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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 6, 2016

Sgt. First Class Gary Foran Jr. tosses his 18-month old son Logan into the air after arriving at the National Guard's Windsor Locks Army Aviation Readiness Center on Wednesday in Windsor Locks, Conn. | Military Times >>

Sgt. First Class Gary Foran Jr. tosses his 18-month old son Logan into the air after arriving at the National Guard’s Windsor Locks Army Aviation Readiness Center on Wednesday in Windsor Locks, Conn. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Despite concerns, military continues use of burn pits in Iraq
The U.S. military still relies on burn pits to dispose of waste in Iraq despite concerns that toxic smoke and fumes released by fires can cause serious illnesses to troops. During the bulk of wartime operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, the military relied on hundreds of large, open-air pits to burn solid waste, exposing personnel working the pits and others living nearby to toxic smoke. | Stars and Stripes >>

Report: Military Suicide On The Rise
The number of suicides among active and reserve military personnel increased from the same time last year. A report by the Pentagon’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office found that in the third quarter of 2015, the military saw an increase in suicides among active and reserve components, compared to the same period last year. | Task & Purpose >>

Wounded vets can’t get help with in vitro fertilization costs
U.S. military veterans who are having trouble starting families due to combat injuries do not get financial assistance from the V.A. for in vitro fertilization, leaving couples to pay for the costly treatments themselves. Efforts made in Congress to change that rule have been blocked. William Brangham reports. | PBS >>

Afghanistan

One U.S. service member died and two others were wounded during operations in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Pentagon said. The Department of Defense did not name the casualties, saying only that the incident took place near Marjah in Helmand Province. | NBC News >>

Barely a year after the last American advisers departed, Sangin, a rural district in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, is reportedly on the edge of falling to the Taliban, the last police there under siege in what used to be NATO’s Forward Operating Base Jackson. | Washington Post >>

Casualties among Afghan security forces soared 28 percent in 2015 as soldiers and police there fought a revitalized Taliban insurgency. In all, about 16,000 members of Afghanistan’s army and police forces were killed or wounded during fighting, according to figures released Monday. | Military Times >>

Iraq

An expert British SAS sniper killed three ISIS bombers by shooting through a 10-inch thick wall from almost a mile away. The sniper, who is considered to be the best in the British Special Forces, fired 30 armor piercing rounds from his Barrett Light .50 caliber rifle into a command post in the city of Ramadi in Iraq last week. | Popular Military >>

Modern violence in the Middle East is often attributed to tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, an assumption bolstered by renewed fury between Saudi Arabia and Iran in recent days and fueled by rhetoric from political leaders and prominent analysts. But new data indicates bloodshed in Iraq, a central battleground for the Western war against Islamic terrorism, is caused by something altogether different. | US News & World Report >>

The small team, comprised of American and foreign fighters with various specialties, hopes to rescue injured Kurdish forces as they battle Islamic State aggressors in their area of Daquq. A former Army officer who operates under the alias “Kat Argo”, and five other volunteers make up “Qalubna Ma’kum,” translated from Arabic to mean, “Our hearts are with you.” | Army Times >>

Military Affairs

The first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy was sworn in on Tuesday, the latest milestone for American women who now are allowed to serve all military combat roles. Brigadier General Diana Holland, 47, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, assumed the leadership post after being honored in packed ceremony at the academy 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City, whose graduates typically serve as Army officers. | Reuters >>

The Navy needs to focus less on specific rivals, such as Russia and China, and more on operating in an increasingly complicated world, the service’s new boss said Tuesday. Re-examining fleet designs and developing concepts for operations that fall short of conflict are among the Navy’s future priorities, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson wrote in a 10-page “strategic guidance” document, his first effort to craft a vision for the service since taking command in October. | Stars and Stripes >>

The battle to build the amphibious combat vehicle is down to two competitors, and both prototypes promise a better ride than the amphibious assault vehicle the Corps wants to replace. Indeed, Marines may feel spoiled by either ACV. Both are eight-wheeled vehicles that are more quiet and comfortable than the tracked AAV. The hot exhaust that has nauseated many a Marine has been erased by air conditioning and better ventilation. | Marine Corps Times >>

#VetsRising

When Matthew DeRemer posted an inspiring Facebook message on New Year’s Eve that “anything can happen in just 1 day,” he didn’t know that day would be his last. The 31-year-old Iraq war veteran was hit and killed on his motorcycle by an alleged drunk driver hours later in Largo, Florida, reports CBS affiliate WTSP. | CBS News >>

A veteran nonprofit organization is giving wounded veterans an opportunity to enjoy winter sports in a way some thought they didn’t think was possible. The Semper FI Fund is providing injured military service members lessons on how to ski, snowboard and other sporting activities throughout the year. | Fox 13 Salt Lake City >>

Mark is an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq. He has a strong desire to help other vets, which in part inspired the creation of StreetShares. StreetShares is a P2P crowdlending platform that funds American small businesses. StreetShares funds all kinds of business owners, but StreetShares has a particular focus on helping veteran-owned small businesses. | Forbes >>

Inside Washington

Congress made headlines last month by approving a funding measure to avert the looming government shutdown. But the measure doesn’t just keep federal agencies funded until next fall. Buried within the 2000-plus page bill is a truly historic development for veterans battling the nation’s deadliest blood-borne disease. | The Hill >>

Congress has authorized about $233 million for an ongoing effort to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health record system, Health Data Management reports. | iHealthBeat >>

A Veterans Affairs executive on administrative leave over the patient wait time scandal says that if he done anything wrong, the VA would have fired him by now. | Federal Times >>

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