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Robert A. McDonald, the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, apologized on Monday for falsely claiming last month that he had served in the Special Forces.
Mr. McDonald, a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where he completed jungle, arctic, desert warfare and Ranger training, according to his official biography.
But his assertion to a homeless veteran in Los Angeles that he was in the Special Forces — captured on camera for a CBS News report — was false, he acknowledged on Monday. His initial claim was first reported by The Huffington Post.
Mr. McDonald said in a statement that his claim “was inaccurate, and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”
“I have great respect for those who have served our nation in Special Forces,” Mr. McDonald said. “They, and all veterans, deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs that provides them the care and benefits they have earned.”
He said he would “remain committed” to improving veterans’ services and overhauling the department.
White House officials said they accepted Mr. McDonald’s explanation.
“Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service,” the White House said. “We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he’s doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans.”
In the first official sign that the Pentagon plans to keep a U.S. military presence in southern Afghanistan after this year, the Army is sending the 7th Infantry Division headquarters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord on a year-long deployment to Kandahar Province this spring.
The deployment follows Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s weekend visit to Kandahar, where he acknowledged in a meeting with soldiers that the Obama administration was reconsidering the pace of its planned withdrawal of the 10,000 U.S. troops who remain in Afghanistan.
The deployment is small, fewer than 100 soldiers. But it’s significant because it shows that the U.S. military wants to maintain a presence in Afghanistan’s Pashtun heartland while continuing to reduce its footprint in the 14-year-old war.
The division’s deployment has been an open secret at the base for months. The Pentagon in December announced that it was adding staff to the headquarters to help it reach a deployable strength.
This month, the Army sent the division command team to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana, where it is carrying out an exercise to prepare for the mission. The Army has published photos from the exercise to its own social media accounts.
And, this week, the Army set up an interview with McClatchy’s News-Tribune newspaper to discuss the deployment. Late Tuesday, just before the interview, however, the Army canceled after officials in Washington, D.C. determined they had not given proper notification about the mission to Congress. The deployment is still going forward, officials said.
In 2004, U.S. Army Col. Jerome Kim, an infectious disease physician, flew to Bangkok to oversee a massive HIV vaccine study.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime-and the stakes were high. If successful, it could be the first vaccine to show even moderate protection against HIV infection—a critical milestone in the fight against HIV.
Sponsored by the U.S. Army in partnership with the government of Thailand, the Phase III clinical trial known as RV144 followed 16,000 Thai volunteers. The results announced in 2009 "showed an efficacy rate of 31.2 percent in vaccine recipients," said Dr. Kim, now the Deputy Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).
"This achievement paved the way for us to learn more about the HIV virus, refine the vaccine and boost the immune response so the next generation of the vaccines will be more effective," he said.
A bill proposed by four Senators would impose penalties on the Department of Defense if the department does not meet its goal of being audit ready by the end of 2017.
The Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015 (S. 327) was introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) last week.
In a press release, Sen. Manchin said “it is simply unacceptable that the Department of Defense is the only major federal agency that has not completed a financial audit. Our bill will help to solve that problem.” Noting that DoD has consistently expressed its commitment to achieving a full audit, Manchin said “Congress should hold them to that.” A similar press release was issued by Sen. Wyden.
Both Manchin and Wyden expressed frustration that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) continues to label “the Department of Defense “High Risk” for waste, fraud abuse and mismanagement due to the agency’s inability to adequately manage its funds.”
Under the proposed bill, if DoD does not meet its audit goal in 2017, congress will increase its oversight every year thereafter leading to the termination of reprogramming a transfer authority of funds. However, If DoD achieves an unqualified audit “which analyzes both the internal systems of control and the details in the agency’s financial records,” the department will get additional transfer authority to use in the following year.
A leadership team from the U.S. Army Materiel Command, or AMC,
recently assessed the organization's role in South Korea, a country
where the United States has sustained a 60-plus year alliance touted as
one of history's most successful partnerships.
AMC Commander Gen. Dennis L. Via led a team there in early February that
included the organization's highest ranking civilian, most senior
enlisted leader, and top logistician. The team evaluated the
capabilities and requirements of the command to respond to the needs of
commanders and forces in the Pacific region.
In his third command visit to South Korea as AMC commander, Via said he
was impressed with recent modernizations and praised cost-sharing
efforts that are providing support for labor, supplies, services and
The United States invests about a $1 billion annually to station U.S.
forces on the Korean peninsula, while South Korea contributed about $867
million to the effort in 2014, following a recent agreement spanning to
2018. That share stimulates the economy through salaries to host-nation
workers and supply and service contracts.
Read more.. .
Ashton Carter was sworn in Tuesday as President Barack Obama's fourth secretary of defense.
The 25th defense chief was sworn in at the White House by Vice President Joe Biden. He replaces Chuck Hagel.
Biden called Carter a "profoundly capable manager" who has the "universal respect and affection" from the people he works with.
"If anyone is made for this job, if there's a job description
that fit a person, this is the guy that fits the job description," Biden
Carter said the position is the "highest calling" and he wanted
to make three commitments to the department, the Obama administration
and the country's citizens.
He said he wants to "help our president make the best possible
decisions about our security and the security of the world" and "make
sure our department executes our decisions."
Carter said he's also committed to protecting the men and women
of the Department of Defense, and "building a force for our future."
lieu of budget cuts, the Department of Defense has been tasked to cut
the nation's defenses across the world, and Fort Benning will be
The Department of Defense is conducting
listening sessions all across the country to discuss how these potential
cuts could impact the regions where U.S. military bases are located.
Nathan Deal, Congressman Sanford Bishop, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and a
host of other heavy hitters attended the meeting to discuss just how big
of an impact downsizing Fort Benning will be to this community.
the private and public sectors in the Greater Columbus region have
invested about $3.6 billion just to meet the needs of the soldiers on
That includes, among other things, the building of new homes, new schools, and new infrastructure.
the Army has to cut almost 14,000 jobs; that's military personnel,
civilians, and contractors. So if those jobs leave the region, it could
potentially reduce our population by about 27,000 people and according
the Chamber of Commerce that could mean a loss of about $1.3 billion in
total wages, retail sales, and tax collections.
The decision to discharge transgender soldiers from the U.S. Army would be made by a top, senior civilian official under a plan outlined in a draft document obtained by USA Today.
The newly discovered directive, obtained by USA Today, does not eliminate the rule that allows transgender soldiers to be discharged for their gender identity, but the proposal would make it more difficult to remove such troops from service.
Instead of being made by lower-level Army officers, the memorandum
says, the decision to discharge transgender soldiers would be made by
the assistant secretary of the Army for personnel.
Currently, transgender troops can be automatically dismissed from service on medical grounds once they are identified.
The following January courts-martial results were released last week by the Army:
First Judicial Circuit
Jan. 7 at a general-court martial convened at Fort Lesley J. McNair in
Washington, D.C., 2nd Lt. Eric J. Wilson was convicted by a military
judge of one specification of absence without leave and one
specification of disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer. The
military judge sentenced the accused to be reprimanded and to forfeit
$2,000 pay per month for two months.
- On Jan. 14 at a
special court-martial convened at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Spc. Anthony
D. Vallone was acquitted by a military panel composed of officer members
of one specification of the wrongful use of marijuana.
- On Jan.
21 at a general court-martial convened at Fort Drum, New York, Spc.
Gerald M. Kinloch was convicted by a military judge of three
specifications of misappropriation of more than $500 and three
specifications of impersonation with intent to defraud. The military
judge sentenced the accused to be reduced to E-1, to be confined for 18
months and to a bad conduct discharge.
- On Jan. 22 at a general
court-martial convened at Fort Campbell, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah D. Austin
was convicted by a military judge, pursuant to his pleas, of one
specification of sexual abuse of a child. Contrary to his pleas, the
military judge convicted the accused of one specification of aggravated
sexual contact with a child, four specifications of sexual abuse of a
child, one specification of indecent acts with a child and one
specification of an indecent act. The military judge sentenced the
accused to be reduced to the grade of E-1, to be confined for 10 years
and to a dishonorable discharge.
Army officers often resort to "evasion and deception," and everyone at
the Pentagon knows it, according to a new study conducted by the U.S.
Army War College.
"In other words, in the routine performance of their duties as leaders and commanders, U.S. Army officers lie," reads the study, which was conducted by the War College's Strategic Studies Institute.
33-page report, compiled following interviews with officers across the
Army, concluded that the Army's culture is rife with "dishonesty and
deception" at all levels of the institution -- from the most junior
members to senior Army officials.
study's results come after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel -- who
officially left his post Tuesday -- had raised concerns over ethics in
the military. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said
two weeks ago that Hagel was "deeply troubled" over a spate of ethics
investigations in the military.
think he's generally concerned that there could be at least at some
level a breakdown in ethical behavior and in the demonstration of moral
courage," Kirby said of Hagel.
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Recent Fallen Grads
- Mr. James A. Hubbard, USMA1977: 01 Jun 1954 - 17 Apr 2017
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- MAJ John A. Harrison USA (Retired), USMA1979: 06 Feb 1956 - 13 Apr 2017
- Mr. James P. Ryan, USMA1964: 14 Jun 1941 - 11 Apr 2017
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- LTC Benjamin L. Willis USA (Retired), USMA1961: 12 Jun 1938 - 09 Apr 2017
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- Mr. John K. Houssels Jr., USMA1945: 11 Dec 1922 - 09 Apr 2017
- MG Darrie H. Richards USA (Retired), USMA1943JAN: 31 May 1921 - 08 Apr 2017
- Mr. Joal L.R. Davis, USMA1960: 26 Jun 1936 - 08 Apr 2017
- COL Bartley W. Furey USA (Retired), USMA1960: 03 Nov 1937 - 07 Apr 2017
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- Mr. Billy F. Mathews, USMA1958: 23 Jan 1936 - 23 Mar 2017
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