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February 11, 2016

Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts, 9/11 Commission, VA Secretary in the Week Ahead

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.

The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget.

In addition to the Medal of Honor ceremony Monday, the Center for a New American Security holds a discussion on reducing national security risks in cyberspace, featuring two officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

In the Senate Tuesday, the Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on a disabilities treaty, while later the Veterans Affairs panel holds a hearing on the nomination of Robert McDonald as VA secretary.

Off the Hill Tuesday, the former co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission take the measure of their report 10 years later at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Council rolls out a report on the reorganization of U.S. Combatant Commands on the same day.

Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a rescheduled hearing on the U.S. response to the gains of terrorists in Iraq, featuring deputy assistant secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, who also testifies before the Senate counterpart Thursday alongside principal deputy assistant Defense secretary for international security affairs Elissa Slotkin at both events.

Besides the Senate hearing Thursday, the Brookings Institution hears from Reps. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va. and Jim Langevin, D-R.I. to discuss military innovation.

Friday brings a Hudson Institute discussion on the Navy’s budget and capabilities.

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