29 October, 2018 11:01

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, October 29, 2018 which is National Cat Day, National Hermit Day, National Oatmeal Day and International Internet Day.

This Day in Legion History:

· Oct. 29, 1942: Congress approves a change in The American Legion’s federal charter that will make eligible for membership World War II personnel and honorably discharged veterans who served in the U.S. military beginning Dec. 7, 1941.

This Day in History:

· 1998: Nearly four decades after he became the first American to orbit the Earth, Senator John Hershel Glenn, Jr., is launched into space again as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At 77 years of age, Glenn was the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.

· 1929: Black Tuesday hits Wall Street as investors trade 16,410,030 shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors, and stock tickers ran hours behind because the machinery could not handle the tremendous volume of trading. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression.

· 1971: The total number of U.S. troops remaining in Vietnam drops to 196,700–the lowest level since January 1966. This was a result of the Vietnamization program announced by President Richard Nixon at the June 1969 Midway Conference. U.S. troops were to be withdrawn as the South Vietnamese assumed more responsibility for the war. The first withdrawal included troops from the 9th Infantry Division, who departed in August 1969. The withdrawals continued steadily, and by January 1972 there were less than 75,000 U.S. troops remaining in South Vietnam.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Defense News: It’s official: DoD told to take cut with FY20 budget

· Military Times: The military’s obsession with energy drinks is contributing to PTSD, study finds

· Air Force Times: Not one of the 104 civilian casualty reports in Syria investigated in September was credible, coalition says

· Military Times: Iceland’s bars ran out of beer trying to serve drunk US sailors and Marines

· Boston Globe: Natick armory dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient from South Boston

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Defense News: It’s official: DoD told to take cut with FY20 budget

By: Aaron Mehta   2 days ago

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ASHINGTON — The Pentagon has officially been told the national security top line for fiscal 2020 will be $700 billion, representing the first cut to defense spending under the Trump administration.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Military Reporters & Editors Conference on Friday that Office of Management and Budget head Mick Mulvaney directly told him the Department of Defense must aim for the $700 billion figure, first floated by President Donald Trump at a Cabinet meeting last week.

Notably, Shanahan indicated this will not be a one-year blip, but rather part of a flattening of budgets, saying “when you look at the $700 billion, it’s not just for one year drop down, [or] a phase, it’s a drop and then held constant over the” future years defense program, a five year projection included in every budget.

Asked whether this impacts the department’s plan to shift roughly $50 billion from the Overseas Contingency Operations wartime funding account into the base budget, Shanahan said that no decision has been made. Critics of OCO have argued the DoD pushes items that should be in the base budget into the wartime fund in order to circumvent the sequestration-related budget caps.

The change comes with just weeks left in the DoD’s budget planning process, where the department had been working under the assumption it would have a $733 billion budget top line.

The $700 billion figure represents a roughly 2.2 percent cut below the FY19 level of $716 billion, and a 4.5 percent cut below the projected $733 billion for FY20. However, the new figure still exceeds the $576 billion budget caps for discretionary defense spending, set under the Budget Control Act for fiscal 2020.

In years past, easing those caps have required intense bipartisan negotiations, though if the new number holds, budget hawks and the Pentagon would have less to show for them than last year.

As a result of the last-minute change, Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist is now developing two parallel budget documents, one still working to the $733 billion figure and one working to the $700 billion figure, to illustrate for Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis the potential “trade-offs.”

“Imagine we’ve been going through this very disciplined process for the whole year to build a budget that’s $733 billion, and then last week we’re told to build a $700 billion budget. We are not going to reverse course on all that planning, but we will build two budgets,” Shanahan said.

Under the budget change, expect modernization to take a hit.

“The way I would think a about those two budgets and the approach, there are certain things that you can’t change. There are just near-term costs that we’re going to spend in the next year that are on contract, and for all intents and purposes are fixed. Then there are other investments we would make in science and technology and procurement, where we have [options] in terms of timing.”

As an example, Shanahan pointed to the number of hypersonic weapon systems in development, noting some of those may be delayed as one way to save investment funding — despite the systems being a priority for the department.

“It comes down to a judgment call, how fast do we modernize? And that’s probably the biggest knob that we have to turn,” he said.

Asked whether that means a trade-off between capability and capacity, Shanahan tried to thread the needle, saying, “In this budget, quantity is very important,” before pointing out part of his mission is to improve the systems already in hand.

“We’re looking at taking from the assets we already have and getting more,” Shanahan said, noting as a example that the department is “very committed to getting more F-18s flying.”

However, Shanahan indicated that the development of a Space Force and its associated offices will still be part of the budget request.

The news drew a measured reaction from the fiscally conservative think tank FreedomWorks, whose president Adam Brandon said the organization was “cautiously optimistic,” since Congress would still have to approve the request.

“There’s a possibility Congress continues to boost defense spending or uses off-budget slush funds like Overseas Contingency Operations to further increase the Pentagon’s budget,” Brandon said. “The greatest existential threat to the United States is still our massive debt. By being responsible now and balancing the budget we can ensure the long-term ability to defend our nation.”

But the hawkishly conservative Heritage Foundation blasted the move as, “political games or lack of leadership” and questioned Trump’s commitment to “making the military great again.” Retired Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, director of its Center for National Defense, said this demonstrates “the United States does not possess that same seriousness” in military investments as its enemies, “even as we enter a new era of great-power competition.”

Despite defense increases to $700 billion in FY18 and $716 billion in FY19, Spoehr said budget caps, an excessive reliance on OCO, “and the department’s acceptance of stagnant budget growth are all preventing the military from regaining the strength it needs to defend the nation.”

“Rebuilding our military will take years and require sustained commitment," Spoehr said in a statement. "If Pres. Trump is truly devoted to ‘making the military great again,’ he needs to lead on this issue and work with Congress to ensure we maintain that positive trajectory, and ensure our role as the world’s leading superpower for decades to come.”

Military Times: The military’s obsession with energy drinks is contributing to PTSD, study finds

By: J.D. Simkins  2 days ago

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Getting adequate sleep is increasingly rare among the active duty military population, as frequent deviations from the body’s natural circadian rhythms due to a demanding operational tempo pit personnel in an ongoing struggle against the ever-persistent sandman.

To combat the sleep deprivation unique to this demographic, service members often turn to energy drinks, a prominent component of combat deployments that has become as paramount to mission success as any piece of protective gear or weaponry.

The prevalence of energy drink use in these settings is extraordinary. The life blood is virtually everywhere — and tends to cost nothing — resulting in an environment in which nearly half of deployed troops down at least one readily available crack can per day.

But while consuming these drinks may not hurt service members in their wallets, excessive use may very well be contributing to long-term mental and physical ailments, a recent study in the Military Medicine journal observed.

The authors of the study surveyed over 600 male infantry soldiers during a post-deployment period after the brigade combat team returned from a 12-month combat deployment to Afghanistan. Questions were designed to examine the association of energy drink use with sleep deprivation or insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, aggressive behaviors and fatigue.

What the authors found was that over the course of the month leading up to the survey, more than 75 percent of soldiers consumed energy drinks. More surprising, however, was that 16 percent “of soldiers in this study reported continuing to consume two or more energy drinks per day in the post-deployment period," the authors wrote.

High energy drink use, which was classified as consuming two or more drinks per day, was significantly associated with those survey respondents who reported mental health problems, anger-related behaviors and fatigue, the authors found.

Those consuming less than one energy drink per week reported these symptoms at a significantly lower rate.

Also of note is that energy drink use in this Army infantry sample was five times higher than previous studies that analyzed consuming patterns of airmen and the general population’s youth.

Troubling patterns like this come as no surprise with the understanding of energy drink availability during deployments, a setting where drinks like Rip Its are practically the beverage of choice. Like other energy drinks, a Rip It, often referred to overseas as “crack,” provides the immediate jolt service members look for to spike physical and cognitive performance.

More than a few pallets of Rip Its have mysteriously been acquired over the years by troops — “gear adrift…” — outside chow halls in Iraq and Afghanistan, oversupplying service members to the point in which many engage in excessively caffeinated drinking competitions.

Just ask Shane Snell. The results of such games aren’t pretty.

As with any substance that increases health risk, “it is important that [service members] understand the risks associated with overuse,” the authors say. “The message that moderation is critical needs to be conveyed.”

While moderation may be key, educating troops about consuming in excess is a daunting task.

The energy drink industry pulls in approximately $21 billion annually in the U.S. alone, and with much of the industry’s advertisements targeting young men in particular, the military population is “especially prone,” the authors note.

“But it’s got what plants crave — it’s got electrolytes,” you might be saying to yourself.

Stop and put down the Brawndo.

Air Force Times: Not one of the 104 civilian casualty reports in Syria investigated in September was credible, coalition says

By: Kyle Rempfer  2 days ago

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Officials with the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State found none of the civilian casualty reports assessed in September to be credible, according to a monthly report released this week.

“Out of the 104 completed casualty reports, none of the reports were determined to be credible and resulted in zero unintentional civilian deaths,” according to Operation Inherent Resolve’s statement accompanying the report.

Many of the civilian casualty reports that were assessed were submitted by Airwars, a London-based nonprofit that tracks and archives airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

“Airwars continues to engage constructively with the coalition’s own civilian harm monitoring team — and has been encouraged, for example, by some recent improvements in OIR data sharing with us,” Chris Woods, who leads Airwars, told Air Force Times.

That said, the latest coalition monthly casualty report raised concerns, Wood said.

“For the first time that we can recall [since December 2016] the U.S.-led coalition has given itself a clean bill of health on every one of the allegations assessed this month — all 104 of them — and in addition boasts of ‘zero unintentional civilian deaths,’” Woods said.

“In the view of Airwars,” he added, “that claim of no civilian harm speaks to systemic flaws in OIR’s casualty monitoring — and the notorious unwillingness of the coalition’s Syrian ground partners, the SDF, to concede any civilian harm from their own actions.”

Inherent Resolve has been waging a bombing campaign to back up Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. advisers on the ground since 2014.

The air-ground campaign has liberated nearly 8 million Iraqis and Syrians from ISIS authority and reduced its control of territory to approximately 1 percent of what it previously held, according to Inherent Resolve.

The coalition conducted more than 30,000 strikes between August 2014 and the end of September this year, and has determined that at least 1,114 civilians have been unintentionally killed as a result.

“We continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure,” coalition officials wrote in their report. “This process includes thorough review and vetting of each target package prior to a strike, and another review after that strike.”

“As we have demonstrated, we are willing to consider new civilian casualty allegations as well as new or compelling evidence on past allegations,” the officials added.

Inherent Resolve releases strike reports on a weekly basis, in addition to the monthly civilian casualty reports, all of which are publicly available.

In the month of September, Inherent Resolve carried over 310 open reports from previous months and received one new report. The coalition completed the investigations for the 104 reports found to be not credible, they said.

A total of 207 reports are still open.

The Inherent Resolve coalition is currently assisting its Syrian partners through a bitter battle in the middle Euphrates River valley to uproot the final remnants of ISIS along the Syrian-Iraq border. That final push is called called Operation Roundup.

“We would hope the coalition [would] look at why its own estimates remain so out of step with credible reports from Syrians themselves on the ground," Woods said.

Military Times: Iceland’s bars ran out of beer trying to serve drunk US sailors and Marines

By: J.D. Simkins  1 day ago

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Founding Father and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, once quipped, “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

The military never got that memo.

A national crisis hit Iceland this week when a force of 7,000 American sailors and Marines who know nothing about the third president’s propensity for alcoholic self-restraint invaded the country’s capital city of Reykjavík, flexed an unquenchable thirst for frosty suds and swiftly drained much of the city’s beer supply.

Upon arrival, sailors and Marines taking part in NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise wasted no time getting wasted, Iceland Magazine reported, with most making a beeline straight from the ship to the closest bar to locate, close with and destroy beers.

Bar owners tried to accommodate the onslaught of American patrons, but “they were fighting an overwhelming force,” said local blogger, Eiríkur Jónsson.

Give me your tired, your thirsty, your huddled masses yearning to drink beer.

Wave after wave of dehydrated sailors and Marines strolled into town, filling local establishments for four days straight in search of that old, familiar embrace of sweet inebriation.

One restaurant, Sæta Svínið — good luck pronouncing that — was one of the first to run out of beer. Bar owners tried borrowing from other businesses that were better stocked, but the Americans were too many.

As other bars quickly began drying up, owners who said they had never experienced such an alcoholic assault put out a beer distress signal.

One of Iceland’s local breweries, Ölgerð Egils Skallagrímssonar, answered the call and immediately began working overtime to distribute emergency beer shipments that could furnish the parched Americans with sustenance.

When the ships finally departed Reykjavík, the city with a population of about 120,000 in a country with just under 340,000 was finally able to breathe.

Iceland had survived the assault, the Americans had drank their fill and there have yet to be any reports of overindulgent debauchery — a true success story.

More on Trident Juncture:

· NATO’s biggest military exercise since the Cold War

· Over 40,000 military personnel

· 31 participating nations

· More than 150 aircraft

· 70 ships

· 10,000 vehicles.

Boston Globe: Natick armory dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient from South Boston

By Emily Sweeney Globe Staff October 26, 2018

NATICK — One fateful October day a century ago during World War I, Private First Class Michael J. Perkins crawled up to a nest of enemy machine gunners that were throwing grenades at his platoon and waited for just the right moment. When the Germans opened the door, he tossed a bomb inside. Then forced his way in and attacked the machine gun crews, and single-handedly forced them to surrender.

The courage that the South Boston war hero displayed on the battlefield was recalled Friday morning, when the Massachusetts National Guard dedicated its armory on Speen Street in his honor.

Among those in attendance at Friday’s dedication ceremony were Gary W. Keefe, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard; state Representative David Linsky; Colonel Brett Conaway, the brigade commander for the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; as well as Perkins’s nephew and grand-niece.

“His story is the stuff of legends,” Conaway said.

Born in South Boston in 1892, Perkins was a member of the Company D, 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Yankee Division when he was killed in action on Oct. 27, 1918.

Perkins’s nephew, James Barry, 84, said he grew up hearing about his uncle’s heroic acts on the battlefield, and was happy to see his uncle still remembered after all of these years.

“I kind of thought [his story] might have been” forgotten, Barry said. “But it wasn’t. Apparently it wasn’t.”

When Conaway spoke at the ceremony, he told the audience about the events that unfolded in France on that fateful day in October, and how Perkins bravely took on the machine gunners by himself.

Conaway said Perkins “voluntarily and alone” crawled up a hill to a German “pillbox” machine gun emplacement. After throwing the bomb inside the pillbox, he pulled out his trench knife and rushed inside, and fought off the machine gun crews. He killed or wounded several of them, and took about 25 of them as prisoners.

“He did what he had to do to silence those machine guns,” Conaway said. “He was as tough as nails.”

Afterward, Perkins was going to get treatment for his wounds when an enemy shell struck the ambulance and killed him on Oct. 27, 1918.

Following his death, Perkins was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in combat. A school and an American Legion post were also named in his honor.

In October 1921, The Boston Globe reported that Perkins’s body was brought home from France. His flag-draped casket was placed in the main hall of the Michael J. Perkins American Legion Post in South Boston, and thousands came out to pay their respects to the local war hero.

Huge crowds lined the streets of South Boston and watched as the casket was pulled by a horse-drawn wagon to St. Augustine’s Church. The Globe reported that Governor Channing Cox and Congressman James A. Gallivan were among the many dignitaries who attended the funeral services for Perkins.

Barry said he was excited to learn that the Natick armory would be named after his uncle and was proud to attend the ceremony Friday. His daughter, Jackie Barry, 43, accompanied him to the event.

The dedication ceremony, he said, “couldn’t have been nicer.”

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