American Legion Daily News Clips 12.2.19

Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, December 2, 2019, which is Cyber Monday, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, National Mutt Day, Play Basketball Day, and Special Education Day.

Today in History:

· On December 2, 2001, the Enron Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New York court, sparking one of the largest corporate scandals in U.S. history.

· 1804: In Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I, the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor in a thousand years. Pope Pius VII handed Napoleon the crown that the 35-year-old conqueror of Europe placed on his own head.

· 1823: During his annual address to Congress, President James Monroe proclaims a new U.S. foreign policy initiative that becomes known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” Primarily the work of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine forbade European interference in the American hemisphere but also asserted U.S. neutrality in regard to future European conflicts.

· 1917: A day after Bolsheviks seize control of Russian military headquarters at Mogilev, a formal ceasefire is proclaimed throughout the battle zone between Russia and the Central Powers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Associated Press: Trump thanks troops in Afghanistan, says Taliban want a cease-fire deal

· New York Times: Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance

· Associated Press: North Korea may deploy ‘super-large’ rocket launcher soon

· Military Times: This week in Congress: What is happening with military housing?

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Associated Press: Trump thanks troops in Afghanistan, says Taliban want a cease-fire deal

By: Jill Colvin, The Associated Press | 20 hours ago

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and the Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire.

Trump arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday and spent 3½ hours on the ground during his first trip to the site of America’s longest war. He served turkey and thanked the troops, delivered a speech and sat down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before leaving just after midnight. He arrived back in Florida, where he is spending the holiday weekend, early Friday morning local time.

As per tradition, reporters were under strict instructions to keep the trip a secret to ensure the president’s safety in Afghanistan. About 12,000 U.S. forces remain in the country.

Traveling with Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and a small clutch of aides, including his acting chief of staff, press secretary and national security adviser, Trump appeared in good spirits as he was escorted around the base by heavily armed soldiers, as the smell of burning fuel and garbage wafted through the chilly air. Unlike last year’s post-Christmas visit to Iraq — his first to an active combat zone — first lady Melania Trump did not make the trip.

Trump’s first stop was a dining hall, where the crowd erupted into cheers when he arrived. There, he served turkey to soldiers dressed in fatigues and sat down for a meal. But he said he only tasted the mashed potatoes before he was pulled away for photos.

“I never got the turkey,” he told the troops. “A gorgeous piece of turkey.”

During his visit, Trump announced that the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in peace talks and insisted the Taliban want to make a deal after heavy U.S. fire in recent months.

“We’re meeting with them,” he said. “And we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire. And they don’t want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire, I believe … and we’ll see what happens.”

The trip came after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban in September, canceling a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat after a particularly deadly spate of violence, capped by a bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

That ended a nearly yearlong effort by the U.S. to reach a political settlement with the Taliban, the group that protected al-Qaida extremists in Afghanistan, prompting U.S. military action after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. U.S. and international forces have been on the ground ever since.

It was not immediately clear how long or substantive the U.S. reengagement with the Taliban has been.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Taliban’s stance is unchanged. He said the United States broke off talks and when it wants to resume, the Taliban are ready.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to end the nation’s “endless wars” and has been pushing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and in the Middle East despite protests from top U.S. officials, Trump’s Republican allies in Washington and many U.S. allies abroad. For months now, he has described American forces as “policemen” and argued that other countries’ wars should be theirs to wage.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since the war began 18 years ago.

Just last week, Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to oversee the transfer of the remains of two Army officers killed when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar province in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban still control or hold sway over about half of the country, staging near daily attacks targeting Afghan forces and government officials.

The U.S. and the Taliban in September had been close to an agreement that might have enabled a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Nonetheless, Trump said Thursday that he was proceeding with a plan to reduce U.S. troop levels to about 8,600, telling reporters we’re “bringing down the number of troops substantially.”

Still, he said, the U.S. will stay in the country “until we have a deal or we have total victory.”

Trump made the announcement as he met with Ghani, the Afghan president. Ghani thanked the Americans who have made the “ultimate sacrifice” in Afghanistan and assured the president that Afghan security forces are increasingly leading the fight.

“In the next three months, it’s going to be all Afghanistan!” Ghani said.

Ghani also praised Trump for the October mission that killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Afghan leader also indicated, as Trump himself has, that the al-Baghdadi mission was even more significant than the 2011 mission targeting al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden mission was ordered by then-President Barack Obama.

“President Trump, people talked a lot about bin Laden, but what you did to eliminate al-Baghdadi, who was an organizer and not a talker, is a much greater accomplishment,” said Ghani, in remarks to U.S. troops before Trump’s departure.

The trip came a week after the Taliban freed an American and an Australian who had been held hostage since 2016 in exchange for three top Taliban figures, a move that has been widely seen as a possible entree to rekindling peace talks.

The White House took pains to keep the trip a secret after Trump’s cover was blown last year when Air Force One was spotted en route to Iraq by an amateur British flight watcher.

Cellphones and other transmitting devices were confiscated for most of the trip from everyone traveling aboard Air Force One. And Thanksgiving-themed tweets were teed up to publish ahead of time from Trump’s account to prevent suspicions arising about the president’s silence.

A small group of reporters was told to meet Wednesday night on the top floor of a parking garage in Maryland and was transported in black vans to Andrews Air Force Base. Nobody would confirm where he was going. The only guidance: Dress casually and warmly. Meanwhile, the president was secretly flying back from Florida, where reporters had been told he’d be spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago club.

The plane he’d flown to Florida — the modified 747 painted in the iconic white and blue of Air Force One — remained parked on the tarmac at the West Palm Beach airport to avoid revealing the president’s movement.

About 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, the president boarded a nearly identical plane concealed in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base, taking off and landing under the cover of darkness, with cabin lights dimmed and window shutters drawn.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said plans for the visit had been in the works for weeks.

“It’s a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham told reporters before Trump landed. “He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there’s a lot of people who are away from their families during the holidays, and we thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

The president told the troops he was honored to spend part of his holiday with them.

“There is nowhere I’d rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth,” Trump said.

New York Times: Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance

By Dave Philipps, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper | Nov. 30, 2019

He was limp and dusty from an explosion, conscious but barely. A far cry from the fierce, masked Islamic State fighters who once seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, the captive was a scraggly teenager in a tank top with limbs so thin that his watch slid easily off his wrist.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher and other Navy SEALs gave the young captive medical aid that day in Iraq in 2017, sedating him and cutting an airway in his throat to help him breathe. Then, without warning, according to colleagues, Chief Gallagher pulled a small hunting knife from a sheath and stabbed the sedated captive in the neck.

The same Chief Gallagher who later posed for a photograph holding the dead captive up by the hair has now been celebrated on the campaign trail by President Trump, who upended the military code of justice to protect him from the punishment resulting from the episode. Prodded by Fox News, Mr. Trump has made Chief Gallagher a cause célèbre, trumpeting him as an argument for his re-election.

The violent encounter in a faraway land opened a two-year affair that would pit a Pentagon hierarchy wedded to longstanding rules of combat and discipline against a commander in chief with no experience in uniform but a finely honed sense of grievance against authority. The highest ranks in the Navy insisted Chief Gallagher be held accountable. Mr. Trump overruled the chain of command and the secretary of the Navy was fired.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.

“We’re going to take care of our warriors and I will always stick up for our great fighters,” Mr. Trump told a rally in Florida as he depicted the military hierarchy as part of “the deep state” he vowed to dismantle. “People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain, but you know what? It doesn’t matter to me whatsoever.”

The president’s handling of the case has distressed active-duty and retired officers and the civilians who work closely with them. Mr. Trump’s intervention, they said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

“He’s interfering with the chain of command, which is trying to police its own ranks,” said Peter D. Feaver, a specialist on civilian-military relations at Duke University and former aide to President George W. Bush. “They’re trying to clean up their act and in the middle of it the president parachutes in — and not from information from his own commanders but from news talking heads who are clearly gaming the system.”

Chris Shumake, a former sniper who served in Chief Gallagher’s platoon, said in an interview that he was troubled by the impact the president’s intervention could have on the SEALs.

“It’s blown up bigger than any of us could have ever expected, and turned into a national clown show that put a bad light on the teams,” said Mr. Shumake, speaking publicly for the first time. “He’s trying to show he has the troops’ backs, but he’s saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders to make the right decisions.”

Chief Gallagher, who has denied any wrongdoing, declined through his lawyer to be interviewed. Mr. Trump’s allies said the president was standing up to political correctness that hamstrings the warriors the nation asks to defend it, as if war should be fought according to lawyerly rules.

“From the beginning, this was overzealous prosecutors who were not giving the benefit of the doubt to the trigger-pullers,” Pete Hegseth, a weekend host of “Fox & Friends” who has promoted Chief Gallagher to the president both on the telephone and on air, said this past week. “That’s what the president saw.”

‘No One Touch Him. He’s Mine.’

Chief Gallagher, 40, a seasoned operator with a deeply weathered face from eight combat deployments, sometimes went by the nickname Blade. He sought out the toughest assignments, where gunfire and blood were almost guaranteed. Months before deploying, he sent a text to the SEAL master chief making assignments, saying he was “down to go” to any spot, no matter how awful, so long as “there is for sure action and work to be done.”

“We don’t care about living conditions,” he added. “We just want to kill as many people as possible.”

Before deployment, he commissioned a friend and former SEAL to make him a custom hunting knife and a hatchet, vowing in a text, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”

He was in charge of 22 men in SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon, which deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in early 2017. But his platoon was nowhere near the action, assigned an “advise and assist” mission supporting Iraqi commandos doing the block-by-block fighting. The SEALs were required to stay 1,000 meters behind the front lines.

That changed on May 6, 2017, when an Apache helicopter banked over a dusty patchwork of fields outside Mosul, fixed its sights on a farmhouse serving as an Islamic State command post and fired two Hellfire missiles reducing it to rubble.

Chief Gallagher saw the distant explosion from an armored gun truck. When he heard on the radio that Iraqi soldiers had captured an Islamic State fighter and took him to a nearby staging area, he raced to the scene. “No one touch him,” he radioed other SEALs. “He’s mine.”

‘Got Him With My Hunting Knife’

When the captive was killed, other SEALs were shocked. A medic inches from Chief Gallagher testified that he froze, unsure what to do. Some SEALs said in interviews that the stabbing immediately struck them as wrong, but because it was Chief Gallagher, the most experienced commando in the group, no one knew how to react. When senior platoon members confronted Chief Gallagher, they said, he told them, “Stop worrying about it; they do a lot worse to us.”

The officer in charge, Lt. Jacob Portier, who was in his first command, gathered everyone for trophy photos, then held a re-enlistment ceremony for Chief Gallagher over the corpse, several SEALs testified.

A week later, Chief Gallagher sent a friend in California a text with a photo of himself with a knife in one hand, holding the captive up by the hair with the other. “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife,” he wrote.

As the deployment wore on, SEALs said the chief’s behavior grew more erratic. He led a small team beyond the front lines, telling members to turn off locator beacons so they would not be caught by superiors, according to four SEALS, who confirmed video of the mission obtained by The New York Times. He then tried to cover up the mission when one platoon member was shot.

At various points, he appeared to be either amped up or zoned out; several SEALs told investigators they saw him taking pills, including the narcotic Tramadol. He spent much of his time scanning the streets of Mosul from hidden sniper nests, firing three or four times as often as the platoon’s snipers, sometimes targeting civilians.

One SEAL sniper told investigators he heard a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then saw a schoolgirl in a flower-print hijab crumple to the ground. Another sniper reported hearing a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then seeing a man carrying a water jug fall, a red blotch spreading on his back. Neither episode was investigated and the fate of the civilians remains unknown.

Chief Gallagher had been accused of misconduct before, including shooting through an Afghan girl to hit the man carrying her in 2010 and trying to run over a Navy police officer in 2014. But in both cases no wrongdoing was found.

SEALs said they reported concerns to Lieutenant Portier with no result. The lieutenant outranked Chief Gallagher but was younger and less experienced. SEALs said in interviews that the chief often yelled at his commanding officer or disregarded him altogether. After the deployment, Lieutenant Portier was charged with not reporting the chief for war crimes but charges were dropped. So SEALs said they started firing warning shots to keep pedestrians out of range. One SEAL told investigators he tried to damage the chief’s rifle to make it less accurate.

By the end of the deployment, SEALs said, Chief Gallagher was largely isolated from the rest of the platoon, with some privately calling him “el diablo,” or the devil.

A Fox Contributor’s Cause

Chief Gallagher was reported by six fellow SEALs and arrested in September 2018, charged with nearly a dozen counts including murder and locked in the brig in San Diego to await his trial. He denied the charges and called those reporting him liars who could not meet his high standards, referring to them repeatedly in public as “the mean girls” and saying they sought to get rid of him.

David Shaw, a former SEAL who deployed with the platoon, said he saw no evidence of that. “All six were some of the best performers in the platoon,” he said, speaking publicly for the first time. “These were guys were hand-selected by the chief based on their skills and abilities, and they are guys of the highest character.”

Chief Gallagher’s case was already simmering on the conservative talk show circuit when another service member, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged last winter with killing an unarmed man linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan. On Dec. 16, barely minutes after a segment on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump took to Twitter to say he would review the case, repeating language from the segment.

In the tweet, Mr. Trump included the handle of Mr. Hegseth, who speaks regularly with the president and has been considered for top jobs in the administration. An Army veteran, Mr. Hegseth served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading two conservative veterans organizations “committed to victory on the battlefield,” as the biography for his speaker’s bureau puts it.

Upset at what he sees as “Monday morning quarterbacking” of soldiers fighting a shadowy enemy where “second-guessing was deadly,” Mr. Hegseth has for years defended troops charged with war crimes, including Chief Gallagher, Major Golsteyn and Lt. Clint Lorance, often appealing directly to the president on Fox News.

“These are men who went into the most dangerous places on earth with a job to defend us and made tough calls on a moment’s notice,” Mr. Hegseth said on Fox in May. “They’re not war criminals, they’re warriors, who have now been accused of certain things that are under review.”

Mr. Hegseth found a ready ally in Mr. Trump, a graduate of a military high school who avoided serving in Vietnam by citing bone spurs in his foot. Mr. Trump has long sought to identify himself with the toughest of soldiers and loves boasting of battlefield exploits to the point that he made up details of an account of a “whimpering” Islamic State leader killed in October.

In March, the president twice called Richard V. Spencer, the Navy secretary, asking him to release Chief Gallagher from pretrial confinement in a Navy brig, Mr. Spencer later wrote in The Washington Post. After Mr. Spencer pushed back, Mr. Trump made it an order.

By May, Mr. Trump prepared to pardon both Chief Gallagher and Major Golsteyn for Memorial Day, even though neither had yet faced trial. At the Pentagon, a conservative bastion where Fox News is the network of choice on office televisions, senior officials were aghast. They persuaded Mr. Trump to hold off. But that was not the end of the matter.

In June, Chief Gallagher appeared before a military jury of five Marines and two sailors in a two-week trial marred by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. The medic who had been inches away from Chief Gallagher changed his story on the stand, claiming that he was the one who killed the captive.

In early July, the jury acquitted Chief Gallagher on all charges but one: posing for a trophy photo with a corpse. He was sentenced to the maximum four months in prison and demoted. Having already been confined awaiting trial, he walked out of the courtroom a free man.

“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “You have been through much together. Glad I could help!”

The President Intervenes

In the months afterward, Chief Gallagher was feted on conservative talk shows. Mr. Hegseth spoke privately with Mr. Trump about the case.

As it happened, the president shares a lawyer with Chief Gallagher — Marc Mukasey, a former prosecutor representing Mr. Trump in proceedings against his company. Mr. Mukasey said he never discussed Chief Gallagher with anyone in the administration. “I have been religious about keeping matters separate,” he said.

Another person with ties to Mr. Trump who worked on Chief Gallagher’s case was Bernard B. Kerik, a New York City police commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is now the president’s personal lawyer. Like Mr. Hegseth, Mr. Kerik repeatedly appeared on Fox News pleading Chief Gallagher’s case.

The much-investigated president saw shades of himself in the case — Chief Gallagher’s lawyers accused prosecutors of improprieties, a claim that advisers said resonated with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Spencer tried to head off further intervention. On Nov. 14, the Navy secretary sent a note to the president asking him not to get involved again. But Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, called to say Mr. Trump would order Chief Gallagher’s punishment reversed and his rank restored. In addition, he pardoned Major Golsteyn and Lieutenant Lorance.

“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Mr. Spencer wrote. “It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Mr. Spencer threatened to resign. The Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, also weighed in, arguing that the country’s standards of military justice protected American troops by setting those troops up as a standard around the world.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper took the complaints to the president. The Pentagon also sent an information packet to the White House describing the cases, including a primer on why there is a Uniform Code of Military Justice. Mr. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the president it was important to allow the process to go forward.

The Navy Secretary Fights and Loses

Caught in the middle was Rear Adm. Collin Green, who took command of the SEALs four days before Chief Gallagher was arrested. He made it a priority to restore what he called “good order and discipline” after a series of scandals, tightening grooming standards and banning unofficial patches with pirate flags, skulls, heads on pikes and other grim symbols used to denote rogue cliques, similar to motorcycle gangs.

For Admiral Green, the Gallagher case posed a challenge because after his acquittal, the chief regularly undermined the SEAL command, appearing without authorization on Fox News and insulting the admiral and other superiors on social media as “a bunch of morons.”

The admiral wanted to take Chief Gallagher’s Trident pin, casting him out of the force. He called both Mr. Spencer and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Michael Gilday, and said he understood the potential backlash from the White House, but in nearly all cases SEALs with criminal convictions had their Tridents taken.

Both Mr. Spencer and Admiral Gilday agreed the decision was his to make and said they would defend his call. Mr. Esper briefed Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on Nov. 19 and the next day the Navy established a review board of fellow enlisted SEALs to decide the question.

But a day later, an hour after the chief’s lawyer blasted the decision on Fox News, the president stepped in again. “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Three days later, Mr. Spencer was fired, faulted by Mr. Esper for not telling him about an effort to work out a deal with the White House to allow the Navy process to go forward.

In an interview with Mr. Hegseth this past week, Chief Gallagher thanked Mr. Trump for having his back. “He keeps stepping in and doing the right thing,” the chief said. “I want to let him know the rest of the SEAL community is not about this right now. They all respect the president.”

Associated Press: North Korea may deploy ‘super-large’ rocket launcher soon

By: Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press | 18 hours ago

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday the latest test-firing of its “super-large” multiple rocket launcher was a final review of the weapon’s combat application, a suggestion that the country is preparing to deploy the new weapons system soon.

South Korea’s military earlier said North Korea fired two projectiles, likely from the same “super-large” rocket launcher, on Thursday. It expressed “strong regret” over the launches and urged North Korea to stop escalating tensions.

On Friday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency confirmed the launches were made with the presence of leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials.

“The volley test-fire aimed to finally examine the combat application of the super-large multiple launch rocket system proved the military and technical superiority of the weapon system and its firm reliability,” KCNA said.

It said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the results of the test-firing.

Analyst Kim Dong-yub at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies said North Korea appears to be entering the stage of mass-producing and deploying the rocket launcher. He wrote on Facebook that the weapons system may already have been deployed.

Thursday’s firing was the fourth test-launch of the rocket launcher since August.

Some experts say the flight distance and trajectory of projectiles fired from the launcher show they are virtually missiles or missile-classed weapons. The projectiles fired Thursday flew about 380 kilometers (235 miles) at a maximum altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called the projectiles ballistic missiles.

North Korea has fired other new weapons in recent months in what some experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from the United States in stalled nuclear diplomacy while upgrading its military capabilities.

A U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear program in return for political and economic benefits remains largely stalemated since the February collapse of a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam.

Most of the North Korean weapons tested since the Vietnam summit were short-range. Attention is now on whether North Korea resumes nuclear and long-range missile tests if Trump fails to meet a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to offer new proposals to salvage the negotiations.

Trump considers North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests a major foreign policy win.

Military Times: This week in Congress: What is happening with military housing?

By: Leo Shane III | 7 hours ago

Problems with military housing will again be at the forefront of defense congressional conversations this week, even as the rest of Capitol Hill remains focused on the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

That work will resume on Wednesday. But the day before and after, lawmakers on the armed services committees will renew discussion about how tenant complaints and housing problems are handled following the scandals earlier this year surrounding shortfalls in how privatized military housing is overseen.

Lawmakers have pushed to put new military family protections in the annual defense authorization act, but that legislation has stalled in recent weeks amid partisan infighting. Leaders of both the Senate and House Armed Services committees are hopeful they have a negotiation breakthrough this week.

Opposite the Wednesday impeachment hearing, the Senate Armed Services committee will hold a comprehensive hearing on the issue of veteran and military suicide. That issue has gained additional attention in recent months after Department of Veterans Affairs estimates showed little improvement in prevention efforts over the last few years.

Tuesday, Dec. 3

· Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G50 Dirksen

· Military privatized housing

· Service officials will testify on improvements to private military housing and processes for tenant complaints.

· Senate Foreign Relations — 9:45 a.m. — 419 Dirksen

· Russia

· State Department officials will testify on U.S. policy towards Russia.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

· Senate Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 106 Dirksen Bldg.

· Ship/Submarine Maintenance

· Navy officials will testify on ship maintenance strategies.

· House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — 2172 Rayburn

· New START Treaty

· Former Joint Chiefs Chairman retired Adm. Michael Mullen and other outside officials will testify on the importance of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

· Senate Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 222 Russell

· Suicide Prevention

· DOD, VA and outside health experts will testify on suicide prevention programs for troops and veterans.

· Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — 419 Dirksen

· Lebanon/Iraq Protests

· State Department officials will testify on instability in the region and potential impact on U.S. national security.

Thursday, Dec. 5

· Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen

· National Defense Strategy

· John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, and other defense officials will discuss implementation of the national defense strategy.

· House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210

· VA Financial Management

· Department officials will testify on fiscal oversight issues related to the department.

· House Armed Services — 2 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn

· Military Health System

· Department health officials will testify on changes to the military health system.

· House Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 2212 Rayburn

· Military privatized housing

· Outside contractors will testify on issues with private military housing and processes for tenant complaints.

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