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IG Says Base Housing Is Just As Bad As You Thought
Service members and their families are exposed to health and safety hazards at base housing worldwide that could be alleviated by inspections and better maintenance, the Defense Department’s Inspector General said in a recent report.
Inspectors found an average of two to three electrical and fire prevention deficiencies per building among the housing it inspected from 2013–16 in six places: the Washington, D.C. region, the U.S. Southeast, South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan and Jordan.
In multiple cases, inspectors found high levels of radon gas, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other inspections found excessive mold, which can cause respiratory illnesses.
The October report found “systemic weaknesses” in DOD policy, which requires periodic building inspections.
“However, none of these inspections comprehensively examine the effectiveness of facility sustainment processes with respect to the overall health and safety of occupants,” the report said.
Exposed wiring, faulty smoke detectors and ventilation issues were among the most pervasive problems found.
Among all areas inspected, radon exceeding government safety limits was most likely to be found on Okinawa.
In a Stars and Stripes article published last year, service members said they had difficulty going back to at least 2011 in either finding out if their homes exceeded radon standards, or in getting the problems fixed.
Air Force officials on Okinawa said that by last year, homes requiring radon mitigation received service in an average of 442 days.
The IG reports found 145 deficiencies deemed critical at 15 installations inspected in Japan. At 13 South Korean installations, inspectors found 15 critical problems.
Meanwhile, the inspection at a single facility in Jordan found 77 critical deficiencies.
The IG recommended that DOD hire independent inspectors to review facilities at least twice annually. Military bases should also conduct inspections after completing, renovating or performing maintenance work on buildings.
DOD should prioritize hiring qualified inspectors, which the IG cited as a particular problem during its 2013 inspection of two housing areas in Afghanistan.
“We believe that the majority of deficiencies identified in our previous reports could have been avoided,” the report said.
The Army has agreed to the IG’s recommendation and said it would develop a plan within six months. The Department of the Navy also agreed and said it would issue new guidance by Oct. 31.
The Air Force agreed but did not say when or how it would implement IG’s recommendation.
© 2016 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?