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Military Section education
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OPINION — “First, and foremost, we support the men and women who serve in the United States military in this bill. Most specifically, we serve the people who are economically struggling the most by a 4.6 percent pay raise, increase in the basic housing allowance, increase in the basic needs allowance, making sure that the price of items at the commissary do not go up so much as to price people out of it.”

That was Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday, as he introduced debate on the House-Senate-agreed version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

It wasn’t really a debate since only 40 minutes was set aside to discuss the 4,408-page bill which has been in private discussions since last July. The agreed upon legislation authorizes spending $847.3 billion in fiscal 2023, $45 billion above what President Biden originally sought. That includes $816.7 billion for the Defense Department (DoD), and another $30.3 billion for nuclear weapons programs in the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is part of the Department of Energy.

Most public reporting of the House-passed bill approved last Thursday by a 350-to-80 vote, focused on a Republican-pressed rescission of the mandate requiring service members to get a Covid-19 vaccination.

Less mentioned is the initiation of many programs directed at new enlistees and lower-ranked military personnel at a time when Army recruitment missed its target by 10 percent this year and the other services also had a harder time getting volunteers and keeping them.

Perhaps the most interesting provision requires the Secretary of Defense to hire a nonprofit entity or federally-funded think tank “to conduct research and analysis on the value of basic pay for members of the Armed Forces.” The purpose of the study, according to a House-Senate Armed Services press release, would be “to revise, the basic pay tables to modernize and more realistically and fairly compensate service members.”

In short, the proposed two-year study is to assess “the model used to determine the basic pay in the current [DoD] pay tables,” and to analyze “whether to update the current model to meet the needs of the 2023 employment market,” according to the legislation.

For example, 20 years ago, a DoD compensation commission set the level of military pay at the 70th percentile of earnings for civilians facing the same demands as military service, believing that would be enough to recruit and retain the personnel required for voluntary military service.

The proposed new study is directed to analyze “how basic [military] pay has compared with civilian pay since the 70th percentile benchmark for basic pay was established; and whether to change the 70th percentile benchmark.” It also is to make “an assessment of whether to modify current basic pay tables to consider higher rates of pay for specialties the Secretary determines are in critical need of personnel.”

The legislation requires the Armed Services Committees be briefed on the study a year after the measure becomes law, with the final report being delivered “not later than two years after the date of the enactment of this act.”

Back in October, when I wrote a column about the drop in recruitment, I referred to a DoD Fall 2021 poll which asked, “If you were to consider joining the U.S. military, what would be the main reason(s)?” 58 percent answered “Pay/money,” and 48 percent said, “To pay for future education.”


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The proposed study in the NDAA seems to be a response to that poll.

In a move directly related to recruitment, the legislation revives authority for the Defense Secretary to compile information on students in U.S. secondary schools aged 17 or older in 11th grade or higher. Those schools receiving federal funds must provide military recruiters with access to campuses as well as student information, such as names, addresses, electronic mail addresses with the proviso that what’s gathered cannot be disclosed for any other purposes than recruitment.

The legislation also tasks the Comptroller General to evaluate DoD’s marketing and recruiting efforts to determine how to use social media and other technology platforms to convey to young people the opportunities and benefits of service in the Armed Forces. Another provision calls for a report on the efforts of the Department of Defense to increase marketing and advertising with minority-owned media outlets and advertising agencies to adequately reach racial and ethnic minority communities.

To get more money to enlisted service personnel and their families, the legislation not only adds two percent to the basic housing allowance, but also increases the maximum allowable income for tapping into the Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) – a new Pentagon program that begins in January 2023.

BNA will provide a monthly allowance for active-duty service members whose gross household income falls below a certain level of federal poverty guidelines. When originally approved, families would qualify if their income fell below 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines, but the new legislation raised that to 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines, a change that increased the annual income level allowed for qualification by about $4,000.

The measure also calls for a variety of bonus increases starting with raising from $50,000 to $75,000 the top bonus limit given to two-year enlistees. Top bonuses for re-enlistment that now are at $30,000-per-year are raised to $50,000 for each year a person agrees to serve. At the same time, some other bonuses and incentive pay levels are increased. For example, the top level for Nuclear Officers is raised to $75,000 from $50,000.

The military personnel that run the growing force of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) are a category singled out in the legislation for a special study to “identify opportunities to provide more support services and greater recognition of combat accomplishments.” This study by the Defense Secretary is to look at RPA crew incentive pay, retention bonuses, promotion rates, career advancement opportunities and even mental health care availability. In the latter category, the legislation even specifies the study look at “whether RPA crews receive post-separation health (including mental health) care equivalent to crews of traditional aircraft.”

Under another provision, the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretaries of the military services are to develop within six months, “a near-term plan to correct readiness shortfalls in the Cyber Mission Forces.” The plan is to include “the proper force mix of civilian, military, and contractor personnel,” and the “use of compensation and incentive authorities, including increasing bonuses and special pays, and alternative compensation mechanisms,” necessary to meet requirements.

Some changes might raise eyebrows. One section in the proposed law authorizes the Service Secretaries to reimburse service members for up to $4,000 for expenses related to pet relocation arising from a permanent change of station to or from an overseas posting. Another provision calls for a study on the “feasibility, advisability, and considerations of expanding eligibility” of foreign citizen “au pairs” for the pilot program to provide financial assistance to members of the armed forces for in-home childcare.


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One other change ordered by the legislation is worth publicizing.

Back in June 2019, then-President Donald Trump gave the Pentagon four months to develop a new policy which would allow athletes who are military service academy graduates to play professional sports immediately upon graduation. At that time, the policy was such that graduates had to serve two years active duty before joining a professional sports team with the provision they would serve their remaining three years in the Reserves.

In November 2019, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper set out new guidelines which allowed academy graduate athletes with specific approval of the Defense Secretary, to immediately join professional teams with a promise they would eventually fulfill their military service or repay the costs of their education.

The new legislation says directly, “That the cadet may not obtain employment as a professional athlete until two years after the cadet graduates from the Academy.” The House-Senate agreement on the bill said that the Esper plan “contorted Department of Defense policy governing Academy graduates and professional sports deliberately circumvents these recent laws.”

The proposed fiscal 2023 NDAA also deals with two nuclear weapons that the Biden 2022 Nuclear Posture Review recommended be eliminated. One involves funds for research and development for a new, low-yield nuclear, sub-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N); the other deals with life extension and modification funds for the 40-year-old, 1.2 megaton-yield B-83 bomb as a weapon for underground targets.

The legislation delays spending for research and development on the SLCM-N cruise missile and nuclear warhead until a series of studies are provided to relevant congressional committees. The studies, some of which could take as long as nine months, cover the operational, deterrence value and foreign policy implications associated with deploying SLCM-Ns on U.S. Navy vessels.

For the B-83, there is to be one six-month study directed at “options to hold at risk hard and deeply buried targets.” The study is to include “an evaluation of the sufficiency of current or planned nuclear and non-nuclear military capabilities to satisfy such requirements,” with “the B-83 nuclear gravity bomb as one of the options” after its service life extension.

I must point out that the new earth-penetrating, B-61-12 tactical bomb, which is just being deployed, was always considered the replacement for the B-83.

Meanwhile, according to the legislation, only 25 percent of the estimated 600 B-83s in the stockpile may be deactivated or retired with current funds. The fate of the remaining 75 percent of the B-83s will await the results of the deeply buried target study.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill and get it to President Biden’s desk within the next week. Carrying it over to the next Congress, when Republicans control the House, could require more negotiations.

Read more expert-driven national security insights, perspective and analysis in The Cipher Brief

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 07:34:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.thecipherbrief.com/column_article/how-the-u-s-military-is-thinking-about-supporting-its-own
Killexams : Sikorsky, Electric Boat, others could get business boost from federal proposal

Connecticut’s major defense companies as well as the supply chain that reinforces the industry would receive a major boost from a bill that Congress must pass annually to authorize the budget for military spending.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes a total of $858 billion that includes a 4.6% pay raise and a 2% increase in housing allowances for troops, a repeal of the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members and an additional $800 million in security aid for Ukraine.

And because of Connecticut lawmakers’ well-positioned roles in Washington, the state’s defense industry will significantly benefit from this bill, particularly the big three defense contractors — Sikorsky, General Dynamics Electric Boat and Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney.

The House passed the defense bill Thursday, and the Senate is expected to approve it this week. But because the NDAA only authorizes funding, Congress still needs to clear an appropriations bill to fund the government, which would include the new budget levels for the defense sector.

“Connecticut is one of the top five recipients of federal defense dollars as a percentage of state GDP, and this year’s NDAA will continue to support the tens of thousands of workers, jobs, and small businesses in this industry,” U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said in a statement.

“Connecticut machinists and workers provide the best equipment for our warfighters, and the products they manufacture are sought after around the world,” Larson added.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the funding, especially for the eastern parts of Connecticut in his district, will go toward an investment in submarine supply chain and workforce development. He noted that it comes at a time when defense contractors writ large have been rattled by the pandemic as well as Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

A total of $750 million — a much larger increase from the previous budget — would go toward two existing programs. The first is $227 million that will help address gaps in the workforce, especially for smaller companies in the defense industry and those who serve as suppliers.

The remaining money will go toward helping supplier development. Courtney said L.M. Gill, a welding and manufacturing company in Manchester whose largest client is Electric Boat, accessed some of that money last year to help invest in new equipment.

“All of these contractors have been kind of caught flat-footed in terms of capacity. We really have been sort of operating in an environment that we didn’t expect a drawdown of material as quickly as has happened for good reason,” Courtney said in an interview, referring to the war in Ukraine.

“The ability to restock is really being hindered by the same problems that are throughout the economy in terms of finding people to take on the work,” he added. “I think this is going to be a much broader opportunity for not just the big companies but the small supply chain companies to access programs that are skilling people up.”

Courtney’s role as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has given him major leverage on behalf of Connecticut when Congress negotiates new projects and funding. He has also played a large role related to the AUKUS defense alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The NDAA would establish a new training program for Australia’s Navy for when it eventually gets a new fleet of nuclear-powered subs.

The NDAA would approve $15 billion for submarine construction, repairs and research. That tranche of money includes an authorization of $6.5 billion to keep up with the construction of two Virginia-class subs a year at Electric Boat for the next few years. The legislation would also approve $15.5 million in funding to relocate an underwater electromagnetic measurement system at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton.

Courtney is hopeful the authorized funding will help address a decline in the workforce as skilled workers age out and people shift jobs, which was exacerbated amid the pandemic. He said he checks the number of job openings every day and the number is “far higher than normal.”

“That’s partly because the volume of work is growing, but it’s also because the shift in the workforce in terms of the older Baby Boomer cohort is leaving in higher-than-expected numbers, driven I’m sure by COVID and the Great Resignation,” Courtney said.

The bill is also a major boon for the aerospace industry in Connecticut.

Pratt & Whitney will see a bump in the procurement of F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps: 69 of those aircraft, which is eight more than the budget request.

Sikorsky will also see increases for three of its helicopters: 27 UH-60 Black Hawks, 12 CH-53K heavy lift helicopters and 20 combat rescue helicopters. It is a boost for the Lockheed Martin company, which recently lost a bid to build the Army’s replacement for the Black Hawks.

Beyond the defense contractors and suppliers that will benefit, some school districts in Connecticut will see federal assistance.

The NDAA authorizes $50 million of supplemental impact aid, which goes to schools that educate a higher proportion of students from military families. Because many of those families live at tax-exempt properties, the program helps replace the lost funding for public schools in military areas. Schools, like in Groton and Ledyard, will receive a portion of that aid from the Defense Department, which provides that assistance along with the Education Department.

Now, the bill is headed to the Senate this week for consideration and a vote, where it is expected to advance with bipartisan support and will then head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., however, criticized the process of passing the NDAA without debate or votes on amendments. Murphy, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, acknowledged that the bill will get through the Senate, but he questioned why the U.S. is not focusing more on “investments in nonmilitary tools of influence.”

“We should imagine this world in which we fight toe-to-toe with Chinese and the Russians and other adversaries in the development, information, technology, energy and diplomatic spheres. We should imagine that world and then put in place a plan to achieve it,” Murphy said in a floor speech last Thursday.

But without Congress passing a bill to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2023 and allocate the money including from the NDAA, much of the funding for these defense-related programs would be delayed.

Since government funding runs out by the end of Friday, Congress is likely to clear another short-term bill to keep it going at existing levels until they reach a deal on a larger omnibus appropriations package. If they cannot reach an agreement on the latter over the next week or so, lawmakers are expected to hold off an omnibus until after the new year.

“Unfunded authorizations are a futile exercise. If we don’t do an omnibus, all new starts or increases [in the NDAA] get basically put on hold,” Courtney said.

“Last year’s level of funding for a lot of these programs is not adequate for U.S. military readiness,” he added. “There is a lot riding on getting the omnibus completed.”

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 23:30:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.chron.com/business/article/Sikorsky-Electric-Boat-others-could-get-17650405.php
Killexams : A Jamaican's fast climb up the military ladder

Demmar Williams grew up with his grandmother in Norwood, St James, and emigrated in 2016.

The vigorous training pales in comparison to the current reality for 25-year-old Demmar Williams, Jamaican-born, who was recently appointed as a marine security guard at the United States Embassy in Mbabane, Eswatini, formerly Kingdom of Swaziland, in southern Africa.

Williams, who grew up with his grandmother in Norwood, St James, joined the US Military in 2017, and has also been promoted to the rank of sergeant, and named a field artillery section chief.

"My recent appointment as marine security guard has been really great. You get to travel around the world and experience different cultures and lifestyles as well as meet different people. When I migrated in 2016, I had plans of going to college and completing my degree. My best friend from primary school was in the military, so I asked him a few questions to kind of familiarise and see if it was something I also wanted to do," he told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

Williams made the decision to join the marine based on a variety of factors, but one held a lot more weight.

"The biggest one was taking away the burden of having my mom worrying about paying for college, as joining the Military would cover that," he said, noting that his mom had been living in the US.

Around grade five, Williams and his grandmother moved from Norwood to Spot Valley. There, he attended Corinaldi Avenue Primary School, until he matriculated to Calabar High School.

At that point, he had to leave St James for the Corporate Area, where he lived with his father in Ackee Walk, a volatile community located between Queensbury, Queensborough, and Valentine Gardens in St Andrew.

Williams left Calabar with eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, and went on to Herbert Morrison Technical High School, where he sat and passed eight Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) units. Afterwords, he emigrated.

"I have been in the marine six years so far. The only sacrifice there is for me, is being away from family for an extended period of time. As it stands right now, the situation will dictate my plans going forward as to whether I want to reenlist or if I'm getting out. If I do get out, then I plan on working on my bachelor's degree in computer science and working for the Federal Government," Williams told the Sunday Observer.

He said his biggest achievements to date were being sergeant and field artillery section chief, but he holds the latter closer to his heart.

"I get to be directly in charge of my section which can consists of anywhere around six to 10 marines. As a section chief, you're in charge of properly training and guiding your marines whilst also verifying everything on the gun line to ensure the safety of everyone around you. My family is very proud and supportive of me. It gives me a sense of calm knowing that, as during the tough times, I can look back and remember why I did this in the first place and know that no matter what, they have my back," he related.

Williams recalled going to basic training (boot camp) in March 2017, which lasted three days.

"Those 72 hours, we didn't sleep, as we all had to be up collecting our gear issued for training. It was mentally draining as it was also cold and that was, in my opinion, the first taste of what was to come in the next three months before graduation. My day typically, was waking up at 4:00 am, cleaning the squad bays and making our racks then getting in formation to practice our drill movements en route to the chow hall (canteen).

"We would then come back and exercise, and then get ready to receive classes about the marine corps. We would break from classes to go grab lunch then go back to the classroom after or go exercising. Our days usually end around 5:00 pm."

Williams said in those three months, he learned how to be discipline, that he could actually get things done in a faster manner than he had thought, and that he could count on the person to his left and right to have his back.

"Overall, it was a humbling experience and one that made me look back and appreciate the little things in life like actually having a phone to send a message or call, as that wasn't available to us in boot camp," he told the Sunday Observer.

After boot camp, Williams went to combat training for a month, and then to the Military Occupational Specialty School for artillery, where he learned what artillery is and how they are supposed to shoot.

After MOS school, he transitioned to the fleet, and was placed in his unit.

"In the fleet, we go to the field once per month to practice shooting and the duration could range anywhere from one week to a month. At times, it was hectic being in the field, but it really helps to polish your skills as an artilleryman, being in the field a lot," he noted.

But before the marine corps, Williams was on a path to study information technology and become an IT specialist. He said his career path hasn't changed much, up to this day.

"I'm currently taking classes to work towards my associates degree, then to pursue my bachelor's degree. With being in the marine corps, I don't have to wait until I get out to achieve this, as I can take classes online using tuition assistance which is totally free without having to use my G I Bill, and I can pass that onto my child in the future to cover his or her college tuition."

The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G I Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for some of the returning World War II veterans, commonly referred to as G Is. The original G I Bill expired in 1956, but the term "G I Bill" is still used to refer to programmes created to assist some of the U S military veterans.

In addition, Williams said joining the military has opened his eyes to a lot of things as it relates to life.

"I've learned to look more logically at things as well as taking a step back and look at things from many standpoints instead of just the one. Boot camp made me physically and mentally stronger as things I thought I couldn't do before, I've learned to do with ease. Being a section chief and in charge of other marines made me not only a better person, but also a better mentor.

"I've also had great mentors while being in the marines that have groomed and helped me develop into the person I am today. If you asked me back then if I could've seen myself leading others in that way at the age of 22, my answer would've been no. To conclude, being a part of the military was one of the best decisions of my life as it made me stronger — physically and mentally — and made me into a better person."

Twenty-five-year-old Demmar Williams was recently appointed as a marine security guard at the United States Embassy in Mbabane, Eswatini.

Sat, 10 Dec 2022 15:30:00 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/a-jamaicans-fast-climb-up-the-military-ladder/
Killexams : Thousands of youths are compelled to join military’s junior ROTC No result found, try new keyword!On her first day of high school, Andreya Thomas looked over her schedule and found that she was enrolled in a class with an unfamiliar name: JROTC. Sun, 11 Dec 2022 08:21:00 -0600 text/html https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/thousands-of-youths-are-compelled-to-join-militarys-junior-rotc/ Killexams : Air Force pilots seeking religious vaccine exemption still grounded while other unvaxxed members can fly

House rolling back COVID vaccine mandate is ‘monumental win’: Clay Travis

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EXCLUSIVE: The Air Force is still grounding pilots who sought a religious accommodation to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but is allowing other unvaccinated service members to resume regular flying duties.

Active-duty instructor pilot Air Force Capt. Alan Sosebee told Fox News Digital Wednesday that he has been grounded for almost a year, even though the Air Force recently allowed some unvaccinated pilots to fly again.

Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction from October that protects unvaccinated Air Force service members from being punished or involuntarily terminated from the military due to religious objections to the vaccine.

The 19th Air Force commander previously had a policy in place that any unvaccinated service members would be grounded. Once that policy was rescinded in October after the first court injunction was issued, other unvaccinated pilots were allowed to resume flying duties. However, because he already had involuntary discharge paperwork pending, Sosebee has still been barred from flying.

"I am still grounded, and I have not had any type of disciplinary action taken against me whatsoever except what they have done over this COVID-19 mandate," Sosebee, who has served for nearly 10 years, told Fox News Digital.

APPEALS COURT SAYS AIR FORCE 'WRONGLY RELIED' ON BROAD FORMULA TO DENY RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS TO VAX MANDATE

READ ON THE FOX NEWS APP

"They were the ones that started all of this. And they have the ability to make all that paperwork go away… apparently they're refusing to let that go, and that's why I'm still grounded, and they won't let me fly," the captain said.

Service members walk at Maxwell Air Force Base. Maxwell Air Force Base © Maxwell Air Force Base Service members walk at Maxwell Air Force Base. Maxwell Air Force Base

Sosebee told Fox News Digital that due his infant son's severe medical issues requiring extensive care and multiple surgeries, he was planning to stay in the Air Force for 20 or 30 years. Now, he is facing an imminent discharge against his will.

"And because of his medical issues, we were actually planning on doing 20 or 30 years in the Air Force, and we would like to do that if they will let us. But they're bound and determined to take as many actions against me as they can, it seems," he said.

REPUBLICANS CHEER MILITARY VACCINE MANDATE ROLLBACK, BUT STRESS SERVICE MEMBERS MUST BE 'MADE WHOLE' AGAIN

Lt. Col. Tyler Stef told Fox News Digital that he was pulled out of training to be a T-38 instructor in October 2021 and has not been able to fly since, which has been extremely hard on his family since he is the sole provider and cannot rack up the flight hours needed to transition out of the military and work as a pilot for a major airline.

In addition, if he is eventually discharged from the Air Force, he will lose access to GI Bill education benefits, which he was planning on using to send his daughter to college.

"So I'm kind of losing out on one of my children's college tuition, which is obviously a financial strain, but a stress for her as well," he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. AP Photo/Susan Walsh © AP Photo/Susan Walsh Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

"My goal was to serve honorably as I have and then retire when it was appropriate, whether that was 20 years or after that. But then counting on those financial provision to help, you know, set up our family for success. But that is obviously being threatened," Stef said.

Stef, who has served in the military since 2006 and has four children, said he feels like he is in limbo while he waits for his termination from the Air Force.

"It has put our family in complete limbo," said Stef, whose children ask him every day if they will have to move. "They ask me every day where we're going to live and I can't provide that answer. So it's a very, very trying from a family stability standpoint. And obviously, the financial aspects of it as well."

He said he is extremely frustrated that because he could not go through the training, he was unable to start flying again when the policy was lifted in October for unvaccinated pilots.

FEDERAL JUDGE PAUSES DISMISSAL OF AIR FORCE MEMBERS WHO REFUSE VACCINATION

"It was very frustrating the entire time when I was trying to go through training, when there were still unvaccinated guys in the squadron flying the jets, sitting in classrooms, sitting in meetings, doing all the things that I would do if I was in training in the exact same spaces, around the exact same people. But I wasn't allowed to go through training, but they were allowed to fly the jets, because I was told I was dangerous," he said.

"The treatment received by Lt. Col. Stef and Capt. Sosebee is retaliatory and exemplifies the very reason why our litigation is so important," said Danielle Runyon, who is representing Sosebee and Stef in a class action lawsuit conducted by First Liberty Institute, along with Schaerr Jaffe LLP and Hacker Stephens LLP.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story. An Air Force spokesperson previously told Fox News Digital, "The Department of the Air Force is complying with the court order to pause all disciplinary and adverse actions for those refusing the COVID-19 vaccine who submitted a timely religious accommodation request and fall within the definition of the court's certified class."

Andy Grieb, a T-6 instructor pilot, is one plaintiff in First Liberty's case who has been grounded from flying and ordered to instruct in a simulator, pictured here, by the Air Force because his religious accommodation request was denied. First Liberty Institute © Fox News Andy Grieb, a T-6 instructor pilot, is one plaintiff in First Liberty's case who has been grounded from flying and ordered to instruct in a simulator, pictured here, by the Air Force because his religious accommodation request was denied. First Liberty Institute

Runyon said that while Congress is currently poised to terminate the vaccine mandate in the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), service members seeking religious exemptions can still be fired by the military.

"While Section 525 of the proposed NDAA for fiscal year 2023 appropriately rescinds the COVID-19 mandate and eliminates the need for service members to be vaccinated, Section 524 makes clear that Section 736 of the 2022 NDAA still applies," she said.

COAST GUARDSMEN ON CUSP OF 20-YEAR RETIREMENT MARK DEPRIVED OF BENEFITS OVER RELIGIOUS VAX OBJECTIONS

"Section 736 pertains to the service characterization servicemembers can receive for failure to obey an order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. So, service members who are part of the Navy SEALs and Doster [Air Force] classes who have been discharged or had discharge proceedings initiated for not being vaccinated, will not be protected by this round of legislation," Runyon told Fox News Digital.

Thu, 08 Dec 2022 01:00:06 -0600 en-US text/html https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/air-force-pilots-seeking-religious-vaccine-exemption-still-grounded-while-other-unvaxxed-members-can-fly/ar-AA153hTc
Killexams : Military families contend with high inflation and housing costs

By Eric Schmid | WSHU
Monday, December 12, 2022

Many Americans are contending with high inflation and housing costs. Military members and their families are no exception. It's been especially tough for those who have moved to new posts recently.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Many Americans are dealing with high inflation and expensive housing costs, including service members and their families. For those who've had to move to new posts recently, it's been especially tough. St. Louis Public Radio's Eric Schmid has the story.

ERIC SCHMID, BYLINE: Lisa Koroma is no stranger to moving with her husband, who's in the Army. Their family has relocated four other times, but their most recent move in 2021 was too much.

LISA KOROMA: This was the worst move I've ever experienced.

SCHMID: Koroma's husband received orders last fall that his station was changing from Camp Humphreys in South Korea to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

KOROMA: I was just like, is it because we were coming from overseas? No, no, that's not it. It was just because the conditions in America. I feel like what we were walking into, we just were ill-prepared for.

SCHMID: Koroma says housing on post at Fort Carson was full, and they had to stay at a hotel while they searched for a permanent place to live. She says it took about a month to find suitable housing.

KOROMA: We were in a rush at this point because we're racking up hotel bills and breakfast, lunch and dinner because you're in a hotel for a family of five. So we're like, whatever it is, we'll take it.

SCHMID: But they made compromises. Koroma says the rental property where she's now living costs more than the allowance her husband receives from the Army each month for housing. All in all, she estimates her family spent about $10,000 out of pocket on the move.

KOROMA: Had I known that, we would have prepared better. We're using credit cards, which we still haven't caught up on those bills. So we're chipping at that.

SCHMID: Koroma's experience moving in the past year is hardly unique. A September survey from Blue Star Families found military families are spending more time and more money to find a place to live when they change duty stations. Kimberly Gold is one of the study's authors. She says moving for a reassignment is already a challenge that military families embrace.

KIMBERLY GOLD: But to now hear that military families are using the words dismal and nightmare as a recurring theme, it bothers me. It bothers me so much.

SCHMID: About half of the 2,200 families surveyed reported spending more than 20 days in temporary housing. The Defense Department only covers 14 of those days. Once they find a place to live, families reported spending an average $336 per month more than the military housing allowance on just rent or a mortgage, not including utilities.

CEASARAE GALVAN: When you're spending more money on one thing, you have less money for anything else.

SCHMID: Ceasarae Galvan directs Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Armed Forces Housing Advocates. She says challenges with housing costs can cascade and hit other parts of a military family's budget, like food.

GALVAN: Which doesn't just affect the families, but then it turns around and affects the military. Because if you are worried about whether or not your kids got to eat this morning, you're not focusing on your job.

SCHMID: The Defense Department did issue a temporary increase to the military's basic allowance for housing this September in some markets where rents have ballooned, but those only apply in 28 places across the country. Colorado Springs, where Lisa Koroma's family lives, isn't one of them. She says the strain from this move has her asking her husband if he can retire from the Army sometime soon.

KOROMA: I never want to do this again. I'm tapping on his back every day. When? When are you getting out? I hate it.

SCHMID: Koroma says she and her husband deeply appreciate what the military has afforded their family, and they don't necessarily want him to leave. But she says they need more support from the Army for it to make sense.

For NPR News, I'm Eric Schmid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Mon, 12 Dec 2022 07:53:00 -0600 text/html https://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=1142320361
Killexams : Military Matters: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brody Hall

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - This week's Military Matters spotlights U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brody Hall of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma.

Hall is a military police officer whose responsibilities include ensuring security aboard the installation and its residents by standing guard, responding to emergencies, and patrolling MCAS Yuma and the flight line.

He has been in service for two years and joined the Marine Corps for personal growth and career development.

Hall is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and says his special billet is desk sergeant.

Hall also says he is most motivated by working with Marines and civilian officers in his platoon and enjoys watching movies and hanging out with friends.

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Mon, 12 Dec 2022 03:22:00 -0600 By Faith Rodriquez en-US text/html https://kyma.com/news/military/2022/12/12/military-matters-u-s-marine-corps-cpl-brody-hall/
Killexams : Domestic extremism is rare in the military, ‘but it is an issue’

The Pentagon is still working on getting an idea of just how common extremist activity and affiliations are among service members. Total complaints have numbered in the hundreds over the past few years, but experts warn that even low prevalence still poses a risk, given the military’s unique position.

They also caution against dismissing efforts to address extremism because of the small number of cases investigated each year.

“I think we need to remember the difference between, ‘This is a wholesale problem,’ versus, ‘This is an issue,’ right?” Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, said. “Those two things can be true at the same time, right? This is not a wholesale problem, but there is an issue.”

Republican lawmakers in recent months have argued that the low incidence of extremism reports in the military suggests that it’s not worth confronting, calling on the Pentagon to drop its anti-extremism screening and education efforts.

By the numbers, the services reviewed 211 reports in fiscal year 2022. Half of those were referred to civilian law enforcement, and another quarter were handled by military judicial or administrative action.

So, while the genuine numbers are low among a force of more than a million active duty troops, experts have argued that service members and veterans involved in extremist groups pose a disproportionate security risk for multiple reasons. First, their training and knowledge makes them more capable of carrying out attacks. Secondly, their experience is coveted by extremist groups looking for credibility. And finally, their participation is detrimental to the public’s view of the military.

According to the 2022 Reagan National Defense Survey, roughly half of respondents said “extremist or right-wing affiliations” of service members contributed to their low trust and confidence in the military as an institution.

“If you look at the last few months you’ve got an arrested [former] Marine officer planning to attack synagogues,” Hughes said. “You had an individual in Fort Bragg dropped out of the military for support for white supremacy. You had another Marine in Hawaii who was planning a series of attacks there. So again, this is not to say that this is a overwhelming problem, but it is a concern. And I think we need to address the problem in same exact way.”

A CNAS report published Tuesday included some recommendations for the Defense Department. Chief among them is standardizing how the services monitor social media for service members espousing extremist rhetoric, which is prohibited by department policy.

“The DoD and military services should consider adapting criteria for social media screening, including standards for acceptable professional behavior while in uniform,” the report suggested.

Other recommendations emphasize ongoing training and education, starting at the recruit level.

“Conversations with potential recruits should focus on the role of military service within the social contract prior to administration of the oath of office,” the report reads.

And in the course of a career, professional military education should reiterate a service member’s role in society and the standards they are obliged to uphold.

“The academic environment of PME allows for freer discussion regarding the applicability of military ethics to ambiguous or difficult leadership challenges, and this can motivate service members to pursue behavioral change in themselves and their units,” the report recommends.

Ongoing Pentagon efforts include updated screening questions for recruits, though they stop short of reviewing social media, as well as improving education for transitioning service members about being targeted by extremist groups once separated.

One of the military’s biggest challenges has been gathering accurate data on the prevalence of extremism. Although the Defense Department tallied 211 cases of domestic extremism between October 2021 and September 2022, an inspector general report released Thursday found that the services’ use of multiple databases and non-standardized language to describe reports hampered efforts to gather a complete picture and compare apples to apples.

“For example, the Department of the Army stated that its current use of several separate databases made it difficult to track total allegations if the allegation did not have a follow-on status of investigation, inquiry, or referral,” the report found. “Therefore, the Army’s total allegation data does not reflect its total number of allegations, just the total number of allegations with a follow-on status.”

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

Wed, 07 Dec 2022 21:37:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-military/2022/12/07/domestic-extremism-is-rare-in-the-military-but-it-is-an-issue/
Killexams : Japanese faces, American hearts

Yoshio Nakamura remembers Dec. 7, 1941 in vivid detail. The panic of a nation. The cries for revenge and anger of his neighbors. The sentiments boiled within him, too.

But “Yosh,” as he likes to be called, also recalls the subsequent rage directed at people who looked like him. The suspicions that followed that day of infamy. The eventual order to leave his home.

That dreaded notice arrived in May 1942. Yosh was a junior in high school in El Monte, California. Just months earlier, inside the walls of that blissfully isolated existence unique to teenage academia, his classmates had elected him president of the school’s honor club.

None of that mattered to those who didn’t know Yosh. Outsiders didn’t see an artist, a farmer, a family-oriented kid. No amount of good standing made a difference once Executive Order 9066 was dispatched from the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Fear and anger incited by politicians and media in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor spawned rumors. Rumors were quickly accepted as truth. Japan must be receiving intelligence from spies in America. An illuminated light on a Japanese-American porch has to be a signal for enemy submarines. It all seemed so believable. How else could a small nation like Japan attack a titan?

“Many people stopped seeing the difference between Japanese-Americans and the enemy,” says Nakamura, now 97. “There was no exception. If you happen to have any Japanese blood, you were guilty. But we were just as shocked and angry as anyone else. We had Japanese faces, but American hearts.”

Under the charge of Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, the executive order, one issued under the guise of safeguarding national security, was carried out up and down the Pacific coastline.

First generation—Issei—and second generation—Nisei, or, U.S. citizens by birthright—individuals of Japanese descent were removed from their homes en masse and ordered to report to assembly centers to await further instruction.

Packing only what they could carry, the Nakamuras departed their California farm and boarded a train for an unknown destination. Hours elapsed before the locomotive screeched to a halt in Tulare.

The streets surrounding the train station were a sea of dejected faces, families torn from the only homes they’d known. Nakamura’s family was ushered toward the town’s fairgrounds between a gauntlet of soldiers with rifles and bayonets at the ready. The race track was encircled with barbed wire. Guard towers stood at intervals. Search lights and sentries oscillated between each.

“It was probably the most humiliating experience of my life,” Nakamura says. “We had done nothing wrong, we weren’t charged with anything, and yet we were being treated like prisoners of war. The soldiers said they were there to protect us, but every search light and soldier faced in toward the camp instead of away from it.

“They called it an ‘assembly center.’ That was a nice name for a prison.”

Though their waiting period at the Tulare fairgrounds would be brief, the Nakamura family would never be the same.

Sleeping on cots in horse stalls that had been repurposed into living quarters, Nakamura’s father, who had begun suffering from night terrors, fell from his cot during one of the family’s first nights away from home. For the rest of his life, the elder Nakamura would be hampered by frequent convulsions that made even the simplest task impossible.

“He just wasn’t himself anymore,” says Yosh, whose mother died when he was seven. “We’d lost our farm and our father. We just had to manage the best we could.”

Weeks after being abruptly uprooted, the Nakamuras were ordered to Arizona’s Gila River War Relocation Center — ”another prison,” Yosh says.

It was one of 10 such camps that dotted desolate regions in California, Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado, among others. It would be inside Gila River’s barbed wire boundaries, which held approximately 10,000 Japanese-Americans, that the honor club president would complete his high school studies.

Loyalty

Shortly after celebrating his 18th birthday in confinement, Nakamura and other young men at Gila River were ordered to fill out a loyalty questionnaire. Among the form’s myriad queries was one particular question that asked whether those in captivity would renounce their allegiance to the emperor of Japan.

“There was no right answer to that,” Yosh says. “If you answered yes, then it was like admitting you did have allegiance. And of course if you answered no...

“So many of us had never even been to Japan, but that questionnaire showed the mentality of the people who put us in camps. Because we have these faces, we must be loyal to the emperor.”

Nakamura checked ‘Yes.’

“It seemed to be the better of the two answers,” he says, laughing.

Yosh’s eyes then scanned toward another section of the form. Would he be willing to join the U.S. military and go wherever ordered?

“I don’t know many who would answer ‘yes’ to that question while being imprisoned without any charge by the government that’s asking,” he says. “But we did. We wanted to prove that we were loyal Americans.”

By 1944, Nakamura was a soldier in France, arriving as a replacement in the U.S. Army’s famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an unfathomably decorated outfit made up almost entirely of soldiers of Japanese descent, including Medal of Honor recipient and eventual Hawaii state Senator Daniel Inouye.

Nakamura’s stint in France would be a brief one, however. The Italian Campaign beckoned, and within months, Yosh and other members of the 442nd were boarding landing crafts destined for Leghorn, Italy, where they were to hurl lead and flesh against the Nazis’ daunting Gothic Line, an interlocked series of staunch defenses woven across the sawtoothed Apennine Mountains in the country’s northwest.

Embedded among those steep marble sentinels jutting skyward from the Ligurian Sea were nearly 2,400 machine gun nests, an interminable network of bunkers and artillery positions, and observation posts that allowed the Nazis to track enemy movements from miles away. Together, the fortifications formed the last barrier between the Allies and Germany.

The 442nd was given the order to attack the Gothic Line during the first week of April 1945. Yosh and the Nisei in his company were to take Monte Folgorito, a slick 3,000-foot peak peppered with Nazi dugouts and outposts.

Natural conditions — the mountain ascends at a 60-degree incline — meant a daytime assault would be virtually impossible. With the disadvantage of the escarpments, the 442nd were ordered to attack under the cover of nightfall. Silence was paramount.

In total darkness the Nisei climbed, lugging gear and ammunition with painstaking care to avoid rousing an unsuspecting enemy. One soldier slipped, plummeting 300 feet to his death. He didn’t make a sound.

“If we had engaged the Nazis before we got to the top, I probably wouldn’t be here,” recalls Nakamura, who was tasked during the assault with shouldering ammunition for his mortar company.

“It had to be done very quietly.”

By the morning of April 5, the 442nd’s cloak-and-dagger approach had landed the Nisei on Folgorito’s summit. Below them, the backs of Nazis ripe for the picking.

“We made it to the top and surprised the outposts and managed to knock out quite a good number of them in just a half-hour,” Yosh says.

The panicked Nazis responded with a hailstorm of mortar and artillery fire so intense that Yosh’s hearing never fully recovered. But the resolute soldiers with “Go For Broke” as their motto only tightened their stranglehold on the mountain, meticulously eliminating Nazis bunker by bunker and carving a path for the Allied advance into Germany.

“Unless we had wiped out those outposts, Allied forces could not have advanced North,” Yosh says. “I was very pleased to learn later that it was a major campaign.”

By April 6, the Nisei had seized the bulk of the Apennine Mountains. A little over a month later, Germany surrendered.

Yosh’s war abroad was over. The Nisei’s fight at home was drawing to a long-awaited close as well. In March 1946, the last remaining internment camp closed. Today, the Bronze Star Medal Yosh keeps on display remains a tangible testament to the loyalty his country once doubted.

Following the collapse of the Third Reich, the weary men of the 442nd boarded a ship and steamed for New York City.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty appear as a speck on the horizon was “probably the happiest scene I’ve ever experienced,” Yosh says.

‘A lot to be proud of’

Yosh left the Army in 1946 as a staff sergeant and turned his attention to academia. An art degree from the University of Southern California soon followed, as did a high school teaching position in Whittier, California, just miles from where his high school education was cut abruptly short years earlier.

Nakamura met his wife Grace in 1948 while attending a church service. Members of the congregation were heading to the beach. Yosh decided to offer her a ride.

Grace, whose family was forced during the war to relocate to the Manzanar internment camp in Inyo County, happily accepted.

“That was the beginning of a pretty good friendship,” Yosh says.

In the classroom, Nakamura’s rapport with his students quickly caught the eye of regional school administrators, who, by the early 1960s, charted a course for Yosh to become the founding chair of the Fine Arts Department at Rio Hondo College in Los Angeles.

The quick-witted veteran now jokes that his “academic and professional career is more interesting than my life before, even as a soldier.”

“I find myself spending more time talking about my experiences as a soldier because that’s what people want to hear, but I’ve really had a terrific life as an educator and artist,” he says.

On the 34th anniversary of Roosevelt’s directive, President Gerald Ford signed a proclamation terminating Executive Order 9066. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, authorizing a compensatory sum to be paid out as a formal apology to more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who had been forced into internment camps. Just over two decades later, President Barack Obama authorized the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Nisei soldiers of the 442nd.

Yoshio and Grace, a community activist, educator and artist, remained married until her passing in 2017. They had three children — an attorney, an educator and an artist, appropriately.

Grace’s memory weighed heavily on Yosh earlier this year, when he joined the National Park Service at the site of the Manzanar camp, where she had been detained, in recognition of the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.

“I missed her, because she would really be interested in this,” he says, adding, with a laugh, “and she probably would want to say a few things, too.”

Asked if he would want to say anything on behalf of Japanese-Americans in her stead, Yosh pauses briefly. A career as an educator has instilled in him a diligence to be concise.

“Japanese-Americans and Asian-Americans should be proud of who they are,” he says. “We were incarcerated, but we joined to fight and became one of the most highly decorated units in U.S. military history.

“That’s a lot to be proud of.”

Editor’s note: The 442nd Regimental Combat Team remains the most decorated unit in U.S. military history according to its size and length of service. In less than two years, the Nisei earned 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, among other awards.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

Wed, 07 Dec 2022 13:54:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.militarytimes.com/news/2022/12/08/japanese-faces-american-hearts/
Killexams : Graduate student finishes ISU degree while on deployment in Middle East

AMES, Iowa – Brittany Whitehead has turned in homework assignments under some seemingly impossible conditions.

From National Guard deployments overseas to hurricane response and even from a hospital bed, Whitehead kept her gaze firmly on her goal of completing her degree. That perseverance will pay off this month at the conclusion of the fall semester when she’ll officially earn a master’s degree in family financial planning from Iowa State University, through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. Whitehead plans to use the degree to help others in the military Excellerate their financial literacy.

“This program at ISU has changed my life completely,” Whitehead said. “I wanted to be a Cyclone. ISU has a nationally renowned reputation. This was a special program and the best choice I could have made for my education.”

Balancing military and academic life

Whitehead joined the National Guard just under a decade ago. She’s served as a military police officer and plans to put in a full 20 years in the military. Whitehead recently accepted a promotion and will switch to the Army Reserves in a few weeks to become a public information officer. She said the opportunity to devote her career to something bigger than herself appealed to her from an early age.

Along the way, she’s had to strike a balance between her academics and military service, pushing through some unusual challenges since enrolling in the ISU master’s program. When Hurricane Dorian slammed into the East Coast in 2019, Whitehead was called up to respond to the disaster. She was staying in an armory in South Carolina working on class assignments when floodwaters seeped into the building. Whitehead recalls having to put down her studies to fill extra sandbags to protect the armory.

During her most recent deployment, which took her to several countries in the Middle East over the course of about 10 months this year, she had to pause her studies to move her team to a safer location. Whitehead had to choose her words carefully while recounting the episode due to the sensitivity of the operation. She said she had to make fast decisions to get six soldiers in her charge prepared to leave a location in Syria when concerns arose that the location may not have been safe. It was already a stressful situation by any measure, but Whitehead said she had homework to finish as well.

“That was definitely a difficult couple of days because I was very concerned about that assignment because I don’t like to ask for accommodations,” she said. “But it got done and everyone was safe at the end of the day.”

Bringing grandmother’s lessons to others

Whitehead grew up near San Diego and earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California at San Bernadino before joining the South Carolina National Guard. But the lessons she learned from her grandmother about the value of a dollar inspired her to consider continuing her education in financial literacy, she said. Her grandmother came of age during the Great Depression, and the economic calamity of the era taught her to squeeze the most value out of every penny.

“I like to be everyone’s depression-era grandma and talk about compound interest with anyone who will listen,” Whitehead said.

So she looked for ways to earn an advanced degree in financial planning while still serving in the National Guard. That’s when she came across the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a national consortium of universities that offers flexible online programs for a virtual community of students from diverse backgrounds. Iowa State’s master’s program in family financial planning, offered through GPIDEA, sounded like the perfect fit.

“This program was amazing because of the flexibility,” she said. “Just trying to be a mom and wife and a military officer, I have to switch gears so often, and the program and all the faculty I worked with made it possible.”

She usually limited her class load to one course per semester and took one semester off along the way to balance her academics with her career and family life. She was able to fit her coursework into her schedule, no matter where in the world her military duties took her and no matter how many time zones separated her from her professors. She completed the degree without ever visiting the ISU campus.

Whitehead said she draws on what she learned from her coursework to help other members of the military make smart financial decisions. Military members receive a range of tax and retirement benefits when deployed, but those options can be difficult to navigate for those who lack financial experience, which applies to many young members of the military, Whitehead said.

“So many soldiers have asked me for financial advice and literacy-type questions,” she said. “Without the [degree] program, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with them as well.”

Whitehead now lives in Memphis with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, who has been glued to Whitehead’s side since she returned from her deployment shortly before Thanksgiving. The homecoming brought back memories of the day her daughter was born, Whitehead said. The birth necessitated an emergency Caesarian section, and Whitehead remembers completing coursework from the hospital bed.

Today, Whitehead is taking time between duty assignments to enjoy the holidays with her loved ones and celebrate the completion of her degree. The respite has given her a chance to reflect on how she found the endurance to meet all the challenges of the past few years. She said it came down to getting the work done whenever an opportunity presented itself.

“I became a person who no longer procrastinated,” she said. “I started doing work early because I had to do it when I had time.”

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 01:00:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2022/12/12/brittanywhiteheadgradfeature
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