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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 14, 2016

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit escape from a Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer at the Camp Hansen swimming pool in Okinawa, Japan. Lance Cpl. Carl King/Marine Corps | Military Times >>

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit escape from a Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer at the Camp Hansen swimming pool in Okinawa, Japan. Lance Cpl. Carl King/Marine Corps | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA increases pressure on appeals reform: ‘We’re failing veterans’
White House officials are pushing Congress to overhaul the appeals process for veterans benefits claims this year, noting the shrinking legislative window and calling the system a disaster. “We’re failing veterans,” said Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “This process is failing veterans. Nobody can defend the status quo here.” | Military Times >>

Why Hasn’t The Government Learned Anything From The Agent Orange Health Crisis?
In 1961, South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem asked the United States to help defoliate the lush jungle that was providing cover to his Communist enemies. President John Kennedy acquiesced and formally launched Operation Ranch Hand, the United States Air Force’s program of systemic defoliation with the chemical compound Agent Orange. So many years later, we’re still coming to grips with the devastating effects of Agent Orange on troops and civilians alike. | Task & Purpose >>

US dropping ‘cyber bombs’ on ISIS, Pentagon official says
The U.S. has ramped up its fight against the Islamic State terror group’s online capabilities, dropping so-called “cyber bombs” on the militants, a top Pentagon official said Tuesday. “Those guys are under enormous pressure. Every time we have gone after one of their defended positions over the last six months, we have defeated them. They have left, they have retreated,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told Reuters. | Fox News >>

Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s top defense official has warned that al Qaeda — the reason the United States first invaded Afghanistan — is “very active” and a “big threat” in the country. A senior U.S. official said they were concerned about al Qaeda leaders in remote areas of the country and there may be many more core operatives in Afghanistan than previously thought. | CNN >>

At least 90 insurgents were killed and 120 injured in a military operation in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province in the past four days. Launched in Dasht-e-Archi and Kunduz city, the operation aims at clearing insurgents from a number of villages here. | Business-Standard >>

Over the last few years, the war in Afghanistan has become bloodier and bloodier. 2015 was the worst, with 11,000 Afghan civilians killed, along with 6,000 members of the security forces. There are no figures for insurgent losses. Afghan forces are increasingly on their own as the US and NATO mission has drawn down to mostly an advisory role. The US is also providing air support, and special forces remain present. | PRI >>

Iraq

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said it is receiving reports that humanitarian conditions are worsening and human suffering is increasing in the city of Fallujah, which has been under control of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) for more than two years. | UN News Centre >>

American airstrikes have killed 25,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria and incinerated millions of dollars plundered by the militants, according to Pentagon officials. Iraqi and Kurdish forces have taken back 40 percent of the militant group’s land in Iraq, the officials say, and forces backed by the West have seized a sizable amount of territory in Syria that had been controlled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. | New York Times >>

Here, Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Army soldiers are trying to claw their way northwest to the Islamic State’s stronghold of Mosul, roughly 50 miles away. Nasr is no more than a couple dozen houses perched on a hill, but it is one of the first steps in Iraq’s recently announced operation to recapture Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. | Chicago Tribune >>

Military Affairs

The Army needs “thinking soldiers” — not just troops who can blindly follow directions. Their commanders need to stop barking orders all the time and start listening to their subordinates. And it’s time to cut out all those PowerPoint presentations. These are some of the key takeaways from the service’s new learning strategy, called Adaptive Soldier Leader Training and Education. | Army Times >>

An eight-week application window has opened for women lieutenants of the Army Competitive Category who want to branch-transfer to Infantry or Armor. The career-change opportunity supports a multifaceted Army campaign to open all branches and specialties to women, as ordered by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December. | Army Times >>

Navy leaders are planning to evaluate the service’s boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, for the first time in seven years — and they’re using input obtained from a computer game to do it. Naval Service Training Command published an announcement this week soliciting participants for Recruit Reboot, a new interactive game that allows respondents to provide insights and suggestions in an anonymous forum. | Military.com >>

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