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07/23/2014  Post a press release
07/21/2014  DOD Official Outlines Issues for Septemberís NATO Summit

WASHINGTON – As NATO prepares for a summit in September, a senior Defense Department official today characterized the alliance as being at a turning point, with questions emerging about the kinds of missions it should take on post-Afghanistan, appropriate levels of defense spending by its members, and whether NATO publics will question the alliance’s relevance going forward.

 

“For NATO to continue to be seen as relevant to our publics, it needs to be seen as addressing the security issues that are relevant to our publics, so that’s why as an alliance we need to work harder,” Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said during a "Transatlantic Talks" discussion at the German Marshall Fund of the United States here.

 

Chollet, whose Pentagon portfolio includes department policy on Russia and Ukraine in addition to alliance issues, said the NATO summit set to be held in Wales will come at a critically important time for the alliance, given the uncertain security situation in Eastern Europe and the scheduled end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan in December, as well as other possible responsibilities that its 28 members could be asked to take on in the future.

 

“As we are approaching the end of this year with Afghanistan transitioning to a train, advise and assist mission, we are once again facing for the alliance a moment where we are asking, ‘What is the alliance for?’” he said.

 

The crisis in Ukraine, Chollet said, has served to bring some of these issues to the forefront, including the question of capabilities, which inevitably touches on defense spending by European governments

Source

07/21/2014  Contingency Funds Support Operations, Recovery, New Missions

 

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department’s request for $58.6 billion in fiscal year 2015 overseas contingency operations funds is nearly one-third less than it received the previous year and is part of a continued downward trend in war-related spending, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told Congress today.

 

But even as the war in Afghanistan ends, the department will continue to seek OCO funding for the repair and replacement of worn-out and damaged equipment, a process that will continue well beyond 2015, Work said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

 

The funds also support the costs associated with the broader presence in Southwest Asia and the Middle East, and with responses to unforeseen contingencies, he said.

The requested OCO funds will support troops who already are serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the U.S. Central Command area of operations and “who every day are conducting operations on behalf of our nation’s security in what is becoming a very volatile, complex and dangerous world,” he said.

 

“The requested funds for 2015 would provide $53.4 billion for Operation Enduring Freedom,” the deputy secretary said. “This funding will support the responsible drawdown of forces in Afghanistan as announced by the president.

 

“It will pay for the retrograde of equipment and personnel and the continued reset of forces,” he continued. “And it will enable a really vast range of support activities in theater, including logistics and intelligence. And it will support a portion of the temporary Army and Marine Corps end strength that supports OEF.”

Source

07/21/2014  Russian Military Buildup Near Ukraine Concerns DOD Officials

WASHINGTON – U.S. defense officials are concerned about a buildup of Russian troops along that country’s border with Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

 

“We believe there are now between 10,000 and 12,000 Russian troops on the border,” Warren told reporters. “We also have reason to believe that the Russians are continuing to support the separatist movement in Ukraine.”

 

The size of the Russian presence in the region means it’s capable of conducting operations on either side of the border, he added. “I can’t speak for what they intend to do. Certainly, it is intimidating.”

 

A few weeks ago, about 1,000 Russian soldiers were along the border. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of Russian troops were deployed in the area, Warren said.

 

The United States wants the Russians to stop what it terms provocative behavior and “execute actions that are in line with their words,” Warren said. Russian officials have said they want peace and stability in Ukraine and de-escalation of the situation there, but their actions work counter to those goals, he noted.

 

U.S. officials believe that some weaponry -- “possibly some heavy weapons” are flowing into Ukraine for use by separatists, Warren said. The troops moving to the area are battalion task groups and are combat soldiers.

 

U.S. and Ukrainian military officials met in June. “Another team is due to head out in the next few weeks to scope out specific defense institution building activities and programs that we may want to pursue,” he added.

Source

07/21/2014  DOD Awards $62 Million in Grants to California, Virginia Schools

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is providing more than $62 million in grants to schools in California and Virginia.

 

The money will go to renovate, repair or construct schools at Naval Base San Diego and Camp Pendleton in California and at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren.

 

“The grants are from the Office of Economic Adjustment, and the funding is provided under DoD’s Public Schools on Military Installations program,” he said.

 

At Fort Belvoir, about $23 million in grant funds will be used to renovate, repair and construct new classrooms at the on base elementary school. The project will serve more than 1,590 military-connected students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

 

San Diego schools will receive $34,131,479 to renovate and expand Doris Miller and Joy Bright Hancock Elementary Schools at Naval Base San Diego. The two schools will serve more than 1,350 military connected students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

 

At Camp Pendleton, the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District will receive $4,669,872 for designs for new Mary Fay Pendleton and San Onofre Elementary/Middle Schools to serve more than 1,850 military-connected students in kindergarten through eighth grade there.

Source

 

07/18/2014  USNS Mercy Departs Pearl Harbor for RIMPACís Sea Phase

PEARL HARBOR – The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed Pearl Harbor July 15 to participate in the sea phase of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, the world's largest international maritime exercise.

 

While underway, Mercy is scheduled to participate in various events including simulated medical evacuations (MEDEVAC), a mass casualty exercise and subject-matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with other RIMPAC participants.

 

“I am looking forward to operating with different allied partner nations,” said Capt. Michael Perkow, mission commander aboard Mercy during RIMPAC. “This is a great opportunity for everyone to learn together and operate in a multinational environment.”

 

The MEDEVAC simulations are scheduled to arrive within Mercy's task force and other participating ships. The simulations will test each ships' medical department's ability to respond and evaluate patients, and then decide whether they need to be brought to Mercy for a higher level of medical care.

 

“I am looking forward to testing our junior officers, integrating their skills and knowledge they've learned so far with our previous engagements with other countries,” said Cmdr. Angelo Lucero, a staff member for Mercy's directorate for nursing services.

 

The mass casualty exercise is scheduled to simulate an oil platform accident with 40 patients being brought to Mercy, allowing the ship's staff to train in an environment in which a large amount of injured people are loaded onto the ship.

Source

07/18/2014  F-35 Returns to Limited Flight, Officials Rule out Farnborough

 

WASHINGTON — While the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter has returned to limited flying, it will not be appearing at the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a Pentagon news conference today.

 

The F-35 fleet was grounded July 3 in the wake of a June 23 engine fire on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Navy and Air Force airworthiness authorities approved the F-35’s return to flight yesterday.

 

The return has a limited flight clearance that includes an engine inspection regimen and restricted flight rules, Kirby said, adding that the limits will remain in place until the root cause of the engine fire is identified and corrected. While the investigation is not yet complete, “we haven’t seen anything that points to a systemic issue across the fleet with respect to the engine,” the admiral said.

 

Even with the return to flight, U.S. and British officials decided not to send Marine Corps and Royal Air Force F-35B aircraft across the Atlantic to participate in the Farnborough airshow.

“This decision was reached after a consultation with senior leaders and airworthiness authorities, despite the decision by airworthiness authorities to clear the aircraft to return to limited flight,” Kirby said.

 

Under the rules of the flight resumption, the F-35s are limited to a maximum speed of Mach 0.9 and 18 degrees of angle of attack. They can go from minus 1 G to a 3 G’s, the admiral said. After three hours of flight time, each front fan section of each engine has to be inspected with a borescope. “That was a pretty significant limitation in terms of being able to fly them across the Atlantic,” he added.

Source

07/18/2014  DOD: New Counterterror Account Needed for Helicopters, ISR

July 17, 2014

 

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon could use a new $5 billion counterterrorism fund, strongly opposed by the US Congress, to purchase new intelligence gear and aircraft for American and partner militaries, a Defense Department official said.

 

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle continued to hammer DoD officials about the 2015 $58.6 billion overseas contingency operations (OCO) request, with Republicans and Democrats calling the accounts a “slush fund.” One congressman referred to the OCO accounts as the “cookie jar.”

 

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the spending request “vague” and an “abuse of the OCO designation,” during a hearing on Thursday.

 

The OCO budget, formerly called a wartime supplemental, has been used since 2006 to fund US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But over time, the accounts have funded other items, such as stateside training for troops preparing to deploy and to replace equipment damaged or destroyed in battle.

 

Since federal budget caps were put in place in 2013, both Congress and DoD have shifted money for items traditionally included in the Pentagon’s base budget into the OCO accounts, which are not subject to the caps, analysts say.

 

Several lawmakers at Thursday’s House Budget Committee hearing called the Obama administration’s $5 billion counterterrorism request a “blank check,” saying the White House has provided little detail as to how DoD would spend the money.

 

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said DoD could use the money to pay for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment for special operations forces.

Source

07/18/2014  Material Testing and Metrology Lab Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Laboratory Testing Inc. of Hatfield, PA, marks its 30th anniversary this year. Since 1984, many expansions and changes at LTI grew the company to a 91,500 sq. ft. facility with 145 employees performing a wide-range of services.

 

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