Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Posts in "Personnel"

July 31, 2014

Defense Industry Funds Flow to Contenders for Key House Chairmanships

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Thornberry; Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Forbes; McKeon; and Turner speak at a news conference last year. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

In politics, money flows to power. Apparently it flows to the potential for power, too.

Four of the top five candidates for the chairmanships of the House Armed Services and Intelligence panels have raised considerably more money this election cycle than they did at a similar point in 2012. The same four have also raised much more money from the defense industry than before – in some cases, more than doubling their takes.

Most of them, too, have raised more money in the first full quarter since the departures of the incumbent chairmen became official, and donated more to other candidates and GOP party committees than in the last cycle. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 8:30 a.m.
Personnel

July 29, 2014

Financial Issue Earns a Weigh-In From Hagel

A company’s $92 million settlement with the federal government’s consumer financial watchdog organization doesn’t seem like an obvious concern for the secretary of Defense. That amount of money is peanuts in the defense-budget world, and those kinds of agency actions generally wouldn’t have much impact on national security. But not this settlement, and not for Chuck Hagel.

Full story

July 23, 2014

Border Task Force Boosts National Guard Role; Others Less Enthused

Treasury 05 042413 445x296 Border Task Force Boosts National Guard Role; Others Less Enthused

Granger at a hearing of her House Appropriations Committee State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs lat year. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

A House GOP border task forces recommended Wednesday that the National Guard be deployed to the southern border in response to a surge of unaccompanied minors entering the country, the same week Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced plans to use the Guard for just that. Others are less sure it’s the right answer. Full story

July 22, 2014

Treating PTSD in Military Dogs

WOAI in San Antonio has a piece on post-traumatic stress disorder in military dogs, highlighting the work of Walter Burghardt, a veterinarian and researcher at Lackland Air Force Base in the Texas city. Behavioral studies for pooches aren’t the same as for people, of course.
Full story

By Joe Warminsky Posted at 9:34 a.m.
Personnel

July 17, 2014

War Is Hell: Skin Cancer, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorders on Rise for U.S. Troops

147125002 3 445x296 War Is Hell: Skin Cancer, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorders on Rise for U.S. Troops

Brad Schwarz, with his service dog Panzer, attends a Cubs game with a group of veterans at Wrigley Field in 2012. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder issues related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD, Schwarz has memory loss related to traumatic brain injury and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.

But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:08 a.m.
Budget, Personnel, Veterans, War

July 15, 2014

Everybody Picks on Military Readiness Because It’s Easy, Panel Chairman Says

Rep. Rob Wittman, who chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, says that the word “readiness” is a “term of art” where people “tangentially understand it, but don’t really understand that.” It also happens to be “the only area where you can quickly achieve savings” in the defense budget, since other programs have contracts attached to them that make it hard to get any short-term return with spending reductions.

That all makes it an easy place for lawmakers to seek cuts, the Virginia Republican said Tuesday at a breakfast with defense reporters. And he thinks it’s a bad idea, one that threatens to rear its head again as the defense budget continues to decline and as policymakers start to shoehorn more spending that is currently allocated via a war account back into the base budget. Full story

July 14, 2014

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 9, 2014

Pentagon Claims Low Flubbed Payment Rate, Could Be Totally Wrong

The good news for the Department of Defense: By its own estimation, less than 1 percent of its payments are improper payments (to the wrong party, or of the wrong amount), which is better than the more than 3 percent rate government-wide, with improper payments by the feds adding up to $106 billion in the past fiscal year.

The bad news for the department: The Government Accountability Office “has grave reservations even about DOD’s ability to track and accurately report its improper payments,” John L. Mica, R-Fla., said at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Full story

June 23, 2014

When the Word ‘Hero’ Gets in the Way

Army Capt. Benjamin Summers says that calling everyone in the armed services a “hero” is hardening the military-civilian gap and impeding “a more nuanced appreciation of service and to produce better policy in Washington.”

Full story

June 19, 2014

The Quest to Protect the Newest Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

At the beginning of 2012, the head of the National Guard Bureau joined the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the objections of top Pentagon brass, in a move that amounted to a coup for the National Guard’s profile. This January, he started getting the same level of continuous physical protection and security afforded to the other leaders with access to the nation’s most sensitive military secrets — after it took two years to get the application and paperwork completed. Full story

June 12, 2014

Pentagon Agency Rid Itself of 45 Football Fields’ Worth of Storage Space, Delivering Other Stuff Elsewhere

The Department of Defense has a lot of, well, stuff. With wars winding down and amid the push to reduce the U.S. budget, the agency in charge of supplying the military with commodities like food, clothing, fuel and more has been dramatically shrinking its inventory and all the things going along with it — like demolishing 45 football fields’ worth of warehouse space in the past couple years alone.

But the Defense Logistics Agency isn’t done shrinking yet, said its director, Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek, on Thursday. And it’s firmly in the middle of gearing up for the changing needs of the military, including in places like Africa and Asia. Full story

June 11, 2014

Paul Ryan: Rebuild Military, Stay in Afghanistan Longer, Develop Lasers

ryan 054 050714 445x296 Paul Ryan: Rebuild Military, Stay in Afghanistan Longer, Develop Lasers

Ryan walks by reporters outside of the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on May 7. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Prospective GOP presidential candidate Rep. Paul D. Ryan offered up his vision Wednesday for the military and diplomacy, contrasting himself with President Barack Obama and perhaps some potential primary challengers. And in offering up that vision, he proposed some specific ideas for what the Defense Department ought to be doing. Full story

June 10, 2014

What the Pentagon Might Recommend to Congress on Acquisition Overhaul Next Year

Congress is going to look very closely as soon as next year’s defense policy bill at overhauling how the Defense Department spends its massive budget on hardware and services. On Tuesday, the department official tasked with generating recommendations for Capitol Hill hinted at what the Pentagon does and does not want. Full story

June 9, 2014

CENTCOM Doesn’t Know How to Shrink or Shift, Report Finds

U.S. Central Command, with a geographic region that encompasses hotspots like the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia, has seen its number of regular personnel increase by nearly 70 percent since around the time of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with the war in Iraq over, the war in Afghanistan winding down and pressure from Pentagon leadership to reduce its headquarters spending, that figure and other CENTCOM-related funding is expected to shrink and move to another part of the budget. Only the Department of Defense isn’t ready for it, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday. Full story

Are SOCOM’s Overseas ‘Persistent Presences’ Out of Line?

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Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, testifies during a 2012 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A newly released House report raises questions about whether U.S. Special Operations Command is exploiting a personnel trick to set up permanent presences overseas — rather than seeking the proper legal approval to do so. Full story

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