Troop cuts represent “Unacceptable Risk”

A Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing on Army modernization took a hard turn into the issue of personnel cuts amid growing global threats when LTG Herbert R. McMaster Jr. said plans to cut total Army end strength represent high risk—and quite possibly “unacceptable” risk.

“It’s an unacceptable risk because of a combination of factors,” said McMaster, deputy commanding general, Future forces, of the Army Training and Doctrine Command. “We all recognize that the threats to national and international security are increasing, and many of those threats are interconnected.”

Those threats include “revisionist powers” Russia and China, North Korea and Iran, in addition to the ongoing “transnational terrorist” threat, from ISIS, McMaster said. “As we look at the way threats to our national security are evolving, we need a joint force; that places a very high demand on ready land forces.”

He noted that current end strength plans would shrink the Regular Army to its smallest size since before World War II, at a time when the service has not been heavily modernizing weaponry and equipment. Previous drawdowns, such as after the Vietnam War and the Cold War, occurred after the Army had been “considerably” modernized, he said, and “we are not recently modernized.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., the subcommittee chairman, said lawmakers have discussed a larger active-duty Army—perhaps 480,000 to 490,000 soldiers, but he asked, “what would be the implications if Congress took that step but did not increase funding?” LTG Joe Anderson, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for operations and plans, answered, “The Army will never give up the readiness of its formations; so if you increase the number of soldiers” without an increase in the budget, modernization will take another hit. We can’t stretch out things more than we already have. It would make the problems we have right now even worse.”

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DOD to VA Medical Care Transition

Last month the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments announced an ongoing effort to ease the transition for service members who require complex care management as they transition from the DoD system of health care to the VA.
The effort is designed to ease the burden for service members and veterans, who have suffered illnesses or injuries so severe as to require the expertise provided by multiple care specialties throughout both departments, officials said.”More than a decade of combat has placed enormous demands on a generation of service members [and] veterans – particularly those who have suffered wounds, injuries, or illnesses which require a complex plan of care,” said Dr. Karen Guice, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and co-chair of the DoD-VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee.
“These individuals require the complex coordination of medical and rehabilitative care, benefits and other services to successfully transition from active duty to veteran status and to optimally recover from their illnesses or injuries.””Our collaborative efforts with DoD have improved and enhanced the process of caring for our military members with serious illness, injuries or disabilities, as they recover and return to their communities,” said Dr. Linda Spoonster Schwartz, assistant secretary veterans affairs for policy and planning and co-chair of the DoD-VA committee. “Great attention has been made to develop a system which focuses on continuity of care, holistic support services and a ‘warm handoff’ for [service members and veterans] as they move from and between military, VA and community health care systems.

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Message from AUSA National Headquarters

AUSA National Hqs recently shared an important message from General (R) Gordon Sullivan, President and CEO:

“I am more concerned about America’s Army today than any time since I first became a soldier in 1955. Our Army has a flat budget and continues to make force structure reductions while facing expanding global commitments, a combination that makes the goal of improving combat readiness dangerously out of reach. Instead, the Army faces a death spiral in which it consumes readiness faster than it can be restored, a situation that needs immediate attention from our nation’s political leaders.”

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Secretary Carter speaks to “Boots on the Ground”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has again addressed the controversial issue of U.S. “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria, saying that more American troops would be deployed in an “enabling” role.
“Boots on the ground? We have 3,500 boots on the ground” in Iraq and “we’re looking for opportunities to do more,” Carter told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Carter acknowledged there are about 50 U.S. Special Forces serving as advisers in Syria to local forces opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in addition to the 3,500-3,600 American troops serving as trainers and advisors to the Iraqi Security Forces.
“We’re not looking to substitute for local forces in terms of governing and policing the place,” Carter said. “That’s why we put Special Forces in Syria. They’re tremendous force multipliers. They’re the ones who connect them to the great might of our military. The strategic concept is not to substitute but to enable” local forces, he said.
Carter also referred to the 1,300 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who will deploy to Iraq this spring to replace troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division in the training role. The 1st BCT will return to Fort Drum, New York.
In his meetings last week in Switzerland and in Paris, Carter said that the number of U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq would “increase greatly as the momentum of the effort increases.”
Carter said the main focus would be on routing militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, from Mosul, the main stronghold of the insurgents in Iraq, and from Raqqa, the self-proclaimed ISIS capital in Syria.

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Former Army Captain is Army Undersecretary nominee

The nominee to Army undersecretary told a Senate committee that he believes his experiences as an Iraq War veteran and member of Congress will help him in the job. Patrick Murphy is a former Army captain and staff judge advocate who spent eight years in the service. He deployed to Bosnia in 2002 and Iraq in 2003, and also served as a constitutional law professor at the U.S. Military Academy. The 42-year-old served two terms in the U.S. House representing Pennsylvania’s 8th District.
Appearing Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Murphy said that if confirmed, he’ll engage in a top-to-bottom review looking for “efficiencies within the organization so we can refocus on the warfighters who are keeping our families safe.” Murphy vowed, “I will make sure that the Army is manned, trained and equipped to accomplish what General Milley articulated as his fundamental task, to win in the unforgiving crucible of ground combat.” Murphy said he is worried about the size of the Army. He said. “When I left Congress five years ago, we were 45 brigade combat teams on active duty. We are now down to 31.” Resourcing is also a concern, noting the tradeoff the Army is making in slowing modernization to pay for readiness.

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Veterans Resource Guide in Delaware

Many veterans are looking at the state of Delaware as a place for retirement. WalletHub’s 2015 review of the Best & Worst States for Military Retirees recently placed Delaware at Number 1 in quality of life for veterans. However, the state placed at No. 35 in the overall rankings. Military retirees can find more information about veterans’ benefits online in the Veterans Resource Guide, published by the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs in Dover. Go to veteransaffairs.delaware.gov/

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Free Holiday Concerts

The Delaware National Guard’s 287th Army Band will be performing two Holiday concerts this year; free to the public. They will be at the Grand Opera House on Dec 9, and at Dover Downs on Dec 10; both at 7pm.

Hope to see you there!

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Veterans’ Day Luncheon

Members and Friends,

On Wednesday, November 11, 2015, the Delaware Chapter will be conducting our Veterans’ Day Luncheon. It will be at the Lone Star Steakhouse on Route 13 in New Castle at 12:30. We will have our choice of four entrees with a side and a beverage. After lunch, Wes Schroeder of Summit Aviation will talk about the work they do for the Army, and CPT John Maricevic will brief on the Army recruiting mission and challenges.

Kindly RSVP to Adrienne Gage at adriennegage@verizon.net.

Hope to see you there.

Gary W. Dawson,
President, Delaware Chapter
Association of the U.S. Army
(302) 230-6074

Remember, November 11, 2015, 12:30 at the Lone Star Steakhouse in New Castle
Cost: $15.00

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AUSA 61st Annual Meeting

The Association of the U.S. Army conducted its 61st Annual Meeting and Exposition this week at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. In addition to AUSA members and guests, it was attended by military and exhibitors from around the world. The theme was, ‘Winning in a Complex World’
New Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley spoke of the need to view the Army as ‘one force’, Active, National Guard and Reserve, urged the Nation to limit cuts to personnel, pay and benefits, and stressed the importance of readiness in view of the many threats across the globe.
AUSA President Gordon Sullivan warned of the crippling effects of the Budget Control Act; aka, Sequestration, and urged attendees to ask Congress for relief. Sequestration disproportionately imposes budget cuts throughout the Department of Defense and is crippling the rebuilding of an Army after 14 years of war.
The agenda was filled with forums on training opportunities, modernization programs, technical innovations, and family readiness forums. Senior leaders spoke on a variety of professional topics.

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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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