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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 30, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Congressional commission releases new plan to overhaul military pay and retirement
A congressionally mandated commission on Thursday called for an overhaul of the military’s compensation and retirement system, recommending changes so that future service members will contribute to their own retirements and could choose private-sector healthcare plans. | Washington Post >>

Pentagon wrestles with how to shield current veterans from budget cuts
The Pentagon’s personnel costs are skyrocketing, making budget cuts necessary. But a commission is seeking ways to do that without breaking the military’s ‘social contract’ with troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  | The Christian Science Monitor >>

VA to set aside massive L.A. campus for veterans housing
Veterans Affairs officials will set aside their 387-acre West Los Angeles campus as living space for homeless veterans, a move that could help thousands of destitute veterans in the region. | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

Three American civilian contractors and an Afghan national were killed Thursday in a shooting incident at a military base attached to Kabul’s international airport, according to U.S. officials. A fourth American contractor was wounded in the attack. | Washington Post >>

The new NATO mission in Afghanistan has classified its assessments of how more than $60 billion in U.S. aid is being used to bolster the Afghan army, leaving hidden one of the best assessments of U.S. taxpayer-funded investment in Kabul. | Huffington Post >>

Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim is only 33, but he’s already been in the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, detained at Guantanamo Bay, released from prison, become a recruiter for the Islamic State group and, on Wednesday, reportedly captured by the same group that launched his jihadist career. | International Business Times >>

Iraq

Bombings and a shooting killed at least 19 people around the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday, including soldiers and Shiite militiamen, officials said. | Associated Press >>

Moviegoers in Baghdad were on the edge of their seats while watching “American Sniper” — as the controversial war drama thrilled audiences in Iraq, where much of the film is set. | New York Post >>

The fate of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot held by the Islamic State terror group remains unclear as the sun set in Iraq, marking the passage of a new deadline for a possible swap involving a female Iraqi prisoner. | Fox News >>

Military Times

Key US Army aviation modernization plans — Future Vertical Lift, the Improved Engine Turbine program and digital cockpit upgrades for Black Hawks — all hinge on the service’s cost-cutting Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI), senior service officials said on Thursday. (Defense News)
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/land/army-aviation/2015/01/29/army-aviation-restructure-initiative-ausa/22525965/

More than two years before Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green was interviewed by Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford to become the Corps’ next top enlisted leader, the two shared a drink from Devil Dog Fountain, a favorite pilgrimage site in France marking the site of the Marines’ historic World War I rout of the German Army at Belleau Wood. | Marine Corps Times >>

The Navy is making progress building a new class of ships configured for sea-basing and expeditionary missions as a way to help account for a shortage of amphibious assault ships and forward-position Marines, sailors, special operations forces, air assets and ship-to-shore connector vehicles, service officials said. | DoD Buzz >>

New Greatest Generation

Shad Meshad writes a blog for Huffington Post: “Vietnam veterans showed us the breadth, depth and long-term ramifications of non-physical injuries—Post Traumatic Stress. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought greater awareness to the issues returning veterans face in healing both physical and emotional injury while transitioning out of the military back into society.” | Huffington Post >>

A  whiteboard that hangs on the refrigerator in Dave Hammond’s apartment lists his itinerary to search for a life gone missing. In green marker and neat, coiled script, he has written 10 priorities for recovering what he lost in the years after his medical discharge from the Army in 2005. | Stars and Stripes >>

A well-intended drama that drifts into wishful thinking (with a dash of treacle), “Amira & Sam” is all over the map in terms of tone. But it does score a few points as an unusual tale about the casualties of war. | Seattle Times >>

Inside Washington

Congress created the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in 2012 to conduct a sweeping review of military pay and benefits with an eye to ensuring sustainability of U.S. forces and preserving a robust quality of life for service members and their families. | Military Times >>

Eight months after a health care scandal rocked the Veterans Administration that centered on a Phoenix hospital, investigators said Thursday that a crucial department at that facility continues to create delays in treating veterans. | USA Today >>

The Increasing VA Accountability to Veterans Act would allow McDonald to reduce the pensions of executives convicted of a crime, limit the amount of time senior executives can spend on paid administrative leave to 14 days and reform the agency’s performance appraisal system so that only 30 percent managers can get bonuses. | The Hill >>

 

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