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IAVA Daily News Brief – February 3, 2016

A member of the Golden Knights demonstration team salutes as he exits a Fokker C-31A Troopship during a training jump over Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. | Military Times >>

A member of the Golden Knights demonstration team salutes as he exits a Fokker C-31A Troopship during a training jump over Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Senators offer legislation to reduce VA appeals wait time
A bipartisan group of senators is offering legislation aimed at cutting down the amount of time it takes for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to handle a disability claim. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have introduced legislation to create a five-year pilot program that would serve as a voluntary alternative to the VA’s current appeals process for disability claims. | The Hill >>

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan: “A strategic stalemate without end is not the goal of this campaign”
As Army Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, prepares to step down from his 18-month command, he cautioned that America’s longest war is at a critical inflection point, and without proper adjustments will repeat the same mistakes of years past. | Washington Post >>

Judge overturns demotion of VA official accused in job scam
Federal judges have overturned decisions by the Department of Veterans Affairs to demote two senior officials accused of manipulating the agency’s hiring system for their own gain. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

U.S. airstrikes on a remote region of Afghanistan have destroyed a radio station operated by the Islamic State group, American and Afghan officials said on Tuesday. | Associated Press >>

The death toll from Monday’s suicide bombing against a police station has risen to 20 with 29 others injured, an official said. “With deepest regret, we lost 20 of our countrymen in a suicide attack today, these attacks won’t deter our determination to fight terrorists,” Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on his twitter account, Xinhua reported. | Business Standard >>

Afghan forces have launched an operation against Taliban insurgents who have caused rolling blackouts in the capital by cutting power lines from the north, a military statement said Tuesday. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

Officially, there are now 3,650 U.S. troops in Iraq, there primarily to help train the Iraqi national army. But in reality, there are already about 4,450 U.S. troops in Iraq, plus another nearly 7,000 contractors supporting the American government’s operations. That includes almost 1,100 U.S. citizens working as military contractors, according to the latest Defense Department statistics. | The Daily Beast >>

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State aims this year to recapture Iraq’s second city Mosul, working with Iraqi government forces, and drive the jihadis out of Raqqa, their stronghold in northeast Syria, Arab and Western officials say. | Reuters >>

The top U.S. general in Iraq said Monday that more American troops on the ground may be needed to help the Iraqi army mount the kind of conventional warfare operations needed to defeat Islamic State militants. | Military Times >>

Military Affairs

“This is not about quotas. This is about opening up opportunity and I can tell you emphatically, categorically, that I will never do anything as long as I’m in this job to lower the Marine combat effectiveness,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told Task & Purpose in a Jan. 28 interview about integrating women into combat arms units. | Task & Purpose >>

The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members. | Washington Post >>

The Air Force is nearly tripling the number of jobs eligible for selective re-enlistment bonuses in fiscal 2016. Airmen in 117 career fields could receive bonuses of as much as $90,000 if they re-enlist. That’s far more than the 40 Air Force specialty codes that were eligible for the bonuses in 2015, the Air Force said in a Monday release. | Air Force Times >>

#VetsRising

I met Matt Gallagher in Brookfield Place, a glittering cathedral to globalized capitalism in downtown Manhattan. “Kiss from a Rose” pumps softly through hidden speakers in the ceiling, and you could kneel at the altars of Equinox, Umami Burger, and Prada in quick succession, if you wanted to. Its indoor palm court could be in Dubai or Beverly Hills—it was a bizarrely fitting place to discuss Gallagher’s debut novel Youngblood, which is set during the final chapters of the Iraq War, in an isolated town trying to recover from the devastation. | Men’s Journal >>

Each time John Bear was deployed to Afghanistan he befriended a stray dog, which he said are all over that country, and in general are not treated well by locals. He wanted to bring back home each of the dogs but could never find a way. That changed in the past six months with the arrival of Athena, a shepherd from Afghanistan that Bear adopted from the Puppy Rescue Mission in Kabul. | The Daily Telegram >>

The Empire State Building Run-up is just days away, and one participant is inspiring others through her perseverance. Patty Collins has yet to meet a challenge she hasn’t liked. “It’s just a goal, pursue dreams, have son, to see mommy still dreams at her age then why not do it,” Collins said. | ABC 7 >>

Inside Washington

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy, but his comments at his last rally before the Iowa caucuses begin has shocked and offended many combat veterans. | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>

Sarah Palin went off on the hosts of NBC’s “Today” show on Monday after being asked about comments she made at a Donald Trump rally that seemed to blame President Barack Obama for her son’s post-traumatic stress disorder. | Politico >>

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will provide nearly $12 million to 79 local public housing agencies across the country to provide a permanent home to veterans experiencing homelessness, including in New Hampshire. | Citizen.com >>

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