Marines participate in fire and rescue training at the airfield on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 17, 2021. Marines practiced how to control a fuel fire on a simulated downed aircraft.
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Army Staff Sgt. Justin McNeil repacks his parachute at a drop zone in the Netherlands during Exercise Falcon Leap, Sept. 16, 2021. Falcon Leap is NATO's largest technical airborne exercise, with more than 1,000 paratroopers from 12 different nations.
An Army paratrooper carries his equipment to a marksmanship range during tryouts for his battalion’s Scout Platoon at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sept. 15, 2021. Scout Platoon is a uniquely organized, trained and equipped unit capable of conducting reconnaissance missions in support of and in advance of the battalion.
Sept. 24, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks and Benedikt Zimmer, Germany's state secretary of the Federal Ministry of Defense, met at the Pentagon yesterday to reaffirm the U.S.-German bilateral relationship, a Defense Department spokesman said.
"Meetings like these with partners and allies help to build and reinforce the vital relationships which enable our missions worldwide. Today’s meeting with our German allies really reinforced the value of our shared security relationship," spokesman Eric Pahon said.
The two leaders exchanged views on defense and security priorities, including Afghanistan, the Indo-Pacific region, Russia and NATO. Hicks also shared updates on ongoing U.S. strategic reviews.
"[It was a] great meeting today with State Secretary Benedikt Zimmer. We discussed a range of shared security interests with our NATO ally, including support for the NATO alliance, Indo-Pacific security, space and emerging tech," the deputy secretary said in a tweet.
She also thanked him for Germany's support in evacuation operations in Afghanistan and Germany.
Hicks congratulated Zimmer on Germany's decision to acquire five U.S. P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, which will increase German capabilities to address shared security concerns, Pahon said.
The Boeing P-8 is a multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, excelling at anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and search and rescue, according to a Boeing website. The P-8 can fly high — up to 41,000 feet, and "get to the fight faster" at 490 knots, the site noted.
Sept. 24, 2021 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News
The Defense Department is asking as many as a half-million ID card holders to go online now and make appointments to renew their IDs — many of which are past the expiration dates printed on them.
DOD extended the expiration dates electronically to account for the challenges of renewing them in an COVID-19 environment.
Last year when it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to dramatically affect the ability of individuals to congregate or wait in line at ID card offices, the Defense Department electronically extended the expiration dates for many ID cards for several months to allow cardholders a greater amount of time to get those cards renewed.
The extensions primarily benefited the dependents of active-duty service members, Reserve and National Guard service members and their dependents, as well as retirees and their dependents.
Currently, there's a backlog of more than a half-million people who have ID cards that are past the expiration dates printed on them, and it's time to go online and schedule an appointment to get those cards renewed, said Stephen Wellock with the Defense Manpower Data Center.
Right now, the previously extended ID cards for dependents of active duty service members, as well as Reserve and National Guard service members and their dependents, can be used until Oct. 31, 2021. The cards of retirees and their dependents can be used until Jan. 31, 2022.
But Wellock also said some might not have the time they think they have.
For those service members and their dependents and retirees and their dependents whose ID cards expired after July 31, 2021 — there is no extension.
"You have no extension, your ID card is expired," he said. "You need to get it replaced, for both active duty, Guard and Reserve dependents, and for retirees. So, if a service member’s dependent is out there, and their ID card expired on Sept. 7, they don't have until October to get it replaced; their ID card has expired, and they need to make an appointment as soon as possible."
While some family members may have an expired ID card, Wellock said that just because an ID card expires doesn't mean health benefits expire. Those benefits are managed by a different system, he said.
"Their health care is managed by the fact that they're enrolled in DEERS, in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. That's what determines their eligibility for health care. So if somebody's ID card expires on Aug. 7, they don't automatically lose their health care because their card is expired."
An additional change is that while currently cards were previously issued to dependents as young as 10 years old, going forward, cards will only be issued to those dependents who are 14 or older.
Wellock said the department is not planning any further extensions on the renewal of expired ID cards. He said cardholders should begin scheduling appointments now to get their cards renewed. Appointments can be made online to renew ID cards, he said, and cardholders don't need to limit their appointment to the card office they typically visit — there are many locations that can handle renewals, and many provide a "walk-in" service capability. The DOD ID card facilities are managed and operated by the local installations, so if service members are having difficulty making appointments, they should inform their chain of command.
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Army Sgt. William Mullins scans the area for simulated opposing forces at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Sept. 19, 2021, during Saber Junction, an exercise designed to assess readiness and promote interoperability with allied and partner nations.
Sept. 24, 2021
Director for Europe and NATO Policy Andrew L. Winternitz led a U.S. Department
of Defense delegation September 24 for the inaugural U.S.-Republic of Cyprus
Security Cooperation Dialogue. The Cypriot delegation was led by the Head of
Defense Policy and International Affairs Department, Commander Demetris Kasinis
and hosted at the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Cyprus.
Since the United States signed a Statement of Intent on Security Cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus in 2018, both countries have taken remarkable steps to strengthen their security and defense bilateral relationship. The growing cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus and our shared interests in the Eastern Mediterranean aim to tackle emerging transnational threats and contribute to regional stability and security. Recent developments in the relationship include the first Cypriot students participating in the U.S. International Military Education and Training program, and increased combined training activities and exercises between the Cypriot National Guard and the U.S. military.
Sept. 24, 2021
The Department of Defense has temporarily authorized increases in the 2021 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for 56 housing markets (commonly referred to as Military Housing Areas, MHAs) across the U.S. Uniformed service members who have incurred increased housing costs above their current BAH may be eligible to apply and receive BAH at the temporarily higher rate. The increased BAH rates for affected active duty (and full-time National Guard duty) Service members in these MHAs will take effect October 1, 2021 and expire on December 31, 2021.
Rental housing market data collected by the Department of Defense from March-August 2021 indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on rental housing costs in the 56 affected markets. Notably, low availability and turnover of rental housing stock during the spring and summer months led to rental cost increases in many locations.
To help ease the financial burden of rising housing costs facing Service members moving to new duty stations or signing new leases, the Department moved quickly to assess market changes across the U.S., develop a list of the most affected markets, and evaluate and implement potential solutions.
Service members who are receiving BAH in one of the affected 56 MHAs and have verifiable housing cost increases may be eligible for the temporary BAH rate increase, subject to Service specific implementation guidelines and approval of individual applications. Members who may be eligible for the higher BAH rates will receive an email in the coming days with additional information on how to apply for the higher rates with their Service. Additionally, each Service will publish information related to how to apply in administrative messages and other media channels. These higher BAH rates will be replaced by 2022 BAH rates on January 1, 2022.
Because not all segments of a housing market increase or decrease at the same rate, the BAH rates for calendar year 2022 (effective as of the first of January) may differ from the temporarily increased 2021 rates. In some cases, 2022 BAH rates may be more than the temporarily increased 2021 BAH rates. In other cases, the 2022 BAH rates may be the same or may be less. BAH rate protection, which normally protects members from decreases in housing market costs, does not apply to temporary rate increases. Therefore, members should not assume these rate increases will continue into 2022.
The Department is committed to the preservation of a compensation and benefit structure that provides members with a suitable and secure standard of living to sustain a trained, experienced, and ready force now and in the future. The temporary BAH increase is a reflection of this commitment.
The temporary BAH rates that will be in effect October 1 through December 31, 2021 for active duty, and full-time National Guard duty, members are located at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/BAH_Temporary_Increase_Rates_Changes_Only.pdf. They are shown for members with and without dependents.For more information on the Basic Allowance for Housing, visit https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bah.cfm.
Sept. 23, 2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby provided the following readout:
Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin “Benny” Gantz about regional security challenges and Israel’s defense requirements.
Secretary Austin conveyed the Biden Administration’s support for replenishing the Iron Dome Defense System.Secretary Austin and Minister Gantz also exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and committed to continue cooperating closely on regional security.
Sept. 23, 2021
Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks met with German State Secretary for the Federal Ministry of Defence Mr. Benedikt Zimmer today to reaffirm the U.S.-German bilateral relationship.
The two leaders exchanged views on defense and security priorities, including Afghanistan, the Indo-Pacific, Russia, and NATO. She thanked the State Secretary for Germany’s support to evacuation operations both in Afghanistan and Germany. She also shared updates on ongoing U.S. strategic reviews.
Dr. Hicks congratulated State Secretary Zimmer on Germany’s decision to acquire five P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, increasing German capabilities to address shared security concerns.
Mr. Zimmer and Dr. Hicks expressed their commitment to continued collaboration on a series of issues, to include NATO interoperability, security in the Indo-Pacific, and shared security challenges in Space and emerging technology.
An airman with the 6th Medical Group prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Fl., Sept. 17, 2021. This is the second time the 6th MDG has established a point of distribution on base in order to help distribute roughly 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines per day.
Arizona National Guard service members prepared boxes of groceries for delivery to area residents at a food bank in Queen Creek, Ariz., Sept. 20, 2021. As of Sept. 20, 2021, the Arizona National Guard has completed 8,944 food bank missions, handed out 1,747,238 units of food, prepared and served 943,765 meals, 849 transportation mission with over 1,091,934 miles driven, completed over 700 COVID-19 testing site missions, and completed 1,537 vaccination missions.
Sept. 23, 2021
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced today that the president has made the following nomination:Navy Rear Adm. (lower half) Jeffrey S. Scheidt for appointment to the rank of rear admiral, while serving as senior military advisor for cyber policy to the under secretary of defense for policy; and deputy principal cyber advisor to the secretary of defense, Washington, D.C. Scheidt is currently serving as deputy chief, Computer Network Operations, National Security Agency, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
Sept. 23, 2021
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced today that the president has made the following nomination:
Air Force Col. James D. Brantingham for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Brantingham is currently serving as the command chaplain, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
Sept. 23, 2021 | BY Beth Reece , Defense Logistics Agency
Transfer of the industrial hardware supply chain from Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support to DLA Aviation and DLA Land and Maritime is expected to better align weapons system support and enable the agency to support growing missions of other defense and federal agencies.
The transfer of procurement responsibility for more than 900,000 items ranging from nuts, bolts and seals began in March 2020 and will be completed Sept. 30, 2021, one year ahead of schedule. DLA Troop Support will officially deactivate the supply chain, and the commodity group will then be referred to as consumable hardware starting Oct. 1, 2021.
Moving industrial hardware work conducted by supplier-facing teams at DLA Troop Support to already existing customer-facing teams at DLA Aviation and DLA Land and Maritime streamlines acquisition functions and will improve communication and collaboration among employees, customers and suppliers, said John Bray of DLA Human Resources.
"Industrial hardware was kind of an anomaly at DLA Troop Support with the parts being much more common in aviation and land and maritime systems," he said. "Although customers shouldn’t notice much difference, they’ll now be able to get answers to all their questions on industrial hardware from one source depending on which type of system is involved."
The nearly 500 employees who handled industrial hardware at DLA Troop Support have gradually transitioned to positions in other supply chains at the Philadelphia-based organization with no loss of grade or pay. Some will undergo reskilling as DLA Troop Support incurs new missions in support of whole-of-government partners. Those missions are estimated to increase DLA Troop Support’s revenue by $7 billion through fiscal year 2023.
"The plus-up in workloads for supply chains like medical makes this transition even more beneficial and comes at a good time especially for DLA Troop Support," Bray said.
DLA expects to save about $8 million in annual labor costs as DLA Aviation and DLA Land and Maritime absorb the work using current employees, internal management reassignments and some new hires.
DLA leaders decided to streamline industrial hardware to increase effectiveness and efficiencies in 2018 as part of a series of initiatives to reduce material and operating costs, said Esther Wade, chief of DLA Logistics Operations’ Process Integration Division.
"Finding smarter ways to support our customers will also help reduce our cost-recovery rate, which is a huge benefit not only to warfighters but to other federal agencies as well," she said.
The effort has been a collaboration between major subordinate commands and directorates throughout the agency to include business process, finance and human resources representatives.
"Being able to make this happen sooner than originally scheduled is a testament to our close partnerships and our desire to better serve the warfighters," Wade said.
DLA has managed industrial hardware since the Navy transferred items like metal sheets, bearings and electrical cable to the Defense Industrial Supply Center in 1962.
Sept. 23, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News
The United States is a global superpower and this means global reach.
"There isn't a scrap of Earth that we can't reach out and touch when we need to," Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said during a press conference in Qatar on Sept. 7. "We've demonstrated that time and time again. And again, our job is to make sure we stay vigilant and continue to develop capabilities."
President Joe Biden nominated Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost to be the next commander of Transcom. Her confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was today.
Van Ovost — who currently commands the Air Force's Air Mobility Command — said Transcom is America's asymmetric advantage over potential foes. "If confirmed, I will ensure United States Transportation Command continues to provide our nation with one of its most important strategic and asymmetric advantages over our adversaries: The ability to rapidly project and sustain joint combat power at strategically relevant speeds, distances and scale at the time and place of our nation's choosing," she said.
The capabilities the command provides is increasingly important in an era of strategic competition with China and Russia, Van Ovost said. "Determined and emboldened strategic competitors, like China and Russia, continue rapid and deliberate development of advanced capabilities, and they challenge international norms with their coercive behavior," she said. "As the national security strategic guidance emphasizes, we must maintain our military competitive edge by continuing to field and train the best force, adopt new technologies and build and maintain key partnerships."
Building relationships with allies and partners is another aspect she emphasized. Access to ports or overflight rights is the lifeblood of the global command. Dealing with commercial companies — who carry vast amounts of military cargo — is also a responsibility for the commander.
Cyber abilities are important to the command from tracking shipments, to ensuring communications, to de-conflicting airspaces and more. Van Ovost told senators that malicious cyber operations pose significant threats to logistics. "These attacks target vulnerable supply chain elements and can interrupt the flow of goods and supplies around the world," she said.
The non-combatant evacuation operation from Hamid Karzai International Airport last month highlighted the abilities of the Air Mobility Command — a part of Transom. "AMC played a significant role in the national and coalition effort to airlift more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan," Van Ovost said. "It was a difficult and dynamic mission, where some of our airmen had to make decisions when lives are on the line. I'm so very proud of the work they did there, and that they continue to do every day."
Sept. 22, 2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby provided the following readout:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III hosted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his first visit to the Pentagon, Wednesday, to discuss the future of the U.S.-Australia Alliance, after the historic announcement of the Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) trilateral security partnership and the successful Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) held in Washington D.C. last week.
The two leaders discussed AUKUS and the framework for its implementation, emphasizing that it was a long-term partnership that laid the foundation for ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. They also discussed the importance of Alliance engagement with regional allies and partners, and how to strengthen the Alliance’s capabilities across the air, land, sea, cyber, and space domains.
Prime Minister Morrison thanked Secretary Austin for the United States’ partnership and support throughout the war in Afghanistan, especially for supporting the airlift of 4,100 people from Kabul to Australia last month.After the meeting, the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial to pay his respects following the 20th anniversary of the attack. Both leaders affirmed the enduring strength of the U.S.-Australian Alliance on the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty.
A U.S. Army paratrooper helps a Dutch paratrooper control his parachute in the Netherlands during Falcon Leap, Sept. 16, 2021. Falcon Leap is NATO's largest technical airborne exercise, with more than 1,000 paratroopers from 12 different nations training with one another's equipment for two weeks.
Sept. 22, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News
Morrison, who met with President Joe Biden yesterday, is in Washington for a meeting of the quad partnership of India, Japan, Australia and the United States.
The new trilateral relationship "is a testament to the strength, resilience and foresight of our relationship," Austin said at the beginning of his meeting with Morrison. "President Biden has noted that no regional divide separates the interest of our Atlantic and Pacific partners, and AUKUS [Australia, United Kingdom and the United States] is designed to build on our existing alliances."
The meeting comes a week after the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultation that was hosted by the State Department. "Today, our alignment is stronger than ever, including seeing the region's challenges through a similar lens and sharing the same sense of urgency," Austin said. "So, we'll continue to cooperate closely on force posture, strategic capabilities, regional alignment and military operations. And all of this common work strengthens our ability to deter threats [for a] free and open Indo-Pacific."
Morrison said the evacuation of Afghans from Kabul showed the U.S.-Australian alliance at work. Both nations had troops on the ground at Kabul airport. But, he said, there was no way the Australians could have evacuated the 4,100 people they did without the U.S. military, and he thanked Austin for that support. He said the evacuation effort is "a symbol of the nature of our partnership. Australia has always looked to the United States, but we never leave it to the United States.
"That is at the heart of our partnership," he continued. "We both understand our responsibilities in it. We accept them, we share them. We honor them in how we deliver it on the ground in so many theaters."
This continues with AUKUS, he said. The trilateral partnership, "adds to the partnerships that exist within the region, whether it's the quad partnerships and relationships, or the wonderful relationships we have with the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] in the region," Morrison said. "But importantly, [AUKUS builds on] the relationships with NATO, and relationships with our European partners, and bringing that focus to the Indo-Pacific."