Army to Eliminate Officer Promotion Photos to Curb Racial Bias in Selection

The U.S. Army will remove photographs from their process of selecting and promoting officers, as part of an initiative to combat racial biases.

The Army announced the launch of Project Inclusion on Thursday, a “holistic effort” aimed at promoting diversity and tackling racial disparities in the service. As part of the initiative, official photographs will no longer be part of officer selection boards beginning in August, while other personnel decisions will be reviewed under similar “evidence-based standards.”

“The Army must continue to put People First by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every Soldier and civilian,” Gen. James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff, said in a press release. “Our diverse workforce is a competitive advantage and the Army must continue to offer fair treatment, access and opportunity across the force.”



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US Army offers $15,000 reward for info leading to whereabouts of missing Fort Hood Soldier

Authorities are searching for a missing soldier stationed at Fort Hood who hasn’t been seen since Wednesday.

Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen in the parking lot of her barracks at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas on April 22 around 1 p.m., according to a news release from the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID).

A $15,000 reward for information leading to Guillen’s whereabouts is being offered by CID, a tweet from Fort Hood said Monday.

Keys to her car and room were found in the armory where she was working earlier in the day along with her identification card and wallet, the release said.

Guillen, a private first class, was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, according to the release.


‘Extensive search’ for missing soldier, 20, last seen on Texas army base continues after keys, wallet found

An “extensive search” continued Sunday for a 20-year-old soldier who went missing while stationed on a military base in Texas last week.

Pvt. 1st Class Vanessa Guillen was last seen around 1 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment on Fort Hood.

Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day, according to the Fort Hood Press Center release.

Guillen was described as of Hispanic descent, 5 feet, 2 inches tall, 126 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt.

A “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) notice was issued by Fort Hood Military Police notifying surrounding law enforcement. An “extensive search” is underway by military members, as well as civilian and military police, the press release said.

Fort Hood officials and Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are also asking for the public’s assistance in their search.

Her sister, Mayra Guillen, shared a Facebook post on Friday, writing: “My sister… last seen two days ago. Phone last tracked at Belton, Texas. No contact with boyfriend, close friends or family. Belongings and CAR are at base too back in fort hood. Something is not right please help me find her. Houston Austin Ft hood/ Killeen areas.”


Two US troops, 1 coalition member killed, as more than 15 rockets slam Iraqi base

Two U.S. service members and a troop from a coalition partner nation were killed in a rocket attack in Iraq, a Defense Department official told Military Times Wednesday.

The official said that there were also about a dozen people were injured in a volley of 18 rockets that hit Iraq’s Camp Taji base.

Shortly after the attack news reports emerged that the third person killed was a UK national. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said that the government is “aware of an incident involving UK service personnel at Camp Taji, Iraq. An investigation is underway, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Camp Taji, located just north of Baghdad, has been used as a training base for a number of years. There are as many as 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi forces and conducting counterterrorism missions.


Cruise ship passengers to be quarantined at two military bases; US Army stops troops moving to and from South Korea, Italy for new assignments

American passengers on a cruise ship off the California coast will be transferred to Texas’ Lackland Air Force Base and Georgia’s Dobbins Air Reserve Base for testing for the coronavirus, officials said Sunday.

The U.S. Army has also stopped soldiers and their families from moving to South Korea and Italy for new assignments because of the outbreak in those countries.

“Approximately 90 Texans” are among the unspecified number of U.S. citizens expected to arrive at Lackland Air Force Base, according to a news release from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. It was not clear when the group would arrive.

“All of the repatriated citizens will remain at Lackland under quarantine until they clear the revised and heightened testing protocol to ensure they are not affected by the COVID-19 virus,” Abbot said.


All Military Services Are Now Screening New Recruits for Deadly Coronavirus

New Army recruits with low-grade fevers could be prevented from starting Basic Combat Training (BCT) on time as part of a sweeping effort involving all U.S. military branches to prevent the novel coronavirus from potentially spreading throughout the force.

The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have all confirmed to that all recruits are now being screened for the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, before starting initial-entry training.

Over the past week, U.S. military leaders have begun to intensify the Pentagon’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak after a soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea tested positive for the potentially deadly virus. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The Army has directed that all recruits be screened at recruiting stations just before shipping to BCT and then undergo a second round of screening upon arrival, according to Lisa Ferguson, spokeswoman for Army Recruiting Command.


DOD Releases Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies

Today, the Department released the annual report on sexual harassment and violence at the Military Service Academies. This year’s report consists of feedback from program compliance inspections and the 292 cadets, midshipmen, faculty, and staff that participated in focus groups. In addition, the department and military service representatives conducted onsite assessments of academy prevention and response efforts.

“The Department recognizes the challenge of combatting sexual assault in the Military Service Academies and the high cost of not succeeding,” said Dr. Elizabeth Van Winkle, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency. “Our Academies produce our future leaders. At every turn, we must drive out misconduct in place of good order and discipline. Our data last year, and the findings from this years’ report, reflect the progress we have made in some areas, and the significant work that remains. We will not falter in our efforts to eliminate these behaviors from our Academies and to inculcate our expectation that all who serve are treated, and treat others, with dignity and respect.”

Based on the report, in Academic Program Year 2018-2019, the academies received 149 reports of sexual assault involving a cadet or midshipman as a victim and/or subject, up from 117 reports received the year prior. This should not be interpreted as an increase in crime rate, as the next prevalence survey won’t be conducted until the next academic year. The increase in reporting cannot be interpreted until next year’s prevalence survey, which estimates rates of unwanted sexual contact.


Pentagon chief Esper concerned about Chinese hacking, espionage

Warns Beijing ‘trying to use emerging technologies to alter the landscape of power’

The U.S. needs to do more to account for Chinese students studying at the nation’s top universities and research institutions to make sure American technology remains within the nation’s borders, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told an audience Friday morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“We need to be more conscious of who is in our schools and universities and what they’re doing – what they’re doing and what their purpose is,” Mr. Esper said. “For defense programs, we need to know who is working on our initiatives — whether it’s basic or advanced research.”

Mr. Esper cited the Defense Department’s national defense strategy that identifies both China and Russia as America’s leading adversaries in an era of great power competitions, but noted China’s technological threats bear greater scrutiny.

China is “trying to use emerging technologies to alter the landscape of power and reshape the world in their favor — and often at the expense of others,” Mr. Esper said. “The Chinese government is using its diplomatic, military and economic power to advance its aims in ways that are heavy handed, often threatening and usually contrary to international rules and norms.”


VA IG Warns Long Wait Times Could Continue with Mission Act Reforms

Department of Veterans Affairs patients seeking private sector health care saw a nearly two-month delay for medical appointments in 2018 and the problem could worsen under the new Mission Act, the VA Office of Inspector General reported Thursday.

The inspector general’s report based its conclusions on the region of VA hospitals that includes 1.6 million veterans across Florida, south Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. VA officials in that region referred more than 206,500 requests in 2018 for community care at clinics outside the VA network, with veterans facing a 56-day wait on average before receiving care, according to the report.

The findings highlight the wait times problem could balloon under the VA reforms of the Mission Act, which was approved into law in 2018. The Mission Act, one of the most consequential veteran care efforts in years, aims to expand the scope of private sector care that veterans can receive outside the VA network. The measure was a response to the VA wait-time scandal in 2014, hoping to expedite veteran’s access to treatment. An investigation by the VA inspector general into the scandal found 35 veterans died while waiting for care from VA facilities in Phoenix and found a pattern of officials in the department falsifying records.


US Officials: ‘Highly Likely’ Iran Downed Ukrainian Jetliner

Two U.S. officials said Thursday it was “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board.

The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops amid a confrontation with Washington over the U.S. drone strike that killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general last week. The officials, citing U.S. intelligence, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. They had no immediate information on intent.

President Donald Trump suggested that he believes Iran was responsible and wouldn’t directly lay the blame on Iran, but dismissed their claims that it was a mechanical issue — and denied any U.S. responsibility.’

“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.,” Trump said, noting the plane was flying in a “pretty rough neighborhood.”

“Some people say it was mechanical,” Trump added. “I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”‘


Iran Fully Planned to Kill US Troops In Missile Attacks, Top General Says

The Iranian missile attacks on two bases in Iraq were meant to kill U.S. troops and inflict major damage although they caused no casualties, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday.

The ballistic missile launches “were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment, and to kill personnel. That’s my own personnel assessment,” Milley said of the Tuesday night attacks which hit Al Asad airbase in Anbar province and Erbil in the Kurdish autonomous region.

At an off-camera Pentagon briefing, both Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper gave a description of the attacks, appearing to rebut speculation that the Iranians may have intentionally missed targets to avoid an overwhelming retaliatory strike.

“My assessment is that they were intentional, given what was hit, the aim points,” Esper said. The avoidance of casualties was “more due to the defensive techniques our forces used” than the intent of the Iranians, Milley said.