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Armed Services Committee chair vows DoD reform agenda
By the reckoning of the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, defense procurement reform is near the top of the priorities list of a national security apparatus that's also trying to figure out how to deal with a new iteration of Islamic extremism, a resurgent Russia and the U.S. political leadership's impasse over arbitrary caps on the defense budget.

But Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who became chairman this month after having spent the past year leading the committee's efforts on acquisition reform, is in no rush to fix procurement all at once. While the system is in dire need of repair, another attempt to force change from Capitol Hill would prove not only counterproductive, but dangerous, he said Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute.
 
In a speech outlining his committee's priorities for the 114th Congress, Thornberry said he hopes to have some acquisition changes ready for a vote no later than the end of this year. But whatever adjustments Congress churns out of the effort should be part of a slow, steady march toward a better procurement system, not a single legislative landmark that purports to have fixed DoD acquisition once and for all, he said.
 
Army does about-face on officer pension policy
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined a group of her colleagues to challenge a new retirement policy by the Army that would have tossed out scores of soldiers at the rank of captain and major at a reduced pension.

In an unusual move, the Army has relented.

It was a classic case of how the military sometimes operates. Former noncommissioned officers went to Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some have served for years as commissioned officers and risen through the ranks to become captains and majors. But when the Army wanted to deplete its ranks of captains and majors, the soldiers were forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank.
 
 
Greg Plitt, USMA 2000, Killed By Train
A fitness model and actor featured on the cover of numerous fitness magazines was struck and killed by a train while filming on the tracks in Southern California, authorities said Sunday.

Two men were filming George Plitt Jr., 37, on the railroad track north of the Burbank train station Saturday afternoon when Plitt was hit by a Metrolink passenger train, said Burbank Police Sgt. Scott Meadows.

Investigators, who interviewed witnesses who saw Plitt standing on the track even as the train's horn was blaring, have ruled out a suicide, he said.
 
 
Senate panel OKs bill to lower veteran suicide rate
A bill aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic among military veterans cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday, as lawmakers vowed quick action on a measure that was blocked in the last session of Congress.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill named for Clay Hunt, a 26-year-old veteran who killed himself in 2011. The bill is aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic that claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day.

The House-passed measure would require the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs and make information on suicide prevention more easily available to veterans. It also would offer financial incentives to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who agree to work for the VA and assist military members as they transition from active duty to veteran status.
 
 
Colonel going to court-martial in HIV case
A Special Forces officer charged with knowingly exposing a woman to HIV will face a court-martial.

The case against Col. Jeffrey Pounding was referred to court-martial by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington and general courts-martial convening authority, on Jan. 9.

Pounding is scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., said Courtney Wittmann, a spokeswoman for the Military District of Washington. A trial date has not been set.
 
 
Lawmakers champion Army officer convicted of murder
Three Republican congressmen have taken up the cause of Clint Lorance, a jailed former Army lieutenant fighting to overturn his murder conviction by a U.S. military court for killing two Afghan men in a war zone.

The lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of the Army John McHugh alerting him that they were closely following the appeals process and pressing court officers to review new evidence in Lorance’s case, which hinges on whether he violated the rules of engagement for the war zone.


 
Here’s What Life Is Like For US Army Tankers
With a 68-ton armored vehicle packing a 120mm cannon, U.S. Army tankers can take the fight to the enemy in just about any environment.

Tankers consider themselves part of a brotherhood with roots in World War I. Now driving the M1 Abrams tank, these soldiers continue that legacy today. Here is a taste of what their life is like.
 
 
Military suicides up slightly in 2014
WASHINGTON — Suicides among members of the active-duty military personnel rose slightly in 2014, led by increases in the number of sailors and airmen who took their own lives, new Defense Department figures show.

There were fewer suicides by Army soldiers and Marines, the two services that have seen the most combat in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

According to preliminary Pentagon data, there were 288 confirmed and suspected suicides by active-duty personnel in 2014, compared with 286 in 2013. Both totals, however, represent a sharp drop from the 2012 number of 352. The data was obtained by The Associated Press.

Over time the numbers may change, particularly if deaths that were initially believed to be suicides are found to be otherwise.
 
 
Division West deactivates first brigade under Bold Shift
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Washington (Jan. 12, 2014) -- As part of the Army's required drawdown, First Army Division West's 191st Infantry Brigade cased its colors during a deactivation ceremony, Jan. 8, at Soldier Field House. 

As the 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support) cased its colors, its sister brigade, the 189th Infantry Brigade (Combined Arms Training Brigade), assumed the role as Division West' sole training representative on the West coast.

"The inactivation of the 191st headquarters becomes the first significant act and event in Division and First Army's multi-year reorganizational effort called Bold Shift," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West.

In accordance with Operation Bold Shift, First Army's Department of the Army directed plan to reduce force structure will reduce First Army's training brigades from 16 to nine by 2016.
 
Military hacked by Islamic State sympathizers
Hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State took control of the social media accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command on Monday, posting threatening messages and propaganda videos, along with some military documents.

The command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were eventually taken offline, but not before a string of tweets and the release of military documents, some of which listed contact information for senior military personnel. A Centcom spokesman confirmed their accounts were “compromised,” and said later that the accounts have been taken offline while the incident is investigated more.

“CENTCOM’s operation military networks were not compromised and there was no operational impact to U.S. Central Command,” a military statement said. “CENTCOM will restore service to its Twitter and YouTube accounts as quickly as possible. We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism.”
 
 
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