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National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

By Debbie Gregory.

 

The University of Management and Technology (UMT), long an educational destination for active-duty military members, has lost tuition assistance (TA) reimbursement from the government.

 

Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses of its members.

 

UMT has been on probationary status since January due to what the Department of Defense (DoD) termed “national security concerns.”

 

In December 2012, the FBI made two very public raids of UMT and the northern Virginia home of university president Yanping Chen Frame and its academic dean, her husband J. Davidson Frame.

 

“UMT was disappointed that the Department of Defense suspended its participation in the Tuition Assistance program before UMT had any notice or opportunity to respond,” Dean Frame said in a statement.

Since military-affiliated students make up the majority of the student population, this could impact the school’s future.

A school spokesperson said in a  statement that the school is working to resolve the issue and hopes to be reinstated into the TA program as soon as possible. Meanwhile, it “is committed to working with active duty military students to explore other avenues for funding their ongoing educational programs.”

Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason, a DoD spokeswoman, said DoD counselors are available, in person or over the phone, to discuss students’ options with them — whether it be transferring to a new institution or pausing their studies.

Tuition assistance will cover tuition, as well as course-specific fees such as laboratory fees or online course fees. The benefit does not cover books and course materials, flight training fees, repeating a course, or continuing education units, which may be covered by other funding opportunities.

 

Federal Judge Rules DOD can’t Block Immigrant Recruits’ Citizenship Applications

mavni 1

By Debbie Gregory.

U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle has ordered the Department of Defense not to block fast-tracked citizenship applications for some 2,000 foreign-born U.S. Army Reserve soldiers.

Foreign-born military recruits who possessed skills urgently needed in U.S. military operations were promised a quicker route to citizenship in their enlistment contracts.

The federal judge also said that the members of the military in an on-going lawsuit will more than likely be able to prove that the crackdown on immigrant recruits were “arbitrary and capricious.”

Huvelle said the DoD action threatens a delay for soldiers’ citizenship applications by years, upends their lives, blocks their careers and potentially exposes them to deportation.

“Plaintiffs live in constant fear that they will lose their work or student visas, or be discharged, deported, and subject to harsh punishment in their country of origin for joining a foreign military,” Huvelle wrote.

The judge decided to grant provision class-action status to some of the affected soldiers. The lead plaintiffs are Mahlon Kirwa, Santhosh Meenhallimath and Ashok Viswanathan.

At issue is a program in which the Pentagon approved requests for an “N-426” form, certifying the active-duty or Selected Reserve status of qualified enlistees in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. The MAVNI program has allowed recruits with critically needed skills, such as certain health care professionals and experts in certain languages to apply for citizenship when they begin training if they agreed to eight years of military service.

What was previously a quick application process at enlistment recently ended when the Pentagon began requiring additional screening of program participants.

Huvelle said the delays were “not justified by any national security concerns” because U.S. immigration authorities are holding all applications pending completion of military screening.

Citizenship can be revoked if recruits are not honorably discharged.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD to Set Troop Levels

troop levels

By Debbie Gregory.

Defense Secretary James Mattis now has more flexibility in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State after President Trump granted the Pentagon new authorities to determine the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Syria.

Known as the force management level, or “FML,” the number of troops deployed to either country is sent to Congress, and updated anytime there are major force deployments, which is intended to promote transparency.

“Restoring FML decisions to the Secretary of Defense enables military commanders to be more agile, adaptive and efficient in supporting our partners, and enables decisions that benefit unit readiness, cohesion and lethality,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said

Previously, the White House had retained control regarding setting troop levels under both the Obama and Bush administrations. Previous defense secretaries Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel complained about being “micromanaged” by White House officials on military matters.

Since his Senate confirmation hearings, Mattis has made clear that he is looking for ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIS.

Trump has outsourced a lot of decision making power to other departments. The decision to drop the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, referred to as the “mother of all bombs” on ISIS in Afghanistan, was made by the DoD.

The Pentagon will not routinely announce or confirm information about force numbers, locations, or troop movements in or out of Iraq and Syria.

Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for U.S. forces for Iraq and Syria said, “With regard to the number of forces that are going into Syria, and their exact locations, what they’re doing, their comings and goings, the exact capabilities we’re bringing in, the coalition is really not going to get into the business of giving play-by-play updates on those, on those capabilities.”

However, other defense officials suggest this move will allow military commanders to be more transparent with both Congress and the public.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

How to Correct Your Discharge and Military Records

fix records

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has renewed its efforts to ensure veterans are aware of the opportunity to have their discharges and military records reviewed for errors or omissions.

By utilizing Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), Military Service Organizations (MSOs) and other outside groups, as well as direct outreach to individual veterans, the DoD is encouraging all veterans who believe they may have an error or injustice on their record to request relief from their service’s Board for Correction (BCM) or Discharge Review Board (DRB).

For express consideration are issues pertaining to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and sexual assault.

The DoD is reaffirming its intention to review and potentially upgrade the discharge status of all individuals that are eligible and that apply.

Veterans who desire a correction to their service record or who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are encouraged to apply for review.

For discharge upgrades, if the discharge was within the last 15 years, the veteran should download and complete theDD Form 293.

For discharges over 15 years ago, the veteran should download and complete the DD Form 149.

Keep in mind that the more information provided, the better the boards can understand the circumstances of the discharge.

Explain why the veteran’s discharge or other record was unjust or erroneous; was it connected to or a result of unjust policies, a physical or mental health condition related to military service, or some other explainable or justifiable circumstance.

And keep in mind that post-service conduct and contributions to society are an integral part of an upgrade or correction. If you volunteered to build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or was a fellow with the Mission Continues, be sure to include that, along with documentation of support.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD SkillBridge Program Prepares Servicemembers for Veteran Jobs

skillbridgeBy Debbie Gregory.

Under the framework of the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, eligible transitioning service members can participate in job skills training, preparing them for veteran jobs.

The DoD SkillBridge initiative promotes the civilian job training authority available for transitioning service members. Service members meeting certain qualifications can participate in civilian job and employment training, including apprenticeships and internships.

The training can take place up to six months in advance of a service member’s separation, and must offer a high probability of employment. Training is provided to the service member at little or no cost.

Service members use the SkillBridge application to search for training opportunities that best fit their goals. Search based on your skillset, your desired location and transition date. When service members find relevant training opportunities they can inquire with the training provider to learn more details about the opportunity and the application process.

Service members can set up a profile in the SkillBridge application to receive email or Twitter direct message notifications when a training opportunity matches with your profile.

Through DoD SkillBridge, tremendous potential exists for service members, companies, trade unions, and others for leveraging this new DoD authority.

The program is governed by DoD Directive 1322.29 — Job Training, Employment Skills Training, Apprenticeships, and Internships (JTEST-AI) for Eligible service members.

To be eligible a service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty within 180 days of starting the JTEST-AI. The service member must initiate their own participation and also have approval from within their chain of command. For more information, visit the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program website.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Will There Be Another Round of Base Realignment and Closures?

brac

By Debbie Gregory.

A senior Pentagon official is urging lawmakers to consider a new round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) saying that the Department of Defense is wasting money on excess facilities. More than 350 installations have been closed in five BRAC rounds: 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005.

Officials testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on military facility and installation funding shortfalls. Across the board, defense and services leaders voiced concerns over reduced funding and the challenges of keeping up with current environmental requirements.

The proposed $1 billion FY 2017 military construction budget is an 18-percent reduction from last year’s budget.

“As Department of Defense leadership has repeatedly testified, spending resources on excess infrastructure does not make sense,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in an April 12 letter. “Therefore, we urge Congress to provide the Department authorization for another round of BRAC. Our recently submitted BRAC legislative proposal responds to congressional concerns regarding cost.”

The letter was made public after Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management said she will not include the authority to conduct a BRAC round in her subcommittee’s mark of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. She said that amid tight DoD budgets, the military cannot afford BRAC, whose costs ballooned 67 percent during the last round, in 2005.

“I do not want to give the department the open-ended authority to pursue another BRAC round that will potentially incur significant upfront costs when we do not have the room in our budget in the next few years to afford many fundamental readiness investments that are right before us,” Ayotte, R-N.H., said in an April 12 hearing.

“This report makes clear that DoD maintains a large amount of infrastructure that it does not need,” Rep. Adam Smith said. “Disposing of excess infrastructure through a transparent, deliberative and independent process, such as another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), can be done in a responsible manner hat enhances military readiness and frees up funds that can be used to strengthen our military in other ways.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD’s Proposed 2017 Budget Comes in at $583 Billion

Ashhh

By Debbie Gregory.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter submitted a proposed $583 billion Defense Department budget for 2017 that focuses more on high-tech future conflicts and less on counterterrorism operations against militants such as the Islamic State group. But the budget does include a significant increase in funding for the fight against Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL.

“The [fiscal year 2017] budget reflects recent strategic threats that have taken place in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe,” the Pentagon said in a statement accompanying the budget documents released on February 9th.

The budget request includes a quadrupling of the funds to support NATO’s effort to counter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, raising the current amount of $789 million to $3.4 billion. This increase will allow for the rotation of more U.S. units in Europe, additional training, and the pre-positioning of gear.

“All of this together by the end of 2017 will let us rapidly form a highly-capable combined arms ground force that can respond theater-wide if necessary,” Carter said.

Fiscal year 2017 begins on October 1, 2016.

Carter called Russia, along with China, “our most stressing competitors,” which “reflect a return to a great power competition.”

With Russia’s seizing of Crimea from the Ukraine and China’s claims on disputed islands in the South China Sea, Carter said “we cannot blind ourselves to the actions they appear to choose to pursue.”

The Defense Department budget will shift in focus away from one potential enemy to multiple threats.

“We don’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the choice between current fights and future fights — we have to do both. And that’s what our budget is designed to do,” Carter said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: DOD Announces New Best Practices for Spending

newsa_DLAImage1_220914020442By Debbie Gregory.

In the business world, the companies that continue to evolve with new technology are the ones that triumph over the competition. The same case can be said for militaries. Through the course of history, the mightiest military powers were laid to waste at the feet of new technologies. The powers that lasted the longest were those who kept on top of new weapons and defensive measures. They were also the powers that were willing to keep an open mind and open budget to these changes.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is implementing a new spending initiative designed to maintain the U.S. military’s technological edge over any and all potential adversaries and countries.

The DOD is calling their program “Better Buying Power 3.0.” As the numerical inclusion in the name implies, the new initiative is built upon previous programs. The original Better Buying Power (BBP) program was launched in 2010. An upgraded version, BBP 2.0, was introduced in November 2012.

The Better Buying Power initiative ties to the Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program. BBP calls for closer ties to the private sector, and the development of new technologies for military use.

Better Buying Power 3.0 was announced as the revised version of the best practices designed to strengthen the DOD’s buying power, and provide an affordable technological impact for the U.S. military.

Like the earlier versions, 3.0 will continue the affordability caps for programs. The DOD will continue to emphasize “should-cost” structures for programs. Competition will continue and the program will encourage effective incentives.

The 3.0 version is different from its predecessors in that it will shift emphasis towards the gradual improvement in many different areas across the DOD. BBP 3.0 will focus on those who execute contracts in all levels of the process.

One of the key areas that the program will focus research and development resources in will be cyber security.

Many other countries have been funneling their money and resources into military research and development. The DOD contends that if the U.S. is to maintain its technological superiority, some changes will have to be made.

“Better Buying Power 3.0 really is animated by an urgent concern of ours, and that is what we see to be a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. “We all think this is one of the biggest issues facing our department and our nation.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Announces New Best Practices for Spending: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Possible Next Secretary of Defense: By Joe Silva

100628-D-9880W-113.JPGAfter the November 24th announcement that Chuck Hagel was resigning as Secretary of Defense, there has been speculation as to who his successor might be. Multiple reports are now claiming that former Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter will be chosen as Hagel’s successor.

Mr. Carter held the second-in-command spot at the Pentagon from October 5, 2011 through December 3, 2013.  Before that, he served for two years as the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics, and served for three years as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs during the Clinton administration.

Ash Carter was one of the original members of the short list of likely candidates, immediately following the announcement of Hagel’s resignation. And following the reports that Sen. Jack Reed and Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy asked to be withdrawn from consideration, Carter now sits atop an even shorter list.

It is widely believed that if President Obama does nominate Carter, he would easily be confirmed by Congress. Despite his previously held high-profile roles, Carter is not viewed as a political player. It’s been reported that Carter is willing to return to the department.

Considering all of his experience within the walls of the Pentagon, Carter seems like a strong candidate. In fact, when Carter resigned from his post as Deputy Secretary, Hagel told the media that Carter possessed an “unparalleled knowledge of every facet” of the DOD. But there is one major area on Mr. Carter’s résumé that some may find lacking… military experience.

Carter has two bachelor’s degrees from Yale University, and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University. He also has experience teaching at prestigious universities, including Oxford and Harvard’s Kennedy School. Mr. Carter also has extensive experience working as a senior official within the DOD. But he never served in uniform. While some Americans might think this is not an important requirement, to those who served and still serve, it could be.

It is not a requirement for the head of the DOD to have served in the armed forces, just as it is not a requirement for the commander-in-chief. But many Americans feel that having a Veteran running the Pentagon is extremely important.

Many who have worn a military uniform believe that only those who have experienced the military lifestyle can truly appreciate what it means to serve, deploy, and sacrifice. But it’s not a requirement.

Until an official announcement is made, Americans eagerly await the nomination of the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Hagel will remain in the position until his successor is confirmed.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Possible Next Secretary of Defense: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: DOD Reviews Nonprofit Policies: By Debbie Gregory

DOD policiesThe Defense Department (DOD) has announced that it will be reconsidering the current measures that thwart efforts made by well-intentioned nonprofit groups.

Every year, thousands of military families receive support from nonprofit organizations. The overwhelming majority of nonprofit organizations are above board, known and respected for the work they do for service members and their families. With that said, there are some organizations that have turned out to be fraudulent or outright scams. The DOD, and each branch of service, have been forced to try to find a way to protect service members, while still allowing them to receive the support they need.

Previously, there has been a history of inconsistent policies concerning nonprofit organizations on military installations. While a nonprofit organization may hold an office space on one base, its representatives may not even be permitted access to another installation within the same branch of service.

There have also been occasions where Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) officials on certain installations have asked nonprofit organizations to pay hundreds of dollars to set up a table at an on-base event. Many organizations, especially the local ones that can have a huge impact in their communities, can’t afford to pay the “entrance fees” just to spread the word about how they can help.

What the DOD is realizing is that service members need access to the support that these organizations can provide. And the department is trying to facilitate better conduits for these service members to receive the help that they need.

In 2013, DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel enacted a policy which allowed enlisted service members in pay grades E-6 and below to accept gifts valued at more than $20 from charitable and Veterans’ service tax-exempt organizations. An earlier restriction prohibited service members and military families in need from accepting provisions from nonprofit organizations, including holiday gifts, food and clothing.

Of course Mr. Hagel and the DOD are not about to direct the branches of the military to simply grant access to anyone claiming to represent a military-friendly nonprofit organization. But they are in discussions as to how to eliminate as many obstacles as possible that bring the provisions and beneficial programs these organizations provide to the service members who need them.

The DOD and each service branch are in the process of reviewing current policies regarding nonprofit organizations in order to give them more consistency. While it is not a formal review, it should pave the way for better access to provisions offered by military friendly nonprofit organizations, while protecting service members and their families.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Reviews Nonprofit Policies: By Debbie Gregory