16 November, 2018 11:48

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Friday, November 16, 2018 which is Have a Party With Your Bear Day, National Button Day, International Day For Tolerance, and National Fast Food Day. Apologies for being out for a week, I was on my annual sojourn to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Veterans Day. If you’ve never travelled international with 3 toddlers, I don’t recommend you take it up if you don’t want constant anxiety and crying. (The kids, not you, although….)
This Weekend in Legion History:

  • Nov. 17, 1933: Through a National Executive Committee resolution, The American Legion formally opposes diplomatic recognition of the communist Soviet Union as the legal government of the people of Russia.
  • Nov. 18, 1945: At The American Legion National Convention in Chicago, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander Europe in World War II, and life member of The American Legion in Abilene, Kan., receives the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Service Medal.

This Day in History:

  • On November 16, 1532, Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer and conquistador, springs a trap on the Incan emperor, Atahualpa. With fewer than 200 men against several thousand, Pizarro lures Atahualpa to a feast in the emperor’s honor and then opens fire on the unarmed Incans. Pizarro’s men massacre the Incans and capture Atahualpa, forcing him to convert to Christianity before eventually killing him.
  • 1907: Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory collectively enter the United States as Oklahoma, the 46th state. Oklahoma, with a name derived from the Choctaw Indian words okla, meaning “people,” and humma, meaning “red,” has a history of human occupation dating back 15,000 years. The first Europeans to visit the region were Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and in the 18th century the Spanish and French struggled for control of the territory. The United States acquired Oklahoma from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Stripes: Pentagon fails first full audit after spending hundreds of millions of dollars

By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department announced Thursday that it has completed an agency-wide audit that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and was required more than 20 years ago by Congress. It failed.

“But we never expected to pass it,” Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon.

The audit has yet to be released and the Office of Inspector General’s report on its findings is expected to be completed Thursday, according to Pentagon officials.

Since the audit began in December 2017, Shanahan said the Pentagon has received preliminary findings and has been developing plans on how to take corrective actions based on them.

Some issues revealed by the audit include inventory accuracy and complying with cybersecurity discipline, Shanahan said.

The compliance issues found in the audit are “irritating,” he said. “Some of those things frustrated me because we have a job to do, we just need to follow our procedures.”

After Shanahan’s briefing with reporters, his spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino attempted to clarify the audit’s findings.

“The audit is not a ‘pass-fail’ process,” he wrote in an email. “We did not receive an “adverse” finding – the lowest possible category – in any area. We did receive findings of ‘disclaimer’ in multiple areas. Clearly more work lies ahead of us.”

Congress has required a Defense Department audit since the early the 1990s, but the federal government’s largest agency had never fully undertaken one. The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act required the department to be ready for an audit by 2017.

The Pentagon’s Chief Financial Officer David Norquist told the House Armed Services Committee in January that the audit would cost $367 million and an estimated 1,200 auditors were to look into the count, location and condition of military equipment, real property and inventory. The audit examined security vulnerabilities in the Pentagon’s business systems, validated the accuracy of personnel records such as promotions and assessed whether the department’s books and records present a true and accurate picture of financial health, he said.

The audit was “on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial,” Shanahan said.

NY Post: Homeless vet, couple allegedly made up story for GoFundMe scam
By Ben Feuerherd
The New Jersey couple who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a viral charity campaign for a homeless man were allegedly working with the vagrant as part of an elaborate ruse, according to a new report.
Prosecutors believe that Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure conspired with homeless man Johnny Bobbitt to create their get-rich-quick scheme in 2017, NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate reported Wednesday.
The couple turned themselves in to authorities Wednesday, but Bobbitt was still at large, the news station said.
According a source who spoke to the news outlet, which said it had a copy of a criminal complaint, all three are expected to face charges of conspiracy and theft by deception for working together to create the ruse. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office is expected to make an announcement in the case Thursday, according to multiple reports.
Prosecutors did not immediately return a call for comment, and reps for the couple and Bobbitt were not available.
McClure, 28, and D’Amico, 39, created a GoFundMe page in November 2017, claiming homeless drug addict Bobbitt spent his last $20 to fill up McClure’s empty gas tank after her car broke down on I-95 near Philadelphia.
The charity campaign exploded, raising tens of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting donors in a matter of days — and ultimately shooting up to more than $400,000.
“It has changed my entire outlook about people, my outlook about people has skyrocketed,” McClure said of the donations at the time.
Their plan began to unravel in August of this year, when Bobbitt sued the couple, claiming they were withholding funds raised on the GoFundMe from him.
McClure and D’Amico, both of Florence Township, NJ, accused Bobbitt of being on drugs and refused to pay him until he was clean.
In September, a lawyer for the couple announced that he expected they would both be indicted for their role in the scam — but it was not known that all three of them were suspected in the plot until Wednesday.

Military Times: National Guard soldier arrested, charged with smuggling Mexican nationals into US
By: J.D. Simkins 15 hours ago
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As migration-related news coverage continues to center around U.S. troops deploying to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of the migrant caravan’s long-awaited arrival, one service member has reportedly gone against the security grain by smuggling Mexican migrants into the United States.
California National Guardsman Pfc. Edward Jair Acosta-Avila was arrested Nov. 10 when his car was stopped near San Diego, California, about two miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, USA Today reported.
After pulling over Acosta-Avila’s Honda Accord, Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended five individuals, including three undocumented Mexican nationals who were discovered hiding under a blanket in the back seat.
Acosta-Avila, along with one other passenger who was identified as U.S. citizen, has been charged in federal court with human trafficking
The Guardsman, who was reportedly awaiting discharge for being absent without leave, told authorities he and the co-defendant planned to split a payment of $400 for shuttling the three men into the U.S.
The Mexican nationals told officials they “made smuggling arrangements and agreed to pay between $6,000 and $7,000 each to be smuggled into the United States,” the report said.
For now, the three men will be detained to serve as witnesses in the case, Fox 5 San Diego reported. They will later face the standard deportation process.
Acosta-Avila was reportedly not part of the U.S. border security mission, one in which an estimated 7,000 troops are expected to deploy in support of at various locations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Stripes: Two Navy SEALs, two Marines charged in Green Beret’s death in Mali

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – Military prosecutors levied a slew of charges including murder against four U.S. special operators who they accused of strangling to death a Green Beret last year while they were on a deployment in West Africa.

Two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders face several charges including felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary in the June 2017 death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in Bamako, Mali, according to military charging documents released Thursday.

The names of the individuals charged in the Special Forces soldier’s death were redacted in those documents. They were identified only as a Marine gunnery sergeant and staff sergeant assigned to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and two Navy chief petty officers assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team 6. The Marines were based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and the SEALs in Virginia Beach.

The charges were approved Wednesday by Rear Adm. Charles Rock, the commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, following the completion of an investigation into Melgar’s death, according to the Navy. The four are scheduled to appear in court for an Article 32 preliminary hearing on Dec. 10.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service recently completed the investigation and turned it over to Rock, said Adam Stump, a spokesman for NCIS. He declined to provide additional information Thursday about the investigation that took more than one year to complete.
The charging documents provide the most detailed account to date about the alleged killing of Melgar, an incident Pentagon officials have long declined to discuss on the record other than to acknowledge the soldier’s death.

Melgar and the four accused servicemembers were assigned to a secretive special operations team operating out of Mali’s capital to help French and Malian troops target terrorist cells aligned with al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

The four servicemembers charged in the case stand accused of retrieving duct tape from a Marine quarters building before driving to the quarters shared by Navy and Army troops where they are alleged to have broken into Melgar’s bedroom while he was asleep, physically restrained him, bound him with the duct tape and strangled him to death with a chokehold.

They are also accused of conspiring to cover up Melgar’s death. The four servicemembers are accused of performing a medical procedure on the soldier’s throat to hide evidence of his fatal injuries, according to the charging documents. They also are accused of making false statements to their commanders and, later, to military investigators from the Army and Navy.

The gunnery sergeant is accused of telling Army Criminal Investigation Command officials that Melgar and another individual mutually initiated a wrestling match in Melgar’s room during which he was accidentally killed, a claim described in the charging documents as “totally false.”

The account of the Marines’ lie matches with past reporting by the New York Times, which identified the two SEALs as Petty Officer 1st Class Tony DeDolph and Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews. The Times, citing a leaked Army preliminary investigation document, reported it was DeDolph, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter, who choked Melgar to death.

Last November, the Times and the Daily Beast reported Melgar might have learned the SEALs were involved in a money-skimming scheme. The charging documents released Thursday make no allegation the accused servicemembers were involved in any thefts.

Army Times: A female soldier has made it through the Army’s Special Forces selection
By: Meghann Myers 1 day ago
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For the first time since the Army opened its special operations jobs to women in 2016, a female soldier has completed the initial Special Forces Assessment and Selection process, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command has confirmed to Army Times.
Several women have attempted the 24-day program, part of the Special Forces Qualification Course, since then, but none have made it to the next round.
“Recently, a female successfully completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection and was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course," Lt. Col. Loren Bymer told Army Times. ”We’re proud of all the candidates who attended and were selected to continue into the qualification course in hopes of earning their Green Beret."
USASOC declined to provide the soldier’s rank or her current military occupational specialty.
“It is our policy to not release the names of our service members because Special Forces soldiers perform discrete missions upon graduation,” Bymer said.
In general, Special Forces candidates take a break from training after SFAS before moving on to the next step of the Q course. Captains might attend their designated career course, while specialists would attend the Basic Leader Course, in anticipation of a promotion to sergeant upon completing qualification.
The Q course consists of four phases and lasts about a year at least, but can take almost two years depending on a soldier’s specialty and assigned foreign language.
The Green Berets are one of the last Army communities not to have female soldiers assigned. Since the combat exemption lifted, hundreds of women have joined the infantry community, several have been assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, and more than a dozen have earned the Ranger tab.

Defense News: Here’s what the Pentagon thinks the actual cost of a Space Force will be
By:Aaron Mehta andValerie Insinna 18 hours ago
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WASHINGTON — Since a U.S. Air Force estimate emerged in September, putting the cost of President Donald Trump’s desired Space Force at $13 billion, Pentagon officials have been pledging that the “official” cost estimate from the department will be much smaller.
Now we know by how much.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said his team’s initial estimate for the Space Force will be in the “single digits” of billions of dollars, and “could be” lower than $5 billion.
The difference in cost is significant, not just for the dollar value but as part of the broader fight over the future of the Pentagon’s space architecture.
The $13 billion figure sent waves of sticker shock through the defense community and led to accusations that the Air Force — which has been reluctant to embrace the idea of a Space Force — was hyping up costs to kill the idea.
During the Defense One conference on Thursday, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson was asked about Shanahan’s estimate and pointedly defended the figure put forward by the Air Force, saying that the $13 billion sum is needed to realize the scope of Trump’s direction to the Pentagon.
“Whatever is put forward needs to implement the president’s proposal. What we put forward was in the cost estimates to implement a standalone department," she said.
"The president is going to be making some decisions to put forward a proposal in concert with his fiscal year 20 budget proposal that will go to the Congress in February. So the cost will be really based on what are the elements in the model in that proposal, and our cost estimate that we gave to a lot of people in the Pentagon is September was the cost of a fully fledged standalone department and also a unified combatant command.”
In an exclusive interview with Defense News last month, Shanahan pledged that his cost would be “less” than the Air Force figure.
“The goal here is not to create a lot of incremental cost,” he had said. "In this department, you know with this secretary and this Congress, people in the White House, they’re not going to let us just go throw money at that.”

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