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Posts in "Personnel"
August 13, 2014
When Iraq popped up this week as an issue in the Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst based on her comments about troop levels in recent years, it marked something rare: an occasion where a national security debate surfaced in the 2014 elections for purely national security reasons.
Despite a whole host of places around the globe where security is a rising topic in the news — Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia — defense and foreign policy has largely been on the sidelines in congressional races. Even when it has been debated, it has usually been for other reasons, such as how it reflects on President Barack Obama’s performance. But because of that, and more, national security could still play a role in the 2014 elections.
August 7, 2014
The Center for Responsive Politics is keeping a running tally of which companies and organizations are best represented among 2014 donors to federal candidate campaigns. The newest updated list counts six companies with significant defense or security business among the top 50. Full story
July 31, 2014
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
July 29, 2014
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.
July 23, 2014
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
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.
July 17, 2014
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
July 15, 2014
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
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
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
June 19, 2014
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
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
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