ALABAMA COUNCIL OF
MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
LEGISLATIVE & PERSONAL AFFAIRS
JULY 2014 REPORT
Compiled by LTC Jim Wallace, USA (ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman
June 24, 2014
1. WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS COUNTER-TERRORISM PROGRAM -
Defending its proposed counter-terrorism program from claims that it is poorly organized, the White House said the proposed $5 billion program will help arm and train anti-terrorism forces in other nations. GOP lawmakers are among those who say the program raises many questions about which groups will be targeted for aid and what the program's goals will be. With the collapse of the governments of Iraq and Syria and with the continued fighting in Afghanistan, it appears that the present plans of the White House are a vain approach to solving the religious problems of these warring nations. Sending unlimited funds and weapons to the leaders of these nations is only creating further and further problems. In Iraq and Afghanistan the Inspector General reports that most of the funds cannot be located. In the last few days, the Iraq Army has been laying down their weapons in the advance of the militants for their use in arming more and more militants that are wanting to take over the government. These are the weapons that we as tax payers paid to support democracy in Iraq. Religious wars cannot be deferred with money.
2. WHITE HOUSE SENDS SPECIAL FORCES TO IRAQ -
The White House has sent 300 Special Forces to Iraq to train the Iraq Army on how to defend their government and stop the aggression of the militants. These highly skilled men are not to be involved in fighting, so the White House will not pay them combat (danger) pay while they are re-training the Iraq military. Average combat (danger) pay is $7.50 per day or $225.00 per month. When you are training a foreign military that runs from the enemy with live ammunition you are in direct danger. We can give these nations 5 billion dollars to defend their governments and we cannot pay our own troops for placing them in harms-way. What has happened to our leadership?
3. TALIBAN LEADERS MAKE PRISONER EXCHANGE - The White House accepts and trades 5 Taliban Terrorists that were held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a possible Army deserter, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahi. This now leaves every American soldier in jeopardy of being kidnapped and sold to the Taliban for trading purposes. A year ago this month, I reported to you that the White House might use this as a means of eliminating GITMO. I am shocked that we have fallen to negotiating with the Terrorists.
4. VA DELAYS AFFECTED 120,000 VETERANS - The Inspector General's current audit finds, the Department of Veteran Affairs kept at least 57,000 veterans waiting more than 90 days for appointments, and failed to add an additional 64,000 veterans to its waiting list despite their requests for medical care. The findings have fueled calls for sweeping reforms to the VA system. Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan. said, "I have no doubt these numbers only scratch the surface of the problems plaguing our veterans." The real question is how have we paid millions of dollars in bonuses to VA management when it has been going on for such a long time and why were audits not performed annually. Thirteen percent of VA schedulers in the facility-by-facility report on 731 hospitals and out-patient clinics reported being told by supervisors to falsify appointment schedules to make patient waits appear shorter. A review found that long patient waits and falsified records were "systematic" throughout the VA medical network, the nation's largest single health care provider serving nearly 9 million veterans. The Birmingham VA wait averages 31 days, Tuscaloosa VA wait averages at 47 days, Gulf Coast and Mobile averages 49 days, and Montgomery and Tuskegee averages 75 days and are listed as the seventh-worst nationally.
5. U.S. SCRAMBLED FIGHTER JETS IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN BOMBERS - Russian bombers flew near Alaska and California recently, at one point getting as close as 50 miles from California, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command. U.S. aircraft shadowed the planes until they left the area. The Russians did not enter U. S. airspace.
6. COLA WATCH-COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT- The Consumer Price Index increased once again in May 2014, rising to 234.216. It now stands at 1.7% above the FY 2014 COLA baseline of 230.327. Last year, as of May 2013, the cost of living adjustment was 1.1%. COLAs and Military Retired Pay: Government retired pay promises must be kept, including annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to prevent erosion of retirees' purchasing power by inflation. Retired Pay versus Active Duty Pay Adjustments: retired pay and active duty pay increases are different in most years because they are based on different compensation principles.
7. HOUSE - PASSED DEFENSE BILL, KEEPS BASES OPEN, RETAINS A-10 - The House on June 20, 2014 approved a $570 billion defense spending bill that seeks to prevent military base closures and rejects a plan to mothball the A-10 Warthog. The bill would also impose limits on National Security Agency surveillance and put a moratorium on Guantanamo prisoner transfers. With the recent mechanical problems with the F-35 fighter jets that the Pentagon stated could do the job of the A-10's, the House made a smart move in retaining the proven Warthogs.
8. NEW LEADERS TAPPED FOR ISAF, SOCOM AND NORAD - The Pentagon announced a major change at the top of its training, counterterrorism, and homeland security efforts, naming new heads
US Special Operations and Northern Command, along with a new leader of the NATO force in Afghanistan.
* Army General John Campbell, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, has been nominated to lead the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. He would replace Marine General Joseph Dunford, who has been nominated to be the next Marine Corps Commandant.
* Army Lt. General Joseph Votel has been nominated to receive a fourth star and take over US Special Operations Command (JSOC). He would replace Admiral William McRaven, who is retiring.
* Navy Admiral Bill Gortney, head of Fleet Forces Command, has been nominated to lead US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. He would replace Army General Charles Jacoby.
All three nominations are highly qualified and proven leaders for these positions of extreme importance. Congratulations to all three of these senior officers. The question still haunts me as to why are so many of our senior Pentagon officers bailing out during these troubling times with Iraq falling apart, Syria in total collapse, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
NEW BILLS IN CONGRESS OF INTEREST
H.R. 318-Korean War Memorial- Authorizes a Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The Wall would be funded by private sector donations at no cost to taxpayers.
H.R. 2794-Perpetual POW/MIA Stamp Act- Directs the Postmaster general to issue a forever stamp that honors the sacrifices of the members of the armed forces who has been prisoners, missing, or unaccounted for.
H.R. 4489-World War 1 Memorial Act- Designates the Liberty memorial at America's National World War 1 Museum in Kansas City, MO., as the National World War 1 Museum and Memorial. "and Pershing Park, located in Washington, D. C. as the "National World war 1 Memorial"
H.R. 4693- Air Force Escape and Evasion Society Act- Awards the Congressional Gold Metal to the U.S. Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society, in recognition of the ceaseless efforts of American aircrew members to escape captivity and evade capture and the resistance organizations and nationals who assisted them.
H.R. 4778-Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act- Authorizes the award of a military service medal to members of the armed forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons, or under other circumstances.
With Independence Day coming on Friday, July 4, 2014 all real Americans
will be celebrating over a long three day weekend. Our flag will be flown all over this great nation. Here are a few requirements to flying Old Glory with respect.
* When the American flag is carried in a procession with other flags, it should be either on the marching right ( or flag's own right) or in front and center of the line of flags.
* Never place another flag or pennant higher than the American flag or to the right of it if the flags are on the same level (except during religious services at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag on the mast).
*If a line of flags is displayed indoors, the American flag always should be in the place of honor, behind the speaker and to the speaker's right. Other flags should be placed to the speaker's left.
* When flags are displayed in a semi-circle, the American flag should be centered and at its highest point. The American flag always should be the first flag raised and last lowered.
Everyone should use proper etiquette when acknowledging the flag. Uniformed service members should salute the flag as it is raised and lowered and maintain that salute through the late note of the national anthem or until the flag is unsnapped from the flagstaff, whichever is longer. Civilians can show their respect by placing their right hand over their heart. Men wearing hats should remove their hat and hold it over their heart. During a parade or procession, everyone should face the flag while standing at attention with their right hand over their heart. Uniformed service members should face the flag and salute the moment it passes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Al Capone (1899-1947)
LTC Jim Wallace, USA(Ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman,
Alabama Council of Chapters of MOAA
Material compiled for this report is subject to copyright 2011 and 2012, Military Officers Association (MOAA), Military.com, RAO, DAV, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, VFW, and The Office of Senator Sessions, all rights are reserved. Except for MOAA affiliated organizations, it may not be used without written permission.