22 November, 2019 08:07

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Friday, November 22, 2019 which is Go For a Ride Day, National Stop the Violence Day, Humane Society Anniversary Day, and Start Your Own Country Day.
Today/This Weekend in Legion History:

  • Nov. 22, 1963: Immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, World War II U.S. Navy veteran Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president of the United States. A member of Memorial Highway American Legion Post 352 in Blanco, Texas, Johnson was a seated member of Congress on June 21, 1940, when he was appointed to serve as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Three days after Pearl Harbor, he was called to active duty and later served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific Theater, where he received the Silver Star. As president, Johnson would be commander-in-chief through the tumultuous early years of the Vietnam War.
  • Nov. 23, 1934: American Legion Past National Commander James Drain is appointed to serve both as the organization’s national treasurer and as national judge advocate at the same time.
  • Nov. 24, 1968: The American Legion joins forces with Indiana high school basketball coach Sam Wiley in the development and promotion of National Family Week, an effort adopted by multiple community and faith organizations to strengthen the American family at a time of increasing divorce rates.

Today in History:

  • 1963: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible.
  • 1718: Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, is killed off North Carolina’s Outer Banks during a bloody battle with a British navy force sent from Virginia. Believed to be a native of England, Edward Teach likely began his pirating career in 1713, when he became a crewman aboard a Caribbean sloop commanded by pirate Benjamin Hornigold. In 1717, after Hornigold accepted an offer of general amnesty by the British crown and retired as a pirate, Teach took over a captured 26-gun French merchantman, increased its armament to 40 guns, and renamed it the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Military Times: Congress passes deal to avert Thanksgiving government shutdown, but December shutdown looms

By: Leo Shane III and Joe Gould   17 hours ago
Senate lawmakers on Thursday took another step toward erasing the threat of a government shutdown over the Thanksgiving holiday by passing a four-week budget extension, raising the possibility of a Christmas shutdown instead.
The move came over continued objections from some defense lawmakers who warned the short-term budget deals jeopardize military planning by keeping Pentagon funding stuck at last fiscal year’s levels and adding future uncertainty into long-range procurement plans.
But House lawmakers advanced the deal by a 231-192 vote on Wednesday and the Senate by a 74-20 vote a day later, noting that without the one-month reprieve federal workers would have faced furloughs and program halts starting Friday morning.
President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the measure into law later in the day, meaning the new budget extension would run out on Dec. 20.
This is the second extension passed by Congress since the days leading up to the new fiscal year (Oct. 1) even though congressional Democrats and Republicans reached a deal on spending plans for fiscal 2020 over the summer.
In July, both chambers agreed to the outline of a two-year, $2.7 trillion budget plan with $738 billion in military funding for fiscal 2020, about a 3 percent raise from last year’s defense spending levels.
But since that funding breakthrough, negotiations between the two parties and two chambers have been stalled over details.
In particular, Democrats have sought to place limits on President Donald Trump’s ability to shift military construction funds into his controversial southern border wall construction project. Republicans have insisted on leaving that language out of any budget plan.
That same fight prompted a 34-day partial federal shutdown at the start of the year, one which caused missed paychecks for members of the Coast Guard and numerous other federal employees. The Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs were not among the agencies caught in that confrontation.
Thursday’s vote gives lawmakers a few more weeks in this session of Congress to try and find a compromise on the fiscal fights, or opt for a full-year extension of fiscal 2019 spending levels.
On Wednesday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby said talks between lawmakers and the White House, “keep improving … but we haven’t gotten there quite yet.”
Earlier this week, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee warned that move could be debilitating for the armed forces, potentially cutting $3.8 billion in anticipated funding for military personnel programs and almost $13 billion in anticipated funding for military readiness accounts.
“These stop-gap measures do more than just waste taxpayer dollars, they deny our troops and the country tangible resources needed to keep America safe,” the group said in a statement. “A year-long CR would essentially cut billions from what senior commanders and national security leaders have testified is required to keep our country safe.”
Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist echoed that message later in the week, saying the Pentagon is effectively barred from starting new acquisition programs or buying more ammunition, replacement parts, or anything else than it did the year before.

Stripes: US, allies’ military successes drove down terrorism deaths almost everywhere except Afghanistan, report says
By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: November 21, 2019
KABUL, Afghanistan — Military successes by the U.S. and its allies against terrorist groups helped drive down global deaths from terrorism in 2018 for the fourth consecutive year, a report released this week said.
But even as terrorism deaths declined in most countries, they soared in Afghanistan, despite the U.S. launching peace talks with the Taliban that year to try to end decades of war in the country.
Terrorism deaths in Afghanistan soared by nearly 60% to more than 7,300 in 2018, with most of those casualties blamed on the Taliban, which overtook the Islamic State group to become the deadliest terrorist organization in the world, said the Global Terrorism Index 2019 report released Wednesday.
The Taliban killed 6,000 people last year in Afghanistan, said the report, issued by Australia’s Institute for Economics and Peace think tank.
At the same time, military successes against ISIS caused it to sharply lose ground in Iraq and Syria, said the report, which has been compiled annually since 2013.
U.S. airstrikes in Somalia also led to a decline in terrorism deaths there and a 24% fall in attacks by the al-Shabab terror group, the report said.
As ISIS buckled under military pressure, terrorism deaths in Iraq fell by 75% in 2018, the report said.
For the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was “no longer the country most impacted by terrorism,” the report said. Afghanistan has taken over the top spot that no country wants.
Because of the increase in deaths from terrorism in Afghanistan in 2018, South Asia recorded more terror-related deaths than any other global region for the first time since 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the second-highest number of deaths from terrorism, overtaking the Middle East and North Africa for the first time since 2014.
Six of the 13 terror groups or movements that were responsible for more than 100 deaths in 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.
Terrorism’s economic impact was also on the decline in 2018, falling 38% from its 2017 level to $33 billion, according to the report.

The Hill: Pentagon denies report that US mulling withdrawal of 4,000 troops from South Korea

By Ellen Mitchell – 11/21/19 12:27 PM EST 142

The Pentagon is pushing back against a South Korean news report that said it is considering withdrawing up to 4,000 troops from the country if Seoul does not increase its contribution to maintain U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reportedThursday that top U.S. military leaders had discussed withdrawing a brigade from the area if defense cost negotiations do not go well, citing a “diplomatic source in Washington.” A brigade usually consists of 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers.
But top Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said there was “absolutely no truth to the Chosun Ilbo report,” and demanded the paper pull the story.
“[Defense Secretary Mark Esper] was in South Korea this past week where he repeatedly reiterated our ironclad commitment to the [Republic of Korea] and its people,” Hoffman said in a statement. “News stories such as this expose the dangerous and irresponsible flaws of single anonymous source reporting. We are demanding the Chosun Ilbo immediately retract their story."
The report follows the breakdown of talks between the U.S. and South Korea after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on how much Seoul should contribute for the 28,500-strong U.S. military presence in the country.
The United States reportedly demanded that South Korea raise its annual contribution to $5 billion, more than five times what it currently pays.
South Korea in 2019 spent just under $1 billion on the upkeep of U.S. forces on the peninsula. U.S. troops have been based there for nearly 70 years — since the end of the 1950-1953 war between the North and South — and are meant to deter Pyongyang from attack as well as monitor the region.
Earlier this week, Esper said America was not threatening a U.S. troop withdrawal if South Korea doesn’t substantially increase its payments.
“We’re not threatening allies over this. This is a negotiation,” he told reporters traveling with him in Vietnam.
President Trump has long complained that South Korea does not pay enough and at times has suggested pulling all U.S. troops from the area.

Military.com: CO of Marines’ Wounded Warrior Regiment Fired Amid Loss of Confidence

21 Nov 2019
Military.com | By Hope Hodge Seck
The colonel in charge of the Marine Corps‘ unit supporting wounded, ill and injured warriors has been removed from his post, officials announced Thursday.
Col. Lawrence "Larry" Miller, commanding officer of Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, Virginia, was relieved by Lt. Gen. Michael Rocco, deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, M&RA officials said in a release. The relief was due to Rocco’s loss of trust and confidence in Miller’s ability to command, according to the announcement.
Miller had been commander of the regiment since March 2017. He has been temporarily assigned to the staff of Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico, officials said. Lt. Col. Larry Coleman, the regiment’s executive officer, is set to serve as interim commander.
According to his official biography, Miller was commissioned in 1990 as an infantry officer and served in Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Prior to taking his post at Wounded Warrior Regiment, Miller served as the branch head for the Manpower Management Integration Branch at Quantico, then as executive assistant to the deputy commandant of Manpower and Reserve Affairs. His awards include two Bronze Stars, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.
This is the second leadership upheaval in two years within Wounded Warrior Regiment. In 2018, Lt. Col. Chris Hrudka, the commanding officer of Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was removed from his job along with two civilian staff members following an investigation into how donated funds were managed.
It’s not the first time that leadership at the top of Wounded Warrior Regiment, founded in 2007, has been ousted either. In 2015, Col. Todd Shane "Rhino" Tomko, then commander of the regiment, was fired. He’d later go to court-martial on a number of charges, including drunk driving and sending inappropriate and sexual text messages to a female subordinate.
While the population of combat-wounded troops at Wounded Warrior Regiment has dwindled as fewer deploy to combat zones, Marine Corps officials have said they plan to keep the unit active to care for and support troops facing injury and illness.