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Daily News Brief – March 7, 2017

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U.S. Army soldiers assigned to 355th Chemical Company, 453rd Chemical Battalion, 29th Regional Support Group, 76th Operational Response Command clean the outside of a U.S. Army CH047 Chinook during detail aircraft decontamination training near Erbil, Iraq, Mar. 1, 2017. Sg. Josephine Carlson/Army | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said Friday the new report by the Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general found 90 percent of the vets eligible to see private doctors because of long VA delays weren’t getting the help they were due. Inspectors estimated that more than one-third of new patient appointments had wait times of longer than 30 days. VA appointment records showed only about 10 percent were delayed that long. | Military.com >>

Staff shortages have already forced cutbacks in some child care services at U.S. military installations in the wake of Trump’s hiring freeze, which bans the Defense Department from hiring replacements for most employees who quit their jobs. In addition to child care issues, commissaries and exchanges around the world report longer-than-usual lines. Some facilities have been forced to close or curb operating hours due to a shortage of employees, according to spokesmen for the organizations that run the on-post stores. | Stars and Stripes >>

One state lawmaker is assisting top executives at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs with legislation to relocate the vets’ nursing home at Talihina to a larger city nearby because of two high-profile, questionable deaths in the last five months. Those state officials have focused their public comments and concerns on local staffing challenges and the age and design of the converted, 1921 tuberculosis sanitorium on the outskirts of a remote, tiny town in the Ouachita Mountains. | Anchorage Press >>

Iraq and Afghanistan

Afghanistan has ordered a network of schools run by an organization regarded with suspicion by the Turkish government to be transferred to a foundation approved by Ankara, Afghan officials said. The move against Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the body that runs the schools, appears to be part of Turkey’s campaign against followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric it accuses of being behind a coup attempt in July. | Reuters >>

Iraqi officials on Monday praised the Trump administration’s decision to exclude Iraq from a list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens will be temporarily banned from entering the United States, calling it an “important step in the right direction.” | The Washington Post >>

Detailed in a report released Monday by Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, the attacks were mainly carried out by the Taliban and other anti-government groups. However, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) also carried out more than 35 attacks, the group said, adding that it wants U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to list the ANDSF as “one of the parties responsible for the attack.” | Newsweek >>

Military Affairs

Multiple fast-attack vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a US Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a US official told Reuters on Monday. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the IRGCN boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. | Business Insider >>

For the last three years the U.S. Navy has quietly looked out for whales and other marine mammals along the coast. Technically, it’s a requirement. To get permits to train at sea, the Navy needs to monitor the effects of its ships on sea life. But while it could spend thousands of dollars on the task, it spends between $3.5 million and $4 million a year along the Atlantic coast and a couple more on the Pacific. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

The Pentagon is purchasing tech from Israeli defense firm that could jam or take down weaponized drones used by ISIS, according to Defense One. The $15.6 million contract was awarded for “man-portable aerial defense systems kits,” something that usually refers to shoulder-fired missiles. However, the USAF department that purchased it is in charge of communications and electronics devices, and the seller, Israeli Aeronautics Industries (IAI), just happens to manufacture a jamming device called “Drone Guard.” | Engadget >>

#VetsRising

The VetSmallBiz Growth Challenge provides exposure to a distinguished judging panel and access to capital – $100,000 in total to be awarded, in addition to three months of mentorship. The competition was offered through the generous support of The Marcus Foundation and was open to U.S. service member and veteran entrepreneurs of all eras of service. | Yahoo Finance >>

Watching KC Mitchell tremble and strain as he deadlifts 600 pounds of tempered steel — the weight distributed evenly between his one good leg (the right) and a new prosthetic — it may be hard to imagine the fortitude that pulled him out of a hospital bed and up onto his feet came from an unlikely place. It stemmed from a competition with an infant so small he could cradle her in the crook of one arm. | Task and Purpose >>

It’s a trade that’s in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pipefitter, steamfitter and plumber jobs are projected to increase 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Every six months, pay increases as you increase in rank and gain more experience — something from which Jason Price of Staten Island is reaping benefits. Formerly in the Marines alongside Francis, Price says, “My apprenticeship taught me a lot about piping.” | The New York Post >>

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