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Daily News Brief January 18, 2017

dnbA U.S. Army soldier catches falling snow on his tongue during the official welcoming ceremony of the U.S. troops in Zagan, Poland, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 (Krzysztof Zatycki/AP) | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump surprised many by tapping David Shulkin, an Obama administration official, as his nominee for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Shulkin, a New York-area physician, and author, who is currently a VA undersecretary, is known for significantly improving care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York as president and chief executive officer from 2005 to 2009. He’s also known for working closely with current VA Secretary Robert McDonald on various reforms at the VA. | Healthline >>

“In all my experience transforming organizations, this is the furthest progress in the shortest amount of time that I have ever seen,” McDonald told employees in a farewell memo last week. “That includes operations all over the world.” In an exclusive interview with WCPO, McDonald said he believes David Shulkin will “keep the transformation going” and protect the VA from those who want to privatize it. Shulkin, the VA’s undersecretary for health, was nominated by President-elect Donald Trump after a selection process in which Trump said “at least 100 people” were interviewed. | WCPO Cincinnati >>

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Republican representing Maine’s 2nd District, announced Monday that he is joining the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, a position held by his predecessor, Democrat Mike Michaud. Poliquin made the announcement at the United Farmer Veterans of America building at 45 Columbia St. in downtown Bangor. Poliquin, now in his second term, was one of eight new Republican congressmen to join the committee, according to a news release. | Portland Press Herald >>

Iraq and Afghanistan

Iraqi forces have captured the site of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis after driving Islamic State group militants from a new neighborhood in eastern Mosul, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The progress comes as the U.N. warned that nearly 150,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul operation started in mid-October. | The Washington Post >>

An Afghan official says that Islamic State militants stormed a religious school in eastern Nangarhar province, kidnapping 14 clerics who were teaching at the school and two administrators. Mohammad Asif Shinwari, spokesman for the provincial education department, said Monday that the attack by three armed men took place over the weekend. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraqi special forces pushed deeper into Islamic State-held districts in eastern Mosul and army units fought the insurgents inside a military base in the city’s north, officials said during the day on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the military had begun “movement” against Islamic State in the west of Mosul without specifying what action was being taken there. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Air Force is increasing airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to a growing number of opposition forces closing in on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria. “Our expanded precision airdrop capability is helping ground forces take the offensive to (the Islamic State) and efforts to retake Raqqa,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the Air Mobility Command, which is headquartered here. | USA Today >>

Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma returned to its homeport in Kittery on Friday after a 49-day patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea that resulted in the seizure of cocaine worth an estimated $90 million on the streets. During the patrol, Tahoma’s crew conducted drug interdiction efforts, strategically intercepting and boarding suspected smuggling vessels. During the mission, the crew seized four open-hulled outboard powered panga-style fishing vessels illegally transporting approximately 3,130 kilograms of cocaine, the Coast Guard said in a news release. | Military.com >>

The U.S. Army is part of the evolving field of wilderness medicine and offers opportunities for soldiers who have an interest and expertise in both medicine and the outdoors to pursue a challenging and unique career path. The Madigan Army Medical Center became the first medical treatment facility in the Department of the Defense (DoD) to offer a one-year Austere and Wilderness Medicine Fellowship. Maj. Hunter Winegarner, MD, a Special Forces Battalion surgeon stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., completed this Fellowship in 2014, which prepared him to treat and train the Army’s elite soldiers. | Yahoo >>

#VetsRising

It is a beer that gives back to our fallen heroes and it is now being sold in Central New York. Seth Jordan founded Dog Tag Brewing Foundation in Montana. The Foundation was started by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Their mission is to help everyone remember our fallen warriors. | CNY Central >>

Local Afghanistan veteran Anthony Marquez is a true hero and skilled craftsman – he creates commemorative wooden carvings for families of fallen and wounded soldiers. The 29-year-old served in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 2007 to March 2012, with his last deployment to Sangin Afghanistan in 2011. There, his unit – 1st Battalion 5th Marines – saw 17 killed in action and 160 wounded on the battlefield. | Tulsa World >>

Lone Star Military Maintenance is a veteran-owned, staffed and operated organization that provides janitorial and other maintenance services to businesses in the Houston metropolitan area, hiring all service veterans, disabled vets, vets’ spouses and military retirees exclusively. The organization aims to cut veteran unemployment, of which the national rate was 4.1 percent as of December 2016 (the national rate was 4.7 percent), down from the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Texas, it sits at 4.3 percent. | Houston Chronicle >>

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