Tennessee Recruiters return to Storefronts

NASHVILLE — State officials hope to have Tennessee National Guard recruiters back in their storefront offices in Chattanooga and across the state next week as final touches on security upgrades are made in response to the July 16 deadly attack.
“We’re ready to go back to business,” state Adjutant General Max Haston said, noting National Guard recruiters have been working out of armories since July.
The temporary relocation of the seven offices was prompted by 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s Chattanooga shooting rampage. Abdulazeez first shot at a U.S. military recruiting office, located next door to a state National Guard office in a Lee Highway strip mall.
The gunman then drove to the U.S. Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway, where he killed four Marines and fatally injured a Navy petty officer before he was shot to death by Chattanooga police.
The shootings prompted a national discussion about U.S. and National Guard security on American soil in an age of worldwide extremism.
After the attack in Chattanooga, Gov. Bill Haslam directed Haston to review Tennessee’s recruiting office and armory security and examine whether Guard members should be allowed to carry handguns. Major General Haston temporarily relocated the recruiters to more secure armories while security fixes were made. Military officials favor the storefronts because they provide easier access to would-be recruits.
Since the recruiting center leases are handled by U.S. military officials, he needed to get the Pentagon’s approval. Haston announced in August he received authority for properly trained Guard members to carry federally issued sidearms at the recruiting centers or on federal property, including vehicles.
“They absolutely told us we can do what we want to on that,” Haston said this week. “So they’ll be carrying federal weapons.” “The big issue,” Haston said, has been “getting all of our recruiters requalified in their assigned weapons.”
State officials said National Guard recruiters will likely be sent back to the Chattanooga area on Tuesday or Wednesday. Recruiters in other areas of Tennessee will return later this week. No update yet on recruiters from other services.

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Hearing Protection

The Army in action is filled with noise, which is one of the reasons why hearing loss can be a significant problem for soldiers and veterans, and also why so much emphasis is given to hearing protection. Well-fitted combat ear plugs have proven effective in noisy environments, and research continues into other initiatives. Soldiers are strongly encouraged to have ear plugs with them so they are always available when needed.

What to watch: The Department of Defense’s Human Performance Resource Center has a lot of advice on minimizing the risk of hearing problems. One of them is to limit exposure to “annoying noise” during normal daily activities…which presumably does not mean avoiding your spouse or supervisor.

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GEN Odierno Farewell

In his final Pentagon press conference as Army chief of staff, General Raymond T. Odierno said he has “great concern personally” about the Army’s fate, fearing the nation is “sacrificing the long-term viability of our military.”

The 60-year-old General, whose Army career started in 1976, retires at a time of uncertainty about funding available for the military and increasingly complicated national security threats.

“Our security environment remains uncertain and dynamic,” Odierno said, citing Russian and Chinese aggression, unrest in the Middle East caused by the Islamic State, threats of global terrorism, and an “unstable and provocative North Korea” as a short list of problems that could require military response.

Addressing or preparing for those threats requires a stable and certain budget, something that has proven politically difficult as the fiscal year approaches on Oct. 1 without a bipartisan budget agreement, raising the possibility of a government shutdown and cuts in the Army budget from a possible second round of sequestration.

“The whole four years I have been chief of staff of the Army, we have been in this deadlock,” Odierno said. “We are reaching a point where we have to be careful,” raising the specter the Army could lose capabilities and the ability to quickly respond to threats or a crisis.

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New Army Chief of Staff

General Mark A. Milley’s nomination to become the 39th Army chief of staff was approved Wednesday by the Senate, and President Obama nominated an Iraq War veteran to become under secretary of the Army. Milley will succeed GEN Raymond T. Odierno, who will retire after 39 years of service.

GEN Milley told Congress that he believes his 35 years of Army experience qualified him to lead the Army. “I had the honor to lead soldiers in combat as a captain and major along with combat leadership as a brigade commander, division deputy commander and corps commander,” he said to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “With service in Special Forces and conventional units, as well as operational experience in a variety of contingencies around the globe. I have a broad perspective of the Army, its processes and capabilities, and my experience includes operations in the Sinai, Somalia, Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, along with tours in Korea and Colombia.

Milley’s most recent deployment had him serving as the III Corps commanding general and heading U.S. and multinational forces in Iraq, which he said gave him “the opportunity to apply the full range of Army, joint, combined and coalition capabilities in complex environments on my third tour in Afghanistan while commanding all the ground forces in combat and security force assistance operations. ”The Army, GEN Milley said, “is and must remain the world’s premier ground combat force, capable of conducting sustained campaigns on land to achieve U.S. national security objectives.”

Also, Patrick J. Murphy, the 41-year-old nominee to be Under Secretary of the Army, was the first Iraq War veteran to be elected to Congress, where he championed improvements in the GI Bill and veterans’ employment programs. Defeated for re-election in 2010, he has been working at a Philadelphia law firm and as a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that works on progressive policies. Murphy was commissioned through an ROTC program and served two overseas deployments; deploying to Bosnia in 2002, and Iraq in 2003 as part of the 82nd Airborne Division.

If confirmed, Murphy would fill a position currently held by an acting undersecretary, Eric Fanning. It is not clear when the Senate will take up his nomination.

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Happy 240th Birthday!

Two hundred forty years ago this Sunday, our founding fathers established
the Continental Army. Today, the Army is the strategic land power of the
joint force; called upon to prevent, shape, and win against our adversaries.

This year, we celebrate 240 years of selfless service to the nation.
Selfless service is at the core of what it means to be a Soldier – putting
the welfare of others ahead of oneself. The willingness of our Soldiers – to
place themselves in harm’s way and to protect our nation’s freedoms – is
what makes us the premier all-volunteer force. The Army has served proudly,
faithfully, and selflessly for 240 years, and we remain steadfast in our

Happy Birthday, United States Army!

We also celebrate Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of
the United States by the Second Continental Congress.

Major General
The Adjutant General of Delaware

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Farewell to Beau Biden

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Biden family as we mourn the loss of Beau; beloved and respected by all who knew him. The former Attorney General of Delaware was also a Major in the Delaware Army National Guard who deployed to Iraq in 2009. When our AUSA Chapter organized the first ‘Our Community Salutes’ event in 2012, Beau agreed to be our first keynote speaker. Although our event was new to Delaware, Beau did not hesitate to join the many community leaders, military members, parents and friends to say ‘Thank you’ to the high school seniors who were joining the military after graduation that year. Farewell to a good man indeed.

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Memorial Day Events 2015 Around Delaware

The Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs is conducting two events to commemorate Memorial Day.  On Monday, May 25, 2015 at 11:00 am, they will conduct a Memorial Day Service at the Delaware Veterans Memorial on the parade field of the cemetery grounds at 2465 Chesapeake City Road in Bear, Delaware.  On Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 10:30 am, the Commission will conduct a Memorial Day Service at the War Memorial Plaza, Delaware Memorial Bridge, New Castle, Delaware.

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Our Community Salutes of Delaware

[Published From Our Community Salutes Web Site, an AUSA Delaware sponsored event]

Wilmington University and the Delaware Chapter, Association of the US Army co-sponsored the fourth annual “Our Community Salutes” ceremony in Delaware on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at Wilmington University. We recognized and thanked those high school seniors from Delaware who have chosen a military career after graduation.

Tim Furlong of NBC 10 Philadelphia returned as emcee. We were honored to have Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn and Major General Glenn Lesniak, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve as our speakers. Student enlistees received letters of appreciation signed by U.S. Senators Carper and Coons, and U.S. Representative Carney. Students also received letters from the State of Delaware House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, and an ‘Our Community Salutes’ challenge coin.

Mr. Justin Null, a high school counselor at St. Georges’ Technical High School, was presented The General Colin L. Powell award in recognition of his help assisting students interested in beginning their career in the military.

Photos of this event can be found at OCSDE.org/2015-photos

OCS Class of 2015

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Army Gets $7 Billion Budget Boost

[From AUSA National]

The Army would get a $7 billion increase in its base budget for 2016 under the Obama administration plan unveiled Monday.

The increase primarily goes to operations, maintenance and weapons modernization programs.

The administration requests $147 billion for the Army in fiscal 2016, $2 billion less than the current budget in a reduction resulting from reduced funding for contingency operations.

For fiscal year 2015, the Army received $121 billion in the base budget and $28 billion in operating contingency funds. For fiscal 2016, the administration proposes boosting the base budget to $127 billion while cutting the contingency budget to $21 billion.

The 2016 budget was announced Feb. 2, at a time when the Army has 140,000 soldiers serving in 150 foreign countries, and with nine of the Army’s 10 active divisions having headquarters actively engaged in ongoing operations.

The modest boost for the Army is part of a decision by the administration to ask Congress for a 2016 defense budget that is $38 billion over spending caps set in the Budget Control Act, something that will require consent from lawmakers. While the Army would receive $7 billion more than current spending, the budget would provide a $16 billion increase for the Air Force and an almost $12 billion increase for the Navy, according to Defense Department briefing charts.

Forty-five percent of the Army’s base budget goes for personnel costs, with 36 percent for operations and maintenance and 18 percent for weapons programs. Spending on personnel is flat, even though the Army expects to be smaller in 2016, a result covering the cost of modest increases in pay and benefits. The budget includes a 1.3 percent basic pay hike, an average 1.2 percent increase in housing allowance and a 3.4 percent increase in subsistence allowance.

Active-duty personnel levels would drop from 490,000 today to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016, under the plan. Army National Guard strength, now 350,200, would drop to 342,000. Army Reserve strength would remain at 198,000.

There is $16.1 billion allocated to Army weapons procurement in the budget request, up from $13.9 billion in 2015. Increases are spread over aircraft, missiles, track vehicle and ammunition programs, but Army officials said a top priority is modernizing Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter fleets in support of the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, a controversial topic where an independent commission could end up deciding details and timing.

Ninety-four Black Hawks, 64 Apaches and 39 Chinooks would be purchased in 2016, an increase from the 87 Black Hawks, 35 Apaches and 32 Chinooks funded in 2015. Money also is included to buy 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and upgrades for 87 Strykers.

For more headlines, click here.

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GEN (Ret) Sullivan remarks about seeking stability and sanity in Breaking Defense

[From AUSA National]

Unhealthy and unnecessary friction in the Total Force is a consequence of the larger budget pressures facing the Army. We need to make certain the suboptimal decisions foisted on the Army’s leaders don’t damage the overall cohesiveness of what is shaping up to be a much smaller active, Guard and Reserve force.

You can read the entire op-ed article published in Breaking Defense on January 19, 2015 here. Included you will also find links to MG (Ret) Gus Hargett’s comments for NGAUS’s perspective on the current budget crisis facing the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army in particular. Regardless, GEN (Ret) Sullivan is right in that the “most precious, capable, and flexible weapon system is people.”

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