defeat of the Taliban is unlikely, she said. The Taliban are also unlikely to negotiate for a political solution as long as they have the upper hand.




“They’re winning the war,” Forrest said. “They’re winning actual terrain and population control. They have no incentive to actually go to the table, especially as they are getting additional support from other malign regional actors, such as Russia and Iran.”
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:12:53 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pzmI4c
http://ift.tt/2pClyVw;
Amid the tens of thousands of participants in this year’s Boston Marathon, these heroes stand out.Among the estimated 30,000 participants in this year’s Boston Marathon were several awe-inspiring stories of soldiers and veterans who demonstrated their strength and their courage by enduring the 26.2 mile run.

These are just some of the stories of the many heroes that participated in the marathon.

Earl Granville, a veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, lost his left leg in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device,
reports Fox News. The blast killed two of his fellow soldiers,
according to Task & Purpose.




Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville and several other service members participating in Operation Proper Exit get off of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan, Dec. 6, 2012.



Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Brendan Mackie
In the years since his injury, Granville has complete several marathons around the country by using a hand bike. But that all changed Monday.

With a prosthetic leg and a guide by his side, Granville stood tall during the marathon. And as he approached the end, he picked up his guide carrying her over his shoulder as he crossed the finish line. His guide held an American flag high as the duo crossed it. The video of Granville and his guide finishing the race has been viewed more than 8 million times.




Jose Luis Sanchez, a Marine staff sergeant who lost the lower part of his left leg from an IED in Afghanistan, ran with an American flag signed by many he served with.

 “I want to recognize veterans and everyone who thinks they can’t do something,” Sanchez said.





While serving in Iraq, Army Maj. Ivan Castro was left blind as the result of a mortar attack. When he retired from service last November, Castro was the only blind active-duty Special Forces officer,
reports the Boston Globe.




Then-Capt. Ivan Castro, a blind U.S. Army Special Operations officer, shakes the hand of Army Central Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie R. Kelley during Castro’s visit Camp Arifjan, Kuwai in part of Operation Proper Exit, July 13, 2014.



Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Tracy R. Myers, U.S. Army Central
As an advocate for veterans, Castro has befriended Prince Harry, who served in the Army of the United Kingdom in Afghanistan. At the suggestion of Prince Harry, Castro teamed up with British Army veteran Karl Hinett, who was also wounded while serving at Iraq.

The duo is raising money for veterans by not only running in the Boston Marathon, but then hopping on a plane to London to participate in the London Marathon just six days later. While the two have spent a combined total of more than 100 hours on operating tables as a result of their injuries, they have also ran a combined 200 marathons since they were wounded.

Lt. Joshua Bautz is a Navy doctor assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, a Marine Corps command, as part of the shock trauma platoon,
according to the Department of Defense.

He wanted to run in the Boston Marathon for years, and it was finally looking like Bautz was going to be able participate this year. That is, until he learned that he would be deploying with the Marines.




Lt. Joshua Bautz decided to run the Boston Marathon in spirit due to his recent deployment. He is one of the medical officers assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the shock trauma platoon.



Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps Photo/Gunnery Sgt. Adaecus Brooks
Last fall, Bautz had to miss the Marine Corps Marathon as well while he was deployed to Haiti in response to Hurricane Matthew.

Bautz deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group aboard the Bataan, Mesa Verde and Carter Hall in February. But he didn’t let his status aboard a ship stop him. While he couldn’t be there in Boston, Bautz and several fellow Marine and Navy officers are doing their best to replicate the marathon by running on the ships treadmills. But that is not an easy feat.

“The actual Boston Marathon is a net downhill course, but the ship is so variable” said Bautz. “I’m going to start with the treadmill flat and see how it goes from there. Typically, I wind up setting the treadmill to a slight incline because with every wave and every time the ship moves you’re either going uphill or downhill.”

The Boston Athletic Association, overseeing the marathon, has already been supportive of Bautz’s plans to be there for next year’s race.

Massachusetts State Rep. John Velis, who is a captain in the Army Reserve, ran Monday as well, only it was his second marathon in just 48 hours. Having already committed to running the marathon for his second year in a row, Velis was asked if he would participate in the Tough Ruck Marathon in honor of fallen service members,
MassLive reports.

The Tough Ruck is a 26.2-mile march at Minuteman National Park in Concord, Massachusetts. During the ruck march on April 15, Velis told MassLive that he would be in his military uniform, carrying 35 pounds in his pack.

“For our fallen service members, I’d march 300 miles, forget 26.2,” Velis said. “This isn’t a cause for me personally that I can say no to.”
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:10:43 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pz1inN
http://ift.tt/2pCwgLF;
From two continents, top Trump administration officials warned Tuesday that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the United States was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.TOKYO — From two continents, top Trump administration officials warned Tuesday that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the United States was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denounced North Korea’s weapons test as he began a Mideast tour, Vice President Mike Pence offered support to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo amid a trip dominated by concerns about the rogue state’s nuclear intentions.

“We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan,” Pence said after arriving from Seoul for talks with Abe. “We are with you 100 percent.”

At the outset of their meeting, Pence reiterated to Abe his statement in South Korea that the United States has run out of patience with Pyongyang’s moves.

“While all options are on the table,” Pence said, “President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China” to resolve the problem.




Vice President Mike Pence and Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso walk on their way to a meeting at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on April 18, 2017.



Photo Credit: Franck Robichon/AFP via Getty Images
“We seek peace always as a country, as does Japan, but as you know and the United States knows, peace comes through strength and we will stand strongly with Japan and strongly with our allies for a peace and security in this region,” Pence added.

Said Abe: “It goes without saying that it is a matter of paramount importance for us to seek diplomatic efforts as well peaceable settlements of the issue.”

“But at the same time,” the prime minister said, “dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue.”

Mattis struck an even tougher tone on North Korea in an interview with reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia. His language was stronger than in a written statement he issued shortly after the launch, in which he simply said he was aware of the failure.

“The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he said. The term “reckless” is one the North Koreans have used to describe ongoing large-scale U.S. and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach U.S. territory. He did not comment on what might have caused the missile to fail.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence matter, said the missile was a Scud variant that the U.S. calls a KN-17.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation “under control” with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

President Donald Trump in Washington and Pence at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea have signaled a forceful U.S. stance on North Korea’s recent actions. But no one was predicting what might come next.

Behind the heated rhetoric, Trump’s strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama’s — albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he’s willing to use force.

Pence on Monday had traveled to the tense zone dividing the two Koreas, where he warned North Korea’s leaders that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over.”

The unannounced visit at the start of Pence’s 10-day trip to Asia was a U.S. show of force that allowed him to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.

Pence told reporters Monday that Trump was hopeful China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes “there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the U.S. will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign.”

China made a plea for a return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said tensions need to be eased on the Korean Peninsula to bring the escalating dispute to a peaceful resolution. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.


Burns reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and AP reporter Jonathan Lemire reported from New York.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:09:46 GMThttp://ift.tt/2o0TjTd
http://ift.tt/2o3YX7j;
‘He was kind of embarrassed, but then my daughter had seen the whole set up and was so excited. He couldn’t say no,’ his wife said.Marine Corps drill instructor Kevin Porter is one tough guy, but even he “couldn’t say no” when his wife arranged a surprise photo shoot with their 4-year-old daughter Ashley, who was dressed like a princess for a special tea party.

“My husband had no idea what was going to happen until we showed up to the shoot,” his wife Lizette told
ABC News. “He was hesitant at first but after a little talking, I was able to convince him. He would do anything for Ashley.”

“He was kind of embarrassed, but then my daughter had seen the whole set up and was so excited. He couldn’t say no,” she said.

The magical moment was captured by Kyndal Courtney, who owns 
Kyndal Rose Photography in Oceanside, California. 

“As a photographer and wife to a Marine myself, I had the special opportunity to photograph this drill instructor and his daughter. It was an honor to capture the love and joy between them,” Courtney told Military Times. She said the photos, which have been widely shared on social media, carry “a powerful message.”

“It seems it was just what America needed to see,” she said. 

Lizette Porter said the photos show a softer side to her husband. “Drill instructors still have a life after working long and hard hours,” she told ABC News. “Many of them have families that after hours they still have to attend to…and yes, a lot of them have a completely different side to them.”

Check out more adorable photos of Porter and his daughter on
Kyndal Rose Photography’s Facebook page.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:29:04 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pBOoFF
http://ift.tt/2o44mLs;
The proposal, to be debated next week, would be a major change for the post-9/11 veterans education benefits.WASHINGTON — A congressional proposal to make service members buy into their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits surprised veterans groups on Tuesday, with advocates divided over whether it amounts to a long-term fix for the benefit or an unfair bill for veterans. “This new tax on troops is absurd,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy in a statement. “Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war, and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops.“Congress must stop nickeling and diming America’s service members and veterans.”The plan — draft legislation from House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn. — would deduct $2,400 from future service members’ paychecks to establish eligibility for revamped post-military education benefits. This was first reported Tuesday by Task & Purpose.Currently, the post-9/11 GI Bill offers full tuition to a four-year state college (or the equivalent tuition payout for a private school) plus a monthly housing stipend to any service member who spends at least three years on active duty, and to reservists who are mobilized to active-duty for extended periods. Troops wounded while serving are also eligible. Unlike the older Montgomery GI Bill benefit, the post-9/11 GI Bill does not require any fees or pay reductions for eligibility. The new proposal would change that, taking up to $100 a month from new enlistees’ paychecks for the right to access the benefit after they leave the ranks. The money collected would amount to a fraction of the overall cost of the veterans education benefit. Congressional staff estimate the move would bring in about $3.1 billion over the next 10 years, while total GI Bill spending is expected to total more than $100 billion over the same decade. Supporters of the plan say having service members “buy in” to the benefit would strengthen it against periodic attempts by budget planners to trim veterans education benefits. Last year, veterans advocates sparred over proposed cuts to GI Bill benefits given to the children of troops, and a plan to cap some housing stipends connected to the program. “It’s infinitely more difficult to get rid of or cut the GI Bill if troops have paid into that benefit,” said Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs for Student Veterans of America. “This is about how we can make the GI Bill protected and buffered against budget fights for years to come.”

SVA is one of several groups expected to testify before Congress on April 26 on Roe’s bill, known unofficially as the “Lifetime GI Bill Act,” and a host of other changes to current Veterans Affairs education benefits.


They include expanding eligibility for wounded troops, families of deceased service members, and some reservists currently excluded from the program. Most of those changes have broad support in the veterans community, although how to pay for them has been a point of contention. The new buy-in would create enough money for that expansion, although veterans groups in the past have opposed similar ideas. Hubbard said SVA officials believe the GI Bill program needs changes to survive and transform from a wartime benefit to an enduring contract with future military volunteers. Officials from the Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors, who are also scheduled to testify next week, echoed that support. Officials from the American Legion, who will also testify at the hearing, do not support the draft proposal.

VFW officials have gone further, vowing to fight the plan. They argue the Post-9/11 GI Bill “is earned through honorable service, not through out-of-pocket fees” and accused lawmakers of moving “to claw back this critical educational benefit” even while troops are still serving in wars overseas.  

Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, offered similar frustration with the proposal. He said his group will fight any “tax” on troops to pay for education benefits, and that he doubts there is much support in the public for such a plan. 

“Pushing this GI Bill tax proposal on troops in a time of war is political cowardice,” he said.

“Some politicians would rather make backroom deals than raise taxes or find other ways to support our troops as bombs continue to fall overseas.”

Roe’s staff said the proposal is part of a larger effort in recent months to “address long-sought improvements to educational assistance benefits for veterans.” The chairman also promised an “open, transparent and inclusive” debate on the issue, and said none of the ideas under consideration is guaranteed to advance through the committee.

Democrats on the committee have already voiced concerns behind the scenes about the proposal, saying they want to make sure that all voices are heard on any drastic education benefits changes. That could include not just veterans groups and VA officials but also Defense Department representatives, since the GI Bill is a major recruiting tool for the services. 

No similar legislation has yet been introduced in the Senate, although advocates have been discussing the plan with lawmakers in both chambers for several months. Hubbard said the cuts proposed by Congress to the benefit last year played a role in drafting the new legislation.

As written, the draft bill would cover only new enlistees, and would not charge the $2,400 eligibility fee to troops already in the ranks.


 

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:32:04 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pyErse
http://ift.tt/2pCBPtI;
Serbia is seeking a Russian air defense system in addition to fighter jets and battle tanks, Serbian officials say, in what could fuel tensions in the Balkans.BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia is seeking a Russian air defense system in addition to fighter jets and battle tanks, Serbian officials say, in what could fuel tensions in the Balkans.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has said he negotiated the purchase of the S-300 anti-aircraft rockets during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko last month.

European Union officials have voiced alarm over increasing Russian influence in the western Balkans, which experienced a bloody civil war in the 1990s. Although Serbia claims it wants to be part of the EU, it has been strengthening military, economic and political ties with Slavic ally Russia.

But the planned purchase of the anti-aircraft system has been overshadowed in Serbia by reports from rival Croatia that Russia supplied Croatia with the same system during the 1990s war for independence from Serb-led Yugoslavia, a likely breach of a United Nations arms embargo in effect at the time.

Russia’s Defense Ministry alleged Tuesday that the Croatian reports were aimed at undermining Moscow’s relations with Serbia. The ministry said if Russian military hardware was given to Croatia during the war, it was done without government approval.

“According to our knowledge, dishonest Croatian moneymakers took advantage of this to supply Zagreb,” the ministry said, referring to the Croatian capital. “Of course, the Russian Federation has never had anything to do with this.”





An S-300 PMU-1 anti-aircraft missile launches during a Greek army military exercise near Chania on the island of Crete on Dec. 13, 2013.



Photo Credit: Costas Metaxakis/AFP via Getty Images
As part of the new deal, Serbian officials have said that Putin agreed to approve the delivery of six MiG-29 fighter jets, 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 armored vehicles.

The S-300 system was first deployed by the Soviet Union in 1979, designed for the air defense of large industrial and administrative facilities, military bases and control of airspace against enemy strike aircraft.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said military and technical cooperation was “among the issues discussed at the highest level in Russian-Serbian contacts,” according to the TASS news agency.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:27:56 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oSwn84
http://ift.tt/2pCkPn2;
On April 18, 1942, the first strike by U.S. forces against Japan following the Pearl Harbor attack took placeTue, 18 Apr 2017 19:09:01 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oSyxoe

A top-secret, two-week training initiative at Eglin Field in 1942 set in motion a sequence of events that changed the course of the war in the Pacific during World War II. That mission involved 80 men, 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, two Naval ships and 16 crash sites.


http://ift.tt/2pCrm1hLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o3XLAMNational Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Still reeling from the attacks on Pearl Harbor by Japan, the United States had been working on a plan to strike back. Between March 9 and March 25 in 1942, 79 members of the United States Army Air Corps, assisted by Naval Air Station Pensacola, secretly trained with Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle for the top-secret mission.


http://ift.tt/2pCljtCLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o49UpdAP file photo

After completing their training and modifying their B-25s to be lighter for quicker takeoff, Doolittle and his crews flew to Alameda Naval Air Station, Calif., where the aircraft were loaded onto the deck of the USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier selected to ferry the bombers to their planned launch point about 450 miles east of Japan. The USS Enterprise plus escort, supply ships and more than 10,000 sailors accompanied the Hornet on this mission.


http://ift.tt/2pCpg1tLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o46mTONational Museum of the U.S. Air Force

During the early hours of April 18, the task force, about 200 miles from the planned launch point, sighted two Japanese picket ships and sank them both with naval gunfire. Concerned the picket ships warned Tokyo of the American task force’s approach, both Doolittle and U.S. Navy Capt. Marc Mitscher, the task force commander, agreed to launch the bombers during daylight, instead of the planned launch at dusk. Here, Doolittle fastens a Japanese medal on the tail of a 500-pound bomb.


http://ift.tt/2pCpPYVLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o48ATeAP file photo

Doolittle’s B-25s took off from the USS Hornet for their long overwater flight to Japan. The crews flew more than 650 miles across the western Pacific to bomb military and industrial targets in and around Tokyo.


http://ift.tt/2pCny05LANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o48PO6National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Lt. Col. Doolittle takes off from the USS Hornet on this daring one-way mission.


http://ift.tt/2pCvhetLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o3VHsoNational Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Army Air Forces chose the B-25 for the Doolittle Raid because it was the only aircraft available with the required range, bomb capacity and short takeoff distance. All 16 bombers reached the Japanese islands, dropped their bombs on oil stores, factory areas, and military installations, and then headed out across the East China Sea.


http://ift.tt/2pCuGcELANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o3TkWlNational Archives

Of the 80 airmen who participated in the raid, 69 escaped capture or death. Only 3 men were killed in action (2 drowned after their B-25 crashed off the Chinese coast, and 1 died after bailing out from his aircraft) and 8 taken as prisoners of war. All of the planes either crash-landed, were ditched or crashed after their crews bailed out, with the exception of Capt. Edward York and his crew, who landed in Soviet Russia where their B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned. Most of the crews who reached China achieved safety due to the help of Chinese civilians and soldiers. Seen here is wreckage of Lt. Col. Doolittle’s plane in China after the raid on Tokyo.


http://ift.tt/2pCl69PLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o41lebNational Archives

1st Lt. Robert L. Hite (one of the crew members taken as a POW), blindfolded by his captors, is led from a Japanese transport plane after he and the other seven flyers were flown from Shanghai to Tokyo. After about 45 days in Japan, all eight were taken back to China by ship and imprisoned in Shanghai. The eight men were tried as war criminals, and three were executed. One of the remaining five POWs died from disease in 1944, but the other four were rescued at the end of the war. Hite, who lived until 2015, was one of the four freed.


http://ift.tt/2pCAyCXLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o414IgNational Museum of the U.S. Air Force

On May 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pinned the Medal of Honor on Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle and cited him for leading the raid on the Japanese mainland. “After crash landing his aircraft in China, Colonel Doolittle was concerned he was going to be court-martialed when he returned home because in his mind the mission was a complete failure,” said Dr. Bob Kane, Air Armament Center historian. “Instead, he received the Medal of Honor and a promotion to brigadier general from President Roosevelt.”


http://ift.tt/2pCBOWGLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o4ea8nGeorge R. Skadding/AP

The Raid had little tactical impact, but it did significantly raise American morale in the dark days of early 1942 and led directly to the strategic American victory at the Battle of Midway, June 5-7, 1942. It also foreshadowed the Strategic Bombing Campaign of Japan, 1944-45. (Reporting by the U.S. Air Force)


http://ift.tt/2pCzA9CLANDSCAPEhttp://ift.tt/2o3SCsoU.S. Air Forcehttp://ift.tt/2pCq9H1;
The U.S. military says it intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast.WASHINGTON — The U.S. military says it intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast.

Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, says a pair of F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers on Monday.

Ross says the intercept was “safe and professional.”

North American Aerospace Defense Command monitors air approaches to North America and defends the airspace.





In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, a Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber on a cruise missile attack mission on targets in Syria



Photo Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
Fox News said Tuesday the Russian planes flew within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Alaska’s Kodiak Island.

It said the American jets escorted the Russian bombers for 12 minutes. The bombers then flew back to eastern Russia.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:36:43 GMThttp://ift.tt/2okpoBC
http://ift.tt/2o3YYbn;
Marine who lost his leg in Afghanistan conquers Boston MarathonStaff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez was two weeks away from finishing a tour in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an IED.

“They picked me up and my leg slid off,” Sanchez told
Runner’s World. “They were able to save my other leg, and through hard work and determination we are here.”

Sanchez lost the lower part of his left leg, but doctors saved his right leg.

“When I was recovering, I couldn’t stand up for three seconds or walk for more than two feet,” Sanchez said in Runner’s World. “I fought for four or five years to be able to walk and lift my body. Then I wanted to push it further by doing a marathon.”

This was Sanchez’s third marathon. He ran his first, the Marine Corps Marathon, in 2015 and went on to run Boston in 2016.


“I want to recognize veterans and everyone who thinks they can’t do something,” Sanchez said. He ran the race for the Semper Fi Fund, which supports wounded veterans. 



 
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:58:38 GMThttp://ift.tt/2o49W0j
http://ift.tt/2pCBR4O;
1783: The American War for Independence formally ended, eight years to the day after it began.1942:
Stars and Stripes made its debut as the U.S. serviceman’s paper. On the other side of the Pacific, a squadron of North American B-25s launched from the aircraft carrier
Hornet, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, bombs Tokyo and a series of other targets on the Japanese mainland.

Also today in history, in the U.S. and elsewhere:


1775: Paul Revere and Charles Dawes rode from Charleston to Lexington crying “the regulars are coming.”  Think you know everything about Paul Revere?  Take a short quiz on
HistoryNet.com to find out.


1783: The American War for Independence formally ended–eight years to the day after it began.


1861: As Virginian troops moved to seize Harpers Ferry, its Union garrison pulled out after partially destroying the arsenal and its weapons (the Rebels recover 5,000 rifles and some of the equipment for producing them). Not coincidentally, Colonel Robert E. Lee, after some serious thought, turned down an offer to accept command of the U.S. Army.


1945: On Ie Shima, off Okinawa, the 77
th Infantry Division lost a buddy when Ernie Pyle, the GI’s war correspondent, was killed by Japanese machine gun fire.  To learn some interesting facts about Pyle, visit
HistoryNet.com.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:49:18 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oSxWTs
http://ift.tt/2pCrqhx;
One of the last surviving veterans of the sinking of the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor has been reunited with his fallen shipmates.PROVIDENCE, R.I. — One of the last surviving veterans of the sinking of the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor has been reunited with his fallen shipmates.

Raymond Haerry was interred on the ship in a ceremony that his granddaughter says was solemn and beautiful.

Haerry was 19 years old when bombs started falling on his battleship on Dec. 7, 1941. He never returned to Pearl Harbor while he lived because the memories were too painful. As he neared the end of his life, he told his family he’d like to be laid to rest there.

Haerry died Sept. 27 in Rhode Island at age 94. Five Arizona survivors remain.

Haerry’s granddaughter, Jessica Marino, traveled from New Jersey to Hawaii with her family for Saturday’s ceremony. She handed his urn to divers, who placed it within the ship’s sunken hull. Hundreds of sailors and Marines are entombed there.

“That was the point at which I kind of lost it,” Marino said. “It was really sad, but also really sweet to see. It was amazing.”

Only USS Arizona survivors can be interred on the ship. Haerry served for 25 years in the Navy, retiring as a master chief.

He’s the 42nd survivor to rejoin his shipmates, according to the National Park Service.




This image provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shows a ceremony held for Master Chief Petty Officer Raymond Haerry, one of last surviving members of the USS Arizona, on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, N.J. The airport’s aircraft rescue and firefighting unit fired off a water cannon salute as part of the tribute to Haerry.



Photo Credit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey via AP
Spokesman Jay Blount said these ceremonies help bring closure to the families, allow sailors to return to their shipmates and raise awareness of the sacrifices made 75 years ago. The National Park Service and the Navy conducted the interment.

Rear Adm. John Fuller talked about Haerry’s courage— not the absence of fear, but a deep abiding belief in something greater than oneself.

“I can’t help but think about him being reunited into these simple, hallowed spaces. The calm that comes from being again with your crew, and the lessons we can learn from all he taught us,” said Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

Marino said she knows her grandfather better now.

“I know this part of his life that really did shape him,” she said. “To be a part of getting him back to his ship and with his shipmates, it’s an honor for me.”





In this Saturday, April 15, 2017 photo released by Pacific Historic Parks, divers take the urn containing the remains of Raymond Haerry underwater to his final resting place within the sunken hull of the USS Arizona during a ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.



Photo Credit: Elaine Simon/Pacific Historic Parks via AP
Health issues prevented Raymond Haerry Jr. from joining his daughter in Hawaii. It was Haerry Jr. who pieced together the narrative of what happened in Pearl Harbor by asking questions of his father over 50 years.

Haerry was trying to get ammunition when a large bomb detonated, igniting fuel and powder magazines, Haerry Jr. told The Associated Press in October. Most of the bow was instantly separated and the ship was lifted out of the water.

Haerry Jr. said his father swam through flaming waters, sweeping his arms in front of him to push the flames away. He shot at Japanese planes from shore. Later, he helped retrieve corpses from the harbor.




In this Saturday, April 15, 2017 photo released by Pacific Historic Parks, Jessica Marino, granddaughter of Raymond Haerry, drops rose petals into the water at the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.



Photo Credit: Elaine Simon/Pacific Historic Parks via AP
The ship lost 1,177 men, nearly four-fifths of its crew. At first, Haerry’s family was surprised by his request to be laid to rest there, but soon they understood.

“That brotherhood doesn’t go away and as he got closer to the end of life, it resonated with him,” Marino said. “He didn’t want to see the site or relive that disaster, but he wanted to relive that camaraderie.”
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:31:41 GMThttp://ift.tt/2okGbnZ
http://ift.tt/2pCqb1B;
A bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers is calling for the Trump administration to allow sales of armed unmanned systems to Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers is calling for the Trump administration to allow sales of armed unmanned systems to Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.






The lawmakers appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump to depart from the Obama administration’s opposition to sending the MQ-9 Reaper to those Middle Eastern nations. The Trump administration has already signaled he is more flexible on arms exports by supporting a still-pending sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain without the human rights caveats imposed by the Obama administration. 





The letter, spearheaded by Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose San Diego, California, district is home to MQ-9 manufacturer General Atomics, argues the sales could pump $1 billion into the U.S. economy and that “it would preserve thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.”



The letter is signed by 20 Republicans, many of them on the House Armed Services Committee, and two Democrats from California: Reps. Susan Davis and Scott Peters.





In an interview with Defense News on Tuesday, Hunter said the sales make economic sense and would aid allies against the Islamic State group, adding that a non-sale would mean ceding U.S. market share and influence to a foreign vendor like China.





“They are going to buy their defensive and offensive weapons somewhere, and if they buy from China, that aligns them in some aspect with China,” Hunter said. “Why shouldn’t they be more aligned with the U.S. and U.S. foreign policy in the fight against ISIS? They are getting it on, why not help them?”



Opening the pipeline for unmanned systems to Jordan has been a signature cause for Hunter at least since 2015 when he wrote multiple letters to the Obama administration, which pushed back, citing, in part, the Missile Technology Control Regime. The MTCR is an informal pact across 35 nations meant to curb the spread of unmanned nuclear weapons. It is credited with slowing or stopping several ballistic missile programs.



Hunter believes this administration will be more receptive because Trump has been vocal about allies being more self-reliant.




“You might say that its a Trump doctrine, having allies fight for themselves where they can,” Hunter said. “He’s talked about a NATO of the Middle East; and why not help them where we can? We are giving military aid in dollars. Why shouldn’t they be buying American products?”


The letter comes as the White House proposes a budget that would kill U.S. subsidies for foreign allies, including Jordan, to buy American-made weapons outright and replace them with a loans program. Israel makes up more than half of the $5.7 billion program, with Egypt and Jordan next in line.





Asked if Jordan might require the aid to make the Reaper purchase, Hunter said that would be “worth doing” if necessary and dismissed the budget proposal’s foreign military financing cuts.

“Congress is not going to pass a budget that cuts our allies off at the knees — and I count Jordan, Egypt and the UAE as allies against ISIS,” he said.


Email: 
jgould@defensenews.com               

Twitter: 
@reporterjoe
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:25:47 GMThttp://ift.tt/2peizpd
http://ift.tt/2pCwxy1;
A Montana man charged with negligent homicide in the 2015 death of a passenger on his motorcycle has been given a six-year deferred prison sentence.BOZEMAN, Mont. — A Montana man charged with negligent homicide in the 2015 death of a passenger on his motorcycle has been given a six-year deferred prison sentence.


The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 27-year-old James Calderhead was sentenced Monday after pleading no contest to negligent homicide. The Marine Corps veteran must also complete community service and complete veterans treatment court.

Prosecutors say Calderhead and 26-year-old Bridget Perison were both legally intoxicated and that Calderhead was speeding when his motorcycle crashed in Bozeman.

Both were hospitalized. Perison died nine days after the crash.

Calderhead was initially charged with vehicular homicide before he accepted a plea agreement.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Calderhead has taken responsibility for his actions.

Calderhead apologized to the victim’s family in a statement read to the court Monday.


Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,
 
http://ift.tt/ZAj9ue
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:06:40 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pCyo6e
http://ift.tt/2o43BlB;
U.S. Marines and Navy personnel train Benin police students to support law enforcement efforts at the country’s borders.U.S. Marines are teaching Benin National Surveillance Police students special tactics to support efforts countering illicit trafficking on the country’s borders,
according to the Department of Defense.

Marines and U.S. Navy sailors are in the small West African nation as a part of Security Cooperation Team-3, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa. At the request of Benin’s government, U.S. forces are teaching small-unit infantry and patrol tactics to the police students. The training includes also includes martial arts and physical fitness.




A Marine with Security Cooperation Team-3, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, conducts Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) training with Benin National Surveillance Police students in Cotonou, Benin.



Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Johnny Henderson
 U.S. forces are conducting the training with Benin National Surveillance Police students in the coastal city of Cotonou, about an hour from the country’s capital of Porto-Novo.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:47:24 GMThttp://ift.tt/2o40M46
http://ift.tt/2pCljK8;
Some ailing veterans can now use their federal health care benefits at CVS “MinuteClinics” to treat minor illnesses and injuries, under a pilot program announced Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.WASHINGTON — Some ailing veterans can now use their federal health care benefits at CVS “MinuteClinics” to treat minor illnesses and injuries, under a pilot program announced Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new program, currently limited to the Phoenix area, comes three years after the VA faced allegations of chronically long wait times at its centers, including its Phoenix facility, which treats about 120,000 veterans.

The Phoenix pilot program is a test-run by VA Secretary David Shulkin who is working on a nationwide plan to reduce veterans’ wait times.

Veterans would not be bound by current restrictions under the VA’s Choice program, which limits outside care to those who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment or have to drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Instead, Phoenix VA nurses staffing the medical center’s help line will be able to refer veterans to MinuteClinics for government-paid care when “clinically appropriate.”


Shulkin has made clear he’d like a broader collaboration of “integrated care” nationwide between the VA and private sector in which veterans have wider access to private doctors. But, he wants the VA to handle all scheduling and “customer service” — something that veterans groups generally support but government auditors caution could prove unwieldy and expensive.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation to temporarily extend the $10 billion Choice program until its money runs out, pending the administration’s plan due out by fall. That broader plan would have to be approved by Congress.

“Our number one priority is getting veterans’ access to care when and where they need it,” said Baligh Yehia, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for health for community care. “The launch of this partnership will enable VA to provide more care for veterans in their neighborhoods.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a long-time advocate of veterans’ expanded access to private care, lauded the new initiative as an “important step forward.”

“Veterans in need of routine health care services should not have to wait in line for weeks to get an appointment when they can visit community health centers like MinuteClinic to receive timely and convenient care,” he said.


The current Choice program was developed after the 2014 scandal in Phoenix in which some veterans died, yet the program has often encountered long waits of its own. The bill being signed by Trump seeks to alleviate some of the problems by helping speed up VA payments and promote greater sharing of medical records. Shulkin also has said he wants to eliminate Choice’s 30-day, 40 mile restrictions, allowing the VA instead to determine when outside care is “clinically needed.”

Despite a heavy spotlight on its problems, the Phoenix facility still grapples with delays. Only 61 percent of veterans surveyed said they got an appointment for urgent primary care when they needed it, according to VA data.

Maureen McCarthy, the Phoenix VA’s chief of staff, welcomed the new CVS partnership but acknowledged a potential challenge in providing seamless coordination to avoid gaps in care. She said a veteran’s medical record will be shared electronically, with MinuteClinic providing visit summaries to the veteran’s VA primary care physician so that the VA can provide follow-up services if needed.

The VA previously experimented with a similar program last year in the smaller market of Palo Alto, Calif., a $330,000 pilot to provide urgent care at 14 MinuteClinics. CVS says it is pleased the VA has opted to test out a larger market and says it’s ready to roll the program out nationally if successful.

CVS, the biggest player in pharmacy retail clinics, operates more than 1,100 of them in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

“We believe in the MinuteClinic model of care and are excited to offer our health care services as one potential solution for the Phoenix VA Health Care System and its patients,” said Tobias Barker, chief medical officer of CVS MinuteClinic.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:46:46 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oSrJ9M
http://ift.tt/2pClAN8;
No more procrastination — here’s how to get your IRS business handled, with a little help.Tax day is here, but service members who have yet to file may be better served by following these steps than by rushing through their returns to meet the deadline, and possibly making costly mistakes:




1. Contact MilTax. If you’re struggling through the paperwork or you’ve stumbled upon a last-minute question, you can get free tax help courtesy of this
MilitaryOneSource.mil program. Visit the
MilTax website for free tax filing software and a number of tip sheets, or call MilTax anytime at 800-342-9647. If you’ve already received an extension, you can still get help with your returns at that number from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, beginning April 19.



2. File an extension. IRS Form 4868
(download the .pdf), which can be filed electronically, will land you an automatic extension, with a couple of caveats. Chief among them: The form must be filed today, and if you don’t send a tax payment today, you’ll have to pay interest and penalties on any taxes you owe. You can also get an extension by paying all or part of your estimated income tax due, if you indicate that the payment is for an extension — that way, you won’t have to file a separate extension form. Learn more at 
this IRS page. 




3. Overseas relief. If you’re stationed out of the country, you automatically qualify for a two-month extension and have the option to extend that deadline another four months. Thinking of stretching it further, or putting it off until your next assignment? Think again: Additional extensions are rarely granted in such situations, according to the MilTax website.



4. Check for combat extensions. Service members deployed to a combat zone who returned home less than 180 days before the tax deadline are eligible for an automatic extension. Those who were hospitalized after their deployment may have even longer to pay. Check the
IRS rules on qualifying duty to see if you’re covered, or call MilTax for assistance.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:24:25 GMThttp://ift.tt/2oIwkee
http://ift.tt/2pCkQY8;
Human behavior is consistent and predictable. Understanding and studying this behavior will equip a Marine with a better understanding of the human terrain they are faced with no matter where they are deployed.The term “human terrain” is often used within the military.  Individual Marines are encouraged to understand more about a local population they interact with, either on a deployment or while on liberty. 

At the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter course, we specifically dive into this topic to help Marines better understand, to identify, and most importantly to predict human behavior.

For several hundreds of years scientists have studied our behavior as a species. Unilaterally, they conclude that we are predictable as creatures of habit that set patterns and are driven, at times, by uncontrollable responses in the brain. 

Combat Hunter highlights these patterns to help recognize and explain why we act or react in a specific predictive pattern. Behavior that is consistent becomes predictable, which directly relates to military operations overseas or while on leave and liberty at home.

Imagine a popular singer visits your local diner and the fuss that creates. People are swarming and asking for autographs and selfies. We call this a Proxemic pull: We are pulled into situations we are interested in or feel safe around. 

Conversely, if a crowd of Marines having a smoke see the first sergeant walking toward them, they scatter quickly. This is a Proxemic push: We push away from encounters we don’t like or when we sense danger. 

A crowd of people conducting normal business in a market overseas will show the same pushes and pulls that can be recognized and observed. When these occur, they have meaning and are not just random.

That’s where the “so what?” comes in. Why did the locals grab their kids and bolt? What caused the men to congregate only around a car that just pulled up? How come yesterday the locals were smiling and shaking our hands, yet today they keep their distance and are quickly closing up the market?

Every one of us knows we like our space. We don’t like strangers getting too close to us, so we move out of the way or cross the street to get away from them. Remember the last time you were in an elevator: Where did the next person stand when they entered? Typically they take a position furthest from another person, and so on as others enter the elevator. 

This is another example of proximity or how we use the space around us. It is predictable, and a Marine can observe when a meeting takes place between more than one person: Do they know each other or not? Is one acting submissive or dominant over the other? Are they interested or uninterested? Are they acting comfortable or uncomfortable? This behavior can be seen in a crowd or in an individual and give a read to the other’s intent.

Anybody can practice this by taking the time to observe people around them in their daily life. The next time you are in a mall, for example, take a seat in the food court or a bench and just watch people. Pick out who is together, who are just dating, the loners, who seems to be in a hurry, how most patrons dress, who is acting a bit odd, and determine why they stand out to you. By practicing this, you will be surprised how quickly you build file folders, or memories, of specific behavior. When you notice it again during one of your future travels, you will key in on it instantly.

People across the globe are wired the same on the inside-the culture may be different, but understanding what to expect behaviorally from people will help you to predict what they will do. 

Human behavior is consistent and predictable. Understanding and studying this behavior will equip a Marine with a better understanding of the human terrain they are faced with no matter where they are deployed.


Gus Mingus is a retired Force Recon Marine and infantry officer who currently teaches profiling as an instructor at Combat Hunter, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:14:59 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pChNz8
http://ift.tt/2o3Wycr;
Officials will investigate whether dozens of families were improperly dropped from the program due to mistaken decisions.WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials on Monday announced they will not kick any more individuals out of the department’s caregiver support program while a full review of the benefit is conducted over the next three weeks. The move comes two weeks after an NPR report that dozens of regional medical centers were cutting back on the number of families receiving caregiver benefits, possibly against VA rules. In a statement, VA Secretary David Shulkin said the move is needed “to ensure we honor our commitment to enhance the health and well-being of veterans.” The review will include a look at whether rules governing the program are being evaluated consistently, and whether officials are taking proper steps to explain changes to beneficiaries. VA has made a variety of support services available to caregivers of veterans in recent years, but the most significant change is a monthly stipend awarded to some severely disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Those payouts can total several thousand dollars a month, designed to cover the lost income when a family member has to assume full-time caregiving duties of their loved ones. VA officials said the review will not halt the processing of new caregiver applications. Cases where a stipend has been cancelled by a veteran’s death, at the request of a family member, or due to noncompliance with program rules will still move forward.

It also will not affect training and education programs conducted through VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

But cases where families saw their payout amounts lessened or eliminated completely due to bureaucratic decisions will be put on hold until mid-May.

Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Poonam Alaigh said in a statement that the goal of the review is to identify “process improvements and support services” for caregivers in the program.

Around 22,000 caregivers of veterans are currently enrolled in the stipend program.


 

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:26:54 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pdtLTg
http://ift.tt/2pCkYXE;
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation.RIYADH, Saudi Arabia  — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation.

Mattis commented on the weekend missile launch in an interview with reporters traveling with him Tuesday to Saudi Arabia, where he begins a weeklong Mideast tour. His language was stronger than in an initial written statement he issued shortly after the launch, in which he simply said he was aware of the failure.

“The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he said.

Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach U.S. territory. He did not comment on what might have caused the missile to fail.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation “under control” with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Asked about his visit to Saudi Arabia, Mattis said the desert kingdom is a “pillar of our security framework for the region.”

The U.S. military is providing support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting anti-government Houthi rebels, but Mattis said the U.S. focus is on arranging a United Nations-brokered negotiating team to resolve Yemen’s civil war diplomatically.

“This is something, with the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen, that simply has to be brought to an end,” he said.

The U.S. security alliance with Saudi Arabia, dating to 1944 and based largely on the Saudis’ oil riches, has made Washington the kingdom’s most important arms supplier.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:10:51 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pxveAI
http://ift.tt/2o41lLd;
In a shock announcement, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday called for an early general election to be held June 8 to seek a strong mandate as she negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.LONDON  — In a shock announcement, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday called for an early general election to be held June 8 to seek a strong mandate as she negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Standing outside 10 Downing Street, May said she would ask the House of Commons on Wednesday to back her call for an election, just two years after the last vote and three years before the next scheduled date in May 2020.

She said that since Britons voted to leave the EU in June, the country had come together, but politicians had not. She said the political divisions “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.”

At present, May’s governing Conservatives have a small majority, with 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.

With the main opposition Labour Party weakened and divided under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats holding just nine Commons seats, May is calculating that the election will bring her an expanded crop of Conservative lawmakers.

That would make it easier for her to ignore opposition calls for a softer EU exit — making compromises to retain some benefits of membership — and to face down hardliners within her own party who want a no-compromise “hard Brexit” that many economists fear could be devastating.

May triggered a two-year countdown to Britain’s exit from the EU last month, and high-stakes negotiations to settle divorce terms and agree on a new relationship are expected to start within weeks.

May took office in July following an internal Conservative leadership contest, after predecessor David Cameron stepped down when voters rejected his call to remain in the EU. Since then she has repeatedly ruled out calling an early election to get her own mandate.

But May said Tuesday she had “reluctantly” changed her mind.

“We need a general election and we need one now,” she said.

May said that if there is not an election soon, “the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.”

“Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country,” she said.

May said that “our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course” on leaving the EU.

“They are wrong,” she said. “They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.”

Under Britain’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, elections are held every five years, but the prime minister can call a snap election if two-thirds of lawmakers vote for it.

That is highly likely to happen on Wednesday. Labour Party leader Corbyn said he welcomed May’s decision “to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”

Labour campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, but Corbyn says he will respect voters’ decision to leave. He said Labour would fight the election promising a fairer society and economy, and “a Brexit that works for all.”

Polls give May’s Conservatives a double-digit lead on Labour. But the election is still a risk for May, and could widen divisions within the United Kingdom. The country voted 52-48 percent to leave the EU, but Scotland backed remaining by a large majority, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to hold a referendum on independence from the U.K.

Sturgeon said Tuesday that May was seeking “to crush the voices of people who disagree with her.”

She said it was “all the important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the U.K. further to the right – forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.”

The Scottish National Party currently holds 54 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the British Parliament, making it the third-largest party there.

The pound surged 0.7 percent against the dollar to $1.2658, recovering from a 0.4 percent drop an hour earlier as rumors swirled about the surprise statement.

___


Danica Kirka contributed to this story.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 12:47:15 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pdxKz5
http://ift.tt/2pCHiAr;
As tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to ratchet up, more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army, and about 500 Republic of Korea troops, are taking part in the bilateral Max Thunder exercise, which began Monday.As tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to ratchet up, more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army, and about 500 Republic of Korea troops, are taking part in the bilateral Max Thunder exercise, which began Monday.

Hosted at Kunsan Air Base through April 29, the annual exercise, which has been in the planning stages for months, is designed to improve interoperability between South Korean and U.S. forces, who will be operating out of air bases in Korea and Japan.




U.S. Navy Airman Austin Russem, assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 138, Whidbey Island, Wash., performs a pre-flight inspection on an EA-18 Growler during Max Thunder 16 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, April 18, 2016. Max Thunder is part of a continuous exercise program to enhance interoperability between U.S. and South Korean forces. This year’s exercise kicked off Monday amid rising tensions with North Korea.



Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/Air Force
It comes just one day after Vice President Mike Pence visited Korea’s Demilitarized Zone and issued a stern warning to North Korea that U.S. tolerance for its nuclear ambitions is at an end. The warning followed a failed missile launch from North Korea Sunday.

“Exercise Max Thunder serves as an invaluable opportunity for U.S. and ROKAF forces to train together shoulder-to-shoulder and sharpen tactical skills vital to the defense and security of the Korean Peninsula,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander, in a press release. “This exercise will rigorously test our aerial combat capability and highlights the ironclad commitment between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea and the multifaceted capabilities we possess in this theater.”

Aircraft taking part in the exercise include F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 7th Air Force, AV-8B Harriers from the 12th Marine Aircraft Group, and EA-18G Growlers from the Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 132. Also taking part will be F-15K Slam Eagles, F-4E Phantom IIs, F-5E Tiger IIs, KA-1 Woongbi light attack aircraft, C-130s, HH-60 helicopters and CN 235 tactical transport aircraft, according to Pacific Command.
Mon, 17 Apr 2017 22:40:25 GMThttp://ift.tt/2pv7qNI
http://ift.tt/2o40MkC;
The Trump administration’s new nuclear weapons review has begun.WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday officially kicked off its Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, a major strategic undertaking that will set the Trump administration’s nuclear policy.

The announcement confirmed that Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work will be in charge of the review. The NPR represents one of 11 major reviews Work is undertaking, at a time when his expected successor, Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan, is awaiting a confirmation hearing.

The start of the NPR is not a surprise, as U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 to create the review. But the formal start of the review means those seeking to influence the future of America’s nuclear arsenal, estimated to cost at least $400 billion over the next decade, now have a time frame to state their case.

Here are the basic facts of the NPR:


What it is: The NPR is exactly as it sounds — a major look at all aspects of America’s military nuclear capabilities. The last NPR was conducted in 2010 by the Obama administration, at a time when geopolitics of the world were different.  

It also will look at the technology involved, as the Pentagon is prepared to revamp the entirety of its nuclear arsenal. Over the coming decades, the Department of Defense will build new nuclear-capable submarines, bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as the command and control structure to support their use.

The review will serve as a way for the Trump team to decide for itself if the path set forward from the Obama administration is the right one to continue, or if there are alternatives.


Who is involved: While the review will be run by Selva and Work (and eventually his successor), the services will have input. Expect stakeholders like Frank Klotz of the National Nuclear Security Administration to also have a say.

But the big question is to what extent the State Department will be involved. Those individuals were included in the 2010 review at a high level, but given the lack of political appointees at State and the way the DoD has generally been seen as more powerful under the current White House, how much say the nonproliferation community will have in the NPR is up in the air.  


Timeline: The Pentagon has pledged to finish the NPR by the “end of the year,” according to the news release, but the conclusion could come more quickly. During an April 4 hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said the administration had set a six-month timeline for the review.

What will change and what won’t: Inherently, there are two key areas at which an NPR looks — policy and capability.

In terms of policy, the question is how the U.S. is postured to meet nuclear threats. This will likely be the area with the most change from the 2010 review because of how the world has changed through Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and its subsequent modernization of nuclear capabilities, China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea, and increased missile testing from North Korea.

“We’ll look at Russia, China, North Korea and Iran in particular to make sure we understand what those threats are. Iran is in compliance with the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] right now, which is keeping that nuclear capability down, but they still have aggressive missile programs that we need to look at,” Hyten said. “So we will look across that spectrum of the threat and we’ll look at what Russia is doing in terms of violation of the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty. And then we’ll look at military options in order to respond to what we see in the threat.”

The second part is capability, and whether the plan to refurbish the nuclear triad is still the right way forward. Unlike the policy part of the review, there isn’t much expectation from nuclear experts that the NPR will divert from the agreed-upon modernization plan.

While “it’s important to remember the new administration will take a look at the entire threat posture, the entire modernization plan,” Hyten was quick to note, the “the secretary of defense, the Air Force leadership and the Navy leadership have all pledged support to modernizing the triad.”

One potential aspect that could be weighed differently than in 2010 is the question of alternatives to nuclear power. Selva told an April 13 audience at an Air Force Association conference that it is time for the Pentagon to reevaluate the concept of prompt global strike, a conventional alternative to nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Asked whether that should be in the Pentagon, Selva said: “I don’t know if it will be, but it’s a good question. I don’t know. I’ll find out. We’re just doing the terms of reference for it now so I’ll make sure we include it, at least as a question of whether or not it should be in.”

The biggest potential change, and one being watched closely by the nonproliferation community, is the new nuclear cruise missile, known as the Long Range Standoff weapon, or LRSO. The weapon is the farthest away from production of the major modernization programs and one that is heavily targeted by those who worry about the expansion of nuclear weapons.  

However, Pentagon officials have remained firmly in support of the LRSO program, so even changes there are unlikely.
Mon, 17 Apr 2017 19:33:21 GMThttp://ift.tt/2onpTtD

Source : Marine Corps Times – RSS Feed

New Tricare dental contract brings more benefits, but families say some dentists are dropping out

New Tricare dental contract brings more benefits, but families say some dentists are dropping out

About Ali Wael

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com