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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 28, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

McDonald takes heat during hearing on VA bonuses bill
In a sign that some lawmakers may be losing patience with the man brought in to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Secretary Bob McDonald came under unusually personal criticism Tuesday during a hearing on a bill that would give him sweeping powers to rescind bonuses and reduce pensions. | Stars and Stripes >>

Jeff Miller’s VA bill to rescind bonuses gets backing by veterans advocates
Veterans advocates mostly supported a bill Tuesday that would allow the VA secretary to take back a bonus if an employee was found to have been manipulating data. | Washington Times >>

Panel will propose new military retirement system
The long-awaited report on military compensation set to drop Thursday will propose fundamental changes to military retirement and health care benefits, according to several people familiar with the report. | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

Engine failure caused an MQ-1B Predator drone to crash July 14 in Afghanistan, the Air Force announced this week. The Predator was flying a reconnaissance mission near Kandahar Air Base when it crashed after experiencing engine failure. | Air Force Times >>

The main U.S. foreign assistance agency on Monday suspended awards to a non-governmental organization that has received more than $1 billion for its work in Afghanistan and Iraq the past nine years. | Associated Press >>

On December 28, 2014, at a small, secret, and heavily secured ceremony in Kabul, American General John Campbell declared the end of the U.S.-led combat mission in Afghanistan. Campbell, the last commander of the International Security Assistance Force, rolled up the ISAF flag and, with that, a 13-year mission. | The Diplomat >>

Iraq

The head of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) called the volume of fighters flowing into Iraq and Syria from approximately 90 nations to fight with the Islamic State group “staggering.” | Defense News >>

Without a clear strategy from the White House and the return of a robust defense budget, the United States is set for failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, argued former generals James Mattis and John Keane, as well as former admiral William Fallon in congressional testimony Tuesday. | Washington Post >>

Just before Christmas, Atheel al-Nujaifi, a leading Iraqi politician, quietly slipped into Washington, D.C., with an urgent request that the White House provide arms and training for his 10,000-man Sunni militia. For seven months now, the United States has been bombing Iraq and Syria, trying to beat back the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). | Newsweek >>

Military Affairs

The Pendulum writes a blog for Medium: “The problem with being the Pentagon Press Secretary is that no one ever really gets to know who you are. You might be a household name, but you’re forever remembered as “that guy”, like an anonymous character in a long-forgotten episode of Seinfeld. And that’s why we’re here today, to turn the microphone around on Admiral John Kirby, to reveal the man behind the blue curtain.” | Medium >>

Not satisfied with simply hosting the country’s third largest 26.2-miler, Marine Corps Marathon organizers are sponsoring several events this year with activities geared toward different levels of fitness and fun. | Military Times >>

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan for five years, will likely be charged with desertion, senior defense officials tell NBC News. | NBC News >>

Jeanne Devon writes a blog for Huffington Post: “I quickly grew tired of reading passionate reviews of American Sniper that contained a sentence midpoint that read, “I haven’t seen the movie.” And so it was that I decided to go see the movie myself.” | Huffington Post >>

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