Acting Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper’s meeting with German Minister of Defense Ursula Von der Leyen

Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan R. Hoffman provided the following readout:

Acting Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper met yesterday with German Minister of Defense Ursula Von der Leyen on the margins of the NATO Defense Ministerial. 

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D-Day 75th Anniversary: Trump, Macron And Other Leaders Mark A Historic Day

“They won back this ground for civilization,” President Trump said of the Allied troops who took part in the massive D-Day invasion 75 years ago today. Trump stood on a stage near Omaha Beach in northern France, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders who thanked U.S. veterans and their allies for preserving liberty.

The commemoration in Normandy, France, marks the 75th anniversary of the massive amphibious invasion, in which more than 150,000 U.S., British and Canadian troops forced their way onto France’s shores to bring the fight to Adolf Hitler. They were supported by nearly 7,000 naval vessels and more than 11,000 aircraft in one of the most important operations of World War II

More than 160 World War II veterans sat in rows on a red-carpeted stage during the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. They included dozens of men who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of the republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Trump told the veterans.

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UAE says 4 ships targeted by ‘sabotage’ off its coast

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates said Sunday that four commercial ships off its eastern coast “were subjected to sabotage operations,” just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

Emirati officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or say who might have been responsible. However, the reported incident comes as the U.S. has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis. Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.

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Training Program for Afghan Pilots in US Ends After Nearly Half Go AWOL

3 May 2019
Military.com | By Richard Sisk

The military has shut down a training program for Afghan pilots and maintainers in the U.S. because of high desertion rates among the trainees, according to the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Desertions among members of the Afghan military training in the U.S., who often claim that they or their families have been threatened by the Taliban, have been a persistent problem for the U.S. military and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In its quarterly report in October 2017, SIGAR said: “Given the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the fact that Afghan trainees who violate the terms of their visas suffer virtually no consequences for going AWOL (except for the possible return to Afghanistan), the AWOL rate is likely to either remain steady or increase.”

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2 NY lawmakers want to strip Robert E. Lee’s name from West Point barracks

ALBANY, N.Y. — The growing national effort to remove monuments or honors to Robert E. Lee and other leading figures of the Confederacy has reached the U.S. Military Academy.

West Point is where the Virginian learned to be a soldier and later served as superintendent before resigning from the U.S. Army to lead Confederate troops during the Civil War. It’s also where a cadet barracks is named after him.

If two members of Congress from New York get their way, his name will be removed from Lee Barracks.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, both Democrats, want the secretary of the Army to rename the 55-year-old barracks. The request, first reported Wednesday by the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, follows last weekend’s deadly white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

After a woman was killed and dozens others injured when a car rammed into a crowd near a Lee statue, communities across the nation are removing Confederate memorials and symbols or considering doing so.

Gillibrand’s Washington office said Thursday that she’s asking Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy to change the name of all facilities at West Point that honor Confederate figures. West Point officials didn’t respond when asked if there are other places on the grounds named after Confederates.

West Point officials directed questions on the barracks’ name to the Secretary of the Army, who makes final decisions on names of Army buildings.

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This week in Congress: Vets suicides in the spotlight

By: Leo Shane III

Congress returns from its spring break to a flurry of defense and veterans hearings, including a rare Monday evening event focused on preventing veterans suicide.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing comes amid concerns over a series of suicides on VA medical facility campuses earlier this month, and will feature tough questions for department officials from both sides of the political aisle.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will appear before Congress again, this time to defend the White House’s fiscal 2020 budget request to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday morning.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will consider nominations for the new Chief of Naval Operations, Marine Corps Commandant and Army Chief of Staff over a series of hearings this week.Monday, April 29

House Veterans’ Affairs — 7 p.m. — 1334 Longworth 
Suicide prevention 
VA and outside experts will testify on department suicide prevention efforts. 

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The National Background Investigations Bureau Moves to the Department of Defense

Department of Defense
April 25, 2019
News Release
Press Operations
Release No: NR-105-19

President Trump signed an executive order April 24, 2019 that, in combination with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, section 925, shifts the primary responsibility for conducting background investigations for the federal government from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense. This executive order reflects the administration’s commitment to reform the personnel vetting enterprise to ensure a trusted federal workforce and achieve an efficient, effective, and secure operation that meets all government-wide needs for background investigations. 

The DOD will reorganize the Defense Security Service to best position the department to assume primary responsibility for the government-wide background investigation mission. DSS will be renamed the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency and will conduct all activities currently assigned to DSS and serve as the primary entity for conducting background investigations for the federal government. DSS (and subsequently DCSA) reports to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. 

Efforts to undertake the transfer of OPM’s background investigation function and associated personnel, resources, and facilities to DOD will begin immediately.

West Point Finally Getting Statue of Gen. Ulysses Grant, Class of 1843

23 Apr 2019Military.com
By Richard Sisk

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is finally getting a statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, one of its most famous graduates, who led the Union to victory in the Civil War.

It will be unveiled Thursday by the 18th president’s great-great grandson, Ulysses Grant Dietz, an art curator at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. The statue, by sculptor Paula Slater, presents a hat-less Grant in his four-star general’s uniform.

The 7.5-foot statue of Grant, who stood about 5-foot-8 in life, was made possible by what West Point described as a “generous donation” from the family of Robert A. McDonald, class of 1975, a former Department of Veterans Affairssecretary.

The unveiling marks the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of Grant’s inauguration as the 18th president. He served two turbulent terms during the “Reconstruction” era, West Point said in a news release.

Statues of three other generals and West Point graduates — Dwight Eisenhower (class of 1915), Douglas MacArthur (1903) and George Patton (1909) — are already in place on the academy’s grounds, but plans for one of Grant did not get underway until the House Armed Services Committee recommended it to the Army in 2016, according to the release.

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WP-ORG: The Story that Begins with West Point

WP-ORG,

Last Sunday we kicked off Fund Drive 45. As I write, we’re at 34% : ) Fantastic!

Let’s keep it going. Here is the link: https://secure.west-point.org/howtodonate.html

This morning I’m sitting in my dark office, watching the morning rays of sun illuminate springtime in the Texas Hillcountry. The trees are newly leafed; the grass already tall and in need of mowing. Bluebonnets have sprouted in lush bunches straight out of the rocks in my driveway. Mockingbirds are singing and screeching and tangling with each other midair like drunk pinwheels.

I’m opening yesterday’s postal mail, much of it donations for WP-ORG this time of year. One in about every ten contains a handwritten note along with a check. The last envelope today, postmarked from Hawaii, was from a Class of ’48 Grad who wrote, “Thanks for your great service to all our graduates. We of ’48 have just over 40 still with us but, of them, many are users of your service. Aloha.”

And that, right there, is why we do what we do. Human relationships are the most valuable things we can nurture in life. And nearly 71 years after graduation, these classmates and lifelong friends are continuing to weave the story of the Class of 1948, using services provided by WP-ORG, supported by donations from all those who appreciate West Point.

What we are doing at WP-ORG is good and valuable. And everything WP-ORG is was built on your support. Please donate to Fund Drive 45 so we can continue, as a community, to write the story that begins with West Point.

Sincerely, 
Megan Klein
WP-ORG INC

Fund Drive 45 Donation Link: http://www.west-point.org/donate

Fund Drive 45 Budget: http://www.west-point.org/budget/

Fund Drive 45 Report: https://secure.west-point.org/donate/report/

Donations by check should be sent to our NEW address:

WP-ORG
c/o Megan Klein
23802 Oscar Road
Spicewood, TX 78669

Former Army Medic Receives Medal of Honor

VIEDO: https://dod.defense.gov/Videos/videoid/630249/
President Donald J. Trump presented former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House for his heroic actions in April 2008 as a Special Forces medic in Afghanistan.