Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shutdown Affects Quality of Life, Family Readiness Programs

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2018 — The government shutdown that began at midnight will affect the operating status of quality of life and family readiness programs offered by the Defense Department to service members and their families, Pentagon officials said.

Operating hours and status may vary at the local installation level, officials said in a statement, adding that addresses and phone numbers for installation and state resources available to active duty, National Guard and reserve service and family members at the Military Installations website.

“We are working with each of the military services to keep as many doors open as possible during the government shutdown,” Julie Blanks, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said.  “We will be operating within the fiscal guidance passed down from senior Defense Department leadership.”

Guidance on Specific Activities

The list below provides guidance as to what to expect regarding the operating status of these programs while the government is shut down:

-- Military OneSource:  The Military OneSource website and call center will remain fully operational. Military OneSource is a Defense Department-wide program that promotes the quality of life of service members and their families by delivering information, referrals, confidential counseling and other services in person, online and by telephone.  The service is available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user and regardless of the service member’s activation status. Visit their website or call 800-342-9647.

-- Child Development Centers: Contact your local CDC or installation for details and guidance.

-- Department of Defense Education Activity:  DODEA schools and district offices worldwide will remain open. Headquarters and regional offices will be affected by the shutdown.

-- The Military and Family Life Counseling program will continue uninterrupted. The MFLCs will perform routine functions.  If an MFLC is unable to access the installation during a shutdown, officials said, they will work offsite until they are able to access the installation.

-- Military exchanges will be open worldwide.

-- Overseas commissaries will remain open, including two stores in Guam and one in Puerto Rico. Commissaries in five remote stateside locations also will remain open: Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport and Fort Irwin in California; Coast Guard Station Kodiak and Fort Greely in Alaska; and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The remainder of stateside commissaries will follow an orderly shutdown to reduce the amount of perishables on hand and properly safeguard equipment and facilities. For more details, go to the Defense Commissary Agency website, or its Facebook and Twitter pages.

-- Family Support Centers: Staffing will be determined by installation commanders.

-- Family Advocacy Program: Each service will determine staffing at each installation.

-- MWR: Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, nonappropriated fund activities and other operations necessary to support those activities not affected by a shutdown will continue. Examples of these excepted activities are operation of dining facilities, physical training and child care activities required to support readiness.
-- My Career Advancement Accounts: Financial assistance requests will be continue to be approved. In addition, Spouse Education and Career Opportunities career coaches will continue to be available to provide comprehensive education and career counseling services. Call the SECO Career Center at 800-342-9647 or visit the SECO website and continue to monitor the MyCAA portal for any updates.

National Defense Strategy a ‘Good Fit for Our Times,’ Mattis Says

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2018 — The new National Defense Strategy is a good fit for the times, emphasizing the return of great power rivalry, yet still addressing other threats that abound in the world today, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said today.

The secretary unveiled the strategy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and stressed that the strategy is not merely a defense strategy, but an American strategy. The school is a division of the Johns Hopkins University based in Washington.

The strategy -- the first new strategy in a decade -- is based on the National Security Strategy President Donald J. Trump announced in December.

New Strategy Reclaims ‘An Era of Strategic Purpose’

“Today, America's military reclaims an era of strategic purpose and we're alert to the realities of a changing world and attentive to the need to protect our values and the countries that stand with us,” the secretary said. “America's military protects our way of life and I want to point out it also protects a realm of ideas. It's not just about protecting geography. This is a defense strategy that will guide our efforts in all realms.”

Threats have changed since the last strategy. There is increasing global volatility and uncertainty with challenges from Russia and China coming to the fore. “Though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” the secretary said.

The strategy will provide the American people the military required “to protect our way of life, stand with our allies and live up to our responsibility to pass intact to the next generation those freedoms that all of us enjoy here today,” Mattis said.

The strategy expands the U.S. military’s competitive space, prioritizes preparedness for war, provides clear direction for significant change at the speed of relevance and builds a more lethal force to compete strategically.

Tough Choices

In forming the strategy, officials had to make tough choices, “and we made them based upon a fundamental precept, namely that America can afford survival,” Mattis said.

“We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” he said.

The threat from rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist. And even though ISIS’s physical caliphate is no more, the group -- and other extremist organizations -- continues to sow hatred.

“In this time of change, our military is still strong, yet our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare: air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, and it is continuing to erode,” the secretary said.

‘Our Military Will Win Should Diplomacy Fail’

Sixteen years of war, rapid technological change, defense spending caps, and seemingly continuous continuing resolutions “have created an overstretched and under-resourced military,” he said. “Our military's role is to keep the peace; to keep the peace for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day; to ensure our diplomats who are working to solve problems do so from a position of strength and giving allies confidence in us. This confidence is underpinned by the assurance that our military will win should diplomacy fail.”

Mattis said the supremacy of American military is not preordained. “It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for,” Mattis said. “The defense strategy's three primary lines of effort will restore our comparative military advantage.”

The strategy commits the department to build a more lethal joint force. It calls for strengthening old alliances and building new ones. “At the same time, we'll reform our department's business practices for performance and affordability,” the secretary said.

An enemy will attack any perceived weakness, Mattis said. The American military, therefore, must be able to fight across the spectrum of conflict. “This means that the size and the composition of our force matters,” he said. “The nation must field sufficient capable forces to deter conflict. And if deterrence fails, we must win.”

Mattis added, “To those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy, they must know: If you challenge us it will be your longest and your worst day. Work with our diplomats: You don't want to fight the Department of Defense.”

Alliances are key to American success, the secretary said. “In my past, I fought many times and never did I fight in a solely American formation,” Mattis said. “It was always alongside foreign troops.”

The American military must be designed, trained and ready to fight alongside allies, he added. “History proves that nations with allies thrive, an approach to security and prosperity that has served the United States well in keeping peace and winning war,” Mattis said. “Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.”

Reforming DoD’s Business Practices

The third line of effort, he said, will be the foundation for the U.S. competitive edge: reforming the business practices of the department.

“We are going to have to be good stewards of the tax dollars allocated to us, and that means results and accountability matter,” the secretary said. “The department will transition to a culture of performance and affordability that operates at the speed of relevance. Success does not go to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather, to the one that better integrates it and more swiftly adapts its way of fighting.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan is already leading this effort. He expects it to leverage the scale of operations, driving better deals for equipping troops and modernizing systems.

This strategy means nothing if the resources are not in place, Mattis said. “No strategy can long survive without necessary funding and the stable, predictable budgets required to defend America in the modern age,” he said. “Failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow's security.”

Continuing Resolutions Harm Military Readiness

Mattis added, “Let me be clear. As hard as the last 16 years have been on our military, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act's defense spending cuts, worsened … by us operating, nine of the last 10 years, under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars.”

The military continues to work tirelessly to accomplish the mission with now inadequate and misaligned resources, simply because the Congress cannot maintain regular order, Mattis said.

“That we have performed well is a credit to our wonderful and loyal troops, but loyalty must be a two-way street,” he said. “We expect the magnificent men and women of our military to be faithful in their service, even when going in harm's way. We must remain faithful to those who voluntarily sign a blank check, payable to the American people with their lives.”

Under the Constitution, it is Congress that has the authority to raise armies and navies, Mattis said.

“Yet as I stand here this morning, watching the news, as we all are, from Capitol Hill, we're on the verge of a government shutdown or, at best, yet another debilitating continuing resolution,” he said. “We need Congress back in the driver's seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator seat of Budget Control Acts' indiscriminate and automatic cuts. We need a budget and we need budget predictability if we're to sustain our military's primacy.”