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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 22, 2016

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The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine Maryland prepares to get underway for routine operations from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. Mark Turney/Navy | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

Best for Vets: Employers 2016 — our 7th annual rankings
Many service members use their transitions out of the military as a chance to start over and ditch the career paths that their military occupations started them on. Doing so comes with advantages and disadvantages, all of which transitioning veterans should weigh carefully. | Military Times >>

Navy funds autism app, hopes for help with PTSD
The Navy is paying for research into an app to screen for autism in the hopes that it could eventually be tweaked to look for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. While developmental and trauma disorders might at first appear strange bedfellows, the researchers and a PTSD expert for the VA say it could be an exciting new direction. | AP >>

This week: House looks for budget breakthrough
The House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and military construction projects will mark up its 2017 spending measure on Wednesday morning using the top-line spending level established in last year’s budget deal. Yet it’s unclear how the budget blueprint or any of the individual appropriations bills can move forward while members of the House Freedom Caucus continue to call for rejecting last year’s top-line spending numbers. | The Hill >>

Afghanistan

According to Air Force data, the United States conducted three times as many strikes in January and February this year as it did in the same period last year. The increase in strikes follows a decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to grant more leeway for strikes on the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The rate of strikes is the highest since 2013. | Foreign Policy >>

Politico-military situation in Afghanistan is quite complex. As regards military balance of power, James R Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, recently warned that fighting in Afghanistan will be “more intense” this year than 2015 and that Afghans will continue to face “sustained attacks” by the Taliban in 2016. According to the Pentagon, the Taliban is capable of contesting and taking key terrains in Afghanistan and it poses a “formidable” and “enduring” challenge to the Afghan national unity government. | The Nation >>

The summer of 2001 looked like a promising one for Afghanistan. Broad opposition to the Taliban was growing, and to the Bush administration’s point man on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, it seemed that under the leadership of the charismatic officer Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance could be paving the way for a return to the relative stability the country had enjoyed for 50 years before the Soviet invasion of 1979. Then Sept. 9 came. | New York Post >>

Iraq

More U.S. military troops are going to Iraq in the aftermath of an Islamic State rocket killing a Marine and seriously injuring others this weekend, the Pentagon said Sunday. The attack occurred Saturday in the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, roughly 75 miles southeast of the ISIS-stronghold Mosul. | Fox News >>

The United States and its allies carried out 11 strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, a military statement said. Seven strikes were conducted in Iraq, including three near the city of Mosul, and four in Syria, targeting Islamic State units, weapons and equipment, the statement said on Monday. | Reuters >>

The standoff in mid-January, described to The Associated Press by six different officials and militia leaders, was a stark example of the power that Shiite militias have accrued in Iraq and their boldness in wielding it. These militias, many of them backed by Iran, mobilized in 2014 to fight Sunni extremists from the Islamic State group. However, they are now showing no intention of standing down after the battle, demanding instead to be a major force shaping Iraq. | AP >>

Military Affairs

An Army general who reached the pinnacle of military intelligence says his service’s war-deployed data analytical network is a flop and needs to be stopped, rebuilt and renamed. | Washington Times >>

Missions for the Army and Air Force are unique enough that the services will likely need to fly their own separate unmanned platforms for the foreseeable future, service leaders said Thursday. | Air Force Times >>

Sailors are trying to accurately forecast arctic weather for the first time from a temporary station on an ice floe in an attempt to predict the harsh conditions that can constrain military operations in the Arctic Circle. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

Sunday was opening day for Southeast Tennessee’s US Adult Baseball League. Teams from Chattanooga, East Ridge, Cleveland, Charleston and Dayton all headed to Camp Jordan to kick off the season. The league was started by Billy Massingale, a 26-year Army veteran.He has played baseball his whole life and wanted to give other veterans a chance to get out and play for themselves. | News Channel 9 >>

Darren Freidel and his organization Ride Therapy Project is hosting a charity ride to raise money to buy motorcycles for veterans suffering from the trauma of battle. Freidel hopes getting veterans outside and on a motorcycle will be a good escape from everyday life. | KOTA TV >>

A non-profit in North Carolina is helping veterans deal with combat trauma through tattoo therapy. “Operation Tattooing Freedom” works with tattoo artists to provide free tattoos to veterans, especially those suffering from anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). | WDTN 2 >>

Inside Washington

The Library of Congress is highlighting the contributions of female military veterans. A panel discussion Monday in Washington features three women who served. The moderator is U.S. Military Academy professor Elizabeth Samet. | AP >>

A veteran and lawyer says the federal government has wrongfully and knowingly taken about $80 million from combat disabled veterans over the past 25 years, and he’s hoping to get a new law passed to fix the problem. | WTOP >>

One ASU student veteran is pushing Congress to pass new legislation that would modify the G.I. Bill, providing an extra nine months of benefits for recipients pursuing STEM degrees. Criminal justice junior Robert Janice began writing a proposal in fall 2015 to provide those benefits to veteran students. However, while researching, he stumbled upon House Resolution 748, also known as G.I. Bill STEM Extension Act of 2015. | The State Press >>

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