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IAVA Daily News Brief – Friday, August 21, 2015

MarineInsetTraining

Marines assigned to Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, fast-rope as a fire team aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Marines practiced fast-roping as a team to gain proficiency in order to effectively insert from a helicopter. | Military Times >>

 

TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Half of critical positions open at some VA hospitals
About one in three jobs are vacant at nine of the nation’s regional Veterans Affairs health care systems, leaving veterans waiting weeks to get care. Nationally, one in six positions – nearly 41,000 – for critical intake workers, doctors, nurses and assistants were unfilled as of mid July, in part due to complex hiring procedures and poor recruitment, according to critics of the nation’s network of 139 hospitals and clinics that treat veterans. | USA Today >>

Traumatic Brain Injury Data Obscured Due to ‘Operational Security’
The Defense Department agency overseeing traumatic brain injury research for service members and veterans has not published exact statistics on the injuries out of concern it would aid the enemy and confuse the American public. Kathy Helmick, deputy director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center in Maryland, said the agency has rarely given out the numbers on individuals who suffered TBI during a deployment because it considered the data an operational security matter. | Military.com >>

Federal supervisors hit union ‘hit list’ against VA managers
One fallout from the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a brewing dispute among federal employee organizations. The Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Federal Managers Association (FMA) want congressional leaders to investigate a “management hit list” compiled by the VA’s union against department managers and executives. | Washington Post >>

AFGHANISTAN
The Pentagon could withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from Pakistan’s military over concerns that it is not doing enough to combat insurgent groups that launch attacks from its soil on neighboring Afghanistan, according to officials in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. | Washington Post >>

The former Chief of Defence Staff and commander of international forces in Afghanistan said he was ashamed at the treatment of interpreters who risked their lives beside Britain’s troops. General Sir David Richards praised and thanked the Daily Mail for its Betrayal of the Brave series of articles which have highlighted the plight of frontline translators who claim they have been ‘abandoned’ to the Taliban. | The Daily Mail >>

The U.S. Army is kicking out a decorated Green Beret after an 11-year Special Forces career, after he got in trouble for shoving an Afghan police commander accused of raping a boy and beating up his mother when she reported the incident. The case now has the attention of Congress, with Rep. Duncan Hunter writing to Defense Secretary Ash Carter challenging the decision. | Fox News >>

IRAQ
A Marine Reserve unit that suffered some of the heaviest casualties during the Iraq War reunited Aug. 15-16. Many of the vets still bore the physical and emotional scars left by the 2005 deployment. | Marine Corps Times >>

Political uncertainty hung over Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Thursday after President Massoud Barzani’s mandate expired without rival factions reaching an agreement to extend his term. Weeks of wrangling between the autonomous region’s parties failed to produce a compromise before Barzani’s tenure officially ended at midnight on Wednesday, despite a last-minute intervention by U.S. and British diplomats. | Reuters >>

The Islamic State’s brutality and its insistence on apocalypse now and caliphate now set it apart from al-Qaeda, of which it was a part until 2014. We’re used to thinking of al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden as the baddest of the bad, but the Islamic State is worse. Bin Laden tamped down messianic fervor and sought popular Muslim support; the return of the early Islamic empire, or caliphate, was a distant dream. | Politico >>

MILITARY AFFAIRS
The two women who will graduate Friday from the Army’s Ranger School did not seem particularly destined to break that gender barrier. Both were strong students and gifted athletes, like many others who emerge from high schools across the country every year. But they made their mark on the U.S. military this week by tapping rare levels of determination that intensified over time. | Washington Post >>

The “Navy does not intend to request any exemptions” banning women from serving in special warfare positions, including as a SEAL commando, Cmdr. William Marks, a top Navy spokesman, told Navy Times Thursday. | Navy Times >>

“Loose Tweets Destroy Fleets” – the Air Force’s twist on the famous World War II slogan, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” – is meant to remind servicemembers to guard what they share on social media, particularly given recent threats by Islamic State sympathizers. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VETSRISING
After several years, an army soldier and his dog are back together. The two were reunited in Thornton Wednesday evening. Donna is a retired bomb-sniffing dog. She and her handler, U.S. Army Specialist Tyler Roberts, were deployed in Afghanistan together. | ABC Denver >>

You can take the man out of the military — and improbably put him inside the locker room of one of the NFL’s most storied franchises — but not the military out of the man. To Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, 7:30 p.m. will always be 1930, military time. | ESPN >>

From brewing in a French press on a dust-caked Humvee hood in Afghanistan to slinging cups of smoky Azimuth dark roast at one of the most popular coffee shops in D.C., Harrison Suarez and Michael Haft have come a long way since their Marine Corps deployment in 2011. | Stars and Stripes >>

INSIDE WASHINGTON
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest, non-military federal user of Ashley Madison, a website which helps users cheat on their spouses, according to a database of site members posted by hackers Tuesday. “Life is short,” the tagline of the Ashley Madison site reads. “Have an affair.” Having an affair seems exactly what many VA employees intended. Exactly 104 emails belong to the “va.gov” domain . | Daily Caller >>

The senior investigative counsel for a congressional oversight subcommittee is looking into whether there are systemic problems at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Health System, according to an attorney representing clients alleging harassment and a possible coverup of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. | The Tampa Tribune >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General released a report this week that said tens of thousands of VA officials inappropriately signed up for Yammer, and used the communications tool to get in fights with each other, set up silly chat rooms, and even point out helpful movie reviews to each other. | Washington Examiner >>

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