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Military Personnel Set To Receive Biggest Pay Raise In 8 Years
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $696 billion defense authorization bill July 14, going beyond what the Trump administration asked for, targeting improved military readiness, buying more ships and planes, and failing to authorize a new round of future base closures.
The bill passed the House in a 344-81 vote.
The Trump administration requested $603 billion. The House version includes more than $613 billion in base funding for defense and energy programs and nearly $75 billion for overseas contingency funding for warfighting in current conflicts. The funding exceeds defense spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Military service members would receive a 2.4 percent pay hike, the largest in eight years.
The bill sets policy and authorizes programs while future legislation would appropriate money for defense. The fiscal year begins October 1.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base could gain with money set aside for acquisition of weapon systems, research and development projects and opening the door to homeland security students to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology, said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs. Currently, AFIT accepts civilian students in the defense industry.
In the Senate version of the defense policy bill, which has yet to be approved, military construction projects at Wright-Patterson included $6.8 million for a new fire station near the main airfield’s flight line in 2019 and $9.1 million for an Army Reserve maintenance facility in 2021, according to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Under the House bill, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense would strengthen cooperation on drone research testing by the Air Force Research Laboratory in Springfield.
The defense bill authorizes money needed “to combat the most complex and unpredictable threats in our history” and to rebuild the military after sequestration induced cuts, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a statement. “Lack of funding has left our troops with significant capability and capacity challenges.”
U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said in an interview Friday afternoon the legislation takes steps to rebuild lagging military readiness, but budget cuts elsewhere will be necessary to fund the increases in defense.
“There’s a strong concern that with the wide range of commitments … the funding has been scaled back (and) you’re seeing some reduction in readiness and we don’t want to take long to be ready,” he said.
The White House and the Pentagon had sought a Base Realignment and Closure process in 2021, but it failed to win lawmakers support.
“This version puts the House on record opposing a new BRAC, and the Senate version has similar language,” Gessel said.
The BRAC provision “means the risk of any downsizing Wright-Patterson is lower now—and it was already low to begin with,” said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Turner, a House Armed Services Committee member, attempted to add an amendment that would study the concept of a Space Corps rather than create it as a separate military branch, but this week the House Rules Committee rejected his request. If approved, a Space Corps branch would be within the Department of the Air Force by 2019.
Despite lawmakers calls for more defense spending, the Budget Control Act of 2011 that imposed caps on defense will make getting there harder, one senior defense analyst said.
“The House Armed Services Committee is proposing a major increase in defense spending beyond what either Obama or Trump sought,” said Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. “However, defense spending is capped by law through 2021, and the House proposal is far, far above what the law permits.
“The only way the House committee’s proposed budget could be implemented is if spending caps are repealed or all of the added funding is pushed into supplemental war accounts not covered by the caps.”
Neither outcome seems likely, he added in an email.
The House bill would enact acquisition reforms to provide more oversight of service contracts and the use of online commercial sites to cut costs.
Turner, co-chairman of the Military Sexual Assault Caucus, introduced a provision that would require service members convicted of a sex-related offense to serve a minimum of two years confinement.
Military sexual assault legislation Turner included in the bill with co-sponsor Rep. Nikki Tsongas, D-Mass., would expand training for military lawyers representing victims; allow sexual assault survivors to appeal decisions to the military’s highest court during a trial; and permit a military judge to appoint legal representation for minors who are sexual assault survivors prior to a suspect facing criminal charges, according to the congressman.
The congressman also included language that requires the Pentagon to keep the House Armed Services Committee updated on efforts to inform service members of states’ child custody laws, and to take measures to ensure the safety of windows in military housing to prevent young children from falling out of residences, his office said.
Turner also included language in the defense legislation backing Air Force Research Laboratory work on unmanned aerial systems, hypersonic air-breathing vehicles, using drones to detect chemical, biological and nuclear threats; ongoing research on hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation-related issues that have surfaced in military aviation; and ongoing funding for a technology transition program. The congressman also introduced language to expand AFIT’s enrollment.
Davidson introduced the amendment on greater cooperation between the FAA and Defense Department on drone research in Springfield.
Count on this newspaper to provide the latest in-depth coverage of military spending issues that impact Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Springfield Air National Guard Base. For more military news, log onto mydaytondailynews.com/military.
©2017 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.
Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."
Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.
Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.
Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.
Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.
"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.
Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.
Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.
Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.
When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."
Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.
Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.
Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.
"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.
"Yes," Graffam said.
The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.
US troops are using dating apps more and condoms less as sexually transmitted infections surge within the ranks
The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.
"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.
Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.
A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.
The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.
A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.
"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.
Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.
Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.